Since we have been looking at current statistics, we will look, again, at Gallup’s 2017 ethics poll. About 63% of Americans believe that homosexuality is morally acceptable. Before looking at the poll, I expected the percentage to be higher than it is. This is up from 40% the first time that Gallup asked this question on their annual ethics poll. About 36% of Americans believe that pornography is morally acceptable, and this number has grown from 30% in 2011. About 69% of Americans believe that extramarital relations are morally acceptable. This number has grown from 59% the first time that Gallup asked this question.
This subject is a touchy one as of late, especially so concerning homosexuality. I know that there are people in my life who either consider themselves to be homosexuals or consider homosexuality to be morally acceptable. My hope is that all who read this understand that I am in no way condemning anyone, for that is not a right that I have. Furthermore, I am of the understanding that all people act in ways that are morally reprehensible according to God’s standard and that all people are in need of God’s grace and forgiveness. I am also of the understanding that God, in His grace, saves sinful people to Himself. This being stated, it is important for us to take an honest look at the Scriptures, understanding that, if approaching the Scripture honestly, we will all find something to be wrong with us. If we did not, we would have no need for a savior. Let’s look to God’s instruction together:
1 Timothy 1:8-19 HCSB
But we know that the law is good, provided one uses it legitimately. We know that the law is not meant for a righteous person, but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and irreverent, for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral and homosexuals, for kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and for whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching based on the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was entrusted to me.
I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry — one who was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” — and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Timothy, my son, I am giving you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies previously made about you, so that by them you may strongly engage in battle, having faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and have suffered the shipwreck of their faith.
As Paul writes to one of the young men that he mentored (Timothy), he mentions that the law is good, provided that it is used legitimately. He states that the law was not written for the righteous person, but for the rebellious, the lawless, and the sinful person. When Paul makes this statement, he places everyone on equal ground before a holy God. Anyone who desires to glean from God’s instruction must first admit that he is a rebel against God. If he does not, then the law is of no use to him. Coming to this instruction, then, I find myself having to admit that I am also a rebel. Paul, who wrote this, had to also admit that he was a rebel against God. This provides the context for us to think about homosexuality, pornography and extramarital relations. We know that, before God, all people have been rebellious and not one is exempt. As we discuss these moral issues, then, we do so with the grace of God in mind. We know that, even if we have not shown our rebellion in the same way as the next person, we have still rebelled against the God of the universe and are under equal condemnation according to God’s law. We recognize, then, that before we even discuss sin, we recognize our own sinfulness and utter depravity before the holy God of the universe.
As Paul writes, he includes a list of sins. In this list, Paul includes both homosexuality and other forms of sexual immorality. In Romans 1:26-28, Paul, writing to the believers in Rome, states that God actually hands people over to their sexual immorality. In Hebrews 13:4, the author states that the marriage bed should remain pure. Lest we believe the lie that Jesus never spoke on the issue of sexual immorality, in Matthew 19:5-6, Jesus defines marriage according to God’s created order in Genesis 1-2: a committed relationship between one man and one woman in which men do not separate what God has joined.
While there are many people who will try to twist the Scriptures to insist that a form of sexual immorality is acceptable before God, it actually becomes really difficult for anyone to make Scripture out to say that God is okay with people living according to a design that is not His. Scripture is abundantly clear on this issue (in fact it is emphatic): homosexuality is wrong in God’s eyes because it is not His design, does not reflect His character, and causes people to neglect Him (Don’t stop reading yet, there is good news).
Because the marriage bed is to remain pure, extramarital affairs are also unacceptable before God. Pornography, though never explicitly dealt with in Scripture, brings about lust, which is condemned as sexual immorality and by Jesus as adultery in Matthew 5. God considers the marriage relationship to be holy and desires it to be clean before Him.
Christ’s patience is perfect
Paul doesn’t stop by listing some things that are condemned under the law. Remember that he has already stated that the law is only profitable for the sinner and for the rebel. When he gets to verse fifteen, Paul, after listing homosexuality and other forms of sexual immorality as sins, refers to himself as the foremost of all sinners. Paul stated very clearly that homosexuality was a sin, but then considered himself to be a worse sinner than anyone that was caught in any type of sexual immorality. In fact, Paul emphasized that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners! For those who sin, in any way, Christ demonstrates His amazing patience toward them. God, though we are rebellious, is always good toward us; especially those who believe in Christ for their salvation. The church, then, should be full of rebellious people. We are the only type of people who will actually benefit from what God has for us. I don’t know if there is anything that I can add to this truth. In fact, I know that there is not.
Paul urges Timothy to keep the faith and a good conscience. Here, there is a challenge for the Christ follower. When we are brought into Christ’s salvation, we are also brought under His lordship. Every believer is challenged to deny himself. We all must strive to put aside all slander and gossip. We must strive to rid ourselves of lust and lessen our rebellion. Christ is patient with us, but He is our Lord. Growing up in church, there was one man I knew who desired to be with other men. Because he loved Christ, he chose to be alone because pleasing Christ was more important to him than his satisfying self. I hope that, in my life, I am able to deny my sinfulness in order to please my Lord. There is just something beautiful about self-denial and something wonderful about the contentment it brings in our lives. Let us glory in God’s grace, by which we are saved! Let us, in response, strive to honor our Lord more and more.