Homosexuality and the Bible 3

bible-lightFor the last several weeks I have been writing on the subject of the Bible and Homosexuality. This study is for Christians who believe that the Bible is God’s Word and who desire to submit to its authority. Thus our main concern isn’t whether a person can be born again and gay, but whether the homosexual lifestyle is right or wrong from a biblical perspective. The issue isn’t whether gay Christians can worship God, but whether that experience is based upon Spirit and Truth. The issue isn’t whether a gay Christian couple can have a monogamous relationship, but whether that relationship conforms to the Word of God. The issue isn’t whether gay Christians can change, but whether we are all willing to be obedient to God whether He changes us or not.

Let’s look at our next passage and state how it has been traditionally interpreted, see how it has been reinterpreted, and the assess the reinterpretation: LEVITICUS 18:22; 20:13

Traditional Interpretation: This section of Scripture deals with unlawful sexual relationships and the punishment of such sin within the Covenant community. Homosexual relationships are included in this list of those activities which were an abomination to God and punishable by death.

Reinterpretation: In a pamphlet published by the Metropolitan Community Church, Homosexuality: Not a Sin, Not a Sickness, it says that the Hebrew word for abomination found in Leviticus is usually associated with idolatrous practices. Therefore, the issue addressed in these verses wasn’t homosexuality per se but the idolatrous practices of the surrounding nations that included homosexual and heterosexual prostitution. So what was being called abominable and punishable by death was not the kind of homosexual relationships we see today but those practiced as a part of idol worship.

Another interpretation along this same line essentially says, that the prohibition here against homosexuality is a part of the ceremonial law having to do with ritual uncleanness. It is to be treated on the same level as the prohibition against having sex with a woman during her period, the eating of uncooked meat, and the ritual uncleanness of a man who has a wet dream, etc.

Appraisal: Let me take the last interpretation first: It is true that there are many things in this section of Leviticus which were part of the Ceremonial Law and are no longer in effect since they prefigured the grace of God in Jesus Christ. He is the One who would in his own obedience and death make us clean from the inside out; “The blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death so that we may serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:13, 14). However, we understand that the prohibition of homosexual activity is part of the moral law (not ceremonial) because it is included in the context with other sins of a definitive moral nature e.g. incest (18:6-17), bigamy (18:18), adultery (18:20), child sacrifice (18:21), bestiality (18:23). Another reason why we believe that the prohibition against homosexuality is a part of the moral law is that it is repeated in the New Testament, whereas the ceremonial law is not (Rom.1:26, 27; 1 Cor.6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:8-10). As to the practice of the death penalty for the sin of homosexuality (or any of the others just mentioned), it has been served by Christ. Even Christ himself doesn’t enforce it on the woman caught in adultery.

As to the interpretation which considers that the type of homosexuality mentioned in Leviticus a form of idolatrous practice and not what we have today: the word for abomination (toevah) is not always used to describe idolatrous practices. Prov. 6:16-19 “These six things doth the Lord hate; yea seven are an abomination unto him…a proud look, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, swift feet in running towards mischief, a false witness which speaks lie, and he who sows discord among the brethren.” So, if these practices mentioned in Leviticus 18 are condemned because of their association with idolatry, then could we say that these same practices are acceptable if committed apart from idolatry? I don’t think any serious interpreter of Scripture would ever allow that incest; adultery, child sacrifice and bestiality could ever be permissible. Therefore, contextually, why should homosexuality be permissible?

Next week: ROMANS 1:26, 27

Homosexuality and the Bible 2

bible-lightLast week I mentioned that during the last 35 years, there has been a growing movement within the evangelical community to affirm the homosexual lifestyle. This movement has gained momentum from the increasing acceptance of homosexuality within our own culture. There has been an appeal to Scripture and a reinterpretation of some passages traditionally used to condemn homosexual activity. Since a proper understanding of what the Bible says is of utmost importance to how we live as followers of Jesus, regardless of what our culture advocates, it is essential that we interpret the Scriptures properly.

Over the next few weeks, I would like to look at some of the major passages of the Bible concerning homosexuality. I would like to show how these passages have been traditionally understood within the evangelical church, then how they have been reinterpreted to affirm the homosexual lifestyle. Finally I would like to respond accordingly with an appraisal. You will need your Bible to look up these passages for yourself. The next text is GENESIS 19:1-10:

Traditional View: The men of Sodom were trying to gain a sexual encounter with the men (angels) who came to visit Lot. This narrative has been so identified with homosexuality that the term sodomy has been commonly used to describe homosexual activity. Sodom was subsequently destroyed as a judgment against such perversity.

Reinterpretation: This passage does not even speak of homosexuality. Rather, Sodom was overthrown because of its “inhospitality” to strangers. Lot violated the custom of the city by entertaining guests without the permission of the village elders. Therefore, these men who came to Lot’s door were merely trying to find out the identity of the visitors. The word “to know” in verse five does not necessarily have sexual overtones. The Hebrew word yada is used 943 times in the Old Testament, only fourteen of those times does the term carry a sexual meaning. Elsewhere it is translated “to get acquainted with, to have knowledge of.” The judgment of God against Sodom is mentioned in the rest of Scripture for things other than homosexuality—i.e., pride, lack of concern for the poor, lying and adultery (Ezek.16:49; Jer.23:14).

Appraisal: Here we need a lesson in the three important aspects of biblical interpretation: context, content and correlation. First, in order to study the context you need to ask questions of the text: Why was Lot horrified that the strangers wanted to stay overnight in the town square? Why did Lot tell the men of Sodom, “please do not act wickedly” if all they wanted to do was to meet the strangers? Why did Lot offer his virgin daughters to the men of Sodom to rape? Why were the men of Sodom struck blind by the angels?

Second, as we look at the content we notice the term yada and see that it is used twelve times in Genesis and ten of those times it denotes sexual intercourse. In fact, just two verses after the men asked Lot to bring out the strangers so they might “know” them, Lot offered his daughters who had never “known” a man. So, the text seems to be saying that what we have is not so much an issue of inhospitality as much as a threat of homosexual rape.

Third, once you interpret the context and content of a passage you move to see how it stacks up with the rest of Scripture- how your interpretation correlates. We conclude that just because homosexuality was not the only sin for which Sodom was judged does not mean it wasn’t one of the sins that led to its destruction. It is true that Ezek.16:49 and Jer.23:14 mention such sins as adultery, lying, arrogance, lack of concern for the poor and needy. However, Ezek. 16:50, 2 Peter 2:7; Jude 7 mention “detestable things, sensual conduct, gross immorality and abomination.” So we conclude that the city was not destroyed only for the sin of homosexuality, but we can easily see that homosexuality was just one thread in the sinful tapestry of Sodom that merited God’s judgment, especially since they refused repentance.

Next week: LEVITICUS 18:22; 20:13

Homosexuality and the Bible – 1

bible-lightDuring the last 35 years, there has been a growing movement within the evangelical community to affirm the homosexual lifestyle. This movement has gained momentum from the increasing acceptance of homosexuality within our own culture. Note the most recent acceptance of a homosexuality-affirming group at Fuller Theological Seminary. There has been an appeal to the Scripture and a reinterpretation of some of the passages traditionally used to condemn homosexual activity.

Thus many a Christian man or woman who has struggled in secret with their sexual identity has read a book or a pamphlet, or heard a pastor teach on a new understanding of God’s perspective affirming homosexuality. Understandably, this has brought great freedom and relief to many of these strugglers. This newfound freedom has led them to share their discovery with others in the evangelical community often finding a response that is interpreted as unwelcoming and unenlightened. Therefore, a proper understanding of what the Bible says is of utmost importance to how we live as followers of Jesus regardless of what our culture advocates.

Over the next few blogs, I would like to look at some of the major passages of Scripture concerning homosexuality. I do not desire to be controversial, but simply appeal to Biblical thinking. I would like to show how these passages have been traditionally understood within the evangelical church, then how they have been reinterpreted to affirm the homosexual lifestyle, and finally I would like to respond accordingly with an appraisal. You will need your Bible to look up these passages for yourself. The first is GENESIS 1:27, 28; 2:18-24.

The Traditional View: This passage reveals God’s intention for human sexual relationships, which is limited to a heterosexual relationship within the context of marriage.

Reinterpretation: This passage does not forbid homosexual partnerships, it just doesn’t refer to them because a gay couple in the context of the Creation story could not fulfill the ordinance to be fruitful and multiply. However, this passage can’t be interpreted as a model for all relationships because there are so many exceptions: what about a childless heterosexual couple, what about a couple who cannot have sexual intercourse, what about a monogamous homosexual couple?

Appraisal: This Creation model for human sexual relationships is not only mentioned here but throughout the Old and New Testaments, which should give us a clue as to its normalcy. While it is true that other forms of sexual relationships like polygamy and concubinage (the cohabitation of people who are not legally married) were accommodated for and allowed by God for a time, not so with any form of homosexual relationship. Only the heterosexual relationship is consistently upheld as the ideal and a very picture of God’s relationship with Israel and Christ’s relationship to the Church. Not once in Scripture is the homosexual relationship mentioned in positive or even neutral terms.

While it is true that Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, this argument from silence leads nowhere as if Jesus tacitly approved but just didn’t mention it. Our Lord Jesus always spoke about sexuality in the context of God’s created purpose of uniting male and female in a complimentary relationship. He taught that heterosexual union in the context of marriage was the norm for divinely intended sexual behavior. Thus, just because a couple is childless or physically incapable of consummating their marriage does not make them any less married. Remember it was the partnership of marriage that God created at the beginning, not babies. And it is this life-long partnership between a man and woman that is a shadowy replica of Christ’s relationship to his Church.

Next Week: Genesis 19:1-10

How to prove a Wrestler is born that way…


Suppose my college wanted to do away with its wrestling program, and so I set about proving that such a move would discriminate against wrestlers because they were born that way. My proof would consist of the following:  (1) twin studies; (2) brain dissections; (3) gene “linkage” studies.

The basic idea in twin studies is to show that the more genetically similar two people are, the more likely it is that they will share the trait you are studying. So you identify groups of twins in which at least one is a wrestler. What I would probably find is that if one identical twin is a wrestler, his twin brother is statistically more likely be one, too. Let’s say I found a “concordance rate” of about 50% (the percentage of pairs in which both twins are wrestlers.) Pretty impressive, but unfortunately it wasn’t 100%. I can’t tell people the trait is inherited, but I can say it is “heritable.”

I call Sports Illustrated and tell them, “Our research demonstrates that wrestling is strongly heritable.” However, since people (like you) don’t know the difference between heritable and inherited, soon articles begin appearing in the school newspaper saying that wrestlers are probably born that way. No one other than people in the Biology Department notices the media’s inaccurate reporting.

Now the gory part—I move on conduct some brain research, which I can do because I minored in Biology. I perform a series of autopsies on the brains of some dead people who, I think wrestled at some point in their lives, and I measure the size of a certain part of their brain. Then I do the same with a group of dead non-wrestlers. I find that, on average, certain parts of the brain long thought to be involved with wrestling are much larger in the group of dead wrestlers.

The school newspaper goes crazy and carries a headline, “Wrestlers do not have a choice—even their brains are different!” At this news, basketball players everywhere have their suspicions confirmed about wrestlers. “I knew they were different.” However, even these basketball players are duped because what they are not told is that the brain changes with use. Those parts responsible for an activity get larger over time, and there are specific parts of the brain that are more utilized in wrestling. I know this, but I’m not going to tell anyone, certainly not basketball players, because we wrestlers have suffered at their hands for years having to practice in the cafeteria rather than in the gym.    

Finally, I will do a gene-linkage study. I gather a small number of families of wrestlers and compare them to some families of non-wrestlers. I already have a hunch that some of the genes  associated with wrestling (strength, athleticism, quick reflexes, good looks- maybe not), will be located on the x-chromosome. I cannot say these genes cause wrestling because such a claim would be scientifically insupportable, but the public thinks “caused by” and “associated with” are synonymous.

My research goes beyond the school newspaper and it gets picked up by a National Radio Affiliate and now my college can’t get rid of wrestling because everyone thinks wrestlers are born that way. No one pays attention to what the majority of respected scientists believe that wrestling is attributable to a combination of psychological, social, and biological factors.

I adapted this scenario from an article written on Narth.com Is There a Gay Gene?

Celebrate Our Godless Constitution

K-GodlessConstitutionYes, that was the title of a full-page add in the July 4 edition of the Chicago Tribune, sponsored by Foundation From Religious Freedom. It was entitled “Celebrate Our Godless Constitution.” Not only were many of the quotes of the founding fathers taken out of context, but the use of the term “godless” was very deceptive. It is like saying “so and so was sober today.” What does that lead you to think? It could imply that the person in question is usually drunk. It is true that not all of the founding fathers were Christians. It is also true that they firmly believed in the separation of church and state because of the religious oppression many of their forefathers and mothers experienced under a State Church in England. It is also true that many of the founders were not a part of any organized religion. However, to call them “godless” is simply a lie.

Among the signers of the Constitution quoted was Thomas Paine: “The revolutionary who gave the United States of America its very name and who fanned the flames of the American Revolution utterly repudiated Christianity and the bible. Paine wrote that ‘My religion is to do good’ and ‘My own mind is my own church.’” However to imply that he was godless is simply untrue. Paine was one of the founders of the Society of Theophilanthropists (lovers of God and man) which existed in Paris during and after the French Revolution. Their motto was “We believe in the existence of God, and in the immortal soul.”

Paine’s Age of Reason, which many believe to be an Atheistic work was written to oppose Atheism. In a letter to Samuel Adams, Paine said, “The people of France were running headlong into Atheism, and I had the work translated into their own language, to stop them in that career, and fix in them the first article of every man’s creed… I believe in God.” Though he is remembered for his vicious attack upon organized religion, he had a deep appreciation for the divine mystery and bristled at the way many religious groups demythologized God to achieve their own selfish ends at the expense of individual freedoms. There are some who believe that Paine recanted and had a death-bed conversion to Christianity, but there are no solid historical facts to back up that claim.

So why is it that so many people in our country were and are against religion and Christianity in particular? There are many reasons, but there is one that is hardly ever mentioned. In the closing chapters of CS Lewis’ Hideous Strength, Professor Frost is trying to initiate Mark Studdock into a diabolical movement designed to take over the world. On the floor lay a life-sized crucifix and Mark is told to trample on Jesus’ face and desecrate it in other ways. Mark is not a Christian and yet finds this command irrational and superstitious, so he refuses. Frost is angry and responds: “If you had been brought up in a non-Christian society, you would not be asked to do this. Of course, it is a superstition; but it is that particular superstition which has been pressed upon our society for a great many centuries. It can experimentally be shown that it still forms a dominant system in the subconscious of many individuals whose conscious thought appears to be wholly liberated. An explicit action in the reverse direction is therefore a necessary step towards complete objectivity.”

I am not going to tell you how the story works out, but in the helplessness of seeing Jesus on the cross, Mark begins to change. He begins to see what the diabolically crooked movements of this world do to those who are good and what they might do to him if he stepped on the “good man.”
Could it be that there is something diabolical behind the anti-Christian movements of our culture because “it (Christianity) still forms a dominant system in the subconscious of many individuals?” Could it also be that our Sovereign God is using this kind of “reverse direction” and irrational opposition to bring many to consider Christ through the “foolishness” of the cross?