Rev. Wayne D. Mueller
It was a painful silence. Judy and her parents sat motionless, speechless. How could this happen in their family? Judy and her brother had gone to church together, attended Sunday school and taught vacation Bible school. This couldn’t be happening to them.
Judy’s brother, home for semester break, had just announced to his sister and parents that he was a practicing homosexual. He knew they would not understand but asked them not to be judgmental. He still believed in God, he said, still considered himself a Christian. He was going to a new church just off campus where they taught that Jesus loved him no matter what his sexual preference.
Out of the Closet
Judy, of course, is not alone. Many Judys today, along with parents, friends, and former classmates sit in stunned silence as young men and women “come out of the closet” to announce that they are gay.
Homosexuals are not just coming out of the closet, they are coming out swinging. They attack those who resist their sin as bigoted fearmongers. They label Christians judgmental and say we reject homosexuality because we do not understand it. They demand the “right” to teach in our classrooms, to serve in the military, and to marry and adopt children. They organize “Christian” churches where Jesus is not a savior from sin but a symbol of what they see as their own wrongful persecution.
Witness for the Prosecution
Unfortunately for homosexuals, vindication for their proud sinning is temporary. God does not justify sinners on the basis of public opinion polls or majority politics. God’s moral will is — as is God Himself — changeless. Encrusted consciences and agnostic columnists have their day, but the will of God abides forever.
Scripture says homosexuality is wrong, not a “right.” The men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and demanded, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” But Lot told them they were wrong: “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing” (Genesis 19:4-6). Consistently the Bible calls homosexuality an ugly sin. It is in the abandoning of natural relations, an indecent act (Romans 1:27), male prostitution, and homosexual offense (1 Corinthians 6:9). Homosexuality is called perversion and listed alongside the sin of adultery (Romans1:27; 1 Timothny 1:10; Jude 7).
Equally clear in God’s word is the deserved punishment for this sin. “Those who do such things deserve death,” Paul writes (Romans 1:32). They will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9). Jude says that the sexually immoral and perverse Sodom and Gomorrah “serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire” (v. 7).
We want to convey an attitude of sincere spiritual concern for homosexuals. That won’t be easy. Our concern must not suggest that we condone their lifestyle or tolerate their sin. We have to tell homosexuals that God hates and punishes what they are doing. If someone insists on publicly displaying or defending his homosexuality, we may have to deny him the right to use our home as his soapbox.
When they first come out of their closets, homosexuals are not eager to listen to Christian witness. They have learned to squelch their screaming consciences and fortified their arguments with the slogans and rationalizations of their peers. At this point pained silence may be the only way to communicate our grief at their pride in their sin.
Trust in the power of a gracious God will lead us to use this time for prayer, study, and patience. Pray God for the opportunity at some time to speak about the nature of sin and of God’s forgiving love. Study Scripture to know what to say when the time comes. Christian patience will recognize when that time has arrived.
The consequences of homosexual activity sometimes bring offenders to a realization of their sin. Paul says there are such consequences for homosexuals (Romans 1:27). Besides various diseases, the loneliness and frustration associated with promiscuity can plague them. These troubles may be our cue to break our painful silence and share the word.
Cause and Cure
Homosexuals usually justify their actions with some logical variation of “I can’t help it. That’s just the way I am.” Often the implication is that God made them that way. But God doesn’t make people homosexual (James 1:13-15). For sociologists the jury is still out on whether the propensity for homosexual behavior is inherited or is learned through our culture. We know, however, that sinful tendencies are inherited (Ephesians 2:3) and prompted by the devil and the world around us (Ephesians 2:1,2). Since the cause of sin is within us, we may not claim the cause of sin as an excuse for it (Romans 1:18-20).
The cross of Christ is the only cure for homosexuality. Not the proud but the penitent homosexual has Jesus as his friend. Homosexuality is no less forgivable than the sins we ourselves bring to God daily. Some members of the congregation in Corinth were former homosexuals who found healing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). This healing consisted of full forgiveness and the power to put away their former sinful lifestyle. This is the healing the Judys of the church today bring to an immoral society when they get the chance to break their painful silence.