What’s Love Got to Do with It?

Before writing this post, I took PBS’s homophobia test. I scored a 48, which in their estimation means that I am not homophobic.[1] I thought it best to mention that right at the front: PBS considers me to be non-homophobic. I can think of no stronger liberal endorsement to my PC-ness.

I am concerned by an alarming trend in our culture. No, it’s not gay marriage (alarming as that is). It’s not even homosexuality in America (which has been here for quite some time). More alarming than either is the trend in the Church and among post-biblical Christians to categorize homosexual behavior as acceptable under the guise of love.

The world’s arguments for legitimizing homosexual behavior and relationships are predictable and understandable. They invariable spring from evolutionary paradigms that view humans as nothing more than complex animals destined to do what animals do. If you’ve ever spent any time on a cattle ranch, you have no doubt seen cows try to mount each other. And who hasn’t been embarrassed by the overly friendly dog who has suddenly formed a sexual attraction to your leg? We shouldn’t expect much less from men and women, scientists tell us, nor should we condemn them for their behavior. And yet, the Bible does condemn same-sex and cross-species intercourse; which makes the Christian defense of it particularly vexing.

The primary arguments in favor of homosexuality made by liberal and post-biblical Christians that I have encountered are as follows:

  1. People who love each other are not sinning when engaging in consensual intercourse.
  2. To call what homosexuals do sin is judgmental, intolerant, and unloving. Jesus loved sinners, thus we should accept homosexuality.
  3. The Bible’s prohibition of homosexuality was only in the context of idolatrous practices.
  4. Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.

I shall attempt to answer these in turn.

As deceivingly comforting as the idea that the only moral regulator to sexuality is “love” may be, it just isn’t the case; at least, not from the biblical perspective. Sex isn’t simply a bodily function. It involves all of a person: spirit, soul, and body. Legitimate sex (between a man and a woman who are married to each other) is a great blessing designed for intimacy, unity, companionship, procreation, and just plain fun. Others can access some of the blessings of this process illegitimately (such is the nature of the goodness of God), but not without reaping the consequences of the sin that illicit sex is (such is the nature of the holiness of God).

If we subscribe to the love argument, we would have to come to the conclusion that adultery is acceptable. But our culture doesn’t see it as so. And it still stands as major grounds for divorce. As a matter of fact, pro-homosexual Christians cite homosexual monogamy as grounds for allowing homosexual marriage. This in itself is a tacit acknowledgement of the sin of adultery. But the same Bible that condemns adultery condemns homosexuality (1 Cor 6:9-10; Ex 20:14; Lev 18:22; Rom 1:26-27).

To call homosexuality sin is no more judgmental than calling drunkenness sin. Both the alcoholic and the homosexual deal with internal pressures and desires driving them toward the object of their affection. But tendency does not make for right. I used to have the tendency to choke the life out of those who upset me. My tendency didn’t turn my sinful rage into a sanctified expression. Neither did my tendency make it “natural.” Let’s face it; we condemn murderers not because murder is uncommon, but because it unnaturally ends the life of another. But even after I tried choking my brother to death, he still loved me. He wasn’t tolerant of my actions, though.

Though there are sections of Scripture that condemn the idolatrous practices of pagan, male temple prostitutes, they aren’t the only sections of Scripture that speak against same-sex practices. Regardless, God’s establishment of what should be is substantial enough for us to know what shouldn’t occur. In the creation account, all the animals are paraded before Adam. He named them, but among them no mate was found for him. Conclusion: bestiality is wrong. As a matter of fact, not only was a mate not found among the animals, Adam was declared to be alone with no mate. Conclusion: homo-erotic self-gratification is wrong[2]. Adam is put to sleep. The woman is made and presented to him. Man and woman are married. Conclusion: marriage between man and woman is the natural order of things and sex is right for them (Genesis 2:18-25).

As to the argument that Jesus never addressed homosexuality, it illustrates the luxury of being a post-biblical Christian. It’s easy to claim what Jesus didn’t talk about if you don’t study your Bible. The fact is that Jesus did mention homosexuals. But even if he hadn’t, he said enough about his estimation of the Torah and sexual purity as to leave no doubt about his beliefs regarding homosexuality. When asked about divorce, he gave God’s prescription for marriage between a man and a woman (Matt 19:3-6). With regard to the Law (which we have already shown that it condemns homosexuality[3]), he stated that he came not to destroy that Law, but to fulfill it (Matt 5:17).

So where does Jesus mention homosexuals? You have to look beyond the English to find it. But if you understand biblical hermeneutics and look closely enough, it sits plainly on the page.

But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts.” Luke 7:25 KJV

The word translated “soft” is the Greek word malakoi. It is used here, in Matthew 11:8, and in 1 Corinthians 6:9 where it is translated “effeminate” in the King James Version. Jesus’ use of the term is in the description of how male courtiers were dressed. He then went on to say that they “live delicately”. The word translated “delicately” is the Greek word truphe, which is “effeminate debauchery.” In other words, Jesus contrasted John the Baptist’s rugged manliness in his representation of God with the effeminate debauchery of the king’s courtiers. All the king’s men come out the lesser in the comparison. Jesus is intentionally using a double entendre in his expression. Gagnon’s commentary on this term is informative.

“The term malakoi in 1 Cor 6:9—literally, ‘soft men’—was often used in the Greco-Roman world as a description of adult males who feminized their appearances in the hopes of attracting a male partner. Jewish and even some pagan moralists condemned them, not for their role in temple prostitution—most were not temple prostitutes—but for their attempted erasure of the masculine stamp given them in nature.”[4]

As the Torah in the Flesh, Jesus embodied the moral code of God. As such, he need not overtly condemn every sin. He primarily involved himself in proclaiming righteousness and himself as the way to achieving it. Homosexuality, like all sins, is a death sentence (Lev 20:13; Rom 6:23). The Law, which Jesus promised to fulfill, called for the sinner’s execution. Jesus took on the curse of the law and died for all sinners: liars, thieves, fornicators, adulterers, and homosexuals among others. He was resurrected from the grave, showing his victory over sin and death. This is love: to pay for sin and make a way to be free of it. Calling sin right isn’t love or even tolerance. It’s simply an invitation to continue in slavery. Go forth and sin no more.

 


[1] You can find the questionnaire at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/assault/etc/quiz.html. Accessed 1/5/2014.

[2] In case you missed it, that was my complex way of saying masturbation is wrong.

[3] Not only does it condemn homosexual intercourse, it also condemns cross-dressing. See Deut 22:5.

[4] “Bad Reasons for Changing One’s Mind”, Robert Gagnon, Ph.D., March 1, 2004, © Robert Gagnon, 2004, http://www.robgagnon.net/responsetorogers2.htm, accessed 1/5/14. This is a great article and worthy of reading.

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