In Australia, we are now in the process of voting in a plebiscite. The question for the plebiscite is this “Should the law be changed to allow same sex couples to marry?” There were many folk who were not in favour of a plebiscite because they believed that nasty things could be said during the time of the plebiscite. That has already shown to be true even though the nasty language seems to be coming mainly from supporters of one side of the argument. As journalist Miranda Devine commented recently, “SO now we see why rainbow warriors didn’t want a people’s vote on same-sex marriage. It was because they knew we’d see their true, intolerant colours. Yes campaign HQ knows thuggery won’t win over Middle Australia, but their foot-soldiers are revealing themselves as fascistic bullies who vilify and intimidate anyone who dares to disagree.” [NOTE 1] Language such as “homophobes” and “bigots” is being used to berate those who intend to vote “No” on the issue. These are serious accusations and perhaps we should look more closely to see what is mean by the term “homophobe.”
A “homophobe” is described in some dictionaries as “a person who hates or fears homosexual people.” Or those who have an “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals.” The Cambridge English Dictionary has the definition of homophobia as “a fear or dislike of gay people.” There are many in the homosexual world who say that those who do not accept homosexuality as a life-style or who say homosexual activities are wrong, are guilty of homophobic attitudes or hate towards them. Thus they see many Christians, Jews, Muslims and others who reject homosexual practice as being homophobic, bigoted and guilty of hatred.
Living In A World Where There Are No Absolutes
If we live in a world where there is no God, there can be no absolutes. Where there are no absolutes, everything is relative. People in such a world simply conform as much as possible (mainly to their own advantage) to the changing cultural patterns of the day. Those who criticise or condemn the behaviour of their fellow humans are seen as biased and bigoted. Who are they to pass judgment on another person’s behaviour if there are no absolutes to follow? So, it is argued, in a world where everyone is free to do their own thing, people shouldn’t be critical of the behaviour of others who live differently from themselves. It would mean in such a world, that no one is in a position to criticise anyone else. In such a world, different kinds of sexual activity among consenting people would have no value judgments placed on them.
But What If There Is A God Of This Universe? (And it would naturally be a very big ‘if’)
What if there happened to be a God in charge of this world? One who created it? One who made certain demands of His creatures? What if this God has revealed Himself in His creation? What if He has given messages describing what He wanted, to people like Moses and the prophets? What if this God gave them commandments like the Ten Commandments and many other commandments over a period of centuries? What if He has declared many things to be wrong in His sight? What if He caused to be written, the words to males in Leviticus 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. And also in Lev 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.”
What if He inspired His apostle St Paul to record His will in the book of Romans where Paul states that homosexual behaviour is part of the result of the general judgment of God upon people who reject Him? Judgment in the sense that He has deliberately allowed people to do what they wanted to do, to exercise their free-will as they rebelled against Him and against His will for humans. The three verses in Romans chapter 1 stating that “God gave them up” or “handed them over” don’t mean that God has “given up” on such people. Rather He “delivered them over” to their passions or allowed them to fulfil their own will while rejecting His will, Rom 1:26 “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.” What if this God is saying that homosexual activity is not in accord with the purpose for which He created the different sexes in His world?
What if homosexual practice (as described in verses 26-27) is included with the other sins coming from human rebellion that Paul mentioned in Romans 1 such as, Rom 1:28 ”And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless?” What if this God includes homosexual activity as one of the results of the general rebellion of humans against their creator? What if He also condemned them for giving approval to others who also practiced the same things, as St Paul wrote in Rom 1:32, “Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them?”
In such a world, with such a God, it could appear that the homophobic people (those who hate homosexuals, by their definition) are those who engage in homosexual activity. Why? Because they involve other people in activity that this God has declared to be contrary to His will.
A Surprising Possibility
So the “surprising possibility” might be this. If there is a God who created this world, then many of those who try to warn and discourage those engaged in homosexual activity, are those who truly care about them. They care enough about them to be concerned for their present welfare and for their eternal future. On the other hand it would mean that the real homophobes (those acting without love, and with hatred towards homosexuals) in this world in which God exists, would be those who involve and encourage others in their homosexual activities! If this is God’s world, then to deliberately encourage another person to participate in activities condemned by Him, would never be an act of love in the sight of such a God. It would be an unloving act, a homophobic act because it does not seek the best interest of the other person.
Does it really matter which way we vote?
Mind you, if there is no God, then none of this matters one little bit. In such a world you are free to make your own choices in life about everything. But what if God does exist and has revealed His will for how the humans He created are to behave? For many people this would be the classic inconvenient truth! Better in the eyes of many such people to deny the existence of God! Better to mock Bible teaching! Better to ignore the teaching of Jesus that marriage is between a man and a woman! Better to prevent young people from hearing Bible truths which speak of these “inconvenient” truths! Better to intimidate people wanting to attend [or force to cancel] meetings where the value of a “No” vote would be discussed! Better in the eyes of such people to besmirch the character and motives of those who would seek to help them understand this truth, that in a world in which God exists, actions and attitudes have consequences!
If God did exist then it means we would have the awesome responsibility of living in the way He meant us to live, and not contrary to it. It would mean that people would need to seek His help to refrain from all sexual activity outside His will, AND from all the other things St Paul mentioned in Romans 1:28-31 as coming from a debased mind. It means that everyone should be turning away from “all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, slander, hatred towards God, insolence, haughtiness, boasting, new forms of evil, disobedience to parents, foolishness, faithlessness, heartlessness, ruthlessness.” God is not picking on homosexuals. He sees all these sins in Romans 1:18-32 as contrary to His purposes and destructive to the welfare of mankind. He wants all people to repent of sinning in all the above ways and to seek His forgiveness in Christ. He wants all people to seek for His grace and help to overcome the temptations to be involved in all these practices that He sees as sin. He wants all humans to live in the freedom that Christ came to bring by His death and Resurrection and by sending us the Holy Spirit to indwell us and to empower us to live in His way and by His power.
The need to face reality and not live in denial
If the reality is that there is no God, then you can do as you like. However, if God does exist and has told us what He likes and what He dislikes, it becomes an entirely different matter. Issues then are not just based on human rights and values (important as they are) but on His values and His will and purposes for humans in this world. Reality, is the world as God meant it to be, not necessarily what seems right and loving and fair to humans. To ignore or neglect or rebel against His revealed purposes and will, is running away from reality. It doesn’t matter how important are the politicians who tell us we need to vote “YES” as a human right, or how attractive are the same sex oriented celebrities who are trotted out to encourage us to support “love” relationships, God is still God. His will is His will. His world is His world. We are His creatures, privileged to be alive in His world BUT now and eternally responsible to Him for the way we live our lives.
As I have written above, many of those who are concerned about the homophobia they believe they see in others who are against same sex marriage, may themselves be guilty of homophobia when they involve others in their homosexual practices or encourage homosexuality. True love is seeking the best interests of every other person, which means encouraging them to enter into the centre of God’s will for them. His will, according to the Bible, does not allow for same sex activity.
Let’s face it! We have all fallen short of God’s glory! None of us is perfect! We all need forgiveness! But forgiveness only comes as we repent of all our sins and ask God for His grace not to do those things again. Only a God who exists can enable people to refrain from all the things mentioned in Romans 1. From all the indications in the Bible, the God of the Bible would be delighted to help those who asked for His help. Many of my friends who once cried out to Him for help to overcome various temptations, have found He is always ready to help those who humbly turn to Him. Not only that but they have found that He is able to keep on strengthening them to live in the way He always wanted them to live. Therein is freedom! And reality! In God’s world!
[NOTE 1] Miranda Devine in The Daily Telegraph on Sunday 17th September 2017.
Blog No.241. Jim Holbeck. Posted Sunday 17th September 2017