Q&A: While Christians are not entirely subject to the Old Testament law given to the Israelites (Romans 10:4), aren’t we contradicting ourselves when we use Old Testament scripture to back our stance on certain controversial issues (i.e. homosexuality)?

Let’s start with understanding our relationship, as Christians, to the Mosaic covenant (Old Testament law).

As a resident of Illinois, I am subject to its laws. If I look at the laws of another state, say California, I will find some of their laws are similar to those in Illinois and others are different. Because I am not a resident of California, I am not subject to their laws. For those laws that are similar between Illinois and California, I am not subject to them because they are in the Californian legal system, but because they are in the system that I am under.

We can take the same approach to Old Testament law. The Mosaic covenant as laid out in the Torah (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) is the system of laws and practices for the theocratic nation of Israel. It can be divided into three categories: moral laws, social laws, and religious instructions. The moral laws are reflected in the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, which I am subject to as a professed follower of Jesus, but the social and religious laws are not. Therefore, I can see things that I am subject to within the the Mosaic law, but not because they are in there.

As for using the OT scriptures to support our views on certain issues, the example being homosexuality, it depends on where we are getting our information. If we were simply pointing to Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20 :13 for support, then I would say that we have a weak argument based on the information I just provided. Those laws pertain only to specific people within a specific nation.

However, we have many more references in the scriptures that speak on this topic that are not within the Mosaic law. Paul brings it up many time in his letters:

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
And that is what some of you were. 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.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

“We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” (1 Timothy 1:8-11)

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.” (Romans 1:26-28)

We also have a reference in Jude about Sodom and Gomorrah:

“Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings.” (Jude 1:5-8)

Let me point out that the account of Sodom and Gomorrah from Genesis 19 is a valid example to use. It is prior to the establishment of the Mosaic law and should not be immediately ruled out like the texts from Leviticus and Deuteronomy. It is also (despite attempts to divert the issue) clearly about rampant ongoing immorality including homosexuality:

“But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.” (Genesis 19:4-11)

When the men of the city tell Lot to bring out the men so that they may know them, the word “know” is from the Greek word used when describing sexual intercourse (Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived… [Genesis 4:1]). Eve didn’t get pregnant from an intellectually stimulating conversation with Adam, and the men of Sodom were not interested in interrogating the two men that were in Lot’s house. Also notice that Lot offered up his own daughters who had not known any man. Same concept.

Regardless of what you think, the Bible does teach that homosexuality is a sin. So, now that we know what the Bible teaches, how do we deal with it? Jesus and the apostles are pretty clear about Christian conduct:

“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12)

“Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” (Hebrews 13:1-5)

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:5)

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5)

Just because someone is a homosexual, does not mean that we persecute them, call them names, sue them for not agreeing with us or offending us, or get laws passed to silence them. We are to love them.  Homosexuality is a sin, and like any other sin, it needs to be laid at the cross and forsaken. Yes, I know, easier said than done. That is true with all sins.

The Bible says homosexuality is a sin, and the solution to the problem of sin (the breaking of God’s Law, 1 John 3:4) is found only in Jesus. He is the Lord, the Savior, the risen King. The fact that Jesus physically rose from the dead three days after He died is proof that what He said was true.

We Christians should pray for the salvation of the homosexual the same as we would for anyone else. This is not an issue of arrogance or judgmentalism. We don’t want anyone to be lost and go to hell due to their sin and that includes gays, lesbians, and transgenders.

The homosexual is still made in the image of God even though he (or she) is in rebellion against Him. Therefore, we Christians should show homosexuals the same dignity as anyone else with whom we come in contact. They won’t be won by accusing tones and judgmental attitudes. They need to see the love of Christ in us. Don’t injure them. Don’t hate them. Instead, at the right time, lovingly inform them that freedom and forgiveness are found in Jesus. Let them know that God loves us and died for us so that we might be delivered from the consequences of our sin, which is eternal separation from God (Isaiah 59:2).

But, this does not mean that we are to approve of what they do. We are not to compromise our witness for a socially acceptable opinion that is void of rationality, godliness, and Biblical truth.  Instead, stand firm in the Word that God has revealed to us and patiently love them biblically and pray for their salvation. Be kind to them. Be loving. And, when appropriate, tell them the Gospel because forgiveness of our sins is found in Christ.

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