man looking up to God

The Torah proclaims the first half of this truth in Deuteronomy 6:5, Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

Jesus underscores the importance of these words in his discussion with the Pharisees in Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

God is the Father and creator, and He wants us to love Him. “We love Him because He first loved us.” I John 4:19. To reiterate, God first loved us and now we love him first. God should never be pushed to second place.

Our God first mandate is unmistakable as seen in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commands.” It doesn’t require a divinity degree from a prestigious school to understand. Scripture teaches we show our love for God by being obedient to His will. The opposite then is also true. One who chooses to disobey or disallow God’s commands is clearly proclaiming the harsh reality, “I don’t love God.”

It’s not unusual to observe some people in all age groups, with varying degrees of education and scholarship, confused about respecting the authority of God’s word. Others, on the other hand, have a clear view of His authority.  My mother, for example, who died at 100 years of age had a magnet on her refrigerator door which read, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” Absolutely correct! One-hundred percent allegiance to God and his word is what is both expected and demanded of His followers.

How remarkable is it then to realize much of the controversy coming from the LGBTQ+ community and others today is not over what God says, it’s over whether God means it. Affirming (pro-LGBTQ+) Catholic scholar Luke Timothy Johnson wrote on June 11, 2007:

I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject the premises of the scriptural statements as well condemning homosexuality—namely, that it is a vice freely chosen, a symptom of human experience, and disobedience to God’s created order. (Website Reference)

Granted not all those who are affirming agree with Johnson’s statement, however, trying to “explain away” the clear teaching of scripture seems to be a hallmark of many Christians who are affirming.

In the days of Israel when there was no king and no one in charge of leading the people in the ways of the Lord, the result was “every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” (KJV) “Everyone did as they saw fit,” (NIV) “People did whatever they felt like doing.” (MSG) Judges 21:25. Such cannot be the path for Christians today.

THE Standard of Authority

God’s word is the standard of authority today. The undisputed expectation from God for all mankind, whether affirming or non-affirming, is to love him first and to show that love by keeping his commands.

In addition, when one loves God first, the natural progression guides the reader into the second greatest commandment, Matthew 22:39. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love flowing first toward God, the creator, then progressing toward love for mankind - his creation formed in his own image - is the natural flow.

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar… And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” I John 4:20-21

This is 100% true all the time, no excuses, no picking and choosing to obey or not to obey. The commands and the progression of the commands remain intact: Love God, Love Others.

Avoid Demeaning, Mean-spirited, Hate Speech

There is no room in the lives of the followers of Jesus for any type of speech or actions that are demeaning, mean-spirited, hateful, derogatory, shaming, unloving, bashing, unkind or uncaring, etc.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34

Again, one who chooses to disobey or disallow God’s commands by being involved in the type of speech or actions described above, is clearly proclaiming the harsh reality, “I don’t love God.”

A vital truth: No person or group of people has a monopoly on love or loving. The Bible is filled with scriptures showing that God’s love is poured out on all.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13 

"I pray...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love." Ephesians 3:16-17

"I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." John 10:10

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:38-39

I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or ‘the Secret.’” Colossians 2:2-4 (MSG) “I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.” Vs 4 (NIV)

"God Wants Me to be Happy"

Consider this scenario: A heterosexual married couple was on the brink of divorce due to the unfaithfulness of the female spouse. She was just waiting for the day her divorce was final so she could marry her new boyfriend [Bob]. When questioned about her decisions, her argument was, “I love Bob. God wants me to be happy and certainly wouldn’t want me to stay in a marriage when I no longer love my husband and am in love with another man.”

When asked, “What about the wedding vows you made before God to remain faithful and true until death do you part?” To which she responded, “Well, I love Bob and scripture says that nothing can separate me from the love of God, so God’s love and grace covers me, and I am free to do whatever I want.”

Could this be one of the “fine sounding arguments” mentioned in vs 4 above?

The Scripture is clear in both the Torah and the New Testament. The 7th commandment is, “You shall not commit adultery.” Exodus 20:14 The New Testament repeats but raises the bar in Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’” 

It is true nothing can separate us from the love of God, but God as our loving heavenly father is able to love and at the same time exact punishment on us. Living holy demands repentance and love does not save an unrepentant sinner.

Jesus himself speaks of repentance, “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Luke 13:5

The Apostle Paul let all people know they were subject to the laws of God, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance…” Acts 20:21

The Apostle Paul stated to Christians in Corinth, “I am afraid that when I come… I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin, and debauchery in which they have indulged.” 2 Corinthians 12:21 

Just because someone gets themselves into a situation where they cease to love their husband and falls in love with another man doesn’t exclude them from the command of repentance. Love doesn’t change their obligation to love God first and obey his commands.

Grace: a Get Out of Jail Free Card?

Likewise, just because someone falls in love with a person of the same sex and acts upon that love doesn’t exclude them from the commands of loving God first and obeying His commands nor does it cover them in a blanket of grace. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 

By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:1-2

It’s easy to see, grace is not, nor has ever been, a get out of jail free card.

The Concept of Holiness

The designated order to love God first and love others second brings Christians to a level of living described by the concept of holiness. 

 “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV)

God expects His people to be holy. Strongs Concordance shares the following about holiness/holy:

“It is predicted of God (as the absolutely ‘Holy’ One, in His purity, majesty and glory)…It is used of men…in so far as they are devoted to God. Indeed the quality, as attributed to God, is often presented in a way which involves Divine demands upon the conduct of believers. These are called hagioi ‘saints,’ i.e., ‘sanctified’ or ‘holy’ ones. This sainthood is not an attainment, it is a state into which God in grace calls men; yet believers are called to sanctify themselves ...cleansing themselves from all defilement, forsaking sin, living a ‘holy’ manner of life…and experiencing fellowship with God in His holiness [emphasis mine lfb]. The saints are thus figuratively spoken of as ‘a holy temple…a local church…the whole Church…a holy priesthood…a holy nation…It is evident that hagios and its kindred words... express something more and higher than hieros, sacred, outwardly associated with God; ... something more than semnos, worthy, honorable; something more than hagnos, pure, free from defilement. Hagios is... more comprehensive... It is characteristically godlikness [sic] [emphasis mine lfb.] " (G.B. Stevens, in Hastings' Bib. Dic.).”  Holiness/Holy (Strong’s G40)

God expects mankind to demonstrate godlikeness in our lives, being free from all defilement, forsaking sin, living a holy life and being able to fellowship with God in His holiness!

In speaking to the collective church, the Apostle Paul pens these words in I Corinthians 3:16-19, Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person [emphasis mine lfb] for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. Do not deceive yourselves…For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”

Then speaking to individual Christians in I Corinthians 6:18-20 the Apostle continues by showing how a person sins against their physical body, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.”

Sinning against God’s body, His holy temple (the church) and/or sinning against our own temple (body) if unrepentant, puts one in danger of being destroyed by God!

The consequences of dishonoring God in one’s body (temple) is further described in Romans 1:18-28.

“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness…For since the creation of the world God’s…eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen…so that people are without excuse…Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie…God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men…they do what ought not to be done. They have become…God-haters [emphasis mine lfb]…they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love [emphasis mine, lfb] no mercy.  Although they know God’s righteous decree…they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”

By participating in the things God had spoken against, they were considered God-haters, having no love, and certainly were not displaying godlikeness (holiness) in their lives. Jeffery Edwards explains further about God’s holiness.

“God’s attribute of holiness encompasses his existence and he expects his people to live holy. In the garden God called Adam and Eve to live holy by not disobediently sinning against him, a command they violated. Those placing their faith in Christ today likewise live under the command to live holy (1 Pet. 1:15) since Christ covered their sin.” (A biblical ethic for homosexuality in the church, a research Paper) Jeffrey L. Edwards, December 12, 2015


God’s standard is HOLINESS and his first word to those who seek to be one of his is repentance. “…now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” Acts 17:30

It is not true that God accepts me just the way I am, saves me just the way I am, and covers my sins just as I am. Why not? Because I am not holy! It is true that God stands ready to forgive as I repent, follow his will, and seek a life of godlikeness [Holiness] by truly loving him first and others second.

Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

Matthew 22:39. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

1 Peter 1:15-16 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

A somber warning is given to those who discount or disallow the truths of God’s word and allow themselves to be caught up in their own delusions. 

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
Isaiah 5:20

It is with the above truths in mind that we offer a detailed study of the teachings and 12 of the major assumptions made by the affirming community. We do so by holding up to the light of God’s word the teachings and assumptions made in promoting the affirming lifestyle. Not all in the affirming community will agree with each assumption but each is found in the affirming community as a whole. It is our prayer that God’s word will be honored, truth will be revealed, and we will love him first.

Lou Butterfield
Lou Butterfield, EdD
Mars Hill, Athens, Greece
Parthenon in the background

About Us seeks to share biblical teaching on sexual identity issues with churches and individuals. We believe loving God first means obeying his word, even when it runs counter to culture. We also believe in treating people who disagree with love and respect, as well as those who struggle with sexual identity.

About Site Content does not necessarily endorse everything that may be found in the suggested resources. Each author/organization is responsible for their own content. These are suggested to allow for individual study and research.