What do you say to people that say the verses in the Bible about homosexuality/sexual immorality is no longer relevant like the verses that say women shouldn't wear pants or cut their hair? Where can I find sermons on homosexuality? How do I teach the truth to my children when the world tells them lies?
(Guest Answer from our Youth Ministry Director, Adam Borsay)
Thanks so much for the important question! Before even addressing the specifics of how we respond to the common objection that compares homosexual behavior to “ignored” rules like what we eat and what we wear, it is essential to understand the nature of God’s revelation found in the Old and New Testaments in relation to God’s laws. While this response will focus on the interaction between what is and isn’t “relevant” when moving from the Old Testament to the New Testament, it is without question that the New Testament is unambiguous concerning God’s view and expectation regarding sexual relationships!
While many theologians and pastors have written in great depth on this subject (end of response lists resources), let me try to keep it fairly simple for right now while encouraging you to take advantage of the valuable contributions of Godly men and women who have done significant work on this subject.
The Old Testament has a variety of “types” of Laws of God that served specific purposes for God’s covenantal people in Israel. Two broad categories to understand are: 1) Moral Law, and, 2) Ceremonial Law. Ceremonial Law was directly related to the conditions God set for His people to appropriately worship Him and approach Him within the sacrificial system. It was provided for the purpose of illustrating the uncleanness of our own hearts and lives and God’s perfect and Holy Righteousness.
Moral Laws are the universal non-negotiables that ALL people were responsible for as an outflow of God’s creative decrees and His own Nature. The Apostle Paul describes this moral culpability on all people to the Moral Law of God in Romans 2:14 when he states, “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves”.
Ceremonial Laws are no longer binding BECAUSE of Christ. Through Christ’s death and resurrection we are now able to boldly approach the throne of God (Ephesians 3:12). This does not invalidate the ceremonial laws that God gave His people, it is instead COMPLETES them.
Moral laws are the outflow of our very design by a Holy God and are our ongoing responsibility to live righteously, and they continue to be binding. “Thou Shall Not Murder” is a moral law that we are all accountable to at all times. It doesn’t change just because our culture changes. Living within God’s will/design for our interpersonal relationships (sexually and otherwise) are always true regardless of cultural changes.
The Gospel ultimately gives us hope in two powerful and life changing ways in relation to the Ceremonial and Moral Laws:
1. Because of the Cross, I am no longer unable to approach the throne of God because of my ritual uncleanness and am not under an obligation to follow purity laws about my clothes and the food I eat (amongst others).
2. Though I am still accountable to God according to His Moral law, I have hope because of the cross, that when I place my faith and hope in Christ and Christ alone, that even sexual sin will not be too much to be paid for by the Blood of the perfect Lamb.
If someone challenges you to be “consistent” when it comes to the Bible, you can point out that it would be INCONSISTENT to require avoiding shrimp while trusting in Christ AND it is INCONSISTENT to trust in Christ and live in sexual sin.
For Further Reading
Barr, Adam. Compassion without Compromise
Butterfield, Rosaria. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert
DeYoung, Kevin. What does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality
White, James. The Same Sex Controversy (Note from Adam: This book does a very thorough job of addressing specific issues that have been brought up by this specific question)