Just last week the United Methodist Church at it's conference in St. Louis narrowly voted not to recognize same-sex marriage or to ordain homosexuals into their clergy. In the days since there has been much emotional response and comment concerning these decisions in various media. Many are deeply hurt because they had found acceptance in these churches. Many are hurt at the prospect of seeing many exit their churches. Many are beginning to express their desire to see their church stand more on Scripture than cultural norm. All are very concerned. So with all of this in mind, let's talk about Scripture, the Church and sexual immorality.
The very first time that God speaks regarding sexual orientation is found in Gen. 1:27, "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." It is expressed here that God's design at the time of creation was that human sexual identity should be found in how we are created; either male or female. Clearly God is the one who chooses.
Next we find that God ordains marriage. In Gen. 2:23,24, "And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man." Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Adam readily understood that the woman was made for the man and God had made her to be so. With the coming together of man and woman in sexual consummation they are no longer two, but one flesh. The implication is that a family has been established and a bond has been forged.
Jesus understood this as well, and He publicly upheld God's original design for marriage in Mt. 19:4-6. This is very important, because concerning the UMC's acceptance of homosexuality in the past was three contentions: 1.) The Apostle Paul wrote concerning sexual immorality with a "cultural bias", 2.) The Levitical texts found in Lev. 18 concerning homosexuality were intended only for members of the priesthood, and 3.) Jesus NEVER spoke directly concerning homosexuality.
Understand that the context in Mt. 19 in which Jesus affirmed God's design for marriage was given because the Pharisees had advocated "divorce for any reason". They were attacking God's design on the grounds that Moses had given them an allowance for divorce. Jesus' point is that "from the beginning it was not so." (19:8) What Jesus is stating is very clear; Man has no right to alter or change God's design. Therefore if the only design that God ever gave for human sexuality is within the confines of Scriptural marriage ( a man and a woman ) then man HAS NO RIGHT to redefine human sexuality or marriage. God's model is still God's model. Any sexual relationship other than that model is wrong. It does not matter if it is adultery, fornication, pedophilia, beastiality, homosexuality or lesbianism it is by virtue of not being God's model; sexual immorality.
So are there other reasons why God does not want any other model for human sexuality? Yes there is. In 1 Cor. 6:15-20, the Apostle Paul affirms that once we belong to Christ our body as well as our soul belongs to Christ and we are obligated to: "glorify God in your body and in your spirit which are God's". In verses 18,19 Paul states, "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?" When we are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ we not only receive the remission of our sins, we also are given the Holy Spirit to dwell inside us. (Acts 2:38, Jn.14:21-23) Our bodies become a "temple"; they are set apart for the purposes of God! When we commit acts of sexual immorality we are literally desecrating God's Temple! Again, remember God has given only ONE MODEL for human sexuality. Any other sexuality besides the sexual activity between a man and a woman in marriage is not the model and is sexual immorality.
Also, we find that a church cannot have fellowship with anyone who fails to repent and ask forgiveness of their sexual immorality. In 1 Cor. 5:1-13 Paul commands in the strongest language that the church must expel a brother who was in an adulterous relationship. Paul makes it clear that his sin must be called out in front of the church assembled. (5:4,5) He also warns that they are obligated to protect the body of Christ. (the church) In v. 6 he states, "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump." His concern is two-fold; 1.) other brethren might see this as an acceptable lifestyle and be caught up in this kind of sin, and 2.) the church would lose their credibility as Christ's church if they behaved as the rest of the sinful Corinthian culture. The church must always break fellowship with any who continue to bring reproach on her by their public sins. Paul again in 2 Cor. 6:14 states, "What fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" SIN IS ALWAYS DARKNESS.
So what should be the response of a Church towards those who are practicing any form of sexual immorality. First, we have an obligation to love them; sin is the enemy, not the sinner. If we love them and make them welcome when they visit our churches then we are showing Christ's love for them. Secondly, when the topic of becoming a Christian or placing membership is approached we should be very forthcoming with the truth revealed to us in Scripture. In becoming a Christian we repent of our sins. (Acts 2:38) Sexual immorality is a sin. Also in the very act of baptism we are to die to sin. (Rom. 6;4-6) We cannot expect to be saved if we wish to continue in any sinful habit. (Rom. 6:1,2) We must also express our confidence that with the help of Christ Jesus we can overcome any sin issue in our lives including sexual sins. And we should strive to make help, support and pastoral counseling available once Christ is received in baptism. In Christ Jesus there is love and transformation. (Gal. 2:20, Rom. 12:1,2)