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What Does “Abomination” Mean?

What Does “Abomination” Mean?

I often bring up the biblical truth that as humans, none of us are ultimately that different from one another. When I apply this to gay people, however, a lot of believers have trouble. Often, it stems from a word we find in the Bible: “abomination.” For many, because the Bible says that same-sex sex is an abomination (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), they believe gay people are not only different from them but worse than them. So let’s take a look at the word and how it’s used in the Bible to see if that’s actually true.

What does “abomination” mean?

Holman Bible Dictionary describes the meaning of this word by looking at how it’s used in scripture. It describes anything that God finds detestable, especially idolatry (worshiping false gods). It is translated from a number of Hebrew and Greek words, several of which mean “to stink” (e.g., Exodus 7:18). An abomination is something that God detests and finds rotten and vile. It is applied to idolatry far more often than it is applied to homosexuality.

Do only gay people commit abominations?

Perhaps you hold yourself to be better than gay people because you believe they commit abominations and you do not. To support this, you need to make a clear case that you do not, in fact, commit abominations. Unfortunately, the Bible is very clear that you and I actually do commit actions that are abominations in God’s eyes every single day. All people do, whether they’re believers or not.

Paul calls envy “idolatry” twice: once in Ephesians and once it its twin epistle, Colossians.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you:[b] sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. (Ephesians 5:5)

Have you ever felt envy? Yes, you feel it often, and so do I. We feel it when we long for a life different than our own. We feel it when we see a man or woman we want for ourselves. We feel it when we grumble about our jobs, believing we would be better off if God provided something different. We feel it when we become impatient with our children, believing it would be better for us if they were different.

God says that you and I commit idolatry. For many of you, this isn’t surprising. Seeking provision from anything other than God and what He gives is no different than serving a false god. It’s an idea foreign to some believers but to not most these days. Idolatry is an abomination to God. And we do it every single day.

We all need Jesus’s grace

Yes, homosexuality is an abomination. But so is envy. Frankly, so is all sin, and none of us can claim we don’t sin. If the word applies to something as commonplace as envy, what does that say about contentions, anger, selfish ambitions, grumbling, deceit, and pride?

It’s not just gay people who need to repent and trust Jesus when they don’t understand. We all need to repent and trust Jesus when we don’t understand. Believer, you are not better than your gay neighbor. You are the same as them. You’re not even better than an unbeliever. When God had mercy on you and saved you, it was all His grace.

You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary. (Jonathan Edwards)

You depend on Jesus just as much now to change your heart when you’re living in the flesh’s desires as you did when He first saved you. When you believed in Jesus, you declared in no uncertain terms that you were so bad and so helpless, you needed God to crush His Son to atone for you and make you clean. This is not a belief that lends itself to you thinking you’re better than anyone, much less a gay person.

We all share the same need for Jesus to save us, whether we’re believers or not. We’re just not that different from any other human, gay people included.

Further Reading

For a more in depth treatment of this, check out Chapter 4 of Foreign (specifically the section, “Addressing Leviticus”).

Posted by Matt Norman with

Should Gay People Try To Be Straight?

Should Gay People Try To Be Straight?

There isn’t a person on Earth who is safe to stay the way they are. That’s because there isn’t a person on Earth who is like God. None of us is without sin, and sin destroys. Thus, we all need to change all of the time.

We’ve touched on the fact that we just aren’t all that different, and that none of us is better than another. But when the word “change” enters the LGBT world, I fear we start to think things we don’t think about other people or about ourselves. Let’s walk through a couple of those differences and see what the gospel has to say.

Gay to Straight

If the church is going to treat gay people differently than everybody else, this is where it’s most likely to happen. There is a gut-level drive in many believers to try to make their gay friends straight. This might be because, for many, straight people are simply more comfortable to be around because it’s something familiar. It might be because of our widespread (and errant) belief that singleness is a problem that needs to be fixed. Regardless of the reason, I need to say outright that “gay to straight” is not only unwise, but it is damaging and counter-gospel. It goes against Jesus’s aims for our lives.

The thing is, idolizing the opposite sex will kill you just as quickly as idolizing the same sex. The opposite sex will not fulfill you any more than the same sex will. That’s because marriage was not intended to fulfill you. God is here to fulfill you. Further, being single is not a disease that needs a cure, but it’s an important and God-ordained role that we need in the church. It’s a measure of diversity without which we will have a collectively warped view of God as a church body.

We don’t strive for an alcoholic to switch his addiction to drugs. We don’t strive for a workaholic to idolize their family instead. We don’t replace one creation-oriented idolatry with another. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to strive for a gay person to be straight. The goal for all of us is to cease being so preoccupied with ourselves and with creation and to fix our eyes and hearts on Jesus alone. A gay person is no better off in the slightest with opposite-sex desires. But their whole world changes when they desire God instead of the same sex. I’m a living testament to that truth, and there are many others as well.

We don’t supplant desires for the same sex with desires for the opposite sex. We overwhelm same-sex desires with greater desires for God Himself, basking in His character, His promises, and His future home.

“Take It Away”

Another way we treat our gay friends differently than other believers is in our expectations of what it looks like for them to find life in Jesus. There is a notion, albeit usually unspoken, that believers who have same-sex attractions must get to a point where they never feel same-sex attractions again. I suspect this often comes from a measure of discomfort believers feel when a person desires the same sex. Comfort isn’t a good rudder for us, though.

I believe this is a double standard. Nobody expects a straight man to get to a point where he never desires a woman lustfully again. Rather, we expect him to overcome those desires and put them down by anchoring into Jesus and His promises in the middle of every day life. We expect lustful desires for women to wane, and we expect desires for God to wax. Surely he will continue to feel the tug of lust, but he’ll have another desire tugging more strongly, with which he can fight against lust. I think it’s right to expect the same thing of believers with same-sex attractions.

I can’t tell you how many times I prayed for God to just take my same-sex desires away. But He loves me too much for that. He loves you too much for that. God sent Paul a persistent, plaguing difficulty so egregious that he begged God over and over to take it away. But God didn’t take it away. He left it there. Why? Because He knew Paul, and He loved Paul. God used that persistent suffering to keep Paul from being conceited and to remind him of his dependence on Himself. He did it because His power was more vividly displayed in Paul’s weakness. He did it to make Himself known, to rescue more people from sin.

I wouldn’t love God if it weren’t for my continued attractions to the same sex. I wouldn’t depend on God if it weren’t for my continued struggles with depression and anxiety. You wouldn’t be able to see His strength through my life if I believed I had no need of it. My weakness is a blessing. Stubborn sinful desires are a grace. They keep me near to Jesus, and they keep you near to Jesus too.

Biblical Change

Biblical change involves an idolater belittling the pull of this world by fixing their gaze on Jesus’s character, promises, and future home. Only with our eyes fixed on Jesus can we lay sin aside like the mere hindrance and distraction it truly is. A gay person should never try to be straight. They should seek to love Jesus above all things. Heterosexuality won’t save them. Marriage won’t satisfy them. Jesus alone is their rest, their completion, and their home. Don’t draw them toward yet another trap. Draw them to Jesus.

Posted by Matt Norman with

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