Three confused conclusions

Objection: The Bible doesn’t condemn homosexual acts. It has been

misinterpreted.

Even though the Bible appears to be very straight-forward in the passages that address homosexuality, it is argued that the plain meaning is not the real meaning. By-and-large, Liberals argue that where homosexuality occurs in the Bible it is not referring to homosexuality (as we know it) and where it doesn’t occur it is referring to homosexuality (e.g. their claimed examples of homosexual relationships.) Each Christian must decide for him/herself what he/she believes God is saying. That does not mean we can just go with our personal preference. It means that the hermeneutical (interpreting/ understanding) work must be done in order to determine what is truly faithful to God. I believe the interpretations that attempt to justify homosexual acts are without basis and are motivated merely by a desire to find a different view rather than accept what God says.

Objection: The Bible does condemn homosexual acts but the Bible is

wrong

Numerous liberal scholars agree that the Bible is uniformly negative about homosexual acts. Their argument though is that the Bible has got it wrong. They see the Bible as reflecting an outdated and erroneous understanding that we, with our superior knowledge, have now outgrown. A long list of examples could be given but, just to illustrate the point, consider the following. Dan O. Via, a pro-homosexual advocate, has written, in Homosexuality And The Bible: Two Views, co-authored with Robert Gagnon, that the Bible’s rule against homosexual practice is “an absolute prohibition,” and that Scripture condemns homosexual behaviour “unconditionally” and “absolute[ly].” “The Pauline texts … do not support this limitation of male homosexuality to pederasty … I believe that Hays is correct in holding that arsenokoitēs refers to a man who engages in same-sex intercourse. The term is a compound of the words for “male” (arsēn) and “bed” (koitē) and thus could naturally be taken to mean a man who goes to bed with other men. True, the meaning of a compound word does not necessarily add up to the sum of its parts. But in this case I believe the evidence suggests that it does. In the Greek version of the two Leviticus passages that condemn male homosexuality (Lev 18:22; 20:13) a man is not to lie with a male as with a woman each text contains both the words arsēn and koitē. First Corinthians 6:9-10 simply classifies homosexuality as a moral sin that finally keeps one out of the kingdom of God.” “Professor Gagnon and I are in substantial agreement that the biblical texts that deal specifically with homosexual practice condemn it unconditionally.” (Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, but Dan O. Via and Robert Gagnon, pp.11, 13, 93-95, quoted at http://barbwire.com/2014/04/29/liberal-scholars- homosexuality/) And yet, Via is pro-homosexual acts. Walter Wink, in a review of Gagnon’s book, The Bible And Homosexual Practice, entitled To Hell With Gays, wrote, “I have long insisted that the issue is one of hermeneutics, and that efforts to twist the text to mean what it clearly does not say are deplorable. Simply put, the Bible is negative toward same-sex behaviour, and there is no getting around it… Paul wouldn’t accept [a loving, faithful homosexual] relationship for a minute.” (To Hell With Gays,  Christian Century Review, 119:13, pp.32-33, quoted in Brown (p.162) and http://barbwire.com/2014/04/29/liberal- scholars-homosexuality/) And yet, Wink is pro-homosexual acts despite what he believes the Bible teaches. The acknowledgement, and yet rejection, of the Bible’s teaching is seen in this quote from Luke Timothy Johnson, New Testament scholar and pro-homosexual advocate: “The Bible nowhere speaks positively or even neutrally about same-sex love…The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says…I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality.” (Homosexuality and the Church, Commonweal Magazine, June 15, 2007, quote at http://barbwire.com/2014/04/29/liberal-scholars-homosexuality) There are many more examples. (See Brown, pp.161-2 and http://barbwire.com/2014/04/29/liberal-scholars- homosexuality.) Even the GLBTQ online encyclopedia (now closed) said, “The bad news from the Christian Bible is that it condemns same-sex desire and same-sex acts without qualification of age, gender, role, status, consent, or membership of an ethnic community.” (Quoted in Brown, p.162) These people recognise what the Bible clearly says on this issue but find reasons for dismissing it.

Objection: The Bible does condemn homosexual acts but there are

bigger issues

We have already considered the questions of love and justice which tend to be the “bigger” issues that people are referring to. This is a false dichotomy. Pitting the Bible against itself shows a lack of understanding regarding the unity and cohesion of the Bible. God is not confused. He hasn’t revealed things that are impossible to reconcile. Rather than dismiss parts of the Bible in favour of other parts, we are called to take it all seriously and to discover how it fits together. We cannot dismiss the clear teaching of the Bible on homosexuality so easily. There is a fourth way to understand the Bible - a way that arguably takes the actual text much more seriously. Related pages Taking the biblical teaching seriously
© 2017 Peter Cheyne
A Christian’s Guide To Homosexuality
Truth In Love
Main sections Main sections

Three confused

conclusions

Objection: The Bible doesn’t condemn

homosexual acts. It has been misinterpreted.

Even though the Bible appears to be very straight- forward in the passages that address homosexuality, it is argued that the plain meaning is not the real meaning. By-and-large, Liberals argue that where homosexuality occurs in the Bible it is not referring to homosexuality (as we know it) and where it doesn’t occur it is referring to homosexuality (e.g. their claimed examples of homosexual relationships.) Each Christian must decide for him/herself what he/she believes God is saying. That does not mean we can just go with our personal preference. It means that the hermeneutical (interpreting/ understanding) work must be done in order to determine what is truly faithful to God. I believe the interpretations that attempt to justify homosexual acts are without basis and are motivated merely by a desire to find a different view rather than accept what God says.

Objection: The Bible does condemn

homosexual acts but the Bible is wrong

Numerous liberal scholars agree that the Bible is uniformly negative about homosexual acts. Their argument though is that the Bible has got it wrong. They see the Bible as reflecting an outdated and erroneous understanding that we, with our superior knowledge, have now outgrown. A long list of examples could be given but, just to illustrate the point, consider the following. Dan O. Via, a pro-homosexual advocate, has written, in Homosexuality And The Bible: Two Views, co-authored with Robert Gagnon, that the Bible’s rule against homosexual practice is “an absolute prohibition,” and that Scripture condemns homosexual behaviour “unconditionally” and “absolute[ly].” “The Pauline texts … do not support this limitation of male homosexuality to pederasty … I believe that Hays is correct in holding that arsenokoitēs refers to a man who engages in same-sex intercourse. The term is a compound of the words for “male” (arsēn) and “bed” (koitē) and thus could naturally be taken to mean a man who goes to bed with other men. True, the meaning of a compound word does not necessarily add up to the sum of its parts. But in this case I believe the evidence suggests that it does. In the Greek version of the two Leviticus passages that condemn male homosexuality (Lev 18:22; 20:13) a man is not to lie with a male as with a woman each text contains both the words arsēn and koitē. First Corinthians 6:9-10 simply classifies homosexuality as a moral sin that finally keeps one out of the kingdom of God.” “Professor Gagnon and I are in substantial agreement that the biblical texts that deal specifically with homosexual practice condemn it unconditionally.” (Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, but Dan O. Via and Robert Gagnon, pp.11, 13, 93-95, quoted at http://barbwire.com/2014/04/29/liberal- scholars-homosexuality/) And yet, Via is pro-homosexual acts. Walter Wink, in a review of Gagnon’s book, The Bible And Homosexual Practice, entitled To Hell With Gays, wrote, “I have long insisted that the issue is one of hermeneutics, and that efforts to twist the text to mean what it clearly does not say are deplorable. Simply put, the Bible is negative toward same-sex behaviour, and there is no getting around it… Paul wouldn’t accept [a loving, faithful homosexual] relationship for a minute.” (To Hell With Gays, Christian Century Review, 119:13, pp.32- 33, quoted in Brown (p.162) and http://barbwire.com/2014/04/29/liberal-scholars- homosexuality/) And yet, Wink is pro-homosexual acts despite what he believes the Bible teaches. The acknowledgement, and yet rejection, of the Bible’s teaching is seen in this quote from Luke Timothy Johnson, New Testament scholar and pro- homosexual advocate: “The Bible nowhere speaks positively or even neutrally about same-sex love…The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says…I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality.” (Homosexuality and the Church, Commonweal Magazine, June 15, 2007, quote at http://barbwire.com/2014/04/29/liberal-scholars- homosexuality) There are many more examples. (See Brown, pp.161-2 and http://barbwire.com/2014/04/29/liberal-scholars- homosexuality.) Even the GLBTQ online encyclopedia (now closed) said, “The bad news from the Christian Bible is that it condemns same- sex desire and same-sex acts without qualification of age, gender, role, status, consent, or membership of an ethnic community.” (Quoted in Brown, p.162) These people recognise what the Bible clearly says on this issue but find reasons for dismissing it.

Objection: The Bible does condemn

homosexual acts but there are bigger issues

We have already considered the questions of love and justice which tend to be the “bigger” issues that people are referring to. This is a false dichotomy. Pitting the Bible against itself shows a lack of understanding regarding the unity and cohesion of the Bible. God is not confused. He hasn’t revealed things that are impossible to reconcile. Rather than dismiss parts of the Bible in favour of other parts, we are called to take it all seriously and to discover how it fits together. We cannot dismiss the clear teaching of the Bible on homosexuality so easily. There is a fourth way to understand the Bible - a way that arguably takes the actual text much more seriously. Related pages Taking the biblical teaching seriously
© Peter Cheyne 2017.
A Christian’s Guide To Homosexuality
Truth In Love
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