HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE BIBLE
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a Texas ban on consensual gay sex, and Canada’s highest court ruled Ontario could allow same-sex marriages (USA Today, 7/31/03). Vermont and some European nations — including Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium — have “civil union” laws giving same-sex couples rights and responsibilities comparable to the laws of marriage (USA Today, 7/31/03; Der Spiegel Online, 7/31/03).
On 7/31/03, the Vatican began to launch a global campaign against gay marriages. The “Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith,” which is led by German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, issued a 12-page set of guidelines with the approval of Pope John Paul II, strongly opposing same-sex marriages. The document states, amongst other things, the following, showing an interesting mixture of truth and error:
“Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons… In the first place, man, the image of God, was created ‘male and female’ (Gen. 1:27). Men and women are equal as persons and complementary as male and female… There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law… Under no circumstances can they be approved. Sacred Scripture condemns homosexual acts ‘as a serious depravity’… (cf. Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:10; 1 Tim. 1:10). This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered… Nonetheless, according to the teaching of the Church, men and women with homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. They are called, like other Christians, to live the virtue of chastity. The homosexual inclination is however objectively disordered and homosexual practices are sins gravely contrary to chastity.”
The reaction to the Vatican’s document was swift and divided. According to USA Today of 7/31/03, President Bush said that marriage “should be between a man and a woman, and the White House lawyers were looking at legislation that in effect would deny gays and lesbians the right to marry. But Bush also called on Americans to be tolerant of gays and lesbians. ‘I think it is very important for our society to respect each individual, to welcome those with good hearts, to be a welcoming country.’… Bush was also asked about his view toward gays. ‘I am mindful that we’re all sinners, and I caution those who may try to take the speck out of the neighbor’s eye when they’ve got a log in their own,’ Bush replied, paraphrasing from the Bible.”
USA Today continued, “Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., sent a letter to the president complaining that he ‘seemed to equate homosexuality with sin. While you may not approve of homosexuality, as the leader of all Americans, you have no right to make such judgments.'”
As Der Spiegel Online reported, Guido Westerwelle, leader of Germany’s Free Democrat Party, said that the declaration of the Vatican exemplified “a totally obsolete understanding of society.” He continued, “If the Catholic Church were to listen to their own believers, it would be doing much better.”
Volker Beck, a lawmaker from Germany’s Green party (Green party member Joschka Fischer is Germany’s foreign minister), described the Vatican guidelines as “a document of narrow-minded fanaticism.” He stated, “Cardinal Ratzinger’s application of his understanding of sin, stemming from the Middle Ages, is deeply undemocratic.” (USA Today, Der Spiegel Online).
Other opposition to the Vatican’s document came from the Green Party in predominantly Catholic Austria. As USA Today reported, “Ulrike Lunacek, a party spokeswoman, said Catholic politicians should follow human rights conventions, ‘not the old-fashioned views of the Vatican.’ ‘This hierarchy, which also rules on other issues like forbidding the use of condoms to avoid AIDS, is far from reality,’ she said in a statement.”
That the Old and the New Testaments strongly condemn homosexual conduct as sinful cannot be denied. Leviticus 18:22 tells us, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” Homosexuality must be overcome. The good news is that with God’s help, it CAN be overcome — as can be ANY sin. Notice Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators (those who engage in pre-marital sex), nor idolaters, nor adulterers (those who engage in extra-marital sex), nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such WERE SOME OF YOU. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS AND BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD.”
We are told that if we don’t repent and give up wrong habits, replacing them with God’s righteousness, we will not enter the kingdom of God. Homosexuality is most certainly a SIN that must be overcome — but it is NOT the ONLY sin that must be overcome. Notice Revelation 21:7-8:
“He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be my son. But the cowardly [those who know better, but are afraid to change and stand up for what is right], unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and ALL LIARS shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Those who know better, but WILLFULLY and with HATE AND ANGER permanently and irrevocably REFUSE to repent of their evil conduct will end up in the lake of fire. They will NOT enter the New Jerusalem. Revelation 22:14-15 states:
“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs [compare Phil. 3:2] and sorcerers and sexually immoral [including homosexuals, AS WELL AS those who engage in other sinful sexual conduct, such as fornication and adultery] and murderers and idolaters, and WHOEVER LOVES AND PRACTICES A LIE.”
For some, it is easy to see that homosexuality is sinful. At the same time, it is very difficult for them to see that lying or killing (even in war) is sinful and must be repented of as well. God calls homosexuality an “abomination.” Note, however, what else is an “abomination” in God’s eyes:
“These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an ABOMINATION to Him: A proud look, A LYING tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A FALSE witness who speaks LIES, And one who sows discord among brethren”(Proverbs 6:16-19).
The Biblical teaching is clear and consistent: EVERY SIN that we REFUSE to repent of will keep us out of the kingdom of God.
A WALL IN THE WEST BANK?
As USA Today reported on July 29, “Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rebuffed a request from President Bush on Tuesday that he consider abandoning the construction of a fence separating Israeli and Palestinian territory on the West Bank… Bush called the fence ‘a sensitive issue.’… Palestinians fear the fence will cut deep into West Bank territory and set borders for a future Palestinian state. The peace plan is intended to establish an independent state by 2005.” Zenit reported on July 30, that “Israel continues to deny visas to religious [people] wishing to enter the Holy Land,” according to Catholic priest Giovanni Battistelli. “Commenting on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Tuesday visit with George W. Bush, the Franciscan… expressed his opposition to the construction of a wall in the West Bank that would separate the Palestinian territories. ‘It would distance these two peoples even more and would cut the center of Bethany, where many Christians live…,’ he said.”
RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION IN EUROPE
On July 26, 2003, Zenit published a synthesis of a 2003 Report, stating that there is still religious persecution in some European countries. According to the report, most prominent violators are Turkey and Russia.
Regarding Turkey, Zenit points out: “In spite of the reforms approved by the government, in view of joining the European Union, there are no signs of liberalization for religious freedom. The state persists in invoking the 1936 legislation to confiscate ecclesiastical property. Although the Turkish Constitution admits freedom of worship, religious services are only permitted in ‘buildings created for this purpose.'”
Regarding Russia, the article states:
“The U.S. State Department said 2,095 religious organizations risk being disbanded in Russia; many others have already de facto been forbidden. Yet, there have been legal successes for religious movements, such as the Constitutional Court’s verdict overturning the Russian authorities’ decision to disband the Moscow Salvation Army group.”
Zenit also reported that the “Russian President [Vladimir Putin] is scheduled to make a State visit to Rome on November 5-6, following a European Union-Russia summit.” The article indicated that it is hoped that Mr. Putin’s visit will improve the rights of the Catholic Church in Russia. It pointed out that “following the creation in February of 2002 of four Catholic dioceses in Russia, a Catholic bishop and several priests were expelled by the country’s authorities without giving any reasons.”
NEW TERROR ATTACKS IN SIGHT?
USA Today reported on July 29, that the U.S. “federal government is warning of a potential terrorist plot similar to the attacks of Sept. 11… [T]he Department of Homeland Security outlined a possible al-Qaeda plan to use suicide hijackers who would seize control of airplanes and crash them into government, military or economic targets. The warning… said the attack could come by SUMMER’S END… Attacks could come in the UNITED KINGDOM, AUSTRALIA OR ITALY, or on the EAST COAST OF THE USA.” Bild Online commented that these hijackings and attacks are expected to occur SIMULTANEOUSLY in different parts of the world, including on the East Coast of the USA, in Australia or somewhere in Europe