How can Love be Wrong?
I’ll try to make this brief but I don’t know that I’ll be able too since your question does require providing some context before diving in.
Usually the conversation starts with a number of assumptions on the part of your discussion partner that you’ll want to challenge:
Here are some of them…
1. Since science has proven that some people are born with desires for people of the same sex. That means, therefore, that God must have “created” them that way.
2. The bible addresses manipulative and abusive same sex relationships. It does not address monogamous, loving, same sex relationships
3. God is love and all love is from God…so if two people love each other why would the church stand in the way of it?
Let’s deal with them in order:
It may well be, though the evidence is inconclusive, that some people are naturally drawn to others of the same sex through some biological/genetic factor. But that we may be born with an orientation toward a certain behavior does not mean that “God made us that way”. People are born with orientations toward all kinds of behaviors—alcoholism, pedophilia, and, of course, heterosexual promiscuity to name just a few. Many behaviors have been argued to have some biological or genetic basis but we would not want to “bless” all of them.
The truth is, human beings are “fallen” by nature. (You might want to read through Romans 1:18-33; Romans 3:10-18 and Eph 2:1-3 at this point). That means that we are not who God originally created us to be. We are all born with an “orientation” away from God and toward the self. The way that orientation plays out is different for everyone and we should not be surprised that some are born with biological/genetic predelections to all kinds of behaviors that are not healthy or right. The average human male is, by nature, oriented toward promiscuity. Does that mean that promiscuity is God’s will? Should men be permitted to sleep with whoever they want when they want because they were “born that way”?
No. The whole point of the gospel is that though we are fallen and enslaved by sinful orientations Jesus has come to give us new life and to redeem us. Not only to die in our place to pay the consequences for our sins but also to give us his own Holy Spirit to break free from the bondage to sin. So a Christian has the power, through Christ, to escape the bondage of sexual sin or alcoholism or any other enslaving orientation or addiction.
The question needs to be: is homosexual behavior something that God needs to heal and free people from or is it something that God wants to bless?
The answer to that question, Christians believe, is to be found in the bible. Here are some of the texts that address homosexuality directly:
Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”
Romans 1:24-27 (As a result of the disobedience of humanity) “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
1 Corinthians 6:9 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality.”
There are others, but the above texts are the primary ones because they are most clear.
But it is here that assumption 2 (above) comes into play. Some suggest that long term loving homosexual relationships are not addressed in scripture; that the bible writers knew nothing of them. Even a cursory glance at ancient Greco/Roman culture and literature will demonstrate that homosexual behavior and homosexual relationships, loving and otherwise, were commonplace. If Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles who wrote the most clear NT condemnations of homosexual behavior, knew nothing of them he would’ve had to be culturally obtuse.
But the extent to which Paul or the other human authors of the bible were familiar with various cultural manifestations of homosexuality is in the end irrelevant. What they write is clear and unambiguous. There is no distinction in the texts between “life-long loving unions” and abusive one-night stands. Homosexual behavior is condemned without distinction or regard to relational context or cultural setting. It is the physical act itself and the impulse that leads up to it that is uneqivocably condemned. Any attempt, therefore, to distinguish between types of homosexual relationships and argue that sex acts between two people of the same sex is good in one context and sinful in another is grounded in a fundemental misreading of the text which makes no such distinctions.
A hallmark of good reading (not just the bible but any book) is not to read into a text something that is not there. Good readers ground their interpretation in what the author himself has communicated. Those who seek to limit the biblical injunctions against homosexual behavior to pederasty, prostitution, or promiscuity import and impose a narrowness text that simply is not there.
So far we have seen that not all inborn desires and impulses are good and we have seen that scripture defines the homosexual impulse in particular as one that is linked to our fallen nature. It is not a good thing to be blessed but a sinful enslavement that must be forgiven and healed.
Thankfully, we serve a God who loves sinners, who came to us himself in Jesus of Nazareth to live a life of obedience on our behalf and to die a sacrificial death to suffer the penalty for our sins. That means that there is no sin, no matter how horrific, that cannot be forgiven and no sinner who cannot be justified and redeemed. But first we must see ourselves as God sees us. We must recognize our own deep and desperate sinfulness, despair of ourselves, and surrender wholly and fully to Jesus Christ, trusting in his work instead of our own, his death in our place, and the power of his Resurrection to break the chains of sin and death in our lives.
This leads us to the final assumption (3 above). God is, indeed, “love” (1st John 4:8). That means that he is origin and measure of all love. We are designed to love him, to enjoy his fellowship forever. We are set in various communities—our families, friends, neighbors, churches, towns, cities, nation—and called to love others as God has loved us.
But because, as we noted above, we are fallen creatures our hearts often carry us in the wrong direction. “Love” itself is good. But like any good thing it can be misdirected. Water gives life to all things on earth. But water misdirected, water that overflows the riverbank or breaks through the dike is deadly. The same is true for love. As the scriptures above make clear, erotic/romantic love between two people of the same sex is a love that is misdirected. God gave human beings erotic/romantic love to be enjoyed in the context of marriage between a man and a woman. He did that both for the purpose of carrying on the human race and to bind husband and wife together as one flesh in such a way that their union would be a living sermon—a picture of the love between Christ and his Church.
So while we cannot doubt the evident depth and sincerity of romantic/erotic love between two people of the same sex, we can and should recognize that if followed and indulged it drives people further away from the healing love of Jesus Christ and further into the darkness and slavery of sin.That is why the church, when confronting the cultural push toward homosexual liscence, must at all times and in all places uphold and proclaim the twofold truth that sexual acts between two people of the same sex is sin and that God loves sinners and sent his Son to save them.
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