The Bible’s Response to the LGBTQIA+ Community
The Bible’s Response to
Lawrence Summers was professor of economics at Harvard University when he joined President Bill Clinton’s cabinet. In 1999, Summers was appointed to be the Secretary of Treasury. After Clinton’s term ended, Summers returned to Harvard as the 27th president of Harvard.
In 2005, Summers found himself in hot water by making a comment that perhaps the reason why there were so few women top positions in science may be “issues of intrinsic aptitude.” According to the most recent government census, women in 2019 made up 47% of math occupations and 45% of life and physical science occupations. But in computer and engineering occupations, women made up only 25% (computer workers) and 15% (engineering) positions.
Now I am not here to support or to criticize President Summers’ statement. But, the controversy that he created led him to resign from Harvard and it illustrates the fact that a large number of people in our society want to ignore the fact that there are differences between men and women.
It is very frustrating today when you fill out a medical form and these people who are supposed to be the epitome of scientists ask if you are: male, female, or non-binary. Our society is losing its grip on reality and only God knows where it is going to end.
What does the Bible teach…?
GOD ASSIGNS GENDER AT CONCEPTION - Genesis 1:26-27; 5:2:
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
God made man and He created “man” as male and female. It goes without saying that the rest of the Bible is consistent with this point and we will not belabor the point too much. But observe here that “man” (in the broad definition of the Hebrew term) is composed of two genders: male and female.
In Genesis 5:2, Moses writes: “He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created.”
Later in the Law of Moses, God says that women who give birth are unclean for a certain number of days, but there are only two possibilities for the gender of the baby: boy or girl:
“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. (Lev. 12:2)
“…‘But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days.” (Lev. 12:5)
Please observe that in both these situations, it is clear that the woman does not assign the gender of her child; she recognizes the gender of the child. Why? Because God is the one who assigns gender.
Scientists obviously have recognized this fact for a very long time. Except for situations where there is a genetic abnormality, every individual is born either having two x chromosomes which biologically cause a certain cascade of hormones to become active and leads to all of those qualities that we normally recognize as female. Or an individual is born having one x chromosome and one y chromosome which, again, causes a different cascade of hormones to become active and leads to all of those qualities that we normally recognize as male.
If a child is born with xxy chromosomes, they have what is called Klinefelter’s syndrome which affects 1 in 1,000 children and is one of the most common chromosomal disorders. But, according to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia website, such an individual is still biologically a male. To be born with xyy chromosomes is extremely rare, but according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, this individual is still biologically a male.
But again, gender is associated either with an xx chromosome pair or an xy chromosome pair, which happens as soon as the male cell is joined to the female cell and all of that is under God’s control.
GOD EXPECTS MAN TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN “SEXUALITY” AND “SPIRITUALITY”:
While we recognize that Christians are not under the Law of Moses, we also can and should consider what God required under the law of Moses to see what God’s attitude is toward various matters.
While God created us as sexual beings, He does not want us to find our primarily identity in our sexuality or sexual nature but rather in our spiritual nature.
At Mount Sinai, when God was going to give Israel His Law, including the Ten Commandments, observe Exodus 19:10-15:
“The Lord also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments; and let them be ready for the third day, for on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. “You shall set bounds for the people all around, saying, ‘Beware that you do not go up on the mountain or touch the border of it; whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. ‘No hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned or shot through; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people, and they washed their garments. He said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.”
There are a number of laws in the Law of Moses which show that God intended Israel to keep their sexuality out of worship to Him. The pagan nations around Israel certainly incorporated their sexuality into their worship, but God commanded them not to do anything of the sort.
For one example, in the laws related to the clothing of the priest, in Exodus 28:42-43, God commanded: “You shall make for them linen breeches to cover their bare flesh; they shall reach from the loins even to the thighs. “They shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they enter the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister in the holy place, so that they do not incur guilt and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and to his descendants after him.” God did not want the priests to expose themselves while they were in worship, which was to keep sexuality out of the context of worship.
To give another example, in Leviticus 15:16-18, God declared that if a man and woman engages in the sexual relationship, they were unclean and could not worship God until the evening, after they had bathed:
“Now if a man has a seminal emission, he shall bathe all his body in water and be unclean until evening. ‘As for any garment or any leather on which there is seminal emission, it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening. ‘If a man lies with a woman so that there is a seminal emission, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening.”
This law would teach Israel: 1) There are things you do at home that you do not do in worship; 2) The sexual relationship specifically is not to be associated with worship.
But, this content also shows that God does rule over and regulate what happens in the home. He’s not just the God of worship, but He is also the God of the home and the God of the bedroom.
In this whole context of Leviticus 15, God describes certain physical conditions that if a man or woman has, they are unclean and must do certain things in order to become clean. However, these conditions are private conditions that only the individual and perhaps his or her spouse would know about. But the point is that God would know and God expects them to follow His laws if they are going to avoid being punished by God.
Speaking of the bedroom, then, notice in Leviticus 18 that God warns Israel about certain relationships that God would consider to be sinful. We will not take the time to read this whole chapter, but I will point out 18:22-23 because it is especially relevant in our own social context:
“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. ‘Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.”
Two chapters later, God will prescribe the death penalty for these individuals:
“‘If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them” (Lev. 20:13).
The biblical fact is that God created two genders and He gave each gender specific qualities and characteristics which they are to use in their service to God and glorifying Him. And then God tells Israel not to mix the two genders…
Notice a few of the laws in Deuteronomy 22:
Verse 5: - “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” Now remember this is in the context of a culture where the men wore robes just like the women. But in whatever way the women’s robes were different, God commanded the men not to wear women’s clothes nor should women wear men’s clothes. God created two genders and He expects the two genders to live appropriate for their own gender.
Verse 9 - “You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled.”
Verse 10 - “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.”
Verse 11 - “You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together.”
Now, we readily admit that Christians are not under the Law of Moses any more so these laws do not apply to us unless Jesus Christ Himself and His apostles require us to make distinctions between male and female. And in some ways, Jesus has…
THE NEW TESTAMENT TEACHING:
In Matthew 19, when Jesus was asked about marriage and divorce, He quoted from God’s law in the book of Genesis and Jesus defines for us what God has always intended relative to marriage (19:4-6):
“And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
So Jesus defined marriage as a permanent relationship between one man and one woman. In this statement, Jesus implicitly forbid homosexual marriages or polygamous marriage or polyandrous marriage. One man with one woman for life. That’s Jesus’ law.
Now, some people say, “Well, Jesus did not speak against homosexuality Himself.” That is true; yet Jesus also commanded us to obey His apostles and His apostles spoke against homosexuality on several occasions:
Romans 1:25-28 - “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”
Notice that Paul refers to their behavior as coming from “a depraved mind” and they were doing things that “are not proper.” In verse 32, “those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - “Or 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 effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
The word “effeminate” is understood by Greek word scholars as referring to the passive person in a homosexual relationship. Even in those relationships, someone is the more aggressive or dominant person and someone is the more passive, submissive person. Paul condemns both those behaviors in those two terms: effeminate and homosexual.
Since we are here in 1 Corinthians 6, I want you to notice the further context. Apparently some of the Corinthian Christians were under the assumption that because their spirits had been saved by the blood of Christ, then they could do what they wanted to do with their bodies - even engaging in sexual behaviors that God would otherwise forbid.
But listen to what the Holy Spirit says, beginning in verse 13:
“Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (6:13-20).
Our bodies are not our Masters. We are not to identify ourselves primarily in terms of our sexuality. We are spirit beings but our bodies belong to Jesus Christ and we are to glorify God in our bodies, which means, among other things, we cannot use our bodies to do sinful things because that affects our spirits as well, which is most important.
Our society wants to say that “self-actualization” - being true to yourself, especially in sexual terms - is the highest good we can attain. But that’s not what Jesus teaches. Our highest good is serving God and that can only be done in the way that God has commanded. And keeping our sexual aspect under control and submissive to the teachings of Christ is a part of that.
Observe 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8:
“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”
Now Thessalonica was the “sin city” of the first century Greco-Roman world. I won’t go into any details, but they were surrounded by the type of thing that embarrasses cultured people. So here, Paul warns Christians that we have to keep our bodies and our urges under the control of the Holy Spirit in order for the Holy Spirit to continue to dwell in us.
Jesus tells us that truth makes us free (John 8:32) - His truth, His spiritual realities. When we deny God’s reality in this world, we become slaves to the fake. We confuse our brains and our spirits.
When we become Christians, we become new creatures, the old things have passed away, all things become new - 2 Corinthians 5:17. We recognize a truth that has been truth even before we became Christians, we just didn’t recognize it: The spirit is what is most important and the spirit must be subservient to God and His word.
We simply cannot love ourselves and our sexual identity above what God has told us in His word. Always remember and never forget that “self love” is sinful: 2 Timothy 3:2.
HOW TO RESPOND TO SOMEONE WHO IS CONFUSED ABOUT GOD:
Basically, you respond to someone who is confused about God’s work in the sexual area in the same way you respond to someone engaged in any other sin:
1) Be humble and recognize that you also have some type of sin that you struggle with. In Galatians 6:1-2, Paul writes: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
2) Be patient as the individual works through their confusion. In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, Paul writes: “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
3) Review with them what God’s word has to say.
4) Don’t over-react to children who might not have the typical interests that a little boy or a little girl might have. Just because a boy is not interested in cars and sports does not mean he is gay. I played with Barbie dolls when I was little - because I’m 13 months younger than my sister and they only way I could play with her was to play with dolls. Don’t over-react.
5) Understand and also explain that a boy can have a close relationship with a boy and not be gay - just like David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1; 19:1; 20:17; 2 Samuel 1:26). A girl can hold hands with her close friend and it doesn’t mean they are having lesbian tendencies. They are just close.
6) It’s also okay for an individual not to have an interest in the other gender to the extent that someone does not want to get married. A male individual who never gets married is actually in good company since Jesus never married and the apostle Paul, as far as we know, never married. Yet they both served God faithfully. A person can go to heaven without practicing heterosexuality, but as we have seen, a person cannot go to heaven while practicing homosexuality.
7) While we know for sure that homosexuality is not caused by some kind of “gay gene” - there is no proof at all - it is also true that we do not know how much our genes influence our choices versus the environment influencing our choices. We simply do not know that much about the interaction. In the same way that a man might have some more aggressive genetic characteristic that could contribute to him becoming a violent murderer in certain contexts, it might also be true that someone can be born with certain genetic characteristics that make him more gentle in a way that we might associate with feminine qualities or that makes a girl more aggressive in a way that might associate with masculine qualities.
8) But, none of that causes a man to murder or a man to engage in homosexual behavior. Those are still choices and we are accountable to God for the choices we make.
Take home message: Our society is confused. The Christian can and should be a voice of reason, love, and patience as he or she shares the truth from God’s word.