Satan and Sodomy

There are three key words that may likely be twisted against my intention and that are essential to truth: “sodomy,” “practice” and “deadly.” Here is what I do not mean and what I do mean.

1. Sodomy

Lie: “the practice of sodomy is delightful, not deadly.” Behind all the relational descriptions of so-called same-sex marriage is the unspoken fact of “anal or oral copulation,” and in particular, “copulation with a member of the same sex.” That’s the dictionary.com definition of sodomy.

Someone will say: Choosing that word signifies your belligerence toward people with same-sex attraction. No, it signifies my hatred for what can destroy people with same-sex attraction. What destroys people is not same-sex attraction, but the lie that same-sex copulation is delightful, and not deadly.

What is truly belligerent is the promotion of shameful acts as beautiful acts. Belligerent is the right word, because the Bible says that you should “abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” (1 Peter 2:11). So those who encourage the indulgence of these passions (whatever they are) are making war on souls—they are literally belligerent.

The word sodomy has two advantages: It refers to the act of same-sex copulation, not same-sex orientation, and it still carries the stigma of shamefulness. Those who love people with same-sex attraction should want to preserve the stigma of shameful practices which destroy them—just as we should try to preserve the stigma of stealing and perjury and kidnapping, and fornication, and adultery. It is a gracious thing when a culture puts signs in front of destructive behaviors that read: Don’t go there; it is shameful.

2. Practice

Lie: “the practice of sodomy is delightful, not deadly.” The second word in this sentence that may be twisted is “practice.” When the Bible links “men who practice homosexuality” with “thieves,” and says that neither will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9–10), it is important to note two crucial things.

One is that the warning is not sounded against those who are tempted to steal, but who practice stealing—thieves. Similarly the warning is sounded not against those who are tempted to practice homosexuality, but against those who actually do practice it. To be sure, there are all kinds of inward heart-lusts that are sinful, but the focus here is on the practice.

The other crucial thing to see is that there is salvation. The church is made up of forgiven sinners who make war on their soul-destroying sins. “Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

In other words, not all practice of sin excludes from the kingdom of God. “All sins will be forgiven the children of man” (Mark 3:28). The sins that exclude from heaven are the sins we keep on pursuing without regarding them as God-dishonoring, and without seeking forgiveness through Jesus, and without making war on them as the enemies of our souls.

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John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John is the author of more than 30 books and more than 25 years of his preaching and teaching is available free at DesiringGod.org. © Desiring God.