Why do we find it hard to say out loud that same-gender sex is wrong and perverse, even if we know it to be true?
The obvious answer is that no-one wants to be a pariah, for that is what voicing such a view will quickly make us in our culture. A narrow-minded, homophobic, bigotted pariah—because hardly anyone believes any more that gay sex is wrong and perverse. Quite the reverse. The mainstream view is that gay sex is just sex like any other sex, and should be accepted, validated and even celebrated.
But do they really believe that?
Romans 1 suggests that they don’t, in much the same way as it suggests that there are no really thorough-going atheists. Everyone, Paul argues, is well aware of the existence of the divine powerful Creator of the world, since God has made it very plain to them in his creation. However, people suppress or hold down this knowledge and live as if it were not true. It is there before their eyes, and they know it at some deep level, but they refuse to embrace it. They build instead a whole new fantastical reality for themselves, in which they are wise and sophisticated for having replaced the glory of the immortal God with the man-made gods of their own devising.
When Paul comes to the end of Romans 1, with its long catalogue of the wicked behaviour into which humanity descends, he makes a similar point about the morality that people know to be true and yet don’t act on:
Though they know God’s decree that those who practise such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practise them. (Rom 1:32)
They know full well that these profoundly wrong behaviours (which include everything from murder and same-gender sex through to gossip and disobedience to parents) deserve the judgement of the God who created the world. And yet in the weird alternative reality they have constructed, in which God is toppled from his throne and the creation is worshipped instead of the Creator, these things are not only practised but affirmed and praised. Embracing the lie that the Creator is not really God leads to embracing the lie that what he decrees to be worthy of judgement is in fact worthy of approval.
How do they “know God’s decree” about these things? The passage doesn’t say. In context, the most likely answer is that these sorts of behaviours are self-evidently wrong and blame-worthy; that we can see just by looking that certain actions are contrary to how God made the world to be and to function, much as we can see just by looking that this is God’s world and reflects his eternal power and divine nature.
I don’t want to get lost in a discussion of natural theology at this point, but I do want to draw three brief implications.
The first is that we should not be surprised that the gay lobby is forever wanting more and further validation and approval for the rightness and normality of same-gender sex (of which the current push for same-sex marriage is yet another example). The alternative reality that rebellious humanity constructs for itself, in which perversity and evil is regarded as normal and right, continually needs bolstering and repair, for it is continually confronted and eroded by the truth that is built into the creation—a truth that we are all aware of, even as we deny it.
As Christian citizens who want to show compassion to our neighbours and do them good, we should oppose this latest (and somewhat bizarre) political move. Reinforcing a profound falsehood by enshrining it in our statute book does no-one any good.
The second implication is that any discussion of these issues with our neighbours and friends needs to get back to the doctrine of creation at some point. The embracing of same-gender sex as perfectly normal and right is a consequence of the rejection of God as creator, such that we not only do what should not be done, but try to re-label our behaviour as acceptable and good.
When our friends look at us with incomprehension at our views about homosexual sex, we need to point out to them that our different views are the direct consequence of profoundly different views of the world and reality. We believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. Everything flows from that.
The third implication is that when you say to your work colleagues that murder is wrong or that lying is wrong or that men having sex with other men is wrong, you are telling them something that they know very well to be true, even if they will not always admit it.
Which may end up being cold comfort. You will still be rejected, abused, laughed at, ridiculed and ostracized (as I somewhat expect to be in the comments that follow). But you will have dared to speak the truth, the deep truth that actually fits with how the world is and was created to be.
And truth is powerful. It gives a name to reality. It sets us free.