I am a high school student and I have been doing a research paper on homosexuality and stumbled across your church's web site, and I too had a question:
If God did not intend for us to share our affections with those of the same sex, then why did He let it be at all possible for me to enjoy the company of another woman than that of a man?
There are a few flaws in your reasoning.
Let me illustrate one this way: Suppose a man told you, "If God did not intend for me to commit murder, why did He let me kill Jack?" Would you accept that argument? If something is a sin, to argue that the presence of sin justifies the sin is not sound logic. God gave mankind free moral choice. People have always had the freedom to choose whether to follow God or not. "And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15). In order to have freedom to choose, the possibility to sin must also be present.
The second flaw comes from playing word games. You are researching homosexuality, but you asked about sharing affections as if those two terms were equivalent, but they are not. Homosexuality is having sex with another person of the same gender. "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due" (Romans 1:26-27). In this passage "natural use" is translating phusiken chresin. Phusiken is the word we get "physical" from. It refers to the natural physical function. Chresin literally means "use" but it carries the connotation of sexual action. Both Aristotle and Polybius used chresin to mean sexual intimacy. Isocrates in the fourth century B.C. used hai oikoi chresin ("the use of houses") to mean the physical act of sexual intercourse.
Now contrast that with the word "affection," which translates splagchnon. This word refers to feelings that come from deep within. It literally means the internal organs, but metaphorically it refers to deep emotions, especially tender mercies. "For God is my witness, how greatly I long for you all with the affection of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:8). "So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us" (I Thessalonians 2:8). "Affection" doesn't have a sexual connotation.
By mixing terminology, pulling different terms together, it is made to appear that liking other people who happen to be of the same sex as you is some how homosexual. This is far from the truth! I have close friends, both male and female, whom I care deeply about, but my sexual relationship is reserved only for my wife. David cared about his friend Jonathan more than he did his own wife (II Samuel 1:26), but that did not mean they had sex with each other -- i.e. they were not homosexuals. Just because at this phase in your life you prefer the company of women to men, it doesn't follow that you need to choose to have sex with women.
So, because it is our own choice to have sexual relations with one of the same gender, then why does the church judge us for our decisions when it is not their place?
A good question, though it too shows flawed logic.
Let's go back to our murder example since it is so easy to see. Suppose a man said to a judge, "You can't put me in jail for murdering Jack, it was my own decision!" Does the fact that a person chooses to commit a sin make it any less a sin? Usually the counter argument is that sexual sins are consensual, where murder is not. However, our society did wrestle with that very idea: Jack Kevorkian claimed that helping someone commit suicide was right because it was consensual. The courts, fortunately, did not buy his argument.
The morality of an action is not determined by individual desire or wants. Speeding down the highway remains wrong whether or not there are other cars on the highway. It remains wrong even if everyone in the car agrees to exceed the speed limit. What determines whether something is right or wrong is the law people live under.
The reason homosexuality is wrong is because God said it was wrong. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). The church is not the creator of these laws, it is upholder of the law (I Timothy 3:15).
Now we could get into a discussion about why God said it was a sin, but that would detract from the current discussion. Suffice for now is the fact that the average lifespan of a homosexual is about 42 years in contrast to the average lifespan of a heterosexual which is in the 80's. God knows what He is talking about.
This brings us to the third flaw, the claim that judgment regarding sin cannot be made. "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?" (I Corinthians 6:2-3). God expects men to follow His laws. To do so, you must use your head and make judgments: this action is right, while another action is wrong. That judgment must be done carefully and accurately (John 7:24), but the idea that a person is not to use their head to determine morality is foolish.
The truth is that you don't want God's law applied to you when it frowns on what you want to do. But you will use it when you think it is to your advantage. But law doesn't work that way. Those under law aren't given an option of whether they want to accept the law or not. My job, as a preacher, is to warn you about what God's law says, the consequences of violating that law, and the benefits of following that law. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (II Corinthians 5:10-11).
Okay, these are all very good points.
I have a little story though. there was a Marine, he was openly gay, and his men were some what uneasy around him. This man died in combat to save some of these men. His remains were flown home and the family had a funeral. The people of the church picketed the funeral with signs that said, "Burn in hell!" and "God hates you!" This soldier died to save someone but the church chose to disrespect his sacrifice. How is that in any way right?
I'm impressed. There are not many people who can consider a viewpoint that is different from their own without attacking the person presenting the opposing view. I thank you for giving those views consideration.
I assume you are referring to the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Remember the point that Christians are to make moral judgments? "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). Just because someone calls himself a Christian or attends a church, it doesn't necessarily follow that he is Christian or behaving as a Christian ought to behave. So we put these protesters to the test.
"And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (II Timothy 2:24-26).
Clearly the protests violate this command. It was quarrelsome, it wasn't gentle, it wasn't humble, it wasn't persuasive.
It isn't hard to find images where this group states they are thankful the events on 9/11 or the bombs used to kill and maim soldiers. Even if we grant that this group looks at some sinners as "enemies," their behavior still violates God's teachings:
"He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished" (Proverbs 17:5).
"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the LORD see it, and it displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him" (Proverbs 24:17-18).
"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:44-45).
This group finds joy in the violent deaths of others. Since love "does not rejoice in iniquity" (I Corinthians 13:6), it is a group without love. Christianity does not exist when love is missing.
However you look at it, this group is not following the teachings of God. They fail the test. So to Christians this group is nothing but a spreader of false teachings. Though this group calls itself "Baptist," none of the Baptist denominations recognize the group. It's teachings of hate are universally condemned among those calling themselves Christian, something that you don't often see when the denominations are so fractured.
So what I am pointing out is that to call a rogue group "the church" or "Christian" as if they represent all Christian thinking or belief is neither reasonable or fair-minded. In debate and logic, this is called a "sweeping generalization," and is flawed reasoning.
Thank you, I believe the only way to get the facts straight is by being open to everyone's opinion.
So a little bit back on my first question. I asked why God would make it so that I have the option of preferring a woman's company to that of a man. And you said that homosexuality and affections are very different things. So let's make a little scenario. Two guys like each other and they are both gay. They start calling the other their boyfriend, they go to movies, but they are abstinent. Does that make their relationship a sin?
I have another question though. How do we know that whether or not we are gay or straight is an option? Thousands of LGBTs take their own life everyday and yet still many more people live (or die) that life. We can't say they do it for attention because hundreds still remain "in the closet". Now why would someone choose the bullet, the knife, or the noose over health and happiness if they could?
There is a stop sign at the intersection near here. I have the ability to ignore that sign and drive straight through without stopping. Does the fact that the intersection allows me to make that choice mean the choice is the right one?
When someone calls another "boyfriend" or "girlfriend" it generally refers to a relationship beyond that of simple friendship or even that of a best friend. It carries the idea that there is a romantic involvement. There is the implication of a desire that eventually this relationship becomes more than friends, such as marriage (though in today's terminology sex is often claimed as permissible between boyfriends and girlfriends).
The first problem that rises is the danger of expressing desire for something that isn't permissible. "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God" (I Thessalonians 4:3-5). This is a danger whether we are discussing different or same sex relationships. But the same sex relationship has the added problem that the desire being cultivated has no proper outlet. At least in a different sex relationship, the ability to get married and express sex within marriage is there. But a same sex relationship doesn't have that potential endpoint, thus temptation exists with no possible righteous endpoint. Whether a person wants to say it is sinful or not, the truth is that it has no long-term benefits.
It makes me wonder why we've lost the concept of best friend. Why add a romantic tone that cannot be fulfilled righteously?
Homosexuality is not an option if one desires to be pleasing to God. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). That some people prefer the temporary fun of sin over long-term happiness has always been a problem regardless of the sin selected. Why do some rob banks when they know they will be caught and spend years in jail? Why do some choose drugs even though they know it ruins their health and mind? The fact that people make decisions that cause problems in their lives, it doesn't necessarily mean they are upholding a noble cause. Many prefer immediate pleasure over long-term peace. Contrast this to Moses: "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward" (Hebrews 11:24-26).
Okay I believe these are all the questions I have to ask.
Thank you, you have helped me with my paper beyond what I had hoped for. But I was hoping that if I had any more questions on this subject or others that you would help to answer them and clear my confusion in the future? your choice of course.
I definitely do not mind questions. There are times when it might take a bit to respond, but if you don't mind that there might be odd pauses in the conversations at times, I don't mind discussing things with you. As I said, it isn't often I run across someone who wants to think through answers.