Now that I have your attention, let me explain what I mean. Sadly, in today’s world if you refuse to endorse the moral legitimacy of same-sex physical intimacy you are branded as a hate-filled bigot, a homophobic who is devoid of love for those who struggle with (or have already yielded to) attraction to someone of the same sex.
Love, so we are told, is to affirm, accept, and encourage someone in their chosen sexual conduct and never to suggest that their behavior is immoral, far less that it puts their souls in jeopardy of eternal damnation. Piper disagrees. So do I. That is why his recent article (8-2-17) at www.desiringgod.org, titled “Satan and Sodomy: Understated and Inflammatory Words,” is perhaps the most loving thing John has ever written. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but it is no exaggeration to say that true love means speaking what may appear to be painful and pointed words to those who have bought into the lie that “sodomy is delightful, not deadly” (John’s words). If you truly love the same-sex attracted (as John clearly does), read this article.
Satan and Sodomy: Understated and Inflammatory Words
The supernatural monster who orchestrates the kidnapping, enslaving, and thousand-fold drugging, selling, raping, and killing of girls around the globe is the same one who has masterminded the murderous cultural delusion — from the highest court to the lowest porn-flick — that the practice of sodomy is delightful, not deadly.
Carefully Chosen Words
Among the several carefully chosen, understated, inflammatory words in that sentence, let’s start with “monster.” I’m talking about Satan. We do not feel what we ought to about this fiend. In Revelation 12:9 he is called “the great dragon . . . that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.”
The scope and horror of this being is hinted at with images. He is not a mere garden snake. His tail sweeps down a third of the stars. He crouches at Bethlehem to devour the newborn Son of God (Revelation 12:4). Failing at that, “the dragon became furious . . . and went off to make war . . . on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).
Which brings us to another inflammatory phrase: “murderous delusion.” Those two words capture the essence of Satan. He is a liar and a murderer. He deludes and, by deluding, he kills. Jesus said, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Hence, he is a murderer and a liar. His aim is to kill people — forever. He is a lion who devours (1 Peter 5:8). Partly by pain, partly by pleasure. But always by deception — just as with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.
“Satan is a lion who devours — partly by pain, partly by pleasure, but always by deception.”
A third extreme phrase in that first sentence is “around the globe.” Satan is not a tribal god. His global reach and pervasiveness is stunning. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Satan was not bluffing when he said to Jesus, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me” (Luke 4:6). This is why Jesus calls him the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31), and Paul calls him “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and this age is called “the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4) and “the domain of darkness” (Colossians 1:13; see also Ephesians 6:12).
Then there is the inflammatory statement that one of Satan’s “murderous cultural delusions” is the lie that “the practice of sodomy is delightful, not deadly.” If someone should wonder why I would use language like that in the present cultural milieu, the answer is that I think it is an abdication of truth and love to participate in the de-stigmatization of a practice that is more lethal than death.
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.
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.
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.
Lie: “. . . the practice of sodomy is delightful, not deadly.” The third word in this sentence that may be twisted is “deadly.” I am not referring to AIDS or to hate-crimes against people with same-sex attraction. I hate hate-crimes, and I would love to see a cure for AIDS. I am not talking about the painful fallout of sodomy in this world — as real as that is (Romans 1:27).
I am talking about “the second death.” All unforgiven and unforsaken sin is deadly in this sense. It leads to the second death. “As for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
The devil is destined for the lake of fire. “The devil . . . was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). But for now the devil is on a long chain and loose in the world. He is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), and the whole world lies under his power (1 John 5:19).
He is a murderer. And his main weapon is deception. Sexuality is one of his main killing fields. And on those fields “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against . . . the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Ephesians 6:12). The carnage that Satan is causing is literally indescribable. Therefore, we must search for words to describe the horrors of the tragedy around us. For it is flaming with destruction worse than any inflammatory words can express.
For all those who trust in Christ, Satan is disarmed (Colossians 2:15), because the only thing that condemns us in God’s court is unforgiven sin. And in Christ, sins are forgiven (Acts 10:43). Satan’s accusations against Christians come to nothing. “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” (Romans 8:33).
Therefore, we have the happiest and most horrible news in the world. In Christ there is light and freedom and life. Outside there is darkness and bondage and death. Failure to name the beauty of the light and the dreadfulness of the darkness is an abdication of truth and love.