But the Bible says!

The following was taking from the AffirmingTheology.com, and can be viewed in it’s original l format here: http://www.affirmingtheology.com/homosexual-behaviour-sic-v-the-bible/

Homosexual Behaviour [sic] v The Bible

 

There’s never a shortage of traditionalist literature to rebut. I was recently made aware of one typical article written by a woman by the name of Ann Lamont. She has a lot of abbreviations after her name, but they don’t serve her well in the claims she puts forward, which are chalk full of logical and theological errors. Writing for Creation Ministries International (a site I’ll be rebutting a number of articles from), she offers a range of traditionalist viewpoints, none of which stand to even a modicum of scrutiny.

She starts off by making an absurd statement. Quoting Pastor Andrew Lansdown, a member of the Baptist Union of Western Australia (BUWA) Task Force on Human Sexuality, Lamont asserts that “gender, race and impairment all relate to what a person is, whereas homosexuality relates to what a person does.” This is patently false. While the title of Lamont’s article accurately portrays their sentiment (referring to “homosexual behavior”, rather than to homosexuality), the fact is that homosexuality has absolutely nothing to do with behavior, and everything to do with the attractions a person feels, whether those attractions are desired or not, or acted upon or not.

It’s only those most ignorant of sexual orientation who would ever claim such a thing. The idea that a member of a task force on human sexuality, as well as someone who would venture to write an article on this issue would demonstrate such ignorance is laughable.

She goes on to quote from the final report issued by this task force that she apparently holds in high regard, and the quotation is no better than the first.

“…a person becomes a homosexual ultimately by choosing to be involved in same-sex activity …. This is in contrast to innate characteristics such as gender and ethnicity.”

It’s obvious that this task force (which, I imagine, is supposed to be a trusted body of individuals who commit substantial time and resources to researching the issue they are tasked with) had already decided what to believe before engaging in any research—that is, if any research was engaged in at all. Who but those informed solely by rhetoric and invective actually believe that a people aren’t homosexual until they engage in same-sex activity? This goes beyond homosexuality and betrays an ignorance on their part to the nature of human sexuality in general—the very issue this BUWA task force is supposed to have a solid command of.

Ultimately, this statement requires that we believe one of two unreasonable assertions:

  1. Every human being is asexual unless and until (s)he engages in sexual activity of some kind. I imagine if this is true, those who have only masturbated are selfsexuals.
  2. Every human being is heterosexual, unless and until they engaged in counter-orientational activity, which changes their orientation at the time of engagement.

Traditionalists would, undoubtedly, claim that the second conclusion is the accurate one; however,  I can’t find an ounce of reason in it. Someone who feels no sexual attractions to someone of the opposite sex is, by definition, not opposite-sexual (opposite=hetero).

Whether we believe non-hetero orientations are sinful or not, intellectual honesty requires an admission that orientation is not defined by behavior, but rather, by attraction. Heterosexuals do not need to have sex with someone of the opposite sex to know that they are straight. Likewise, homosexuals don’t need to have same-sex intercourse to know they’re gay. These things are determined by a person’s awareness of their own feelings, even in the complete absence of activity or even behavior of an erotic, but non-sexual sort (e.g. flirting).

Lamont then asserts that Genesis 1-2 provide foundational teachings about marriage and sexual issues. Unfortunately for her, she draws conclusions based on those chapters where none exist to be drawn. I have to quote this directly. No paraphrase could hope to match its level of adolescent foolishness.

Genesis teaches us that ‘male and female He created them’ (Genesis 1:27). We were created to a plan—male and female complementing each other. That is, God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, nor Madam and Eve.

Really? I didn’t even realize serious people were still making statements like that! To the point itself, how does one derive a “plan” from a historical fact? God created male and female. This is not in dispute. But, she chooses to connect that to an exclusive plan between those two that cannot exist in any other form. That doesn’t gel with the greater testimony of Scripture, however.

For example, God created male and female, a fact, by her interpretative philosophy, means that it’s not God’s plan that anyone remain single. His creating male and female was, indeed, part of a “plan”, right? So then, the prophets Elijah and Elisha, the apostles John and Paul, and—dare I say—our Lord Jesus all lived outside of God’s plan. Shame on the lot of them!

She then claims that there are a number of reasons why God “instituted and designed marriage between a man and a woman.” Yet, not a single one of the reasons she puts forward has any merit whatsoever.

  1. “The complementary structure of the male and female anatomy is obviously designed for the normal husband-wife relationships. Clearly, design in human biology supports heterosexuality and contradicts homosexuality.”Watch out when you see words like “obviously” and “clearly”. They’re a dead giveaway that you’re about to be presented with an unsubstantiated claim, which will require you to simply accept it at face value. Does human biology support heterosexuality and contradict homosexuality? No. The only aspect of biology that supports heterosexuality exclusively is procreation; yet there is nothing in Scripture that teaches that such a fact is indicative of anything when it comes to God’s intentions.There are other biological factors that should be considered. For example, men have a sex gland that can only be stimulated through anal penetration. Yet, men aren’t penetrated in natural opposite-sex intercourse, leaving one to wonder why when God created male and female, He created male with a sex gland requiring anal penetration. Likewise, why did He create female with an external sex gland (the clitoris) that could be stimulated without the need for penetration, when natural opposite-sex intercourse would involve penetration? Both of these biological facts demonstrate a creative facilitation of same-sex intercourse in both males and females.Now, should I make the same mistake as Ann Lamont and conclude that because same-sex sex is biologically facilitated that it must be God’s exclusive intention for human sexuality? No. I simply conclude that same-sex sex is biologically facilitated. That people on Lamont’s side of the aisle insist on going further in their conclusions than logic will take them demonstrates their commitment to the end, rather than the integrity of the means thereto.
  2. “The combination of male and female enables man (and the animals) to produce and nurture offspring as commanded in Genesis 1:28—‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth’.”I knew going in that this claim would be made. It’s absolutely impossible to have a discussion about homosexuality without seeing it raised at some point. It saddens me, though, because it frustrates my attempts to give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s difficult for me to excuse misinterpretations of this particular command as honest mistakes because the correct interpretation is just so apparent.The idea that this procreative command applies to all mankind is an indictment against every human being who chooses not to have children. Remember those giants of the faith that I pointed out a short while ago (people like Elijah, John, and Paul)? Well, all of them disobeyed this supposed command! This fact wouldn’t tell us whether the command is actually universal or not, but for the fact that Jesus disobeyed it, as well. Considering that He was without sin (Heb 4:15), we cannot but conclude that this command must not have been universal; ergo, it cannot be seen as applicable to this debate!
  3. “God gave man and woman complementary roles in order to strengthen the family unit. Woman was to be the helper that man needed (Genesis 2:18). However, the woman’s role as the helpmate is certainly not an inferior one. The enterprising God-fearing woman in Proverbs 31:10–31is an inspiring role model.”I like how she tried to wiggle her way out of the clearly subordinate, inferior status that is the consequence of applying biblical teachings concerning the role of women within the modern context. Let’s not forget that women, according to Scripture, are not to teach or have authority over men (1Ti. 2:12). In fact, forget teaching. They’re not supposed to so much as open their mouths in church, not even to ask a question (1Co. 14:35)!  You mean to tell me that’s just a difference in roles, and says nothing about the inferior status of women within the biblical context?So, are we to believe that God, who isn’t a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), actually is one—that He would give default authority to someone based not on intellect, skills, or leadership abilities, but on the basis of whoever has a penis? Is our wise God really that stupid (Jude 25)? That would be analogous to parents leaving Billy in charge at 12 years old just because he’s taller than his 5’1″ brother George (who happens to be 17). It would be analogous to a Christian believing he was superior to someone else based solely on the color of his skin. Oh wait… There wasa time when some Christians believed that. Shame.Contrary, then, to Lamont’s claim, gender roles in Scripture were not a result of a universal pronouncement of the superiority of men, or even of certain roles that each gender must play. It was simply an accommodation of the culture surrounding people living in what was, regrettably, a patriarchal society. Thankfully, the modern Western world is now egalitarian (with the exception of a few backward-thinking Christians who are stuck in yesteryear because of their failure to understand why Scripture says what it says, and how to apply it properly to a vastly different social context).

Lamont goes on to contend that homosexuality is ungodly because it’s physically harmful.

Andrew Lansdown points out that ‘homosexual activity is notoriously disease-prone. In addition to diseases associated with heterosexual promiscuity, homosexual actions facilitate the transmission of anal herpes, hepatitis B, intestinal parasites, Kaposi’s Sarcoma and AIDS.’1 Research on the life expectancy of a group of homosexual men in Canada in the early 1990s indicated that they could expect 8–21 years less lifespan than other men.

Um, what’s her point? Police officers, poor people, and even Black people tend to have a shorter life expectancy. It’s just a fact. Are we to conclude that each of these groups is ungodly? With regard to the transmission of STDs, as with heterosexuality, there are ways to engage in sex safely, and ways to engage in it recklessly. The practice of safe sex destroys any disparities in the transmission of STDs in relation to opposite-sex versus same-sex intercourse. In fact, but for the fear of pregnancy leading to more consistent condom usage in opposite-sex intercourse, we’d probably see the gap between infection rates close substantially.

All this being said, even if the disparity were unavoidable, no conclusion could be drawn from it. We can’t use statistics to determine whether activity is right or wrong. Some heterosexuals contract STDs, and some homosexuals do not. Morality is not subject to statistical analyses, nor does any such analysis intimate God’s approval or disapproval of anything.

She then makes the mistake of talking about same-sex parenting, claiming that the one thing “humanists” miss is the biblical admonition to “train up a child…” She contends that “you cannot faithfully teach God’s Word to your children while living a lifestyle specifically condemned by God’s Word. All Christians are sinners forgiven by God’s grace, but living in a homosexual relationship constitutes habitual, unrepented sin.” Does she really want to go down this road?

If moral living were the standard by which people would be deemed worthy and able to have children, the population of the world would scarcely be sustainable. Indeed, no unbeliever would even qualify for a parenting license, as they certainly aren’t qualified to raise children in the way of the Lord. So, completely ignoring the question of whether or not a committed, romantic (and yes, even sexual) relationship between two people of the same sex involves “unrepented sin”, the standard she seems content to hold over homosexuals is non-existent when it comes to heterosexuals. Should people “train up a child…”? Absolutely. Does a failure to do so make someone a bad parent? Only a closed-minded zealot would claim such a thing.

Moving on, she combats the contention that what two adults do in their private lives is nobody’s business but their own. Her logic: “God, our Designer and Creator, has authority over all aspects of our lives. He makes the rules and He quite specifically forbids homosexual behaviour [sic].” Fine. Why don’t you leave the matter to God, then? As long as we’re talking about activity that God has a problem with, I seem to recall Him having a huge problem with Christians who attempt to lord their beliefs over non-believers. In fact, He specifically said that what unbelievers do and don’t do is His concern, not anybody else’s.

“For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?  [13]  But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.”

1Corinthians 5:12-13 [emphasis in original]

The only conclusion that can be drawn from this passage is that Christians have no business telling an entire society how to live. At best, we are only authorized to preach our beliefs within the Church, to those who have made Jesus Lord. Everyone else’s lifestyle is between them and God… not according to Pastor Weekly, but according to God Himself, through the apostle Paul.

One of my primary theses regarding the interpretation of biblical condemnations of some form of homosexuality or another is that those particular passages were condemning activity associated within that culture with the custom or ritual of idolatrous people. Lamont addresses and summarily dismisses this argument.

Some people claim that homosexual behaviour was only condemned in the Bible because it was associated with idolatry (e.g. 1 Kings 14:24). However, it is clearly condemned apart from idolatry as well (e.g. Leviticus 18:22). It is described in Scripture as an unnatural, immoral perversion. ‘For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another …’ (Romans 1:26–27).

Lamont’s problem is that these two passages referenced as evidence that Scripture condemned homosexuality apart from idolatry actually tie the condemnations directly to it! If she would have started reading Leviticus 18 at verse 1, she’d have noticed that God specifically stated that His purpose was to keep the Israelites sanctified (separated) from the customs of the Egyptians (where He’d delivered them from) and the Canaanites (where He was taking them to). The language he employs clearly identifies their worship of other gods as the impetus for these proscriptions.

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  [2]  ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘I am the LORD your God.  [3]  ‘You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes.  [4]  ‘You are to perform My judgments and keep Mystatutes, to live in accord with themI am the LORD your God.  [5]  ‘So you shall keep Mystatutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the LORD.

Leviticus 18:1-5 [emphases mine]

The language God employs makes it obvious that He doesn’t want them falling into false worship, or even involving themselves in the customs of false worshipers. Repeatedly, He reminds them that He (YHWH) is their Lord and God, in contrast to the false deities of the Egyptians and the Canaanites. He emphasizes that they’re to walk according to His judgments and statutes. Any unbiased reader of this passage will see quite clearly that the source of God’s concern in this context is His concern that the Israelites remain faithful to Him, even though they’re surrounded by faithless tribes.

It’s not simply a matter of Him condemning things associated with idolatrous ritual (worship rites), but He also condemns things simply because of their association with an idolatrous peoples—simply because they’re a part of the custom of idolatrous people. This is made evidence when reading His closing remarks in the chapter, which mirror the opening remarks, demonstrating that He hasn’t changed subjects on us. He’s still dealing with the same issue.

“‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled.  [25]  ‘For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.  [26]  ‘But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you  [27]  (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled);  [28]  so that the land will not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you.  [29]  ‘For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people.  [30]  ‘Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the LORD your God.‘”

Leviticus 18:24-30

So, in both opening and closing this list of prohibitions, God definitively lays out His purpose. He wants them to remain separate from the cultures surrounding them, not only in isolating themselves from their idolatrous rituals (v. 22), but also from anything associated with their customs.

Contrary to what traditionalists realize, that actually is the very definition of “abomination”—something disgusting, abhorred, or filthy because of its association with idolatrous custom or ritual. That’s why every time the word appears in the Torah (the writings of Moses), it’s connected by textual or cultural context to idolatry.

The same problem exists with Lamont’s interpretation of Romans 1:26-27. If she would leave those two verses in context, she’d she that Paul repeatedly connected the condemnations with idolatry.

“Professing to be wise, they became fools,  [23]  and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.  [24]  Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.  [25]  For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  [26]  For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,  [27]  and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.  [28]  And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

Romans 1:22-28 [emphases mine]

Each of the black bolded segments demonstrate a direct association with the idolatrous acts of the group of people that are the subject of this condemnation. Traditionalists want to make you believe that the subject is homosexuals, but no, idolaters are the people being condemned in this passage. Therefore, the reference to the same-sex acts they committed is a reference to acts committed within an idolatrous framework. The blue bolded segments demonstrate that it was precisely because of the idolatry that the judgments followed. Further, it’s clear that Paul saw the same-sex acts as an expression or natural result of their idolatry, certainly not as an expression of love between two consenting adults who serve God alone.

Consequently, this condemnation is in no way related to the modern context, in which idolatry has no part of homosexuality, as it once did (or at least was perceived to) within the ancient Greco-Roman culture. Indeed, if one examines history, he sees that the ancients did, in fact, engage in all sorts of sexual activity (including same-sex) within an idolatrous framework. These festivals were called Bacchanalia, and were dedicated to the Roman god of wine, Bacchus. It’s no wonder Paul addressed this condemnation to Roman Christians.

Lamont also references the condemnations of arsenokoitais in 1Co. 6:9 and 1Ti. 1:10; however, she does not probe adequately into the translations in order to see the huge disparity of how the word was translated from version to version, especially in conjunction with its partner-terms, malakoi (1Co. 6:9) and pornois and andrapodistais (1Ti. 1:10). Although she offers a literal translation of arsenokoitais as “men who sleep with men” (which is actually inaccurate, being more literally translated as “male-bedders”), she fails to understand the context—the connection that these “male-bedders” have with malakoi, pornois andandrapodistais. In fact, arsenokoitais are the customers of male prostitutes (malakoi/pornois); and in 1Ti. 1:10, Paul goes so far as to also condemn the ancient equivalent of the pimp—the andrapodistais, or slave traders, who profited from the sale of (usually young) male prostitutes.

So then, these two passages actually condemn a form of male-male sex quite prevalent in the ancient Greco-Roman society—pederastic prostitution. This condemnation can no more be seen to apply to homosexuality in general as the biblical condemnations of heterosexual prostitution could be seen to apply to heterosexuality in general. Of course, Lamont doesn’t dig deep enough into the linguistics of the text to see this; but why bother, when a surface-level evaluation serves one’s purpose nicely?

Of course, it wouldn’t be a worthy traditionalist tort without a reference to the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lamont certainly doesn’t disappoint. Without going into too much detail, the sin in that narrative was clearly the intention of the townspeople to rape non-human visitors—angels. Jude 7 clearly identifies this intent when kept in the surrounding context of human/angel interactions (vs. 6-9, he references the ambiguous commission of abominations. Upon inspection, bestiality is, indeed, referred to as an abomination in Lev. 18, and certainly qualifies, given the fact that nowhere in all of Scripture is homosexuality mentioned in conjunction with Sodom.

She finally points to “evidence” of divine punishment of homosexuals, referencing the poorly interpreted narrative of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction, the incorrectly translated 1Co. 6:9-10, and the unjustly applied reference to male-male sex in Lev. 20:13. Not a single one of the instances she sites actually holds up to scrutiny, demonstrating the weakness of the case she puts forward.

In a desire to end on a “happier note”, she quickly transitions from the destructive judgment of homosexuals into the hope of their salvation, as though even if the logic of the universe were suspended and her arguments proved true, one couldn’t be a Christian and a homosexual at the same time. In her words, they’d need to experience genuine “repentance and reform” first. But maybe she’s right. The Bible does say that we’re saved by three things: 1) the free gift of God’s grace, 2) faith, and 3) the absence of sin. Oh wait, that’s the wrong translation… 3) heterosexuality. Oh darn, that’s the Ann Lamont Version, not the most objective of translations. Well, in lieu of these new versions of Christianity and the Bible, I’ll have to settle for the first 2 things that save: grace through faith.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  [9]  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9

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