When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is lured away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.—James 1:13-15
The question of whether gay people go to heaven or hell is much discussed today, and there is confusion surrounding the issue. On one side are churches that teach that homosexuality is blessed by God. On the other side are churches that condemn all homosexual thoughts and actions as deserving of eternal judgment. Is being gay a ticket to heaven or hell?
First, a clarification. Our world labels people according to their weaknesses, sin tendencies, addictions, or sexual inclinations. When we do that, we create an adversarial, “us vs. them,” position. We begin to see people in categories, rather than as individuals, and this is dangerous. When we ask if gay people go to heaven or hell, we may be using the label gay rather than considering the individual who may be struggling with temptation or confused about his or her sexual identity. For the purposes of this article, we will define gay as “practicing a homosexual lifestyle.”
When God created human beings, He designed them male and female, in His own image (Genesis 1:27). Adam and Eve were created perfect, and God blessed their physical union in the first marriage (Genesis 1:28). Homosexuality was not part of God’s creation. When the first man and woman chose to disobey God’s command, sin entered the world (Romans 5:12). With that sin came brokenness of all kinds: thorns, tornadoes, drought, sickness, disease, cruelty, and sexual distortions.
Since that time, every human being has been born with a sin nature. Our natural selves demand the right to be our own gods. When we desire something contrary to the will of God, the desire itself becomes sinful (James 1:13–15). We may sin in different ways, but it is all sin. Some have an overwhelming desire to lie. Some are unfaithful to their spouse. Some may overcome outward sins—and are puffed up with arrogance. And some may be tempted to engage in sexual acts with their own gender. It’s all sin. It is all unacceptable to God. And we all need a Savior.
God, our Creator, could have wiped out the human race and started over. He owes us nothing. Because of our high treason against our Creator, we all deserve hell. Heaven is perfect, and we are not; we are disallowed from God’s presence. In His great love, God made a way that we sinners can be made righteous (Ephesians 2:4–5). Jesus, the Son of God, offered Himself as our substitute on the cross, thereby taking the punishment we deserve (John 10:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God poured out His wrath against sin upon His own Son so that those who trust in that sacrifice can have their sins transferred to His account (Colossians 2:14). In exchange, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. God then declared that whosoever trusts in Jesus as their Lord and Savior be granted eternal life in heaven (John 3:16–18).
That divine exchange—our old life for His new one—brings about a transformation from the inside out. Second Corinthians 5:17 says that, if anyone is in Christ, he or she becomes a new creature. All the sin, selfishness, pride, and perversion that were part of our lives before that moment are wiped clean, and we are pronounced righteous before God (Psalm 103:12). God then takes on the task of conforming us into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). We are not saved from hell to continue in the same sins Jesus died for. We are saved so that we can become all God designed us to be (Ephesians 2:10). That includes renouncing our past and our sinful tendencies and embracing the wholeness we were created to experience.
In answering the specific question about whether gay people go to heaven or hell, we can substitute the words gay people with other sin groups. Do adulterers go to heaven or hell? Do kleptomaniacs go to heaven or hell? Do prostitutes go to heaven or hell? Paul answers these questions clearly in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. People who live in unrepentant sin have no place in God’s kingdom. Those who practice sexual sin, including homosexuality, are on that list. Paul, anticipating objections, says, “Do not be deceived” about this (verse 10).
But then Paul goes on: “And 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). Notice the abrupt turnaround with the word but. The church Paul was addressing had members who in the past had practiced those very sins—BUT when trusted Jesus, everything changed. Their loyalty changed. Their nature changed. Their actions changed. No one is exempt from God’s righteous judgment on sin (Romans 6:23). But no one is exempt from His offer of forgiveness and transformation. When we surrender our lives to Christ, we must let go of all that defined us in our sinful state. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). We must die to our old sinful lifestyle. We must die to our right to be our own boss. And we must die to those desires in us that violate God’s righteous decrees.
Gay people go to either heaven or hell on the same basis that drunkards, liars, haters, and self-righteous church people go to either heaven or hell. Our final destination depends not on what we’ve done but on how we responded to Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. Unrepentant sinners will die in their sin and be judged accordingly. Repentant sinners are forgiven in Christ. When we receive Him as Lord, He becomes our final authority.
To be a Christian means that we now strive to model our lives after His perfect one. We want to please Him more than we want to please ourselves (Matthew 10:37–38). And there is no question that homosexual acts are displeasing to Him, just as heterosexual sin is displeasing to Him. If we insist on living a gay lifestyle, as if being gay was our identity, we are turning our backs on Christ’s sacrifice. We cannot expect God to simply overlook in us the very sins that put Jesus on the cross.
Many people who are same-sex attracted have come to faith in Christ and, in doing so, surrendered that particular temptation to Him. Some go on to marry and live in Christ-honoring, heterosexual marriages, and others choose celibacy, finding the fulfillment they need in intimacy with God.
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(Reprint with permission | GotQuestions.com |© 2018)
What do people do with feelings of anxiety or fear? Aside from those who are medically diagnosed with anxiety disorders, fearful people tend to fuss and worry over potential scenarios and outcomes. They might rehearse the possibilities in their mind and take worries to bed, which keeps them tossing and turning all night. Or maybe they try to numb themselves with distractions, drugs or alcohol.
God wants us to bring our worries to Him—then He can calm our anxious burdens with His peace, which surpasses all comprehension (Phil. 4:6-7). And today we have advantages that weren’t available in the days of the Old Testament. Instead of waiting for a prophet to deliver a message from the Lord, we have the completed Scriptures, which are God’s revelation of Himself, His works, and His ways. Through His Word, we learn to know and understand the Lord and His plans so we can pray more confidently.
As we spend time in the Scriptures, we can increasingly see from God’s perspective. Then our prayers will be focused on what He wills rather than on what we want. Through this kind of prayer, our spiritual needs are met, and we can set aside anxiety to live in complete trust in the Lord.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Carefully consider what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible on your part, live at peace with everyone. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.—Romans 12:17-18; 21
We must confess unrighteous anger as sin and then begin to deal with it immediately. Anger is often a response to hurt and care must be taken not to excuse or defend it in the name of justice. Even when someone has sinned against you, it’s important to realize that holding onto anger in response is also a sin. Scripture tells us to overcome evil with good, not to repay it.
Some people want to hang on to ill feelings, but nursing a resentful attitude isn’t sustainable; anger must be put aside. If we retain our “right” to hold grudges, we can’t expect to live in the new nature Christ has created for us.
The place where we will find strength is in our new Christlike personality. Our responsibility is to put it on. He invites us to cooperate with Him in the process of transformation. With each step of obedience, the peace of Christ will increase and anger will diminish.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9
Once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, God’s Holy Spirit lives in you. Through Him, God enables you to do everything He asks, making the possibilities for service limitless.
Have you been sitting on the sidelines because you have let sin and shame discourage you? Perhaps you feel as though God can’t use your broken vessel.
Don’t let your feelings overshadow the truth! God is big enough to forgive you, restore you, and use you to restore others. First John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Once you have confessed and turned from your sins, you are cleansed—but God does not purify you and empower you with His Spirit merely to make you feel good. God’s purification process fulfills the Scriptures and equips His children for service. The question is not, “Do I have the power?” It is, “How will I use that power?”