CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

What Are We? Hetero or Homo?

Jul 5, 2018

As always, Christians must think carefully, clearly, and above all biblically, about all things. We must use our minds for the glory of God as we deal with the pressing issues of the day. A solid biblical worldview must inform our thinking and decision-making in all areas.

As I wrote in an article yesterday, we must, as the Apostle Paul commands us, ‘study to show ourselves approved unto God’. And as an aside to this, just a few hours after I posted that article, I was reading about the life of John Newton, author of the famous hymn, “Amazing Grace”.

His was indeed an amazing story. When he became a Christian, he took a crash course on self-education. As John Piper puts it, he “devoted himself to a rigorous program of self-study and applied himself to Greek and Hebrew and Syriac”. He also “was reading ‘the best writers in divinity’ in Latin and English and French (which he taught himself while at sea).”

Remember folks, he used to be a slave ship captain! If someone like him could be that disciplined and studious, what is our excuse? But back to my main point. We must think biblically about all things, and that includes the whole issue of homosexuality.

From a biblical point of view, all of humanity is made in God’s image. We share with God things like intelligence, volition and emotion. But since God is a spirit, without gender, we are quite different from him in that sense. We are embodied spirits, and we are either male or female. We were created as heterosexuals.

Some people working in this area – be they ex-homosexuals, or others – have said that we should not identify as homosexual (yes, absolutely), but they also say we should not identify as heterosexual either. They say we should just identify with Christ. This is where I think we can get into a bit of trouble, and we need a bit more clarification here.

How are we to understand and assess this sort of claim? Yes, our identity is in Christ once we become a Christian. He is our focal point and he is the one who we aim to become more and more like. So yes, in one sense they are quite right: Christ is our all in all, and we seek to fully identify with him.

But does that mean we lose our gender, and how we were originally made to be? We are still human beings made in the image of God when we come to Christ. So the way God originally made us does not just disappear when we become Christians: it is affirmed, strengthened and redeemed.

The simple truth is, God DID make us to be heterosexuals. That is, we are designed to be attracted to those of the opposite sex, we are meant to reproduce heterosexually, and we are meant to enjoy sexuality only in the confines of heterosexual marriage. That is how we were meant to be, and God pronounced all that to be very good.

Of course the Fall has radically impacted all of this. Now everything about us as God originally designed as being good is out of whack. Thus we not only all have an orientation or predisposition away from God and godliness – what theologians call “original sin” – but we can have all sorts of other short-comings and abnormalities, including same-sex attraction.

However it is not so much a case of being born-that way, since most folks have had early childhood experiences that helped to push them in that direction. Those who work with people wanting out of their same-sex attractions report that overwhelmingly this is the case as to how they became involved in the homosexual lifestyle.

So we can say that both nature and nurture impact us here. Because of the Fall, all of us have orientations AWAY from God and TOWARD self. We all are NOT the way we were originally meant to be as part of God’s GOOD creation. Thus some folks may be born with a disposition to over-eating, or anger, or attraction to those of the same sex. And their upbringing and environment can have much to do with this as well.

But when we come to Christ we start to overcome and have victory over these wrong and harmfull orientations, desires and leanings. We start to become all that God intended us to be. And that certainly means becoming more like Christ, but it does not mean we cease to be heterosexual in nature.

As Lisa Nolland from the UK reminds us, “Christians must fully re-engage with both Genesis and Jesus across issues of human sexuality. Who is immune from the damage of sexual brokenness? But here, to note, homosexuality is not an equivalent to heterosexuality: The former is post-Fall while heterosexuality is God-made and God-given. Our very bodies (with a tiny exception for intersex) are heterosexually designed. There is no such thing as a gay body!”
anglicanmainstream.org/born-gay-is-dead/

Or as Stephen Black puts it in his new book, Freedom Realized:

Heterosexuality is an innate created biological fact, and therefore cannot change. This is simple Biology 101. Any orientation idea given to us by modern psychology does not change the truth that we are created human beings, male and female at every level —Imago Dei. Being human and under the curse of original sin, however, we have distorted attractions and engage in sinful behaviors. Humanity is fallen and, as fallen human beings, the orientation we have is a sinful orientation, not a sexual orientation. Stated simply, homosexual behavior and other sexual orientations outside of God’s created divine intent for human sexuality, are sinful.

See my review of his important book here: billmuehlenberg.com/2018/06/03/a-review-of-freedom-realized-by-stephen-black/

However, several passages can be raised which seem to push us in a different direction. For example, at this point someone might bring up Galatians 3:28, which speaks about there being neither male nor female in Christ. But that does NOT mean gender disappears, we become sexless beings, or we lose our genitalia once we are saved.

I have looked at this verse more closely in my 2011 book Strained Relations, so let me share a bit of that here:

This is not to suggest of course that all distinctions somehow magically disappear in Christ. It is not as if men and women lose their distinctive genitalia for example. Very real differences still exist, but our oneness in Christ becomes paramount. As Ben Witherington comments,

“Gal. 3:28 has sometimes been called the Magna Carta of Humanity and there is a sense in which that label is apt, but it is also well to be aware that Paul is not suggesting here the obliteration of the distinctions he mentions in this verse, but rather their redemption and transformation in Christ. The new creation is the old one transformed and transfigured. These ethnic, social, and sexual distinctions continue to exist but in Christ they are not to determine one’s soteriological or spiritual or social standing in the body of Christ.”

It is clear that Paul here says nothing about sexual lifestyles. He could have if he so chose, but he did not. As Paul Copan remarks, “Scripture clearly affirms the equality of all individuals – blacks, women, slaves – because they are God’s image-bearers. The same doesn’t hold true for sexual relationships.”

William Webb has written an entire volume on the issue of slaves, women and homosexuals. He carefully demonstrates how biblical texts concerning the first two groups “move in a less restrictive or freeing direction relative to their original culture. . . . On the other hand, homosexual texts move in a conservative or restrictive direction relative to the original culture.”

As to the Galatians passage, an examination of it shows that it “has nothing to do with the breaking down of social stigma concerning homosexuals, on either an exegetical level or in terms of extrapolated implications for subsequent generations.”

The other passage that some might wish to raise here is Matthew 22:30 which says, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” This is also found in Mark and Luke. Jesus had just been asked about a woman with more than one husband, and how things would stack up for her in the next life.

Jesus said that marriage will no longer be found in heaven. Does that mean male and female also disappear there? Jesus only said that in heaven there will be no marriage, but he said nothing about male and female. Thus it is not at all clear that we will be sexless in heaven.

If we will recognise one another in the next life (and we have full biblical warrant to believe this – see the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus, the recognition of Abraham, etc.), then presumably we will recognise one another as who we were, including being either male or female.

But let me bring some New Testament scholars into the discussion on this passage, and run with a few of their remarks. As to the issue of recognising others in heaven, D. A. Carson offers this comment: “Marriage as we know it will be no more. . . . Some have concluded from Jesus’ answer that in heaven there will be no memory of earlier existence and its relationships, but this is a gratuitous assumption.”

And some aspects of marriage at least will no longer be required. John Nolland says this, “Presumably it will still not be good for man to be alone (Gn. 2:18), but the unitive function of marriage will not in the resurrection require the exclusivity that is proper for it in the present age.”

And all relationships will be closer, more intimate, and more real in the next life. As Grant Osborne puts it, “There will be a new set of relationships in eternity, one in which husbands and wives will be closer to one another (and to all God’s people) than they were in this life!”

While many questions remain as to how exactly life in the next world will be, we find nothing in these words of Jesus about gender disappearing, or heterosexuality becoming completely obsolete. But leaving aside speculation about the life to come, we do have enough biblical material on this life to know that God’s design for humanity has always been heterosexual in nature.

Sure, our ultimate identity as Christians is Christ, but that does not mean the complementarity of the sexes as God originally created is of no significance. What he made way back then was – and still is – good, and we should affirm his good creation, and not celebrate and promote any abnormalities or perversions due to the Fall.

[1785 words]

10 Responses to What Are We? Hetero or Homo?

  • Being a female is a large part of who I am. I can’t imagine being anything other than that throughout eternity.

  • If we are homo, then we would be infertile and no procreation.

  • There are 37.2 trillion cells in your body.
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/there-are-372-trillion-cells-in-your-body-4941473/

    In humans, each cell normally contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, for a total of 46. Twenty-two of these pairs, called autosomes, look the same in both males and females. The 23rd pair, the sex chromosomes, differ between males and females. Females have two copies of the X chromosome, while males have one X and one Y chromosome.
    https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/primer/basics/howmanychromosomes

    Case closed.

  • ‘But since God is a spirit, without gender, we are quite different from him in that sense’

    Please explain further.

  • Thanks Andrew. But if one is a biblical Christian there really is not too much to explain here I would have thought! God is of course a non-material being, who created all matter that exists. As Jesus said in John 4:24, “God is a spirit.” And God is neither male nor female. But see more detail on all this here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/10/29/god-and-gender/

    Of course when Christ became a man at the Incarnation that is a different issue. But God as such is a spirit and neither male nor female.

    Human beings however are obviously real flesh and blood beings with a spiritual dimension. Which is why I said we are embodied spirits. And we are all either male or female. So in those ways we differ from God.

  • Very insightful . Thanks for the clarity.

  • Great article, the reality is anything that lays outside man and woman in relationship through the union of marriage is outside of God’s design, people can attempt to spin it various ways but it will never have truth.

    God created marriage for the benefit of all men and women, not just for believers. The God who made us knows what is best for human society and departing from his pattern often brings great damage to people. God’s plan for marriage is a good thing, we are called to love our neighbours and to be good citizens this would mean to me as a Christian I’m called to graciously persuade God’s intent in all I do as to Glorify God and to truly love my neighbor, hence a reason to have been involved in some measure in the no campaign.

    Having had the seed planted in my head of homosexuality in my teens I can speak to how satan worked in my life, homosexuality wasn’t innate in anyway, I didn’t suffer sexual abuse but was heavily impacted by my adoption and struggled in my teens for acceptance and my identity from year 8 on at school. This culmination of confusion and my rejection of walking with Christ after my confirmation at 16 I would believe “gave me over to a reprobate mind” as the word says.

    When that happens the reigns are of and delusions of all sort are lit and embraced, there are no half measure when God gives you over to the prince of this world, it’s simply vile, it’s corrupt, it’s putrid, but in your fallen state you justify through pride and deflection the walk you are in, you live a mighty mighty charade, so homo or hetero ) I’m hetero and I embraced sin and there are consequences when you do this, major consequences but thank God we serve a gracious God who in his abundant mercy transforms, redeems, justifies, regenerates, creates anew and progressively sanctifies those he calls despite there sinful fallen behaviour x

  • When Moses passed on the laws of God to ancient Israel, he illustrated the laws with scenarios of God’s revealed high standards expected of His people who were chosen to be a shining example to the wider world, as an initial part of His plan for humankind. One instruction was: “The woman should not wear that which pertaineth to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment. For all that do so are an abomination unto the Lord they God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5). They had the choice to accept the covenant with God and keep these laws and choose life and prosperity- or reject the covenant and choose death and destruction.

  • I think the harsh laws Moses passed on were to focus the mind on the integrity of things and adherence to truth as a sort of refining fire of something that would endure and retain its value like gold.

  • The answer to the question in the article’s title, “What are we? Hetero or homo?” is, “We are male or female”. The artificial division of humanity into “heterosexual” versus “homosexual” is a false dichotomy invented by LGBTIQ activists, for several reasons. Firstly, to let themselves pretend they are qualitatively different from other people, and thus deserving of special treatment under anti-discrimination law; secondly, to provide a pseudo-scientific justification for their perverted behavior; thirdly, to recruit vulnerable young people into this behavior by lying to them that they are born this way; and fourthly, to take control of their lives, by denying their victims the free and rational choice to ever leave this behavior.

    A man’s penis and a woman’s vagina are complementary opposites, hence the phrase “the opposite sex”. The act of consummation unites a man and a woman as “one flesh”, in a complete and utter unity of mind, body, and soul. There can be no truthful Marriage Act in law, without the marriage act in fact: natural sexual intercourse. No-one can consummate a marriage by putting their genitals into another person’s anus or mouth. Two men or two women cannot become one flesh; and neither can they commit adultery. Only a man and a woman can commit adultery. The primary purpose of a legal marriage act is to regulate the harms to society caused by adultery, which can include murder. These cost of these harms have increased greatly since the Family Law Act 1975, and related laws, which made civil marriage a legal union only, not a sexual union for life.

    But in one sense, do we really all these articles and website comments, including mine? Not one of our politicians has the courage to say that men who sow their seed in human excrement have absolutely no right to dictate the laws of Australia.

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