It’s about obedience, not ‘orientation’

Sexual identity is complex and controversial. As I’ve written in three books on sexuality, researchers have debated whether gender identity and same-sex orientation derive from nature or nurture. The answer seems to be yes.

So, may I humbly make two suggestions for the Church as it struggles to find a biblical response to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual, and others (LGBTQIA+).:

1. If the Church is going to address sexual sin, then address all sexual sins.

Homosexual behavior is not the only “abominable” sin found in Scripture. Preachers love the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and most claim homosexual behavior was the reason for all that fire and brimstone. The Bible doesn’t say that. Yes, there’s the scene of the residents coming to Lot’s house and wanting to have sex with his male guests, but that’s not specified as the condemning sin. Here’s what the prophet Ezekiel writes about the unfaithful Hebrew nation:

    As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, Sodom and her daughters were never as wicked as you and your daughters. Sodom’s sins were pride, gluttony, and laziness, while the poor and needy suffered outside her door. She was proud and committed detestable sins, so I wiped her out, as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:48-50).

Nope, not a word about homosexual behavior! There is the reference to “detestable sins”—but that could be anything from idol worship to child sacrifice—but no specific mention of homosexual offenses in the list.

In fact, there are a lot of sins, in addition to homosexual behavior, that God calls “abominable.” Idol worship; sleeping with a woman whom you have divorced; eating an un-kosher sacrifice; making unholy offerings to God, claiming to have received false prophesies; and convincing others to reject God’s Word. They’re all abominable.

Unfortunately, some Christians have created a list of sins they think are worse than others, but I love how the Scripture writers don’t make a distinction between “deep sin” and church-acceptable sins. Paul lumps them altogether:

    When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).

Right there, between sexual immorality and drunkenness, there’s jealousy and selfish ambitions! (Anyone reading who hasn’t been jealous or selfish?!)

2. It’s not about orientation, it’s about obedience

Just because I identify as heterosexual, doesn’t mean “I was born this way, so I can’t help it !I’m a heterosexual and want to have sex with anything with two X chromosomes. I should get a pass on God’s rules because it’s just how he made me!”

Let’s face it, in this culture, it is hard keeping sexually pure, whether you’re married or single, gay or straight.

In fact, a gay man asked a friend of mine, “How do you heterosexuals keep pure with all the temptations everywhere you look? It’s got to be hard!” Indeed!

But here’s the good news. Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 6 and get a running start . . .

    Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God (9-10).

Okay, that’s the bad news, but here’s the good news:

    Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11).

The whole concept of holiness from the Temple rituals to the New Testament church is about being “cleansed” from sin and then “set apart” to obey God. Paul continues in 1 Corinthians 6:

    Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

So, in review:

God’s character is revealed in male and female genders. So, male-male and female-female unions distort God’s image.

God’s symbol of the close, intimate relationship he wants to have with us is a faithful male-female union. Any sexual acts outside a fully committed, lifetime male-female union, distorts that symbol. This includes adultery, incest, polygamy, and other actions outside that relationship.

God is not so concerned whether you identify as LGBTQIA+ as that you follow his plan for sexuality laid out in the B-I-B-L-E for both heterosexual and homosexually-oriented people.

You are not alone in your struggle with homosexual or heterosexual temptation. It’s not easy to live a pure, holy life and Jesus understands that.

    This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).

    The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure (1 Corinthians 10:13).

We are all unconditionally loved by a holy God who “doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change” (2 Peter 3:9 MSG).

Here’s a sign we often see at sporting events: JOHN 3:16. It sums up what the B-I-B-L-E teaches on LGBTQIA+:

    “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him” (3:16-17).

Church, let’s treat all people with love, respect and dignity. And anyone who believes in him will not perish as a part of the Body of Christ. At the same time, let’s compassionately share God’s commandments which he has given that his creations may live the best life physically, socially, mentally and sexual. It’s always wise to follow the manufacturer’s instructions!

So, it’s about obedience, not orientation.

Copyright © 2019 James N. Watkins

Related posts

LGBTQ and the B-I-B-L-E
My gender identity crisis
Why are some people so bent out of shape about homosexuality?


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One thought on “It’s about obedience, not ‘orientation’

  • June 3, 2021 at 8:02 pm

    Yes. Well said. And obedience keeps us quite busy.


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