June 14, 2016

What Christianity and Islam Teach about Homosexuality

Post by Brittany Tedesco

Syrian refugees receiving aid from Turkish ministry assisted by Christian Aid Mission

"During our first distribution, they were very hungry. Culturally, they did not trust us because they did not know our hearts and who we were," wrote a native ministry leader who gives aid to Syrian refugees at a tent camp in Turkey.

"Now that they know us, they are finally lining up in an organized way. There were two new families getting in line and yelling, 'Give some to us, give some to us, too.' But, we heard someone say in the crowd, 'They are Christians. Wait. They will distribute everything equally.' Without saying anything, they came to understand that there is equality with the Christians."

Why is there "equality with Christians"? Because Christ has called us to love everyone, no matter who they are. We don't have to agree with or condone a person's lifestyle or religion to treat them with equal respect and dignity.

Scene of the tragic shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando

This is a core principle of Christianity, which distinguishes it from Islam. Islam does not teach that all people are equal or should be treated equally.

On Sunday, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old Muslim, took the lives of 50 people at a gay club in Orlando. Fifty people, made in God's image, were murdered.

I've read and listened to a lot of commentaries, political and otherwise, about this tragedy. Some blame guns, some blame radical Islam, and some blame Christians who are indicted for creating a culture of bigotry and homophobia in the U.S. Many people view Christianity and Islam as two sides of the same coin—mutual enemies of the gay community.

I can understand this. The church has implicitly, if not explicitly in some cases, labeled homosexuality as one of the worst (if not the worst) sins of all time. It's an easy target because it's not something the majority of us struggle with. We conveniently forget about the other sins listed in the Bible alongside homosexuality. We're quicker to point the finger at others than we are to point the finger at the sins that plague our own hearts. Though we're new creatures in Christ, we still have a human nature to contend with. . . and hypocrisy is sadly part of that human nature.

The more closely one adheres to the teachings of Christ, however, the more closely one resembles our loving Savior—Who did not come to condemn the world, but to reconcile it to God through His death and resurrection.

If we're going to accurately compare Christianity with Islam—as some are doing in the case of this latest act of Islamic violence—we need to compare the teachings.

Let's start with Islam. Sharia law mandates that homosexuals to be stoned, burned, or thrown from high summits. What exactly is Sharia law? It is the "body of Islamic law rooted in the Quran and the hadith [traditions of Muhammad]," which Islamic judges and legal scholars interpret and apply. (source)

Last August, ISIS killed two gay men in Syria by pushing them off of a building. According to this Washington Times article, in 2016, "At least 25 people have been killed by ISIS for being gay: six stoned, three shot in the head and 16 thrown from highrise buildings."

This popular Islamic question and answer site states: "The companions of the Messenger of Allaah agreed unanimously that the homosexual is to be executed, and none of them differed concerning that. Rather they differed as to the method of execution."

In a radio program, broadcast on August 17, 2011, Rubina Nasir—otherwise known as Sister Ruby Ramadan—explained to listeners the proper Islamic protocol for dealing with homosexuals: "What should be done to those who practice homosexuality? Torture them; punish them; beat them and give them mental torture." (source)

Months before the shooting in Orlando, a Muslim cleric who spoke at the Islamic Center in Orlando, stated that "death is the sentence" for homosexuals. "Out of compassion, let's get rid of them now." (video)

Mateen's father praised the Taliban for stoning homosexuals in Afghanistan. Mateen's mentor, Abu Taubah, is a Florida-based cleric who aggressively preaches against homosexuals. Video footage shows him inciting a crowd of men and boys by telling them, "the Muslim community has been 'too weak and not ready' to address the issue of homosexuality 'in the proper manner.'"

Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini

The reason Islamic clerics are teaching violence against homosexuals is because it's part of the traditions of Muhammad that they still follow to this day. Muhammad's son-in-law ordered a homosexual to be thrown from the minaret of a mosque. His first successor, Abu Bakr, burned a homosexual at the stake.

For Muslims, these traditions and teachings are timeless. Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini stated, "Islam is not constrained by time or space, for it is eternal. . . it is not permissible that his ordinances be superseded, or that his teachings fall into disuse, or that the punishments [he set] be abandoned, or that the taxes he levied be discontinued, or that the defense of Muslims and their lands cease."

This Gatestone article states that although many of today's Muslims might be uncomfortable about the use of jihad, "no single scholar or group of scholars is entitled to abolish the long-standing law of jihad. Innovation is tantamount to heresy."

We've established what Islam teaches about homosexuality, but what does the Bible teach? Well. . . it's something that sounds a little too similar to Islamic teaching: "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them" (Leviticus 20:13 NKJV).

The Israelites were given the Law to keep them holy (separate) from other nations

Yikes. Why is that in the Bible?

Let's look at this verse in context. This is one of many commands given to the Israelites under the Law of Moses (or Old Testament Law). Because they were God's chosen people, they were not to partake in the practices of surrounding nations, which included homosexuality and other sexual sins. They were to be holy—separate. Abstaining from certain practices distinguished them from other people groups who did not belong to God.

The only thing the Law could do, however, is deal with the outward stuff—not the heart. But "what the law was powerless to do. . . God did by sending his own Son. . . to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh" (Romans 8:3 NIV).

It's the Good News we've heard so many times. Through His perfect life, Christ fulfilled the Law; in His death, He received the punishment for the sins of all humanity. This event changed everything—it ushered in the age of grace in which we are now living (Romans 6:14).

Christ ushered in the age of grace

Grace, not law.

But sin is still sin. Homosexual behavior is listed as a sin in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), along with other sins, but the prescription is completely different in this age of grace. It's not death, but repentance, so that one can freely receive God's forgiveness.

Christ leveled the playing field. No more classes of people—no more Jews and Gentiles. All of us fall into the same category: sinners in need of a Savior. Equality. As the Syrian refugees in the tent camp came to realize, "There is equality in Christianity."

Approximately 600 years after Christ ushered in this age of grace, Islam was born—and with it, a bunch of the oppressive laws and mandates. Different rules for different "classes" of people, like women and homosexuals. How sad and tragic. What a giant step backward.

As people who've been set free from the penalty of sin and death, let's proclaim freedom to the captives.

Pray for Orlando. Pray for Muslims.

Virginia - posted June 20, 2016
Excellent read. Good comparison between God's teaching vs. Muslim teaching. There are no debates on the matters of the heart. Internal vs. external. Yes, sin is sin in from God's view, and we do, as true believers, start with ourselves. Thank you.
Regina - posted June 16, 2016
Another important distinction with respect to the "directive" to be put to death is that the Biblical rules & punishments were first presented to the Isrealites as an OFFER, which they reviewed and ACCEPTED and agreed to (I.e. They willingly took contractual steps to make a covenant with God, agreeing in advance to the punishments for acts they willingly agreed not to commit). The contractual nature of the harsh consequences and limited application (to the parties of the contract/covenant) is a critical context (along with Jesus' fulfillment of the law) that is completely lost when comparing the covenant with Israel to the "kill them all" edict in Islamic teachings directed to all Muslims across all generations. See Deuteronomy.
Virginia - posted June 16, 2016
Excellent read. Good comparison between God's teaching vs. Muslim teaching. There are no debates on the matters of the heart. Internal vs. external. Yes, sin is sin in from God's view, and we do, as true believers, start with ourselves. Thank you.
Diana - posted June 16, 2016
As Christians, we must show mercy, love and compassion or we are not true followers of Christ. The Bible says, "You will know my disciples because they love one another." The true message of the gospel is deliverance from sin, not condoning sin. Pray for one another that we might be spiritually healed.
Sandra - posted June 16, 2016
An article worth reading!