Archives For Homosexuality

Before you blast me for the very title, please hear me out. I’m posting this blog as a genuine invitation for good, logical, critical feedback. I don’t intend to be offensive and I don’t mean any harm by this post. Please hear me out; please read what I say.Luke and leah I’m inviting good, healthy, and humble push-back. If I’m wrong, please show me where.

A few months ago, I made an analogy between homosexual relations and incest, and I received quite a few negative comments. To be honest, I don’t remember receiving any logical refutations to the point that I was making, which has caused me to write this post. If I’m off, then please point out the error in my logic. Please correct me with texts, evidence, or logical fallacy.

In my previous post, I pointed out that the moral logic often used in justifying same-sex relations could also be used in justifying incest. That moral logic is: consensuality, mutuality, love, and commitment. That is, if two people love each other, are committed to a life-long relationship, and if their relationship doesn’t harm anyone else, and if such love is mutual, rich, and genuine—then why is it wrong? Why should these two people not consummate their relationship through marriage and sex?

Many people would say that nothing is wrong. If such criteria are met, then the two persons should get married. But in my previous blogs, I simply tried to show that such moral logic could also be used to justify incest. If the only criteria for marriage is mutual love, commitment, and lack of any potential harm to one’s neighbor, then the same criteria could be applied to both incest and homosexual unions.

Please hear me out: I am not saying that gay unions are the same as incest, nor am I saying that gay unions will lead to incest, nor am I saying that gay unions are as bad as incest. Again, I am only trying to analyze the moral logic for gay unions based on analogy.

Now, to justify the analogy, I have to point out that both Moses and Paul did the same thing.

In Leviticus 18, Moses discusses incest quite pervasively in vv. 6-18 and then homosexual relations in v. 22 (cf. 20:13). Paul also talked about homosexual relations (1 Cor 6:9) in the context of incest (1 Cor 5) and sex with prostitutes (1 Cor 6:12ff). This does not mean that incest is the same as homosexual relations, or that homosexual relations will lead to having sex with prostitutes. That’s not what I am saying. And that’s not what the biblical writers were saying. I’m only trying to point out that the biblical writers brought these up in the same contexts; and that’s all I’m trying to do.

So with that lengthy introduction, let me express my questions.

Why are some people so appalled at the analogy? People get upset at the incest analogy, but I’ve yet to hear why incest is so wrong. So my question is: why is incest wrong?

Because Leviticus 18 says so? Well, there are lots of laws in Leviticus that Christians don’t obey. So why should we obey this one?

It’s repeated in the NT? Yes, but only once (1 Cor 5) and there it’s only talking about a man having sex with his stepmother. Where is incest between consenting brother and sister prohibited? Why are we so appalled at incest? Because of Leviticus? Cultural taboos? One passage in the NT?

The same is often thrown at non-affirming Christians for not endorsing same-sex unions.

Leviticus. Cultural taboos. And a few debated passages in the NT.

“Affirming” advocates continue to abhor incestuous unions but I have yet to hear a good argument why. Why is incest wrong? Okay, so incest could produce genetically messed up kids (not that Moses or Paul knew anything about that). But what if the wife/sister is infertile, or what if they use protection? Why is incest wrong if it’s engaged in with committed and consensual love?

Again, I’m not saying that incest is the same as same-sex unions. They are different. I’m not even saying that if we as a culture embrace gay unions that this will lead to incest. This is logically fallacious and untrue. I’m only looking at the strength of the moral logic often used to justify same-sex unions. And I’m genuinely asking for some other criteria that rules out incest that does not also rule out same sex unions.

Let me be frank. If you are gay and reading this post, I would genuinely love to hear from you. I don’t want to offend you by using this analogy, so please excuse me  if I have done so. It’s not my intention.

I’m only wanting to know what’s wrong with this analogy—the analogy of the moral logic used to justify the action, not the analogy of actions. Having committed, consensual, and monogamous relations with your sister (or brother) that doesn’t harm anyone else is wrong—but why?

Some of you have been waiting for this for a long time. Our Silo courses on Homosexuality, the Bible, & the Church are now ready to go! Preston Sprinkle has created two Silo courses that will help you think through the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and a gracious approach to interacting with the LGBT community and those in our churches who experience same-sex attraction.

Silo Bible Teaching for Normal PeopleFirst, a quick word about Silo. The Silo Project takes insights from our college level courses (I’m referring to Eternity Bible College) and presents them in attractive, self-paced mini-courses. Each course consists of 12–16 sessions, and each session features a 5–7 minute video with optional online discussion. It’s a perfect way to dive deeper into the Bible, theology, or ministry in the midst of a busy schedule. Each class is also affordable: $25 as an individual or $20 if you sign up with a group of 5 or more (each course also features a small group study guide). You can also license Silo courses for classroom settings at a significant discount.

Now about Preston’s courses on homosexuality. Preston’s study on homosexuality, which many of you have benefited from via this blog, is now being presented in two Silo courses. The first is entitled Homosexuality & the Bible. This course explores what the Bible says about homosexuality, gay marriage, and gender identity. Preston examines the key passages carefully and also dives into biblical principles that relate to the topic.

>> Sign up for Homosexuality & the Bible here, or start with a free trial.

Preston Sprinkle SiloThe second course is entitled Homosexuality & the Church. This course builds on the biblical foundation of the first course and explores how Christians should interact with the LGBT community and minister to and with those within our churches who experience same-sex attraction. He also explores a number of practical questions, such as:

  • Is same-sex attraction caused by “nature” or “nurture”?
  • How can I respond biblically to my same-sex attraction?
  • What do I do if a gay couple walks into my church?
  • What do I do if I think my child is gay?
  • What do I do if my child “comes out” gay?
  • Should I vote on gay marriage?
  • Should I attend my gay friends’ wedding?

>> Sign up for Homosexuality & the Church here, or start with a free trial.

Because we want all of you to be able to benefit from Preston’s careful study, we are offering both courses at a significant discount: $15 each for individuals, $12 each for groups of 5 or more. To get this discount, use the code “hbc” when you register for the course. Also, see below for preview videos and outlines for each course.


 

Homosexuality & the Bible

Session 1: Introduction

 

Homosexuality & the Bible: Introduction from The Silo Project on Vimeo.

 

Session 2: Gender & Marriage in Genesis 1–2

Homosexuality & the Bible: Gender & Marriage in Genesis 1-2 from The Silo Project on Vimeo.

 

Session 3: Sodom & Gomorrah

Session 4: David & Jonathan

Session 5: Leviticus 18 & 20, Part 1

Session 6: Leviticus 18 & 20, Part 2

Session 7: Jesus’ View of Homosexuality, Part 1

Session 8: Jesus’ View of Homosexuality, Part 2

Session 9: Jesus’ Posture Toward the Marginalized

Session 10: The Context of Romans 1

Session 11: The Argument of Romans 1

Session 12: Counterarguments for Romans 1, Part 1

Session 13: Counterarguments for Romans 1, Part 2

Session 14: Words Matter

Session 15: 1 Corinthians 6

Session 16: Summary

 >> Sign up for Homosexuality & the Bible here, or start with a free trial.


Homosexuality & the Church

Session 1: Introduction

Homosexuality & the Church: Introduction from The Silo Project on Vimeo.

 

Session 2: Does “Nature” Cause Same-Sex Attraction?

Does “Nature” Cause Same Sex Attraction? from The Silo Project on Vimeo.

 

Session 3: Does “Nurture” Cause Same-Sex Attraction?

Session 4: Theologically Speaking, Does “Nature Vs. Nurture” Matter?

Session 5: Living with Same-Sex Attraction

Session 6: Celibacy, Part 1

Session 7: Celibacy, Part 2

Session 8: When a Gay Couple Walks into Church

Session 9: What Do I Do if I Think My Child Is Gay?

Session 10: What Do I Do if My Child “Comes Out” Gay?

Session 11: Should I Vote Against Gay Marriage?

Session 12: Should I Attend My Gay Friends’ Wedding?

Session 13: How Should We Relate to Those Who Disagree?

Session 14: Developing the Proper Posture

 >> Sign up for Homosexuality & the Church here, or start with a free trial.

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the seriesHomosexuality, the Bible, and the Church

I wanted to say thanks to the 90+ students who attended my class, “Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church” this last semester at Eternity Bible College. I loved our interactions, discussions, and the very helpful feedback you’ve given me throughout the semester. As a brief recap, we spent most of our time in the text, working through direct and indirect passages relevant to the issue. We also listened to a few (former and current) LGBT people, who helped us put flesh on the topic. During the last few classes we discussed all the “what about…” questions that surround homosexuality. “Can I attend a gay wedding if I think homosexual behavior is a sin?” “What do I do when my child comes out?” “Should I vote against gay marriage?” and many others.

Silo Blog AdFor those who weren’t part of the class but wanted to be, I will soon release two online courses on homosexuality through The Silo Project, so stay tuned.

I often get asked, have you changed your views after studying the topic and teaching the class? Sometimes the question is genuine; other times the questioner has a sharpened pitch-fork ready to address the wrong answer. In any case, my answer is always the same: “yes and no.”

No, I have not changed my view about what the Bible says about homosexual behavior. The Bible says homosexual behavior is sin. I’ve tried to read the text from the affirming side—”monogamous, consensual homosexual behavior is blessed by God”—but I’ve found their arguments to be unconvincing. No doubt, there are several good points made by James Brownson, Matthew Vines, and others, and I may agree with some of their exegetical conclusions about some passages (e.g. Gen 19), but at the end of the day, there are too many interpretive problems with their view, so I can’t buy it.

So, I (still) believe homosexual behavior is sin. The difference, though, is that now I know why. I’ve worked through the passages, thought about the theological questions, and listened to countless testimonies from LGBT people. I’ve heard, weighed, and considered the main arguments for the affirming position and still remain traditional in my views not because I’m addicted to tradition, but because the traditional view rightly captures what the Bible says about homosexuality. Hopefully, now, my view is based on the Bible and not my upbringing or assumptions.

So I haven’t changed my view. However, I have changed my posture. I used to think that standing for the traditional view of marriage meant that I need to wear it on my sleeve and front my conclusion at the beginning of every conversation. But Jesus didn’t, and so neither will I. Jesus, of course, never mentioned homosexuality. However, he did take a conservative stance on various sins while dishing out grace quite liberally on those steeped in those sins.

Jesus stood against extortion, yet didn’t mention extortion when he encountered extortionists (Matt 9:9-13; Luke 19:1-10).

Jesus stood against violence, but didn’t mention violence when he befriended a leader of a violent superpower (Matt 8:5-13).

Jesus opposed adultery and even took a hyper-conservative view on sexual ethics (Matt 5:27-32), but he didn’t front sexual sin when he encountered people engaged in it (Luke 7:36-50).

Jesus didn’t often lead with law; instead, he led with love and he loved people into holiness.

I often wonder what made Jesus so compelling to sinners. Why were they “drawn to him” as Luke 15:1-2 tells us? I think it’s because his cosmic love for people seeped deep down into the bones of people who were broken and battered by a sin-tarnished world. In a round about way, my traditional view of homosexual behavior compels me—if I want to be like Jesus—to love LGBT people even more. jesus and sinnersNot, love the sinner and hate the sin, but love the sinner and hate my own sin. Because we’re all sinners. I should have more LGBT friends, and not less, if I’m true to my non-affirming view. Jesus had few friends who were conservative religious people, but he had a whole slew friends who were thugs, fornicators, extortionists, gangsters—or people who were simply rejected and unloved by the religious elite.

Therefore, I want to be known for hanging out in the gay district in town, for donating time and money for people suffering from AIDS, and for attending parties that are filled with gays, lesbians, and transvestites. Why? Because Jesus was known for attending such parties (Matt 9:10-13), so much so that it tarnished His reputation (Matt 11:19). But Jesus didn’t care about His reputation. He cared about grace. He cared about love. He cared about fulfilling the mission entrusted to him by His Father and energized by the Spirit.

So have I changed? Ya, I guess I have. Hopefully I’ve changed toward, not away from, Jesus. Such a shift will always be dangerous and invite criticism from religious people.

My understanding of the issue of homosexuality has also changed. That is, I no longer can see same sex attraction and orientation as some abstract ethical debate that I banter around with among all my heterosexual friends. Homosexuality is not an issue. It’s people. It’s Matt and Leslie and Dan and Jeff and Jeremy and Maddie and many other beautiful souls trying to find hope and peace in a broken world. Loving people doesn’t mean affirming whatever behavior they desire; such an approach has never resonated with historic Christianity. But loving people the way Jesus did involves deep and radical commitment, sacrificial generosity, and a burning passion to discover and delight in the humanity of God’s image bearers. If we construct walls of conditions and prerequisites—“I’ll love greedy people, but not gay people…I can tolerate gluttons at my work on doughnut day but I despise my lesbian boss”—we fail to mediate the healing love of Christ. And we fail to uphold the biblical gospel we claim to promote.

In any case, I’ll be blogging less about homosexuality. Why? Because I need some space to reflect, read, and have non-social-media conversations about this vital topic. Plus, there are many other beautifully complex truths that I’m passionate about.

So, my next few blogs will be about grace (or charis): that ever so familiar and ever so watered down truth that binds us to our crucified King.

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the seriesReview of God & the Gay Christian

Matthew Vines has written a very thought-provoking book, one which exemplifies sound thinking and humble research. In reading his book, I often found myself rubbing my eyes vinesthinking, “I can’t believe this guy hasn’t even graduated from college!”

Matthew, you’re a diligent student of God’s word and I appreciate the work you put into this.

In any case, while I love to eat catfish and wear poly-cotton blends, I still believe that the prohibitions of male homosexual intercourse in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are still valid today.

To argue that the laws regarding male homosexual intercourse are no longer binding on Christians, Vines cites a few outdated laws in Leviticus: sowing fields with different seeds (Lev 19:19), wearing clothes made of mixed fabric (19:19), getting tattoos (19:28), and shaving the edges of your beard (19:27). Vines also points out that laws regarding circumcision and dietary laws—bye, bye Shrimp Cocktail—are no longer binding on Christians.

So, since all of these laws are done away with in Christ, it’s probable, argues Vines, that the sexual laws about male-male intercourse are no longer binding as well.

Once again, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Matthew’s tone. It’s gracious. Cordial. Humble. And he actually addresses the “what about…” questions that conservatives will have. I often found myself thinking, “Ah ha, but what about…oh…you actually address that. But, have you considered…oh…um…you actually have.”

In any case, there are problems with Matthew’s treatment of Leviticus 18 and 20.

While Matthew highlights the laws of Leviticus that are no longer valid for Christians, he fails to make mention of all the laws that are clearly still binding. In fact, as I’m sure Matthew knows, Leviticus 18-20 is a distinct literary unit. These three chapters are like one long chapter in the book. And this section lists tons of laws that the Israelites were supposed to obey if they were to get along with each other. Now here’s the thing: while some of these laws are clearly overturned (or fulfilled) in the New Testament, most of them are not.

Most of the laws in Leviticus 18-20 are binding on believers. Matthew only cites a few that aren’t; but here are the rest: incest (Lev 18:6-18; 20:11-14, 17, 19-21), adultery (Lev 18:20; 20:10), child sacrifice (Lev 18:21; 20:1-5), bestiality (Lev 18:23; 20:15-16), theft (Lev 19:11), lying (Lev 19:11), taking the Lord’s name in vain (Lev 19:20), oppressing your neighbor (Lev 19:13), cursing the deaf (19:14), showing partiality in the court of law (Lev 19:15), slander (Lev 19:16), hating your brother (19:17), making your daughter a prostitute (Lev 19:29), turning to witches or necromancers (Lev 19:31), not taking vengeance (Lev 19:17), and loving your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18).

While Matthew correctly points out a few laws that are most probably done away with in Christ, he doesn’t even mention the large pile of commands that are clearly binding on Christians—commands that surround the prohibition of male-male intercourse.

Now, to be fair, adding up the valid and invalid laws that surround the homosexual prohibitions polycotton blendsdoesn’t seal the deal—even if the homosexual prohibitions are drowning in a sea of valid laws. (I do think it puts the burden of proof on affirming scholars, however.) Vines ends up bringing in another argument: the moral logic of homosexual prohibitions.

Discerning the “moral logic” of a command means that we dig deep underneath the actual command to find out the reason for the command. Take tattoos, for instance. The question isn’t so much if tattoos are forbidden, but why they are forbidden. And if you look closely at Leviticus 19:28, you’ll see that tattoos were forbidden because they had to do with some sort of cult of the dead. The tattoos that were forbidden for the Israelites were cultic and pagan; they symbolized allegiance to other gods. And that’s the “moral logic” for the prohibition.

But what about gay sex? What’s the moral logic underlying the prohibitions? Gay sex is clearly forbidden—but why? And are the reasons for the prohibition still valid today?

Vines argues extensively that the reason—the moral logic—for the homosexual prohibitions in Lev 18:22 and 20:13 is because of an assumed male hierarchy. That is, men were valued above women, and when men have sex with other men, they treat the passive partner as a mere woman.

One problem: Nowhere in the context of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 does the text assume some sort of gender hierarchy—that females were inferior to males and that’s why men shouldn’t assume the female role in sex. Nothing. (The phrase “as with a female” only speaks of gender boundaries, not gender hierarchy.) The two prohibitions are “unqualified and absolute” (Gagnon); that is, they simply say that men shouldn’t have sex with men. Period. There is no “moral logic” revealed in the command (just as there is no clear moral logic revealed in the incest laws, though I suspect God gave the commands for similar reasons.) The only hint of moral logic is that men shouldn’t violate their God-given gender roles in sexual intercourse; that is, men should have sex with women, and women sex with men. The command tells men not to have sex with men “as with women.” In any case, assuming some sort of hidden gender hierarchy as the reason for the prohibition is…well…an assumption. An assumption that’s not in the text.

Moreover, every single other sexual prohibition in Leviticus 18 and 20 are still valid for Christians today: adultery, incest, bestiality, etc. They are all valid. Now, Vines points out, or assumes, that the prohibition of sex during a woman’s menstrual period (Lev 19:19) is no longer valid; apparently, men can have all the sex they want during a woman’s period. But my question is: where in the New Testament is this command overturned? Is there any biblical basis—biblical basis—for assuming that men can have sex while their wives are on their period? I’m having troubling recalling a verse, and I can’t explain theologically how it is that Jesus “fulfilled” (yikes!) this prohibition.

So, the point stands: all the prohibitions surrounding sexual immorality in Leviticus 18 and 20 including incest, adultery, sex during menstruation, and male homosexual intercourse—along with a whole host of over commands in Lev 18-20—are still binding on Christians. There’s simply nothing in the context of Leviticus 18 and 20, or in the New Testament, that suggests otherwise.

In my previous post, I asked the question: Should Chris and Pat get married? As we’ll see, I don’t think they should.

In the debate about homosexuality, those in favor of same-sex marriage often appeal to several virtues that justify a marriage regardless of the gender of the two partners. For holding-handsinstance: if a couple is committed to faithfulness and mutual love, if they abstain from sex until they are married, if they are both committed to Christ and desire to follow him, then they should get married.

After all, there’s nothing destructive in such a relationship. There’s no harm to themselves (one could even say they are harming themselves by not pursuing marriage), nor would their marriage cause any harm on other people.

To get more specific, one could say that sex between two men is potentially harmful to themselves. Without getting into the details, some studies show that male-male sex is biologically harmful. But: Chris and Pat are not two men. In fact, the sex that Chris and Pat will enjoy after they are marriage are the same acts that heterosexual couples engage in.

If the biblical standard for marriage is mutual love and sacrifice, commitment and Christ-like faithfulness, and pre-marital purity; and if sin is determined primarily in terms of whether it breeds destruction upon the ones committing the act or upon others—then I see no reason why Chris and Pat should not get married.

And to give a few more details: Pat is 28 and Chris is 26, and neither have been married before. And no, Chris is not the name of Pat’s sheep.

However, I don’t believe they should get married. No way. And neither do you. Because the biblical standard for marital union goes beyond pre-marital purity, consensual love, and undying faithfulness. The Bible gives additional qualifications for a valid marriage, and sometimes the Bible doesn’t give explicit reasons why. There’s some truth to the old school belief that God’s rules are right because they are God’s rules; sometimes He explains why, and sometimes He doesn’t. Just ask Job.

So why shouldn’t Chris and Pat get married?

Because Chris and Pat are brother and sister.

No, I’m not equating same-sex marriage to incest. The point of the analogy is to show that the logic often used to justify same-sex marriages can equally be used to justify sibling marriages. Consensuality. Mutual love. Purity before marriage. And since they can’t have kids, there’s no harm done to anyone else (i.e. the whole genetic mutation thing). There’s nothing visibly destructive about Chris and Pat’s marriage.

We could also add that sibling incest, as far as I know, is only forbidden by Old Testament law, in Leviticus 18 for example. But—so the argument goes—Christians don’t obey all sorts of patlaws in Leviticus. Why should we uphold the incest laws? (1 Cor 5, by the way, doesn’t prohibit sibling marriages.)

This certainly doesn’t solve the debate about same-sex marriages. No way. There are too many other factors and many more passages to consider. But if “the essence of Christian marriage involves keeping covenant with one’s spouse in a relationship of mutual self-giving, which doesn’t not exclude same-sex couples” (Vines, God and the Gay Christian, 146), then it shouldn’t exclude sibling couples either.

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