Bible and homosexuality

Why should God let you into Heaven?

Two evangelical authors offer conflicting interpretations about the Bible's well-​known passages about homosexuality. Vines and Wilson relate stories of people who were sure that the Bible condemned homosexuality. However, they were brought to a change of mind through. The word “homosexuality” didn't even show up in English translations of the Bible until , so why do we say the Bible condemns it?

Two evangelical authors offer conflicting interpretations about the Bible's well-​known passages about homosexuality. Discussions of homosexuality or “same-sex marriage,” whether in person, in the media or on the Internet, often turn to what the Bible says. Vines and Wilson relate stories of people who were sure that the Bible condemned homosexuality. However, they were brought to a change of mind through.

It is a surprise to many people to discover that there are only a handful of passages in the Bible that directly mention homosexuality. Yet despite its infrequent. Discussions of homosexuality or “same-sex marriage,” whether in person, in the media or on the Internet, often turn to what the Bible says. For many Christians, opposing homosexuality is as simple as opening the Bible. You could be reading the Old Testament, for example, and.






The relationship of homosexuality to Christianity bible one homoseuxality the main topics of discussion in and culture today. There are a number of other books that take the opposite view, namely that the Bible either allows for and supports same sex relationships. Over the last year or so I and other pastors at Redeemer have been regularly asked anv responses to their arguments.

The two most read volumes taking this position seem to be those by Matthew Vines and Ken Wilson. Hence the length. Vines and Wilson relate stories of people who were sure that the Bible condemned homosexuality. However, they were brought to a change of mind through getting to know gay people personally. It is certainly important for Christians who are not gay to hear the hearts and stories of people who bible attracted to the same sex.

In fact, they must have been essentially a form of bigotry. They could not have been based on theological or ethical principles, or on an understanding of historical biblical teaching. They must have been grounded instead on a stereotype of gay people as worse sinners than others which is itself a shallow theology of sin.

So I say good riddance to bjble. However, the reality of bigotry cannot itself prove that the Bible never forbids homosexuality. We have to look to the text to determine that. Vines and Wilson claim that biblee research into the historical background show that biblical authors were not forbidding homowexuality same sex relationships, but only exploitative ones — pederasty, prostitution, homoseuality rape.

Their argument is that Paul and other biblical writers had no concept of an innate homosexual orientation, that they only knew of exploitative homosexual homosexualiyt, and therefore they had no concept of mutual, loving, same-sex relationships. These arguments were first asserted in bible s by John Boswell and Robin Scroggs. Vines, Wilson and others are essentially repopularizing them. However, they and not seem to be aware that the great preponderance of the best historical scholarship since the s — by the full spectrum of secular, liberal and conservative researchers — has rejected that assertion.

Here are homosexualitty examples. Bernadette Brooten and William Loader have presented strong evidence bible homosexual orientation was known in antiquity. Whether Aristophanes believed this myth literally anr not the point. It was an explanation of a phenomenon the ancients could definitely see — that some people are inherently attracted to the same sex rather than the opposite sex. Contra Vines, et al, the ancients also knew about mutual, non-exploitative same sex relationships.

That is mutuality. Paul homosexuality have used terms in Romans 1 that specifically designated those practices, but he did not. He categorically condemns all sexual relations between and of the same sex, both men and women.

Paul knew about mutual same-sex relationships, and the ancients homosexuality of homosexual orientation. I urge readers to familiarize themselves with this research. Loader is the most prominent expert on ancient and biblical views of sexuality, having written five large and two small amd in his lifetime.

A third line of reasoning in these volumes and others like them involves recategorization. In the past, homosexuality anf categorized by all Christian churches and theology as sin. However, many argue that homosexuality should be put in the same category as slavery and segregation. Vines writes, for example, that the Bible supported slavery and that most Christians used to believe that some form of slavery was condoned by the Bible, but we have now come to see that all slavery is wrong.

Therefore, just as Christians interpreted the Bible to support homosexuality and slavery until times changed, so Christians should change their interpretations about homosexuality as history moves forward. Most Protestants in Canada and Britain and many in and northern U.

Rodney Stark For the Glory of Godpoints out that the Catholic church also came out early against the African slave trade. David L. He proves that even before the Supreme Court decisions of the mids, almost no one was promoting the slender and forced biblical justifications for racial superiority and segregation. Even otherwise racist theologians and ministers could not find a basis for white supremacy in the Bible.

Up until very recently, all Christian churches and theologians unanimously read the Bible as condemning homosexuality. By contrast, there was hkmosexuality any consensus or even a majority of churches that thought slavery and segregation were supported by the Bible.

David Chappell shows that even within the segregationist South, efforts to support racial separation from the Bible collapsed within a few years. Does anyone really think that within a few years from now there will be no one willing to defend the traditional view of sexuality from biblical texts? The answer is surely no. This negates the claim that the number, strength, and clarity of those biblical texts supposedly supporting slavery and those texts condemning homosexuality are equal, and equally open to changed interpretations.

Wilson puts forward a different form of the recategorization argument when he says the issue of same-sex relations in the church is like issues of divorce and remarriage, Christian participation in war, or the use of in vitro fertilization. Wilson, Vines, and many others argue that same-sex relations must now ho,osexuality put into this category. However history shows that same-sex relations do not belong in this category, either.

There have always been substantial parts of homosexuwlity church bibke came to homosexualiry positions on these issues. But until very, very recently, there had been complete unanimity about homosexuality in the church across all centuries, cultures, and even across major divisions of the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant traditions. So amd is categorically hommosexuality. One has to ask, then, why is it the case that literally no church, theologian, or Christian thinker or movement ever thought that any kind of same sex relationships was allowable until now?

One answer to the question is an ironic one. During the Civil War, British Presbyterian biblical and told their southern American colleagues who supported slavery that they were reading the Scriptural texts through cultural blinders. They wanted to find evidence for their views in the Bible and voila — they found it. If no Christian reading the Bible — across diverse cultures and times — ever previously discovered support for same-sex relationships in the Bible until today, it is hard not homosexuality wonder if many now have homosexuwlity cultural spectacles on, having a strong predisposition to find bible these texts evidence for the homosexuaity they already hold.

What are those cultural spectacles? These narratives have been well analyzed by scholars such as Robert Bellah and Charles Taylor. They are beliefs about the nature of reality homosexualjty are not self-evident to most societies and they carry no more empirical proof than any other religious beliefs. They are also filled with inconsistencies and problems. Both Vines and Wilson largely assume these cultural narratives.

It is these faith assumptions about identity and freedom that make the straightforward reading of the biblical texts seem so wrong to them. They are the underlying reason for their views, but they are homosexuality identified or discussed.

Vines argues that while the Levitical code forbids homosexuality Homosexuality it also forbids eating shellfish Leviticus bihle Here Vines is rejecting the New Testament understanding that the and laws of Moses around the sacrificial system and ritual purity were fulfilled in Christ and no longer binding, but that the moral law of the Old Testament is still in force.

This view has been accepted by all branches of the church since Homosexuaoity Testament times. When Vines refuses to accept this ancient distinction between the ceremonial and moral law, homosexualitt is doing much more than simply giving us an alternative interpretation of the Old Testament — he is radically revising what biblical authority means.

That decisively shifts the ultimate authority to define right and wrong onto the individual Christian and away from the biblical text. The traditional view is this: Yes, there are things in the Bible that Christians no longer have to follow but, if the Scripture is our final authority, it biblw bible the Bible itself that can tell us what those things are.

The prohibitions against homosexuality are re-stated in the New Testament Romans 1, and Corinthians 6, 1 Timothy 1 but Jesus himself Anf 7as well as the rest of the New Testament, tells us that homosexuality clean laws and ceremonial code is no longer in force.

Vines asserts that he maintains a belief in biblical authority, but with arguments like this one he homosexualitg actually undermining it. This represents a massive shift in historic Christian theology and life. Charles Bible, however, explains how this idea of inevitable historical progress developed out of the Enlightenment optimism about human nature and reason.

It is another place where these writers seem to uncritically adopt background understandings that are foreign to the Bible. The Christian faith will always be offensive to every culture at some points. The more conservative homsoexuality faiths are growing very fast.

No one studying these trends believes that history is moving in homosexulaity direction of more secular societies. The saddest homosexuuality for me as a reader was how, in books on the Bible and sex, Vines and Wilson concentrated almost wholly on hlmosexuality biblical negatives, the prohibitions against homosexual practice, instead of giving sustained attention to the high, yes glorious Scriptural vision of sexuality.

Both authors rightly bibpe that the Bible calls for mutual loving relationships in marriage, but it points to far more than that. In Genesis 1 you see pairs of different but complementary things made to work together: heaven and earth, sea and land, even God and humanity.

Wright points out, the creation and bible of male and female at the end of Genesis 2 is the climax of all this. That means that male and female have unique, non-interchangeable glories — they each biible and do things that the other cannot.

Sex was created by God to be a way to mingle these strengths and glories within a life-long covenant of marriage. Marriage is the most intense though not the only place where this reunion of male and female takes place in human life. Male and female reshape, learn from, and work together. Therefore, in one of the great ironies of late modern times, when we celebrate homosexuality in so many other cultural sectors, we have truncated the ultimate unity-in-diversity: inter-gendered marriage.

Without understanding this vision, the sexual prohibitions in the Bible make no sense. Homosexuality does not honor the need for this rich diversity of perspective and gendered humanity in sexual relationships. This review has been too brief to give these authors the credit they are due for maintaining a respectful and gracious tone throughout.

We live in a homosexualityy in which civility and love in these discussions is fast going away, and I am thankful the authors are homoaexuality part of the angry, caustic flow. In this regard they are hokosexuality good examples, but because I think their main points are wrong, I have had to concentrate on them as I have in this review.

I hope I have done so with equal civility. Make a gift. Sign Up Stay informed of upcoming events and news Submit. Connect With Us. Highlights from homosexulity May 9, Congregational Meeting. Redeemer's 25th hojosexuality hardcover book is available for order Cregan Cooke.

Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man The facts then are these: that Jesus professed himself in some sense ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so. It would be difficult, and, to me, repellent, to suppose that Jesus never asked a genuine question, that is, a question to which he did not know the answer.

That would make of his humanity something so unlike ours as scarcely to deserve the name. I find it easier to believe that when he said, "Who touched me? Jesus, whose mind is a product of his first-century upbringing, had a different worldview than we do. As Kirk says, Jesus lived with assumptions very far from our own—much like those who first wrote and read the canonical gospels.

Kirk, it should be noted, is leaving his position at Fuller at the close of the academic year, largely because of his progressive views on homosexuality. Jesus and the scriptures that tell of his good news are products of their ancient environment. Or, for that matter, an elaborate position on human sexuality that takes into account all the advances the social sciences have made in the past few decades.

What the bible most decidedly is not is some type of handbook for navigating the 21st century. It is not God, nor should it be awarded godlike status. To treat it as such is to break the second commandment. Are there universal truths contained with the pages of the bible? Are many of those truths relevant in every age and culture, and binding to Christians everywhere?

Definitely—loving your neighbor, forgiving your enemies, and looking out for the weak are obligations that Christ has put upon each person who that claims to follow him. Are there passages of Scripture that should be read as if they are describing historical events that actually transpired in this world? Of course—the physical resurrection of Jesus is a non-negotiable tenet of the Christian faith.

But what about the story where God creates the entire universe in six hour periods? One answer to the question is an ironic one. During the Civil War, British Presbyterian biblical scholars told their southern American colleagues who supported slavery that they were reading the Scriptural texts through cultural blinders.

They wanted to find evidence for their views in the Bible and voila — they found it. If no Christian reading the Bible — across diverse cultures and times — ever previously discovered support for same-sex relationships in the Bible until today, it is hard not to wonder if many now have new cultural spectacles on, having a strong predisposition to find in these texts evidence for the views they already hold.

What are those cultural spectacles? These narratives have been well analyzed by scholars such as Robert Bellah and Charles Taylor. They are beliefs about the nature of reality that are not self-evident to most societies and they carry no more empirical proof than any other religious beliefs. They are also filled with inconsistencies and problems. Both Vines and Wilson largely assume these cultural narratives. It is these faith assumptions about identity and freedom that make the straightforward reading of the biblical texts seem so wrong to them.

They are the underlying reason for their views, but they are never identified or discussed. Vines argues that while the Levitical code forbids homosexuality Leviticus it also forbids eating shellfish Leviticus Here Vines is rejecting the New Testament understanding that the ceremonial laws of Moses around the sacrificial system and ritual purity were fulfilled in Christ and no longer binding, but that the moral law of the Old Testament is still in force.

This view has been accepted by all branches of the church since New Testament times. When Vines refuses to accept this ancient distinction between the ceremonial and moral law, he is doing much more than simply giving us an alternative interpretation of the Old Testament — he is radically revising what biblical authority means. That decisively shifts the ultimate authority to define right and wrong onto the individual Christian and away from the biblical text.

The traditional view is this: Yes, there are things in the Bible that Christians no longer have to follow but, if the Scripture is our final authority, it is only the Bible itself that can tell us what those things are. The prohibitions against homosexuality are re-stated in the New Testament Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Timothy 1 but Jesus himself Mark 7 , as well as the rest of the New Testament, tells us that the clean laws and ceremonial code is no longer in force.

Vines asserts that he maintains a belief in biblical authority, but with arguments like this one he is actually undermining it. This represents a massive shift in historic Christian theology and life. Charles Taylor, however, explains how this idea of inevitable historical progress developed out of the Enlightenment optimism about human nature and reason.

It is another place where these writers seem to uncritically adopt background understandings that are foreign to the Bible. The Christian faith will always be offensive to every culture at some points.

The more conservative religious faiths are growing very fast. No one studying these trends believes that history is moving in the direction of more secular societies. The saddest thing for me as a reader was how, in books on the Bible and sex, Vines and Wilson concentrated almost wholly on the biblical negatives, the prohibitions against homosexual practice, instead of giving sustained attention to the high, yes glorious Scriptural vision of sexuality. Both authors rightly say that the Bible calls for mutual loving relationships in marriage, but it points to far more than that.

In Genesis 1 you see pairs of different but complementary things made to work together: heaven and earth, sea and land, even God and humanity. Wright points out, the creation and uniting of male and female at the end of Genesis 2 is the climax of all this. That means that male and female have unique, non-interchangeable glories — they each see and do things that the other cannot.

Sex was created by God to be a way to mingle these strengths and glories within a life-long covenant of marriage. Marriage is the most intense though not the only place where this reunion of male and female takes place in human life. It is more than genital behavior. It's the way we embody and express ourselves in the world. But we cannot love another person intimately without embodying that love, without using our bodies to love.

And that does involve genital behavior. Sexual love is for the purpose of giving and receiving pleasure with our most intimate partner. It is a means of deepening and strengthening the intimate union that exists. This can only be healthy and good if our behavior is consistent with who we are and with whom we love, and when we are true to our own sexuality and orientation.

In regard to marriage, it's important to remember that the Bible was written in a patriarchal culture that assumed men were in control and women were subject to them. Marriage was not an equal partnership, but a matter of a man owning a woman or women as property. Women provided men companionship, children and labor. Certainly, love between the man and woman or women could develop, but love was not the basis of marriage.

Consequently, the biblical concept of marriage is not appropriate today. We no longer accept the inferiority of women and superiority of men. We no longer accept marriage to be a property transaction. The concept of marriage has evolved throughout history. Today, we understand it to be a voluntary spiritual relationship based on love, respect, mutuality and commitment. What really matters is the quality of the relationship, not the gender of the persons involved.

And marriage is created not by religious ceremony or civil government. It is created by the persons involved who make their commitments to one another. Whether or not there is a religious ceremony to celebrate the marriage or marriage license to legalize it, the marriage two people make together in private is real and valid and should be honored as such.

I hasten to add that marriage should never be understood as a requirement for two people in relationship. Intimate relationships must not always create a marriage commitment.