The Bible is consistent through both Old and New Testaments in confirming that homosexuality is sin (Genesis 19:1–13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 1:7). In this matter, the New Testament reinforces what the Old Testament had declared since the Law was given to Moses (Leviticus 20:13). The difference between the Old and New Testaments is that the New Testament offers hope and restoration to those caught up in the sin of homosexuality through the redeeming power of Jesus. It is the same hope that is offered to anyone who chooses to accept it (John 1:12; 3:16–18).
God’s standards of holiness did not change with the coming of Jesus, because God does not change (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8). The New Testament is a continuing revelation of God’s interaction with humanity. God hated idolatry in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 5:8), and He still hates it in the New (1 John 5:21). What was immoral in the Old Testament is still immoral in the New.
The New Testament says that homosexuality is a “shameful lust” (Romans 1:26), a “shameful act,” an abandonment of “natural relations” (Romans 1:27), a “wrongdoing” (1 Corinthians 6:9), and “sexual immorality and perversion” (Jude 1:7). Homosexuality carries a “due penalty” (Romans 1:27), “is contrary to the sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:10), and is listed among the sins that bar people from the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9). Despite the attempts of some to downplay these verses, the Bible could not be clearer that homosexuality is a sin against God.
Homosexuality is not the cause of a society’s decline, but it is a symptom of it; it is the result of people making themselves the final authorities. Romans 1 gives the natural digression of a society that has chosen idolatry and sinful pleasure instead of obedience to God. The downward spiral begins with denying that God has absolute authority over His creation (Romans 1:21–23).
The result of a society’s rejection of God’s rule in their lives is that God gives “them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:24–25). Verses 26 and 27 say, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.” The phrase “God gave them over” means that, when we insist on shaking our fists at God, He finally lets us have the perversion we demand. And that is a judgment in itself. Homosexual behavior is the result of ignoring God and trying to create our own truth. When we defy God’s clear instruction, we reap the “due penalty” of our disobedience (2 Thessalonians 1:8–9; Revelation 21:8).
The good news is that homosexuality is not the unpardonable sin. It is forgivable just like greed, theft, and murder are forgivable when we repent and turn to Jesus (Acts 2:38). He provides us with new identities (1 Peter 1:14; Colossians 2:13). Second Corinthians 5:17 says that “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” Those “old” things include former sins that once held us captive. Whereas we were once defined by our sin, being born again (John 3:3) means we are now defined by Jesus and His righteousness (Colossians 3:3). A thief no longer has to define himself as a thief. He is cleansed from his former ways and made new in Christ. A murderer—such as Saul before he became the apostle Paul—is forgiven and conformed to the image of Christ (Galatians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Romans 8:29). And someone trapped in homosexuality can be set free to walk in purity when he or she agrees with God about sin and trusts His power to forgive and restore.
As has been noted, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 includes homosexuals in a list of those who will not have a part in God’s kingdom. But verse 11 goes on to say, “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.” The truth is that some of the saints in the Corinthian church were former homosexuals. God’s kingdom is populated by sinners. No one comes to God on personal merit. We all come the same way: through repentance, renouncing the sin for which Jesus died, and accepting the righteousness of Christ in its place (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The New Testament offers good news for everyone struggling with sexual identity. Jesus wants to replace our sinful lifestyles with His own righteousness so that we become more like Him.