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Gay Marriage 同性結婚

This is one of the very few times that I don’t particularly want to speak on a topic because generally speaking I would rather talk for the riches we have in Christ, than speak against any element of society or sin. But the voices for gay marriage have become so loud and so prolonged and our societies are changing so rapidly in this area that not responding would seem to me to be irresponsible.

Some context here would be helpful. In the 10 years or so I’ve been pastoring here, I’ve never once spoken directly on the issue of homosexuality and only a couple of times have I referred to it indirectly in a sermon, so I want to make it clear that I’m not carrying an anti-gay agenda. On the contrary, I continue to believe (as Pope Francis has recently expressed)
that we have more work to do in areas of outreach to the poor and lost than in speaking out against any one particular group in society. Nevertheless, as I said, there are times when we need to make a stand for what we believe, to understand what we believe and why, and to articulate that stand lovingly.

So the purpose of today’s sermon is to give you an intelligent, compassionate and Biblically sound Christian response to the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage.
There is a dire need to approach this topic as much as possible with a spirit of love – you never know who might be affected, including some here this morning.
I’m speaking as though there are gays here this morning.

Let me address 3 common arguments for homosexuality and gay marriage and give some responses to those.

1. It’s natural. (Biological issues)
2. It’s just between two people – it doesn’t affect anyone else (Legal issues)
3. Jesus never condemned homosexuality or gay marriage (Spiritual issues)

1. It’s natural. (Biological issues)

Most accurate figures put the homosexual population at around 1~2%. This is worth pointing out as there are other much higher figures being quoted which are untrue.

It’s also worth noting that there are degrees of homosexuality. It’s commonly accepted that there is gay attraction before gay experience before gay identity. Yet one does not necessarily lead to another. (Collins)
This is important because young people are being taught that if through their teen years they experience any sort of gay attraction (which can be common) that it automatically means they have a gay identity (which is usually not the case).

Supporters of the gay lifestyle and marriage often make a point of saying that homosexuality is “natural”. Opponents on the other hand are inclined to say that it is “unnatural”.
This is seen as an important distinction because if homosexuality is natural then it is not a choice and if it is not a choice then how can it be condemned? Or rather, in more modern terms, how can it not be accepted and celebrated?

Some look to the animal world and examples of homosexuality there to demonstrate that such behavior is natural. But this approach is troublesome because there are many animal behaviors that are unacceptable to us even though they might be natural. Some animals eat their babies, kill their mates after mating etc but we would never apply these behaviors to ourselves, so it’s hard to see why we should apply some animal behaviors to ourselves and not others.
In fact, it seems odd to me that we should be looking to animals to see what is natural or appropriate for humans.

“Nature”, is an argument now being used by pro-pedophile groups. They are claiming that attraction to children is natural to them, it is the way they were born and so they too should be tolerated and accepted. Gays are understandably outraged and are distancing themselves from this but it makes the argument from nature a precarious one.

Furthermore, in terms of nature, the Bible says that the whole of nature has been corrupted by sin (quote) so for the Christian, looking to nature for guidance in right and wrong behavior (morality) is wholly misguided.

Creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hopethat the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Romans 8:20-22

In discussing the natural aspect of physical relationships there are some things which should be addressed and I will try to do this as meaningfully yet as discreetly as possible. If you would like more specifics or source material, please ask me afterwards.

The gay lifestyle is a very unhealthy one. That might be seen by some as a controversial statement but let me present to you some information that will show you that it is not. The analogy I’m about to give you is drawn from almost 200 secular (only) sources so there is no Christian bias in them.
Gays have a much higher incidence ofpromiscuity (and that’s saying something), much higher incidences of alcohol and drug abuse and much higher suicide and attempted suicide rates than the general community.
Gays have much higher incidences of STDs than the general community. One reason for this is the natural human body.
Simply, male bodies are made for female bodies and vice versa. Male bodies are not made for male bodies, for example, and this explains a lot of the ill health. In a heterosexual physical union, there is very little if any damage to either body. In a male homosexual union however, there is frequent damage which causes all manner of physical problems including tearing, muscle damage, incontinence, diarrhea, cramps, hemorrhoids, prostate damage, ulcers and more. Extensive surgical procedures are often required to repair the damage. (Schmidt p118)
Romans 1:27 talks about a “penalty” for homosexual practitioners. We don’t know specifically was Paul was referring to with regards to the penalty but it’s hard not to look at these figures and see a connection.
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.

Thomas Schidt gives the following analogy to sum up the extent of the health problem:

“Suppose you moved into a house with a group of ten randomly selected homosexual men in their mid-30s… 4 of the 10 men are currently in relationships, but only one of those is faithful to his partner, and he will not be within a year, and only one has had a relationship that has lasted more than 3 years. 6 are having sex regularly with strangers, and the group averages almost 2 partners per person per month. 3 of them occasionally take part in orgies. 1 is a sadomasochist. 1 prefers boys to men.
3 of the men are currently alcoholics, 5 have a history of alcohol abuse and 4 have a history of drug use..3 are multiple drug users. 4 have a history of acute depression, 3 have seriously contemplated suicide and 2 have attempted suicide. 8 have a history of STDs, 8 currently carry infectious pathogens…at least 3 are HIV infected, and one has AIDS.” p127

It kind of makes the term “gay” a sad irony. And this is, of course, very different from the information and the image that we are given of gays in the popular media. And it’s hard to equate the ill-health in these figures to a “natural” approach to relationships.

2. It’s just between two people – it doesn’t affect anyone else (Legal issues)

This argument (unlike the first one) annoys me. It is either very naive or it is a lie.

Gay marriage affects us all in the following five ways:
i. It redefines marriage. 結婚の定義を変える It means that the definition of marriage that we all (those of us who are married) entered into is being changed. It’s no longer a sacred union between a man and a woman. Even if only in this philosophical sense (though it’s more than that), we are all affected. The definition or our marriage is being changed. It’s not just between two people. 二人の間だけでのことではありません。
ii. It redefines parenthood and childhood. 親・子どもの定義を変える Gay marriage affects the children who are adopted into and raised with 2 fathers or 2 mothers. It’s not just between two people. 二人の間だけのことではありません。
iii. It changes school education. 学校教育を変える Physical homosexuality is now being taught in more and more schools in western countries. It’s not just between two people.二人の間だけのことではありません。
iv. It threatens Christians. クリスチャンを脅かす This might sound excessive but in some countries now, Christians can and are being arrested for speaking against gay marriage. (Not abusive language but simply speaking against gay marriage and even just reading from the Bible.) It’s not just between two people.二人の間だけのことではありません。
v. It threatens the church. 教会を脅かす Again, this might sound excessive but already in some countries, churches are being threatened with closure if they refuse to marry gay couples. It’s not just between two people.二人の間だけのことではありません。
Gay marriage affects everyone. 同性愛結婚はみんなに影響を与えます。
There is also a legal slippery slope here that gay marriage proponents don’t like to talk about. If we see gay marriage as a legal right between consenting adults then what right is there legally to refuse polygamous marriages, including those of a bisexual nature, and incestuous marriages (because we have effective contraception now)? Gays want inclusion in marriage. If so, how can inclusion exclude other groups?
Gay rights groups will say, that those other issues are separate issues and that all we’re dealing with is gay marriage and that’s all. I can assure you this is duplicity. Intended or not, the issues are all necessarily connected and affect each other.

3. Jesus never condemned homosexuality or gay marriage (Spiritual issues)

This is true. Jesus never condemned homosexuality but he did affirm that marriage is exclusively between a man and a women.
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? Matthew 19:4,5
So there can be no Biblical argument for gay marriage based on Jesus’ teaching.

Some people emphasize the loving nature of Jesus’ teaching and his determination to reach out to the outcasts and to “sinners”. Therefore, gay supporters claim, Jesus would surely be reaching out to them, too. They often site the story of the woman caught in adultery. “Has no-one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you.”
But let’s know our Bibles better than that.
Jesus also concluded by saying, “Go now and sin no more.”
Jesus pardoned her. He didn’t tolerate or accept her sin and he certainly didn’t celebrate it.

There is a tendency for gay proponents who use the Bible to portray themselves as the outcasts that Jesus was reaching out to. To a certain extent, this is true. But there can be a fundamental difference. These “sinners” that Jesus was reaching out to knew they were sinners. They were lowly, needy, sinful outcasts. And so Jesus reached out to them. They were not dancing in the streets celebrating their behavior and running campaigns for public approval.

I spent months corresponding with an angry gay fellow last year who was adamant he did not want my compassion or ‘my’ version of the truth. He wanted an apology and for me to join in the celebration of his lifestyle. This seems to me to be very different from the outcasts that Jesus was reaching out to.

Jesus never condemned homosexuals. In fact, did you know that the Bible never specifically condemns homosexuals? Never! Not once! Gays may not want to hear this but it’s important. The Bible makes a very clear and important distinction between who we are and what we do. The Bible condemns homosexual behavior unambiguously but never anyone for having homosexual tendencies.
For those who wonder why we hold onto the condemnation of homosexual behavior as spelt out in Leviticus when so many other laws there no longer apply, there is a simple rule of thumb that we can use:
When an OT law is repeated in the NT it holds, when it is not repeated, don’t worry too much about it. The condemnation of homosexual behavior is clear in both testaments and still stands but again not the condemnation of homosexuals themselves.

We’ve popularized this into a neat Christian phrase: love the sinner but hate the sin.
Some don’t like this phrase or think it is impractical but I can tell you personally that it is not because I apply it to myself all the time. I love myself as the Bible has taught me to do but I hate the sin in my life. It’s right that I feel the same way toward others.

But the key matter here is that no-one who ever gave their life to Christ stayed the same. Gay or straight, righteous or sinner, male or female, Jew or Gentile, once they gave their life to Christ, once the Holy Spirit entered their heart, they were changed people.

And this leads us to our conclusion. We would do well in this debate to remember first and foremost John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God loves gay people. God loves gay people so much that he died for them.
The challenge for Christians today is to gently, confidently stand against homosexual behavior and gay marriage, regardless of the tide flowing against us, while at the same time reach out to gays (as with others), not with a spirit of condemnation, but with the love of Christ and the offer of His salvation.