Homosexual Marriage 4: Practical Engagement
Given the newness of engaging with the problem of homosexuality in society in the Western world Christians are still struggling to know how to engage homosexuality in some of the complex everyday life situations. My goal in this message is not to give you a list of laws that you can apply in any situation but rather to try and demonstrate how to think through issues for yourself. You see, when one wanders into the realm of ethics we are faced with as many different situations as there are people, personalities, cultures, perspectives, etc. it would therefore be impossible for me to be able to give a rule for what to do in every situation, and in fact, it is not my job to take the place of your conscience either. The bible is sufficient to deal with these situations and fully equips us for any situation in either principle of precept, this however does not remove from us the responsibility of us having to work out their issues in our own homes and work places for ourselves. An answer which might be right in one situation given a particular set of circumstances may be wrong for another situation. What we want to avoid as we approach the issue of practical engagement is a one size fits all mentality, a forced case law that runs into every situation with a ready formula. The messiness of life after the fall hardly ever allows for such neat solutions. The responsibility is laid upon every one of us to be ready to apply God’s word in our won situations. You are the best equipped person in your life to apply God’s word because you are the one who has the most information about the situations you are in.
This is the way that Paul taught the Corinthians to think when they faced difficulties in their particular culture. The Corinthians lived in a culture where almost all the meat was offered to idols before it was sold or eaten. What were the Corinthians to do? What Paul does not do is offer a one size fits all answer, instead he shows them how to apply principles of truth in three different scenarios equipping them to see how the principles apply and how to think for themselves. He shows them how to apply their theology in practice. So in 1 Cor. 8:1-13 he acknowledges the truth that idols are nothing, but that not all possess that knowledge yet and are immature in their faith. So he demonstrates how to use the truth in love putting one’s neighbour before oneself in not eating what is not sinful to eat. In 1 Cor. 10:14-22 we have another instance of eating food offered to idols however in this instance it is not merely buying food offered to idols from the meat market but a full participation in an idolatrous feast and he clearly forbids eating in that context when he says in v21, ‘You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.’ Then again in 1 Cor. 10:23-31 he speaks about eating food offered to idols encouraging them to eat whatever is sold in the meat markets, even whatever is offered to them at an unbelievers table, unless by eating the unbeliever thinks you are somehow violating your faith. So can the Corinthians eat food offered to idols? The answer is, yes, no and depends. Yes all food is from God, no if it causes your brother to stumble, and it depends on who you are with and how your witness will be perceived by those you are with. This circumstance dependant approach will no doubt frustrate the legalist who wants all his rules firmly drawn up in black and white before he leaves the door. However, this messy approach is most instructive for us as we seek to negotiate the many different situations we will face as we engage with homosexuality in society.
It will not be my goal to outline what to do in every situation but to try and apply biblical principles to certain situations hoping to demonstrate which principles are to guide us and how to better think through the issues.