Are You Savoring or Suppressing God’s Truth?
Recently I taught Romans 1:18–32 for the women’s Bible study at my church. This passage shows God’s response to those who persist in rejecting him as Creator, Savior, and loving Lord. There’s no way to faithfully deal with this passage without explaining that all forms of sexual immorality are displeasing to our Creator. When we refuse to live under his design and instead invent our own “truth” about how we want to live sexually, we shake a defiant fist in his face.
Paul goes on in this passage to soberly proclaim that God’s holy hostility towards evil, what the Bible describes as his wrath, “is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18). God takes it seriously when the image-bearers he created push down his truth and choose lies. Our determination to pursue man-made rules for life—including all we do with our bodies—is dangerous.
God’s Holy Hostility and Lavish Love
Romans 1 is surely a passage our secular society would like to “cancel.” Why? Paul refuses to spin God’s truth to make it tickle his audience’s ears. He boldly names several expressions of ungodliness which provoke God’s holy hostility against evil: sexual immorality (any behavior outside the covenantal marriage of one man and one woman) and thinking that is unmoored from biblical truth. In fact, I wonder if the “giving up” to a “debased mind” (v. 28) is the most severe example of God giving people over to sinful desires. Courtney Doctor points out that Paul lists twenty-two fruits of God’s wrath (ESV) because “in response to continued rebellion and open idolatry, [God] will release people to the misery of who we are apart from him.” (38)
I don’t promote the shaming, angry, call-down-God’s-fire kind of preaching that is sometimes the caricature of Christian Bible teaching. Yet the Scriptures do present our God as holy and righteously angry toward sin, even as they reveal him as the loving Father and Rescuer of brokenhearted, hopeless sinners. Ephesians 2 is a clarifying and comforting complement to Romans 1:
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:2–7)
In Christ Jesus, God takes us from death to life, from following the adversary to being seated with Christ in heaven, from being children of wrath to eternally loved children with access to heavenly riches. THIS is the truth we must cling to, believe in, and live out. Why would we choose something or someone else? Surely our Savior is worthy of being savored—not pushed away or suppressed.
Savor Jesus as the Good Creator and Lord
My favorite passage when I teach about biblical sexuality doesn’t include the word sex! Colossians 1:15–16 clearly and beautifully explains that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”
I appreciate how Jackie Hill Perry comments on the impact it makes to realize that we have been made by and for Jesus. When she faced her Savior and Lord, then glanced at her attractions towards women, she grew to know that there was only one godly way to respond:
“My hands, head, face, legs, hips, hormones, private parts, voice, feet, fingers, feelings, were all made by Him and for Him. Apparently, this body was never mine to begin with—it was given to me from Somebody for Somebody. Somebody who’d made it for glory and not shame.” (51–52)
Making peace with what God calls sin is dangerous, to say the least; suppressing his truth to please our SELF never ends well. I’ve grown in faith through witnessing the beautiful savoring of Christ in the lives of many women who echo Jackie’s convictions. These sisters in Christ whom I’ve discipled have been tempted in same-sex directions, perhaps were in sinful relationships, and may have identified as gay for a time. I asked them how it impacts them when believers suppress God’s truth regarding sexuality.
- “It hurts and grieves my heart to see someone buying into a lie, being tossed and shipwrecked by false ‘winds and waves’ of doctrine…by feelings and emotions.”
- “The most frustrating and hurtful temptations come from my own brothers and sisters in Christ who are waving the rainbow flag on social media.”
- “It makes me sad, and I feel betrayed. At one moment, we’re fighting together against sin and the enemy, and then they give up the fight—it’s like I feel keenly the weakness that comes in losing a battle partner—and I am more vulnerable in their departure.”
Sexuality and gender are good gifts, but they were never meant to replace Jesus in our lives. For all the talk on attractions, orientation, and desires, how might we answer the earnest plea which one curious spiritual seeker asked Philip?
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:21)
Let’s show Jesus as the One greater than all. As good and beautiful as his creation is, Jesus is more worthy of our desires than anything!