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Jul 05, 2015

Freedoms In Conflict, Part 1

Preacher: John Repsold

Series: God's Heart for a Sexualized World

Category: Life Together

Keywords: freedom, gender, godliness, homosexuality, marriage, sex, sexuality


This message sets the table for a short series on the church, the Bible and God's will as they all relate to homosexuality and other non-biblical expressions of sexuality in our culture. This message deals with Genesis 1-2 and the profound implications that passage has for understanding human sexuality as our loving God intended it to be.


Freedoms in Conflict, Pt. 1

July 5, 2015

INTRO:  As I mentioned in the congregational email this week, every generation has its culture-defining events

  • For my parents, born in the early part of the last century, the Great Depression and WWII were a couple of those events.
  • For my late Baby Boomer generation it was things like the Cold War, the 60s sexual revolution, race riots, the Vietnam War, Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand… and, of course, 9-11.

I remember the Sunday after 9-11.  9-11 had happened on a Thursday.  Plains were still not flying.  People were stranded all over the country.  There was a sense of shock and disbelief about what happened.  People were sad and angry and fearful.  Prayer meetings were fuller than normal as were most church services. 

            That lasted about a month or two at most.  But the effects are still being felt. 

  • In the last 15 years of war in Iraq & Afghanistan, our nation has buried nearly 7,000 of our men and women killed in battle, spent somewhere between 4-6 trillion dollars and had around 50,000 military personnel wounded. We think about the world, about war and about Muslims differently today because of what happened 14 years ago this September.
  • Every time you board a plane and fly you go through a whole set of procedures we never imagined going through 15 years ago.
  • Every one of our phone calls, emails, texts, tweets and anything digital or electronic is being recorded, monitored and stored by government and business enterprises around the world, something that was inconceivable 15 years ago.

As you know, I’m not a pastor who preaches from the weekly newspaper or headlines.  But when 9-11 hit, that was an event that demanded the church sit up, address it, look at it through the lens of Scripture and answer a host of questions from a biblical perspective. 

What happened about 10 days ago in our nation is the moral equivalent of this generation’s 9-11 or Roe v. Wade decision.  Like Roe v. Wade, the results may not be immediately evident.  Even 50 years from now, just as with the abortion debate or 9-11, the effect will not be universally recognized as being good or evil.  But there will be effects that will impact anyone alive in this nation. 

While we may still debate and argue about the evil or goodness of abortion, none of that changes the fact that 60 million American children are not with us because they were aborted since 1973.  Our ongoing debates don’t change the effect that abortion has had on millions of men and women who chose to terminate their children’s lives.  Even the debate about when life begins won’t change the consequences to my aging Boomer generation that now will not have an additional 60 million Americans paying taxes and Social Security as we move into our retirement years. 

We are all going to be affected by this latest Supreme Court decision.  We are all going to be affected by the mega-shift in our culture over the past 20 years that has led to this decision.  The more I watch this issue unfold, the more convinced I am that this will be the seminal issue of the decade that a.) will divide self-proclaimed Christians, and b.) will be used to persecute genuine Christ-followers. 

So, in the middle of our Freedom series in the book of Galatians, I’ve decided to take at least two weeks to address this cultural and court decision from a biblical perspective.  It has everything to do with freedom.  And it has everything to do with the Mosaic Law, the new Covenant and the freedom Paul is advocating for in the book of Galatians.     

In just 10 days…and for many years to come…there have and will be some very heated, very ugly and very emotional words and actions taken by people on all sides of this issue.  It is critical that we who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ are not only clear about what Jesus has and would say about this but that we are Christ-like in what and how we say and do anything that touches another human soul about this critical matter of sexuality. 

I feel like I must begin with a host of qualifiers in addressing this issue.  The reason I feel obligated to do that is because we live in a culture that seems to have stopped any real intelligent, reasoned, courteous and respectful dialogue or debate about the most important moral issues of our day.  Whether that is war or abortion or racism or world religions or sexuality, we are literally trained in the very institutions that should be teaching us how to think and talk about them that we must NOT think and talk about them. 

ILL: One of my greatest disappointments in the very good public education our kids have received here in Spokane is not so much what my children have been exposed to or taught as it is what they are not allowed to research, discuss, debate and even talk about in the classroom. 

            Let’s not fall in the same trap.  Let’s not let the culture decide what we can and can’t talk about, particularly when it comes to things about which God has actually spoken and made His will known.  And let’s certainly not deal with these things the way our culture is now dealing with them—by shouting, raging, name-calling and demonizing anyone with a different viewpoint than our own. 

Secondly, I’m not choosing to take this precious time when we gather together to worship God because I have an axe to grind.  Sexuality, particularly homosexuality, is not a topic I just love to talk about and can’t wait to dive into.  It’s not one I as a pastor, a friend, a father or a community member would choose out of a list of “Top 10 Subjects People Need to Hear from God About” IF our courts and culture had not made it THE issue de jour (“of the day”).  I would, frankly, much prefer to be pastoring in the 1950’s when pastors virtually never had to address human sexuality (which, come to think of it, may be why we are in the mess we are today! J).   They certainly didn’t have to address it in the detail I’m obliged to today if I am to really pastor the people of God.

Thirdly, I’m not “homophobic”, “anti-gay,” “Puritanical,” “trans-phobic” or “hetero-centric”…really!  I honestly think I love people and certainly seek to love people of all generations, all religions, all ethnicities, all sexual-orientations…ALL!  I have had and continue to have close friends who are homosexuals or are same-sex attracted.  For all I know, I may someday have family members who are same-sex attracted.  I’ve ministered to, loved and buried brothers and sisters in Christ and their family members who have died of AIDS contracted through homosexual activity.  This is not an impersonal, unemotional or arms-length topic to me.  This is about people I know and love and people I may yet become good friends with. 

And it is about loving them enough to risk being labeled any derogatory term in order to show true love that doesn’t leave people in a place where their relationship with God is compromised. 

Finally, it’s important that this be an open discussion…in the presence of God.  By that I mean I want us to be able to ask questions we’ve never had the nerve to ask publically before about this issue.  I want us to be loving enough that anyone here any given day of the year could “come out of the closet” and admit same-sex attraction or openly ask us to pray for a lesbian sister or a gay brother.  I’d love for us to be a people who can lovingly, wisely and biblically counsel anyone who may ask questions like,

  • How do I tell my parents what I’m struggling with?
  • How do I help my teenager with their same-sex attraction?
  • Should I attend a same-sex wedding of my brother or friend?
  • Should I allow my lesbian daughter and her partner to spend the weekend at my house?

These and a host of very practical life issues must be thoughtfully, wisely and lovingly address IN the church and BY the church. 

So here’s the format I’d like to use. 

First, we must figure out what God really says and doesn’t say about homosexuality or any of the LGBT sexuality.  This is one issue we must be thoroughly and completely biblical about.

Second, we must discern how we should apply that to life today, friends today, family today, and culture today.

Third, we need to share the wisdom God has given us as a spiritual family as we seek to live with and love all people, especially those of the “household of faith.” 

Finally, we need to be free to ask and even leave unanswered any questions or doubts or conflict that God has not made clear proclamations about.

NOTE:  I would like to deal with questions and allow us all to benefit from comments and godly wisdom He has given us as a spiritual family.  That will require a very interactive and respectful interchange that doesn’t look a lot like our normal “teaching time.”  So don’t hide behind a stack of chairs or dominate a time of discussion.  Let’s be sensitive to how the Holy Spirit wants to lead us through the next few weeks as we seek Him in all this.

PRAY—what we must do in every encounter with anyone.

So to begin, let’s start by making a list of the different criticisms you and I will have to face if we hold to a belief that same-sex sexual activity is a sin like many other sexual sins, that it must be repented of, forsaken, and forgiven and that the temptation to engage in it must be resisted just as any temptation to sexual sin outside of the bonds of one-man/one-woman marriage.

[Make up a list]

Feel free to add to this list this week as you think of other objections and criticism our culture has towards holding that homosexual sex and unions are sinful.  We’ll come back to all these criticisms at some point so that we can really deal sincerely and intelligently with them and wisely and winsomely answer those who think this position is hateful, hurtful and unloving.

But before we do that, it is important for us to be sure that what we believe about homosexuality being sin is actually what God says (i.e. the Bible teaches). 

Each Sunday I would like us to look at what the Bible (and therefore God) has to say about homosexuality

  • Is it morally acceptable or not?
  • Are certain expressions of it acceptable or not?
  • What do the passages on homosexuality actually teach and what do the critics say they teach?

There are only about a dozen specific passages in the entire Bible that address homosexuality though there are many more that frame the whole sexuality issue.  (This is also one of the criticisms made against holding to the historic/biblical viewpoint—the limited number of passages that address it.) 

  • Genesis 19—Sodom & Gomorrah
  • Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13
  • Romans 1
  • I Corinthians 6:9-10
  • I Timothy 1:8-11

For starters, let’s start at the beginning, Genesis, chapters 1 & 2.  Without going into detail, it is the creation account, specifically the creation of man and womanWhy is this passage so important?  The more I read and study the Bible, the more I think these two chapters easily rank as two of the top 10 most important chapters of the Bible.  They give us so much information about so many different issues, everything from God to creation to sin to human nature and sexuality.  God packed these two chapters with information He considers vital to our understanding of him, ourselves, the world we live in and life.  

            So let’s just look at this passage through the lens of MARRIAGE.  What is God teaching us about marriage alone?  Let’s be even more specific.  What is God teaching us about human sexuality and marriage? In other words, if this is the foundational passage upon which God wished to instruct human being about human sexuality, what could we learn? 

Genesis 1

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 2

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” …But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
    because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

[Open it up to observations.]

Those who would like to say that the Bible (and thus God) doesn’t limit marriage to between a man and a woman will often try to discount this passage with some of the following arguments:

  • Eve was not a complement to Adam as much as she was a basic companion.  She remedied aloneness, not incompleteness. 
  • This actually teaches that the woman, as opposed to the animals, was suitable for the man because she was like the man, not because she was different.
  • The language of “one flesh” doesn’t refer to any particular sex act (or any sex at all).
  • Why make such a big deal about some supposed sexual “fittedness” when Genesis 2 nowhere mentions procreation?
  • Genesis is just an example of two people forming the covenant bond of marriage, not a prescribed norm of man & woman marriage. (Descriptive vs. prescriptive.)
  • The union of two men or two women can demonstrate the same leaving and cleaving and the same intimate sharing of all things that we see between Adam and Eve in Gen. 2.

Let’s start by backing up and asking, “IF God wanted to start a world in which it was normative for same-sex couples (two men or two women) to have marital and sexual relationships, would he have written this story this way?”  There is not one shred of evidence in this foundational passage for any same-sex sexual or marital relationships.  A different marital arrangement than between one man and one woman requires an entirely different creation account, one that has NO hints of procreation or gender complementarity (different but complementary). 

But, if God wanted to establish a world in which the normative marital and sexual relationship is between two persons of the opposite sex, how well does this account of Gen. 1-2 fit?  PERFECTLY!  This is a pattern that can be traced through the entire Bible and, until very recently, the entire history of the church!  You cannot find a single passage in the Bible that even remotely suggests that same-sex sexual relations or unions are God’s plan for humanity or any portion of the human race.  But, as we shall see over the next two weeks, there are multiple passages in both the Old and New Testaments that hold up one-man, one-woman marriage as the norm and standard and multiple passages whose plain reading clearly condemn same-sex sexual relations or unions. 

But back to Genesis 1-2. Let’s look more closely at what the creation account teaches us about sexuality and marriage.

  • The WAY in which the woman was created indicates that she is man’s divinely designed complement.

Gen. 2:21-23--  21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
                          and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
                         because she was taken out of Man.”

Notice the interplay of “same” yet “different.”  She is “like” man in that she is “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (vs. 23).  But she is “different” in that she is “woman” (in the Hebrew ishah) rather than “man” (Heb. ish”).  She was not made as Adam was, from the dust of the ground but from his side.  And every male (and female) created from then on is not taken out of Adam but out of Eve.  It is this complementary difference that God seems to highlight, not ignore. 

  • The NATURE of the “one-flesh” union presupposes two persons of the opposite sex.

Genesis 2:24, 25-- 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

The “therefore” or “for this reason” connects the intimacy of becoming one flesh with the complementarity of Woman being taken out of Man (vs. 23).  The ish and the ishah can become one flesh because theirs isn’t just a sexual union but a reunion—the bringing together of 2 differentiated beings made for each other. 

This phrase “one flesh” points to sexual intimacy. The reference to “naked and not ashamed” further suggests that.  It is the same “one flesh” language Paul uses in I Cor. 6:15-16 when warning against being “joined” to a prostitute. 

16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”  Even here Paul clearly uses masculine and feminine language, not just any sexual union between two similar genders! 

  • Only two people of the OPPOSITE SEX can fulfill the procreative purposes of marriage.

While it is true that procreation is not explicitly mentioned in Genesis 2, it is directly commanded in Genesis 1 (vs. 28) and specifically mentioned as affected by the fall in Genesis 3.  The producing of offspring from ish and ishah (man and woman) is to come from their union. 

The importance of procreation as the natural outworking of the marriage union is also seen in the O.T. levirate marriage laws (Deut. 25:5-6).  These laws obligated a deceased man’s brother to marry his widowed sister-in-law (if she was childless)) and produce offspring for his brother.  Reproduction was clearly the normal expectation of marriage that even death could not be allowed to thwart marriage’s procreative purposes under the Mosaic law. 

      So what of unions that don’t produce children?  The issues is not if procreation is required for a marriage to be valid but that marriage—by nature, by design, and by aim—is a covenant union between two persons whose one-flesh commitment is the kind of union which produces offspring. 

      Modern science has supposedly overcome this creative limitation by artificial insemination or in vetro fertilization or surrogate parenting.  But both natural law and divine creation of the sexes still makes the union of male and female reproductive material (egg [XX] & sperm [XY]) absolutely necessary for fulfillment of the divine command (and human longing for children). 

  • Jesus himself reinforced the normative nature of the Genesis account in his discussions of marriage. (Mt. 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9). For those who want to dismiss the Genesis account as “just a story”, Jesus’ words here are a real problem.  He was being questioned about divorce.  And before he answered when divorce is permissible, he taught that a right understanding of marriage was essential.  And that right understanding came from Genesis 2—one man and one woman. 

Furthermore, monogamy makes sense only within this Genesis understanding of marriage.   Apart from the complementarity of the two sexes there is no moral logic which demands that marriage should be restricted to a twosome.  If marriage is simply the formation of a loving bond between those who are committed wholly to one another (as our Supreme Court has decided is the case), then there is no reason why multiple personas or groups of people cannot commit themselves wholly to one another.  NOTE:  That is why, this week, a man walked into the county clerk’s office in Helena, MT with his second wife and requested they give him another marriage license.  He’s legally married to his first wife and has children by her.  But he has a second wife by which he also has children (“a committed, loving relationship”) but which the state won’t recognize.  Listen to how it played out:  http://www.cbsnews.com/news/polygamous-montana-trio-applies-for-wedding-license/

Welcome to our brave, new world.  That didn’t take long, did it? 

P.S.  Jesus’ treatment of the divorce question is why Christian marriage is monogamous, not polygamous.

  • The redemptive symbol of marriage as picturing God’s relationship to His people only works if marriage involves a complementary pairing, not a redundant pairing.

The creation itself is paired in complimentary form in Genesis 1.  God created the “heavens and the earth” (1:1), the sun and the moon, morning and evening, day and night, sea and dry land, plants and animals, and finally man and woman.  In every paring, each part belongs with the other but neither is interchangeable.  (Heaven and heaven doesn’t   

The mystic union of “Christ and the church” is not interchangeable either.  Two parts of the same (church and church or Christ and Christ) does not accomplish what God has planned in redemptive history. 


Why is so much of the American church finding homosexuality and homosexual marriage acceptable when sins  such as ethnic prejudice, economic exploitation or violence against women are not tolerated? Can it be anything but conforming to the world of our day, contrary to what Romans 12:1-2 call us to?  Would the church really have come to the conclusion that this is God's plan for humanity...or a portion of humanity...were it not for the social, legal and political pressure being brought to embrace homosexuality as normal, natural, God-given and something to "take pride" in?  

Let's wrap this up today addressing just one of those cultural arguments being used against followers of Jesus who still hold to one-man/one-woman biblical marriage.

Criticism:  The God I worship is a Loving God!


  • The love of God doesn’t swallow all the other attributes.
  • The simplicity of God.
  • 2:19ff—Thyatira faulted for tolerating false teaching and immoral behavior (Jezebel)
  • This kind of understanding of God makes his love into tolerance of that which his nature cannot tolerate—sin.
  • What is your definition of love…particularly when it comes to violating the character and revealed will of God?


  • We are ALL sinners, no better nor worse than each other.
  • Christ died to save us from all sin, including any form of sexual sin.
  • Embracing his salvation and lordship requires that we agree with God about our sin, repent of it, and seek the power of Christ to walk in holiness and righteousness as defined by God.
  • When we "take Christ" in this symbolic manner, we are taking all of Him...and all that He said about marriage and sexuality as well as all other matters, issues and sins in life.