In Genesis, the Bible says God created us in his own image and then adds these words, “Male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). The creation story places human sexuality at the center of the imago dei. The image of God is uniquely expressed and celebrated in both men and woman, and in the male to female relationship that is called marriage (Ephesians 5). Furthermore, sex is reserved for a man and a woman who are married to each other (Genesis 2:24-25). Every sexual sin described in the Bible departs from this norm.
Exodus follows Genesis, which also includes the story of the fall of man (Genesis 3). The Mosaic Law provides the first direct prohibition of homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 says, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” This command addresses homosexual acts not the desire or orientation. Of course, not all Levitical prohibitions carry over to the New Testament. The Mosaic Law includes unique provisions that applied to Israel under their theocracy. However, the New Covenant includes many, if not most, of the universal moral values found in the Old Covenant.
The New Testament affirms the prohibition of homosexuality in letters sent to the Corinthians and to Timothy, Paul’s protégé in the ministry. Each list of inappropriate behaviors found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 1:8-11 include homosexuality and suggests we are all sexual sinners to one degree or another. For example,
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, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
The Bible’s position is that sin has corrupted our sexual desires and orientations, and that those who practice sexual sin, including homosexuality, will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. This does not mean that an isolated act of homosexual or heterosexual experimentation deserves eternal punishment. Rather, Paul is speaking about the ongoing and unrepentant practice of sexual sin.
Before we pile on our condemnation of homosexuals, it would be good for us to remember that not one of us is unaffected by corrupted sexual desires. Go back to verse 11 and circle the phrase “and such were some of you.” Not a single man or woman will stand before God on the day of judgment and be able to say, “My sexual desires have only been directed to that which is holy and brings glory to God within the covenant of marriage.” That doesn’t mean we all express our sexual depravity to the same degree. It just means that not one of us is innocent.
We are all sexual sinners. The expression of our sexual disorientation can be as hidden as heterosexual lust in our hearts or as open as a gay parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Frankly, our sexual affections and erotic interests cannot be trusted. For men, especially, we can be aroused by a single glance of the eye. The lust monster grabs hold of us when we least expect it, and Jesus said the man who looks at another woman and imagines the sexually possibilities (my definition of lust) has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27). Albert Mohler writes, “Every man is engaged in a sexual struggle, and this should give us an attitude of sympathy as we address homosexuals with the truth.”
Included in the list of sexual sinners in 1 Corinthians chapter 6 are “men who practice homosexuality.” This phrase is a translation of two Greek words that refer to the passive and active partners in homosexual intercourse. The focus is on the act not the desire. Homosexuals are in the same category as the sexually immoral, idolaters, and adulterers, not to mention thieves, drunkards, revilers, swindlers, and the greedy. This is a list of the bad, the really bad, and the ugly. And yes, such were some of us! However, while homosexuality is a seriously unrighteous act, it is not any greater than any other sin listed.
Here’s the good news for any sexual sinner that repents and seeks forgiveness from the Lord Jesus Christ: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Washed, sanctified, and justified! That means God loves you. God loves the sexual sinner. God even loves the practicing homosexual, the adulterer, and the fornicator. But if that describes you, He wants you to repent, to turn from your sexual sin and run to the cross of Christ. And when you do, He will wash you clean, set you apart for His service, and declare you as His righteous child.