Saturday, May 11, 2013

Were the Prohibitions of Homosexual Relationships Purely to Encourage Procreation?

It's been a while since I have written on this, but I wanted to continue the series I began on common arguments against Biblical sexuality. I have been responding to this image.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Claim: That was when the earth wasn't populated. There are now 6.79 billion people. Breeding clearly isn't an issue anymore!

This claim is made in response to the statement that "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." It is purported by the pro-homosexual interlocutor that this creational institution applied only to a society in need of increased population, and thus is irrelevant to contemporary culture. This claim is often made in regard to both the creation narrative, and the governing Laws of Israel. Supposedly encouragement or allowance of homosexual relationships would inhibit God's plan for Israel by limiting procreation.

There are a couple of points to be made to this claim. To begin, examine the first claim, that the creational institution of marriage is only relevant to an unfilled creation. This statement begins with the assumption that there is something of a temporary nature about the institution of marriage. It is a conditional provision based on the population of the earth. Apparently, when the population of the world got to a certain point, this institution could be altered.

Scripture does not, however, place marriage in such a context. In Paul's theology, there is an eternal meaning behind the divine institution of marriage which extends itself beyond mere procreation. He writes,

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:26-33

In Paul's view, there is a connection between the marriage of a husband and wife, and the relationship between Christ and the church. This is not incidental, but marriage was created with such redemptive intent. Christ and the church have a relationship with one another that is pictured in marriage. It is important to note that there is both a great functional and ontological divide between Christ, and his church. This is why marriage, similarly, involves two parties with both ontological and functional differentiation. Just as the church cannot become divine, or be substituted for another institution, so also the wife cannot become a male or be replaced by someone of the male sex. Just as Christ's role and the church's role are fundamentally distinct, so are the roles of two spouses in the marriage covenant.

In this manner, it is clear that marriage, in the Biblical model, is broader than procreation; it is a profound mystery (sacramentum) which portrays the relationship between Christ and is bride. It is not arbitrary or subject to alteration due to the development of culture.

The second part of this argument is that the Israelites established bans on homosexual practice so that procreation would be encouraged. Such a small nation, seeking power in the ancient near east, needed heterosexual marriage and even polygamous marriage for it's population to grow, along with its religion and political power. There is one major problem with this argument; ancient homosexual practices, such as pederasty in ancient Greece, did not exist apart from heterosexual marriage and procreation, but as a secondary sexual experience. Thus, homosexuality would likely not have any direct affect on procreation.

There are other, more profound problems with homosexuality than simply the fact that it results in less infants being born; it denies God's creational institution, and distorts what God instituted as a picture of the gospel, and thus the gospel itself.

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