The Christian, Same-Sex Marriage and Gender Identity

The Christian, Same-Sex Marriage and Gender Identity

Text: Genesis 2:19-25 — Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So, the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Opening: Cristina Odone is the former deputy editor for The New Statesman, a left of center British Magazine. She tells of an experience five years ago that left her speechless regarding “the new intolerance.” She writes, “I was invited to speak at a conference on marriage last summer… held at the Law Society in London … The conference was a chance for supporters of traditional marriage to contribute to the debate … The title, “One Man. One Woman. Making the Case for Marriage for the Good of Society,” … I accepted without a second thought. A few days before the conference, the sponsors of the event, the Law Society, refused to let us meet on their premises. The theme was “contrary to our diversity policy,” the society explained in an email to the organizers, “espousing as it does an ethos which is opposed to same-sex marriage.” In other words, the Law Society regarded support for heterosexual union … as discriminatory. Hurriedly, another venue was found in the heart of London, a publicly owned modern building situated across the street from Westminster Abbey … But with only 24 hours to go before the conference, managers at that venue told Christian Concern that the subject it planned to discuss was “inappropriate.” The booking was canceled. When challenged, the centre’s chief executive cited its diversity policy as the reason for the cancellation. A journalist asked for a copy of the diversity policy. The centre refused to provide it. By the time I (Cristina Odone) took part in the event, (which had been moved to the basement of a hotel in central London), … [I concluded that] not only Christians but also Muslims and Jews, increasingly feel they are no longer free to express any belief … that runs counter to the prevailing fashions for superficial “tolerance” and “equality” … Intolerance is [now] state-sanctioned.
Though this is more the case today than ever, Christians should still prepare themselves to engage in the debate about heterosexual versus same-sex marriage, recognizing that it may be a long time coming in certain venues. This morning, I want to share with you what the Bible says about same-sex marriage and then spend a few minutes talking about all the confusion around gender identity.
What are some of the arguments for same-sex marriage? Fifty years ago, it would have seemed impossible to think that same-sex couples could be licensed by the government to marry. Today it is a reality in every state in America. Here are some of the arguments given for supporting it.
·     God created certain people with an attraction to the same sex. This being the case, how could it be wrong for them to express their sexuality in this way? First of all, the vast majority of scientists today agree that there is no such thing as a “gay gene,” so to say that God created anyone as a homosexual is untrue. The fact is that He created us as male and female, called us to a one-flesh union where we could engage in a “holy” sexual union and in doing so to fulfill the mandate to “be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” This is obviously an impossibility for those in the same-sex marriage. Second, even if there were such a thing as a gay gene, science recognizes a distinction between genes that make up the body and those that influence our desires and predispositions. The former determines if our eyes our brown, how tall we’re going to be etc. The latter causes us to lean towards certain kinds of behaviors but do not render us helpless robots when it comes to them. No matter what, we still have the ability to exercise self-control over inappropriate desires including same-sex attraction.
·     It’s cruel to deny homosexuals the happiness and fulfillment of marriage. The argument goes like this: Assuming that same-sex attraction is so much a part of one’s nature that change is impossible, only the most coldhearted person would deny someone the right to pursue sexual intimacy with the same sex. This reasoning assumes, however, that happiness and fulfillment are based on sexual fulfillment which is a great lie of the enemy. Satisfaction and deep personal joy come to those who are in a right relationship with God according to Psalm 16:11– You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is the fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
·     It is a matter of civil rights. In an attempt to win the debate, gay activists have equated their drive for same-sex marriage with the battles fought by black Americans to attain their freedom or women to be given the right to vote. And the truth is that this approach has been effective. However, Christians need to realize that it is one thing to say that we believe in civil rights for all regardless of race or gender and quite another altogether to say that we believe in civil rights for all based on their chosen behaviors. The Bible calls same-sex relationships an abomination. This is the same word used to describe idolatry, lying lips, and adultery. Would we want to say the same thing for someone who has a sexual attraction to children or animals? No—at least not at the moment.
·     Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality. It is true that in the recorded words that we have from Jesus, He did not mention homosexuality. But does this mean that He did not think it was wrong? Certainly, it is clear that our Lord regarded the Old Testament as Holy Scripture (Mark 14:49 — … let the Scriptures be fulfilled). He regarded the Jewish Bible as God’s Word – which happens to include a clear condemnation of a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender (Leviticus 18:22 — You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination). While Jesus did not speak of homosexuality, He did affirm that marriage was meant to be between a man and a woman (Matthew 19:4-6 — Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’?  So, they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate).
Why should we be concerned about same-sex marriage? A lot of believers today think that Christians have lost the fight when it comes to sex marriage, especially since it’s already been made into the law of the land and there’s little we can do about it anyway. Here are a few reasons why we should still care.
·     Same-sex marriage is part of a strategy to reinvent the family. And guess what? It’s working. In Europe, for example, laws were changed to include “civil solidarity pacts” so that homosexuals can file joint income tax returns and receive welfare and unemployment benefits. Because these pacts are easier to enter and easier to exit and impose fewer legal obligations, many heterosexual couples have also entered into these agreements as opposed to marriage. Rather than provide a “stable home environment” however, couples entering into these kinds of arrangements should keep in mind that the average co-habitational relationship lasts only five years. In addition, if marriage is no longer the union of one man and one woman, but any two persons who want to live together, then who is to say it must be limited to only two people or two adults(as opposed to an adult and a child)? “Impossible,” you say. That’s what many people said fifty years ago about the discussions we’re having today. Listen to this warning from Isaiah 5:20– “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
·     If it becomes a law, Christians speaking out on same-sex marriage will be accused of hate speech. The “radical” right we are referred to by gay and lesbian organizations is already seen as bigoted and intolerant. If and when same-sex marriages are legalized religious freedom will have to give way to constitutional law. This has already taken place in Canada where hate speech legislation has made it illegal to speak against homosexuality in the media.
·     It has already eroded some believer’s confidence in the authority of God’s Word to speak to matters of life.  Some who support same-sex marriage have attacked what has been the traditional interpretation of the Scriptures for the last two millennia. Historically, the church has viewed homosexuality as sin. Yet today, in spite of very clear statements condemning homosexuality (See also Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26-27; Jude 7 — … just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire), a few liberal Christian scholars are now saying that believers have “misunderstood” what the Bible has to say on the topic.
What does the Bible teach about marriage? As I mentioned in a previous message in this series, the account in Genesis gives us the best picture of God’s plan and purpose for marriage.
·     God’s Plan– Marriage was to be a relationship between a man and a woman. When God created Adam and Eve, He made them male(forming Adam from the dust of the ground—Genesis 2:7) and female(Genesis 2:21-22),all the while declaring that both bore His image(Genesis 1:27— God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them). In creating Eve from Adam’s flesh, God separated femininity out of masculinity, forming two distinct people, and in doing so made a powerful statement about our sexuality—that the physiological differences between man and woman are the result of His grand design and a very good. God provided a female companion that would be a suitable helper for Adam because it was not good for a man to be alone. So why did He do it?
·     God’s Purpose– Marriage was meant to mirror at least two fundamental aspects of God. (1)His plurality. God eternally exists in three distinct persons…Father, Son, and Spirit, yet each possesses the exact same nature as the others. In the same way mankind exists in two distinct genders, male and female, and yet, each shares the same nature as we bear the image of God. (2) His unity. Just as God is One(Deuteronomy 6:4 – Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one), so a man and a woman will seek out a companion of the opposite sex to be united as one(Genesis 2:24—The two will become one flesh– Same Hebrew word as Deuteronomy 6:4). In the word “cleave(NIV)” or “hold fast(ESV)”  in this verse is the notion of being glued together in a covenant relationship that expresses itself in intimacy. In fact, this is an important reason as to why God gave human beings a sexual drive. It is a yearning for completeness … for a man and a woman to come together physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually in an indivisible relationship and so bear the image of God who, Himself, exists in everlasting unity. By the way, this is precisely why Paul declares that marriage reflects Christ’s relationship with His bride, the church (See Ephesians 5:28-32). The same elements of plurality and unity are visible in the body of Christ as well in that while we are many, we are one in Him (1 Corinthians 12:12 — For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ). Application: So, what is all of this saying to us? Well, it is clear that from the beginning, God’s plan and purpose for marriage was built around one man and one woman who are freely committed to each other for life. There is no biblical basis for thinking otherwise.
What’s the big deal about gender confusion? Gender dysphoria the condition of feeling one’s emotional and psychological identity as male or female to be opposite to one’s biological sex. Today, Facebook will allow a person to choose between at least fifty-eight different genders including gender fluid, genderqueer, pangender and two-spirit. Obviously, there’s a lot of confusion about gender! Here is what the Bible has to say about it.
·     God created only two sexes – male and female(Genesis 1:26-27). Listen – there are about 37.2 trillion cells in the human body. With the exception of 10 trillion red blood cells, the other 27 trillion are different in men and women because men have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome in each cell. Women have two X chromosomes. This means that at the biological level, men and women are very different from one another and no amount of surgery or renaming of one’s gender can alter that fact. God has also wired our brains differently. According to neuroscience, maps of neurocircuitry show women’s brains are suited to social skills and memory; men’s to perception and coordination. This means that a person’s biological sex is the sole determining factor to a person’s gender. Illustration: A man claiming to be a woman or a woman claiming to be a man will not change their biological sex. In a mixed martial arts context, Fallen Fox, a biological male was approved to fight as a woman because he identified as one, sent Tamika Brentsto a hospital after just two and half minutes in the ring with a broken skull and a concussion. She needed seven surgical staples to bind her wounds. The battered woman, a trained fighter herself, said of Fox, “I’ve never felt so overpowered in my life.”God only created two sexes and never left it up to us to choose the one we wanted.
·     Confusing the distinctions between men and women undermines the ability for both to rightly reflect the glory of God. Both the Old and New Testament picture the relationship between God and His people as a relationship between a husband and his bride(See Jeremiah 2:2). According to the Apostle Paul, God intends for marriage to be an illustration of this thing by portraying the man as representing God and the woman as representing God’s church (See Ephesians 5:25-27). This means that the God-given differences between them are necessary for their relationship to reflect God’s glory. If the man tries to be a woman, then God is left out of the equation. If a woman tries to be a man, then God’s people are left out.
·     The entire movement to determine one’s own gender is sinful. Since God created only two sexes (male and female) and made it normative in His world that our maleness or femaleness would govern our gender identity and expression, it makes sense why He would prohibit men from acting like women and vice versa. Deuteronomy 22:5warns — A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God. God is saying that everyone needs to let their gender expression align with their biological sex and guard against gender confusion … wherein others could wrongly perceive a man to be a woman or a woman to be a man.
How should we respond to someone struggling with same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria?
·     First, to be absolutely clear, according to the Scriptures both are sinful behaviors. Leviticus 18:22-23says, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman. That is detestable.” See also Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27 and Jude 7).
·      Second, Christians should not hate a person struggling with either sin. Sadly, some believers have earned this reputation, even though the Bible is very clear in its message that God loves people (See John 3:16). As His children, we can do nothing less.
·      Third, those in same-sex marriages or choosing to identify as the opposite sex are welcome to this worship service. I cannot think of a better place for anyone to be on a Sunday morning than here with a bunch of redeemed screw-ups who are trying to screw up less. Remember, the gospel is the means by which God can set us free from bondage to any sin including same-sex attraction and gender confusion. Those who truly desire to turn from their sin and put their faith in Christ can be cleansed of sin and made holy through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:9–11 –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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 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).