Does Love Sanctify?

by Adam Litmer

The following question was submitted for consideration.

“I was recently in a conversation where someone claimed that genuine love sanctifies homosexual relationships. I wasn’t sure how to respond to that in the moment. Would you mind offering some thoughts?”

I’m happy to offer a few thoughts. The statement about genuine love “sanctifying” homosexual relationships (or any illicit relationship) is not an uncommon sentiment among those seeking to excuse or justify it. We need not take the time to consider the passages that speak on homosexuality as the individual who commented is obviously aware of them and recognizes that homosexuality is sinful unless “sanctified” by true or genuine love.

I would remind the person that sanctification means setting something apart for holiness or for holy purposes. With that in mind, I would ask them to cite the passage where “love” is said to “sanctify” homosexuality. No such passage exists, so they will not be able to cite one.

I would press the issue a bit by asking them to cite a passage where any sinful behavior is said to be sanctified by the feelings of the one committing it. This is not a “gotcha” moment, either. Most people who say such things simply repeat what they’ve heard or read from sources that consider themselves authorities. It can be quite eye-opening when those who repeat their error can be made to study Scripture and see the truth for themselves.

From there, I would encourage them to consider carefully the language of I Kings 11:1-2, a passage I believe to be pertinent to this discussion. “Now King Solomon loved many foreign women along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women, from the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, ‘You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.’ Solomon clung to these in love.

We are told twice that Solomon loved these women, the second time demonstrating a very strong love indeed. However, as one reads through the passage, it is clear that Solmon’s genuine love for these women did not “sanctify” his disobedience, and it will not sanctify ours.

Finally, I would urge them not to wrongly use biblical terms and expressions to excuse (or worse, encourage) that which God calls sin. In this case, the word “sanctify” is used to prop up sinful behavior. It is wrong, foolish, and exceedingly dangerous. Don’t do that!

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