I got an e-mail today from someone who wanted to know if I believe that God loves homosexuals. The short answer is yes. But short answers aren’t nearly as good as biblical answers. So let’s look at three texts to establish the point.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
The object of God’s love is the world, and God loves the world such that anyone who believes can be forgiven and saved. In that sense, world applies comprehensively to everyone on the planetâ€”including homosexuals. I would add also that the term world is not simply a generic term for people who live on the earth. In John’s writings, it’s often a technical term for humanity in its rebellion against God (see John 3:19; 1 John 2:15-17). God so loves this fallen world, and this world includes all kinds of sinnersâ€”both heterosexual and homosexual.
1 Timothy 1:15 “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.”
In this text, Paul affirms that Christ saves sinners. In verses 9-10, Paul gives a list of the various kinds of sinners that one finds in the world: murderers, immoral men, homosexuals, kidnappers, liars and perjurers. Among these, Paul names himself as the worst of the lot because he was a blasphemer, persecutor, and an aggressor when God saved him (v. 13). In verse 14, Paul says that he found love when by the mercy of God he came to Christ. If God’s love applies to Paul the chief of sinners, it certainly applies to other sinners as wellâ€”including the homosexual sinners of verse 10.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 “9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And 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.”
Here Paul includes “homosexuals” and “effeminate” in a long list of different kinds of sinners who will not inherit the kingdom of God. It’s astonishing how specific Paul gets in this verse. The original first century readers would have understood the word translated effeminate as the passive participant in a homosexual encounter. They would also have understood homosexual as a reference to the active participant. For whatever reason, Paul wishes to identify both actors. And in verse 11, Paul says this: “and such were some of you.” This means that there were Corinthian believers who had been both effeminate and homosexual and that God had saved them nevertheless! He writes, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Paul would pray elsewhere for these sinners that the “God of love” and that the “love of God” might be with them (2 Cor 13:11-14). Once again, it’s clear that God extends His love and mercy to sinnersâ€”including homosexual ones.
These are but three texts, but we could find many more to make the point. The Bible says that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Could this be any clearer? God deigns to love sinners, and there is no text that would exclude homosexual persons from this love. In fact, we have seen two texts in which they are explicitly included. No one deserves this love, but God gives it nevertheless. He offers to all of us sinners forgiveness and eternal life if we would repent of our sin and believe in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. This is the good news.
I write a lot on this blog about moral issues in the news. Oftentimes, that includes discussions about the moral status of homosexuality. Because some in our culture argue otherwise, I think it’s important for Christians to be clear that homosexuality is a sin condemned by scripture. We press this point often not because homosexuals are worse sinners than others, but only because the point is so contested.
The main thing that I want homosexuals to know is that Christ came into the world to save sinners. That includes me, and that includes you if we repent of our sin and believe in Christ. My hope and prayer is that everyone reading this message will do just that.