Judging rightly

People don’t think the way they used to. I mean, they don’t reason in the same manner people did generations ago. Today, many people come to conclusions about significant things in a vastly different manner than the Bible suggests. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Paul was telling Timothy that he must silence false teaching (“godless chatter”, vs. 16) which is of no value, ruins those who listen (vs. 14), spreads like gangrene (vs. 17) and causes those who indulge in it to become more and more ungodly (vs. 16). In order to understand what false teaching is and to know how to counter and silence it, Timothy must first know what the word of God declares. The foundational principles about right and wrong are delineated in God’s unchanging Word. We are to devote our time to studying the Bible and seeking the Lord in prayer so that we can establish the truth in us. Only then can we make a godly response to evil. Conscience must be informed and emotions processed in the light of divine truth. All public and personal impressions or convictions must be judged in the light of the Bible—if there is a contradiction, human preference or feeling must yield.

In our postmodern world people arrive at settled opinions and unshakable judgments in the opposite order, primarily by the intensity of their own feelings about the issue. These emotions generally come from personal experience, close relationships with others and teaching that declares all moral statements relative and open to human dispute or disagreement. Many people have been hurt personally or vicariously by those who hold to a truth in an unyielding or “cold-hearted” manner. This forms a deep negative impression in their minds, and they reject what a person says because of the way they act. The church is considered by many to be rigid, hypocritical and unscientific and, therefore, anything it says is suspect. The Bible, it is said, is open to personal interpretation and only causes division among those who take it seriously. In this way of thinking, personal impressions are raised to the level of authority above the Word of God. The subjective feelings of the listener take precedence over the objective revelation of truth in the Bible.

The manner in which people come to a conclusion about homosexuality is perhaps the most significant contemporary example of this ungodly way of reasoning. Rather than begin with the presupposition that the Bible is right in condemning homosexual behavior/desire as evil and unnatural, many individuals today begin with a bias against the church and Scripture. Beyond this, many are being told in school and church that homosexuality is normal, that is, inborn and irreversible in a significant percentage of the population. As they encounter neighbors, family members, peers, authority figures or entertainers who are openly claiming to be homosexual and who make a positive impression on them, these people accept as fact the feeling that homosexuality is acceptable. Add to this the false teachings that love means never pushing your opinion on people or never making them feel bad about their lifestyle, and you have a settled conviction off-limits to dispute.

If we are to please God rather than men we must learn to reason as God does. As Christians, we should make a deliberate effort to understand and gain the mind of Christ. Our Lord did have a position on homosexuality, just as he had a position on bestiality, fornication, adultery, prostitution, rape and incest. He accepted and upheld the Old Testament teaching about these forms of sexual relations found in the Law. He said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law and the Prophets: I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:17-18). Had Jesus thought that homosexuality was acceptable He would have had to set forth this teaching with boldness and in contradiction to the Law. By doing this, He would have destroyed the accepted teaching on the subject, replacing it with a different doctrine. But He did no such thing! While there is no record of Jesus teaching directly against homosexuality, it is not reasonable to assume He approved of it.

May we renew our commitment to God’s Word as Truth and reason as the Lord of the church does about homosexuality. The Bible judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12), not the other way around. “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). The standard against which you judge the truthfulness of a teaching is the Word of God, not public opinion or personal feeling. God bless you as you work to think and teach rightly, for the lives of precious people trapped in bondage are at stake.