Michael Boling – Ethical Position Paper on Homosexuality

INTRODUCTION
The issue of whether scripture denounces the practice of homosexuality or whether such prohibitions are merely the concoction of fundamentalist sympathizers is increasingly a central point of discussion in today’s society. The question of biblical doctrine and ethical behavior in relation to the permissiveness of homosexuality within the church is at a crossroads. Many denominations are increasingly allowing openly homosexual church members to attain positions of leadership with little or no condemnation. It is evident there is a dilemma on how to approach this divisive and controversial issue from both a theological and ethical perspective. This paper will examine the efforts by the homosexual community to reframe the discussion away from its traditional biblical and societal moorings while demonstrating the clear biblical design for proper sexual relationships found in both the Old and New Testaments. It will be clearly shown Scripture teaches homosexual behavior violates God’s original design for love and sexuality while bringing to the fore the biblical doctrine that sexual conduct should be confined strictly within the boundaries of a covenant marriage relationship between a man and woman.

OLD TESTAMENT ARGUMENTS PRESENTED IN FAVOR OF HOMOSEXUALITY
As noted by Professor Alex Montoya, “Much of the debate which has arisen over the issue of homosexuality comes from the approaches homosexual advocates have used in interpreting the Scriptures.” Supporters of the homosexual agenda, to include active homosexuals as well as clergy and increasingly denominational councils, have taken the position that homosexuality is not explicitly condemned in Scripture and thus should be tolerated. This attitude has resulted in not just the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle but also the ordination of homosexuals to positions of leadership in the church. Numerous scriptures have been utilized in the Old Testament to challenge the traditional orthodox position that homosexuality is defined in Scripture as sexual perversion. While not exhaustive, the following discussion outlines the major passages in the Old Testament appealed to by homosexual advocates as indicative of either Scripture’s ambivalence towards homosexual behavior or at a minimum, the cultural limitations of any laws in Scripture that may be viewed as denouncing homosexuality. Continue reading “Michael Boling – Ethical Position Paper on Homosexuality”

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Trevin Wax – Can We “Agree to Disagree” on Sexuality and Marriage

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The biggest issue confronting evangelicalism today is not over homosexuality and marriage, but whether or not these are “agree-to-disagree” issues.

The question takes various forms:

Can progressive evangelicals who advocate same-sex marriage share a measure of unity with the rest of the global church?
Is it possible to see one’s view of sexual ethics as a dividing line between evangelical churches (similar to debates over baptism, speaking in tongues, etc.), but not something that necessitates a divorce within evangelicalism as a whole?

Can believers simply “agree to disagree” on this contentious issue and allow various views to exist within what is commonly accepted as “orthodoxy?”

Two Views

David Gushee, an ethicist who now supports same-sex marriage and same-sex relationships, recently wrote an article explaining why conservative and progressive evangelicals are headed for a divorce. According to Gushee, the nature of marriage and sexuality is merely the tip of the iceberg because there are “a hundred other fractures” – questions related to biblical authority and political involvement.

Gushee sees these debates as a replay of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy from a hundred years ago, and he concludes:

“Conservative and progressive evangelicals need to let each other go their separate ways, acknowledging that despite shared faith in Christ we have become two separate religious communities.”

Paul Louis Metzger, founder and director of The Institute for the Theology of Culture, pushes back against Gushee’s recommendation, appealing to Christ’s concern for unity. “How can we go our separate ways unless we no longer belong to the same Christ?” he asks.

Quoting Wolfhart Pannenberg, Metzger worries that disunity in the body of Christ is the leading cause of “a world free from all religious ties.” Instead, we should fight to remain together in order to avoid presenting a “dismembered” Christ to the world.

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Book Review – Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens

Critical Conversations

We live in a time when what once was considered right is now viewed as intolerance. Arguably, this paradigm shift in our culture is most evident when it comes to the subject of gay marriage versus biblical marriage. The recent Supreme Court decision ruling gay marriage to be legal greatly shifted the social landscape. Add to that the barrage of media attention both covering and supporting this lifestyle choice, and we are seemingly on the losing side of the argument. All hope is not lost as believers given we have confidence God is always and fully in control and righteousness will win the day.

With that said, especially when it comes to children and specifically teenagers, it is vital in this environment for parents to be equipped to have the critical conversation about homosexuality, how to interact with those who oppose the biblical stance on marriage, and how to stand firm in the midst of this storm that has come upon us. Tom Gilson in his tremendously helpful book Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens, provides that needed equipping for parents.

I am the parent of a 14 year old. She is well aware of the fact there are LGBT individuals all around. It is hard not to know given the aforementioned barrage of media attention being given to this subject. She has asked on a few occasions why the “love” two gay people have for one another is wrong. After all, isn’t it their choice and isn’t love enough. Thankfully, as parents we were able to engage such a question as we had prepared ourselves for that type of critical conversation. Unfortunately, many parents, even Christian parents, would rather just avoid speaking about this topic to their children or hope that the youth pastor brings it up sometime at youth group to get them off the hook.

Gilson rightly notes that parents have the God given responsibility to impart truth into the lives of their children. Thus, we need to understand the landscape our children live in and furthermore, we must ensure they interact with LGBT individuals in a spirit of truth and love, understanding that on most occasions, their belief system in biblical marriage will be reviled.

In Critical Conversations, Gilson first establishes how we go to this point with a brief history lesson on the LGBT movement. He then establishes the biblical framework for marriage and builds on that framework and history as well noting the “common human experience” that marriage between a man and a woman is the best approach for society and to raise children.

With that as a solid foundation, Gilson then outlines how parents should teach their children when it comes to engaging those who take a different view on marriage. We should always stand for truth and Gilson aptly reminds the reader of that important fact. He also saliently avers the need for a listening ear, a warm embrace, and a spirit of love with those who embrace the LGBT lifestyle. Gilson comments that a listening ear does not mean acceptance of that lifestyle. It simply means we are showing humanity and rejecting the incorrect stigma of homophobia often attached to those who affirm biblical marriage.

Part 3 of this book is where the real rubber hits the road and is I believe the best part. Gilson addresses a plethora of winsome arguments that can be presented to the challenges against the biblical position on marriage. He covers most all if not all the major talking points from the LGBT community and those who support that lifestyle. The proposed responses follow the guidelines he gave in Part 2 when he reminded the reader of the need to speak the truth but to do so in love. Parents should spend a great deal of time in Part 3 and after doing so, the next step is to then spend time with your children discussing these important responses.

In my humble opinion, this is a must read for all Christian parents. Do not abdicate to the youth pastor the responsibility of having the needed critical conversation with your children about homosexuality. Spend time with them with Scripture and with this book as a helpful guide. Empower them (and yourself) to be able to respond with a biblical apologetic on marriage that is winsome, truthful, spoken in love, and that destroys the incorrect notions and labels being spouted against those who affirm biblical marriage.

This book is available for purchase from Kregel Publications by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Kregel Publications and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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James DeYoung – The Source and NT Meaning of Arsenokoitai, With Implications for Christian Ethics and Ministry

jim-deyoung Coincident with the rise of the gay rights movement in recent years has been an increasing focus on the biblical statements regarding homosexuality or sodomy. As part of this focus, the meaning of the term rsenokotai (arsenokoitai, “homosexuals”), used twice by the apostle Paul (1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10), has received vigorous scrutiny. This issue is particularly crucial to contemporary society since so much of modern ethics is shaped by biblical statements. More particularly, the concern over gay rights and the place of gays or homosexuals in the church and in society require the resolution of biblical interpretation.

This study of historical, linguistic, and literary matters will survey and evaluate recent proposals for the meaning of arsenokoitai and present evidence to point to a resolution. Several writers and their positions represent the modern debate on this word. Three authors, Bailey, Boswell, and Scroggs, have provoked considerable discussion and significantly encouraged the wider acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle in society, in the church, and in the ministry.

SURVEY OF NEW INTERPRETATIONS OF ARSENOKOITAI

D. S. Bailey

D. S. Bailey was perhaps the trailblazer of new assessments of the meaning of arsenokoitai. He takes the term in 1 Cor 6:9 as denoting males who actively engage in homosexual acts, in contrast to malako (malakoi, “effeminate”), those who engage passively in such acts. However, he insists that Paul knew nothing of “inversion as an inherited trait, or an inherent condition due to psychological or glandular causes, and consequently regards all homosexual practice as evidence of perversion” (38). Hence Bailey limits the term’s reference in Paul’s works to acts alone and laments modern translations of the term as “homosexuals.” Bailey wants to distinguish between “the homosexual condition (which is morally neutral) and homosexual
practices” [italics in source]. Paul is precise in his terminology and Moffatt’s translation “sodomites” best represents Paul’s meaning in Bailey’s judgment (39). Bailey clearly denies that the homosexual condition was known by biblical writers.

J. Boswell

The most influential study of arsenokoitai among contemporary authors is that of John Boswell. Whereas the usual translation of this term gives it either explicitly or implicitly an active sense, Boswell gives it a passive sense.

In an extended discussion of the term (341-53), he cites “linguistic evidence and common sense” to support his conclusion that the word means “male sexual agents, i.e. active male prostitutes.” His argument is that the arseno- part of the word is adjectival, not the object of the koitai which refers to base sexual activity. Hence the term, according to Boswell, designates a male sexual person or maleprostitute. He acknowledges, however, that most interpret the composite term as active, meaning “those who sleep with, make their bed with, men.” Boswell bases his interpretation on linguistics and the historical setting. He argues that in some compounds, such as paidomauw (paidomaths, “child learner”), the paido- is the subject of manthan, and in others, such as paidoprow (paidoporos, “through which a child passes”), the paido- is neither subject nor object but simply a
modifier without verbal significance. His point is that each compound must be individually analyzed for its meaning. More directly, he maintains that compounds with the Attic form arreno- employ it objectively while those with the Hellenistic arseno- use it as an adjective (343). Yet he admits exceptions to this distinction regarding arreno-.

These were male prostitutes having men or women as their objects. The Greek arsenokoitai is the equivalent of the Latin drauci; the corresponding passive would be parakotai (parakoitai, “one who lies beside”), Boswell affirms. He claims that arsenokoitai was the “most explicit word available to Paul for a male prostitute,” since by Paul’s time the Attic words prnow (pornos, “fornicator”) and pornevn (porneun, “one committing fornication”), found also in the LXX, had been adopted “to refer to men who resorted to female prostitutes or simply committed fornication.”

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John MacArthur – God’s Word on Homosexuality: The Truth About Sin and the Reality of Forgiveness

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“All you need is love.”

So said the Beatles. If they had been singing about God’s love, the statement would have a grain of truth in it. But what usually goes by the name love in popular culture is not authentic love at all; it is actually a deadly fraud.

Far from being “all you need,” the world’s distorted view of love is something Christians desperately need to avoid. The apostle Paul makes that very
point in Eph. 5:1-3. He writes, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.”

The simple command of verse 2 (“walk in love, as Christ loved us”) sums up the whole moral obligation of the Christian. After all, God’s love is the single, central principle that defines the Christian’s entire duty.

This kind of love really is “all you need.” Romans 13:8–10 says, “The one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments . . . are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Galatians 5:14 echoes that selfsame truth: “The whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus likewise taught that all the law and the prophets hang on two simple principles about love — the First and Second Great Commandments (Matt 22:38-40). In other words, “love . . . is the bond of perfection” (Col. 3:14, NKJV).

When Paul commands believers to walk in love, the context reveals that in positive terms, he is talking about being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to one another (Eph. 4:32). The model for such selfless love is Christ, who gave His life to save His people from their sins. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). And “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

In other words, true love is always sacrificial, self-giving, merciful, compassionate, sympathetic, kind, generous, and patient. Those and many other
positive, benevolent qualities (cf. 1 Cor. 13:4-8) are what Scripture associates with divine love.

But notice the negative side as well, also seen in the context of Ephesians 5. The person who truly loves others like Christ does must refuse every kind of counterfeit love. The apostle Paul names some of these worldly forgeries. They include immorality, impurity, and covetousness. The passage continues:

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not
associate with them
(vv. 4–7; unless otherwise noted, biblical quotations are from the NASB).

Immorality is perhaps our generation’s favorite substitute for love. Paul uses the Greek word porneia, which includes every kind of sexual sin. Popular culture desperately tries to blur the line between genuine love and immoral passion. But all such immorality is a total perversion of genuine love, because it violates both the Great Commandment (Mark 12:29-30) by disobeying God’s Word, and the Second Great Commandment (Mark 12:31; cf. Rom 13:9-10) by seeking self-gratification rather than the spiritual good and sanctification of others.

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Rick Phillips – The Bible and Homosexuality: Wrong and Right Lessons

RickPhillips The news broke this week that City Church San Francisco has reversed its prohibition against practicing homosexuals being admitted into church membership (see here). Previously, only celibate homosexuals were accepted as biblically faithful Christians. Senior Pastor Fred Harrell explained the shift on the basis of recent “social science research” that convinced him and his elders that inhibiting homosexual practice “has not led to human flourishing” (see the church statement). It strikes me from the reports of this shift, both at City Church and elsewhere, that the wrong lessons of history are being advanced while the right lessons are being ignored.

As for the wrong lesson, I have particularly in mind the analogy between homosexuality and racism. Here is the argument: in the past, Christians wrongly used the Bible to support racism and now the Bible is being used to support discrimination against homosexuals. Just as it took open-minded believers to show how the Bible urged tolerance for race, we now are urging tolerance for sexual preference.

I would argue that this is precisely the wrong lesson to learn from history. In fact, the prior example regarding racism and slavery argues against the acceptance of homosexuality in the church. Let me offer three reasons for this view: 1) whereas the Bible does not in fact support racism, it does prohibit homosexuality; 2) the analogy between race and sexual behavior is a false one; and 3) advocates for the acceptance of homosexuality are following the example not of those who opposed racism but of those who wrongly taught racism. By this last point, I mean that in prior generations the Bible was contorted to teach racism because Christians were conforming to the sins of the culture around them. Now, the Bible is being made to embrace homosexuality for the same reason: conformity to the sin demands of a perverse and ungodly world. I admit that my argument here assumes that it can be shown that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin. I would point readers to these fine articles by Kevin DeYoung and Robert Gagnon, which make that very case.

If the advocates of homosexual acceptance are making the wrong lesson from history, what is the right lesson? The right lesson is that once Christians and churches compromise the authority of Scripture, they have stepped onto a slippery slope where there is no place to stand against worldly encroachments, however perverse they may be. I realize that the “slippery slope argument” causes many progressive Christians to turn red in the face with frustration. But the recent decision of City Church San Francisco is yet another data point proving that the argument is valid.

Let’s review the history. City Church San Francisco was planted in 1997 by a team led by Pastor Fred Harrell. This work was heavily financed by the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), a conservative Reformed and evangelical denomination. The City Church website notes the inspiration that came from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, especially with regard to “methodological winsomeness.” In 2004, City Church left the PCA in order to have freedom to ordain women to the offices of elder and deacon. Here, if not earlier, is when (in my view) the authority of Scripture was breached. The New Testament clearly restricts these offices to males. The arguments used to deny this teaching (see here for more) are essentially the same arguments that are made to permit homosexuality today. In short, in ordaining women as elders, the Bible was made to teach the opposite of what it actually says, setting up the slippery slope that has now led to the previously unthinkable acceptance of homosexuality.

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Michael Boling – What About Marriage and Homosexuality?

Is This Right.

(This was my article submission to the latest issue of Theology For Life. To read the full issue, click here.)

The issue of whether Scripture denounces the practice of homosexuality, or whether such prohibitions are merely the concoction of fundamentalist sympathizers, is increasingly a central point of discussion in today’s society. The question of biblical doctrine and ethical behavior in relation to the permissiveness of homosexuality within the Church is at a crossroads. Many denominations are increasingly allowing openly homosexual church members to attain positions of leadership with little or no condemnation. It is evident that there is a dilemma on how to approach this divisive and controversial issue from both a theological and ethical perspective. This article will clearly show that Scripture teaches that homosexual behavior violates God’s design for love and sexuality, while bringing to the forefront the biblical doctrine that sexual conduct should be confined strictly within the boundaries of a covenant marriage relationship between a man and woman.

Old Testament Position on Proper Sexual Relations

The Scriptural definition of marriage is presented in the opening saga of history, namely by God’s creation of Adam and Eve. Claus Westermann notes, “Genesis 2 is unique among the creation myths of the whole of the Ancient Near East in its appreciation of the meaning of women, i.e., that human existence is a partnership of man and woman.” Genesis 2 prepares the moral and social foundation in Scripture for proper sexual relationships as strictly between a man and a woman within a covenantal marriage relationship. A suitable helper was not found in all of creation for Adam, thus the reason God created Eve — to be the companion to Adam. The creation of Eve was necessary for both moral and social reasons. James DeYoung notes, “The only model of sexual expression contemplated in Scripture is that which is patterned after the creation model of Genesis 1-2.” Such a completion was essential for man and woman to fulfill the command given by God in Genesis 1:28, that is to “be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it”. Marriage and sexual relationships being strictly between a man and a woman were meant by God to provide the very foundation for social and moral order.

The sexual act of homosexuality cannot fulfill that important mandate by God. DeYoung further notes, “Homosexual practice is an attack against what it means to be human. Reproduction is crucial, for thereby humans enter into the creative divine work of generating further human life, which in turn has the capacity to express love for God and for people. It fulfills God’s plan for the human race.” Additionally, the very concept of the imago dei is altered by homosexual behavior. Man and woman were made in the image of God and the relationship of man and woman was ordained by God. Samuel Shin aptly comments, “The Trinity is the perfect relationship, and when God made man in his own image, he created the interconnectedness that would reflect the image of the communion of the Trinity. To break that connection is to shatter that visage, and that is what sin is, the active aggression and opposition to the will of God.”

The Old Testament provides a clear and consistent denunciation of homosexual behavior as an abomination and antithetical to God’s moral and social plan for humanity. The argument that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality is a clear example of faulty biblical exegesis. The context of Genesis 19 clearly declares the abomination of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah was their affinity for homosexual behavior, an activity declared
in Jude 1:7 as “going after strange flesh” and in 2 Peter 2:7 as the “sensual conduct of unprincipled men”.

Despite the attempt by the homosexual community to reframe the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah as an issue of hospitality, the people of those cities are described in Genesis 13:13 as “wicked exceedingly and sinners before the Lord”. This is a rather harsh statement if their sin was merely their concern for upholding ancient hospitality codes. Genesis 19 clearly demonstrates homosexuality as perverse behavior and antithetical to proper social
and moral order. It was for this reason God placed such a complete and utter judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah while referring to their sin throughout Scripture as a reminder for subsequent generations to uphold God’s principles for sex as strictly between a man and a woman.

The Mosaic Law placed clear restrictions and outlines for proper sexual behavior. Timothy Dailey rightly comments, “Leviticus does not limit its condemnation to that of homosexuality in a ritual context; no mitigating circumstances are mentioned that would permit such behavior, such as within the context of a loving, committed relationship.” Furthermore, Michael Ukleja suggests, “To hold such a distinction, one would have to conclude that adultery was not morally wrong, child sacrifice had no moral implications, and that nothing is inherently wrong with bestiality.” To make a claim that homosexual behavior is acceptable behavior, consistent with God’s ordained plan for moral and social order within society, is to at the same time lay claim that other behaviors accepted by society as abhorrent are also no longer to be considered as detestable. A major foundation for the Mosaic Law is found in Leviticus 19:2, where God commanded Israel and all subsequent generations, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.”
Holy living, as outlined in the Old Testament law, and later reiterated in the New Testament, meant abstaining from sexual immorality as outlined in Leviticus 18 and 20. To “be holy” meant to obey God’s command found in Genesis 2 — that marriage and sexual relations are to be strictly between a man and a woman.

An element of cultic temple worship in ancient pagan cultures was not only the practice of temple prostitution, but also homosexuality. Deuteronomy 23:17-18 declares, “No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute. You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute or of a male prostitute into the house of the LORD your God to pay any vow, because the LORD your God detests them both.” The Hebrew word for prostitute is qadesh, which the homosexual advocates present as strictly referring to heterosexual prostitution. The Septuagint (LXX) translates that word as teliskomenos, an initiated or dedicated person. James DeYoung notes, “Ancient sources attest to the debauchery carried on at the initiations into the mystery religions, including hallucinogenic drugs, drinking blood, immorality, and homosexuality. Apparently, the LXX translators felt that these terms were the appropriate counterparts for the Hebrew words forbidding heterosexual and homosexual prostitution and behavior.”

God denounced such behavior as adversative to the social and moral order revealed in the Mosaic Law, a command fully intended, not just for Israel, but for all subsequent generations of God’s people. Prostitution, whether it be of the heterosexual or homosexual variety is contrary to the pattern of proper sexual relations between a man and a woman established in Genesis 2 and reiterated throughout the Old Testament. The sexual ethic of the surrounding pagan cultures was not to be included in a society commanded to seek after holiness and to be separate from the surrounding pagan culture.

Derrick Bailey points to the LXX translation of qadesh in I Kings 22:46, where it is translated as endiellagmenos meaning one who has “either altered his nature by becoming a homosexual pervert, or one who has been transformed by apostasy from a worshipper of Yahweh into a servant of idols.” Such a translation notes the wide variety of perversion taking place in the cultic rituals — practices abhorrent to God and in opposition to His plan for humanity. Dailey notes, “The condemnation of such behavior in various contexts…demonstrates that the Israelites intended to condemn homosexuality in every context there it was encountered” in keeping with the biblical ethic for proper sexual behavior outlined by God throughout the Old Testament.

New Testament Position on Proper Sexual Relations

Despite attempts by the homosexual community to demonstrate otherwise, the New Testament also offers a clear condemnation of homosexuality and all its affiliate behaviors as wholly against God’s ethical guidance for sexual conduct to be confined strictly within the boundaries of a covenantal marriage relationship between a man and a woman. Such an ethical delineation of sexual conduct is supported throughout the Pauline epistles as a demonstration to his readers of the same foundation provided in the Old Testament for proper ethical behavior, namely the need to be holy as God is
holy.

Romans 1:24-27 is noted by scholars as the “central text for the issue of homosexual conduct on which Christians must base their moral doctrine”. The Apostle Paul clearly discusses the tendency for certain individuals to pursue “shameful lusts”, and women and men exchanging “natural relations for unnatural ones” with men “committing indecent acts with other men”. Such language hearkens back to Leviticus 18:22 which states, “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”

Robert Gagnon notes, “The dishonoring in Romans 1:26, as in 1:24, is a dishonoring not merely of society nor even primarily of God but rather of one’s own self as a human being “gendered” by God in creation and discernible in the material constitution of the body.” Homosexual behavior is a rejection and dishonoring of God’s original intent for sexual activity to be strictly between a man and a woman in order for procreation, the propagation of the species, and the rearing of children within the confines of a loving, nurturing marriage between a male and female. Everett Harrison rightly comments, “The folly of homosexuality is proclaimed in its inability to reproduce the human species in keeping with the divine commandment”, as found in Genesis 1:28. Homosexual supporters often claim Paul was only providing in Romans 1 a description of the moral depravity of the Greeks. In reality, Harrison explains, what Paul was doing was lifting up “both male and female homosexual acts for special attention…Then Paul detailed a lengthy list of other pagan/Gentile vices—not a random lists, but vices of hostility, the opposite of the virtue of peacemaking. These deviations from divine moral law and the created order had offended God and had both manifested and merited divine wrath.” In doing so, Paul connects his statements with the Old Testament declaration of homosexuality as against God’s ethical standards. As such, “One either accepts Paul’s condemnation or rejects Paul’s ongoing authority. This must be the conclusion, for nowhere does he or the rest of Scripture allow for sexual expression outside a heterosexual, monogamous, permanent marriage.”

The pattern of condemning homosexuality as contrary to God’s original intent for male and female sexual relationships is further reiterated in 1st Corinthians 6:9-11. This passage is a warning by Paul to the Corinthians of the necessity to abstain from the behaviors engaged in by the wicked. Gordon Fee aptly comments, the reason Paul outlines such behavior as wicked was to encourage the Corinthians to, “change their behavior by reminding them that they do indeed belong to God through the gracious work of Christ and the Spirit.” Fee also provides excellent analysis of the Greek word malakoi, translated as effeminate, or having “the basic meaning of soft; but it also became a pejorative epithet for men who were soft or effeminate, most likely referring to the younger, passive partner in a pederastic relationship — the most common form of homosexuality in the Greco-Roman world.”

The presupposition by many in the homosexual community, in particular those in the church, that God is not opposed to their continuing in such an immoral and unethical sexual union is contrary to Paul’s message in 1st Corinthians 6:11. Just as God commanded the Israelites to be holy as He is holy, Paul reminds the Corinthians that “they are to be and behave differently from the wicked, because God in his mercy has already removed the stains of their past sins, has already begun the work of ethical transformation, and has already given them forgiveness and right standing with himself.” This necessitates abstaining from passions of the flesh, such as homosexuality, for it is a rejection of God’s ethical commands throughout Scripture for holiness.

Furthermore, Paul demonstrates a clear support of Old Testament prescriptions against homosexual behavior by referring to Leviticus 18 in 1st Timothy 1:10. Shin notes, “The reading of the LXX shows the use of arsen and koitai in the prohibitions of Leviticus 18.” These words form the basis for the word arsenokoites translated as homosexuality in most modern translations. Donald Wold, in his treatment of this topic, saliently notes, “When the question of homosexuality came up for him (Paul) in the church at Corinth, we can accurately suppose that Paul’s understanding would be influenced by the Old Testament homosexuality law. And it is on this basis that he uses the term arsenokoites, because it accurately reflects the Hebrew of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.” Paul is reminding his readers and subsequent generations that God’s commands regarding proper ethical sexual behavior as being between a man and a woman have not been altered or changed since their inception in Genesis 2. As he did in 1st Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul is reminding Timothy of the necessity for ethical and upright behavior. To participate in the behavior outlined in 1st Timothy 1:10, is to engage in law-breaking, namely the breaking of God’s ethical commands throughout Scripture. Ralph Earle notes, “[The] law is made for adulterers and perverts. The last term is arsenokoites, which means male homosexuals…is the peculiar sin for which God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Often homosexual behavior is described as sodomy, with its adherents called Sodomites, in a clear reference to the rampant homosexual behavior that resulted in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by God. Additionally, such a reference was a stark reminder to Timothy and subsequent readers of this epistle of the seriousness by which God deals with behavior that is not only abhorrent, but in contradiction to His commands and ethical standards of behavior for male and female sexual relationships. Attributing any sense of acceptability to continuing in homosexual behavior for believer and non-believer alike is described by Paul as evidence of being deceived. Alex Montoya states, “Paul is condemning sins and vices practiced by the unbelieving world, which should not be practiced by God’s people. These are characteristics of the unrighteous and the lawless and rebellious.” Believers are called to be set apart from the lawless and rebellious deeds of the world, including homosexuality.

In Conclusion…

As noted by James DeYoung, the condemnation of homosexuality in Scripture is “universal and absolute. It is never contemplated that one specific form of homosexuality is condemned while others are tolerated or accepted.” God clearly defined proper sexual relationships to be strictly between a married man and woman. Any sexual activity outside such a monogamous relationship is denounced in Scripture as perversion. One of the clearest ethical demands presented in Scripture is the requirement to be holy as God is holy. Arthur Holmes rightly comments, “A sexual relationship is not confined to just two persons; it also involves God, the Creator and Lord of us all, who for his own purposes made us the sexual beings we are…Sexual union and reproduction are part of God’s creation, ordained from the beginning in the institution of marriage. Sex must not be taken out of this context.”

Sound ethical sexual behavior is repeatedly demonstrated in Scripture as restricted to a covenantal marriage relationship between a man and a woman. Frank Turek correctly comments, “Marriage is a social institution that provides society with the very foundation of civilization — the procreating family unit.” Within the confines of the marriage covenant, sexual activity is a glorious experience. Greg Bahnsen appropriately notes, “The Bible repeatedly condemns homosexuality, the New Testament itself stressing that it is contrary to God’s law (1st Timothy 9:10), bringing God’s judgment and exclusion from the kingdom (Romans 1:24; 1st Corinthians 6:9-10).” This condemnation is not an antiquated ceremonial restriction that no longer applies in today’s society, and it is not an observation by Paul of the Greeks or other pagan cultures, devoid of any relevance to the believer. Homosexuality is a clear violation of God’s original design for love and sexuality, as outlined in Scripture. God’s word is consistent on the issue of ethical sexual behavior—namely that sex outside the bounds of marriage is to engage in sexual perversion.

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Bahnsen, Greg. Homosexuality: A Biblical View. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978.

Bailey, Derrick. Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition. London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1955.

Dailey, Timothy. The Bible, the Church & Homosexuality. Washington, DC: Family Research Council, 2004.

DeYoung, James. Homosexuality. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2000.

______________“The Meaning of Nature in Romans 1 and its Implications for Biblical Proscriptions of Homosexual Behavior.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 31, no. 4 (Dec 1988): 430-441.

Earle, Ralph. “I Timothy” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary ed. Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.

Fee, Gordon. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First Epistle to the Corinthians. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987.

Gagon, Robert. The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001.

Harrison, Everett. “Romans” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary ed. Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976.
Holmes, Arthur. Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2007.

Montoya, Alex. “Homosexuality and the Church.” The Masters Seminary Journal 11, no. 2 (Fall 2000): 155-168.

Shin, Samuel. “Homosexual Hermeneutics and Its Deadly Implications: A Pastoral Reflection.” Trinity Journal 26, no. 1 (Spring 2005): 92-117.

Stassen, Glen and David Gushee. Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2003.

Turek, Frank. Correct Not Politically Correct. Charlotte: Crossexamined.org, 2011.

Ukleja, P. Michael. “Homosexuality and the Old Testament.” Bibliotheca Sacra 140 (1983): 259.

Westermann, Claus. Genesis 1-11. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2000.

Wold, Donald. Out of Order: Homosexuality in the Bible and the Ancient Near East. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998.

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Dr. Albert Mohler – No Truth Without Love, No Love Without Truth: The Church’s Great Challenge

The church’s engagement with the culture involves a host of issues, controversies, and decisions–but no issue defines our current cultural crisis as clearly as homosexuality. Some churches and denominations have capitulated to the demands of the homosexual rights movement, and now accept homosexuality as a fully valid lifestyle.

Other denominations are tottering on the brink, and without a massive conservative resistance, they are almost certain to abandon biblical truth and bless what the Bible condemns. Within a few short years, a major dividing line has become evident–with those churches endorsing homosexuality on one side, and those stubbornly resisting the cultural tide on the other.

The homosexual rights movement understands that the evangelical church is one of the last resistance movements committed to a biblical morality. Because of this, the movement has adopted a strategy of isolating Christian opposition, and forcing change by political action and cultural pressure.

Can we count on evangelicals to remain steadfastly biblical on this issue? Not hardly. Scientific surveys and informal observation reveal that we have experienced a significant loss of conviction among youth and young adults. No moral revolution can succeed without shaping and changing the minds of young people and children.

Inevitably, the schools have become crucial battlegrounds for the culture war. The Christian worldview has been undermined by pervasive curricula that teach moral relativism, reduce moral commandments to personal values, and promote homosexuality as a legitimate and attractive lifestyle option.

Our churches must teach the basics of biblical morality to Christians who will otherwise never know that the Bible prescribes a model for sexual relationships. Young people must be told the truth about homosexuality–and taught to esteem marriage as God’s intention for human sexual relatedness.

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Dave Jenkins – Broussard, Gay Marriage and “Tolerance”

The other day, Chris Broussard, a sports commenter on ESPN, stated he believed homosexuality was sinful. The fact that on national TV a well-known sports commentator stated this is surprising in a good way. Chris says he is a Christian and believes pre-marital sex and homosexuality are wrong and I commend him in this. The attack he is under right now from the very media he is a part of to include the pushback from popular culture isn’t surprising. Given the Supreme Court is set to weigh in with its opinion on the issue of gay marriage, all of this has me thinking, “How should Christians handle the homosexual issue?

On the surface of it as Christians we believe homosexuality is wrong because God created marriage between one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve) (Genesis 2). God created Adam to be the leader in the home and Eve to be his helpmate (Genesis 2-3). God also says homosexuality is an abomination (Lev. 18:22) and He gives people over to their passions (Romans 1). All of that is pretty clear from Scripture, namely what God thinks of homosexuality and gay marriage. With that said, here is where it gets much more complicated.

Our culture wants us to believe that it is tolerant and yet is it really? It’s okay for someone to “come out of the closet” but it’s not okay for a Christian (Broussard or others) to come out and voice their opinion even if it’s done pleasantly and not pointed at the person. To me, this seems like a double standard. For one person it’s okay to say what they believe, but for the other it’s not okay. It’s this double-speak and the direction our country is going that concerns and alarms me.

Christians are called to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15). We are called to speak the Truth in love (1 Peter 3:15). When Christians act in accordance with what the Bible teaches they are acting consistently in relation to what they believe. Yet, here’s the rub with our popular culture. Christians are often accused of being hypocrites, bigoted, and more and yet when we act consistently with what we believe and speak out against certain hot-button issues, it is we who are “intolerant”, misguided and religious fanatics. If a child misbehaves what happens? They get sent to their room, told why they did something wrong, and so on. If an adult acts like a child what happens? Nothing, they just look like a fool. I honestly believe many adults act more like children. We don’t allow for other people to speak and when they do speak we “censor” what they say to make it more palatable for ourselves to bear. Is it any wonder why many in our culture look to Oprah, TV preachers, and pop culture for sources of Truth instead of looking to what the Bible or those who actually believe and preach what the Word of God has to say?

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Dave Jenkins – Worldviews in Conflict: Biblical Christianity, Gay Marriage and the Word of God

Introduction

Recently there has been much conversation both inside the Church and outside the Church about the issue of gay marriage. One example of this inside the Church is from former pastor Rob Bell who recently preached at an Episcopal church in California. In response to a question regarding same-sex marriage, Bell said, “I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.” This news didn’t surprise me given the trajectory of Rob Bell’s theology but it did get me thinking about gay marriage and its effects on the Church.

Outside the Church, gay marriage is an issue that is coming up to be ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court this week and likely will be dealt with more in the coming days. President Obama, whose constitutional responsibility requires him to defend the laws of the United States, has ordered his Attorney General not to defend The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court.

Given the fact our country has increasingly through movies, television shows and any and all media portrayed gay marriage as culturally acceptable, it is not shocking the gay community feels it has enough momentum to challenge this issue in the Supreme Court, whereas about four years ago it did not want to take such cases to the Supreme Court for fear it might hurt their cause.

The decision of the Supreme Court one way or another will change the landscape of America for generations. Dr. Albert Mohler remarks:

“The very fact that the march for same-sex marriage has reached this point is telling. It reveals a fundamental confusion at the very heart of our society. The ideological support for same-sex marriage is deeply embedded in a host of ideas that are driving our society to the point of moral breakdown. The U.S. Supreme Court may well decide the future of marriage as a legal institution, but the church must hold to marriage as far more, but not less than, a legal reality. Marriage is one of God’s most gracious gifts to humanity. It will be the Church’s responsibility to honor marriage, no matter what the Court may decide.”

Regardless of what happens on either side, I believe that gay marriage is a distortion of the Biblical pattern- God established in the garden when He gave Adam, Eve to be his helper in marriage.

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