Saturday, November 24, 2012
Responding to Common Arguments for Homosexuality Part 1
With all of the good that has been accomplished by social media, one big downfall of the interconnectedness that we now share around the globe is the nature of intellectual discussions, how we talk with others about important cultural and political issues in contemporary society. Rather than thinking through one's own ideology and having in-depth discussions on such issues, our contemporary culture utilizes pictures, phrases, and articles which are passed around without any thought on facebook, tumblr, twitter, etc. The picture above is one such example. I use it because it is illustrative of the kind of arguments thrown around on the internet, seeking to overthrow Biblical morality.
I wanted to take some time to respond to these arguments, primarily because they are arguments against the Scriptural teaching on these issues. Whether or not gay marriage should be legalized, and whether it is beneficial or harmful to society is another issue which should be dealt with separately. Arguments like the ones above are probably the most common arguments against the Christian faith which I encounter in practical ministry. Perhaps this is because I live in Massachusetts, an environment that has been affected by the Gay rights movement more than other areas of the country; but I am sure that many of my readers have also encountered such arguments frequently. So I wanted to take some time to respond to the claims in this particular image, because they are so prevalent on the internet.
Claim: Jesus never uttered a word about same-sex relationships
First, it must be said that this presupposes an incorrect understanding of the Christian view of Biblical inspiration. Whether or not something appears in the "red letters" of Jesus is completely irrelevant. The church adopts a canon of 27 New Testament books. None of these books alone are sufficient for a thorough understanding of New Testament theology. The Gospels, the epistles of Paul, and the Catholic epistles interpret one another. They cannot be read in isolation. Because all of these books are normative for the church, it wouldn't matter if Jesus explicitly said anything regarding homosexuality if Paul was clear on the issue.
Jesus doesn't explicitly talk about a lot of things. He doesn't talk about rape, incest, bestiality, etc. The fact that Jesus is silent on these issues doesn't imply that Jesus was simply ok with all of these actions, but simply that it wasn't relevant to his current mission and context. Silence does not mean permission.
Also, one can identify Jesus' approach to homosexuality in a couple different texts, even though it is not explicitly being discussed. In Matthew 19 Jesus says,
"And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one's wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said,‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him,“Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." (Matthew 19:3-9)
In discussing the issue of divorce, Jesus explicitly defines what marriage is. It is a creational institution which involves a man and a woman. They come together physically and become "one flesh." Jesus assumes that this creational pattern is normative. This is further demonstrated by Jesus' approval of the Levitical law.
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:17-20)
Jesus approves of the TORAH, even to the point of affirming the "least" of its commandments. This comprehensive approval of the Law would include the sexual prohibitions listed in Leviticus which includes homosexuality. Jesus did not specifically have to repeat this command, but affirmed it by affirming the entirety of the Law.
The Law has a hold on us, all of us. What it says about us is true. What it condemns is condemned by God. This includes homosexuality as well as any other sin, sexual or otherwise. There is forgiveness for all of these sins, freedom from the Law, through faith in Christ who freely grants us a righteousness that surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees.
Will continue in part 2...