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John Piper

John Piper on homosexuality

Homosexuality | A thoughtful pastor’s teaching on what the Apostle Paul says about homosexual behavior in his letter to the Romans

C.S. Lewis recommended reading at least one old book to every three new ones, because while the new ones may be trendy, books that have stood the test of time are more likely to reflect “the great body of Christian thought down the ages.”

What Lewis said about books also pertains to sermons. When a new idea—like same-sex marriage—is sweeping through society like a scythe, it’s good to see how thoughtful pastors in past years have taught their congregations to think about homosexuality. Below is a sermon that Minnesota minister John Piper gave on Oct. 11, 1998.

Piper was preaching on Romans 1:24-28:

“Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

Please read and think about Piper’s analysis. —Marvin Olasky

Astonishing Relevance

In our exposition of Paul’s letter to the Romans, we come now to this astonishingly relevant section in 1:24-28 where Paul touches on the reality of homosexuality. It is relevant for many reasons. For example, yesterday there was conference called “Here I Stand” to address the issue of homosexually active clergymen in the ELCA (Star Tribune, 10/10/98). On the front page of the Star Tribune there was the story of what appeared to be a hate crime against a homosexual student at the University of Wyoming who was in critical condition after being tied to a fence and beaten. In August, 641 Anglican bishops from around the world gathered for the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, and voted overwhelmingly to affirm that homosexual practice is “incompatible with Scripture.”

Full-page ads were recently taken out in USA Today and The New York Times and The Washington Post showing some 850 former homosexuals who gathered last summer at the Exodus conference and who declared there is power in Christ to be changed. Here in Minnesota, legal cases continually crop up about child custody and adoption of children by homosexual people. And most immediate of all, here in our church there are people who have homosexual desires and many more people among us who have people in their families whom they care about very deeply who consider themselves homosexual. The reality of homosexuality is inescapable today, and this would come as no surprise to the Apostle Paul, and therefore should not to us.

One of the things that makes matters unusual today is the effort on the part of some people to defend the legitimacy of homosexual behavior from the Bible. Most common, for example, is the claim that the denunciations of homosexuality in the New Testament are not references to committed, long-term homosexual relations, which these people say are legitimate, but rather refer to promiscuous homosexual relations and to pederasty, which are not legitimate. To use the words of one scholar, “What the New Testament is against is something significantly different from a homosexual orientation which some people seem to have from their earliest days. In other words, the New Testament is not talking about what we have come to speak of as sexual inversion. Rather, it is concerned with sexual perversion” (Paul Jewett, Interpretation, April, 1985, p. 210).

Simply Denouncing Heterosexuals Engaging in Homosexuality?

With regard to our own text this morning, some would argue that what Paul is denouncing in 1:26b-27 is heterosexual people forsaking what is natural for them and engaging in promiscuous homosexual relations which are unnatural for them. Paul writes, “Their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts.” So, the argument goes, it is not unnatural when a homosexual person has homosexual relations, it is only unnatural when heterosexual persons have homosexual relations and (by implication) homosexual persons have heterosexual relations.

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