Category: Theology (page 1 of 12)

Homosexuality?–What does Creation Teach?

Much disdain has been directed to the argument against homosexuality from the Creation account.  I agree that the way the argument is sometimes formulated is unsophisticated.  However, there is truth behind this argument.

The original creation should not be dismissed when discussing homosexuality.  The facts are clear.  God created both the human race and the other creatures male and female.  This creation of male and female was followed by the command to be fruitful and multiply.  This assumed heterosexual relationships (Genesis 1:26-28).

When the creation of woman is expanded in chapter 2, we are presented with woman being man’s ideal counterpart.  Adam was lonely and wanted someone suitable for him.  God created woman, not another man, to meet this need.

Moses, through the inspiration of the Spirit, provides further commentary on the situation.  He states that because of God’s original creation that a man should leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife.  Notice, again, how a heterosexual relationship is assumed.  Father and mother shows marriage and sexual relationships are between a man and a woman.  The man leaving his parents to become one flesh with his wife is once again a heterosexual relationship.

If we were looking at the original creation as our pattern for human sexuality, the answer is clear.

Now some will say that we should not look at Genesis 1 and 2 as a model of human sexuality.  I disagree with this assessment.  Here is why.  When Jesus was asked about divorce in Matthew 19, he took his answer from the creation narrative.  He stated that in the beginning God created them “male and female” and for this reason “a man should leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife.”  Jesus recognized, and argued, that creation serves as the model for human sexuality.

Thus, today when asked the question of homosexuality, there is nothing wrong with the argument that in the beginning God created them male and female.  The creation narrative lays out for us a pattern for human sexuality and the pattern is heterosexual.

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Homosexuality–What does 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 teach?

In these three verses Paul lists ten sins.  The list begins with the rhetorical question:  Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  These ten sins are characterized by unrighteousness. Thus, those who practice these sins are unrighteous.

The result of being unrighteous is that one will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  “Kingdom of heaven” refers to the future inheritance all Christians are promised at Christ’s return.  Those who practice the ten sins listed do not have any future hope.

Verse 11 also clearly teaches that these types of sins should be in the Christian’s past, not in their present.  The Christian community in Corinth was made up of people who were identified as thieves, adulterers, fornicators, etc… because of their practicing such sins.  However, these sins are not how they are characterized now, because they have been transformed by the gospel.

The transformation of the gospel is Paul’s main point in this section.  It is the best way of understanding how verses 1-8 flow into verses 9-20.  The gospel transforms our actions.  This is why we do not bring our brothers and sisters in Christ to court.  It is also why we no longer practice these listed sins.

Paul emphasizes the change that took place through the gospel by stating that Christians were washed, sanctified, and justified (made righteous).  People, who have been cleansed from sin and placed into a right relationship with God, are to now live holy lives, avoiding these unrighteous acts.

For our study of this section two words are important.  Those words are translated effeminate and homosexual in the NASB.  The NIV takes these two words together and translate it “men who have sex with men.”  The words refer to both the passive and active participants in homosexuality.  Our best lexicons define the second word as “a male who practices homosexuality” (for example Arndt and Gingrich).  It is clear that Paul is condemning homosexual practice with these words.

Some argue that what Paul is condemning is homosexual relationships that are not love-based.  However, contextually that is not the case.  You have to read that into the text.  And if you decide to read that into the text then you also have to be willing to say that adultery, if love-based, is okay, or any of the rest of the sins for that matter.  The fact of the matter is Paul condemns the act itself. Therefore the the sin is engaging in the act.

The practicing of homosexuality is unrighteous.  Christians today have been made righteous (justified). Thus to practice homosexuality is incongruous with the Christian life.  This is why those who practice it will not receive the blessing of the kingdom of heaven.

However, there is hope in this passage for people who are practicing these sins.  Paul indicates that the transformative work of the gospel is able to aid homosexuals in leaving the lifestyle.  It will not be easy, but it can be done.

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Homosexuality–What Was The Sin of Sodom?

For the longest time the sin of Sodom was clearly connected clearly with homosexuality.  In the United States in particular we had laws against sodomy, which made homosexuality a crime.  Most people, if asked today, would say the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexual behavior.

However, this assumption has been challenged of late.  Bible scholars and students of the Bible have claimed that the sin of Sodom should not be linked with homosexuality.

The normal argument made against Sodom being an example of homosexual activity is that later Old Testament passages state a different reason for Sodom’s demise.  Although most of the later Old Testament usage of Sodom is to illustrate how God will destroy a sinful nation, there are a few passages that speak of the sin of Sodom.  One is Ezekiel 16:49, 50. It states that Sodom’s sin was pride and choosing not to take care of the poor and needy though they had the ability to do so.  Another is Jeremiah 23:14, which states their sin was adultery, lying, and not repenting.  A third is Isaiah 3:9, which states the sin is a lack of justice.  The argument made from these passages is that the sin of Sodom is not homosexuality, but rather injustice, specifically toward the poor.

This argument is sound; in as far as it goes.  It is sound to say that Sodom was involved in other sinful practices besides homosexuality.  It is also a good corrective to those who describe the sin of Sodom in a singular way.  It was not just one sin that Sodom was committing, but many.

However, the argument that homosexuality is not a part of the sinful equation in Sodom is lacking for a few reasons.  First, the Genesis account of Sodom.  The account of the men of the city (all the men) wanting to commit homosexual acts against the visiting angels (who appeared to them as men) is in Genesis to provide for us an illustration of the sin of Sodom.   It is showing why God is just in destroying this city.  We cannot get around the fact that the particular way chosen to illustrate Sodom’s sin was the desire to commit homosexual acts.

Second, in Ezekiel specific sins are mentioned and then a general term is used to describe Sodom’s sins.  The general term is “abominable things.”  This is the same word used to characterize homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 (more on those verses in this post).  Thus, it is possible, and maybe even likely, that Ezekiel has homosexuality in mind.

Third, God’s revelation does not stop with the Hebrew Bible.  The New Testament also describes the sins of Sodom.  Two are important to our discussion (and will be looked at in more detail later).  They are 2 Peter 2:7, 8 and Jude 7.  In these verses the sin of Sodom is put in sexual terms.  And the idea of strange flesh in Jude 7 would refer to homosexual behavior.

Putting this all together, we have certain conclusions.  First, Sodom was not condemned for a single sin, but rather a plethora of sins.  Second, although the Old Testament does speak of other sins condemning Sodom, it does not mean that Sodom was not also condemned for homosexuality.  Third, the fact that the desire for homosexual relations was used in the Genesis account to illustrate Sodom’s sins cannot be overlooked.  Fourth, the New Testament (and if our space would have permitted Jewish literature) shows that Sodom was condemned in part because of homosexual behavior.

 

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Homosexuality–The Abomination Passages

So far in this series we have dealt with some of the arguments from the Harding ezine (you can read those posts here, here, and here).  We have also begun a study of Scripture on the subject of homosexuality.  We started with Creation, and established God’s ideal for human sexuality (you can read the post here).  We next moved to the account of Sodom (you can read that here).  From those two sections it is clear that homosexual practice is outside God’s will and results in God’s wrath.

Next, we will look at the two other passages in the Old Testament that deal with the subject.  These are Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.   The texts describe homosexual acts as an abomination.  The word abomination means to abhor. It carries the same weight as to hate.  This shows the seriousness of this sin in the Law of Moses.

The teaching of these passages is very clear.  They  condemn the practice of homosexuality as something God hates.  However, this does not keep some from attempting to bypass the clear teaching and its implications.  There are two primary ways used to accomplish this task.

First, they argue that homosexual sin in the Old Testament was connected with idolatry, or was not a part of a loving committed relationship.  The argument is that homosexual sin is only sinful if the motive for the sexual act is sinful.  This gets into ethical theory.  In Christian ethics there are three ways something can be sinful.  One, it can be intrinsically sinful, meaning participation in the act is sinful on all occasions.  Two, is it is sinful because of the potential outcome.  Three, it is sinful because of the motive for participating in the act.

The question is: into what category do these commands fall?  Those who would say homosexual practice is okay in certain circumstances (i.e. committed loving relationships) would argue that what is being condemned is the motive behind the act.  They would argue the condemnation is either because of idolatry or a non-love based relationship.

However, when you read the text, those arguments are nowhere to be found!  In fact the form of the command is the same as the form of the Ten Commandments.  It is saying that anytime this practice happens it is sinful.  What is being condemned is the act itself.  God does not delve into motive at all.  No matter what the motive may be, the act is always sinful.

The second way people attempt to bypass these verses is by stating they are a part of the Law of Moses, and therefore not binding today.  Now it is true that at the coming of Jesus a new covenant was made with mankind.  It is likewise true that at times it is difficult to decide what should be brought over from the Old Covenant.  In this case, though, the situation is not that difficult.  As we will prove in the next few posts, the New Testament also condemns homosexual practice.  I think it is safe to say that when an act is condemned in the New Testament, the prior Old Testament condemnation strengthens the New Testament condemnation.

Thus it is clear that the Old Testament condemns the act of homosexuality, no matter the motive for the act.

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Homosexuality-Do Strong Urges make it okay?

Anecdotes are the facts of our generation.  Everyone likes a story.  Truth told in story seems more believable. That is why I was not surprised when the first half of the Ezine at Harding (read background here) was a collection of stories.  These stories are meant to draw sympathy from the reader and hopefully to persuade the reader to accept the position.

I’m not against stories.  In fact I think couching truth in a story, or illustrating truth through narration is a great way to help people both understand truth, and be sympathetic toward it.  However, stories have their limitations.

One major problem with stories is when they attempt to prove something that isn’t true.  This seemed to be what frustrated me about the stories told in the ezine.  One of the “truths” these stories were meant to prove was that homosexuality is accepted by God.

There was a common argument within the stories.  The argument basically had three parts.

1. I struggled with homosexuality.

2. I asked God to remove the struggle.

3. God did not remove the struggle.

The conclusion reached was my practicing homosexuality must be okay.

Now those who are have taken classes in logic would quickly see that the conclusion reached does not come directly from the truths stated.  Simply because you struggle with a sin and prayed for the struggle to stop, and it doesn’t, does not change sin into righteousness.

In Romans 7 Paul speaks of his struggle with sin.  He states he would do the very thing he hated to do.  He longed for the day when God would completely deliver him from this struggle.  However, Paul did not argue that since God has not delivered him yet that the sin was okay.

Couched in story we are more likely (due to the emotions the stories draw from us) to believe the propositions.  However, when we remove the story and get to the heart of the argument we see its fallacy.  Men and women struggle with sin.  We struggle with temptation to sin.  These temptations can be strong and we can pray to God fervently that He remove the struggle, but simply because we still struggle, after we pray, does not mean that God is saying sin is okay.

It is the lot of all of us  in this fallen world to struggle with sinful desires.  Now as Christians sin no longer reigns over us, but it does not mean that we will not have strong temptations.  Just because the temptation is strong does not mean that God is saying continue in the sin!

Instead we should ask the question is the activity sin.  If it is, then we should work on doing the best we can to avoid putting ourselves in situations where we might fall, knowing our strong urges exist.

This is not good advice simply to the person struggling with homosexuality, but with any person who struggles with sin.  The heterosexual who has strong urges toward adultery and fornication also needs to apply this truth as well! Strong urges does not mean we have God’s approval to sin!

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