Three times in this section we find the expression “God gave them up (over)” (Romans 1:24,26,28). The point is clear: when people choose to reject God, or to recreate Him in their own image, God “gives them up” to “go their own way.” Unrestrained by God in any way, they gravitate into increasing levels of immorality! For some, it involves heterosexual immorality, such as pre-marital sex or adultery. But for others, it includes homosexuality and lesbianism.
I will never understand Copeland’s belief that God gives up on homosexuals. Of all of the statements that I read in my research, this is THE most ludicrous. However, his statements only became worse:
And what is the consequence of such behavior? The apostle Paul referred to such people as: “…receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” (Romans 1:27) An illusion to sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS? We cannot say for certain, but none can dispute that those who are willing to follow God’s Word as to sexual conduct have less to fear about STD’s than those who choose to disregard Him!
Matthew 5: 1-12, known as the Beatituteds is the best refutation of these statements by Copeland. Read them and consider for yourself:
And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
These are not the words of Paul or one of the disciples, these are the words of Christ. Few, if any, Christians would deny that these are the words of Christ. The “Sermon on the Mount” as found in Matthew Chapters 5-7, are the cornerstones of the Christian faith. In the “Sermon on the Mount” Jesus laid out for us the plan for salvation and eternal life. It is our guidebook, and we should take it seriously.
Also, we can use the Epistles of Paul as our guide to the truth of God’s love. In Ephesians 4:15, Paul says “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” We who profess to be Christians should remember the admonition of the apostle Paul when it comes to sharing God’s Word with those with whom we differ:
“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)
There is no place for a self-righteous, arrogant attitude on the part of those who but for the grace of God would be just as guilty of sins as those we are trying to reach!
In June 2002, Dr. Larry Keene, a founder of the “Church of the Valley” in Van Nuys, California, presented a lecture, “How Our Church Dealt with Gay Christians” at Pepperdine University, a Church of Christ school, where about 300 people attended the Convocation that was sponsored by Amnesty International in cooperation with Pepperdine’s Gay-Lesbian-Straight Alliance (GLSA). The Pepperdine student newspaper, Graphic, published several articles (letters to the editor) about this lecture. In one of them, a student, Jared Stuart, wrote an article titled “Pro-Con: Does the Bible accept homosexuality?” In this article, Stuart states that
One young woman rose up with the Bible in her hand and began defending her theological position. It became apparent that the Bible was the theological source of authority for most in attendance. It became even more apparent that many in the audience viewed the Bible as a literal, evangelical and fundamental source of authority.
Their point of view disabled them from seeing a contrasting perspective. They were there to defend the truth. But does the truth really need defending? Does not the truth eventually stand the test of time, and will it not eventually become self-evident within human consciousness regardless of whatever authority stands against it?
Stuart continued by stating:
Throughout the Bible there are equal and opposite points of views for any one subject. This dual perspective allows us to grapple with the very nature of God, and thus respond like he would in our daily lives.
I do not think it was his intention for us to handle the modern issues we are facing by using canonized letters, written among sister churches 2000 years ago, as a source of legal code for today’s events.
It is for this exact reason, conversely, that we must not use time-encapsulated passages within the Bible to condemn the practice of homosexuality, an orientation which has existed within nature and society for as long as humans can remember.
Common sense leads a human being to the conclusion that monogamous homosexuality is just as moral as monogamous heterosexuality. Perhaps not as common, but certainly as moral.
When one ceases to view the Bible from a literal, evangelical and fundamental perspective, one does not cease to see Christ as his or her complete Lord and Savior. I would wager to say that one sees him as Savior even more. This is the church’s responsibility and duty — to convey to believers the noble right and awesome task to use the Scriptures wisely.
We may not be able to use the Bible as our final authority on sexual orientation. But as we search for the truth, we can and should use the Bible as our final authority on how we should treat one another along the way. A young Jewish scholar once asked Jesus:
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22: 36-40)
We cannot let hate consume our faith. Too often, ministers preach about what is wrong. They should be teaching what is right. As I have said before, one of the great things about my personal minister is that he preaches/teaches about how to be better humans and Christians, not the hellfire and damnation that too many ministers make the cornerstone of their sermons. Remember, God is Love, Truth is Love, and as Christians, to love God is the greatest of commandments.
My next post will examine what we should do as Gay Christians.