Thursday, July 12, 2012

Homosexuality: What the Bible has to say.

First off, I am not a homophobe.  Just because I am against homosexual practice does not make me a homophobe. I can freely associate and love homosexuals just like anyone else and yet not condone the practice. So what I am going to write about today is not "homophobic." It is my understanding of homosexual action based on Scripture.

The Bible says very clearly that homosexuality is a sin. It is a sin like idolatry, adultery, lying, stealing, drunkeness, etc... Leviticus chapter 18 is one of the places this is found. The chapter deals with sexual moral issues. Moses writes in verse 1 "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them..." and in verse 22 "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination."  Again, in chapter 20 where the punishment for this sin is laid out (under the old law) verses 1 and 2 "The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Say to the people of Israel, Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel..." and in verse 13 "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them."

I am not advocating the killing of homosexuals. I believe that before Jesus there was a different way of dealing with sin then there is now. God instructed ancient Jews to deal with certain sins through capital punishment. Today the New Testament Church is not given the right of capital punishment. Instead, the punishment allowed to the church by God is disassociation. If a Christian will not repent of a sin the church is to disassociate themselves from that person in hopes that they shall come back around (Matt 18:15-17; 1 Cor 5:4,5). My purpose in writing this article is to show that homosexuality is a sin according to Scripture and not to promote the extreme punishment of homosexuals. That is God's job.

As stated before, homosexuality is a sin according to scripture. In the passages quoted above it is obvious due to the fact that homosexuality is called an abomination. The Hebrew word can be translated detestable and is used of both moral action and ritual. The context is clear that what is being spoken of here is moral action. There are those who argue that these are priestly instructions given so that priests will be pure and able to perform rituals. A very bogus argument based on isogesis and not exogesis. Both sections begin with a call for "the people of Israel" to listen. These laws were given to all of Israel to follow.

With this understanding it is not a wonder that Paul condemns homosexuality as well. Romans 1:18ff "For the wrath of God is revealed...against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who...suppress the truth...For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God...but became futile in their thinking...Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up to the lusts  of their hearts to impurity...God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged unnatural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 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." Again he writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9 "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor  idolaters, nor adulterers nor men who practice homosexuality..." Again in 1 Timothy 1:8-11 "Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the  unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and who practice homosexuality...."

Paul knows the Old Testament. Some will argue that Paul also teaches we are no longer bound to the law. Yes, this is true, but the moral law will always continue. When Paul speaks of the Old Law he is primarily speaking of the sacrificial system which was fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus himself said that the law would never disappear. So when Paul speaks of homosexuality as a sin he bases it on his understanding of Leviticus.

There are those who argue that the Greek words translated into English as homosexual are mistranslations. The call into question malakos and arsenokoites. The two words describe the two participants in homosexual action. The arsenokoites is the person who is engaging in sodomy and  in Greek society this person was most likely an older person with a younger person (apprentice). So the word is also translated as pedarest (one who has an erotic relationship with a young boy). Malakos is often translated effeminate. This is the person who receives the sexual action of the arsenokoites. It is often argued that Paul could  have used another word for homosexuality. That may be the case, but in my opinion, because this was a cultural issue, Paul wanted  both parties, the aggressive and the passive, to know that they both were guilty of sin.

Again, I write not out of homophobic fear, but out of a desire to know the truth of God's word. Those who engage in homosexual behavior are to be treated like unbelievers. What does that mean? That means that we (Christians) have a responsibility to show them the love of Jesus and not hatred that comes from fleshy human desires.

Those who practice homosexual behavior need to repent (turn away from) of their behavior. Some may argue that they are born with such behavior and so how are they to just stop. I would challenge that statement. We just cannot know at this point how much of it is genetic and how much of it is cultural. The fact is, anyone who shows "signs" of homosexuality automatically are labeled as homosexuals. I believe that a majority of homosexuals are a product of environment and culture. How unfortunate. Given other circumstances I believe they would have grown up to be heterosexual or celibate (which is a gift from God). The argument that a person who engages in homosexual behavior does so because  they were born that way can be used on many other sins. Why not leave the alcoholic or drug addict alone? Many argue their disease is genetic or at least they have a genetic disposition towards such behavior. Yet, for the most part, we can agree, Christian and non-Christian, that alcoholism and drug addiction are not good. Why not homosexual behavior then?

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