Christian Apologetics and Homosexuality: Both the Old and New Testaments Prohibit Homosexuality

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?

The Question

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:

  1. Christians claim the Bible forbids homosexuality. Check. The questioner and I agree here.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Some Answers

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.

Christian Apologetics and Homosexuality: A Twist to the Separation of Church and Hate

Hate Speech

“Homophobe!”

That moniker seems to be synonymous with “Christian” in today’s culture. Granted, not all homophobes are Christians, but all Christians are homophobes—goes the accusation. I remember hearing the word for the first time only a few short years ago and wondering what it meant. The term, homophobia, is defined this way: “unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality.” I certainly don’t “fear” homosexuals. That’s why I was confused by the “phobia” part of that word. It’s the second part of the definition that is the real heart of the matter…antipathy. “Antipathy” can simply mean “a strong feeling of dislike.” But, how strong is “strong?” You see “antipathy” is the sophisticated word for “hate.” For the record, according to Wright, Adams, and Bernat’s Homophobia scale, I’m not a homophobe. Whew! That test is from 1996; so I wonder if the criteria have changed since then and who knows, maybe I am now. The media sure does seem to accuse me of it, only because I’m Christian and I agree with the Bible that says homosexuality is sin. Can I be off the homophobe list since my position is reasoned and thus doesn’t fit the dictionary definition?

See, “Christians are homophobic! Because you think it is sin!” (The exclamation points there are purposeful.) I get the impression from the world around me that to be a homophobe (a.k.a. Christian) is much more offensive than the lesser degree of “antipathy” would subsume. The harsh reality is that we Christians are told all the time that we are haters and that haters are gonna hate. I just did a Google search using the phrase “homophobic Christians” and I had no shortage of articles posted within the last 24 hours that support my claim. I picked this article because it came up near the top of my search. It’s harsh. And it’s somewhat related to one purpose of my website Head & Heart Ministries, namely Christian Counseling. Here’s the opening sentence of that article:

“When it comes to issues involving homosexuality, you can depend on The Gleaner to be incendiary, ruthlessly strident, rhetorically reckless and fiercely opposed to conservative Christianity, which it dismisses scornfully with the conversation-stopper ‘fundamentalist.’”

We Christians are very much hated and despised. Is “Christophobia” a word? According to my spell checker, it is not.

Thus far, I’ve made the case that not only are Christians accused of hate, but the other side can demonstrate a great deal of antipathy toward Christians. So, perhaps I am becoming truly homophobic after all. I mean, maybe I should fear homosexuals and those sympathetic to their social cause. What are these vitriolic people, represented by The Gleaner, going to do to me for being a Christian? The rhetoric is escalating toward hostility it seems. You seem to hate me because you think I hate you, when I don’t. I just disagree with you. That’s where I’m coming from.

[Going forward, I’ll not mention groups like The Gleaner anymore if you promise to not mention Westboro Baptist Church (boy, is it hard to use “Church” in that context).]

Some Civil Discourse

Now that I’ve gotten all of that name-calling and hate speech over with…can we bring the rhetoric down a few notches and have a civil and constructive discourse going forward? Truly, that’s what I want to accomplish in this blog series. I want to amicably and positively contribute to the larger conversation and appeal to the LGBTQ community who think Christians hate you. And I want to rebuke and admonish any Christians who do hate. You both have it wrong. It is my desire to sound a clarion call for the Separation of Church and Hate.

The rest of this blog series is going to deal with one question that was recently posed to me. It will address both of my anticipated audiences, namely, those sympathetic to the LGBTQ cause who may have wondered the same thing and Christians who may be stumped by the question. Here’s the question:  How can Christians claim the Bible forbids homosexual acts, but then ignore all the other Old Testament laws?

Before I analyze that question in the upcoming posts, I will speak to how dealing with this question helps my cause of calling for the Separation of Church and Hate.

The question is asked from the perspective of the LGBTQ (May I use those letters as shorthand for the opposing view?). It can be taken two ways. First, it could be a legitimate question asked by someone who really wants to understand a seemingly inconsistent Christian doctrine. Second, it could just be a “gotcha” question meant rhetorically and asked merely to buttress another entrenched belief that all Christians are hypocrites. To the first type, my explanation should provide you with a good amount of biblical, historical, and theological analysis to satisfy your curiosity. To the second type, I hope you will stay with me to the end and at least be persuaded that some of us Christians are genuine, civil, reasoning people who do not fit the stereotype of being haters.

A Brief Bio for the Cause

  • Failure Analysis Engineer
  • Dallas Theological Seminary
  • Dallas Reformed Baptist Church

These three bullet points of my background are key ingredients in my life that have shaped me and thoroughly inform the way I’ve approached this question. As a Senior FA Engineer in the semiconductor industry, I analyze things to death. I get handed a device that someone says has a problem. The first thing I do is determine if there really is a problem. If there is, I proceed on an investigative journey of troubleshooting, asking questions, and looking for clues that will point me to the failure. Once I’ve located where the problem is, I deconstruct it layer-by-layer paying attention to the subtlest of details until I’ve identified the mechanism causing the failure. I’ve analyzed this question and yep…I’ve found some problems with it.

When I was very young, my parents took me to Southern Baptist churches. I saw things there and within myself, as a sinner, that bothered me. In my early teens I switched to a Bible Church to get more of God’s word. Up until I was 30 years old I considered myself a “Premillennial Dispensationalist.” I went to the only seminary I knew of, thinking I’d finally understand what that meant. I include Dallas Theological Seminary in the bullet points only to represent popular evangelical doctrine. I see that in the question.

It was at that fine institution where I first began to come to my own doctrinal convictions. I studied Historical Theology and Bible Exposition. I analyzed the Bible and theology and I changed. I became a Reformed Baptist. That was a pretty big change. It came with a high price too. It cost me friends and strained family relationships. It cost affiliations with the only churches I had ever known and dearly loved. Perhaps you know something about a change in your life that caused you heartache. Analysis that forces you to corrective action often causes pain. Reformed Theology is my answer to the question.

In the next post, I’ll begin my analysis of the question: How can Christians claim the Bible forbids homosexual acts, but then ignore all the other Old Testament laws?