From the Pastor’s Study – 6/5/22
Among the many books in my library is a very useful commentary on the book of Genesis by Lutheran scholar, H.C. Leupold. This two-volume exposition of the first book of the Bible contains careful verse by verse explanations of the text. Particularly helpful for the preacher is a concluding section at the end of each chapter entitled, “Homiletical Suggestions.” These notes offer guidance as to how the chapter may be profitably employed in preaching.
Genesis chapter 19 contains the story of Lot being delivered from Sodom. The narrative is disturbing in that it describes a society dominated by moral deviancy. Yet, it is encouraging in that, although the judgment of God against this society was pronounced and imminent, God showed great mercy in delivering Lot. Of particular interest is the “homiletical suggestions” section for this chapter. Leupold writes, “Not every part of this chapter is suited for homiletical use. It seems to us that v. 1-11 contains several elements that would require explanation and yet cannot be explained without a measure of impropriety.” In other words, Leupold does not think this text is appropriate for preaching.
I disagree with Leupold because of what Paul wrote in II Tim. 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable…” Every part of the Bible is intended by God to be useful for equipping and maturing His people. However, I do understand and appreciate Leupold’s conclusions about the public use of portions of Genesis 19. Paul wrote in Ephesians, “It is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” (Eph. 5:12) Some things are indecent and ought not be discussed. And if they absolutely have to be addressed, great tact and discretion must be employed.
While I believe that Genesis 19 can and ought to be preached publicly, Leupold’s recommendation makes a very important point. The subject of homosexuality was once considered obscene by nearly everyone. Referring to it in a public setting was thought highly inappropriate and objectionable. It was shameful. However, since Leupold published his commentary in 1942, our culture has changed dramatically regarding marriage and morality – and not for the better.
The month of June has been declared “Pride month.” Who exactly made this declaration is not clear. However, whether it is by social media, broadcast media, large corporations, or municipalities, the message is being spread that what was once considered shameful is now something about which to be proud. What the Bible identifies as sinful is being celebrated. Local communities are hosting “Pride” festivals. There are parades, public concerts, and even events aimed directly at children such as “Pride”- themed readings in public libraries – all designed to promote acceptance of what the Bible identifies as sexual deviancy.
Philippians 3:19 speaks of those “whose glory is their shame.” In other words, some treat what is disgraceful as cause for boasting. “Pride month” does exactly that. What is evil is called good. (Is. 5:20) The Bible is clear about sexual identity and activity. God created male, female, and marriage. (Gen. 1, 2) He classifies intimacy between a man and his wife in marriage as “honorable.” (Heb. 13:4) All other sexual expressions are “unclean.” (I Thes. 4:7)
I Corinthians 6:9 warns the believer to not be misled. It specifically identifies homosexuality with other behaviors such as idolatry, theft, and drunkenness, as sins that disqualify a person from citizenship in God’s kingdom. Contemporary widespread social acceptance does not change this truth. But just as God mercifully delivered Lot, God does the same in this age. I Corinthians 6:10 offers the assuring words, “And such were some of you.” Some in the Corinthian church had been saved by grace from the power and penalty of this sin. So today, forgiveness and acceptance in God’s kingdom is still available to all who repent of their sin, whatever it is, and trust in Christ.