If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them…
And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them…
You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. (Leviticus 20:13, 23, 26 ESV)
Homosexuality is being promoted to no end in our culture and gaining the sympathy vote by labeling everyone who would oppose them an oppressor. I do not deny there have been plenty who have hated and oppressed those who practice such, and probably many have done so under the banner of religion and even Christianity. Verses like the one above are perhaps pointed to as justification. This does teach that homosexuality goes against God’s intention for His creation. It also shows us that it is a practice that has been going on a long, long time (just as other perversions including incest and bestiality which are also mentioned).
But let’s put the verse in context. This is written to the people God has rescued and set apart as his own. That has made them holy. As such, he gives them laws to show them how they are to be holy. The order of these things is of great importance. God rescues and sets apart first! Only then comes the call to be holy. When we apply that requirement apart from God’s deliverance we run into legalism, which requires people to be holy in order for God to rescue them. This leads to pride and oppression.
It is true that those who practice homosexuality will not enter the kingdom of God. But it is not because of their practice. Their practice is a result of their rejection of God. Paul explains, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie… (Romans 1:24, 25 ESV)” As we keep reading Paul’s letter we find that he is not singling out anyone or any sin. Instead, he is showing that all of us fall into this category, or did before God rescued us. That is the key to everything. The gospel, not a change in behavior, is the power of God for salvation. The gospel is God’s rescue from slavery (bondage to sin), that sets you apart. The gospel releases us from the lie for which we once exchanged the truth of God, that led us to pursue lifestyles that ran afoul of God’s created order. It is after being rescued that we are called to live holy lives.
This means that homosexual practice in our culture is not something we try and “fix”. It is merely a symptom of a deceived heart. The only cure for a deceived heart, the only thing with power for salvation is the gospel. God rescues and then lives change.
Lord, help your church to win people to Jesus rather than bash them for their sin. Help us to love our culture by seeking its renewal, not lust after its deceitful promises. Help us to remember that we were once enslaved too to our own sinful lusts of the heart, that we might have compassion on those held under its spell.