Thursday, March 27, 2014

World Vision, Gay Marriage and the Bible

World Vision U.S. president Rich Stearns recently announced that the organization had changed its policy and would employ Christian gays who are legally married. Citing a desire to defer to “the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues”, Stearns said that the change should be seen as "symbolic not of compromise but of unity." He said that the policy was in line with the organization’s stand against sex outside of marriage.

Criticism was immediate and intense, and many people dropped their child sponsorships. Within two days, the policy was reversed by World Vision’s board, and a letter was released stating that the decision was a mistake and apologizing for the apparent departure from the Biblical standard of marriage being between a man and a woman. Hopefully, that decision was based on a desire to follow Scripture and not on the loss of financial support.

The controversy has highlighted a troubling trend in the debate on homosexuality. It used to be that most Christians had a common stand against homosexual behavior and especially against gay marriage. Now, many who claim to be Bible-believing Christians are adopting an acceptance of gay marriage and the gay lifestyle, even using the Bible to support their view.

To be clear, God does not condemn anyone to eternal punishment for homosexual behavior, nor should Christians. That judgment is based solely on whether or not a person has accepted Christ as Savior. However, continued, willful practice of what the Bible says is sin (which includes far more than just homosexuality) does raise questions about whether a person is truly born again. If a person is genuinely saved and still continues to sin, at the very least he denies himself of rewards in heaven and the joy and peace of a close walk with the Lord here on earth.

Following the policy reversal, Stearns stated, "We did inadequate consultation with our supporters. If I could have a do-over on one thing, I would have done much more consultation with Christian leaders." All Stearns and the World Vision board needed to do was consult God’s Word. There is no Scriptural basis for gay marriage or the gay lifestyle. The issue boils down to Scriptural inspiration and authority, not denominational differences or personal preferences.

Following are excerpts from the commentary Moral Madness* by David Virkler in which he outlines what Scripture teaches on the subject of homosexuality and marriage.


The precedent for marriage is set in Genesis 1:27 when God created a man and a woman. The term “help meet” in Gen. 2:18 in the old King James Version (KJV) does not mean “help mate.” “Meet” means “appropriate.” At the least, gay marriage is inappropriate from the beginning.

Some denominational leaders have twisted Bible verses and taken others out of context to defend their position on homosexuality and gay marriage. However, when studying a Bible theme, especially one as intense and crucial as homosexuality, we must consider all the mentions in the Bible. This includes first mention, further mention, full mention and the final mention.

First Mention
In Gen. 18:20, God says He will destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because “...their sin is very grave…” This sin is described in Gen. 19:4 & 5. Some try to say that was a sin of inhospitality, but it is clearly homosexuality. The word “know” means sexual contact. In fact, we get the term “sodomy” from the name of the city. It should be noted that after Gen. 18, all references to Sodom in the Old Testament (25) and the New Testament (9) are negative. Of the five references to “sodomite(s)” in the Old Testament, all are also negative.

Further Mention
Leviticus 18:22 – “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” God’s view of homosexuality is very clear.

Leviticus 20:13 – Homosexuality was “an abomination” punishable by death.

Deuteronomy 23:17 – Homosexuality is specifically forbidden. The Hebrew word translated as “perverted” in newer versions of the Bible means “one practicing sodomy.”

Judges 19:22, 23 – Male townspeople lusted for a male stranger who had been shown hospitality. (Note the similarities to Gen. 19.) They are called “sons of Belial” in the KJV, which means men of extreme worthlessness or ungodliness. The New King James Version translates the word “perverted.”

1 Kings 15:12, 22:46 – Male prostitutes were removed as part of spiritual reformation indicating that their lifestyle was sinful.

Follow-up Mention
In Romans 1:24-32, Paul describes a moral decay that begins with a denial of God’s truth followed by, in order, adultery (vs. 24), homosexuality (vs. 26 & 27) and, finally, lunacy (28).

Because people rejected God’s truth, He “gave them up” to vile passions. The extent of the degeneracy includes lesbians. “…even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature” (vs. 26). The NIV translates this as “exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.” Paul’s phrasing seems to indicate that this was extreme even in a pagan culture.

He goes on to describe “men, leaving the natural use of the woman… men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their of error which was due” (vs. 27). This may be disease or death. (“Penalty” is also translated as “wages, hire, reward” as in Romans 3:23 – “the wages of sin is death.”)

Verse 28 says that those who reject God’s truth have degenerate minds incapable of comprehending truth and are given to every form of listed perversity (vs. 29-31). Tragically, all those who practice these perversions are “deserving of death” and so are those who approve of them (vs. 32). People who think well of those who are so involved are under the same judgment!

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 details a list of “unrighteous” who will not inherit the kingdom of God. This includes homosexuals. The term “sodomite” in the Greek literally means “men in bed” or “men in coitus.” Verse 11 indicates that this lifestyle was in the past for some of the Corinthians. Paul says, “...such were some of you,” meaning that you can’t inherit the Kingdom if you are unrighteous.

The word translated “homosexuals” in verse 10 in the NKJV is from a Greek word meaning “soft.” Other versions translate this as “effeminate.” This refers to one who is sensual and given to things of the flesh and evidently includes homosexuality.

Paul again speaks of homosexuality in 1 Timothy 1:9-11, where he says that the Law was given for those who are against sound doctrine, including homosexuals (sodomites). This is the same word as in 1 Cor. 6:9.

Peter also spoke of homosexuality in his second epistle (2 Peter 2:6-10). He wrote of God’s punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah. He describes them as “ungodly” (vs. 6), “filthy… wicked” (vs. 7) and “unlawful” (vs. 8). He goes on to say that the Lord reserves punishment especially for those who “walk according to the lust of uncleanness.” He also describes them as being unafraid to speak against the government (vs. 9 & 10).

In a similar passage, Jude 7 also speaks of Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of punishment for forsaking God’s truth. He speaks of their “fornication” (“sexual immorality” in newer translations), which may also be homosexuality, and that they went after “strange flesh.” For this, they suffer “the vengeance of eternal fire.”

Final Mention
Revelation 21 – This passage lists those who are excluded from Heaven including those who are “abominable” (vs. 8) and “…an abomination” (vs. 27), a clear reference to Lev. 18:22.

Rev. 22:15 – Outside of the heavenly city are “dogs”—the name for male prostitutes (see Deuteronomy 23:17 & 18).

Christ’s Words
Jesus was not silent on the subject as some claim. He spoke about sodomy in reference to relative judgments regarding a city’s acceptance of revealed truth (Matthew 11:21-24, Mark 6:11 and Luke 10:12-14). He said that if His preaching in Capernaum had been done in Sodom, it would have repented in sackcloth and ashes. In other words, Sodom needed repentance and was destroyed because it lacked it. The need for repentance indicates there is sin. Sodomy (homosexuality) obviously needs to be repented of. If not, one falls under God’s judgment.

Christ also spoke of God’s plan for marriage in the matter of the question over divorce. Matthew and Mark both record Jesus’ answer to the issues of whether a man could divorce his wife for most any cause. Christ quoted from Genesis and said, “From the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall be one flesh.” (Mark 10:6, 7) That is about as clear as it can be. God’s precedent for marriage is one man and one woman, and Jesus reiterated that.

Marriage as an Illustration of Salvation
In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul uses the marriage relationship between husband and wife as an illustration of the relationship between Christ, the bridegroom, and His redeemed Church, the bride. He very definitely speaks of a relationship between a man and a woman. If ever there was gross spiritual subversion of this illustration of Christ and His bride, same-sex marriage is it.


* The full 11-page article Moral Madness: A Biblical Response to Gay Marriage outlines the issues involved, its legal and social impact, what the Bible says, and how Christians should react and respond. It is available for a tax-deductible gift of any size to the ministry of Dedication Evangelism. Click here for a full list of all our print and audio resource materials and information on how to order Moral Madness. (Click here to read the full article at our website.)

Gayle Virkler

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