Can Someone Be A Christian If... ?
Recently a reader posed this question:
“I know this question may have a complex answer, but can a person be a practicing homosexual and a Christian at the same time?”
This question may appear to be complex, not because it deals with homosexuality, but because it deals most fundamentally with sin. Today, current social norms and political correctness try to enter into the equation, but this is a question that has been around since the time of Jesus.
Before discussing this question and offering any insight, it is appropriate to establish our perspective and define some terms.
- This discussion will follow the perspective of God’s Word, The Bible.
- What is sin?
1a) an offense against religious or moral law, 1b) an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible (it’s a sin to waste food), 1c) an often serious shortcoming: fault
2a) transgression of the law of God, 2b) a state of human nature estranged from God
However, one of the best understandings of what sin is comes from the context of God’s words to Cain just before he killed his brother, Abel, in Genesis 4:7.
Genesis 4:7 (NIV)
“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
From the context of this verse, we can see that sin exerts a measure of control over an individual who chooses to not follow the direction of God.
"A change of mind and heart", or, a change in the inner man, to stop or leave what you are doing, turn around and go the opposite way.
- What is a Christian?
“A follower of Christ.” - A person whose behavior, activity, and speech are like Christ Jesus. A person who accepts that Jesus is the Son of God and that the sacrifice of Jesus gives them forgiveness for their sin.
With this as our frame of reference, let’s look into this question.
Many Christians use scriptures found in the book of Romans to single out homosexuality to condemn and reject it. The first two Chapters of Romans, notably 1:18-2:16, deal directly with this particular issue but they also address the many “flavors” of sin that exist in the world. An interesting thing to note in these verses is the progression of sin and the deepening depravity that occurs as each “level” of sin is “normalized”.
We are all born into sin. However, you were not born to sin.
We all make our own choice to embrace sin or reject it. Humans begin to engage sin when they hold the Truth of God in lower esteem that the truth that they invent within their minds. This is the expression of their Ideolatry. Through the writer of Romans, God makes it clear in chapter 1:18–20, that the entire creation of the world as we know it is a testimony to the eternal power of God Himself. He considers this to be sufficient evidence that He not only exists, but that humans are without excuse to acknowledge Him.
Romans 1:18-20 (ERV)
18 God shows his anger from heaven against all the evil and wrong things that people do. Their evil lives hide the truth they have. 19 This makes God angry because they have been shown what he is like. Yes, God has made it clear to them.
20 There are things about God that people cannot see—his eternal power and all that makes him God. But since the beginning of the world, those things have been easy for people to understand. They are made clear in what God has made. So people have no excuse for the evil they do.
The writer goes on to say in Romans 1:21–23 that Ideolatry got the best of them and they basically sold out to it. Thinking themselves wise, they actually became fools as they sought to make idols that represented humans, birds, beasts and creeping things as their objects of worship. In doing so, humans may seek to diminish the role of the True God in their world. In our day, these objects of worship can also include money, gambling, career, sports, possessions, false religions and a variety of other distractions and pursuits.
Romans 1:21-23 (ERV)
21 People knew God, but they did not honor him as God, and they did not thank him. Their ideas were all useless. There was not one good thought left in their foolish minds. 22 They said they were wise, but they became fools. 23 Instead of honoring the divine greatness of God, who lives forever, they traded it for the worship of idols—things made to look like humans, who get sick and die, or like birds, animals, and snakes.
These other pursuits cause some to follow the lusts of their own hearts and begin to dishonor their own bodies through things like pornography, fornication, adultery, bestiality and other abhorrent sexual pleasures according to Romans 1:24–27. These same people may begin to worship their own bodies and make themselves and their pleasures the most important pursuit of their lives. Women might do unnatural things with their bodies such as abortion and sexual activities with other women. Men could burn in lust for other men, leaving the natural attraction of women, to pleasure one another in seemly acts, which possibly resulted in sexually transmitted diseases.
Romans 1:24-27 (ERV)
24 People wanted only to do evil. So God left them and let them go their sinful way. And so they became completely immoral and used their bodies in shameful ways with each other. 25 They traded the truth of God for a lie. They bowed down and worshiped the things God made instead of worshiping the God who made those things. He is the one who should be praised forever. Amen.
26 Because people did those things, God left them and let them do the shameful things they wanted to do. Women stopped having natural sex with men and started having sex with other women. 27 In the same way, men stopped having natural sex with women and began wanting each other all the time. Men did shameful things with other men, and in their bodies they received the punishment for those wrongs.
Romans 1:28–32 tell us that because these people reject the Truth of God, and their minds become further distorted to believe more lies as they engage in every kind of sin, evil, greed, and hatred. Not every person will participate in every sinful activity, but there is a wide range of possibilities.
Some of these people are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, and lying, only thinking the worst things about each other, gossiping and saying evil things about each other. Some might actively hate God, be rude, proud, brag about themselves, and invent ways of doing evil. Others, in not obeying their parents, become foolish, not keeping their promises, and not showing kindness or mercy to others.
Romans 1:28-32 (ERV)
28 People did not think it was important to have a true knowledge of God. So God left them and allowed them to have their own worthless thinking. And so they do what they should not do. 29 They are filled with every kind of sin, evil, greed, and hatred. They are full of jealousy, murder, fighting, lying, and thinking the worst things about each other. They gossip 30 and say evil things about each other. They hate God. They are rude, proud, and brag about themselves. They invent ways of doing evil. They don't obey their parents, 31 they are foolish, they don't keep their promises, and they show no kindness or mercy to others. 32 They know God's law says that anyone who lives like that should die. But they not only continue to do these things themselves, but they also encourage others who do them.
Deep in their hearts, people who live like this know that God's law says that anyone who practices these sins should die, but they not only continue to do these things themselves, they also encourage others who do them. In our time, this includes the fervor of activists who seek to “normalize” their sins and make them socially acceptable, regardless of how God views the sin. Jesus had some words regarding those who encourage others to sin in Matthew 18:6-7.
Matthew 18:6-7 (ERV)
6 "If one of these little children believes in me, and someone causes that child to sin, it will be very bad for that person. It would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their neck and be drowned in the deep sea. 7 I feel sorry for the people in the world because of the things that make people sin. These things must happen, but it will be very bad for anyone who causes them to happen.”
Are you going to believe what someone else told you is true and acceptable to God, or are you going to find out what Jesus and God say is true and acceptable?
The writer then goes on to say in Romans 2: 1–3 that we, as individuals, should not judge. This is because whoever judges another with condemnation is actually condemning themselves, since they are engaged in some of these same activities as well. Sharing the Truth and counsel of God and His Word is wise, but it is not the responsibility of men and women to judge others. What we need to understand is that God is the judge. He is the One who determines the guilt of humans and the One that will allow the penalties of sin to come upon an individual.
Romans 2:1-3 (ERV)
1 So do you think that you can judge those other people? You are wrong. You too are guilty of sin. You judge them, but you do the same things they do. So when you judge them, you are really condemning yourself. 2 God judges all who do such things, and we know his judgment is right. 3 And since you do the same things as those people you judge, surely you understand that God will punish you too. How could you think you would be able to escape his judgment?
However, Romans 2:4 tells us that God is kind, merciful and patient with each of us for the purpose of giving us time to change our ways and turn back to Him in repentance.
Romans 2:4 (ERV)
4 God has been kind to you. He has been very patient, waiting for you to change. But you think nothing of his kindness. Maybe you don't understand that God is kind to you so that you will decide to change your lives.
If you are so stubborn that you refuse to change, Romans 2:5 tells us that you make your own punishment greater and greater. You will be punished for your sins on the day when God will show his anger at the sin. God loves each and every human on the planet and He wants every single person to be saved from the snare of sin. However, He still judges sin, and if an individual has given themselves over to sin, they will perish along with the judgment of the sin in which they engage. On that day of God’s judgment, everyone will see how right and just God is to judge the people who refused to separate themselves from their sin.
Romans 2:5 (ERV)
5 But you are so stubborn! You refuse to change. So you are making your own punishment greater and greater. You will be punished on the day when God will show his anger. On that day everyone will see how right God is to judge people.
God will reward or punish everyone for what they have done as we read in Romans 2:6-11. Some people live for God's glory, for honor, and for a life that cannot be destroyed. They live for those things by always continuing to avoid evil, and be obedient to God. God will give eternal life to them. However, others are selfish and refuse to follow His Truth. They choose to follow evil. God will show his anger and they will be punished for their sins. There will be trouble and suffering to everyone who does evil—to the Jews and also to those who are not Jews. But God will give glory, honor, and peace to everyone who does good—to the Jews first and also to those who are not Jews.
Romans 2:6-11 (ERV)
6 He will reward or punish everyone for what they have done. 7 Some people live for God's glory, for honor, and for life that cannot be destroyed. They live for those things by always continuing to do good. God will give eternal life to them. 8 But others are selfish and refuse to follow truth. They follow evil. God will show his anger and punish them. 9 He will give trouble and suffering to everyone who does evil—to the Jews first and also to those who are not Jews. 10 But he will give glory, honor, and peace to everyone who does good—to the Jews first and also to those who are not Jews. 11 God judges everyone the same. It doesn't matter who they are.
God judges everyone the same. It doesn't matter who they are.
The Jews are the people who were given the law, but those who have never heard of the law are all the same when they sin according to Romans 2:12-13. The law is a universal and foundational principle in God’s universe. Therefore, sinners who don't have the law will be lost as well as sinners who have been given the law. They will all be judged by the universal law of God. Just hearing the law does not make people right with God. They will be right before Him only if they always do what the law says.
Romans 2:12-13 (ERV)
12 People who have the law and those who have never heard of the law are all the same when they sin. People who don't have the law and are sinners will be lost. And, in the same way, those who have the law and are sinners will be judged by the law. 13 Hearing the law does not make people right with God. They will be right before him only if they always do what the law says.
The law of God is written into the heart of every human on the planet according to Romans 2:14-16. It is instinctual to know the difference between right and wrong. If a person goes against what they know in their hearts to be wrong, they will eventually sear their conscience and follow the path that sin dictates. However, it is impossible for humans to observe the law perfectly and even one failure to follow the law leads to sin. Regardless of the sin, the penalty for sin is death.
Romans 2:14-16 (ERV)
14 Those who are not Jews don't have the law. But when they naturally do what the law commands without even knowing the law, then they are their own law. This is true even though they don't have the written law. 15 They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, the same as the law commands, and their consciences agree. Sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done wrong, and this makes them guilty. And sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done right, and this makes them not guilty.
16 All this will happen on the day when God will judge people's secret thoughts through Jesus Christ. This is part of the Good News that I tell everyone.
This is why God, in His grace and mercy, gave us Jesus. Jesus was a sinless man who observed the law and was not guilty of the death penalty of sin. He took all of the sin of all humans upon himself as a substitute and died for those who would accept Him as their sacrifice.
Any one of the sins that are listed in Romans 1:18-2:16, as well as any that are not listed there, demand the penalty of death for the one who engages in them. Jesus paid the price of them all, however, there is one stipulation:
You must submit yourself to God by accepting what Jesus did for you, repent of your sins before Him and make every effort to avoid the sin that so easily overtakes you. You will not be perfect in your ability to do so, but His forgiveness is right there for you.
1 John 1:5-10 sums it all up very nicely.
1 John 1:5-10 (ERV)
5 We heard the true teaching from God. Now we tell it to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness. 6 So if we say that we share in life with God, but we continue living in darkness, we are liars, who don't follow the truth. 7 We should live in the light, where God is. If we live in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood sacrifice of Jesus, God's Son, washes away every sin and makes us clean.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 But if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we are saying that God is a liar and that we don't accept his true teaching.
We have all been sinners, there is no denying that. Any sin is sin, whether it is lying, gossiping, cheating, stealing, fornication, adultery or homosexuality and the penalty for any sin is death. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we lay claim to be living in the life of God. If we are truly living in His life and light, we can’t continue to live in the darkness of sin. If we continue to live in the sin that Jesus saved us from we are liars, don’t follow His Truth and make his sacrifice for us useless.
We will stumble and fall into sin from time to time, and when we do, we can confess our sins before Him. Through the death and blood of Jesus, God will continue to forgive us and make us clean again, but we must not set our hearts to practice sin.
Every sin attempts to break your bond to your Father God by driving a wedge between you and Him. Some sins are more effective than others and drive the wedge deeper, creating more separation. Actively practicing sin will eventually draw you completely away from Him. Forgiveness for your sins is always available, but you must ask for it.
Forgiveness is not about asking God to approve of your choice to sin.
God cannot and will not tolerate sin in His presence. Being a good and loving person in the midst of your sin does not buy His favor either. You can only enter into His presence with your sins covered and forgiven by the death of Jesus. You are acceptable to God when He sees you through the blood of Jesus, which washes your sin away. 1 Peter 1:13-24 provides further insight as to what happens when a person truly accepts Jesus as Savior.
1 Peter 1:13-24 (ERV)
13 So prepare your minds for service. With complete self-control put all your hope in the grace that will be yours when Jesus Christ comes. 14 In the past you did not have the understanding you have now, so you did the evil things you wanted to do. But now you are children of God, so you should obey him and not live the way you did before. 15 Be holy in everything you do, just as God is holy. He is the one who chose you. 16 In the Scriptures God says, "Be holy, because I am holy."
17 You pray to God and call him Father, but he will judge everyone the same way—by what they do. So while you are visiting here on earth, you should live with respect for God. 18 You know that in the past the way you were living was useless. It was a way of life you learned from those who lived before you. But you were saved from that way of living. You were bought, but not with things that ruin like gold or silver. 19 You were bought with the precious blood of Christ's death. He was a pure and perfect sacrificial Lamb. 20 Christ was chosen before the world was made, but he was shown to the world in these last times for you. 21 You believe in God through Christ. God is the one who raised him from death and gave honor to him. So your faith and your hope are in God.
22 You have made yourselves pure by obeying the truth. Now you can have true love for your brothers and sisters. So love each other deeply—with all your heart. 23 You have been born again. This new life did not come from something that dies. It came from something that cannot die. You were born again through God's life-giving message that lasts forever.
It is a lie to claim that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, while spitting in His face with continuing sin. Actively practicing any sin makes it much more difficult for you to repent and ask for forgiveness. Your choice to sin separates you from God, and choosing to continue to live in sin widens the gap of that separation.
Truly accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior causes a renewal of your mind and thought process. Your understanding changes and you desire to walk away from your sin, not keep doing it. Through Jesus you are born again into a new life with God.
So, in light of God’s Word, I will leave you to answer the question, “Can a person be a practicing homosexual and a Christian at the same time?”
May God richly bless you in all that you do! - Dr Rich Masek
I invite you to read Ideolatry - God Is Not Your Problem
To learn more about how Ideolatry can affect your life.
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