Few topics are as sensitive as the homosexual union question and the path embraced undeniably has drastic ramifications for society, the family, and the church.

Unquestionably, what is most important is alignment with the will and heartbeat of God, for only from this place will good fruit ever ripen. Here are eight misunderstandings of homosexual union from a Christian perspective:

Misunderstanding 1: Divine opposition to homosexual union is about judgment, not relationship
God is not a far-off deity whom hovers in the distant starry expanse: the desire for deep and unadulterated intimacy with His creation burns as coals within the furnace of God’s heart. To love God is to fellowship with Him, it is the body acting under head whom is Christ. Whilst true love is to be joyously joined with Him, sin, on the other hand, is to detach ourselves. The atoning reconciliation of Christ stands testament of God’s desire for relationship and the removal of separating sin. If homosexual union is a sin, then this separation is something He cannot tolerate – He desires us too much!

Love hearts 

'LOVE' IS NOT 'love': True love, says Craig Merrett, "says what needs to be heard, not what wants to be heard". PICTURE: Creative Commons

 

"God is not a far-off deity whom hovers in the distant starry expanse: the desire for deep and unadulterated intimacy with His creation burns as coals within the furnace of God’s heart."

Misunderstanding 2: The Bible is not clear
Passages from the Old Testament prohibit homosexual union, including Leviticus 18:22 (‘One should not lay with a man as one lays with a woman’), and Leviticus 20:13 saying the same thing. Homosexual conduct was also major cause of divine judgment (Genesis 19:4-5, 12-13). It is tempting to ignore Old Testament passages, for we are in a new covenant of grace (Hebrews 7:18-19, Romans 6:14/ 7:4). However, although we need no longer worry about the legalism of eating shellfish or pork, New Testament passages re-enforce some Old Testament teachings: I Corinthians 6:9-10 says men who sleep with men will not inherit the Kingdom of God. I Timothy 1:9-10 includes those as ‘practicing homosexuality’ as ungodly and sinful. Romans 1:26-27 says "Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error".

Misunderstanding 3: Homosexuality is a sin
There is much conjecture as to if being homosexual is a choice, or an inclination of birth. Certainly sexual response can be trained and enhanced by social factors, yet is also true that in rare instances the X and Y chromosomes individuals carry may sometimes be mixed. In a world that was created perfect yet is stained with sin, we see in nature a pale reflection of God’s highest will, hence the need to pray that His Kingdom come on Earth (Matthew 6:10). No part of creation is born perfect or is immune to the effects of the Fall – it groans to be restored to its perfect state (Romans 8:22). Although the physical realities, inclinations, and choices in this scarred world are not His highest will, if same-sex attraction is not a choice then it is not a sin to be born homosexual.

Misunderstanding 4: Inclination and action are one and the same
Sober alcoholics may be alcoholics, yet they are not sinners, they are champions. The Bible makes distinction between inclination and action: It is not a sin to be tempted but to give into that temptation (Hebrews 4:15), it is our choices and not our sinful nature that defines us. Every person has deep desires, some based on brain neurons, heart emotions, or even genetic or chemical makeup, yet this does not mean they are right.

An action such as gay marriage or active homosexual lifestyle is distinct from a once-off moral failure or even a string of mistakes: it is a public declaration and commitment to sin. It is a misunderstanding and an indictment upon God to choose a lifestyle with the belief that ‘God will forgive’. We are already forgiven, but to receive this gift or forgiveness requires confession and repentance, something that chosen sin prohibits.

Misunderstanding 5: The church perfectly represents God
The church stands guilty possessing a cherry picking reality of sin as it chooses what it does and does not like and focusing on them accordingly. Not only is this unfortunate, it is conceited and wrong. Sadly, the injustice of homosexuals being treated as God’s rejects in the name of Jesus has been palpable. Homosexuals as all peoples should know safe community and never made to feel as ‘second rate’ or outcasts.

Misunderstanding 6: 'Love' is 'love'
“Surely if two people love each other, that’s all that matters” it is said, “for a loving couple in a committed relationship, how could love be wrong?” The mantra of ‘love wins’ is proclaimed loudest against the traditional marriage proponents of the church. Funnily, it is this same church that sees itself as motivated by love. Interestingly, this is a love vs love scenario.   

Perhaps it is love’s definition where we find contrast, for from the crusades marched under ‘love’s’ banner, to two strangers that meet at a bar and ‘make love’, to the one who ‘loves’ adultery  - it must be suggested that ‘love’ is not always ‘loving’. So, who or what defines love? Love for one may be anything but for another. In a society that sees morals that ever evolve or devolve, changes in moral compass occur like shifting sands. Ultimately, it is God whom defines love, for He is the unchanging anchor. Not only does He exemplify immutable love, God is Love (I John 4:8). Therefore, to be against God and His word, ways and Person is to be against Love….it is crystal clear that ‘love’ is not always ‘Love’.                                      

True love, the kind that never fails (I Corinthians 13:8), is to love God with all of one’s mind, soul and heart (Matthew 22:37); it is to cherish, honor, and respect Him, and it is from this place that one overflows with His love for others (Matthew 22:38-39).                                                                                             

This obedience is counter-cultural and radically different to what we may feel or rationalise to be right. Consider the child whom is denied by their parent chocolate for every meal. To the child, chocolate looks, smells, and tastes good...it must be good. To be denied in the child’s eyes is unloving. In reality, to give in to their desires would make them sick and ultimately be the least loving thing a parent could do. Sometimes true love requires a larger framework. Unpleasantness is not always unloving just as pleasantly allowing all things is not always loving. Despite the devastation the news may release, a doctor whom hides a diagnosis from a patient may give them a death sentence. True love says what needs to be heard, not what wants to be heard. When the child of God makes space to hear and keep His glorious life-sustaining commandments, they will be be abiding in true Love (John 15:10).

Misunderstanding 7: Love is not sacrificial
To our modern and hyper-sexualised culture, it seems outrageously inexplicable that the the ‘right’ of sexual freedom and expression (particularly among two consenting human adults) be hemmed in. Despite this, self-denial is foundational to the Christian faith (Luke 9:23). Although marriage is an outlet for sexual expression, this does not remove desires or passions. Christians are called to deny some of their most sexually enflamed years before marriage. Some never marry.                                                                   

Marriage is a sacrificial love offering from one person to another. Greater still, celibacy is a sacred gift of love to God Himself. Through his celibacy the Apostle Paul was no hypocrite. Likewise Jesus was tempted in every way (Hebrews 4:15), yet our greatest example remained celibate.                                       

"Unquestionably the emotive words of ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ tickle our righteousness and stroke our hearts of compassion, yet Christ's compassion advocated not who we were in the past, but who we could be. He did not affirm a sexual identity upon people, He clothed them in His identity. Jesus healed, loved, and served individuals out of their sin, not further into it."

Although sex is a great power, ultimately same-sex attraction is about unmet needs. The ancient Greeks had a deep and rich understanding of the notion of love, deeming it necessary to break into four components: agape (unconditional and sacrificial love), phileo (affectionate and platonic love), storge (a family and friendly safe love), and eros (erotic and sexual love). Made for deep and fulfilling relationships, homosexuals can and should embrace and receive all types of love other than the component that is eros. In the Bible individuals were known to weep upon seeing each other, even greeting each other with tears, hugs, and non-sexual kisses (Acts 20:37, II Corinthians 13:11-12). Warm affection is everyone's right.

Misunderstanding 8: Jesus loved people into sin
Jesus is God’s greatest demonstration of inclusive love. Christ was both traditional and radical, and held to the view of marriage from Genesis, saying “…at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’. Christ said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).                                                                                                    

Christ turned away no one, hung out with the destitute and the prostitute, tended to the marginalised and the outcasts whom teetered on the very fringes of society. How would Jesus approach a homosexual today, inactive or active? He would love them with ferocious intensity. Yet His love never passively ignored sin issues; quite to the contrary, Jesus was quite the confrontationist in all issues of sin! Jesus' example of love was to be unequivocally kind and accepting of the individual, yet firm and unaccepting of the sin. Jesus loved people in their sin, yet He never loved them into their sin. In John 4 we see the women at the well who was as far removed from the pious religious hierarchy as one could get: she was a Samaritan, she was a woman, and an adulterer. Jesus loved her in every way, including calling out her sin.              

Unquestionably the emotive words of ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ tickle our righteousness and stroke our hearts of compassion, yet Christ's compassion advocated not who we were in the past, but who we could be. He did not affirm a sexual identity upon people, He clothed them in His identity. Jesus healed, loved, and served individuals out of their sin, not further into it.

For the sincere Christian gay rights advocate, I will simply pose the final question: ‘What if?’ ‘What if homosexual relationships do indeed violate God's law and Person?’ ‘What if something that looks pleasing or appears to bring healing is actually destructive and damaging?’ If we should not assume God’s role of judging others sin then we equally should not assume His role in pardoning or advocating others sin. Both legalism and condemnation as well as blind acceptance and sugar-coated tolerance lead away from the Kingdom. We are called to love enough not to hate or judge, yet to love enough not to compromise moral conviction or crumble and under societal pressure. May ‘Love’ and not not just ‘love’ be this tightrope that we carefully and prayerfully trek.

Craig Merritt is an Adelaide-based pastor and entrepreneur and the author of The God Attraction: A fresh revelation of the Law of Attraction.