The Bible’s Viewpoint
Should Christians Hate Homosexuals?
IN 1969 a word describing an irrational fear of or aversion to homosexuals was coined in the English language. The word is “homophobia.” Many languages do not have such a specific word, yet for thousands of years, people of many nations and tongues have evinced a dislike for homosexuals.
In more recent times, though, homosexuality has been widely promoted as merely an alternative form of sexual expression. Historian Jerry Z. Muller recently wrote of a “rising demand for public recognition and respect for homosexuality as such.” He explained that homosexuals “have increasingly banded together to proclaim their practice as praiseworthy, and to demand that others do so as well.” This is seen especially in Western countries. However, in most parts of the world, even in so-called liberal lands, many still condemn and spurn homosexuality.
Homosexuals and those suspected of homosexuality are often singled out as targets of scornful remarks, harassment, and violence. Even religious leaders have manifested such hatred. Some have started what may seem to be their own private wars against homosexuals. Take, for instance, the comments made by a bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church that were broadcasted recently on Greek national radio. He stated: “God will burn homosexuals forever in the fiery pitch of hell. The screams of their filthy mouths will resound to all eternity. Their perverse bodies will experience unbearable torment.” Is this really true? How does God feel about homosexuals?
The Bible does not call particular attention to homosexuals as a group to be ostracized or hated by Christians. Moreover, it does not teach that God will punish homosexuals—or any of his creatures—by burning them in a fiery hell forever.—Compare Romans 6:23.
However, the Scriptures do set forth the moral standards of our Creator, which oftentimes run counter to modern-day mores. Homosexual acts, heterosexual sex between unmarried persons, and bestiality are all condemned in the Bible. (Exodus 22:19; Ephesians 5:3-5) God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of such sexual practices.—Genesis 13:13; 18:20; 19:4, 5, 24, 25.
Regarding acts of homosexuality, God’s Word pointedly says: “This is a hateful thing.” (Leviticus 18:22, The New Jerusalem Bible) God’s Law to Israel stipulated: “When a man lies down with a male the same as one lies down with a woman, both of them have done a detestable thing. They should be put to death without fail.” (Leviticus 20:13) The same punishment was prescribed for those committing bestiality, incest, and adultery.—Leviticus 20:10-12, 14-17.
The apostle Paul was inspired to describe homosexual acts as expressions of “disgraceful sexual appetites” and as “contrary to nature.” He writes: “That is why God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, for both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error. And just as they did not approve of holding God in accurate knowledge, God gave them up to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting.”—Romans 1:26-28.
The Scriptures offer no apologies, no concessions, no ambiguity; homosexual practices, adultery, fornication, are all repulsive in God’s sight. Accordingly, true Christians do not water down the Bible’s position on “disgraceful sexual appetites” merely to become more popular or more acceptable to modern culture. Nor do they agree with any movement dedicated to the promotion of homosexuality as a normal life-style.
“Hate What Is Bad”
The Bible admonishes: “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad.” (Psalm 97:10) Hence, Christians are expected to hate every practice that violates Jehovah’s laws. Some people may even react with stronger feelings of aversion or disgust toward homosexuality than toward other types of immorality, viewing homosexuality as an unnatural sexual perversion. However, should Christians hate the individuals who practice such things?
The psalmist sheds some light on this issue at Psalm 139:21, 22: “Do I not hate those who are intensely hating you, O Jehovah, and do I not feel a loathing for those revolting against you? With a complete hatred I do hate them. They have become to me real enemies.” Our loyalty to Jehovah and his principles should generate in us a strong dislike of those who deliberately revolt against Jehovah and who take a stand as God’s enemies. Satan and the demons are among such confirmed enemies of God. Some humans also likely fall into this category. Yet, it may be very difficult for a Christian to identify such people from outward appearances. We cannot read hearts. (Jeremiah 17:9, 10) It would be wrong to assume that one is an unreformable enemy of God because he or she is practicing wrong. In many cases wrongdoers simply do not know God’s standards.
Hence, generally speaking, Christians are slow to hate fellow humans. Even if they have strong feelings of abhorrence toward certain life-styles, they do not seek to inflict injury on others, nor do they harbor spite or malice toward them. Rather, the Bible counsels Christians to “be peaceable with all men.”—Romans 12:9, 17-19.
“God Is Not Partial”
Jehovah will grant forgiveness to the person who truly repents, no matter what immorality that person may have been committing. There is no evidence that Jehovah views one form of immorality as worse than another. “God is not partial.” (Acts 10:34, 35) Consider, for example, the case of the first-century congregation in Corinth. The apostle Paul wrote to them: “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men kept for unnatural purposes, nor men who lie with men, nor thieves, nor greedy persons, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit God’s kingdom.” Then Paul acknowledged that some former fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, and thieves had been accepted into the Christian congregation in Corinth. He explained: “And yet that is what some of you were. But you have been washed clean, but you have been sanctified, but you have been declared righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the spirit of our God.”—1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Of course, Jehovah does not tolerate any continued and persistent violation of his perfect moral standards. He definitely hates the obstinate disregard of his principles. However, he keeps the door for reconciliation open. (Psalm 86:5; Isaiah 55:7) In harmony with this, Christians do not make homosexuals, or anyone else, the target of ill will, ridicule, or harassment. True Christians view their fellow humans as potential disciples of Christ, treating them in a respectful and dignified manner. The Bible says: “This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth.”—1 Timothy 2:3, 4.
Christians Welcome the Repentant
Time and again, the Bible declares that God is forgiving. It describes him as “a God of acts of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness.” (Nehemiah 9:17; Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9) The Bible further likens him to the father in Jesus’ parable about the prodigal son who had squandered his inheritance on debauchery in a distant land. The father waited with open arms to welcome back his son when the son finally came to his senses, repented, and returned to his family home.—Luke 15:11-24.
Yes, it is possible for a wrongdoer to change. The Scriptures acknowledge this by encouraging people to strip off the old personality and put on the new one and to ‘be made new in the force actuating the mind.’ (Ephesians 4:22-24) Those who practice what is bad, including homosexuals, can make radical changes in their pattern of thinking and behavior, and many have indeed been successful in making this transformation.* Jesus himself preached to such ones; and on showing repentance, they became acceptable to him.—Matthew 21:31, 32.
Christians welcome repentant people from diverse walks of life. After leaving behind immoral practices, whatever they might have been, all can enjoy the full benefits of God’s forgiveness because “Jehovah is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works.”—Psalm 145:9.
Christians are ready to offer the needed spiritual support, even to those who are still struggling with homosexual inclinations. This is in harmony with God’s own manifestation of love, for the Bible says: “God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”—Romans 5:8.
See the article “How Can I Make These Feelings Go Away?,” in the March 22, 1995, issue of Awake!
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Christians do not water down the Bible’s view of homosexuality
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