Monday, January 23, 2012

Thoughts on Homosexuality

OK, I have a few things to state going into this. I know it is going to cause controversy, and I regret that. This is an emotionally charged subject and I hate wading into it. I wrote this a while back after much research. I wanted to present my position clearly, concisely and intelligently for a single purpose. But with politics heating up and this becoming a huge issue, I feel the need to put it out there in general. You are welcome to disagree, but please treat my opinion with respect. If you choose to disagree for whatever reason, realize that is your choice and leave me to mine. I want to make you think, you must choose what to believe. And what you believe will not change the way I treat you.

I am intelligent, persistent, dedicated… and rebellious toward authority. Always have been. I understand the attitude that rejects establishment and tradition in favor of intellectual contemporary thought; the attitude that discards the old in favor of the new; that looks down on previous generations as past their prime, as uninformed, as not having as much knowledge as the current generation, as having no right to tell me what I can and cannot do. I understand changing the words so I look enlightened rather than just simply rebellious. I am 47 years old – that means I have been reading the Bible for 33 years, since I became a Believer at the age of 14. In those 33 years God has shown me my rebellion and my sin. He has shown me that I cannot trust current political thought; I cannot trust books or people; and more importantly, He has shown me that I cannot trust my own heart. It will deceive me. The only absolutely trustworthy thing on this earth is the Bible, God’s written Word to man. Every experience, every feeling, every thought, every word, every book must be looked at through the lens of God’s Word.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure, who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

Because of this, I will not spend time talking about the way society has looked at homosexuality throughout history. Society does not define God’s morals. I will not talk about Psychology or Science for the same reason. Not only do those things not define what pleases God, but those things change constantly. God’s law does not depend on those things at all. No, my argument must come from Scripture itself.

So the question becomes – Is the Bible truly the inspired Word of God? Is it as true today as the day it was first put on paper? Is it complete? Inerrancy is the word here… and I believe it. I am not prepared to debate this issue and will not try, but it is a question that must be settled in your own mind before anything else can be looked at. Do you believe the Word of God is true? Do you believe it is all true? If not, how do you determine what is true and what is not? How can you trust any of it?

Next comes interpretation of specific scripture, and that is where I will begin.

If you spend a lot of time absorbing the Bible as a whole, from Genesis to Revelation, you get an overall big picture and a better feel for it than if you only dissect it in bits and pieces. My impression of the whole is that God created man male and female for a specific reason. At the very beginning He created the roles as well as the bodies of male and female, and He instituted marriage and family relationships. Paul says in the NT that marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church – it means so much more than a long term commitment between two people. It points to redemption, to sacrifice, to the Cross, and to God’s people as a whole – to Christ and the church. Then Paul says this is a mystery, we can’t really understand it.

But what is obvious and understandable is that at the beginning, when things were still perfect in Eden, marriage was between a male and a female. They perfectly complemented each other in every way – emotionally, spiritually, temperamentally, and physically. The problems came when sin entered the garden and was passed down to the children of Adam and Eve. That sin has brought all manner of consequences to each of us. We all have certain sinful areas that we struggle with our whole lives. Sin is genetic, and it is not unreasonable to think that specific sinful tendencies can be genetic from birth.

Levitical law – Leviticus 18 and 20 are dealing with sexual sins, and homosexual sin is listed as abomination and detestable, as a reason that the nations before Israel were being driven out. Homosexuality is listed as an immoral behavior; this is a totally different context from the dietary laws. You would not have been stoned for disobeying dietary laws, ceremonial uncleaness could be fixed with sacrifices. But God said to kill people for these sexual sins, implying an inherent evil, not just a forgetfulness or ignorance. Levitical law also does not give an option for consenting homosexuality, and if the law applied only to anal penetration, then it would seem to mean you could fondle anyone or anything you wish, which is clearly not true. If you go to the NT, you will see where the dietary laws and the ceremonial laws and the sacrificial laws are all specifically done away with, but never will you find the moral law done away with. We are told to obey the moral law out of love for Christ and to please God. The dictates of the moral law did not change from law to Christ, only the underlying motivation changed – from primarily duty to primarily love.

Sodom – I agree that the destruction of Sodom is about more than homosexuality. But it is illogical and unreasonable to think it is about hospitality. I have to say that while the translation of the word “know” into “sex” could possibly mean something different, the most common usage of the word was sex. If you read the account plainly, all the men from the city are surrounding the house, and obviously they are violent. It has always bothered me that Lot was so quick to offer his daughters, but I think that is a character flaw of Lot, not a statement of what was right; in any case, he had no sons to offer. Jude plainly asserts that part of Sodom’s sin was sexual immorality and perversion, not just rape, but homosexuality as well. How could the men of Sodom know that the strangers were angels? To make “strange flesh” mean anything but homosexuality requires some very creative translating rather than the straightforward obvious meaning.

Jesus – No, Jesus never mentions homosexuality. But He also never mentions bestiality, and many other things that we would take for granted. He does say He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. He does say He came to forgive sin, but we are not supposed to continue living in it. He does talk about love, but never does He say care and love legitimize sex. No one thinks that because pedophiles can express care and love for children that their sexual relations with children are legitimate. In many ways the man who abused me showed me love that my parents never showed, love that I craved, and he was never violent; but it was horribly wrong. Christ also expanded the sin of adultery to the much deeper level of lust. And finally there is the fact that all of Scripture is the Word of God, not only the recorded words of Christ.

Paul – Paul is clearly talking about homosexuality at the end of Romans 1. He does start out talking about idolatry, which did indeed often include orgies and prostitutes of both sexes. But a plain reading of the text shows Paul making a logical progression of thoughts. It is not just idolatry that is wrong. Notice that God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts… homosexuality was something innately part of them, but that didn’t make it any less of a sin.

As far as “arsenokoite” in I Cor. 6 and I Tim. 1, it is a direct Greek translation of the Hebrew for male/sex/bed. “Arsen” is man with an emphasis on male. Again, the plain translation and reading is homosexuality. What it came to mean later could easily be the same way we now use “whore” for a morally loose woman or “bastard” for a man we are mad at. Paul appears to have coined a number of Greek words in his writings, combining parts of words to say exactly what he wanted to say or emphasize.

Paul makes it abundantly plain in all of his writings that God judges all sin, and God forgives all sin. But sin is still sin.

Characters – There is no way to make David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, or Daniel and Ashpenaz homosexual, other than to read it into the story. The words used between these characters are often used in the context of vassal to king, brother to brother, or mother to daughter. Sex is never alluded to at all.

Homosexuality is referred to 5 times in scripture. Did the Bible translators we rely on really get it wrong five different times, in two different testaments, addressed to highly different cultures – Hebrew , the nations in the Promised Land before the Israelites got there (including the nations at the time of Abraham), Roman and Greek? Obviously this is not a cultural thing. Pro-gay apologists don’t seem to have a problem with other scriptures condemning other sins. To accept these arguments you have to want them to be true – you have to make the Bible agree with you.

The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Tim. 4:3-4

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who put darkness for light, and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20

The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin. What makes homosexuality a “worse” sin than anything else? Can homosexuals be Christians? That is complicated. Sexual sin really is so much more destructive than some other sins because it involves someone else in your sin, and it is so hard to get out of the slavery of sexual sins because they affect your mind and emotions so deeply. But in God’s eyes every sin is sin, and He forgives it all. So yes, of course homosexuals can be Christians, just like alcoholics and drug addicts and gluttons and thieves and liars and gossips… you get the picture. But I think when Believers honestly desire to please God, they will turn away from homosexuality, just like they turn away from any other sin. I do believe the church has been woefully inadequate in helping people do that with love and patience and acceptance.

“When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy.” C.S. Lewis

The reason homosexuality is such a hot topic politically is because they are pushing their agenda to be recognized as morally ok, while the conservative side realizes that cultural support for sinful behavior will significantly increase the practice of that behavior. Gay marriage cheapens marriage. Homosexuals themselves say that monogamy does not work for gay relationships. (“The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop”, Genre magazine; “Virtually Normal”). People who have come out of the Gay Church movement admit that the norm even among Christian gays is not monogamy. Long term gay relationships are very rare, even among women, who don’t tend to be as promiscuous as men. So why are homosexuals lobbying for gay marriage, when such a small minority of them can stay together for any length of time?

“The purpose of gay victim imagery is to make straights feel very uncomfortable – gays should be portrayed as victims of prejudice. Straights must be shown graphic pictures of brutalized gays, dramatizations of job and housing insecurities, loss of child custody, public humiliations, etc.” Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the ‘90s

I have to say that I resent being called a homophobe. I am not afraid of homosexuals. I am not antagonistic to them. I do not hate them. I find their situations grievous because they are so deceived and so trapped in their own sin. I think violence perpetrated on someone because they are gay or for any other reason is reprehensible. Disagreeing with someone should not be the basis of an attack… on a homosexual for their beliefs, or on my disagreement with those beliefs. So yes, we should absolutely prosecute perpetrators of violence and persecution of gays, but do not ask me to support their lifestyles. Do not ask me to stand silently by while they attempt to legally and morally make their lifestyles acceptable and enticing, when Scripture clearly says otherwise.

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and devil are at the moment attacking, then I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is tested.” Martin Luther

©Rebecca A Givens, 12-10-11
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