Recently a prominent Republican leader and controversial pastor came out in support of homosexual marriage. Both used the teachings of Christ as a reason to affirm these “marriages.”
Senator Rob Portman from Ohio released a statement announcing his changed view on homosexual “marriage” after learning that his son was living a homosexual lifestyle. In it, he claims the shift was in part because of his faith and what he reads in the Bible.
“I wrestled with how to reconcile my Christian faith with my desire for [my son] to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister,” he continued. “Ultimately, it came down to the Bible’s overarching themes of love and compassion and my belief that we are all children of God …We conservatives believe in personal liberty and minimal government interference in people’s lives. We also consider the family unit to be the fundamental building block of society. We should encourage people to make long-term commitments to each other and build families, so as to foster strong, stable communities and promote personal responsibility.”
In another announcement, Pastor Rob Bell stated that he supports homosexual marriage. “I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man.”
This shift in supposed “Christian” thought isn’t new, but is happening more frequently. In fact, this is exactly the same tactic used by President Obama when he endorsed homosexual marriage last year.
Christians must learn to discern the fallacies in these statements and affirm God’s truth. Ultimately only God’s whole counsel revealed in Scripture brings true freedom and love, not man’s twisted notions about morality.
Many people, like Senator Rob Portman, are using broad Biblical “themes of love and compassion” in order to cancel out Biblical particulars about human sexuality, as if the two are incompatible. The prohibition on sodomy is based on God’s love and compassion. If the Bible is really true, that those who practice homosexuality will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven, then saying otherwise is not loving or compassionate.
“BUT TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’”
Some people suggest that religions should follow shifts in the culture rather than hold firm to their historic beliefs. This is exactly wrong. Christians are commanded to hold fast to the faith once delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3) The culture ought to conform to the truth of these beliefs and ethics, not vise versa.
To advocate for shifting morality is completely off the Christian reservation and sounds more like a “process theology.” This heresy believes that God is evolving and changing in time, so there are no fixed reference points for ethics. Christians believe that God and his moral law are unchanging, regardless of whether or not the culture conforms to His will or not. This unchanging moral standard will be the one God uses to judge all mankind.
Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said, “When people quote the passages in Leviticus condemning homosexuality, I say to them – if you read the whole of the Old Testament and took everything that was there in a literal way, as being what God and religion is about, you’d have some pretty tough policies across the whole of the piece.” The problem with this reasoning is the New Testament condemns sodomy, too. (Matthew 5:17; Romans 1:24-29; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; Jude 6)
Some argue the prohibition on sodomy is simply not practical for this age. So pragmatism, not God’s revealed will, is the mercurial basis for ethics. This is a very whimsical and arbitrary standard and vulnerable to gross abuse. One man’s pragmatism is another’s tyranny. The only way out of the dilemma is to live as one nation under God and His revealed will. The Founders called this “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” i.e. His moral law.
Political correctness urges Christians to move away from “entrenched attitudes” on homosexuality and “rethink” their doctrine. So whose thinking are we to consult? Reasoning apart from God’s revelation in the Bible is bankrupt human speculation. Apparently liberals are not convinced of their own limitations and fallibility that can become very corrupt, especially when it comes to rationalizing sexual sin.
BAD THEOLOGY LEADS TO BAD CONCLUSIONS
In a sign of the growing apostasy among the dying mainline churches, the official magazine of the Church of Scotland, Life and Work, published an editorial that urged acceptance of the appointment of a homosexual minister. The author, Muriel Armstrong, disputed homosexuality is outlawed by the Bible.
The tactic Armstrong used is one commonly used by homosexual activists to confuse the uniformed. She insults and accuses those who uphold the Biblical teaching regarding homosexuality of being “selective literalists” in their readings.
Here’s the gist of her argument. “What is clear to the lay-person is that not everything Biblical is Christ-like. Every student of the Bible is a selective literalist… Those who swear by the anti-homosexual laws in the Book of Leviticus wouldn’t publicly advocate slavery or stoning women taken in adultery… They presumably no longer accept Biblical teaching on sexual matters such as polygamy and sex with slaves.”
Let’s deconstruct Armstrong’s deceitful line of reasoning from a conservative approach to the Bible. According to Armstrong, “What is clear to the lay-person is that not everything Biblical is Christ-like.” This is a very clever and cunning statement. What does she mean?
The Bible certainly does accurately report the sinful acts of people in the Bible. Even the greatest heroes of the Bible are revealed to be fatally flawed. Think of Moses’ temper or David’s adultery.
Everyone in the Bible, except the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ, is sinful and fallen. Evangelical Christianity does not claim the examples of any Biblical figure other than Christ are the standard. While we can learn both positive and negative lessons from other people’s lives, no serious theologian claims that just because something is in the Bible it is to be followed.
Evangelicals agree with Armstrong that Christ is the standard, but her assertion that not everything in the Bible is Christ-like is irrelevant and self-evident. It seems only intended to defame the Bible, confuse the ill informed and gain support for her unbiblical conclusions.
But this begs the question then, what is “Christ-like?” Apparently for Armstrong her subjective idea of what constitutes “Christ-likeness” is the basis for rejecting the clear teachings of the Old and New Testament regarding sexual immorality. In other words, she’s just making stuff up.
Christ affirmed the whole of the Old Testament.
According to Christ, to be Christ-like is to take the law of God very seriously.
“For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:18-20)
Armstrong makes some very cavalier remarks about God’s law. “Those who swear by the anti-homosexual laws in the Book of Leviticus wouldn’t publicly advocate slavery or stoning women taken in adultery… They presumably no longer accept Biblical teaching on sexual matters such as polygamy and sex with slaves.”
Again, a very cunning remark intended to change the subject and to create a prejudicial view of God’s law. What Armstrong is either ignorant of, or intentionally refuses to acknowledge, is that her approach to the Old Testament law is defective.
Every first year Bible student knows that some of the Old Testament law was unique to the nation of Israel as a theocracy, like the laws she cites regarding slavery. Those specific laws that governed Israel as a nation passed away when the nation of Israel passed away in 70 AD.
The New Testament tells us that the ceremonial law, with all its sacrifices and offerings, also passed away because they were all pointing to Christ. Now that Christ has come and is our Eternal High Priest who offered his own blood for our sin, the need for the Old Testament sacrificial system and priesthood is gone (Heb. 9:23 ff.)
The same can be said of the dietary laws. While one may choose to eat the Old Testament diet for their health’s sake, the spiritual and moral purpose for the dietary laws also passed away with Israel. The dietary laws were to set Israel apart from the Gentile nations. Now in the New Testament we find the kingdom of God consists of both Jews and Gentiles and “is not a matter of eating and drinking, but righteous, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom 14:17)
So what, if any, of the Old Testament laws are left? What about the prohibition on homosexual acts in the Old Testament? We see it clearly affirmed in the New Testament, which Armstrong fails to mention. Historic, Biblical theology holds that the general equity of the moral law, as codified in the Ten Commandments, is still binding on all people everywhere. God will use this standard to judge the world.
New Testament Sexual Morality
Certainly Armstrong knows that the New Testament does not negate the Old Testament moral law about human sexuality. In fact, the New Testament corresponds exactly with the Old Testament in this regard and even holds forth a higher sexual ethic.
Whether we are talking about the sins of fornication (2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; Col. 3:5), adultery (John 8:11; Rom13:9), incest (1 Cor. 5:1), or homosexuality (Rom. 1:26&27; 1 Cor. 6:9; 1 Tim.1:10; Jude 6), the New Testament is clear and unambiguous. Sex outside of the covenant of marriage is sinful and forbidden. No exceptions. It goes without saying that if these sins are wrong, then the Old Testament ban on bestiality and incest are still binding, too. Armstrong fails to mention the same rationalization she uses for accepting homosexuality would also apply to sex with animals and family members.
Some have the idea the New Testament lowered God’s moral standards. This is a glaring heterodox position. God does not change, so how can his moral law change? It is sad that theologians who ought to know better traffic in ambiguity in order to confuse the ill informed.
Any changes we see in the application of the Old Testament law are not moral, but circumstantial. Because Old Testament Israel passed away, it’s civil, ceremonial and dietary laws have also passed away. But the moral law is still intact.
In fact, Jesus wants us to see the spirit behind the moral law. He taught that even entertaining the desire to sin is, spiritually speaking, like taking the action. Sexual sin is also a matter of illicit thoughts. “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matt 5:28 / NKJV
Armstrong is either ignorant of the New Testament or has such a high opinion of her own subjective notions of what constitutes “Christ-likeness” that she will not tolerate Biblical truth. She has made herself a law unto herself and the judge of the Bible and presumes to stand above God and his Word.
Of all Armstrong’s deceits, this one is perhaps the most dangerous. She says, “Every student of the Bible is a selective literalist.” This is a common homosexual argument used to confuse the ignorant and to destroy God’s Biblical standards. Her argument is again prejudicial, not substantive.
Serious theologians agree there are portions of the Bible that we must be very careful to understand. Some passages are to be read literally, like the history of the Torah and the New Testament Epistles, although they may contain metaphors, etc.. Some passages and books are very poetic, like the book of Psalms, or highly symbolic, like Revelation. Of course you don’t read non-literal Bible passages literally. You must accept the Bible on its own terms as God has revealed it. This is not selective literalism it is common sense.
But when it comes to the moral law of God there is no room for this kind of confusion. The laws are emphatically clear. What, pray tell, is not perfectly clear about “thou shall not murder, steal or commit adultery?” These are straightforward commandments. Any child can make that distinction.
THE NEW TESTAMENT IS UNAMBIGUOUS
The New Testament picks up right where the Old Testament leaves off. Jesus and the Apostles affirm sexual expression is reserved for the covenant of heterosexual marriage. Homosexuality is singled out for very serious censor.
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Romans 1:26-27
“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire [i.e. strange flesh], serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.” Jude 6&7
God’s retribution on Sodom and Gomorrah for homosexual sin is used as a severe warning of what will come to all who refuse to repent of their sin.
THE GOOD NEWS FOR HOMOSEXUALS
From the beginning of the church, God has saved and delivered people from homosexuality. After listing the various kinds of people that would not see God’s kingdom, including homosexuals and sodomites, Paul concludes with this glorious reminder: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11
Praise God for the gracious invitation extended to all sinners: repent from your sin, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. This offer is available to whosoever will believe. No one is disqualified, no matter how bad or hopeless you might think you are. There is a sure hope in Jesus Christ for redemption.