Last night, the issue of the Biola Queer Underground was brought to my attention at an elders’ meeting at Grace Community Church by Pastor John MacArthur. Recently, LGBTQ students at Biola University, a private Christian college, canvassed the campus with signs promoting the “Biola Underground,” an association for raising awareness about LGBTQ students at Biola. (It may interest you to read the student news organization’s coverage, which also details the administration’s response.) What I want to do is not to cover events as they unfold; the student news organization exists to do just that. What I would like to do is address, from a biblical standpoint, the Underground’s conviction:
To clear up this issue, we are in favor of celebrating homosexual behavior in its proper context: marriage. We do NOT believe that being gay or queer is a sin, whether in a relationship or otherwise. We do NOT believe that “acting upon” homosexual desires for intimacy in a loving marital relationship is wrong. (source)
There are words in the New Testament that can be translated as “homosexuality.” Indeed, the committee that created the English Standard Version chose to do just that, translating the Greek word “arsenokoites” (TSBD) in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 as “men who practice homosexuality.” It would appear that the practice of homosexuality is prohibited as a sin. Still, this can be, and has been, contested by supporters of LGBTQ Christians. And though I put a good deal of trust into the linguistic abilities of the translating committee, I am ill-suited to defend their translation choice as I am not a scholar of ancient Greek. I will leave the linguistic defense to those more capable than I. Instead what I want to do is demonstrate that God created marriage, and marital acts of intimacy, for a wedded heterosexual couple for a specific, God-glorifying reason. Thus the purpose of this article is twofold: to defend the view that the Bible sets forth heterosexuality as the only acceptable vehicle for marriage and sex, and to encourage the Biola administration and all other Christians to stand strong with this conviction in the face of resistance from the world.
I. A Biblical View
God first created Adam, a man. But God decided, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen. 2:18b). Then God created Eve, a woman. Very deliberately, “male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27b). God created the first two human beings to be different. God continues to create human beings to be different, and biologically speaking, of only two sexes. Jesus reaffirms this fact in Matthew:
“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matt. 19:4b-6)
Then the question must be asked, “Why did God create people to be different? Why did God create males and females?” And while the argument could be made that only heterosexual relations make procreation possible, I think the answer is found in God’s design of marriage. In Ephesians 5, Paul talks about how God constructed marriage. He writes:
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:22-24, 32)
And this, I think, gets to the heart of why I do not believe in homosexual unions, even in marriage. Marriage is designed by God for a man and a woman because it reflects the relationship between Christ and His church. Again: God made marriage to demonstrate the covenant between Jesus and His bride. The language of these verses makes it undeniably, unequivocally clear why marriage is only for a man and a woman: their roles in marriage are different. According to verse 25, the husband is the head of the marriage as Christ is the head of the church, and thus the wife is expected to follow the direction of her husband just as the church submits to the leading of Christ.
To suggest that two men or two women in a same-sex marriage can emulate this relationship is fundamentally unbiblical. Men are to lead, women are to follow. Two men cannot both lead, as leadership requires followers. For both to lead implies that Christ is head over none, or that He must share His sovereignty with another; for each man to lead and to follow at self-appointed times implies that Christ is subject to another. Ultimately, neither of these options can be, because there is only one Christ. There is no second Christ to share in the governing, and we do not deny that Christ does not have followers; we are his followers. Two women cannot both follow, or they will wander and be lost. For both women to follow implies that there is no Christ to lead the church, or that the church is not in need of the leadership of Christ; for a woman to lead implies that the church has the capacity and ability to lead apart from Christ. But this cannot be; we know that we are completely incapable apart from Christ, and we are completely dependent on him. In either same-sex scenario, serious–truly serious–claims arise as to the role of Christ and the church. There is a difference between the church and God, and so there must be a difference between the sexes to display marriage properly.
There can be no same-sex marriage, even if one is abstinent from homosexual behavior until marriage, because God created differences in the sexes to glorify Him through marriage. Thus same-sex marriage is a sin, because it dishonors God by denying Him the glory He put into His plan of marriage. To misunderstand this is to misunderstand the Gospel. To deny this is to deny the Gospel. In verse 25, Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” God made marriage so we would see, and so the world would see, how much He loves His bride, the church. God loved us, though we are so incredibly sinful. He sent His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, to earth, where he lived a perfect, blameless, sinless life, to die for us on the cross. Because of Jesus’ perfection, God accepted his death as the punishment for our sins. We no longer have to bear the punishment for our own sins, because Christ bore them for us instead. Now we who are saved respond with worship born of gratefulness because of God’s incredible love. Marriage is meant to model the Gospel, with man in the role of Christ and woman in the role of the church. Both love each other, but with each sex to its own role. When this is done, God is glorified as everyone sees the love Christ has for his church through the husband’s love for his wife. When this is done, God is glorified as everyone sees the church’s humble and worshipful response to God for His love through the wife following her husband’s leadership.
II. A Call to Steadfastness
Knowing the meaning of this “profound mystery” (5:32), and how it glorifies God, we cannot waver. To the administration of Biola, remain anchored in the truth and do not be afraid to call sin “sin.” Do not compromise on God’s truth. Do not accept this as acceptable, lest it create confusion among believers. To Christians elsewhere, reflect on the gospel in marriage and how we are privileged to model God’s love for us in that institution. To myself, do not be swayed to compromise on the gospel as it is reflected in marriage by calls for tolerance and acceptance. Be salt, be light, and stand steadfastly for truth:
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 5:13-16)
This is not a popular stance. Many, including the Vice President and President of this country, now stand against us on this issue. But we do not stand for the truth because it is easy. We do not stand for the truth because it is popular. We stand for the truth because we believe in God and the authority of His Word. In standing up for the truth of God’s word, Jesus warned us that it would not be easy: “[Y]ou will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matt. 10:22a). He said, “18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). They cannot tolerate us for standing up for heterosexuality as the only acceptable arena for romantic and marital relationships because it does not gratify their desires of the flesh or of the eyes (1 John 2:16). Regardless in the face of persecution for your beliefs, “2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2-3). Stand firm, because it is God’s truth. Be faithful to the Word of He who saved you.
We do not single out this sin of our own accord; we respond because of the immensity of public tolerance of this sin. Homosexuality is one sin among many. And let me be the first to acknowledge that I am a sinner who struggles daily with pride, greed, and lust, among other sins. But just as we do not waver on those issues, we cannot waver on this one. Just as lust is a sin, homosexual attraction is a sin. Just as adultery is sin, homosexual acts are sin. It is not a matter of being “good or fair to [LGBTQ]” or a matter of “interpretation of Scripture” (source), it is a matter of sin and disobeying and dishonoring God. We welcome you just as we welcome an adulterer, but you must fight this sin as we all must fight our sins. And through it all, we remember the atonement of Christ crucified, which reconciles us to God in this life and the next.
The gospel is our inspiration for putting to death all sin, and this is no less true for this sin than any other. Let us renew our resolve as we remember the cross on which our Savior died because of our sinfulness. Let us renew our resolve for defending a biblical view of marriage, one that displays the gospel and glorifies God. Let us respond with the grace that we have been shown, but with the conviction of knowing truth. Stand firm, Biola administrators. Stand firm, brothers and sisters. Fight sin wherever it is found, and may God be glorified, because our faithfulness to His word and our resistance to sin are not from us, but made possible only by His grace and work in us.