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Debating Bible Basics Duncan Heaster  

 


11.2.1 Gay Christian Arguments Considered

1. Genesis 2:24

" The account of creation...is concerned to explain why things are as they are and why they happen as they do...the patriarchal orientation of the passage is obvious...no mention is made of woman's sexual desires, nor is any account taken of people who are incapable or deprived of sexual companionship or who are attracted to their own sex...this passage neither commands nor presumes a " monogamous" relationship between men and women and it offers no comment on " marriage" as such. " (25)

Both Jesus and Paul cited the Genesis record as the basis of the Christian attitude to marriage. They made no distinction between homosexual 'marriage' and heterosexual marriage; they speak as if there was self-evidently only one type of sexual drive and only one type of marriage, i.e. heterosexual marriage. The Genesis account is history, not explicit command, and yet the principles revealed there are used in the New Testament as the basis for the true Christian understanding of marriage. The Bible is not a rule book; it is largely Divinely-recorded history, the principles of which are intended to be applied by us in our lives. Thus the New Testament does not explicitly condemn rape and bestiality, but we are intended to shun these things on account of our understanding of the principles of Genesis. Likewise the NT statements concerning the place of women in the community of believers are only repeating the essential principles laid down in Genesis. It is evident from the gay 'Christian' denial of the implications of the Genesis record that the real target of homosexuality is the family- which is the God-intended unit for social organization amongst His people.

To imply that the Genesis record is biased against women and homosexuals is to accuse God of bias; for Genesis is ultimately His word. Again, the gay 'Christian' position is driven to see God's word as the word of men, rather than of an ultimately just God. Whilst the Genesis record may not explicitly command heterosexual marriage, it certainly presumes a monogamous relationship between man and woman. Otherwise, why is there no record of any other partner being created to meet Adam's need? " It is not good that the man (Heb. adam) should be alone" (Gen. 2:18) refers specifically to Adam's need; a woman was made for him, not another man.

2. The Men of Sodom (Gen. 19:1-25)

" This is not a story about homosexual behaviour in general- and certainly not a story about homosexual acts performed by consenting adults. It is a story about the intent to do violence to strangers...not one of the biblical references to the story makes a point of the homosexual character of the intended rape...(they describe Sodom's) greed and indifference to those in need...inhospitality in general...the city's destruction serves as a reminder of what happens to those who disobey God's will (Ez. 16:49; Mt. 10:12-15; 11:23,24). " (26).

D.S.Bailey claims that the desire to " know" the visitors was only a desire to get better acquainted. He reasons that only 12 times out of 943 does it imply sexual intercourse (27).

" To know" is evidently being used as an idiom for intercourse. This is widely understood by the more common translations: Gen. 19:5 " have sex with" (NIV), " have intercourse with" (NEB). In the same context, we read that Lot's daughters had not " known" men- clearly this refers to 'knowing' in a sexual sense; they were virgins. Thus Gen. 19:8 is rendered " slept with" by the NIV. Context, not number of times a word is used in a certain way, must determine the meaning of a word. The Hebrew word yada is used of men having intercourse with women (Gen. 4:1,17,25; 24:16; 38:26; 1 Sam. 1:19; Jud. 19:25; 1 Kings 1:4); of women having intercourse with men (Gen. 19:8; Num. 31:17,18,35; Jud. 11:39; 21:11). In none of these cases can it simply mean 'to know' in a social sense. It should also be noted that " a sexual meaning for " know" is not limited to Hebrew (but also occurs in other Middle Eastern languages). The Egyptian equivalent is rh and the Ugaritic is yd. Both may mean " to know sexually" in certain contexts. The Aramaic yeda has the same breadth of meaning as the Hebrew" (28). It may be that euphemism rather than direct statement concerning homosexuality is used in Gen. 19:5 because it was more appropriate for unnatural sexual relationships. 2 Pet. 2:7-10 (NASB) links Sodom with " sensual conduct of unprincipled men...lawless deeds.. those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires" . This doesn't really sound like the sin of inhospitality. Ez. 16:48-50 describes Sodom's sin as an " abomination" (Heb. toeba); and this word occurs again in Lev. 18:22; 20:13 in a homosexual context. The Septuagint (LXX) translates Gen. 19:5,8 (" to know" ) by synginomai , which is used in Gen. 39:10 to describe sexual intercourse, and it is used in this sense by Xenophon, Plato, Herodotus and Plutarch.

3. Lev. 18:22 and 20:13

" The Holiness Code here...reflects ancient Israel's concern for purity...This is the cultural background against which the prohibitions of Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 must be understood. " (29)

" One reinterpretation maintains that in the Jewish mind homosexuality was associated with idolatry...cultic fertility rites...male and female prostitutes" . Quoted in Greg Bahnsen (30).

Some have even doubted whether there is any reference to homosexuality in the Law of Moses, seeing that it was unknown in the surrounding world. This is untrue; there is much extra-Biblical evidence to the contrary (James de Young, op cit). " The historical fact is that in Canaanite culture, homosexuality was practices as both a religious rite and a personal perversion...Israel's pagan neighbours knew both secular and sacred homosexuality" (Bahnsen p 45). We would therefore expect God to specifically prohibit sacred homosexuality, if in fact this is all He was critical of. But instead, there is a general condemnation of the practice, which shows that God did not draw a distinction between sacred and personal homosexuality.

Mt. 19:12

" The " eunuchs from birth" are interpreted to be " constitutional homosexuals" (Quoted in Bahnsen, op cit).

My comment is: why ever assume that, from an open minded reading of the Gospels? A eunuch " for the sake of the (Gospel of the) Kingdom" is someone who has voluntarily dedicated their life to the Gospel and therefore resigned the consideration of marriage. It has nothing to do with the way a person is born.

Rom. 1:26,27

" In these chapters, Paul is not tying to specify what Christians should or should not do...the belief expressed by Paul in Romans...accords with certain presuppositions about " homosexuality" that were widespread in the Greco-Roman world...it was universally presupposed that anyone who sought intercourse with a partner of the same sex was willfully overriding his or her own " natural" desire for the opposite sex. There was no conception of what modern research calls " sexual orientation" ...the presupposition that same-sex intercourse is a free and deliberate choice is reflected in Paul's references to women who " exchanged natural intercourse" .." . The argument is that Paul was not addressing the issue of the behaviour of those born with a certain sexual orientation, he couldn't conceive of this at his time, therefore this passage doesn't address it. His description of homosexuality as " unnatural" is seen as evidence that he was writing within a framework which assumed that everyone is naturally attracted to those of the opposite sex. The Bible has nothing to say " about homosexuality understood as a " condition" since the ancient world had no conception of anything like sexual orientation" .

" In Rom. 1:27a... the punctiliar aorist participle aphentes could suggest a specific past point of transition from heterosexual to homosexual activity" .

Quotes from Furnish, op cit.

This assumes that the surrounding view of homosexuality was the view Paul reflected when writing. Again, note how Furnish says that Paul is not speaking about right and wrong. This is the logical conclusion of all these objections; that effectively, we are without Law. This is a heresy which the NT repeatedly attacks; for sin is lawlessness (1 Jn. 3:4). But Paul was not writing solely within the limits of his perceptions. He was a pen-man for God's Spirit; and God's word is not influenced by the surrounding conceptions of sexuality. Often it is claimed that permanency, mutuality etc. make homosexual relationships acceptable. But on this logic, so would bestiality, incest, adultery etc. be acceptable if these characteristics are found in them.

The connotation of past time is not necessary to the aorist participle at all. The verb signifies a resultant condition, not a definite act of sexual conversion.

This argument hinges on the assumption that " homosexual love and devotion" was not a model of homosexuality that was known in the first century- we are asked to believe that prostitution was the only model of homosexuality then known. But evidence for this is lacking.

If the Bible condemns homosexuality in ignorance of the fact that some are born homosexual, then we are in a position where the Bible- God's word, remember- condemned innocent people. There would have been 'constitutional homosexuals' in the first century as much as today, if such a category exists. If passages like Rom. 1 condemn homosexuality in ignorance of this fact, then they condemned innocent people. This is an unacceptable position.

The claim is made that " nature" means orientation, current convention / custom (as in 1 Cor. 11:14), and therefore homosexuality is not an inversion of the natural order but only of social custom in the first century.

Philo and Josephus use " against nature" in connection with homosexual intercourse (Philo, Spec. Leg. 3:39; Josephus, Against Apion 2.273). Physis (" nature" ) is used in classical Greek for 'origin, birth' or " the natural form or constitution of a person, animal or thing" (31). Biblically, physis refers to people's essential nature: the Gentiles by " nature" are uncircumcised (Rom. 2:27; Gal. 2:15); the idols were by nature not God (Gal. 4:8); an olive tree grows 'naturally' (Rom. 11:21,24).

The context of Rom. 1:26 concerns God and His creation (1:19-23); the implication is that going " against nature" involves going against God's intended order in creation.

Lesbianism is made parallel to male perversion (" likewise" ). Seeing that lesbianism was usually between consenting adults, it cannot be that Paul is only condemning pederasty. If he was, surely he would have explicitly said so. " Paul in his choice of language seems to have deliberately avoided the plethora of terms current to denote pederasty; if he had wanted to condemn only pederasty...he went a very odd way about it" (32). To suggest that Paul condemned homosexuality but actually had in mind only pederasty is rather like saying that Paul condemned the use of prostitutes in 1 Cor. 6:16, but actually he was only referring to some prostitutes. The fact is, he condemned using prostitutes, and that's that. And likewise with his condemnation of homosexuality. When God allows for qualifications and mitigating circumstances in obeying His laws, these are laid down clearly, and not left to our own speculation and later historical research. Yet there is never any hint of such mitigations when the sin of homosexuality is mentioned in the Bible.

" Toward one another" , " men with men" , " in themselves" , " their error" suggest that both parties to the sexual act were mutually culpable. This would be inappropriate if Paul was only condemning the use of child prostitutes.


General Objections

1. To be born with a gay sexual orientation is an issue not addressed in the Bible, because this condition was unknown in Bible times. To be born this way and act accordingly " is morally neutral, the ethical equivalent of being born lame or accidentally handicapped" (quoted in Bahnsen op cit.). Robin Scroggs (33) claims to believe the Bible as authoritative " but it simply does not address the issues involved...Biblical judgments against homosexuality are not relevant to today's debate" because pederasty (gay sex with minors) was the only model of homosexual activity known in the culture which surrounded the early Bible writers. This is what was condemned. It is argued that Paul assumed that all homosexual behaviour was associated with exploitation of someone else's sexuality and therefore was to be condemned.

Pederasty was not the only form of homosexuality known in New Testament times. " Homosexuality among the Greeks is well attested...as a normal and valuable relationship, chiefly associated with private tuition and the concept of friendship" (34). The fact the New Testament condemns homosexuality without distinguishing between pederasty and other kinds of homosexuality indicates that God is not only against pederasty; if this were the case, He would have singled it out specifically. Plato spoke of homosexuality as an ideal expression of love (in The Symposium), which further proves that pederasty was not the only form of homosexuality known at the time.

The Bible condemns homosexuality (1 Cor. 6:9 RSV) without commenting on models of homosexual activity. Rom. 1 describes homosexuality as being against nature, i.e. unnatural (Rom. 1:26,27); the Biblical focus is on the wrongness of homosexual lust and action, not on the wrongness of certain types of homosexuality. The logical error must be observed:

1. There are different types of homosexuality in God's eyes

2. The Bible condemns homosexuality

3. Therefore the Bible only condemns one type of homosexuality

4. Therefore other types of homosexuality are O.K.

This whole sequence of reasoning starts with the unproven premise that in God's eyes there are different kinds of homosexuality; and also with a desire to justify some forms of homosexuality. Again, men have refused to be led to truth by open minded study of God's word. If we start with what the Bible says rather than unproven human theory, we come to the opposite conclusion:

1. The Bible condemns homosexual lust and acts

2. The Bible does not recognize different kinds of homosexuality

3. The Bible is our only source of truth about God, therefore we have no reason to think that God recognizes different kinds of homosexuality

4. Therefore all homosexual lust and acts are wrong in God's eyes.


2. It's OK in the conscience of gay Christians, so let them into the church.

Our conscience is not going to jump out of us and stand and judge us at the day of judgment. There is one thing that will judge us, the word of the Lord (Jn. 12:48), not how far we have lived according to our conscience. We need to define 'conscience'. It seems to be used by gay Christians (and others) as effectively meaning 'our inner feelings'. Whether people live according to their inner convictions is not the standard of acceptability with God. We are warned time and again that the human heart is so deceptive that we do not know how evil it is (Jer. 17:9); it is the human heart (not a supernatural 'devil') which leads us into sin and temptation (Mk. 7:15, 21-23; James 1:13-15). Paul says that although he does not feel he has done anything wrong, this does not of itself mean that he is justified in God's sight (1 Cor. 4:4). We cannot, therefore, place too much importance on living according to our natural sense of right and wrong. Effectively, gay 'Christians' are interpreting the Bible in the light of their own wayward desires, rather than allowing themselves to be taught by God's word. They are giving more credibility to what they perceive to be guidance coming from within them, than to God's word of Truth. The words of the Lord Jesus in Lk. 11:35 seem especially relevant: " Take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness" .

And yet there is Bible teaching concerning the need to live in accordance with our 'conscience', and the joy which is possible for the believer who has a clear conscience (e.g. Acts 24:16; Rom. 14:18-22; 2 Cor. 1:12; 1 Jn. 3:21). This must mean, in the context, the conscience which God's word has developed in us- it cannot refer to 'conscience' in the sense of our natural, inbuilt sense of right and wrong; because according to the Bible, this is hopelessly flawed. The fact the " conscience" is " cleansed" by Christ's sacrifice (Heb. 9:14; 10:22) proves that the Biblical 'conscience' is not the natural sense of right and wrong within our nature; for our nature can never be 'purged' or 'cleansed', the believer will always have those promptings within him to do wrong. The cleansed, purged conscience refers to the new man that is created within the believer at baptism. This new 'conscience' is not just a sense of guilt which is invoked on account of not living an obedient life; it is also a conscience which positively compels us to do something, not just threatens us with a pang of guilt if we commit a sin.

Thus when Christians claim to be 'conscientious objectors' to military service, we are not only saying that our conscience will prick us unacceptably if we bear arms; we are making a positive statement that our conscience, the new man that has been developed in us by God's word, compels us to positively live a life of love and non-resistance to evil, which compulsion in itself excludes us from taking life.


3. It is claimed that there are few references to homosexual behaviour in the Bible, and therefore it is not an issue with which God is especially concerned.

The frequence of reference to something in the Bible is not a criteria as to its' importance. Thus rape is rarely condemned in the Bible, Christ and Paul never condemn it, but this doesn't mean it is acceptable. Such reasoning stems from an approach to the Bible which treats it like an uninspired human text book, where frequency of reference is related to importance. But this is not the case with the word of God. He is altogether above such analysis. Thus we are told that water baptism is essential for salvation, but it is only explicitly commanded a few times. The implication of the objection is that if God only says something once or twice, we don't need to take it seriously. Thus through devaluing God's word we devalue God, and bring Him down to a human level, because we see His word as we would human words.


4. Boswell (35) argues that homosexuality was tolerated in the church until the mid-thirteenth century, when the church retrojected a negative view of homosexuality into its reading of scripture and church history.

Boswell's claims have been widely criticized and refuted. Even those who praise Boswell's " courage" have criticized him for misquoting and misinterpreting texts out of their contexts (36). " The church fathers universally condemned male homosexual behaviour...the teaching mind of the early church unreservedly condemned homosexuality" (37).

" A range of authors including Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa...the authors of the Apostolic Constitutions, John Chrysostom and Augustine all expressed sharp disapproval of homosexual behaviour...homosexuality was denounced as " wickedness...contrary to nature" (Apostolic Constitutions 7.2)...during the period of early Christianity, at two prominent councils of the early church, Elvira in Spain (305 C.E.) and Ancyra in Asia Minor (314 C.E.), homosexuals had been denied baptism...until they renounced their behaviour...at the Council of London at Westminster in 1102 C.E. those engaging in " the shameful sin of Sodomy" were condemned by anathema" (38) .

In the light of all this evidence, the question must be asked: Why is there such a desire to twist the evidence? A related question is why so many studies aiming to prove the 'born gay' theory have been found to be faulty (see below); and why the surveys which aim to prove that a relatively high percentage are born gay have been demonstrably 'rigged'. It all indicates that the researchers and theologians are being driven to support their preconceived theories rather than being led empirically by genuine Biblical and psychiatric research.


Notes

(25) Victor Furnish, 'The Bible And Homosexuality: Reading The Texts In Context', in Jeffrey Siker (Ed.), Homosexuality In The Church (Louisville, KY: John Knox, 1994).

(26) Furnish, op cit.

(27) D.S. Bailey, Homosexuality And The Western Christian Tradition (London: Longmans, 1955).

(28) James de Young, Biblical Sanctions Against Homosexuality, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Vol. 34 No. 2, June 1991 pp157-177.).

(29) Furnish, op cit. Supported by Thomas Thurston, " Leviticus 18:22 and the prohibition of homosexual acts" in Michael Stemmeler (Ed.), Homophobia And The Judaeo-Christian Tradition (Dallas, TX: Monument Press, 1990).

(30) Greg Bahnsen, Homosexuality: A Biblical View (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1978).

(31) James de Young, The Meaning Of " Nature" In Romans 1, Journal Of The Evangelical Theological Society, Vol. 31 (4) (1988) pp 429-441.

(32) David Wright: Homosexuality: The Relevance Of The Bible, Evangelical Quarterly, Vol. 61 No. 4 (1989) pp291-300.

(33) Robin Scroggs, The New Testament And Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983).

(34) Peter Coleman, Christian Attitudes To Homosexuality (London: SPCK, 1980), p. 120.

(35) John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance And Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980).

(36) Robert Wright, Boswell on Homosexuality: A Case Undemonstrated, Anglican Theological Review, Vol. 66 (1984) pp 79-94; Michael Sheehan, Christianity And Homosexuality, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 33 (1982) pp 438-446.

(37) David Wright, " Homosexuality" , in E. Ferguson, ed. Encyclopedia Of Early Christianity (London: Garland, 1990), p. 435.

(38) Marion Soards, Scripture And Homosexuality (Louisville, KY: John Knox, 1995), pp 38-40.


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