DOES GOD HATE “GAY” PEOPLE?
Short answer: NO! He loves them.
…has become seriously complicated over the last decade or so!
It was as simple as this:
“A homosexually orientated person is someone whose sexual preference is for someone of the same sex” (Gumbel op cit. 77)
Now it includes acronyms like LGBTIQA+ – which stands for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual”. And with other “names” such as “Cisgender” and “Abro” and “Gender Dysphoria”, Stonewall (the organisation acting as an advocate for homosexual rights and understanding) lists at least 53 terms covering the “gay” community. It’s a minefield out there!
THE STATISTICS – THE EXTENT OF THE SITUATION
The Office for National Statistics has published the following data on “sexual orientation in the UK; 2020” – based on returns from the census of that year:
- The proportion of the UK population aged 16 years and over identifying as heterosexual or straight was 93.6% in 2020; there has been a decreasing trend since the series began in 2014.
- An estimated 3.1% of the UK population aged 16 years and over identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) in 2020, an increase from 2.7% in 2019 and almost double the percentage from 2014 (1.6%).
- The proportion of men in the UK identifying as LGB increased from 1.9% to 3.4% between 2014 and 2020; the proportion of women identifying as LGB has risen from 1.4% to 2.8% over the same period.
- People aged 16 to 24 years continue to be the most likely to identify as LGB in 2020 (8.0%) reflecting an increasing trend for this age group since 2014; this breaks down to 2.7% identifying as gay or lesbian, and 5.3% identifying as bisexual.
- In 2020, women (1.6%) were more likely than men (0.9%) to identify as bisexual but were less likely to identify as gay or lesbian (1.1% compared with 2.5%); these differences between men and women are more pronounced in the younger age groups.
- Among those identifying as LGB in 2020, almost three-quarters (72.5%) had never been married or in a civil partnership, while just under one-quarter were married or in a civil partnership (23.7%); this may reflect the younger age structure of the LGB population and that the legislation for same-sex civil partnerships and same-sex marriage is relatively recent.
Under a “freedom of information” request made by “The Christian Institute” in 2017 it was revealed that “11.5 per cent of BBC bosses and 10.6 per cent of staff are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual”. At that time the actual % of the population who identified as LGBTIQ+ was under 2%. I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to what this means for the impact of a minority on the majority in our land today.
LAYING MY CARDS ON THE TABLE
There is, I believe, a really unfair assumption by “the world” that God hates the Gays – and that the church hates them too. This is not my experience. It may have been so in the past, but I don’t think it is so today. In fact, the “sport” of “Queer bashing” in the 1950s to 1970s was not carried out by Christians but by those who had no knowledge of God. AIDS in the 1980s and 90s was seen by some to be “homosexuals getting their just deserts” and some Christians did wonder whether HIV was the judgement of God on those living out their same-sex lifestyles. But most of us just found it all very sad – and very frightening. My experience, rather is that Christians want to love the LGBTIQ+ community, without accepting their lifestyle…but just doesn’t know how…
God is the perfect Father who loves His children. So He does not hate “Gays” – He loves them. But just like a good father loves their child but might hate their behaviour, so our Perfect Father loves the Gay person but hates their lifestyle. Remember that Jesus did not come to condemn us but to save us (John 3: 17) – His focus was not on their sin but on their salvation.
THE PROBLEM -21ST CENTURY SOCIETY
The devil is a deceiver and, as we saw in our last session, a distorter of sex – taking what is good and seeking to make it bad.
Unfortunately, today more than ever before, society has succumbed to the lies of the devil:
The so-called “Gay Liberation Movement” “urge the view that homosexuality us simply a natural variant of human sexuality – as natural as red hair or left-handedness – to be affirmed and rejoiced in, and that its expression in fully loving physical sexual embrace is well within the purpose and will of God” (David Atkinson: “Pastoral Ethics in Practice” 1989).
In 2015, in response to the law allowing same sex marriage, the church I was leading had to make a statement, under the so-called “Triple lock” ruling, as to our policy regarding marriage. In this, we took the stand that marriage was between one man and one woman and that we would not carry out or bless same-sex marriages. To my surprise and horror, this stand almost split the church – with highly educated young people becoming furious at the stance we were taking. Their declaration was that society had moved on from Bible days and that what was unacceptable “then” was OK “now” (so-called “progressive revelation”) and that passages in the Bible only “appeared” to condemn homosexual lifestyle. One dear member actually left our church as a result – they felt that they could no longer remain in an institution that was against “gay marriage”.
THE MANY, MANY, QUESTIONS THAT THIS “TOUGH QUESTION” THROWS OUT
Our initial “Tough Question” is easy. The spin-offs are hard:
Is there a right Christian attitude towards homosexuality?
Is homosexual practice/lifestyle an option for the Christian?
Is AIDS the judgement of God on homosexual practice?
Can – and should – homosexual orientation be changed?
What should our attitude be towards those with a homosexual orientation?
Is it OK to be a transvestite – is it any worse than “dressing up” for adults?
How do we deal with those who “identify” their gender as opposite to their sex at birth?
How do we work with those who have had a sex change?
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY?
Does He hate them, or does He hate their lifestyle? Is “hate” too strong a word? What does the Bible say about who should have sex? (One man and one woman) What does the Bible say about Gay and Lesbian sex?
In our last session we saw that God designed sex as a joy and act of procreation within a marriage between one man and one woman (Genesis 2: 24). Thus, right from the start of the Bible, God sets out “His stall” – the best way for us to live. It can be said that on this basis alone any homosexual lifestyle is un-Biblical and not in God’s perfect plan for our lives. Put simply – homosexual lifestyle is wrong.
Therefore, it should not surprise us that references to homosexual practices are few in the Bible – and where they are mentioned it is always in the negative. Twice they are called “detestable” (Leviticus 18: 22; 20: 13). Sodom was destroyed partly due to homosexual practice (Genesis 19). The desire of the men of Gibeah for homosexual activity is portrayed as “disgraceful” (Judges 19: 23).
In the New Testament Paul condemns homosexual practice amongst other sins:
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6: 9-10)
In the next verse comes Paul’s assumption that once “saved” a person will no longer indulge in any of these activities – answering the question very clearly as to whether it is OK for a Christian to be living a homosexual lifestyle.
In Romans 1: 26-27 Paul declares how mankind’s “free will” led him to rebellion against God and that:
Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
This is important: homosexual activity is not “natural” – it is not how God meant it to be.
Notice too that nowhere in the Bible is there condemnation of homosexual ORIENTATION (this is a “desire” – a temptation), but only of homosexual LIFESTYLE (this is an “action” – a sin).
Homosexual ATTITUDE is not condemned – it can be argued that a person can (in the natural) do nothing about it. It is Homosexual ACTION (a choice to actually live a sinful lifestyle) that is condemned.
This is VERY important…
“A LEOPARD CAN’T CHANGE IS SPOTS”
We must be very sympathetic to those who say: “I was born like this. I was born with these feelings of same-sex attraction. I can’t change who I am. God made me this way!”
I have known those who are attracted to small children – but hard as it has been for them, they have kept away from little children so that they do not do wrong. I have known those who have been attracted to others outside of their marriage – but hard as it has been for them, they have kept away from adultery. I have known those who want to have sex before marriage – but hard as it has been for them, they have kept away from sexual immorality. I have known those who want to have sex and relationships with those of their gender – but hard as it has been for them, they have kept away from homosexual lifestyle. And what has maintained their “purity” in all these ways? A true “fear” of the Lord – not one based on judgement and punishment, but one based on “Father knows best”.
Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 6 and verse 11 of the change that comes when we become new creations:
that is what some of you were [active homosexuals]. 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.
And even if a person is not freed of their homosexual tendencies we are also told (in 1 Corinthians 10: 13):
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
No one is saying this is easy – but this is certainly a Biblical promise. Tony Campolo writes: “Any who believe that these homosexuals who remain celibate for the sake of Christ are anything less that glorious victors in God’s Kingdom ought to be ashamed of themselves”. Whether the cause of a person’s homosexuality is biological (they were born that way) or sociological (they became that way) is not the point – we are all called to live God’s best way.
This is NOT the place to discuss the pros and cons of “conversion therapy” but there is evidence that conversion and Divine intervention by the Power of the Holy Spirit CAN change orientation as well as give strength to the homosexual not to become active in their sexuality.
IF GOD IS PUNISHING GAYS, THEN, CLEARLY, HE HATES THEM!
In the 1990s there were those who said that AIDS was this “due penalty for their error” that God was meting out on those living a homosexual lifestyle: In 1991 Freddie Mercury died of AIDS, Rudolph Nureyev died in 1993, Kenny Everett died of this disease in 1995. By 1997 the World Health Organisation estimated that 11 to 12 million people world-wide were infected with HIV, and that in Africa more people were dying of AIDS each year than of hunger. Was this the judgement of God? If a man goes out drinking and in his drunkenness is killed in a motor car crash is that God’s judgement on his drinking or is it the natural consequence of his own stupidity? In the same way, a loving God says “don’t indulge in same sex relationships” – why? Because “you will bring down on yourself illnesses associated with an unnatural lifestyle”. One day God WILL judge the world and all who live in it. We call this the “Last Judgement”. We must beware of declaring God as vicious and unloving because of our own actions. And please be aware that by 1997 90% of all new HIV cases were amongst the heterosexual population…the judgement of God? I don’t think so.
As for those in our post-Christian society who approve of all these things there remains the stark warning of the Bible – Paul in Romans 1: 32 says:
Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practise them.
And we know that (Matthew 18: 6):
If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
THE BIG CHALLENGE IS HOW WE LOVE THE “GAY” PEOPLE.
People are people – whatever their sexual orientation. It is not normal for me, as a heterosexual male to spend all my time going round to others saying “I love sex with women. Are you OK with this?” And neither do homosexuals. So treat them as you would any other person. Be normal, be loving, be caring. Invite them round for dinner, go to a football match with them, have a coffee with them. It’s only when “that subject” comes up that you need to decide how you are going to manage it.
The bottom line is that NONE of us is without sin – so be careful that you don’t “throw any stones”. On the other hand, sin is sin – and we can’t (and don’t) condone it. When a child is about to run out in front of a car we shout “stop!” – we don’t say that it’s OK for them to choose to do what they want to do. We warn them because we love them and don’t want them to come to any harm. In the same way we love and care for the person irrespective of their sexuality – but we must warn them if they are being cared for by us and embark on a gay lifestyle.
So how does this “play out” in the church? Who would dispute the calling to love and welcome ALL into the church? We MUST show the church to be a place of safety and hope to all. We therefore don’t promote their lifestyle but love them despite their lifestyle. We must welcome them in but must, in love, correct them if they seek to bring their lifestyle into the church.
How we relate to a gay person who comes to us in the church also depends on their standing with God. If they ARE NOT a Christian, then the way we relate to them must be very different to if they ARE a Christian. We are not called to judge the non-believer – just to love them. But we may well HAVE to judge the homosexually-oriented Christian if they begin to practice their homosexuality. A sin is a sin – and we are called to “call out” the disciple if they are living in sin.
Whether the “gay” person is a Christian or not a Christian we need to listen more to their story, to their feelings and their needs, and to talk less. We need to support them rather than condemn them – while refusing to budge on what we know to be true.
Love them, love them, love them. As we have often been reminded: we are called to be fishermen – we catch them, but it is God’s job to clean them.
“God loves all people, irrespective of race, colour, background or sexual orientation” (Nicky Gumbel op cit p77).
God loves those who are heterosexual, and God loves those who are homosexual. God is love, and “Father knows best”. We take our stand on the truth that His best for us is for sex to be only within the bounds of marriage between one man and one woman.
I will not define myself on my sexuality. When asked who I am I will not say “I am a heterosexual” or “I am a homosexual”. I will define myself on my relationship with God.
And God is not wiling that any should perish but all come to repentance.
And God so loves the world that He sent His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
And God is the God of forgiveness. Homosexual lifestyle is not the unforgiveable sin. But Jesus who did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the world, is the same Jesus who declares “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”.
APPENDIX 1: SOME BIBLE PASSAGES THAT SPEAK DIRECTLY INTO GAY LIFESTYLE
Genesis 2: 18-25
Leviticus 18: 22
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
1 Timothy 1:8-10
APPENDIX 2: CLIFF BIBLE COLLEGE SACKS LECTURER FOR TWEET OF TRADITIONAL VIEW OF MARRIAGE
“Christian Concern” have, in the last few days, highlighted the case of Dr Aaron Edwards who has been sacked by Methodist Cliff College for tweeting the Christian view of homosexuality. See this attached article:
APPENDIX 3: AN INTERESTING OTHER-FAITH POINT OF VIEW
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001hwzv – BBC debate on a Sikh gay marriage – where it asks the question whether our Biblical standpoint causes prejudice and hostility against Gays.