Practicing Homosexuals Can Go to Heaven?

Question
Can a homosexual go to heaven? I know what the Bible seems to say, but is the minute portion of the Bible dedicated to this "activity" enough to, without a doubt, say a practicing homosexual will go to hell?
Answer

The short answer is 'yes, there is a possibility that a practicing homosexual can go to heaven.' However, read further. This is not a simple yes or no answer.

Homosexuality is a sin - a heinous sin, but so is adultery, lying, cheating on your taxes, stealing, etc. However, homosexuality is not blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (generally understood to be attributing the Holy Spirit's works to demonic powers; Matt. 12:31-32). Therefore, salvation is still a possibly. Mind you I said 'a possibility,' not 'a probability.' Please read on.

It is important at this point to distinguish between four different types of practicing homosexuals:

  • (1) Those who are regenerate and genuinely repentant and sorrowful over their sin, but who can't "presently" seem to break out of it (Rom. 7). These need loving biblical counseling and the work of Church discipline in their lives. The WCF states in Chapter V: Of Providence, 5: "The most wise, righteous, and gracious God does oftentimes leave, for a season, His own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon Himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends." However, note the words "for a season." This is not a permanent state! Growth is to be expected.

  • (2) Those who are regenerate and yet have not "presently" been renewed in the knowledge of the truth concerning certain sins (Rom. 12:1-2) and therefore still act sinfully in certain areas. Certain cultures do not know that certain behaviors are sins "yet." They need to be firmly instructed in the truth. Paul's letter to 1 Corinthians is a good example of this (i.e. 1 Cor. 6). However, after the knowledge of sin is taught and Church discipline applied (1 Cor 5:1-5) the elect in time will turn to the Lord (2 Cor 2:5-11) more fully.

  • (3) Those who are regenerate, but who are the present victims of sexual abuse, human trafficking, etc. Some are trapped in these type of situations and forced into certain sexual situations. They not only need our prayers, but the intervention of both local, state, and Federal authorities. There are different programs churches may be involved in to be more proactive in assisting these victims of crime.

  • (4) Those who justify their sin as if it were not a sin (Heb. 10:26). Such as those who embrace The Queen James Bible or the Study New Testament For Lesbians, Gays, Bi, And Transgender: With Extensive Notes On Greek Word Meaning And Context, et. al. (see below). These are mere professors of Christ, not possessors. These are unsaved.

The first three kinds of homosexuals (# 1 - # 3 above) should be embraced by the Church. They should be instructed in the faith and lovingly disciplined as Jesus commands (Matt. 18:15-20). Both the sinner and the Church should expect repentance (note the word "presently" in # 1 and # 2, i.e. change is expected). Prayer, fasting, and instruction are mandated. However, the latter kind (# 4 above), who having the knowledge of God, who purposely sin against God, make excuses for their sin (such as revising Scripture to ease the Spirit's conviction), seduce others into sins, and have no intention to stop sinning; these have not true salvation.

So, though 1 Corinthians 6:9 does say that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God, it does not mean that all types of homosexual people are not necessarily saved (i.e. # 1 - # 3 above). Paul is still speaking to the Church. He is instructing the Church. He says learn of Christ. He is saying 'come to the full knowledge of what sin is and repent' of your sinful practices.

Paul's point in this passage is that 'some' Corinthian Christians are behaving just like the unsaved people. Specifically, they were bringing fraudulent lawsuits against one another. So, in order to make them realize how awful their fraud was, he groups it with a bunch of other hideous sins, including homosexuality. His purpose was to get them to realize that defrauding other Christians is not an acceptable loophole. Rather, it is a major sin, just like idolatry, homosexuality, etc. (all sin is hideous). Do you realize how sinful your sin is?

So, some in Corinth, even though they were truly saved, thought they could still act as they once did. Paul was instructing otherwise. Now, if a person has any of these types of 'habitual sins' in their lives, they should check themselves to see if they are truly "in the faith." As Paul says, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves" (2 Cor 13:5). Present habitual sins of these sorts may be indicators of yet being unregenerate! See A Salvation Check-Off List. Paul is simply stating - if you are truly saved, now that you have learned the fuller truth, act like the new creations you claim to have become.

Even so, let's not miss Paul's point - swindling, robbery, homosexuality, etc., are hideous sins, and Christians are commanded not to do them. In fact, Paul taught in the prior chapter that if Christians persist in these actions without repenting, they are to be excommunicated (1 Cor. 5:9-13). Still, the point of excommunication is ultimately salvific - professing Christians are excommunicated in the hopes that they will repent (1 Cor. 5:5; cf. Matt. 18:15-20).

So, it is possible to still 'practice' homosexuality (just as any other sin, except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit) and still be saved. But be very careful here; don't allow this to become an excuse for sin (cf. Matt 7:21). God knows our hearts (Jer 17:10; Rom 2:6). Our hearts are extremely deceptive (Jer 17:9). Don't be fooled; don't fool yourself into thinking you are something you are not! It is dependent upon the person's disposition towards the sin in question: (1) are they presently trapped and yet "earnestly" fighting against present sin in their lives and truly dependent upon God's grace alone - then they are regenerate, (2) are they sinning in ignorance, but growing in grace - then they are regenerate, (3) are presently victims of sexual abuse or human trafficking, then they need the church's support, or (4) are they knowingly rebelling against God having, not been changed by the Spirit, mere wishful thinkers that trivialize God's Word, and at times even try to change it - these are definitely not regenerate.

"Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves" (2 Cor 13:5).

Related Links:

Were Ruth and Naomi Lesbians?
Same-Sex Love?
Antinomianism and Homosexuality?
Is Passive Homosexuality Permitted in Scripture? - 1 Corinthians 6:9
The Queen James Bible?
No Cake for You?
Homosexuality and the Centurion's Servant?
Homosexuality or Inhospitality? - Genesis 19:5
Was David a Homosexual? - 1 Samuel 18:1-4
Isaiah and Homosexuals? - Isaiah 56:3
God Hates...

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).