Homosexuality: If Gay Marriage is Contrary to God’s Will, Shouldn’t It Be Illegal? Part 4

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5. The laws our government enacts and the decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court impact the culture of our nation.

Not always, but often, a change in the law results in a change in culture. When the Supreme Court approves topless bars, the nation becomes more accepting of topless bars. After all, as they become more common, and we drive past so many, we become desensitized.

6. The Bible does not call on the church to change the culture of unbelievers. In fact, it seems to say the exact opposite.

Consider this very familiar passage —

(Rom 1:28-32 ESV) And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,  30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. 

This section of Rom goes back at least to v. 18, but this should be enough of Paul’s argument to make the point.

Speaking primarily of the Gentiles pre-Pentecost, Paul says that they failed to acknowledge God even though —

(Rom 1:19-20 ESV) 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

As a result of rejecting God’s will revealed in the Creation itself, God has given the Gentiles up to a host of sins. But not just any sins — sins that themselves point to God and his will.

In addition to addressing homosexuality in verses 26-27, Paul adds disobedience to parents, because every society understands that children should be obedient to their parents. He adds gossip and slander because you don’t need the Torah to know that these things are wrong.

In short, these are the sorts of sin that (a) are obviously wrong even to those who’ve never received a special revelation from God and (b) a fallen, broken society indulges in, even celebrates. And the fact that society takes obviously wrong things and pretends that they are healthy, good things (in their minds) demonstrates that there surely is a God and that he is not happy with how things are going.

But Paul’s remedy is not an advertising campaign, a change in the public school curriculum, or even campaigning for laws banning these practices. His solution is the gospel — salvation by faith leading to receipt of the Holy Spirit.

Not only that, but Paul declares that God “gave them up” to these sins. God wants a God-less society to act in God-less ways so that the need to return to God is obvious.

The “therefore” at the beginning of this verse shows that God’s “handing over” of human beings is his response to their culpable rejection of the knowledge of himself that he has made generally available (vv. 21–23). Paul’s use of the verb “hand over” to describe this retribution has its roots in the OT, where it is regularly used in the stereotyped formula according to which God “hands over” Israel’s enemies so that they may be defeated in battle. And, in an ironic role reversal, the same formula is used when God hands his own people over to another nation as punishment for their sins.

Somewhat similarly, Paul here alleges that God has “handed over” people to “uncleanness.” What does Paul mean by this? Clearly he cannot be saying that God impelled people to sin. Not only would this contradict the biblical depiction of God (cf. Jas. 1:13), but the phrase that qualifies this “handing over to uncleanness,” “in the passions of their hearts,” shows that those who were handed over were already immersed in sin. Paul’s purpose in this verse is to highlight the divine side of the cycle of sin; but it must be balanced with the human side, presented in Eph. 4:19, where Paul says that Gentiles “gave themselves up” to licentiousness, leading to all kinds of “uncleanness.”

… Chrysostom interprets this handing over in a passive sense: by withdrawing his influence over these disobedient idolaters, God permits them to continue in, and indeed to plunge more deeply into, the sin they had already chosen. As Godet puts it: “He [God] ceased to hold the boat as it was dragged by the current of the river.”

Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), 110–111.

In short, when a people rejects God, God will first implore them to repent, as he implored the Israelites of the OT. But there comes a time when, just as God did with Israel, God gives up and lets the sinners sin. Indeed, he let’s them become the evidence for the sinfulness of sin, of the inhumanity of leaving God. He lets them sin so blatantly that the justness of his coming wrath will be plain to all.

Paul repeats ‘God gave them up’ (verses 24 and 26; it comes again in verse 28). When God gives human beings responsibility he means it. The choices we make, not only individually but as a species, are choices whose consequences God, alarmingly, allows us to explore. He will warn us; he will give us opportunities to repent and change course; but if we choose idolatry we must expect our humanness, bit by bit, to dissolve. When you worship the God in whose image you are made, you reflect that image more brightly, and become more fully and truly human. When you (and by ‘you’ I mean the human race as a whole, not simply individuals) worship something other than the living God, something that is itself merely another created object, and hence subject to decay and death, you diminish that image-bearingness, that essential humanness.

Tom Wright, Paul for Everyone: Romans Part 1: Chapters 1-8, (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), 23.

If we take Paul quite seriously, then we can hardly argue that it’s the church’s role to impose godly living on unbelievers through a change in culture. If the church encourages a culture in which people live like Christians without in fact being Christians, what good has the church actually done? Rather, it appears that God will leave those who reject him to become what godlessness turns us into — not just sinners (we all sin), but sadly corrupted, broken people who live lives so misshaped that the necessity for change, for a return to God, becomes obvious.

By this logic, one of the worst mistakes the church could make would be to rescue the unbelieving world from the consequences of their unbelief.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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12 Responses to Homosexuality: If Gay Marriage is Contrary to God’s Will, Shouldn’t It Be Illegal? Part 4

  1. Excellent post! The light appears brightest when it is in contrast to the darkness around it.

  2. rich says:

    Richard constant on August 23, 2015 at 7:40 am
    @ John. f
    don’t ever forget Mars Hill.
    The epicurenistic philosophy still exist and has woven itself so tightly into our ideology that we don’t even see it as that.
    John and I’m sure that is as I bring this to the ground this word of Epicureanism, and you look that word up but you probably already know and, so we just call it by another name, what would that name be?
    it absolutely amazes me!
    do you know the history of the Areopagus (mars hill)?
    it only stretches back about 500 years from when Paul is talking.
    What is the Supreme Court?
    I could go on and on about, this subject, although that should be enough to get you started thanking just exactly what are the new names that we called the Stoics today what are the new names that we call epicurean today.
    And they promise Us quite a bit too just like they did in the past.

  3. Monty says:

    “God wants a God-less society to act in God-less ways so that the need to return to God is obvious.”

    I think herein lies the dilemma. The U.S. has been something of a God inspired and God blessed nation. Not a “God-less nation.” At least not like the pagan nations that surrounded Israel or say Rome was pre-Constantine. At one point in our nations history in order to receive a new school charter you had to agree to teach the Bible. How times have changed. We are a nation founded upon belief in the Judeo-Christian God of scripture, regardless if some try to deny it. We are a nation with a church building on every major street corner. Has there always been sin? Yes! There was sin in Israel under the theocracy. But there’s been evil eating at the foundations of our nation, and it seems like the termites have gnawed though the underpinnings. So, the answer is what? Sit back and don’t vote? Vote for those who would hasten the collapse so that God’s will for the nation to “bottom out” can occur more rapidly and that the light can shine brighter quicker? Just remove ourselves and our influence from the public domain to hasten the bottoming out?

    “If we take Paul quite seriously, then we can hardly argue that it’s the church’s role to impose godly living on unbelievers through a change in culture. ‘

    If you mean something like Sharia Law then I agree. But right and wrong come from God, not man, unless you believe that we are born with an innate sense of right and wrong. It’s never wrong to stand up for or even vote for the good. I would never vote that everyone had to attend church or believe in God. But I would certainly vote against the idea of removing free worship from our nation, if given that choice. To not do so seems counter-intelligent to me..

  4. Gary says:

    I see two consistent positions in the debate over homosexual love. While I disagree, I have to concede that the Roman Catholic position is a logically consistent one: that all non-procreative sexual acts are inherently unnatural and therefore sinful. So Roman Catholicism condemns homosexuality, masturbation and such non-procreative heterosexual expressions as oral and anal sex. It is usually forgotten today that much of the church’s teaching against sodomy or anal intercourse over the centuries was directed towards husband and wives in heterosexual marriages. Catholics have the weight of church history behind them. Practically all Protestant churches, including the Anglican communion, held the same views until well into the twentieth century. Likewise, practically all of Christendom took Jesus’ words on divorce and remarriage at face value for some 1900 years without finding an opt out revisionist approach in 1 Corinthians 7.

    I also see as being consistent the progressive Christian view of homosexual love. God wants every person to have the opportunity to have a suitable and appropriate life companion. For heterosexual Adam that was Eve. For gays and lesbians it is necessarily a person of the same sex. Paul’s seeming condemnation of gays in Romans 1 is confined by his own words to those who exchange or give up their heterosexuality for homosexuality. Even if proof could some day be produced that showed that Paul’s condemnation of arsenokoites and malakos in 1 Corinthians 6 was directed towards all homosexuals apart from any contexts of exploitation the condemnation would still be qualified by Paul’s words in Romans 1. In short progressives find no basis in Scripture to require celibacy of gays as a condition of Christian fellowship.

    What is fatally inconsistent is the current Evangelical majority approval or allowance of divorce and remarriage for any reason and all expressions of non-procreative heterosexual love while effectively requiring either celibacy or mixed gay-straight marriages of gays and lesbians. Everyone knows this will never be accepted even by a majority of Western Protestantism just as the old requirement of celibacy for unscripturally divorced and remarried Christians was never accepted in practice by a majority of Western Protestants. Polls show that about a third of American Evangelicals and almost a majority of those under 35 no longer believe that homosexual relationships are sinful. More significantly, Christianity in the West is increasingly being judged by society by how just Christians are towards gays and other historically persecuted minorities. At least Roman Catholics can point to their historic opposition to all forms of non-procreative sex. Conservative Evangelicals today can only point to increasingly discredited biblical interpretations.

  5. need4news says:

    Monty, what, in your opinion, would be the difference between following sharia law and following Judeo-Christian law that you say we already have?

  6. need4news says:

    And why do you say God has blessed America somewhat? So could it not have easily been Satan giving those things to us?

  7. Dwight says:

    Gary, it seems you have left out God and God’s laws and Jewish society as influenced by God and God’s laws. God is entirely consistant and Jewish society has been pretty much in line with that at least morally. God made some things sexually immoral and all other things not, not due non-procreation vs pro-procreation, but due to God being God and the way He set things up. God condemned adultery, by which there have been many suprise children born, i.e. David and Bathsheba. And Catholicism also condemns this. Except in the cases of what God considered immoral, man and woman were free in thier practice of sexuality.

  8. Dwight says:

    Gary, Interesting to hear you applaud the Caotholic position due to its consitant tone, but this tone was set by the early Christian Fathers and early Catholics in regards to homosexuality being a sin, not based on lack of procreation, but because they derived it from the scriptures all the way from Justin Martyy to Augustine to St. Peter Damian.
    Only Thomas Aquinas (1200s) put forth the propostion of lack of procreation “Secondly, man sins against nature when he goes against his generic nature, that is to say, his animal nature. Now, it is evident that, in accord with natural order, the union of the sexes among animals is ordered towards conception. From this it follows that every sexual intercourse that cannot lead to conception is opposed to man’s animal nature.”
    But even after this statement other Catholics based thier opposition on scripture as well.

  9. Dwight says:

    The present Catholic catechism; “Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered’. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

    So even the Catholics understand that the basis comes from scripture and they are contrary to natural law and they are non-complimentary. So the reasons are many. These reasons are all true.

  10. Monty says:

    Need4News said,

    “And why do you say God has blessed America somewhat? So could it not have easily been Satan giving those things to us?”

    I’m sorry, but I can’t take your questions seriously based on the above.

  11. need4news says:

    It was a serious question, Monty.

    So, the rest of the world is cursed by God while America has been blessed?

    I’m confused.

    So, revolution against the government (contrary to the Pauline admonition to live in peace and pray for our leaders) and murder in the name of Enlightenment principles qualify America as being founded upon Christian principles?

    Seems that evil hasn’t been eating away at our nation since the beginning; the nation was conceived in evil.

  12. Richard constant says:

    What’s nice about the government and it revolves around selfishness and self centeredness.
    That’s pretty much any government.
    It’s all about control And all about power it’s about agenda it’s about accomplishing agenda to the demise of ethics and morality. been going on since the beginning of recorded time.
    Choosing one over the other is like looking at frogs and finding the best looking one.
    As far as God is concerned there is only one Kingdom.
    that kingdom reaches down to earth and speaks expressly and interactively with God to bring about his purpose.
    what is his purpose.
    again I would say read chapters 3-4-5, 2nd Corinthians summed up in a message of reconciliation.
    that’s what we’ve been talking about for the last 10 weeks or so.
    also to bring forward what you’re saying.
    In the light of what’s been said over the last 10 weeks.
    I could say the pathway to hell is littered with good intentions.
    that would be history.
    I’m sure somebody said we don’t pay attention to history we’re bound to make the same mistakes over and over and over and over and over again.
    and God help us we’ve done pretty good.

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