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The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage

The Battle For Marriage – Part 2

Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer | May 2, 2004

Selected highlights from this sermon

The church is under incredible pressure. Homosexuals want us to support their relationships. They argue that they can’t change because they were born a homosexual. But even if new desires cannot be obtained, God calls all sinners to repent. 

Let’s respond by building strong families, leading the way in adoption. We must carefully protect and raise our children so that they won’t be given to confusion.  

Today I bring you the second of two messages on the topic, The Battle For Marriage. If you are visiting, I want you to know it is somewhat unusual for me to speak on topics like this. It’s not something we want to speak about often, but because of the issue of same-sex marriages, I’ve chosen to bring two messages on this topic.

If you were with us last time you know I stressed why this is such an important issue. First of all, because of the nature of the family. It would end freedom of religion as it is doing in Canada, and also the fact that the Bible is not neutral on this topic. It’s not as if God still has not quite made up His mind regarding the issue of homosexuality.

In the message I also emphasized the sins within the church, that we have failed the homosexual community. We failed the homosexual community by first of all all emphasizing their sin as if ours is of lesser significance. I spoke about adultery and pornography, and other sins within the church, of which we must repent. Also, I pointed out sometimes we have been unfair because we’ve not distinguished between the agenda of the radicals and the many who are homosexuals or struggling with homosexuality, who come to our churches. I noted how important it was to take note of that distinction.

Today, what we’re going to do is to look, first of all, at what it means to children. Secondly, I’ll talk about the pressure and the arguments are used in favor of same-sex marriages. Finally, the need to seek God, which is where we are going to end. Once again I invite you to listen carefully and do not make any judgment of this message until you have heard all of it. Also, I’m going to be reading, at least partially reading it, since I have many quotes, and many facts and statistics in some instances, and I want to get it right. Furthermore, a man of my age doesn’t mind being a little bit lazy once in a while, and doing some reading and making comments.

First of all, regarding children. If you survey the cultures of the world, you will discover the concept of family is found in all of them. Certain tribes practice bigamy, or even polygamy, but they all have the sense that children belong to parents who gave them birth. There is a connectedness between men and women, and the result is offspring for whom they care. So, despite these radical differences between cultures, they all have a moral consciousness. There is all this sense that the family is important, and children are to be reared by mothers and fathers. Obviously, this moral law is often seen imperfectly, and even what is seen is often set aside for personal self-interest. We have all known better than we have lived, but the moral consciousness found throughout the world can only be explained by common grace given to all people based on natural law. Marriage and family are part of natural law.

Words can be defined differently but historically the word family has been always understood as a basic unit in society, having as its nucleus a man and a woman who care for their child or children. Though we may speak of a single parent family, this very qualification reminds us in such an arrangement, the family might still be said to exist, but it is fractured either because of divorce or death.

Though some homosexual radicals disdain the concept of natural law. Such laws have been recognized in all cultures, and among all the different religions of the world, understandably so, for the very anatomy of a man and a woman tells us these two genders were meant for one another.

There is a God-intended Phileo relationship between a mother and her daughter, a father, and his sons. This biological relationship is the basis for the caring, mothering, and fathering relationship. To cut children off from these connections is to create within them the empty longing, the unfulfilled desire to connect with their biological parents. This is why adoption, though necessary, is never the ideal, even if a child is brought into a loving man-woman family relationship.

My point is we should never create a class of children that are deliberately cut off from their biological connections. But, of course, I can hear a chorus of objections. Think of the abuse there is in some traditional man-woman marriages. Isn’t it better to have a child raised by two loving caring lesbians, or two loving caring homosexual men? Yes, of course, it would be better for a child to be raised by two loving lesbians than an abusive heterosexual couple. The issue is not whether two lesbians can love a child and take care of its needs. However, our preference should always be to the family in which there is one father and one mother.

We cannot wrest children from the God-given format of family relationships without serious consequences. What homosexual adoption fails to take into account is the implications within the wider culture if such relationships were to become commonplace. We would expect, and the research bears this out, that a child reared in the “Heather Has Two Mommies” atmosphere of today’s world will suffer from gender confusion or worse.

Of course, the homosexual community is quick to say there are no adverse effects if a child would be reared by two mommies or two daddies. But keep in mind the research in this area is often done by those who are proponents of such relationships.  Sociologist, Steven Nock, of the University of Virginia, who is agnostic on same-sex marriages, said as an expert witness in a Canadian court, “Through this analysis I draw my conclusions, one, that all the articles I reviewed contained at least one fatal flaw of design or execution, and two, not a single one of those studies was conducted according to generally accepted standards of scientific research.”

It’s worth pointing out even though evidence on child outcomes might be sketchy, at least to some sociologists, Judith Stacey, an advocate of same-sex marriages, and a sociologist, agrees that sons of lesbians are less masculine, and daughters of lesbians are more masculine. She also found “a significantly greater proportion of young adult children, raised by lesbian mothers, than those raised by heterosexual mothers, report homo-erotic attractions.” It is foolish to think alternate forms of the family are as good as the mother-father relationship. I could quote others, but I need to hurry here.

Gay marriage might well change society’s entire concept of parenthood. Because gay couples cannot produce children on their own, Skillen predicts that hopeful parents may seek to rend wounds and deny children to know their biological parents. “It is going to be increasingly possible to produce, buy and sell children because, in addition to adoption, that is the only way homosexual couples can have children.” And I’m saying to you today whether raised by lesbians or homosexual men, these children will be denied either a father or a mother. We all know a daughter, raised in a strong, loving marriage will know what to look for in a man and be better able to resist those who want to take advantage of her sexually.

Lesbian parents are saying a father is irrelevant to parenting. Homosexual men say a mother is irrelevant to parenting. But God says both a father and a mother are relevant to parenting. It has been noted two mothers do not equal a dad, nor can two dads replace a mother’s love. God intended every child have a mother and a father who are an example of commitment, caring, and love. Not only is such a child given a sense of security, but he or she sees femininity and masculinity modeled in a complimentary relationship.

Of course, in our world with rampant divorce, immorality and the redefinition of the family, this ideal is becoming a memory. But and this is important, we must work toward the ideal, even though we know we shall not achieve it, rather than work against the ideal, defying the designer who made us all.

I’d like to move on now and talk about the pressure we are under. I am keeping track of my clock, so you don’t have to. All right? Is that an agreement we can have today?

I need to summarize and simply say that— Let’s take the example of two lesbians, both from Christian families. They argue their relationship was beautiful. In fact, they were more certain their relationship with one another was honoring to God than they were about anything else. Since God created them with a different orientation why would the Almighty not be pleased with how they express their love to one another? If heterosexuals can enjoy the bliss of wedded love, why would a good God deprive them of the same privilege?

And so, the pressure to affirm same-sex marriages is relentless. We hear it from the media, from politicians, and from the gays themselves who plead with us to see their point. They say, “We also are human beings with sexual desires. It would be unfair for some people to express these desires while others are forbidden to do so.” And what human being, family member or otherwise, has the right to deny them equal status in matters of vocation and marriage? Well, in the next few moments, I’m going to summarize some of the arguments that are made for this and give you a very brief reply.

First of all, I’m born that way. The oft-stated argument goes like this. “If it can be established that homosexuality is caused genetically, rather than a chosen lifestyle, then homosexuality cannot be immoral.” And so, there is the search for the so-called “gay gene” with the hope it can be proven that homosexuality, like skin color, is not freely chosen. Thus, in the minds of the pubic it follows with impeccable logic that gays are not responsible for their gayness, and thus are free to act on their feelings. As one homosexual advocate put it, “Only a sadistic God would create hundreds of thousands of humans to be inherently homosexual, and then deny them the right to sexual intimacy.” In brief, since gayness is created by God, the homosexual lifestyle must be affirmed.

This obviously is not the place for me to take the time to evaluate whether or not there is a gay gene. I’m more interested in the logic. If it is genetic, then it must be affirmed. I’m interested in that equation. Even if homosexuality is shown to be genetic, and the evidence is far from conclusive, that would not yield the results that are claimed.

Now, just follow this for a moment. We must better understand the nature of genetics itself. There is a difference between those genes that make up the body, and those genes that influence our desires and predispositions. Jones and Yarhouseon write, “We are used to thinking of genes as causing us to have things like brown eyes or wavy hair, and choice has little to do with such characteristics. But the Hayward Genetics has produced abundant evidence of genetic influences that clearly do not render human choice irrelevant.”

 In other words, we are responsible for our behavior even if it is genetically motivated. Surely homosexuals don’t want to say that genetics has made them into robots who can make no real choices about how they behave. I think they’d want to affirm they are moral agents who should be held accountable for their life-style. In other words, no matter what influence our genetic make-up has on us, we cannot use this as an excuse for lack of accountability and responsibility.

Example, years ago, I was counseling a kleptomaniac who stole everything he could. He even stole when he knew right well, he’d probably be caught. He told me just walking past a counter with some goods that he had stolen gave him such a buzz that he was just driven to steal. In fact, he says, “I have been stealing since I’ve been four years old.” He said, “I have absolutely no doubt but that it is genetic.”

So, here’s the question? What if we find a kleptomaniac gene? What if we find a pedophile gene? What if we find an arsonist gene? Is that going to render human being’s incapable of taking responsibility for their actions? I don’t think so. Ever since the fall in Eden we all have a predisposition to sin. Whether we are heterosexual or homosexual, the church has never taught that in our fallen state all of our desires are good, and hence deserve fulfillment. These fallen desires, often referred to as lusts in Scripture, must be channeled, directed, and often denied the fulfillment they crave. That, after all, is the task of all persons regardless of gender or orientation.

When we hear someone say he has a right to homosexual behavior, we have to point out that sexual intimacy is not a right. Rather than the language of rights, we have to return to the language of obligations. In the Bible it is clear we have an obligation to be sexually chaste if we are not married, and sexually faithful if we are. We cannot argue our desires are “from God” and hence, thereby, worthy of fulfillment.

C. S. Lewis wrote, “From the statement of psychological fact, ‘I have an impulse to do so and so’ we cannot by any ingenuity derive the practical principle, ‘I ought to obey this impulse…’ Telling us to obey instinct is like telling us to obey ‘people.’ People say different things: so do instincts. Our instincts are at war.” My point is regardless of our sexual desires, whether genetic or acquired, we are creatures created with the ability to choose, and we are held accountable by God for those choices. We cannot argue that the devil or our genes made us do it.

Second, homosexuality cannot be changed. After all, if homosexuals are born that way, it follows that changing it to heterosexual behavior is impossible. So, since that avenue of hope is cut off, it follows the church is cold-hearted to maintain its message of repentance, faith, and chastity.

So, can homosexuals change? Well, Exodus International would give us thousands of testimonies of those who have. However, committed homosexuals routinely dismiss these accounts out of hand saying such people were “never truly homosexual.” Thus, we hear the oft-repeated mantra that change is both impossible and undesirable. Even the very idea one would want to change is seen as a denial of one’s fundamental personhood. Thus, we have a chasm between those who claim deliverance and those who insist such claims are spurious.

Once again, my purpose is not to evaluate the evidence, but rather to ask this question. Even if someone finds he or she cannot change to heterosexual desires, does this justify living the homosexual lifestyle? Now we all know the words of Paul in the New Testament, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, or thieves, or the greedy, nor the drunkards, nor the slanderers, nor the swindlers will inherit the Kingdom of God, and this is what some of you were, but you’re washed, you’re sanctified, you’re justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of God.” That’s 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.

A couple of comments about this passage. First, all the sexual sins we have in our culture were rampant in Ancient Corinth. Also present were other sins thievery, alcoholism, et cetera. Second, we learned the gospel changed these people. A gospel that does not change the basic aspirations of the human heart is no gospel at all. However, is Paul saying homosexuals can be changed into heterosexuals? He does not say Christ took these people who lived a homosexual lifestyle and transformed their sexual desires so that now they could be happily married. He simply says, “And that is what some of you were, and now they are washed, sanctified, and justified.” What Paul might have meant was these homosexuals now lived their lives in the power of the Holy Spirit, and were committed to a life of chastity.

As all of us know, there are many heterosexuals who are denied marriage. Either because they have not been able to connect with an ideal partner, or because they are committed to other interests. There is nothing in the Bible about marriage being a right that people can demand. And we’re not asking more of single homosexuals than we ask of single heterosexuals when we insist on chastity.

Jones and Yarhousen, in an excellent book write, “It may be that the church can no more guarantee healing to homosexuals than it can guarantee marriage to disconsolate single heterosexuals. There are many more single Christian heterosexuals doomed to (quote) “sexual abstinence by the church’s narrow sexual morality than there are homosexual persons similarly constrained.”

In other words, it would be eminently possible, as many testify, to be committed to chastity. Even while struggling with homosexual desires, just as heterosexuals can be committed while struggling with their desires.

I have to pause here. When I preached the first message a young man in this church came up. He was a member of Moody Church, a valued member at Moody Church, and he said he wept during the first sermon I gave on the topic. He said he wept as much as he did when his mother died. He wept because he said, “First of all, it is such a broken lifestyle; emptiness, sexual compulsions, and you are locked into it,” but in despair he cried up to God. Once when he was so low, he could be no lower, he cried up to God and was soundly converted. And then he said it has been over a year since he’s had a relationship, and therefore has been living a sexually chaste lifestyle.

Now, that’s the power of God. That’s what God can do. As I mentioned, we expect it of heterosexuals who are single, and we expect it of homosexuals who are single. And such need to be enfolded within the ministry of our churches.

I don’t have time to go into the argument that homosexual marriage is a matter of civil rights, except to say very quickly. First of all, we have to realize the color of one’s skin is not a matter of choice. It is genetically determined. But as we have learned about homosexual behavior, is not genetically determined, even as scientists were able to locate the elusive gay gene. No black person has ever left his blackness, but there are plenty of people who have left the homosexual lifestyle. [applause]

I need to hurry very quickly as to the response of the church, and I have some things to say about the single lifestyle, too, so you have to hang on. I might say that we might lose the present battle regarding same-sex marriages. Let me very quickly now summarize some of the things we have to be concerned about. First of all, we have to strengthen our own families. The statistics on divorce within the evangelical community are a cause for repentance and shame, and we have to begin there.

Second, we must lead the way in adoption. I was in touch with a church just a week ago in Florida where the pastor challenged his congregation. They are looking for 300 couples willing to adopt. Isn’t that wonderful? Some as foster care, some as permanent adoptions, and 60 churches got together to discuss how they could be more actively involved in the adoption process.

Third, we must carefully nurture and protect our young people. Studies have shown that a child who reaches puberty can either become a homosexual or a heterosexual depending on environmental factors. Roger, a homosexual prostitute, who converted to Christ, and was later married, told me, “I was introduced to homosexuality by a man across the street when I was six-years-old. I both loved it and hated it. At last, I had a man to turn to, and when I reached the teen years, I assumed I was gay and opted for the lifestyle.” His story can be repeated thousands of times.

Now parents, this is going to be brief. Incredibly important. You must stand against all modern sex education curriculums that suggest young people explore their sexuality. There is a reason why there are those who would like to begin in grade one, talking about gender diversity, and the reasons they want to do that are not nice reasons. They are not noble reasons. You must stand against that with all of your heart and spirit. Join other people, even if they belong to a different religion or a different church, and you must insist that your children are protected from such propaganda.

Let me say also the church in its strong condemnation of homosexuality has failed to teach parents that children must not only be reared but understood. Here’s where I made the comment last time which elicited a number of responses about some young men growing up with effeminate characteristics, and I pointed out they were not gay.

Let me talk about singleness for a moment because we have so many singles here at The Moody Church. In many respects singles are the backbone to many of our ministries, and we welcome them here. When the disciples were overwhelmed with the level of commitment Jesus expected for marriage partners, they suggested perhaps it was best if people not marry, and Jesus made this statement, “For some are eunuchs because they were born that way. Others were made that way by men, and others have renounced marriage because of the Kingdom of Heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” (Matthew 19:12) A eunuch is defined as a male who could be entrusted with a harem or a household. Jesus said some are made that way by men. Others, he said, renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom. But there’s a first category, namely those who are born that way. Without digressing it is clear that some people are born not to be married. Whether because of physical or environmental factors. They’re not a different gender, but they have a different calling. Others could be married but renounce marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, as the Apostle Paul did. But here’s the point now. Special blessings await those who are called to singleness.

In Isaiah 56:3, the Lord says, “And let not any eunuch complain, ‘I am only a dry tree.’” We can imagine an unmarried man, perhaps a eunuch by birth or made so by men, complaining he has no posterity, no children. His name will die out. He feels as if he is not as fruitful as those who have children. In his mind he is only a dry tree. Ah, but God replies, “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what please me and hold fast to my covenant, to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off.”

The principle applies to those who serve faithfully as singles, whether male or female. God will give them something that is better than sons and daughters, namely a spiritual seed that will bless the Kingdom, as the Apostle Paul himself proved.

Last time I stressed the fact that we as a church have to repent of our attitude, and because of time I need to simply bypass that, but let’s keep in mind our sins are great.

Very quickly, every Christian must become an activist, assuming the delicate task of taking a firm but loving stand on the issues yet presenting the spiritual healing of Christ to a society inflicted with a disease called sin. John Q. Citizen will never be convicted about the credibility of the Christian faith until he personally becomes acquainted with someone who lives out the Christian life, applying its values to every situation.

And now also we need to cooperate more broadly. There are organizations such as Focus on the Family, The Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and a host of other organizations that I do not have time to list, that actually are a part of fighting against the same-sex marriage phenomenon.

Individual citizens must also work within the political system. Now, of course, as you know, we as a church do not endorse any political candidate, but as individual citizens we must work within the political arena to elect those who are favorable to a pro-family agenda, who oppose abortion and same-sex marriages. [applause] We must find those politicians at all levels who are willing to articulate their views and know what we expect of them once in office. We must even try to educate them and their assistants in why a particular stand is important. Our primary job, of course, is always to represent Christ and the gospel.

Now, as I come to the end of this message, I want to ask you to take your Bibles and turn to a passage of Scripture. Now I am no longer reading. I am talking from my heart, though what I read to you is also from my heart I might say.

Many evangelicals think in this fight there’s no possibility God Himself could take any other position than to help us to stop same-sex marriages. I’m going to shock you by saying I’m not sure God is going to be on our side in this. Why? First of all, while you’re turning to 2 Chronicles, I want to turn to a passage in Isaiah, and I want you to listen to what God says to His own people, the nation Israel.

“But they rebelled and they grieved his Holy Spirit, therefore, he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them.” God says if we grieve His Spirit— And how do we grieve His Spirit? I think it’s because of pride. I believe the church in America is full of pride, sense of self-righteousness. We’ve not really been broken by God in all humility. I have been praying that God would break me and teach me in a whole new way what total dependence upon Him is. The pride that arises so naturally in our hearts, that it might be put to death, that we might be like water spilled on the ground that cannot be regathered in the presence of God. Then I believe God might come to our aid and help us.

So, I’m more optimistic when I ask you to turn to 2 Chronicles 20. The context is the Moabites and a whole host of people are coming against Jehoshaphat. 2 Chronicles 20:3, “Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all of Judah. Then Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord from all the cities of Judah. They came to seek the Lord. And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, and the house of the Lord before the new court and said, ‘Oh Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might so that none is able to withstand against you. Did you not our God drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people, Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham, your friend, and they lived in it and have built for you a sanctuary?”

Let me skip to verse 11, “Behold they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession which you have given to us to inherit. Oh, our Lord God, will you not execute judgment on them for we are powerless against this great hoard that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

From my heart to yours today, after studying this in considerable detail I’ve come to the conclusion that we are part of a cultural current. It is irrational. It is against the law but people are flaunting the law. We live in a very irrational age. Consider this. A pro-abortion protester in Washington recently said he was there to protect future generations. [laughter] What’s wrong with this picture? What generation do unborn babies belong to?

There is a cultural climate in America that is not willing to listen, not willing to consider. It is a bandwagon mentality and I need to tell you, even though I wanted to explain more what we could do, but I ran out of time. At the end of the day, I believe so strongly that only the intervention of God can save us. Only the intervention of God. [applause]

And unless God comes to our aid, we’ll never win this battle. Continuing in 2 Chronicles 20:15, a messenger comes to Jehoshaphat and says, “Listen all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat. Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde for the battle is not yours but God’s.’”

What we need to do is to humble ourselves. We need to cry up to God. We need to throw ourselves on the ground and say, “Oh, God, unless you come this nation with all of its freedoms and all of its decency is finished.

Now I want you to know how they went into battle, and the choir at this point, the choir sitting behind me, has to listen carefully. Verse 18, “Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshipping the Lord.” Verse 20, “And they arose early in the morning and went into the wilderness and Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me, Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Believe in the Lord your God and you will be established. Believe his prophets and you will succeed.’ And when they had taken council with the people he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord, and praise him in holy attire as they went before the army. (Choir, you go first, and we follow you.) [laughter] ‘Give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love endures forever.’” And the rest of the chapter recounts the victory God graciously gave to Jehoshaphat.

I’m concluding this message by telling you I have written a book entitled, “The Truth About Same-Sex Marriage.” In fact, the last two messages have been excerpts that I went through and chose to read to you. I have already been told when this book comes out there might be a price to pay to oppose this cultural phenomenon. I guess the question I’m going to ask you today is are you willing to stand with me and the leadership of Moody Church in lovingly taking a stand against same-sex marriages? [applause] Can we depend upon you to stand? [applause]

I want you to know your support means a great deal to me. It means much to the pastoral staff who’s on the same page as I am, and the elders with whom I’ve had the privilege of discussing this briefly. If there’s ever a time when we have to be lovingly united, it is now. Continuing to witness to the glory of the gospel, but standing against what we see ultimately as the further destruction of our culture.

Let no one who is here today say I did not preach the gospel because I told you about the young man who cried up to God and was converted. And the same God who converted him can convert you, thanks to Jesus who died for sinners, and whose death delivers us from the penalty and the power of sin. We sometimes sing, “He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free.” I believe to my toes that Jesus still does that today. [applause] And it is in the name of that God we move forward.

Would you join me as we pray?

Our Father, we want to thank you today for your holy word. We thank you that in the midst of flux, when everything that has been nailed down is being torn up. We thank you that your Word endures forever. Thank you that we have a sure word. And we pray today that you might help us to depend upon those promises. We pray for this city. We pray for this nation. We pray, Father, for those who are broken, no matter what their brokenness might be. We ask that you’ll help us and humble us, that we might be able to touch the lives of thousands and thousands of people and share with them the good news of the gospel. Jesus saved us, and if He can save us, He can save others. Help us to represent you well. We pray that through our lives that we might give a beautiful fragrance of your love and grace. Oh Father, we come thanking you that we have a real Savior for real sinners. We ask in His name, Amen.


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