Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1-2 ESV)
Pastor Tom Eckstein of Concordia Lutheran Church in Jamestown, ND, shares some ideas of how our pastors and lay people may give an articulate and loving response from Scripture for those who have been misled into thinking that same-sex behavior is something we should be proud about and affirm. The following article was originally shared on Facebook and is being shared here with permission.
You can read more about Pastor Eckstein’s teaching on how to speak the truth in love to people burdened by homosexuality in his book, Bearing their Burden, which draws from Galatians 6:1-2.
The LCMS also has several resources available from the God’s Gift of Sexuality LCMS Task Force online here.
JUNE IS GAY PRIDE MONTH | by Pastor Tom Eckstein
As a Christian and a pastor, it is my privilege and duty to speak God’s truth in love, especially on those issues in our culture where God’s Word is being compromised and twisted with the result that people are being deceived and led away from Christ and His loving will for their lives. Also, I write this as a fellow sinner who needs Jesus' forgiveness as much as anyone. With this in mind, I want to briefly address what Scripture teaches about same-sex behavior.
However, first, I want to stress that if you struggle with same-sex desire and/or behavior, know this: GOD LOVES YOU! God sent His Son to the cross to suffer the judgment for all our sins—including same-sex lust and behavior. You can come to Jesus with this burden and know that He completely forgives you, loves you, and will always do this even as you continue to fight against the desires of your sinful nature (see Romans 7:14 – 8:1 and 1 John 1:7 – 2:2).
With that said, here’s what God Himself says about same-sex behavior:
In Genesis 1 - 2, God teaches that He created the first humans as male and female and gave them to each other in marriage. No mention is made of same-sex behavior. In Matthew 19:1, ff., Jesus uses the marriage texts from Genesis 1 - 2 as a commentary re: God’s will for our sexuality, and Jesus clearly teaches there that the only God-pleasing context for sex is between one man and one woman in marriage. The only other option is celibacy. This rules out same-sex behavior in all circumstances or for any reason.
In Leviticus 18 & 20, God condemns various sexual sins—including consensual same-sex behavior. The context clearly shows that these sexual prohibitions are not temporary ceremonial laws given only to the Jews because . . .
Unlike the food laws or the Passover, which were never given to the Gentiles, God condemns the Gentile nations in Leviticus 18 & 20 for their sexual sin—including same-sex behavior.
The New Testament clearly teaches that Jesus fulfilled the ceremonial laws which pointed to Him, but He maintained the moral laws—including the sexual prohibitions—found in Leviticus. For instance, in Mark 7:14-23, Jesus condemns not only sinful sexual behavior but also sinful sexual desires in the heart, and He does this with the Greek word “porneia,” which was used by the Jews of that time to refer to all the sexual prohibitions in Leviticus 18 & 20—including same-sex behavior. So here we see that Jesus Himself condemned same-sex behavior.
In the Song of Solomon, we see that Solomon affirms monogamous marriage between one man and one woman. In the book of Hosea, God uses heterosexual monogamous marriage as an image for His relationship with His people. In contrast, God NEVER speaks of same-sex behavior in a positive manner. Whenever Scripture mentions same-sex behavior, it is ALWAYS condemned as being sinful. This is important because historical evidence shows that committed same-sex behavior existed in the times of the Old Testament and New Testament. If God were in favor of same-sex behavior, you would expect Him to condone it because God always took the side of those who were wrongly being oppressed against God’s will. But God never once takes the side of those engaging in same-sex relationships. Instead, God ALWAYS condemns this behavior!
As for Jesus’ supposed “silence” on same-sex behavior in the Gospels, I’ve already answered that above by referring to Matthew 19:1, ff., and Mark 7:14-23. In addition, the reason Jesus did not need to specifically mention same-sex behavior is that His Jewish audience already agreed that is was sinful—and so Jesus didn’t need to address it directly. In the same way, Jesus never mentioned the sins of bestiality, incest, rape, or oppressing people with disabilities because the Jewish culture of His day also already agreed with Jesus that such things were sinful. Finally, the Gospels teach that Jesus entrusted His teaching to His apostles. When Paul took Jesus’ teaching to the Gentile culture, among which many DID affirm same-sex behavior, Paul clearly addresses the issue and condemns same-sex behavior in all circumstances (see below).
In Romans 1:18-32, Paul clearly teaches that all forms of same-sex behavior regardless of the circumstances are CONTRARY TO NATURE based on God’s creation of humans as male and female. Now, Paul does not mention same-sex behavior up front because it is worse than other sins (Paul goes on to list many other sins as well). Instead, Paul mentions same-sex behavior up front because it is the most obvious example of how we sinners rebel against God by twisting and distorting His created order. Obviously, ALL sin deserves death and God’s wrath—especially if we take pride in it! (See Romans 1:32.) But this doesn’t change the fact that the particular sin of same-sex behavior is clearly condemned by God. Of course, those who repent and trust in Jesus are forgiven even as they continue to struggle against their sinful desires (see Romans 7:14 – 8:1)! But if we reject God’s Word and affirm our sin, then we reject Christ and place ourselves under God’s wrath.
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, God condemns various sins—including same-sex behavior. Paul uses the Greek word “arsenokoites” which even PRO-gay bible scholars acknowledge that Paul likely coined based on the Greek translation of the Hebrew text of Leviticus 18 & 20 regarding the verses that condemn same-sex behavior. In other words, Paul used the Greek text of Leviticus to show that God’s condemnation of same-sex behavior is still in force, and those who refuse to repent of this sin but choose to take pride in it will NOT inherit the Kingdom of God. Of course, Paul then adds “that is what some of you were.” By this, Paul does not mean that if you believe in Jesus your same-sex desires will go away. In no place does Scripture teach that being Christian means you no longer have sinful desires. Instead, when Paul says, “that is what some of you were,” he means that the Christians in Corinth who used to pridefully engage in same-sex behavior are now repentant and have forgiveness in Christ. These Christians in Corinth were now renouncing their same-sex desires, and in the freedom of God’s mercy, they were now rejoicing in God’s loving will for their sexuality.