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Is homosexuality actually sinful for believers?

August 9, 2012

On facebook a friend of mine posted up this link and asked for comments (actually she asked someone else for comments but was OK with several others of us commenting as well):

http://www.matthewvines.com/transcript

Here is my full length response (not the short version I posted on facebook)

Ok,I am going to preface this with a note: My arguments are directed at believers; I don’t care or have a place to comment on what unbelievers do. They are dead and expecting them to act like the living is kind of retarded. So keep that in mind, unbelievers need the message of salvation, who cares what they are doing or how they are living until they are affixed into the family of God forever?

Right with that out of the way, the entire detail:

Let’s start with his first major passage that he starts turning the screws on folks with.

Matthew 7:15-20 is the first major passage that he turns to.

Mat 7:15-20 NKJV – 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor [can] a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

He argues:

Good teachings, even when they are very difficult, are not destructive to human dignity. They don’t lead to emotional and spiritual devastation, and to the loss of self-esteem and self-worth. But those have been the consequences for gay people of the traditional teaching on homosexuality. It has not borne good fruit in their lives, and it’s caused them incalculable pain and suffering.

That sounds really good right?

Well the trouble is that he simply declares this to be the case, with literally no support for that position at all. In 1 Cor. Because the believers in Corinth did not properly respect the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, they experienced the judgment of God in their lives including sickness, weakness and even earthly death. Judgments from God can take many forms and they are not pleasant and emotional and spiritual devastation rank right up there in how God deals with wandering children.

His whole argument is that if biblical teaching makes people feel bad, then it’s not “good teaching”. Matthew 18:15-20 basically makes it clear how we should, as a church community deal with people who commit open egregious sins, let’s just say that bringing someone’s sin before the whole church isn’t going to exactly build up people’s “self-esteem” or whatever.

 He twists the definition of good to be subjective to people’s feelings rather than being subjective to the perfect righteousness of God.  

Second Major Scripture: Gen 2:18: And the LORD God said, “[It is] not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

Dude argues: “And yes, the suitable helper or partner that God makes for Adam is Eve, a woman. And a woman is a suitable partner for the vast majority of men – for straight men. But for gay men, that isn’t the case. For them, a woman is not a suitable partner. … We are now declaring good the very first thing in Scripture that God declared not good: for the man to be forced to be alone. And the fruit that this teaching has borne has been deeply wounding and destructive.”

Again assumptions are required for this argument to be anywhere near valid. He has decided that God made him this way, and that being made that way means its good, normal, etc.. And his conclusion is simply ludicrous if this assumption is actually wrong. It is important to remember what original creation was. God created Man and Woman perfect; they had not yet sinned and were in innocence. In this state, God placed together what he considered to be the way things are supposed to be Man and Woman. “good” and “normal” and “right” are how God made us originally, not how depraved and broken and mutated we might be now.

His next entire paragraph is simply an amazing bit of propaganda:

This is a major problem. By holding to the traditional interpretation, we are now contradicting the Bible’s own teachings: the Bible teaches that it is not good for the man to be forced to be alone, and yet now, we are teaching that it is. Scripture says that good teachings will bear good fruit, but now, the reverse is occurring, and we say it’s not a problem. Something here is off; something is out of place. And it’s because of these problems and these contradictions that more and more Christians have been going back to Scripture and re-examining the 6 verses that have formed the basis for an absolute condemnation of same-sex relationships. Can we go back, can we take a closer look at these verses, and see what we can learn from further study of them?

The only thing that is “off” is that he assumes that homosexuality is a normal, created, natural state that simply “happens” to people whether they like it or not. And because that is true, it MUST be ok for people to live that way because it makes them happy. So he destroys the consistency and meaning of scripture to get his brain to this spot.

At this point he moves into what he calls the meat of his argument, but actually, his argument is already over. He has already decided that being homosexual is normal, good, and healthy. That God made him this way and that if you teach that the way he is, is a sin, that you are a false teacher. The rest of this is frosting designed to help us swallow those two main points.

His point on Genesis 19 Sodom and Gomorrah is kinda sorta in the right ball park.  But he totally ignores the nearly identical happening in Judges 19. The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are not restricted to homosexuality, they ranges from child sacrifice to who knows what all. But I have always believed the reason God destroyed them was because Lot had made his home within them and he and his family would have been totally overcome by their actions. Surely other peoples have had worse practices, just look at Rome and what awful things were done by them throughout their empire spanning countless peoples.
The story there isn’t about sex, it’s about God protecting.

But what you need to notice here is that this is a straw man argument, he sets this one up simply because he wants to knock it down and he can quite easily. He uses the destruction of this passage to help build momentum, once you get someone to agree with you somewhere, its quite easy to get them to keep agreeing with you as you go.

Now the Leviticus passage is a whole different ball of wax.

He begins:

The Book of Leviticus deals primarily with ceremonial issues related to appropriate worship practices at the tabernacle”

which is sort of true; however he uses this in a dismissive way. The thing is for Israelites temple worship was fundamental to being close to God, this is like if we were to say “eh, it’s only a discipleship issue NO BIG DEAL”. Yeah sure, it’s only about how to be intimate with God no big deal indeed.

Now he couches his lies again within a smattering of truth, he makes the argument that because these laws are in the Old Testament means that they aren’t applicable to Christians, which is sort of true! We aren’t subject to the law, Romans 3:28 says “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” We aren’t at all governed by the law. However that does not mean it has no value to us. We understand the righteousness of God through the law, we understand his purity and his desire for mankind’s holiness. The moral law that God laid down has never been changed, much of the ceremonial law did change or was wholly eliminated. But the fundamental moral law including this passage in Lev. 18 was never in any way changed or overturned by Christ or his followers. (Not that our eternal life is beholden to our keeping it, we are saved by faith alone in Christ alone, the question is centric to whether or not homosexual practice is a sin). Let’s put it this way, if rape, incest, and adultery are all still sins, why isn’t homosexuality? They are all presented the same and given the same penalty. His other examples are not morality based and for the most part when dealing with pure “clean/unclean” stuff we are indeed freed from observing them. It’s that grain of truth with which you can plant a lie thing again.

But throughout Leviticus you can see moral laws which we still hold to be moral truths today, there is no argument to be made that the core morality and sexual purity God laid out in Leviticus has ever changed since the earthly establishment of the New Covenant with the death and resurrection of Christ and the dispensation of the Church age in which we now live.

Now Romans:

Sheesh trying to follow his logic on this one literally gave me a headache.

His first couple paragraphs of argument are quite simply priming the pump; he really gets going when he starts trying to explain the passage in detail. He sayeth

Paul’s reference to same-sex behavior is intended to illustrate this larger sin of idolatry. But in order for this analogy to have any force, in order for it to make sense within this argument, the people he is describing must naturally begin with heterosexual relations and then abandon them. And that is exactly how he describes it.

Which actually ISN’T what Paul says at all, or at least not totally; Paul says “Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful” – Rom 1:27

The problem here isn’t that the men are “leaving the natural use of the woman” but that they “burned in their lust for one another” and most especially “men with men committing what is shameful” This honestly isn’t complicated, the understanding is simple. Nations, peoples, groups that have turned their back on God have invited upon themselves God’s wrath (which is actually a recurring theme throughout Romans) and in this passage Paul indicates that widespread homosexuality is judgment from God upon a people group or nation. Now this dude goes to great lengths to make Paul’s statement one exclusively reserved for licentious behavior, promiscuity etc. so to say that a loving monogamous relationship of any kind is clearly excluded.  (And he multiple times begs the question as above that homosexuality is natural, not a choice and that god made folks that way).

His appeal to absurdity is quite amusing:

We would never dream of reading a passage in Scripture about heterosexual lust and promiscuity and then, from that, condemning all of the marriage relationships of straight Christians.

And he’s right we would never do that, because normal marriage is something God created and protected, not something man perversely invented for his own desires. One really annoying part is the red herring of the definitions of the terms “natural” and “unnatural” he actually doesn’t succeed in proving his point at all. His point from 1 Cor 11 is a total lie, it is as though he has decided to ignore the basic rules of language, which is basically what you have to do so as your head doesn’t explode while saying and believing stuff like he does.  Anyway… the whole “let’s look at what this word means when its used in totally different ways” rabbit trail is really quite useless, he assumes that we don’t believe in what 1 Cor 11 says, or at least don’t take it very seriously and since I believe what 1 Cor 11 says is true and applicable today I guess it just sort of makes his argument from that passage silly.

As are his arguments regarding the term in greater Greek and Roman literature, neither of these societies would have considered homosexuality to be odd, they both practiced it openly and widely. Though the folks that did wouldn’t be considered really “homosexual” today as they usually swung both ways so of course they wouldn’t have ever used the term “un natural” to refer to homosexual activity, they wouldn’t consider it so.

He cannot conclude anywhere near decisively here, all he can do is dismiss this passage by making around the world sorts of arguments. He denies the proper biblical exposition which is “if the first sense makes sense seek no other sense” and decides that what the bible SAYS clearly isn’t what it MEANS because it makes him SAD.

So his last two passages are 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10 he deals with these two passages rather unfairly. He apparently is a high falootin Greek scholar and is going to tell us all how to translate the word ἀρσενοκοίτης because Strong’s Greek doesn’t know anything nor does anyone who’s ever translated Greek ever, or something. Only he doesn’t. None of his arguments against the traditional translation of ἀρσενοκοίτης have any serious weight other than his opinion and maybe the opinion of a couple liberal theologians who’s other work and theology invalidate their entire body of work beyond consideration. His one argument “Fortunately, however, many of these lists are grouped by category, and this Greek word consistently appears among sins that are of a primarily economic nature rather than those that are primarily sexual. This and some other contextual data indicate that this term referred to some kind of economic exploitation, likely through sexual means.” Doesn’t accurately detail the situation at all, in both 1 Cor and 1 Tim the word is surrounded by all other sorts of sin from sexual to violent for example 1 Tim 1:9: “knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for [the] lawless and insubordinate, for [the] ungodly and for sinners, for [the] unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,” yeah cause that is TOTALLY economic in nature right? Oh my No its not! sheesh I swear this guy hasn’t actually read these passages.

And he is ignoring the entirety of historical Greek translation he is right that the term is used rarely, but it has consistently been translated as either the equivalent of homosexual literally “abusers of themselves with mankind” or as homosexual since we have had Greek to English translations of the Bible. Strong’s Greek has this to say:

Strong’s: ἀρσενοκοίτης, ἀρσενοκοιτου, ὁ (ἄρσην a male; κοίτη a bed), one who lies with a male as with a female, a sodomite: 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10. (Anthol. 9, 686, 5; ecclesiastical writings.)

Yeah for me the argument is done but he makes some entertaining comments about how we are supposed to translate Greek compound words.
“First, simply looking at a word’s component parts doesn’t necessarily tell us what it means. There are many English words where this approach would fail: for example, the words “understand,” “butterfly,” “honeymoon.” The component parts here – “honey” and “moon” – really don’t tell us anything about what that word actually means.”

I don’t think he understands language and Etymology very well (look up honeymoon one of his examples, it’s not literally a moon of honey but in older English it’s pretty close to a literal contraction of two words), not that it really matters because this is a red herring as well. It goes back to his arguments from Genesis 1 and Matthew 7 for these definitions to really matter you have to accept his premise that God made homosexuals as homosexuals, and that he wants them to be happy in a long term romantic relationship concurrent with their sexual orientation. I prefer (for once ever) the NIV translation of the 1 Cor 6:9 passage: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders”. To refute that is to re-write the bible to literally mean things it doesn’t say.

Every passage he brought up, he immediately twists, dismisses, or re-writes. This is not how you study the Bible and this is not how you seek out the will of God. His basic fundamental error is that throughout his presentation he begs the question. He assumes that all human sexuality is normal, that all romantic desires have a basic and natural origin and that it simply isn’t our choice, we are attracted to who we are attracted to.  This is literally saying “God made me this way, ergo it’s not my fault” he avoids responsibility and this allows him to say what he feels towards men is a “good” thing.

For just a second let’s look at the biblical idea of what marriage is.

In Ephesians 5: 22-33 Man and Wife are an image of Christ and the Church, the weakness and submission of the Church represented in the Woman and the strength, sacrifice, and leadership of Christ represented in the Man. How do we operate if there are two men? Are they both Christ or are they both the Church?

And indeed in Genesis, God could have created man and woman or man and man to be companions had He desired.  But he in his unblemished original creation created man and woman to be for each other. That is how He designed things; it’s what is normal and right.

The dude from that video is right; there is no positive example of same – sex relationships, and there are few positive explicit examples of heterosexual sex (if you ignore like ½ of the Song of Solomon) but there are many instances where the Bible talks of marriage (and marriage isn’t exactly a celibate idea) and in every one of them marriage is GOOD, not sinful and to be protected. It should be heavily noted that good Biblical marriage consists, every single time of one man and one woman. There are examples of one man marrying multiple women, but that is without exception a source of strife, sin and sadness for those involved, even though as in the example of Jacob God can work it together for long term good. But from Genesis 1 through Revelation 19 it is the design of God that man marry woman, out of love, and as a picture of Christ and the Church.

So is homosexuality a sin? I think there is enough biblical evidence to say that it is unequivocally in all forms a sin. Is it going to keep someone from going to Heaven when they die? No, absolutely not. Belief or unbelief in Christ is the only thing that determines that. But we are called to so much more than mere entrance into eternal life; we are called to enter into the Kingdom! To be rewarded as faithful servants, to partake fully as co-heirs with Christ, sons and daughters of the King!

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