With last weeks decision by the Supreme Court legalizing same sex marriage, you may feel like giving up. It’s over! Yes, that legal issue has been decided, but morally and biblicaly, nothing has changed. It may be more important than ever that every Christian and every church understand the “biblical” arguments being put forth by the gay Christian community, because most of them sound reasonable, if you accept their faulty premise. So let’s begin examining a few.
Even gay Christian leaders admit there are no passages in scripture that encourage, celebrate, or support same-sex, sex, unlike the many verses that encourage and support, heterosexual sex in marriage. All mention of homosexual behavior in the Bible is referred to in the negative and is condemned. So how is it we can be reading the same Bible as homosexual Christians and come to completely opposite conclusions?
Almost every gay Christian man I’ve met with, refers to the verses I covered in the Talking Points Introduction as “unclear” or “taken out of historical context.” They want desperately to believe that, and the leaders of major gay and lesbian Christian ministries have done a good job of spinning each proof text to mean something other than what Christians for nearly 2,000 years have always understood them to say.
If you have the time, this is the link to a position statement written by Justin Lee, the executive director of the Gay Christian Network. (https://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php) It is an excellent example of how, some gay Christian leaders treat these texts and have thereby provided a “theological foundation” for dismissing the biblical prohibition against same-sex, sex. The following are some of those arguments. (Much of what follows has been edited from an article by Wayne Grudem, in World Magazine http://www.worldmag.com/2013/04/the_bible_and_homosexuality, except where my explanations are added. 1. The Exploitation Argument (“We don’t believe in that kind of homosexuality either!”) “You have to understand the context in which these commands were given by God,” say leading homosexual Christians. “God’s people were surrounded by pagan cultures and God was warning them not to defile themselves like the pagans do.” Therefore they argue that those biblical passages concerning homosexuality only prohibit certain kinds of homosexual conduct, such as homosexual prostitution common in pagan temple worship, or pedophilia, or promiscuous and selfish homosexual relationships – exploitative forms of homosexuality. They don’t prohibit loving, consensual, and monogamous homosexual relationships; on those relationships, the Bible is silent. “And where the Bible is silent, we have freedom,” they conclude.
I’ve noticed that almost every quote used by gay Christian leaders comes from obscure versions of the Bible like the TNIV and the New Jerusalem Bible. So, for instance, advocates of this interpretation point out that while the I Cor. 6 passage in the NIV reads “men who have sex with other men,” in the TNIV it reads “male prostitutes.” (Note that I couldn’t find the “male prostitution” language in any of the top 10 selling versions of the Bible and the TNIV Bible is no longer published.)
There is no legitimate evidence in the original words used in these verses, or from their context, to suggest, much less, prove that these verses are referring to anything other than normal homosexual sex between consenting adults. In the Leviticus passages, that sin is included in a long list of all kinds of sexual sins common to human communities, and which have always been condemned in both Jewish and Christian communities.
(So, if domination and exploitation is the real sin and if consensual, loving sex for homosexuals makes it okay with God, then are we to conclude that consensual sex for adulterers, or unmarried adults, or incest, also now okay with God? In other words, if both parties to an act which God clearly prohibits are consenting adults, are we to conclude then it’s no longer a sin? I believe sexual domination is a separate sin, in and of itself. It’s called rape, or pedophilia. Read chapter 7 in, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, by DeYoung, for an in depth discussion of this distortion of what God says on this issue. (De Graaf))
Two other biblical counterarguments against the “exploitation argument” are found in: (1) Romans 1:23-27; Paul clearly echoes Genesis 1:27, indicating that Paul viewed any sexual relationship that did not conform to the creation paradigm of “male and female” to be a violation of God’s will, irrespective of whether the relationship is loving. (2) Paul’s absolute indictment against all forms of homosexuality is underscored by his mention of lesbian intercourse in Romans 1:26, since this form of intercourse in the ancient world was not typically characterized by sex with adolescents, slaves, or prostitutes.
2. The “Contrary to Nature” Argument Romans, Paul says, “For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another.” (Romans 1:26-27) According to this view, Paul is not saying anything about people who “naturally” feel desires for a person of the same sex, for such desires would not be “contrary to that person’s nature.”
However, this is reading into the text a restriction that has no basis in the actual words that Paul wrote. He does not say “contrary to their nature,” but “contrary to nature” (Greek para physin), a phrase that is used several times in literature outside the Bible to speak of all kinds of homosexual conduct as something contrary to the natural order of the world. In other words, Paul is not saying in Romans 1:24-27 that some people switched their innate heterosexual urges for contrived homosexual urges, but rather that people exchanged or left behind sexual relations with a true sexual complement (someone of the other sex) to gratify their inward urges for sex with members of the same sex. Paul sees such people as choosing to follow their desires over God-ordained creation relationships.
3. “That’s the Way God Made Me” Argument In this argument people are “born gay”. That is, almost all homosexuals do not choose their homosexual orientation but it is part of their genetic makeup from birth, so for them homosexual behavior cannot be wrong. “That’s the way God wired me!”
But, the Bible prohibits the actual practice of same-sex, sex. “Nor men who have sex with other men.” I Cor. 6:9a (It’s not people’s inward desires that are the final standard of right and wrong. It’s the Bible. Virtually all behavior is, at some level is biologically influenced, and no command of God is predicated on humans first losing their desire to violate the command in question. If that were the case, angry people would be exempted from their sin as would be liars, alcoholics, child-molesters, materialists, etc.)
4. The Church has been wrong before in how they interpreted the Bible The argument goes like this; “For 1600 years the church believed the Bible taught the earth was flat and that the sun revolved around the earth. The Bible also prohibits the eating of shellfish and that disobedient children, homosexuals and adulterers, should be put to death. There are all kinds of commands in the Bible Christians no longer obey.”
Albert Mohler answers those objections in this way. “Christians are informed by the Law as revealed in the Old Testament, but we are not bound by that law. We are bound by the law of Christ and the moral teachings of the New Testament. We are not the theocracy of ancient Israel, bound by its holiness code. We are the church, bound by the law of Christ, and that law clearly teaches the centrality of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, which Christ himself declared to be God’s purpose in creation. We are also bound by the moral teachings and warning of the New Testament, which clearly condemns same-sex, adultery and disrespectful children as sins, but no longer requires death, but repentance.”
The Slavery “Strawman” “And what about slavery? The Bible doesn’t prohibit slavery and yet all Christians today believe slavery is a serious, moral sin. As knowledge and understanding has evolved, the church has had to abandon many of it’s previously held beliefs. Embracing loving, monogamous, homosexual relationships is one of the last great biblical misunderstandings, yet to fall.”
Okay, let’s talk about slavery. The Bible does condemn the type of slavery conducted in the American South. “Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold, or is still in the kidnapper’s possession.” Exodus 21:16 While the Bible does not use the actual word “slavery” in this verse, the intent is undeniable. In fact, the Old Testament calls for the death penalty for that kind of slavery!
And it’s not true that most Christians approved of slavery. For most of church history the majority of all believers condemned compulsory slavery. Slavery was condemned in papal bulls in 1462, 1537, 1639, 1741, 1815 and 1839. And almost all U.S. protestant churches in the North, and throughout Europe condemned slavery!
Then how could Christians in the South justify slavery, you might ask? The same way homosexuals justify same-sex, sex and heterosexual Christians justify divorce or materialism. We find the biblical arguments that favor our position and downplay the clearest teaching of scripture, reducing them to “this is an issue good Christians simply agree to disagree on.” Which brings me to my last point.
5. Isn’t this just a minor issue, like so many that Christians have agreed to disagree on? “Agree to disagree” sounds reasonable, like “I’ll meet you in the middle.” And it’s true that there are theological issues like infant baptism versus adult baptism and speaking in tongues over which Christians have agreed to disagree on. However, none of those practices were ever prohibited in scripture.
Whether you were Catholic or Protestant, until 50 years ago, nobody thought that prohibited sexual sins, were an “agree to disagree”, issue. Whenever the Bible said, “you shall not…” (whatever), that ended the debate for serious Christians. No serious Christians would ever think of agreeing to disagree on stealing, adultery, sex trafficking or murder. Why? Because God’s moral laws, especially those found in both the Old and New Testaments, are true for all times. The Bible does not give us the latitude to “meet you halfway” on them.
Tim Keller, the well-respected pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, has written this wonderful article, expanding on and discounting many of these claims. (http://bit.ly/1Bx3AYp) Please take the time to do your homework on these ideas. For the Christian, there is no higher court than Gods’!
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