Prof: Jesus’ redemptive power can change homosexuals

FORT WORTH—The essential message of the church in the debate over homosexuality and gender identity must echo the apostle Paul’s: Homosexuality can be overcome through Christ’s redemptive power, stated Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary ethics professor Evan Lenow in a recent conference at the Fort Worth campus.

Homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is among the vices practiced by people who will not inherit God’s kingdom, Lenow noted. But Paul’s hopeful remedy is, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

“May we work toward seeing those trapped in this lifestyle come to Christ and be restored to God’s design for gender and sexuality,” he said.

During the conference on scriptural gender roles, Lenow explained how homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior run counter to the complementary nature of sex, subvert the complementary nature of marriage and undermine the complementary nature of the Christ-church relationship.

Complementarians believe that men and women are ontologically equal,” he noted, “yet functionally distinct—with men primarily characterized by servant leadership and women primarily characterized by gracious submission.”

Lenow quoted Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary ethics professor Daniel Heimbach to describe the complementary nature of sex.

“’Sex unites beings made for each other. Men and women are human and neither is more or less human than the other. But our equal humanity does not mean we are perfectly identical. As sexual creatures, men and women are different in ways that complement each other, and the value of complementary relationship in sex is so positive that any denial or attempt to erase it is immoral.’”

In contrast, Lenow said, “Homosexuality rejects the complementary nature of sex through the union of two identical partners,” violating the biblical purposes of sex for procreation, one-flesh unity and sexual purity.

Citing the Creator’s intention for his created beings to reproduce, as found in Genesis 1:28, Lenow added, “God takes the complementary nature of the sexual act so seriously that he calls any deviation from his designed plan an abomination,” forbidding incest, adultery, bestiality and homosexuality in Leviticus 18.

“One reason that these perversions of God’s design for sex receive such strong condemnation is that they inherently violate the command to procreate,” Lenow said. While not all heterosexual sex is procreative in nature, the biological possibility among heterosexual couples is not prevented by the act of intercourse, he later explained to the TEXAN. “Biological sameness prevents every homosexual couple from being able to reproduce the couple’s own biological offspring.”

Homosexuals are also incapable of experiencing the intimate union as described in Genesis 2:24 between a man and his wife. Instead, homosexuality distorts the God-designed complementarity of marriage and condones the sexual act between two members of the same sex.

“As a husband and wife engage in a sexual relationship, they satisfy their individual sexual desires within the covenant of their marriage. This outlet of sexual fulfillment then serves as a mechanism for purity,” Lenow said in speaking to the Southwestern audience, noting the third purpose of the sexual relationship between marriage partners.

Even with six states recognizing same-sex marriage, homosexual union does not fit the criteria of a biblically sanctioned marriage of one woman and one man, Lenow noted. Furthermore, homosexual marriages typically are not monogamous, he said, citing a 2010 San Francisco State University study which reported half of gay couples openly participate in sex outside of marriage.

In addition to distorting the complementary nature of sex, homosexuality subverts the complementary nature of marriage.

“We believe that men and women are ontologically equal,” Lenow said, referring to their being, personhood and value, “but God has established different roles for them to exhibit based upon their constitutional gender.”

Husbands are asked to love their wives as Christ loved the church, he recalled, a role characterized through “sacrificing, sanctifying, cleansing, cherishing and nourishing” based on Ephesians 5:25-29. Wives, he added, submit themselves to the leadership of their husbands just as the church submits to Christ, showing respect and seeking counsel on spiritual matters.

“As complementarians, we believe these gender roles were instituted at creation,” he said, pointing back to Genesis 2:18, 20, “and are reaffirmed after the fall,” citing Genesis 3:16-29.

The growing call to erase gender distinctions has escalated to the point that prepubescent children as young as 10 are trying to change their gender identity, he said, citing a recent ABC News report.

“In essence, they are saying that physical, biological gender has nothing to do with who they are. They can choose to be something else by simply denying the distinction with which they were born,” he stated.

“Whether it is through the denial that gender distinctions exist or the expression of gender distinctions within same-sex relationships, homosexuality creates a challenge for the acceptance of complementary gender roles in marriage and society.”

Turning to Ephesians 5:22-33 to connect marriage to the Christ-church relationship, Lenow said the final step of proponents of homosexuality in denying God-ordained gender roles is the undermining of the nature of the Christ-church relationship.

“The homosexual couple is incapable of loving as Christ and submitting as the church because they are identical without distinction. The members of a same-sex couple cannot stand in selfless headship nor respectful submission as Christ and the church,” he argued.

“Anything that undermines the intent of that analogy must be looked upon with suspicion,” Lenow concluded.

Acceptance of homosexuality within the church not only destroys the significance of marriage, it corrupts an understanding of how God relates to his people, Lenow said. “The challenge is so great that proponents of homosexuality, knowingly or unknowingly, place mankind on the same plane as God and require by analogy that Christ submit to the church.”

Reminding the audience of the warning of Romans 1:26-27, Lenow challenged the church to stand alongside Scripture and declare that homosexuality is against nature and the result of God giving people over to their degrading passions.

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