Should we divide over a church, pastor, or leader who teaches that homosexual behavior is permissible and celebrates same-sex unions? Due to the egregious theological error and the grim penalty associated with it, a believer is justified in parting ways from such a pastor or church. Why? They are giving practicing homosexuals confidence that they can enter the kingdom of God despite Scripture’s caution that they can’t (1 Cor. 6:9).
The culture has been pressuring Christians to pick a side: celebrate homosexuality and same-sex unions or continue to consider them sinful. Is this question something Christians should divide over, or can we agree to disagree?
Fortunately, we can turn to Jesus for an answer. In Matthew 7:15–20 Jesus warns us against false prophets—wolves in sheep’s clothing. How will we recognize them? “You will know them by their fruits,” Jesus explains. “Every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” Reading His point in context (Matt. 7:13–29), Jesus clarifies what He means by good and bad fruit. He says that good fruit is exhibited by “everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice” (Matt. 7:24). What does bad fruit look like? Jesus says it’s “everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice” (Matt. 7:26). In other words, good fruit is obeying Jesus and bad fruit is disobedience. This is straightforward and consistent with the teaching of Jesus found elsewhere (Jn. 14:15).
Given the discussion about the Bible and homosexuality, who are the ones disobeying Jesus? Who are the wolves in sheep’s clothing encouraging bad fruit? We only need to look at Jesus’ teaching on sex, gender, and marriage to understand who is leading others to violate it.
In Matthew 19:4–6, Jesus cites and upholds the Genesis account of creation (Gen. 1:27, 2:24), where man and woman are created, joined together in marriage, and become one flesh. By doing so, Jesus affirms the duality of the sexes and the complementarity of male-female marriage. Jesus’ view can be summed up this way: Marriage (which includes sexual activity) is about one man with one woman becoming one flesh for one lifetime. Jesus’ teaching on marriage alone, therefore, disqualifies same-sex unions.
That’s why it’s also not surprising that in Mark 7:20–23, Jesus cites sexual immorality as a behavior that defiles a person. The Greek word for “sexual immorality” is porneiai, which first-century Jews would have considered to include the sexual sins listed in the Levitical law (including homosexuality from Lev. 18:22 and 20:13). So, despite some people’s claims that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality, it’s clear that He did.
This is to say nothing of the prohibitions of homosexual sex in Romans 1:26–27, 1 Corinthians 6:9–11, and 1 Timothy 1:10. Given these passages, the Genesis creation account of humanity, and Jesus’ sexual ethics, it’s no surprise that the Church has taught for 2,000 years (and Judaism for thousands of years before) that homosexual sex is sin and that marriage is only between a man and woman.