Sunday, June 05, 2011

Romans 1:24-27 - Homosexuality Hurts

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Last Tuesday, President Obama proclaimed June "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month." In the Proclamation, he boasts of his administration's achievements to advance the homosexual agenda: opening the Armed Forces to openly practicing homosexuals "for the first time in our Nation's history;" adding rules to eliminate discrimination against LGBT's in federal housing programs; giving federal rights to LGBT's to visit partners in the hospital; appointing homosexuals to top federal executive and judicial positions; targeting foreign laws that discriminate against LGBT's; leading a campaign to put "sexual orientation" in a U.N. resolution -- the first, ever, to specifically mention LGBT people. He further touted implementing and enforcing the Hate Crimes Prevention Act; efforts to reduce bullying and discrimination in schools; promoting the "It Gets Better" video; and his recommitment to increase funding for AIDS awareness and prevention.
Also Tuesday, homosexual activist Joe Salmonese of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced his organization's "Call it Out" Campaign, a nationwide "effort to expose hatred -- not just on national TV, but in communities." HRC is creating a website where activists can register their accusations and complaints to silence any American who makes a public statement perceived as being "hostile" toward homosexuals or their agenda. Including me in this pulpit this morning.

Meanwhile, U.S. efforts to promote homosexuality worldwide march on. We are spending tax dollars on a Gay Bulgarian Film Festival (flyer here) [and] an "after show party... [W]hile the Administration is slow to defend oppressed Christians in Muslim and communist countries that are being killed for their beliefs, they took less then one day to condemn the Russian government for barring a homosexual pride parade in Moscow... [N]ew guidelines issued on Saturday...for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) program... tax dollars will now be available to force acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle in [recipient] countries, with little regard for the beliefs in the targeted countries... [recipients are required to] endorse the behavior that leads to AIDS.[1]
And the government is not the only place these things are happening. The New York Times on May 10th reported, “After 33 years of debate, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has voted to change its constitution and allow openly gay people in same-sex relationships to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons. The outcome is a reversal from only two years ago, when a majority of the church’s regions, known as presbyteries, voted against ordaining openly gay candidates.
The measure changes the denomination’s constitution by removing a 1997 amendment that said that those ordained were required to live in “either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman” or in “chastity in singleness.”
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with 2 million members, now joins a growing group of historic, mainline Protestant churches that have voted to accept gay clergy members and church leaders — including the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church. The largest mainline Protestant denomination, the United Methodist Church, is still fighting over the issue.
The Rev. Heidi Vardeman, senior minister of Macalaster Plymouth United Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a spokeswoman for a pro-gay church group called More Light Presbyterians, said in an interview, “Finally, the denomination has seen the error of its ways and it will repent, which means, literally, to turn around. I’ve had young people who have been exemplary, obviously good candidates for the ministry, but then because they might be gay or lesbian, it’s not going to work. But now we’re free! We can endorse and propose and assist and elect those whom God has called.”
Paul Detterman, executive director of Presbyterians for Renewal, an alliance of conservative Presbyterians, said he did not think the homosexuality issue was resolved because gay advocates are likely to try to pass an amendment at the church’s next General Assembly in 2012 calling for the church to bless same-sex marriages and unions.[2]
We need to talk about this subject today – not because we are homophobic. We do not fear homosexuals. We are not angry fundamentalists carrying ugly signage. We don’t hate gays. The truth is that we have friends or relatives or co-workers or classmates who claim to be gay. We do not think heterosexuals are better than homosexuals. We are all equal before the Cross in regard to sin.
We are all sinners, and we don’t single out homosexuals for some extra disdain because their sin is somehow worse. But because we are concerned for them and the effect the lifestyle has on God’s three institutions of society: family, government, and church, we need to discuss this topic before the arbiter of Scripture.
We need to talk about this subject today because we love the people trapped in the sinful deception of homosexuality. We see the pain they are dealing with in their own lives. We see the effects on their lives, their physical, mental, and spiritual health. We see the dangerous course the gay agenda is taking the institution of the family, and we will have to deal with the specific issue of same-sex marriage later.
Our young people are confused about homosexuality and have classmates at school who, even at the middle school level, have same-sex boyfriends and girlfriends, date them, and are sexually active with them. Even members of evangelical churches, especially those churches where the subject of what the Bible says about homosexuality has never been addressed, are defaulting to a libertarian position, that homosexuality is an individual, personal moral issue. That I shouldn’t express my reservations about the gay lifestyle for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. And if it is a personal moral issue, our young people wonder, could my admiration for that athlete or friend be perhaps sexual? Am I perhaps gay?
The last several weeks we have looked at the three institutions that God has created: family, government, and church. Today I am beginning to deal with some current issues that affect those three institutions in various ways. Paul talked about these very issues in the Magna Charta of the Christian faith, the letter to the Romans.

Pray and Read:  Romans 1:24-27
Contextual Notes:
Romans 1:1-3:20 is the section in which Paul deals with the theology of sin and sin’s effects on us, putting us in need of Christ.
Key Truth: Paul wrote Romans 1:24-27 to teach believers that homosexuality is a symptom of rejecting the knowledge of God, that it is unclean, dishonoring one’s body and unnatural, hurting those involved.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about homosexuality.
Key Verse: Rom. 1:25

Sermon Points:
1.   Homosexuality is unclean and dishonors one’s body (Rom 1:24-25)
2.   Homosexuality is unnatural and hurts those involved (Rom 1:26-27)

Exposition:   Note well,

1.   HOMOSEXUALITY IS UNCLEAN AND DISHONORS ONE’S BODY (Rom 1:24-25)
a.   paredoken “hand over” is in the sense of control of, responsibility for (cf. Acts 7:42; Rom 6:17). The three-fold use of the same word is effective (v. Rom 1:24, 26, 28).
b.   epithumia “desire/shameful lusts” can be used in a good sense (Phil 1:23; 1 Thess 2:17), but Paul has in mind the desires of the flesh (Rom 6:12; 7:7-8; 13:14; Gal 5:16, 24; Col 3:5; 1 Thess 4:5; Eph 2:3; 4:22).
c.   Uncleanness: akatharsia bears a clear moral sense, especially of sexual immorality. Paul uses it 9 times in the NT, e.g., Rom 6:19; Gal 5:19; Eph 4:19; Col 3:5.
d.   That their bodies might be dishonored: i.e., it might be treated in a way lacking in respect for them. Human beings apart from God regress to a lower level of animality. God has handed them over in the sense that he has accepted the fact of man’s rebellious desire to be free of God and has let go of the control which kept them from baser instincts. Notice that Paul does not call all human desire, including sexual desire unclean. It is only when that desire controls a person, becoming the most important part of human life, that it is condemned. The handing over is also potentially redemptive (Rom 11:32; Isaiah 19:22; Hosea 6:1), if it results in a person recoiling from the degeneration of the outworking of that so-called freedom (1 Cor 5:5), as no doubt had happened to many of the Gentiles who were part of the Roman church.[3]
e.   Rom 1:25 – “who changed the truth of God by the lie.” What lie? The lie in the Garden that I can have freedom from God. The NIV translation is horribly lacking here. When I started studying this passage, verse 25 seemed to be in the way. It didn’t fit. Why was this statement about God’s truth and animism in the middle of an explanation of human sexual immorality? Then I realized: This is the crux of the matter. Misunderstanding the truth of God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness (as a Father) lies at the root of both Gentile and Jewish failure (and results in homosexual involvement). Having rejected God, our innate drive to worship turns to created things rather than the Creator. It led to the ancient practice of temple prostitutes where you connect with the demonic presence behind the idol through sexual activity at the shrine. At places in the first eight chapters of Proverbs, we see Lady Folly wooing the young man through sexual immorality and the end of the encounter is always death (Prov 2:16-19; 5:1-6; 6:24-26; 7:6-27; Job 31:9-12).
f.    Why does sex seem to sell everything? Because, just like the association of pagan idolatry with sexual license, sex sells today because it has always been used to draw people toward idolatry. The success of marketing is to make you idolize their product, make you want it, and sex draws people toward idolatry.
g.   APPLICATION: As the family, the first institution of God, has fallen apart, as fathers have failed to reflect the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God the Father in their marriages, toward their children, in their work, in their worship, it has negatively affected children’s ability to understand God the Father. This rejection of the truth of God’s character has led to a wider questioning of and pushing against the Father’s benevolent boundaries in society. Therefore, we need to focus on our families, growing strong and healthy families built on the structure God has provided of one man and one woman for a lifetime. Feel like you’re a failure so far in that? Then make a commitment to start today with what you have and move forward serving God by serving your family.
h.   APPLICATION: Master commentator on Romans, James Dunn writes, “The outcome of failing to give God his due honor is the dishonoring of oneself: human respect (both self-respect and respect for others) is rooted in the recognition that only God has authority as Creator to order and dispose of that which he has created.”[4] In other words, human respect is rooted in this idea that we are created in the image of God. For this reason we see that homosexual activists have a hard time respecting and tolerating the views of people who oppose the gay lifestyle on the grounds of morality while demanding full and unequivocal respect from those same people. They crave self-respect and are unable to garner respect for others. Thus they call us intolerant when in reality, the fact that their lifestyle today goes unpunished and is recognized and applauded by the authorities and the law is evidence of tolerance and patience to a fault.
2.   HOMOSEXUALITY IS UNNATURAL AND HURTS THOSE INVOLVED (Rom 1:26-27)
a.   “for their females changed the natural function into what is contrary to nature.” Nature is a Greek concept, not a Hebrew one. It is the idea of harmony with the natural order. Paul mentions female homosexuality first and then male, referring, but it is “doing things against life (to kata phusin znv).” Against nature is not just an anatomical reference, but also a reference for pedastery.
b.   “likewise also the males gave up the natural function of the female.” “males with males committing the shameless act.” This last phrase indicates that not just homosexual tendency or desire, but specifically the genital act.”
c.   “receiving in themselves the penalty which was fitting for their error.” Unnatural sexual practice is its own penalty, the inevitable outcome of wandering from God. The punishment for sin is to be handed over to that sin.
d.   In the Greco-Roman world homosexuality was common and even highly regarded (Plato’s Symposium, Plutarch’s Lycurgus, women of Lesbos in Lucian’s Dialogue of the Courtesans). It was a feature of social life of gods and emperors including Nero. The Bible has always viewed it as an abomination (Gen 19:1-28; Lev 18:22; 20:13; Deut 23:18; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7; Isaiah 1:9-10; 3:9; Jer. 23:14; Lam 4:6; Ezek 16:43-58).
e.   Homosexuality hurts those involved mentally. Homosexuals experience considerably higher levels of mental illness and substance abuse than heterosexuals. A detailed review of the research has shown that “no other group of comparable size in society experiences such intense and widespread pathology.” According to even the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association, “Gay men use substances at a higher rate than the general population. Depression and anxiety appear to affect gay men at a higher rate.  Gay men have higher rates of alcohol dependence and abuse. Gay men use tobacco at much higher rates than straight men. Problems with body image are more com­mon among gay men . . . and gay men are much more likely to experience an eating disorder. Lesbians may use tobacco and smok­ing products more often than heterosexual women use them. Alcohol use and abuse may be higher among lesbians. Lesbians may use illicit drugs more often than heterosexual women.
f.  Homosexuality hurts those involved physically. Both because of high-risk behavior patterns, such as sexual promiscuity, and because of the harm to the body from specific sexual acts, homosexuals are at greater risk than heterosexuals for sexually transmitted diseases and other forms of illness and injury. In 2009, a gay newspaper reported, “Gay and bisexual men account for half of new HIV infections in the U.S. and have AIDS at a rate more than 50 times greater than other groups, according to Centers for Disease Control & Prevention data. But HIV/AIDS is not the only sexually transmitted disease for which homosexual men are at risk. The CDC warns, “Men who have sex with men (MSM) are at elevated risk for certain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including Hepatitis A, B, and C, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, pubic lice, anorectal and colon diseases including anal cancer, condyloma acuminata, hem­orrhoids, nonspecific proctitis, anal fistula, perirectal abscess, anal fissure, amebiasis, be­nign polyps, viral hepatitis, anorectal trauma and foreign bodies, shigellosis, rectal ulcers and lymphogranuloma venereum.[5]
g. Similar problems are also found among lesbians. In 2007, a medical journal reported, “Women who identified as les­bians are 2.5 times more likely to have BV [bacterial vaginosis] compared with heterosexual women. According to the GLMA: Lesbians have the most risk factors for breast cancer of any subset of women worldwide. Smoking and obesity are the most prevalent risk factors for heart disease among lesbians. Lesbians have higher risks for many gynecologic cancers. Research confirms that lesbians have higher body mass than heterosexual women. Obesity is associated with higher rates of heart dis­ease, cancers, and premature death.[6]
h. As a result, the life expectancy for gays is 20 years less than average.[7]
  1. APPLICATION: And there are prevalent myths about homosexuality[8]
  1. Myth 1: I was born gay. Since Simon LeVay published his ideas in 1991 that the hypothalamus of gay human cadavers looked different to him from those of heterosexuals, the human genome has been mapped. There is no gay gene.
  1. Myth 2: Sexual orientation can never change. Attractions are not a “choice;” they are called temptation. Conduct is a choice. Identifying oneself as a gay or lesbian is also a choice. Thousands of men and women have testified to experiencing a change in their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. Research confirms that such change does occur—sometimes spontaneously, and sometimes as a result of therapeutic interventions.
  2. Myth 3: Ten percent of the population is gay. Actually, less than 3% of the population identifies as homosexual or bisexual – men: 2.8%, women: 1.4%.
  3. Myth 4: Children raised by homosexuals are no different from children raised by heterosexuals, nor do they suffer harm. An overwhelming body of social science research shows that children do best when raised by their own biological mother and father who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage. Research specifically on children of homosexuals has major methodological problems, but does show specific differences.
  1. Myth 5: Homosexuals are no more likely to molest children than heterosexuals. Most men who molest boys self-identify as homosexual or bisexual. A study of 229 convicted child molest­ers in Archives of Sexual Behavior found that “86% of offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisex­ual.” This does not mean that all homosexuals are child molesters—no one has ever claimed that. It does not even mean that most homosexuals are child molesters—there is no evidence to support that. But there is evidence that the relative rate of child sexual abuse among homosexuals is far higher than it is among heterosexuals.
  2. Myth 6: Homosexuals are seriously disadvantaged by discrimination. Research shows that homosexuals actually have significantly higher levels of educational attainment than the general public, while the findings on homosexual incomes are, at worst, mixed. For example, a 2009 survey of over 20,000 readers of “gay” magazines and newspapers found that they had an average household income of about $80,000 compared to 2008 Census Bureau statistics that the average American household income was only $50,303. The groundbreaking National Health and Social Life Survey found “that twice as many college-educated men identify them­selves as homosexual as men with high-school educations. . . . For women the trend is even more striking. Women with college educations are eight times more likely to identify themselves as lesbians . . . .”
c.   Myth 7: Homosexual relationships are just the same as heterosexual ones, except for the gender of the partners. Homosexuals are less likely to enter into a committed relationship, less likely to be sexually faithful to a partner, even if they have one, and are less likely to remain committed for a lifetime, than are heterosexuals. They also experience higher rates of domestic violence than heterosexual married couples. A Dutch study of partnered homosexuals, which was published in the journal AIDS, found that men with a “steady partner” had an average of eight sexual partners per year. A Canadian study of homosexual men who had been in committed relationships lasting longer than one year found that only 25 per­cent of those interviewed reported being mo­nogamous. the dissolution rate of homosex­ual couples during the period of this study was more than three times that of heterosexual married couples, and the dissolution rate of lesbian cou­ples was more than four-fold that of heterosexual married couples. A 2006 study—one of the few with a direct homosexual/heterosexual comparison for both men and women—found that of persons entering substance abuse pro­grams, 4.4% of homosexuals had been abused by a partner in the last month, as opposed to 2.9% of the heterosexuals. The lifetime prevalence rates for domestic violence were 55% for the homo­sexuals and 36% for heterosexuals. A woman is more likely to be physically abused in a lesbian relationship than in a relationship with a man.
d.   Homosexuality hurts those involved spiritually. Paul tells us in Romans 1:24-27 tells us that the primary root of homosexuality is spiritual. It is borne from a rejection of truth – truth about God and truth about oneself in relationship with God, truth about what is healthy and right, truth about what is best for families, church, and government.
Invitation:
Homosexuality is primarily and at its root a spiritual issue. It is based on rebellion against the truth of God. We are all rebels. We are all sinners, and we all need the saving grace of Jesus Christ to rescue us from ourselves and our sin. Will you ask Jesus forgiveness of your sins, trust him as your Savior and submit to him as your Lord right now?


[1] Pierre Bynum, “Prayer Targets” newsletter, Family Research Council, June 2, 2011; “Objections fly with rainbow flag,” http://www.onenewsnow.com/Culture/Default.aspx?id=1359642
[2] Laurie Goodstein, “Presbyterians Approve Ordination of Gay People,” New York Times, May 10, 2011; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/us/11presbyterian.html?_r=2
[3] Dunn, Word Bibilical Commentary: Romans 1-8, (Waco, TX: Word), 38A:62.
[4] Dunn, WBC, 38A:64.
[5] Peter Sprigg, “The Top Ten Myths about Homosexuality” (Washington, DC: Family Research Council,), http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF10F01.pdf
[6] Peter Sprigg, “The Top Ten Myths about Homosexuality” (Washington, DC: Family Research Council,) pamphlet, http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF10F01.pdf
  [7] International Journal of Epidemiology (Vol. 26, 657-61: http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/26/3/657); “Yet Another Study Confirms Gay Life Expectancy 20 Years Shorter,” Lifesitenews.com, June 2005; http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2005/jun/05060606; http://www.theroadtoemmaus.org/RdLb/22SxSo/PnSx/HSx/hosx_lifspn.htm; “Intro to Gay and Bisexual Mens Health Issues,” http://www.genderandhealth.ca/en/modules/sexandsexuality/gss-gay-men-issues-01.jsp quoting Peterkin A, Risdon C. Caring for Lesbian and Gay People: A Clinical Guide. 2003. University of Toronto Press Incorporated. Toronto, Ontario.
[8] Peter Sprigg, “The Top Ten Myths about Homosexuality” (Washington, DC: Family Research Council, 2010), http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF10F01.pdf What follows comes from this pamphlet.