Update: Perhaps it would be best to take this post down altogether… I don’t know. I don’t like to take down old content, because I think it can be instructive to see how a person’s views can change over time. Also, the points I made here about how the Bible views homosexuality still seem accurate to me. So for now, I’ll leave it up.
But you should know that I no longer agree with the position staked out here. While most forms of Christianity may not accept gay people, I do. I’m glad that gay marriage is now legal in the US, and I fully support the LGBTQ community. Also, I’m no longer a Christian. Just wanted to make all of that clear at the outset. The original post follows below:
Maybe this sounds strange, but I think homosexuality has been gaining a lot of popularity over the last 20 or 30 years. Almost every sitcom today touches on it at some point, and several shows (Will and Grace, The L Word, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Queer as Folk, etc) completely revolve around the lifestyle. The popular stance today is to be completely accepting of homosexuality, whether one actually practices it or not. And those who openly oppose it are often ridiculed and accused of being bigots.
Lately, the topic of gay marriage has come up over and over again, and we’re even seeing “churches” that have begun accepting homosexuals as members, and even ministers. It’s that last development that has been so surprising to me. When “Christian” organizations wander so far from the truth that they are unable to express what could be wrong with homosexuality, then they no longer have a standard for anything.
On November 20, USA Today posted an article on this very subject. And being over a week old, it’s practically ancient news in today’s cyber-age, but I wanted to comment on it anyway. The article is When Religion Loses its Credibility by Oliver “Buzz” Thomas who is (believe it or not) a Baptist minister. If you haven’t read this article, I highly recommend it, because the rest of this post will be addressing it.
Thomas poses the question: “What if Christian leaders are wrong about homosexuality?” And instead of honestly asking that question, it becomes apparent very quickly that Thomas thinks that’s the case. He has come to the conclusion that scientists have all but proven homosexuality is inherited, not a choice. He also points out that homosexuality is condemned in Leviticus, which also teaches us to keep the Sabbath Day (no more work or sports on Saturdays – or even traveling) and to kill anyone that disrespects their parents or eats unclean foods. So if that’s the case, wouldn’t we have to follow all those laws? He also says that Jesus didn’t teach against homosexuality, but instead taught us to love and not judge each other.
Wow! Sounds like a strong case, huh? Well the saddest thing about this article is that a supposed “Baptist minister” has either purposefully misrepresented the Bible’s teachings, or he has a gross misunderstanding. Bear with me, and we’ll address all of his points.
Thomas starts off by talking about the reaction Galileo got from the religious community when he proposed that the earth was round and compares that to how religion is stubbornly refusing to see scientific facts again. This argument is ridiculous. Yes, religious people did raise a stink about Galileo, but the Bible was not in disagreement at all! The Bible never taught that the sun revolved around the earth, people merely assumed that. The difference here is that it’s not just religious people who are saying homosexuality is wrong – the Bible teaches it!
I’m not going to spend much time on the scientific arguments, other than to say that Thomas’s assertion that “whether sexual orientation arises as a result of the mother’s hormones or the child’s brain structure or DNA, it is almost certainly an accident of birth” is a gigantic overstatement. Has there been evidence that homosexuality could be genetic? Yes. But there has also been evidence to the contrary.
Within a matter of minutes, I was able to find several articles on the subject. One of them is titled “The Gay Gene: Assertions, Retractions, and Controversy,” another is “Gay Gene or Gay Germ?,” and another is “New Study Confirms Homosexuality Can Be Overcome.” Each of these articles takes a different approach to the subject and each reaches different conclusions, but the point is that scientists are in no way approaching a conclusion on this matter – nothing has been proven. As a matter of fact, there were two points brought up in these articles that I found interesting. “The Gay Gene” observed that when LeVay conducted his study in 1991 and first discovered the differences between the brains of young homosexual men and young heterosexual men, most of the gay men had died of AIDS. So were the differences caused by genetics, or suffering through the AIDS virus? And “Gay Gene or Gay Germ” asks why wouldn’t the gay gene die out if it really exists? Bottom line: the proof Thomas talked about doesn’t yet exist.
However, just for a moment, let’s assume there is some genetic predisposition to homosexuality. Does that change anything? I don’t think it does. Some people struggle with anger, while it isn’t a problem for others. Some people are kleptomaniacs, but stealing is still considered to be wrong. Some people struggle with drugs, alchohol, pornography, lying, etc, and yet other people don’t. My point is that we all have certain vices we struggle with, but that doesn’t give us license to give in to them. Homosexuality is no different.
What Does the Bible Teach? – Part 1
Thomas points out that religious people today often go back to Leviticus to prove homosexuality is wrong, yet they are unwilling to follow the other commands listed there (keeping the Sabbath, offering sacrifices, etc). The reason he gives for this discrepancy is as follows:
The truth is that mainstream religion has moved beyond animal sacrifice, slavery and the host of primitive rituals described in Leviticus centuries ago. Selectively hanging onto these ancient proscriptions for gays and lesbians exclusively is unfair according to anybody’s standard of ethics.
Well, if that were the real reason (and for some people, it sadly is) then he’s absolutely right. They’ve got no basis for picking and choosing which laws to follow.
However, his misunderstanding of this issue revolves around the misconception that Leviticus (and the Old Law in general) was ever meant for Christians. Thomas needs to read Romans, Galatians, Collossians, and especially Hebrews. These books lay out God’s plan. That the Old Law was given for the Jews to follow – no one else. It was meant as a teacher or tutor – something to teach Jews (and later the Gentiles) about who God is and what he expects (Gal 3:19-25). Have you ever wondered why the Bible was split up into the Old and New Testaments? They are separate laws governing God’s people. The first was given to his physical people – the nation of Israel. The second was given for his spiritual people – everyone who follows him (Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:16-17)).
The entire book of Hebrews discusses this transition and why it was necessary. Heb 8:7-13 lays out the main point:
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. 8 Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— 9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds[b] I will remember no more.”[c]
13 In that He says, “A new covenant, ” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
We don’t follow what’s written in Levticus because it’s been done away with. Thomas, who is supposed to be a Baptist minister should know this, but from his article, it is evident that he doesn’t. If anyone would like more clarification on the differences between the Old Law and New Law, let me know. But it’s too lengthy to get into here.
What Does the Bible Teach? – Part 2
Now that we understand why we don’t have to follow the laws in Leviticus, let’s move on to those that we do have to follow: the ones in the New Testament.
First of all, let’s look at two passages concerning the veracity of scripture:
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Tim 3:16-17
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed,[a] which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,[b] 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God[c] spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. – 2 Pet 1:19-21
Here, we have 2 passages that tell us 1) the entire Bible is from God, not just the stuff in red, and 2) we don’t have the luxury of interpreting what’s written in any way we want. There is one way to interpret the Bible, all we decide is whether or not to follow it.
But even so, I’d like to go ahead and address Thomas’s question “what would Jesus do?” Thomas asserts that Jesus never spoke about homosexuality, and that’s true… but not completely. Jesus spoke about marriage in Matthew 5 and also in Matthew 19:1-10. If you read that passage, you’ll see that Christ describes marriage as being between one man and one woman. That’s it. No other parties involved. We also know that fornication is condemned (2 Cor 12:21, Gal 5:19, Eph 5:3, etc). So, if sex is only permissible in marriage, and marriage is only between a man and a woman, then there’s no room for homosexuality. Jesus didn’t have to address bestiality here; it’s wrong by default. Homosexuality, therefore, is also wrong.
But the New Testament doesn’t leave it there. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says:
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
This is the passage that Thomas says is actually condemning a form of pedophilia. However, if you’ll notice, he uses the phrase “most likely” refers to pederasty. That’s because there’s no circumstantial evidence that supports this theory. Sure, it could be talking about pederasty, but that still wouldn’t rule out it’s condemnation of homosexuality.
Furthermore, there’s another passage that Thomas ignored altogether.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 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, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. – Romans 1:26-27
This passage leaves nothing to the imagination. It plainly spells out that it’s condemning homosexuality. There are also passages like 1 Tim 1:10 that condemn fornication and sodomy. The conclusion is pretty simple: the Bible teaches homosexuality is wrong.
Finally, Thomas pulls out one of the most famous passages for getting annoying “nay-sayers” off your back:
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” – Matt 7:1-5
This passage has been misused for countless generations. Jesus isn’t saying that we shouldn’t help those who are involved in sin; we’re actually commanded to do just that (1 Cor 5:1-8; Jude 22, 23; James 5:19-20)! We are obligated to help those who are involved in sin, but we can’t do that if we’re not allowed to make an observation of whether or not they’re sinning. The passage in Matthew 7 doesn’t say not to remove the speck in our brother’s eye, it just says we need to remove the plank from ours first. We’re not idiots (most of us). God gave us brains and he gave us his word. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine whether or not someone’s following it.
Anyone who looks at the Bible in an unbiased manner can clearly see that homosexuality is condemned. It’s nothing personal, it’s just a fact. For those who profess to be Christians and follow God’s word, you’re left with no other alternative. Mr Thomas has departed from that line of rationale, though. He’s embraced the popular notion that the Bible is outdated and everybody’s ok, regardless of their lifestyle. Honestly, I’m surprised he even bothered to mention any scripture at all; it sounds as though he’s thrown it all out.
Sadly, it’s a commentary on how skewed our society is that a man like that is allowed to publish such nonsense in a national media outlet. His opinion lies far from that of most religious people, and certainly beyond what the Bible teaches on the subject. I emailed USA Today to see if they’d be interested in running a rebuttal in order to get a fair and balanced perspective, but they never responded. Unfortunately, most people today are more interested in feeling good about themselves or being accepted by the “popular kids” to worry too much about truth.
By the way, I first came across this article from a fellow blogger: Blackbox. His article “What if Religion is Wrong About Homosexuality” is an interesting read, and you can see our comments to one another at the bottom of the page.