I contend that homosexuality is one of many sexual sins mentioned in the Bible. Is a homosexual act any worse of a sin than adultery or fornication? I’m going to say no. Are sexual sins in a different category than others sins? And here I say yes. But I’m not going there without a firm scriptural basis.
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There is none righteous, and I understand that from the start. But let’s move past “sin is sin in God’s eyes,” because that is not a verse found in scripture. The simple fact is that different sins carry different penalties, depending on the severity of the offense. Even in the Old Testament, the punishment depended on the crime. If someone accidentally killed their neighbor’s sheep for instance, they merely had to replace a sheep. The penalty was higher for intentionally killing for slaughtering someone else’s sheep. The difference was intent, just like today accidental manslaughter does not carry the same penalty as premeditated murder. All crimes are not of the same level of severity, and punishments are prescribed accordingly. In both the Old and New Testaments of scripture the same is true of sin.
Sexual relationships are very closely related in scripture to our relationship to God. Both are a type of covenant. When describing the Biblical definition of marriage, Jesus quotes from Genesis by saying that “a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” Marriage is not a contract; a contract is an if/then relationship. If one party fails to keep one end of the deal, then the other is freed from the contractual obligation. If my contractor finishes building my deck, I will pay him $5,000. If he does not, then I will not. The marriage vows have that whole unconditional thing going on; for richer or poorer, better or worse, in sickness and health, ’till death do you part. In a covenant relationship – the kind that God always makes with his people – the promises of the covenant stand regardless of who does the letting down. It’s always mankind that fails to keep his end, but God’s promises remain.
Hosea’s marriage to the prostitute Gomer symbolize how God just keeps taking back Israel no matter how unfaithful she is as a nation. The people of Israel go “whoring after other Gods,” and yet time and time again God lets them repent and return to faithful standing. In the New Testament Paul refers to the church as a bride adorned for her husband. Just as a bride remains chaste, so must the church be unblemished. In heaven we will sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Sexual sins violate the covenant relationship and thus carry a special weight, both in the legal code and with God. Adultery bears the same capital punishment as murder.
So where is my scriptural basis for these claims? Consider Leviticus 18. Now granted Leviticus is a book giving the Law. Chapter after chapter list different sins/crimes and what the penalty shall be. Many of the laws are specific to the Jews of the Old Testament. But at the beginning of chapter 18 God warns that His people shall not do the same things the Egyptians did in the land they came from, nor the things the people of Canaan do in the land they are going into. There is a special warning at the end listing every sexual sins imaginable (and perhaps some they had never thought of) that corrupting the land with these sins will get them “vomited” out the land the way the people of Canaan were being removed. This ominous warning is unique to these sins.
Look at what had already happened to Sodom and Gomorrah back in Genesis 19. This is the same land even before the Law was given to Moses. Sexual perversion, namely homosexuality, is what had disgusted God to the point of total destruction even then. Illegal acts of sexual perversion are still referred to as sodomy in our culture today. When the men of Sodom wanted to “know” Lot’s visitors, he offered his virgin daughters. The men of Sodom didn’t want his daughters. Fire and brimstone fell on Sodom and Gomorrah because of the sexual sins. Many Old Testament laws were meant only for the Jews, and most of the legalism of the day did not carry over into the New Covenant. Reading Romans 1 however is pretty clear evidence that homosexual relations are still an abomination. Again, consider what Jesus says about marriage; a man shall cleave unto his wife. One man + one woman = one flesh.
Sexual sins are of a special type and category to God. Faithful monogamous relationships are favored by him, and are in fact the only kind that is acceptable. So then, why the special attention given to homosexuality? Because to openly declare homosexuality is to accept sexual sin as a lifestyle choice. It is unrepentant sin. If I’m caught cheating on my wife, but repent and ask forgiveness, that’s one thing. If I declare that having a wife and a mistress is not sin, that’s another thing entirely. If I try to make the argument that sexual relationships with multiple partners is not sin, I would be put out of the church. When I see an attractive woman, it is my nature to desire her. The temptation is there. Being tempted to sin is not sin; committing a sinful act is sinful. Being attracted to a person of the same gender is not the same as having sex with that person and then declaring that Christians are close minded bigots. Deciding that openly professing homosexuals are perfectly accepted as Christians is the same as my declaring I can have one wife, one girlfriend, and occasionally sleep with a 15-year-old and be a faithful Christian.
Being tempted by the sin, and even committing the sin, are not the same as accepting the sin. Being proud of that sin and insisting that we all accept it is a further departure from righteousness. Gay pride is an arrogance about that sin, and salvation doesn’t come without repentance. Open homosexuality is unrepentant sin.