Welcome to the first installment of “Ask the Pastor.” In this post, I’m going to talk about a picture of a chart which is making the rounds on the Internet, especially Facebook. The title of the chart is “So You Still Think Homosexuality is Sinful?” with the tag line of “And Therefore Gays Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Marry?” Here is that chart:
The question brought to me regarding this chart is pretty straightforward, “How do we answer the objections raised here?” In other words, when someone makes what sounds like a legitimate argument regarding the issue of homosexuality and what the Bible has to say about it or a related topic, how are we to respond? This is a great question which gets to the heart of what I hope we are able to do with these Ask the Pastor posts: When faced with the issues in our world today how are we as biblically faithful followers of Jesus Christ to think about and respond to them?
The bottom-line answer is really quite simple, we think, trust, and live according to what God’s word says. This statement is absolutely true, yet is somewhat incomplete. We must ask ourselves if the Bible is reliable and how do we find the assurance that our understanding of the Bible is correct. I do not wish to get side-tracked into a discussion of the apologetic for the reliability and veracity of the Bible. Perhaps that could be another post at another time. Suffice it to say that as Christians we place all our trust in God’s complete revelation found in the sixty-six books of the Bible. Upon that trust, we then embark upon diligent study of Scripture and develop our theological convictions. The consistency of right understanding is borne out in a logical cohesion of all biblical texts, proper understanding of the original languages and translation, the history of the time, and the continued witness of Christians throughout history. For example, we can assert much about the orthodox fact that God is triune–the Trinity–because we see numerous passages referencing our One great God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We also benefit from biblical linguistic scholars who have diligently studied the Hebrew and Greek to assure us of right understanding of the words in the Bible. We know of the history in which God revealed Himself, and we see established the unique nature of God in contrast to pagan religion. Finally, throughout church history Christians have come together and labeled any other description of God as unorthodox heresy. These same factors figure in to our understanding of what God says in His word about homosexuality.
For my focus here, I’m going to respond to each one of the reasons listed in the chart in rejecting homosexuality as sin thus advocating for same-sex marriage. I take them from left to right across the presentation of the chart:
- “Jesus Never Uttered A Word about Same-Sex Relationships”:
This is simply FALSE. Jesus has spoken at length regarding the immorality of homosexuality. He is part of the eternally triune God and as such is the author of ALL SCRIPTURE from Genesis to Revelation. Those passages in the Old and New Testaments outside the Gospels–in which are found specific prohibitions regarding homosexuality–are just as much the words of Jesus as are the ‘red letters’ found in many of our Bibles which are attributed to Him during His earthly ministry.
A similar ‘argument from silence,’ as the one attempted by the author of the chart, could be made that in those passages where Jesus spoke directly to the issue of marriage–such as Matthew 5:31-32; 19:1-12, etc.–He took no opportunity to affirm same-sex marriage as valid, which one would assume He would want to do, so as to not be misunderstood.
- “The O.T. Also Says It’s Sinful to Eat Shelfish, to Wear Clothes Woven with Different Fabrics, and to Eat Pork. Should We Still Live by O.T. Laws?”:
The question embodied in the final box of this section–“Should we still live by O.T. laws?”–does not have a simple yes-or-no answer, thus the question is ill-conceived and short-sighted. The reason the answer is not-so-simple lies in the fact that OT laws fall into three categories–civil, ceremonial, and moral. Civil laws applied to how Israel, as the people of God were to live within society. Ceremonial laws applied to matters of worship and special identity for Israel. Moral laws applied to right and wrong–what God calls righteous or sin. In the NT we read Scriptures which tell us that the ceremonial and many civil laws were no longer to be applied to God’s people (Acts 10:9-29; 11:1-14). Nowhere in the NT do we find nullification of the moral laws; in fact, Jesus Himself even shows us all just how deeply those laws still apply (Matthew 5:17-48).
- “The Original Language of the N.T. Actually Refers to Male Prostitution, Molestation, or Promiscuity, not Committed Same-Sex Relationships. Paul May Have Spoken Against Homosexuality, but He Also Said That Women Should Be Silent and Never Assume Authority Over A Man. Shall Modern-Day Churches Live by All of Paul’s Values?”
The answer to the question posed in the bottom box is ‘Yes.’ We’ll return to the reason for that answer in a moment.
First we must address the error of the lengthy attempted justification of homosexuality based on the Greek words and context of the NT discussion. The assertion made by the originator of this chart is simply not proved. It is what biblical scholars call eisegesis, or reading into a biblical passage something which is not already there. The words used to describe homosexuality deal with a general description of sexual relationships involving people of the same gender. The most notable of these passages is Romans 1:18-32. Also, nothing in the context of Romans 1 or the other NT or OT passages which reference homosexuality draw any distinction between consensual or non-consensual same-sex relationships.
Returning to the question: Yes, we should live by “all of Paul’s values.” In this case, the author of the chart highlights “women should be silent and never assume authority over a man,” so let’s deal with that specifically. This statement references 1 Timothy 2:8-15. The referenced statement is made within the context of Paul’s instruction to Timothy on the structure and leadership of the local church (1 Timothy 3:1-7, & all of 1 Timothy). Paul’s assertion pertains to his argument that women are not to be pastors or deacons within the local church. Nothing is being said about women in positions of secular authority.
- “That Was When the Earth Wasn’t Populated. There Are Now 6.79 Billion People. Breeding Clearly Isn’t an Issue Any More!”
This, aside from the ‘argument’ addressed on the very right side of this chart (which is nothing more than a stereotyping, straw-man attack on personality rather than a matter of substantive consideration), is the weakest of the arguments on this chart. The author concedes the actual statement of biblical truth. The simple fact is that the Bible explicitly states the order of creation is man and woman, who are created for sexual intimacy with those of the opposite gender (Genesis 2; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; 1 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 5:31). Also, the fact that no population parameters exist within the Bible emphatically indicates that the commands limiting marriage to men to women are still applicable today.
- “Wrong. The Bible Also Defines Marriage as One-Man-Many-Women, One Man Many Wives and Concubines, A Rapist & His Victim, and Conquering Soldier & Female Prisoner of War.”
To use the chart’s author’s own words regarding this statement…Wrong. The author is guilty of a confusion of categories, or category error. He attempts to equate two different types of Scriptural writing–prescriptive and descriptive. A prescriptive passage asserts something to be followed–Do not murder; Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together; Honor your father and mother–while a descriptive passage simply reports that which happened–In the beginning God created; Judas went out and hung himself; John the Baptist came eating locusts and honey. Prescriptive passages give us commands to follow, even if given by example. They are often restated and affirmed as such in other parts of the Bible, such as is the case with the passages sited in the previous problem with relation to the definition of gender and marriage (Genesis 2; et al.). Descriptive Bible passages, such as have been correctly referenced by the author of the chart, merely state the observable facts, the narrative of historic events. Often times these references come with neither condemnation nor affirmation of the choices of those involved in the story. Such is the case with the examples sited in the chart.
One other interesting observation. Those examples sighted in an attempt to claim that the Bible advocates multiple definitions of marriage have at their foundation the biblical truth of men created for intimate relationships with women. No same-sex example of marriage can be cited from the Bible. To be sure though, all of those examples the chart author cited are indeed corruptions of the biblical prescription of one man for one woman for life.
Well…what I have attempted here is a relatively brief response to the various issues presented by this chart. Much more could be said. If you would like to see further discussion on one of these matters, please send me your question via the Ask the Pastor form on the blog here. I am also not averse to discussing specific questions pertaining to this post in the comment thread. I will certainly moderate it to be certain that it remains on topic, but would welcome helpful interaction on this topic.
As always, when we engage people who might bring these accusations against us or the Bible, we must always answer in a cordial, redemptive, and convictional manner. Thank you for your time in reading this post. Be looking for the next installment of “Ask the Pastor” soon.
By Grace Alone,