Thursday, November 11, 2010

Arguments I've Heard Recently Favoring Homosexuality

Let me start out by saying that contrary to popular opinion, the Bible is not only right about the issue of homosexuality even though it's teachings may be old...they are obviously VERY relevant to this current fallen culture. I am not a fearful homophobe clinging to God and my guns, I am a rational Christian who does not accept the terms of the current debate over homosexuality and its acceptance as normative in our day and age.

Those in support of the acceptance of homosexuality have stated that Bible is not clear in it's view of homosexuals. On the contrary, I believe it couldn't be any more clear.

The Law of Moses said, "You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22; c.f 20:13). The Old Testament (OT) also condemns "sodomites," which were male temple prostitutes (I Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; II Kings 23:7).

The New Testament is just as clear on this issue as is the Old Testament. In the first chapter of Romans Paul wrote of the many evils mankind has engaged in while suppressing the knowledge of God that He has revealed to them (Romans 1:18-21), one of which was homosexuality. Paul plainly declared: "Because of this [the suppression of truth resulting in idolatry] God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion" (Romans 1:26-27, NIV). Although homosexuality is not named as such here, the act of homosexuality is clearly described. It was in judgment that God allowed men and women to have sexual relations with the same sex, and they received in themselves their due punishment for such indecent acts.

While listing those who would not inherit the kingdom of God, Paul noted that homosexuals will not be saved: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9-10, NET).

In a recent email debate, a person arguing for homosexuality said to me, "Jesus does talk about those who are victims of prejudice like the Samaritans, and those who are marginalized and rejected like the lepers, but he never says a word about anyone's sexual orientation. Perhaps as a church leaderyou should contemplate the possibility that they are, as one man once suggested, 'making much of that which cannot matter much to God.' "

This argument fails on two grounds. First, the major premise of the argument is flawed. The argument goes like this:

P1 Any issue Jesus is silent on must be morally acceptable
P2 Jesus is silent on the issue of homosexuality
Homosexuality is morally acceptable

Is it true that any issue Jesus did not speak to is to be considered morally acceptable? A cursory reflection on the notion reveals that this is not a true premise. Jesus did not speak to the issue of incest, rape, drug abuse, wife beating, and gay-bashing. Are we to conclude that these acts are morally good? Clearly not. We cannot determine the moral nature of an act by the mere observation that Jesus did not address the issue. Jesus did not speak to every moral issue there is to speak to.

Secondly, from the Christian perspective what is moral or immoral is not based solely on what Jesus said or did not say. While we are very interested in what Jesus had to say, we use Scripture as a whole to determine how God feels about various moral issues. When we examine the whole of Scripture we find a very clear portrait of God's take on homosexuality.

This comprehensive approach to morality makes perfect sense within the Christian worldview for two reasons:

1. The Bible claims to be inspired by God. This means that every word in the Bible is equally authoritative. The teachings of one individual in one book cannot be given more weight than another individual's teaching in another book. Jesus' words hold no more authority than Paul's or Moses'

2. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is God incarnate. The same God who spoke in the OT is the same God who became man in the face of Jesus Christ. It would be a mistake, then, to argue that since Jesus did not speak against homosexuality that God is not concerned with the issue, for it is clear that God did speak to the issue.

I have also had individuals tell me to my face that the sin of Sodom was due to the inhospitality and NOT the sexual perversion rampant in the city. I would be interested to see the evidence supporting this notion, because I am not aware of any. While it is true that Sodom was not judged only for its immorality (Ezekiel 16:49-50), from the Biblical narrative it is clearly the main reason. Jude 7, for one, makes it clear that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their sexual perversion. The focus of the Genesis narrative is their sexual perversion as well.

Besides, the inhospitality that the men of Sodom exhibited toward the visiting angels could not have been the cause of their destruction because God had determined to destroy Sodom prior to this incident.

Furthermore, while Biblical scholars and historians recognize that inhospitality was much more serious in the Ancient Near East than it is to Westerners today, do we really believe that God would destroy two whole cities for having bad manners? What could explain God's execution of mass capital punishment on these people? Amazingly enough we find in Leviticus 20:13 that homosexuality was deserving of the death penalty. There is no prohibition in the OT against inhospitality, yet alone death as a prescribed form of judgment against it. The argument of inhospitality is further weakened by the fact that the inhospitality of the Sodomites is only implied in Genesis 19. The only thing explicitly stated in the text is the Sodomites' homosexual behavior. It would only make sense that this was made explicit to highlight why it was that God had determined to destroy these wicked cities.

It has been argued with me that if Christians wish to take the Old Testament condemnation of homosexuality seriously, they also need to take its prescription for punishment seriously: death. The fact that Christians do not believe homosexuals ought to be put to death indicates that we do not consider the Biblical teaching on homosexuality to be entirely authoritative, and thus have no basis on which to say that the condemnation of homosexuality is authoritative either. I believe that is the gist of your argument.

This argument fails on two grounds: logical, Biblical. From a logical perspective, at best such a point would only demonstrate that Christians are inconsistent in their application of the Biblical teaching. The real problem, however, is Biblical.

The Bible is clear that the Mosaic Covenant has been replaced by the New Covenant. While there are some similarities between the two covenants, this is not one of them. The Law of Moses was a contract between God and Israel to govern their life in the land of Canaan, both spiritually and politically (a theocratic kingdom).

The New Covenant serves an entirely different purpose. The New Covenant governs our spirituality, not our politics. While the New Testament is clear that God has ordained human government to punish evil and commend the good (Romans 13:1-7) it does not speak to how that punishment ought to be carried out for particular moral crimes, or the degree of punishment. It would seem that those decisions are given to the state. It is clear, however, that under the New Covenant sins are not punished in the same way they were under the Mosaic Covenant because the New Covenant is a spiritual, not a political-social covenant.

It would be a mistake, then, to say that as a Christian, I am not obeying my own Scripture, or being arbitrary in what parts of the Bible I keep. Each passage of Scripture must be evaluated within its historical and covenantal context, and be applied appropriately.

Not all commands in Scripture apply equally for all people and all times (but are specific to a covenant), whereas others do. For example, while I am not obligated to build an ark, I am obligated to abstain from murder. Christians do not believe in exercising capital punishment for homosexuality because we are not under the covenant that once prescribed such a punishment. Christians are not ignoring those Old Testament passages, but are properly interpreting them within their context and applying them appropriately. The same goes for the dietary laws, and the garment laws that are typically referenced in this dicussion as well(Romans 14:1-7, 20; See Galatians 3:19-26; 4:8-12; Colossians 2:14-17).

I am against homosexuality, not merely because the Bible says it is deplorable, but because it is unnatural, unhealthy, and puts children at risk. Any sane person in society ought to be concerned about the same, if not for religious reasons, but for secular reasons. The only reason I can see to promote homosexual behavior is either ignorance of its social ramifications, or because one confuses a condemnation of homosexual behavior with a condemnation of the homosexual persons themselves.

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