Since I’m writing in the public square on the topic of homosexuality from a Christian apologetic, the first blog post (below) addressed the “elephant in the room” in order to hopefully get the obstacle of “homophobia” out of the way. My aim was to point out the following: the duplicity of those who falsely accuse Christians of hate—ergo “the separation of church and hate”; to show that I am not a ranting and myopic blowhard, nor am I like many Christians who are now capitulating to the culture and embracing homosexuality with apologies. I also aim to prevent Christians from being lulled into apathy by the poppy seed field of cultural immersion. That, I fear, is the most dangerous possibility for the Church.
If you are inclined to tune me out because of the title of this installment, I urge you to reconsider and please allow me the opportunity to state my case and then determine if it has merit—even if you disagree. It is a difficult balance in this world of ours to walk the tightrope of showing that we really do care about people while also saying, “But God says homosexuality is sin.” If I say it, you may either run away or hold up your fists. But if I don’t say it, then I’m being disingenuous and unfaithful to the Word of God. Any Christian who sacrifices the “sin” part of the Gospel on the altar of so-called “love” or “political correctness” abandons the message of the Gospel. Conversely, any Christian who does not approach people with grace AND truth is not being like Jesus. Do you see the difficulty—that loving your enemies acknowledges the Christophobe is an enemy (that’s Bible language) but an enemy to be loved and shown genuine kindness?
I will now finally get to the point of this second post which is to analyze a common biblical and theological question about Christianity and homosexuality:
How can Christians claim the Bible forbids homosexual acts, but then ignore all the other Old Testament laws?
The quick answer to this question is, “They can’t.” or “They shouldn’t.”
That begs the next question, “Why not?”
My hunch is those of the LGBTQ would also answer it that way. They would do so because they see duplicity (hypocrisy) between Christian doctrine and practice. That accusation sometimes takes the form of, “You say the Bible forbids homosexuality, but it also forbids eating shellfish and you don’t have a problem eating shrimp.” I first heard this argument in a blasphemous video circulating on the internet during California’s Proposition 8 vote. In their mind, all would be right in the world if the Christian would simply be consistent and ignore the Old Testament law prohibiting homosexuality too. But consistent Christianity is not their true concern. What is really being stated is, “Since Christians ignore Old Testament laws, then they have to ignore (accept) homosexuality.” The agenda is clearly to demand universal acceptance.
I also answer the question in the negative, but for a very different reason. The question simply does not accurately represent historic, orthodox Christian doctrine. Here’s my analysis of the question:
- Christians claim the Bible forbids homosexuality. Check. The questioner and I agree here.
- Correlating homosexuality with “other” Old Testament law infers it is strictly an Old Testament law and is not prohibited in the New Testament. That’s a failure in the question.
- Christians ignore Old Testament laws. There’s the major error. It’s bad doctrine and it simply isn’t true of Christians, from the past and in the present.
Let’s look at the first two of those three points.
First: Christians claim the Bible forbids homosexuality. Indeed the Bible does. The clearest prohibition is found in Leviticus 18. In the context of prohibiting incest, adultery, child sacrifices, and bestiality, verse 22 states, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female.” You cannot get any more direct than that.
Recent objections to this claim include a notion that King David and Jonathan, the son of King Saul, were gay. This stems from the Bible’s clear account of their uniquely close friendship. 1 Samuel 18:1 “…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul….Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.” Then following this verse, it recounts “And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David….” It is assumed here that Jonathan was naked and made a sexually provocative act.
Such an interpretation is a clear case of reading a desired viewpoint into the scriptures (eisegesis) rather than extracting what the Scripture says for itself (exegesis). The fact that this is a modern interpretation indicates that Biblical scholarship for the last two millennia and beyond never saw it— and that’s because it just isn’t there. I am aware of no credible extra-biblical sources, rabbinical sources, nor of any evidence in Judaism that supports this aberrant view. My cultural argument is that such an interpretation once again shows the double standards of our society. It is highly offensive and sexist to not allow men to have dear, close, and thoroughly non-sexual friendships.
Secondly, the position that the prohibition of homosexuality is relegated to the Old Testament exclusively is an easy fallacy to rebut. The New Testament firmly upholds the prohibition as seen in the teaching of Christ and the Apostle Paul. For your reference, this brief video of Pastor Voddie Baucham provides succinct and lucid arguments supporting the case of Jesus’ position on homosexuality.
Granted, Jesus never said “Homosexuality continues to be a sin in the New Covenant.” But neither did He say, “Homosexuality is no longer a sin.” Nor did He say, “Homosexuality was never a sin.” So then, how did He address it? Jesus prohibited it by affirming the opposite, the thoroughgoing Biblical principle that men and women were created to marry for life. This was said in the context of disallowing easy divorces. Jesus prohibited divorce except for cases of infidelity (porneia in Greek), more broadly, all sexual immorality, as set forth in Old Testament. (Hat tip again to Pastor Voddie Baucham and The Village Church’s article on this which cites several Greek Lexicons for reference.)
In the next installment, I will contend that it is false to say Christians ignore Old Testament law; but if any do, they are simply out-of-step with historic, orthodox Christian doctrine, the Apostle Paul, and Christ Himself.