Three years have passed since the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that, according to the 14th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, it is a basic human right for people to “marry” whomever they choose, including those of the same gender/sex. “Gay marriage” as it’s called. Yet one more step in the walk of a country that is continually turning its back on God and feeling the heat of his wrath and judgment.
But there is hope.
I want to share with you a Scripture that is often described by homosexuals as one of the seven “clobber passages” used by Christians to “beat gays over the head” (lists vary). I don’t want to beat anyone over the head, mind you. This passage contains one of the most beautiful promises in all of Scripture, one that mustn’t be overlooked, yet sadly, one that often is when used in conversation with people who identify as gay. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 reads as follows:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Allow me to provide some background. The Corinthian church is a mess. Paul, the apostle who started the church in Acts 18, spent a year and a half preaching the word to the believers there (Acts 18:11). The Jews there did not receive him very warmly, so he instead turned his attention to the Gentiles, staying at the house of one Titius Justus (Acts 18:6-7). While he was there, the Jews banded together to drag Paul before the tribunal, attempting to get the leader, Gallio, to punish him for “persuading people to worship God contrary to the law” (Acts 18:13). Gallio, however, was a smart man. He knew better than to get his hands dirty trying to sort out theological differences between Jews and Christians. So instead, he drove them all out of the tribunal (Acts 18:16). From there, Paul set sail for Syria and stopped by numerous places on the way to Antioch (Acts 18:18-23).
The first letter of Paul to the Corinthians is not actually Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It’s the first in our New Testament canon, to be sure, but Paul had written to them before (see 1 Corinthians 5:9, “I wrote to you in my letter…”). This letter was prompted by reports from several different people, among them Chloe and some of the Corinthians themselves, about the sorry state of the church (1 Cor. 1:11; 7:1). In chapters 5 and 6 Paul turns his attention to perhaps the most glaring and obvious problem within the church, that of the man in the congregation who had had sexual relations with his father’s wife. Such sexual immorality “is not even tolerated among pagans,” says he (1 Cor. 5:1). If a brother (or sister) is guilty of such unrepentant sexual immorality, the church is to disassociate themselves from that person, consistent with Jesus’ teaching on this matter in Matthew 18 (1 Cor. 5:2).
In chapter 6, however, his focus shifts from sexual immorality to lawsuits. Some of the Corinthians had apparently brought their brethren to court over trivial matters. It’s foolish, according to Paul, for believers to bring their disputes before unbelievers; in-house problems should instead be solved in-house (1 Cor. 6:1-8). With this in mind Paul makes the statement reminding them that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. He lists all sorts of unrighteous people: fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, swindlers—such people, those who make a practice of their sin and are unrepentant, will not inherit the kingdom, and thus are unqualified to settle disputes between people who will.
There seems to be no hope for such as these. But then Paul makes a stunning statement: “And such were some of you.” There were those in the Corinthian church who were once fornicators, idolaters, homosexuals, adulterers, swindlers, etc.—yet they were not anymore. How? What changed? How could they become inheritors of the kingdom of God when formerly they were not? Paul says: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” God saved them! God rescued them from their blind folly and unrepentant sin and reconciled them to Himself through His Son, Jesus. No longer were these Corinthians fornicators, or idolaters, or homosexuals, or greedy, or drunkards, or swindlers; no, they had been washed. They had been sanctified (made holy, set apart for God’s work). They had been justified (made right before God, as though they had never sinned and in fact had lived a perfect life because of what Christ has done).
This is the gospel, folks. This, right here, is the Christian message, that men and women who formerly walked in sin and darkness, those who would not inherit the kingdom of God, can become inheritors, walking in light and righteousness. And this message is needed now more than ever.
So what does this have to do with today? Everything.
To my gay friends: You may think today is all about a great victory in civil rights. You may think that since you’ve won the culture war, you’ve got it made. But my friend, we’re all gonna die someday. I love you enough to warn you that one day you will stand before God and have to answer for what you’ve done in this life. He will ask you why you chose to remain in your sin in spite of the clear commands that He has given. Don’t let that happen. Today is the day of salvation. Take hold of Jesus Christ, the one who died and rose from the dead to take your sin away. Trust Him. Believe Him. He is your King.