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Greetings. Perhaps you could help me with some input on some opinions I have regarding homosexual behavior. I do not mean to be inflammatory nor unkind. If you are homosexual or pro-homosexual, please read this section in its entirety before responding to me (if you chose to do so, anyway).

New stuff added on June 2, 1997.


I don't even much like the expression "sexual orientation" because it strikes me as too euphemistic and excusatory. Perhaps my quibble isn't so much with the concept (fact?) of socially-induced orientation or even personal-choice orientation as it is with the theory of a biological orientation.

Claims are being made about science bearing out the notion of homosexual orientation. I, no doubt, have missed these scientific studies. Can anybody enlighten me succinctly?

I accept repentant homosexuals, just as I accept repentant thieves, idolaters, murderers, adulterers, prostitutes, occult practitioners, gossipers and the like. And I'm ready to work with such who wish to repent. But I reject homosexual behavior, thievery, idolatry, murder, adultery, prostitution, the occult, and gossip.

The key word here surely must be repentant. Those who repent abandon that for which they repent. To "repent" and then to deliberately continue doing that wrong is to mock God.

"And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11).

"How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6:2).

Some would accuse me of hatred for taking a position such as I do. I hate no one. When I tell my children it is wrong to speak unkindly of/to anyone or that it is sin to steal or that God hates lying, am I informing them that I hate them? Of course not!

Here are some questions I have.

If homosexuality is indeed OK and natural, then . . .

What is my biblical basis for calling homosexuality sin?

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" (Leviticus 18:22).

"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet" (Romans 1:26,27).

"Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind" (1 Corinthians 6:9).

"Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:9,10).

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Genesis 2:24).


This next piece is "lifted" from the July 6, 1982, Gospel Herald. I made a few modifications.

What has happened to the Mennonite Church?

I read "Seminarians Study Homosexuality and the Church Questions" (May 25) with consternation. How have we come so far as to twist the plain language of Scripture to accommodate any deviant behavior? Especially such behavior so obviously condemned by Jesus?

The Alpha and Omega said, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).

The word whoremongers is the Greek word pornois, the masculine plural of pornos, "a male prostitute," and so used by the Greek writers, before New Testament days. Surely it has this same meaning in these verses spoken by Jesus. There can be no justification to modify the meaning of words to condone sin and the sinner.

Paul surely placed such deviant conduct under the judgment of God when assessed the society of his day. He made no distinction as to the character of the conduct, whether it be rape or consenting. Quite to the contrary he clearly stated it as consenting cohabitation when he wrote, "For this cause God gave them up unto vile [shameful] affections: for even their women [females] did change the natural [belonging to nature] use into that which is against [aside from] nature: and likewise also the men [males], leaving the natural use of the woman [females], burned in their lust [sexual desire] one toward another, men [males] with men [males] working that which is unseemly [shameful], and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error [deception] which was meet [proper]" (Romans 1:26-27).

No modern "scholar" has the right to say Paul did not understand how enlightened we would be today. It is assumed that had he known he would have written differently. Such presumptive judgment upon Holy Scripture puts the critic in a seriously vulnerable position before God. It echoes Lucifer's claim in Isaiah 14:14, "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." Far be it from any fallible creature to presume to "correct" the infallible Word of God.

Howard Charles is to be commended for saying, as reported, "Such behavior was not appropriate for the people of God in Old and New Testament times." The question must be asked then, "Is such behavior appropriate for the people of God today?" If so, when did God change?

To assert that homosexual orientation is an accident of birth for which the person need assume no responsibility for correction is to attach the responsibility to God, the Creator. As Anabaptists, we have traditionally steered clear of such unalterable predestination. We have held to the free agency of man to choose God's way or the devil's way. We have made much of the "age of accountability." We have urged the sinner to mend his ways by confessing and forsaking sin and all sinful lusts and desires.

There was a time when the Mennonite Church said, "No" on the basis of God's word. For some thirty years we have been qualifying our positions until we have well-nigh arrived at the place of Israel condemned by God through the prophet Isaiah, "Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope: that say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it. Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter" (Isaiah 5:18-20).

Lest some may question my right to speak, let it be known that for my graduate degree in New Testament I wrote a dissertation of New Testament Synonyms in the Septuagint. I examined New Testament Greek words in the Greek translation of the Old Testament and into the Hebrew Old Testament. One chapter was a study of sin. I found 95 Hebrew words and 28 Greek words were used to describe sin!

It has been my joy to study and teach Greek for 45 years, as well as Hebrew, which I studied in seminary and in Israel. Recently I have been exposed to first-generation Christians in East and West Africa. I learned that among them there is a soul readiness to take the bible for what it claims to be--God's Word for all people in all places for all times.

Has the time come when the Mennonite church will either have a revival or a reformation? Gatherings such as the one at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries may well force the issue to a reformation, when the faithful will be forced to separate. A revival would surely be preferable.

J. Otis Yoder, Breezewood, Pa.


Next I'll "treat" you to some excerpts of email exchanges I've had with other folks. Their comments are in purple; my responses are indented.

venomously attack homosexuals.
I have learned that "venomous attacks" are quite a matter of bias and perspective. If I say a certain act or life-style is sin, I am accused of hating and attacking the one(s) guilty of said sin. That is such a lame comeback, particularly for anyone who lays claim to the so-called "intellectual approach" to life and Christianity. Don't get me wrong, though -- I certainly want to be open to the possibility of this charge against me being true.
Do you have gay friends? they are loving and caring....
What difference does it make? The issue is not their personality. The issue is something they are doing/living/acting that is sinful. Shall we leave all sinners in their sin simply because they are loving and caring, and because they are our friends?
She does not choose to be gay. she often expresses a desire not to be gay. She has even asked GOD to remove this curse. but she is who she is.
Curse? Hmm. Anyway, I wonder what this friend's contribution has been to the answering of her own request to the Almighty.

It is not fair to ask gays to remain celibate because of their sexual orientation.
What does fairness have to do with this? It has everything to do with justice and righteousness. God Himself has established the standard which forbids homosexual relationships.
I have the sanction of the church to get married. Under your rules she never can.
Not your rules, not my rules, not her rules, not the church's rules, not society's rules. God's rules.
In her reply to him she said she is a wall flower. So was I. But believe me there may come a day when this changes. But you are not giving gays this chance.
Here again, your friend (and others of her persuasion) want to hold you responsible for "not giving gays this chance" when it is God who says, "No!"
Jesus who loved and accepted all
But He did not leave them to wallow in their sin! This apostate "gospel" of just letting people continue in their sin is so cheap and so unloving. It is another subtle way of denying the effectiveness of Jesus' sacrifice and blood on Calvary.
I would rather err on the side of loving and including than on the side of rejecting and judging.
First off, I would rather not err. So I go to the Scriptures for what God has to say. I let Him do the judging because I am not good at that at all, and besides, it is not my business. I reject no one personally. Again I say, I refuse to fall into the trap of making sin a personal, personality issue. It just isn't.
I have seen too well the pain and damage caused by those who exclude.
What about the eternal pain and damage caused by those who help the sinner feel at peace, comfortable and safe in his sin? Oh, I don't say that to excuse or justify those who deal with sinners in an unloving way. I, too, have seen "the pain and damage caused by those who exclude."

"When YOU are without sin, you may cast the first stone!"
"What is that to you? Follow ME!"

When I state that murder (or homosexuality or adultery or pride) is sin...
= I do not say Jesus didn't die for those guilty of these.
= I am not setting myself up to execute the guilty.
= I am not using their lack to excuse my own lack and disobedience.
I become a trifle weary when those who call sin "sin" are charged with all of the above and more (such as hating the sinner).

Jesus died on the cross so that He might cleanse, redeem and justify from sin, not so we could excuse ourselves and others from it.

Jesus died so that we might die to sin and live above it. So when I point out sin, I am glad I can also point to the solution: "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." (I hope I quoted that correctly; can't remember the reference.) I propose to cast a lifesaver, not a stone. To turn away from the sinner and his need for repentance simply because I do not want to identify him as such is cruel, hateful, unloving and disrespectful (and I suppose that list is but the beginning of the predicate adjectives).

When Jesus told Peter, "What is that to thee? Follow thou me!", it was not at all in the context of John's sin. To take these statements of the Lord and make them say that we are to stay away from the spiritual needs of others does grave injustice to one of the messages of the New Testament.

It makes a big difference when you look into the eyes of the accused and realize that they are humans, too, with similar day to day struggles you may have.

I have had to do this many times (though never in personal spiritual dealings with homosexuals). Just because I see them as humans and realize I am just like they in my daily struggles does not in any way change the fact that their particular lifestyle may be sinful. For me, to have compassion for them in their struggles does not mean that I must endorse or excuse the sin they may be guilty of.
Does God give us the right to judge our brothers and sisters?
When the Scriptures condemn something, is it I who am judging?
I am in no position to dictate church policy one way or another, so in a sense, it is all irrelevant to me.
In a sense it is also quite relevant. Jeremiah and Ezekiel (if I recall correctly) speak of the personal guilt and accountability of the watchman who didn't tell the sinner of his condition.
Do you realize that this person you condem has a stronger faith in the Almighty than me?
Of course not. :) But what does that have to do with anything? The Word instructs us to show our faith by our works. To live contrary to God's revealed will (in whatever area) reveals spiritual immaturity and darkness at best, perhaps rebelliousness and disobedience at worst.

Do I condemn this person? Certainly not on my merits, standards or righteousness. I am merely endeavoring to apply the Word to a particular pattern of thinking and/or living.

Of course, that is a matter of Biblical interpretation in many circles. The Bible has also been used to oppress many peoples in the past because of a slant on interpretation.
I've heard this plenty; that is, the last sentence there. You would do me a big favor if you would tell me what oppression you have in mind.
Do you know anyone to reject personally? It may not affect right and wrong, but it brings compassion into the picture.
I know plenty of practicing sinners to reject personally. Do I have any homosexual friends or acquaintances? Not that I know of. That doesn't change the fact that God has been working in my life to plant His compassion for lost souls. My concern is that in our compassion we not abandon righteousness.

A summary of what I believe on this issue

I believe . . .
- any homosexual relationship is sin.
- God does not give people a homosexual bent.
[     ] - homosexual behavior is a choice, not an instinct or orientation
- God loves homosexuals.
- God wants me to love homosexuals as He does.
- God grace is sufficient for homosexuals.
- Jesus died for homosexuals.
- the church is the best place for homosexuals.
- homosexual relationships should be rejected by the church.

I do not hate homosexuals, nor am I fearful of them. I do not reject homosexuals and believe the church should welcome and accept them.

Is it possible for a person with homosexual tendencies, attractions and feelings to be a Christian? I think so. But I believe engaging in homosexual acts is to be rejected by the Christian. I also believe God will work in the mind of the homosexual Christian to help him/her eventually attain victory over these tendencies, attractions and feelings. I believe God is big enough to take a homosexual individual through a process of sorts:
[     ] - first, freedom from homosexual relationships.
[     ] - second, freedom from the control of homosexual desires.
[     ] - third, freedom from homosexual desires altogether.

To reject homosexuals or to accept homosexual behavior are both extremes which, I believe, violate God's grace and holiness. I believe the church has the obligation to find and walk that narrow way that accepts, nourishes and transforms the individual without condoning, accepting or kow-towing to the sin.

See also JUST FOR YOU If You Wonder What the Bible Says About Homosexuality

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