Recently, I have had a number of running debates involving the Bible and its position on homosexuality. Those with whom I have debated have called me narrow minded, hateful, bigoted and ignorant. They say I merely read what I want to read into the Bible because of my narrow-minded perspective. They claim the Bible is not inerrant, that it was written by men and not God, and that current translations are probably not accurate reflections of the originals because men made the translations and inserted their biases into the translations. They also state that the Biblical texts do not reflect the true meaning because they do not reflect the context in which the text was written. By implication, they are saying that the Bible does not really state anything negative about what they call “natural homosexuality.” I want to address these issues in a more thorough manner.
First, let me say that debating Biblical passages, with someone who does not believe in God or the Bible as the Word of God, is an exercise in futility. No matter what I may say about what a Biblical passage says, it is dismissed by the nonbeliever as being irrelevant because the Bible is not of God but of men, written in a period and culture entirely different, therefore not a standard of morality for our times.
The rest of my comments are premised on the belief that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. It is recognized that the writings contained in the Bible were written by men and that the writings reflect the cultures of the people and the times in which they were written. However, it is believed that God guided these men in the writing, and guided those that preserved the writings through the ages since. It is believe that those who translated the Scriptures into other languages, including English, were scholars who were meticulously concerned with preserving the accuracy of the translations and preserving the meanings as intended in the originals from which they worked. They were meticulous because they believed that the documents with which they worked were holy and deserving of appropriate care.
It is further believed that while understanding the cultural context in which something was written aides in achieving a richer and fuller understanding of the text, it does not negate the moral imperative of the lessons for future generations. In other words, the moral standards delineated in the Scriptures are not relative but are absolute and transcend the cultures and the times.
I have been accused of being too narrow minded in my interpretation of the meaning of Scripture, reading into the meaning what I want to see based on my bias. By implication, my accusers are saying they are being broad-minded. They fail to recognize that, in their desire to justify homosexuality, they, too, are seeing only what they want to see in the Bible. When confronted with clear text Scripture that states that homosexuality is against nature and an abomination in the eyes of God, they try to twist the meaning into something else by stating that it must be understood in light of the cultural context of the writing, and that the cultural context would reveal that homosexuality was acceptable, etc. Two passages of the Bible, in my most recent debate, were discounted as being against homosexuality by a person who claim expertise because he had been a medical missionary on three continents. I will address the two passages next.
The first passage in question is Romans 1: 18 – 23. In this passage the Apostle Paul is stating that homosexuality is against nature and an abomination in the eyes of God. My critic begins by throwing out Romans 1:15 as his proof that the cultural context changes the meaning of 1:18-23 into something else. It does nothing of the sort. All Roman 1:15 says is that Paul states that he is called of God to preach the Gospel to the Romans. When Paul is referencing the “Romans” he is speaking about the Gentiles of Rome, not the Jews. The people to whom he is writing in the letter to the Romans are the Jewish Christians in Rome (see Romans 2:17-24 ). My critic says that homosexuality was an acceptable practice in Rome and that what Paul was saying was sin was when a person who was heterosexual by nature engaged in homosexual acts. He further claims that Paul was not referencing “natural homosexuals in a committed state.” I have examined the text in Romans carefully and checked with a number of scholarly sources. There is nothing in Romans itself that even hints that my critic’s interpretation is valid and in none of the sources does it say anything like what my critic states. I do not dispute the fact that homosexuality was common and accepted in Rome. What I get from the reading of the text in Romans is that Paul is saying to the Christians in Rome “Don’t do as the Romans do.”
The second Biblical text in question is Leviticus 18:22,23. It reads almost the same as Romans 1:18. My critic states that this only refers to homosexual rape of a man, not natural homosexual relationships. I have read the Leviticus text on both sides surrounding this passage. Nowhere does it say anything that even hints of pertaining to homosexual rape of a man. I do not have any idea of where my critic came up with this interpretation. It certain did not come from the language of the text. It merely speaks to the act of homosexual sex and says that it is against nature and an abomination in the eyes of God. What is the cultural context? The Israelites had entered into the land of Canaan. Homosexuality was also common in the land of Canaan. Moses was articulating God’s law to the people of Israel. These words were similar in meaning to what Paul was telling the Christians in Rome. Moses was saying don’t do as the Canaanites do.
Many “Christians,” who accept homosexuality as okay, justify their belief on the basis of the argument that people are born homosexual and therefore created by God in that way, therefore it must be acceptable in the eyes of God. The Apostle Paul addresses this issue in his letter to the church in Rome. It is not that God created them that way but that God “gave them up” to the desires of their own flesh. In other words, God allowed them, in their free will, to degenerate. That is the clear and unambiguous meaning of the text. (See Romans 1: 19 – 27).
Finally, I want to address the language the left often uses toward those of us Christians on the right. We, too often, are accused of engaging in hate. Or we are called bigots. The left needs to go back to the dictionary and review the definitions of hate and bigot. I do not hate anyone and I am not aware of any Christians who hate homosexuals. I do not approve of their sexual behavior, but that is not the same as hate. The same is true of “bigot.” The dictionary defines a bigot as one who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people or one who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group, or one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance. Again, I am neither hateful nor intolerant. I have worked side by side with known homosexuals and one of my best friends was homosexual. We got along very well socially. The difference was that they were not constantly throwing their homosexual behavior in my face trying to get me to approve and validate their behavior. They kept their sexual behavior behind closed doors, where it belongs. I can accept anyone as long as we can meet on common ground. My critic says there is a fine line between hate and disapproval in the eyes of God. Again, I do not know where he gets that idea. I have asked for a reference but have not been provided with one.
Liberal Christians, in attempting to justify homosexuality, often quote Scripture saying we are exhorted to love one another as we love ourselves, or love one another as Christ loved us. But, loving one another does not require us to accept or participate in the other person’s sin. Even Jesus, when presented with the woman accused of adultery, told her he did not condemn her but also to “go and sin no more.” I love my children and always will love them. But I do not always approve of everything they do, even what they do as adults. I try to teach them what I believe is right, but my love never changes.