May 24, 2015

The Bible and Homosexuality XVIII: God Made Me This Way, Part II

Reduced To Absurdity

If the previous argument in Part I isn’t enough to refute the pro-homosexual view, the following logic should end the argument. The framing of the “God Made Me This Way” argument as a sinful allowance by God is flawed from a logic standpoint. 

It assumes one that is guilty of homosexual actions is unique in their type of sin. To agree to frame the debate this way is to pay practicing homosexuals special credence for their particular sin. Sin is sin no matter how it’s framed. God views all sin as an affront to His holy nature. To use this leap of logic for homosexuality requires that we also do it for all sin and all sinners and this would lead to reductio ad absurdum. It would mean that God made a thief a thief, an adulterer an adulterer and so on. 

This would implicate God as the source of all sin via human proclivity towards it. This is essentially making people robots like that of hard determinism. This is absurd. It also takes the accountability for action off of all humanity for sin. This is totally against the Bible's concept of sin. People are indeed responsible for their sins and they will be held to account for all of them. The penalty for sin is death and if the sin is not repented of, it will mean eternal condemnation. 

To attribute the blame for sin to God directly violates Scriptural description of God’s attributes and description of His character.

1 John 3:9 ~ No one who is born of God practices sin, because His [God’s] seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

Further Flaws of Logic

Furthermore, God didn’t make these sinful people sinful. Although that it is possible that the entire human race’s nature is corrupted via the Fall of Man (Feinberg 382-383), for someone to say that because God has allowed the sins to continue unabated constitutes an approval of them is another fallacy of Affirming the Consequent. This argument goes as follows:
(1) If God allows homosexuality, He approves of homosexuality
(2) God has allowed homosexuality to continue
(3) Therefore God approves of homosexuality.

The problem with this is that is assumes that the only reason God has allowed the sin of homosexuality to continue it because He approves of it. This is not what Scripture tells us. Just because God has allows any sin to continue does not mean He approves of sin. Scripture is clear on this fact.

Romans 6:1-3 ~ What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?

What in reality has happened since Genesis 3 and the Fall of humanity is that God through His forbearance and patience has allowed human sins to continue and not judge people for their sin outright which is what they deserved.

Romans 6:23 ~ For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Some Christians, unsure of Scripture will assume that, for reasons only a God can know, he allows sinners (like homosexuals) to continue to sin in this fallen world and doesn't expect them to change. This is an incorrect assumption. Scripture tells us exactly why God continues to allow sinners to sin and also allows evil and suffering to continue in this world in 2 Peter and it is not because He approves of sin. It is just the opposite reason.

2 Peter 3:9 ~ The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you [a sinner], not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

The truth is that God is extraordinarily patient when it comes to our sin (Erickson 195, Grudem 201-202). He is giving humanity and individual humans every possible chance to repent and turn to Him for forgiveness of the very sins they are committing (Enns 337). In the end, logic and Scripture repudiates the flawed assertion that God makes homosexuals the way they are. This also goes a long way to repudiate the eunuch/homosexual argument put forth about Matthew 19 and the Ethiopian eunuch of Acts 8 that implies some eunuchs are made the way they are by birth (Helminiak 127).

Theological Implications of Human Choice

To wrap-up the “God Made Me This Way” synopsis the following can be stated. Just like any other volitional action whether it is physical, mental, sexual or otherwise, it is a choice. Granted it is sometimes an incredibly difficult choice to stop some of these sins but it is not an impossible task to cease from one’s entrenched sin. 

The question that needs to be asked in this situation is this: Is a sinner expected to try and stop their sin on their own without help? Is that what is truly expected of a sinner? The answer: Yes and no. 

God expects us to turn and repent of sins. In reality, He knows His creation as only a Creator God would know it…and it is the very reason God foreknew that He would send His Son Jesus Christ. We are all slaves to sin and we are all totally incapable of beating sin without God as Romans 3 clearly states. We would need righteousness apart from the Law and human works.

1 Corinthians 5:21 ~ He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Romans 3:25 ~ God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished...

John 3:17 ~ "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

The bible tells us that it is impossible to uphold the Bible’s standards of holiness from the human perspective but through God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26-27, Luke 1:37, Philippians 4:13). This includes not only physically resisting of the sin but even the more difficult task of not thinking the sin. The process that lasts throughout our lifetime on earth is called sanctification. It is both a passive and active role that we play. 

By yielding ourselves over to God we depend on God to sanctify us (Erickson 326, Grudem 754). We are to strive for holiness and without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14) and we are to abstain from immorality and obey the will of God (1 Thessalonians 4:3) that is our sanctification (Grudem 755). The start of the turnaround is the admission of guilt of one’s sin. God cannot make a person remorseful of sin because this is a volitional act (a choice). Without an admission of one’s sin, there is no repentance (Erickson 279, 308; Grudem 713).

It doesn’t matter if this sin is homosexuality or any other sin. To refuse to admit that a choice is involved here is to deny any culpability in one’s own sin (Grudem 333-334). This is either an inability or it is an unwillingness to take accountability for one’s actions. To take accountability for one’s actions would be an admission of the guilt of the transgressor/sinner. It would force an individual to acknowledge their sin. Sinful humanity will not nor cannot do this as it is not their nature as stated in Romans 3:9-20 (Erickson 190, Grudem 497).

May 23, 2015

The Bible and Homosexuality XVII: God Made Me This Way, Part I

The Genetics Argument

I believe through a proper theological understanding of Scripture and properly understood logic it is conceivable that this argument can be retired and put away once and for all without getting into myopic scientific minutiae. It is critical to refute this argument because the modern theological division is divided at this point.  I suspect this is the avenue down which I will receive the stiffest opposition and be savagely attacked for this particular argument.

If there is a place where the Church is out of its depth knowledge wise it is here.  The Church attempts to take the genetic argument to the opposing side on a scientific level and this is a mistake. By doing this the Church is allowing the other side to define the terms, the rules of debate and even the realm of debate. This is foolhardy for a Christian. It is believed you need to be an expert on genetics and science to refute this assertion. I beg to differ. The assertion that God makes people gay is a theological issue, not a scientific one. 

The Bible defines homosexuality as sin. Sin is a theological issue, not a medical one. We need to stop allowing pseudo-intellectuals to frame this debate in a scientific light when in reality it is a theological one that defines whether or not homosexuality is wrong. It boils down to choice to perform an action, not genes defining behavior. Genes might say that I have a predilection for anger and violence but it is my choice whether or not to physically attack someone in anger.

On one side we have conservative theology that believes that homosexuality is inherently sinful and is the position of this paper. On the opposing side are those that believe or accept that homosexuals are made the way they are or have little or no choice in the manner (Holtam 593). The recent trend culturally is that even the wordage of this phenomena has even changed over the last few years to enforce the idea that homosexuality is now an "orientation" rather than a "preference" which would indicate a choice. 

These terms (like those of abortion) become exceptionally important when dealing with legal or litigious issues concerning respective legalities. It needs to also be mentioned that no studies have ever conclusively proved there is any genetic linkage to the behavior of homosexuality. As this is primarily a biblical and theological series on homosexuality and so that I do not bog down this post with unwarranted scientific complexities I reference some of the most recent scientific references here in their source material: 

Mustanski et al-Human Genetics 116, 272–27

Rice et al-Science 284: 665-667.

Having tentatively mentioned that the genetic argument for homosexuality stands on extremely shaky ground, I now move to the main gist of the theological/biblical polemic.

First, based on previous argumentation it can conclusively be shown that homosexuality is a sin (among many others). Sin by its nature is not of or from a holy God per se as this would contradict God’s nature being holy. Therefore God could not have made a human homosexual or sinful. He could allow it for His purposes but through their own freewill, individual people choose to sin of their own volition. Additional Scripture validating the attributes and nature of God are as follows.

1 John 1:5 ~ This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

Habakkuk 1:13 ~ Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

When confronted with sinful sexual circumstances including immoral or wicked thoughts humans are confronted with a choice (freewill) to violate the rules and statutes that God has ordained for human sexual activity. The truth is that the only acceptable sex acts are those within the covenant of marriage between man and woman (Genesis 2, Ephesians 5). What we choose to do with our minds and subsequently our bodies when dealing with temptation and sin is choice (Enns 209, Erickson 210-212, Grudem 333). If our fantasies and acts of sexuality are outside of marriage they are in violation of Scripture, therefore they are sin and an offense against God. The Bible is replete with examples of sexual sin being sins of choice. From the mouth of Paul we again see the following about adulterers, thieves, homosexuals, etc.

Or 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 effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor 6:9-11

The implication in the above passage is that the believers made a choice to believe and become part of the Church. Paul then states that it was a past action / condition. Therefore by entering the Church they were to put away the old behaviors such as homosexuality. It is clear that because Paul needed to address these sins in such a manner, some within the Corinthian church were still choosing to commit the aforementioned sins. They would now need to make a choice to stop committing these sins. More specifically, they having been told these sins are clearly out of bounds for Christian behavior and the Corinthians should at least now be convicted of their immoral behavior enough to feel guilt and wish to stop these sins of their own volition.

When we begin to combine the idea of sexual thoughts / sexual acts being choice with the idea that a person may have homosexual inclinations we see an inconsistency. The first premise logically invalidates the second premise or claim. Even though a person may be homosexual and have homosexual proclivity - like unmarried heterosexuals, they have a biblical obligation to control not only their physical sexual life but also their sexual thought life just as Jesus said:

Matthew 5:27 ~ “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Although the passage above does not speak directly to homosexuals the underlying principle is clear. To look at a woman (or object of desire) and have sexual thoughts about her/him outside the bounds of marriage (adultery) is to sin. To think a sin is to have committed the sin in your mind. It therefore follows logically that any sexual thoughts about another human being (or object) outside the bond of marriage is improper and sinful. Since homosexuality is not within the acceptable confines of what is considered legitimate biblical marriage, we see a compounding of sin (Romans 1).

What is additionally interesting about the Habakkuk 2 passage above is that it speaks not only to the fact that God is pure and cannot look upon evil but it also alludes to the idea that God allowed/allows wickedness (therefore sin). It is at from this angle of the pro-homosexual argument that we arrive at the aspect that says homosexuals cannot help that they are or the way they are. It is the idea that God may not have made a person homosexual but he has allowed people a that choice to sin and perform homosexual acts for only reason He could know or understand. 

[Concluded in Part II]

May 22, 2015

The Bible and Homosexuality XVI: A Case of Homosexuality That Wasn't

Here is another in a long line of interpretive faux pas of Scripture. I present another pro-homosexual misreading of the Old Testament. 

Along the same lines as David and Jonathan we have Ruth and Naomi and the assertion that they were gay. Frankly, there is not much evidence to go on to defend a homosexual relationship in the Book of Ruth (Helminiak 126).  Again we are confronted with a single verse of Scripture to base a pro-homosexual interpretation on. As with Daniel and Ashpenaz, one cannot base an entire theological or interpretive claim on one verse of Scripture without committing a host of logic fallacies and interpretive errors too numerous to list here.

The claim is that Ruth 1:14 is a biblical assertion that these Biblical women were gay. They base a majority of their argument on one passage (like Daniel 1:9) that seems clearly torn from its context of loyalty and family and the overarching theme of the Kinsman Redeemer (Levirate marriage) in the book of Ruth (Cundall 242). It is in this passage that shows Ruth’s loyalty to Naomi (Cundall et al 259) that many within the homosexual community claim is  an affirming “messages for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people” (Would Jesus Discriminate?-Ruth and Naomi). They claim that in the story of Ruth we see the Bible address the question: Can two people of the same sex live in committed, loving relationship with the blessing of God? They are implying that this loving committed relationship could potentially be sexual.

Ruth 1:14 “And they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.”

The focal point in this passage for the gay community is a single word: דָּ֥בְקָה /dabaq or clung. Orpah kissed her mother but Ruth, her daughter-in-law clung to her. The word דָּ֥בְקָה is indeed the exact same term used by Genesis 2:24 to describe the how man will leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife or specifically how Adam was to cling or cleave to Eve. It is a word that does show the unique closeness that can be experience in a marriage relationship (Wolf 522). Interestingly, the word order in the Hebrew places Ruth ahead of דָּ֥בְקָה /dabaq therefore it emphasizes the contrast between the response of Orpah and Ruth. The purpose of the writer of Ruth was to show the two women who were initially viewed as equals to be actually quite different. Orpah goes with a natural course of obeying Naomi’s wishes but Ruth picks the harder spiritual and emotional course but one that is more loyal to Naomi (Block 638).

This is a relationship of closeness founded in faith and loyalty not lust (similar to David and Jonathan). There is a familial relationship taking place here. It is indeed possible to have a very close familial relationship similar to that of a husband and wife in other relationships in a family. It does not follow that the relationship needs to also contain aspects of sexuality or eros like that of Adam and Eve. This is a fallacy called Affirming the Consequent. It is no different than saying: Gay people hug in a loving and affectionate manner, Naomi and Ruth hugged in a loving and affectionate manner, therefore Naomi and Ruth have to be gay. There are other reasons in Scripture that people clung/cleaved and they were not sexual in their motive. Clearly this passage concerning the gleaning of Boaz’s fields that uses the same verbiage is not homosexual in its intent and it resides right within Ruth:

Ruth 2:21 ~ Then Ruth the Moabitess said [speaking to Naomi], “Furthermore, he [Boaz] said to me, ‘You should stay close [cleave/cling] to my servants until they have finished all my harvest."

It is interesting to note that the supposed homosexual passage of Ruth 1:14 is immediately followed by a declaration of faith in God by Ruth (which is conspicuously absent from many homosexual arguments). Had these verse that immediately followed verse 14 been read and taken into account also in this context, it would easily dispel the assertion that Ruth is clinging to Naomi in a sexual or romantic manner. She is clinging physically to Naomi but spiritually and in the context of Scripture, she is clinging in faith to God.

Ruth 1:15-18 Then she said, “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.” When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.

Ruth immediately responds to Naomi in a theological manner in verses 15-18, not a homosexual manner. She states that Orpah has gone back to her people and “her gods.” Ruth then followed her initial statement with an immediate statement that she wouldn’t leave Naomi nor would she leave Naomi’s God. Far from being a sexual assertion, this passage is a profound theological statement from Ruth about her faith in Naomi’s God (the God of the Bible) and how that ties into her relation to Naomi (Block 639). This is an issue of spirituality, not sexuality. To read sexuality into this passage is to re-frame the context of the passage.

This scenario also begs the question. If Ruth was indeed a lesbian, why would she inevitably marry Boaz and also sleep with Boaz to produce offspring (Ruth 4:13). At the point of Obed’s birth we see Naomi taking the child, laying him in her lap, and becoming his nurse. This hardly seems like the behavior of a jilted lesbian lover.

May 20, 2015

The Bible and Homosexuality XV: David and Jonathan...Adoration or Admiration?

David and Jonathan’s Love

Were David and Jonathan gay lovers? Is there an Ancient homosexual love story that unfolds in 1 and 2 Samuel?

In a word: No.

This is one of the most tightly held misinterpretations of Scripture by pro-homosexual advocates. The zeal to view this relationship as gay is justified due to the language content / context but not due to the social and historical context. My explanation will be lengthy but critical to a biblical apologetic. 

Belief that David and Jonathan were gay is an example of difficult but poor interpretation that is further exacerbated by a failure to be able to read/interpret the original Hebrew and understand theological principles. Conversely, a mere dismissive sweeping aside of the pro-homosexual argument is dangerous here because as I’ve said, the language in the passage concerning David and Jonathan is precise and context driven. If one does not view all the contexts with the proper presuppositions they will come away with a distorted view of what is going on between the two men.

“Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt…” 1 Samuel 18:1-4

Pro-homosexual advocates are quick to cite the relationship between David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18:1-4 (secondarily 1 Samuel 20:16-17) as probably being a homosexual relationship (Helminiak 123-125, White et al-Kindle location 104). This is because of the statement in 1 Samuel 18:1 that says the “soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself”, verse 3’s statement that “Jonathan loved him as himself” and verse 4’s, “Jonathan stripped himself…” The wordage that Jonathan stripped himself is often attributed to the fact he was undressing for a sexual act. Jonathan didn’t strip naked here. What happens in this verse is a physical act of disrobing with symbolic implications.

In reality, for Jonathan the heir apparent to the throne to strip of his robe, sword, etc. (royal regalia) and give it to David was an acknowledgement by a King’s son (Saul) that David was indeed rightful heir to the throne and the divine elect of God (Youngblood 707). 

In other words…in the time of David, which was approx. 1000 B.C., for a person of position and power to relinquish their weapon, armor and royal robe was to essentially divest themselves of power and hand it to the person they handed these items to. It was the same as handing someone your royal scepter. In this case it is David. Jonathan knew David was truly God’s chosen, not his father - nor himself. By doing these things he was essentially throwing his potential crown he would gain from his father at David’s feet acknowledging David as true king-God's king (Gagnon 150-Homosexual Practice, Merrill 449, Youngblood 707).

Admiration Not Adoration

What we see in this passage is a respect or admiration for David by Jonathan, not a homosexual adoration. This is not imagery of a homosexual tryst. It is the passing of a mantle or rightful transfer of political power. Because we are dealing with David who is God’s chosen there is a covenant aspect to this also (Youngblood 707). How Jonathan's obedience to God and acknowledgement of David as true king can be interpreted as homosexual encounter is hard to accept. This is especially true when the dominate pattern of the Bible that this passage resides in clearly condemns immoral sexual behavior that includes homosexuality or same-sex intercourse. To assume one of God’s chosen or a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22) is homosexual is to smear and defame God’s character / name and it betrays a complete lack of understanding of Scriptural principles.

The homosexual inference is further compounded with 2 Samuel 1:26’s lament from David over Jonathan’s death when David says, “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women. It is assumed that the word love here is sexual and above that of women. A gender comparison does not assume a love that is sexual in nature, as this is a fallacy of composition (Jenni et al 48-49). This is a reference again to David and Jonathan’s deep covenant relationship mentioned in 1 Samuel 18:3, 20:8. It is a love of covenant/political loyalty and friendship (Youngblood 816).

It is clear that David and Jonathan really loved one another. The difficulty and point of contention in this passage is here. The question is: Does the relationship as described in Scripture warrant seeing them as homosexuals? The Bible makes it abundantly clear that the love between David and Jonathan was deep (real deep). The word love in Hebrew in this and other passages like 1 Samuel is “וַיֶּאֱהָבֵ֥הוּ/aheb” which means to have affection for, sexual or otherwise (Jenni 47). In the political/covenant context of David (God’s true king) and Jonathan (Saul’s heir apparent), this would not make sense (Youngblood 707, 725). What is sad is that this assertion is incongruous to the preponderant pattern of Scripture (Analogy of Scripture) and is totally counter-intuitive in terms of the biblical condemnation of sexual immorality.

When doing hermeneutics and words studies whether they are Hebrew or Greek, the context of the passage and context of Scripture at large need to be taken into consideration. This is not being done with this passage if people believe this relationship speaks of homosexuality. One needs only look at Genesis 22:2 to see the exact same word (love) being used between two other males in the Old Testament…and they are clearly not homosexual (Jenni 48). It is God speaking to Abraham about his son whom he loved in the same manner that David loved Jonathan. We also see it in Leviticus 19:18 when we read that God said, "…you shall love/ahab/ בְּאַהֲבָת֥וֹ your neighbor as yourself” (Jenni 50). If this is homosexual love, this means God is telling the Israelites to love everyone in a homosexual manner. This is wrong to the point of absurdity.

Again, this understanding totally violates the premise of God’s natural order and God’s premise for sexual relationships or any normal heterosexual relationships for that matter because we are called to love all our neighbors. We even see the same word in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 where believers are called to, “love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Jenni 53). God is not calling us to love Him in a homosexual manner. This was it an intense pure covenant love, not homosexual lust. The places where homosexual intercourse are referred to in the Old Testament it is referred to as יָדַע or yada / “to know” as in Genesis 19:5 with Lot in Sodom and Judges 19:22 with the Levite and His Concubine (Block 537). This also seems to show that it isn’t even love related to covenant or loyalty (ἀγάπη / φιλέω) that is being addressed in the strictest sense where יָדַע / yada is being used in these respective passages. It is in reality just a sexual act of lust (ερος).

In 1 Samuel 20:41 we also see, “After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most.”

When viewed from a presupposition that assumes homosexuality, it is easy to see how these passages can be misinterpreted. The homosexual view of this is that it is a “homosexual kiss.” Again we revisit context, this time in a cultural manner. Men in the time of David greeting other men in the Ancient Middle Eastern (AME) culture is much the same as it is now. This should be especially evident as all the other actions involved in this passage are in a formal greeting (the acts of bowing). It was and is a common cultural greeting for men in that day to greet one another by bowing/bending and with a kiss. Furthermore, it did not occur until two and a half chapters after Jonathan gave David his clothes (1 Samuel 18 thru 1 Samuel 20). This hardly happens in a single romantic evening rendezvous regardless of what people want to read into the text.

The truth is there is no suggestion in the Bible that David and Jonathan were homosexual. This is misinterpretation of the Hebrew or Septuagint Greek based on the context and is also speculative revisionism. In the larger context of Scripture and David’s life in general, the issue for David does not appear to be an issue of homosexuality; it appears to be an overabundance of heterosexuality. David, like his son Solomon was a heterosexual polygamist based on the evidences of Scripture (DeYoung 290).  David indeed had a problem with sexual immorality but it had to do with quantities, not types.

It seems that this love between Jonathan and David is a covenant love that finds God in the center as witness to it and ironically as the binding agent too (Youngblood 707). Homosexual presuppositions are clearly being read into the text. John Boswell who speaks from a pro-homosexual viewpoint seems to affirm this sentiment about the stories of David and Jonathan and Ruth and Naomi by only stating that they have erotic overtones but he never insists that they are homosexual (Boswell-Kindle location 2878). It doesn't seem that he was bold or foolish enough to bridge that interpretive chasm and jeopardize his academic credibility.

May 19, 2015

The Bible and Homosexuality XIV: A Divine Act of Grace or Gay?

It becomes immediately evident when researching the alleged homosexuality of Daniel and Ashpenaz that the assertion is based on one verse in Daniel’s superscription (Helminiak 127). The homosexual viewpoint is formulated by a single verse or more specifically two words within Daniel 1:9. Proper hermeneutics is to not formulate an entire doctrine around one verse of Scripture but this appears to be the case here.

What is interesting about this passage in Daniel is that it is also the Hebrew that is being used to defend a pro-homosexual position.

Daniel 1:9 ~ “Now God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” (KJV)

Daniel 1:9 ~ "Now God made Daniel to find favor, compassion and loving-kindness with the chief of the eunuchs" (Amplified)

The traditional view of the relationship between Daniel and Ashpenaz is that it is friendship at best and nothing within the context alludes to sexuality. Ashpenaz was the chief eunuch guarding the family of Nebuchadnezzar. He is most known for the diet and lifestyle administered to Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Brand et al 126). This of course does not prevent people with a poor grasp of the Bible and improper hermeneutics from seeing what they want to see in the text. From a theological point of view it is incomprehensible that A God who hates sin would make one of His prophets homosexual when His Law strictly forbids it. Prophets in the very office/role they inhabit are heralds of the Law and when all else fails they are heralds of doom.

Because of the wordage of specific English versions and liberal interpretation of the Hebrew of this passage, some believe that there could’ve possibly been an insinuation of a homosexual relationship when it says that God had brought tender love (KJV) on Daniel from Ashpenaz (Robinson). What this view completely fails to take into account is that the Bible specifically calls homosexuality sin and being such is against God’s nature. When viewed from the proper historical context, Sitz im leben and the Sitz im buch the passage defends itself as being non-homosexual. In Hebrew it says that God had brought Daniel וּֽלְרַחֲמִ֑ים/racham and לְחֶ֖סֶד/checed in the sight of Ashpenaz (Harris 305-307). The word לְחֶ֖סֶד /checed or hesed in the Hebrew is a word that can mean favor and other things such as mercy, loyalty and love. In this context is makes sense to understand the use of the word to be align to a meaning of loyalty and/or or kindness not love as is being implied from a homosexual point of view (especially love in an erotic sexual sense). It should be understood to mean favor or a kindness of a man towards a man. The other word וּֽלְרַחֲמִ֑ים/racham based on the context should be viewed to mean compassion of man for another a man. This passage is merely stating that Daniel was given loyalty and compassion by Ashpenaz specifically because of God.

Based on a request by Daniel to not defile himself by partaking of forbidden food and drink, “he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” We do not see a statement of sexuality in Daniel 1:9; instead we see a statement about faith and conviction. So much so that God inspired Ashpenaz to take notice to this and it inspired a favor and loyalty in him towards Daniel. God gave this kindness to Daniel through Ashpenaz. It is clear to Ashpenaz that Daniel’s request was based in a principled decision and conviction. It would also appear that Ashpenaz’s recognition of this fact was a result of divine grace.

What most homosexual exegetes miss in this verse by focusing on the “compassion” and “favor” is the fact that God has the definite article attached to it in Hebrew in order to show that this is indeed an act of grace towards Daniel by the Elohim or the One True God. God always honors those that are faithful witnesses to Him. It therefore follows that a homosexual prophet is not being an obedient faithful witness to the One True God because they would be committing an overt sin being his representative. It is in total violation of Scripture and is therefore totally incompatible with God’s character (Young 45).

It is totally against God’s attributes to ascribe to Him the favor given Daniel from Ashpenaz was homosexual in nature. This is a total misreading of the passage and it is forcing a non-theological context into the passage that does not belong there. What we see is another forced homosexual presupposition into a theological statement about the relationship between two men. It is a relationship that clearly had positive biblical connotations because we see God acting as the prime mover behind the scenes.

May 18, 2015

The Bible and Homosexuality XIII: Born That Way

Homosexual Eisegesis: Assumptions about Biblical Source Texts

The next few posts will be on mostly pro-homosexual interpretation of Scripture or  more specifically a misinterpretation of it. It is generally an issue of reading into Scripture something that is not there (eisegesis). I will present the cases individually and then examine them to show why they do not work either theologically, biblically or logically.

The first homosexual assertion about a piece of Scripture that does not explicitly mention homosexuality finds us in the middle of the Gospel of Matthew. This argument aligns itself strongly with the homosexual view that God makes gay people gay or makes them the way that they are. It appears this assertion requires pulling the biblical statement from its historical context and from the context of which Jesus is speaking which was marriage and celibacy. His response is actually a rebuttal of the Pharisees who had come to test Him. Jesus is asked pointblank by Pharisees:

Matthew 19:3 ~ “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

His response is and immediate and concise statement about divorce and what is considered proper marriage. It gets directly to the heart of a definition of marriage. Firstly, Jesus quotes Scripture as his authority (Genesis 2:24).

Matthew 19:4-6 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female, ’and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.

He later goes on to state that the Moses only permitted divorce of wives because of human’s already naturally sinful inclination or their hard hearts. Jesus ups the ante for marriage and says that if anyone divorces except on the grounds of sexual immorality and then remarries…they are guilty of adultery.

Matthew 19:9 ~ “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Keep in mind that Jesus has just given a strong denunciation against divorce and remarriage. His disciples then state:

 Matthew 19:9 ~ “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”

The reply found in the next two verses comprises the passage in question. Jesus makes a rather interesting statement about eunuchs that is profound in its implications according to the homosexual point of view. From a biblical point of view it is a moot point and has nothing to do with homosexuals. I’ll first give the verses and a traditional interpretation then I will state what homosexual groups believes this says.

Matthew 19:12 ~ Jesus replied, “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

Celibacy Not Homosexuality

What really needs to be understood in Matthew 19 is Jesus is breaking up those that are celibate/eunuchs into three (3) distinct groups based on how they actually became eunuchs. First, there are those who were born that way. These are males who have been born with malformed testicles or are sterile from birth unable to create progeny. The Second are those who have been “made eunuchs by others,” or those who are eunuchs via physical surgery or castration. This was often done to harem guards and senior civil servants (Hester 26, Mounce 182). Daniel, for example, was a eunuch of this type as was the Ethiopian of Acts 8:26-40. Then Jesus mentions a third category of eunuch. The third are those that can be like eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom.

Most conservative and orthodox understandings of this passage are pretty clear-cut. Jesus is simply stating that celibacy may be an option for some of his followers although He is not fully recommending celibacy as it would be at odds with what has just been said in verses 3-9 (France 282). What should really be focused on in terms of whether one should be celibate is in verse 11 where Jesus has said that those to whom this life has been given or those that can accept this type of life, should do so.

Furthermore, the eunuch that has been surgically altered or castrated and those that have physical deformities or congenital disability (impotent) in Jesus statement are meant to be understood in the literal sense. The third is to be understood in the metaphorical sense. It's interesting that people would adopt a homosexual view, since the implication in the entire passage is that being single is the resulting character.

The "Born That Way" Argument

The point of argument from the homosexual view arises from the first example: “There are eunuchs who were born that way.” This assumption of course closely parallels the "God made me that way" claim I will address in a later post. There is a rather large interpretive leap taking place to make a eunuch that has a congenital or natural defect into a homosexual in this context but that is exactly what we are being asked to believe Jesus is saying here (Rogers 79, Would Jesus Discriminate?-Born Gay). The exact statement from Jack Rogers in his book Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality is that those incapable of marriage or incapable of heterosexual sexual activity were considered eunuchs. This is a broad generalization by Rogers and assumes that those who simply lack sexual desire for people of the opposite sex can be considered eunuchs. This is just not true as there is historical evidence to show that eunuchs were not celibate or even chaste (Hester 18). Rogers even goes so far as to quote a Jesuit priest John J. McNeill who stated:

The first category-those eunuchs who have been so from birth-is the closest description we have in the Bible of what we understand today as a homosexual.” (Rogers 130)

Jack Rogers has allowed a bridging of contexts here. He has assumed that because Jesus is making statements about sexual abstinence it is assumed that the abstinence is based in sexual proclivity or sexual desire/preference. By doing this Rogers allows for the addition of homosexuality into the context in which it does not belong. He is reading things into the text. Nothing in this passage leads a reader to assume homosexuality is being addressed in any form unless a reader brings that presupposition to the text.

The context of this passage aligns itself with the idea of being chaste. Jesus understanding Scripture perfectly would’ve never allowed for sexual relations outside of a marriage…which is exactly what He had just got done talking about. He forbids divorce except in the case of sexual immorality. The very act of sexual immorality being the thing that allowed for the one example of divorce. Jesus is not affirming homosexual behavior, He is dissuading people from divorce and recommending celibacy to those to whom the ability has been given.

Illogical Conclusions Based On Context

This then begs the question: Why would Jesus, having forbid a divorce between man and woman, in the later verses allow for another form of sexual immorality as defined by Scripture? What’s more, it would be allowed outside of a marriage in the form of a homosexuality or being “born that way” (if we follow the homosexual argument). The answer to this question is that Jesus wouldn’t have allowed it since being homosexual would also be morally wrong and against Scripture. Christ is clearly referring to all these eunuchs as being chaste or celibate. To make any of these examples sexually active people outside of marriage destroys Christ’s point about divorce. It is a self-defeating argument that I believe we see from homosexuals about this passage.

An understanding of logic and basic theological principles about Jesus/God should quickly void this argument and mark the homosexual view of it as invalid. When this line of reasoning is raised to show that the Bible and Christ allowed for homosexuality, it is obvious that those raising these hypotheses do not understand that theologically and morally Christ would not contradict Himself nor make a claim that was contrary to the preponderant pattern of Scripture that would’ve been applicable to his time and understood by the Jewish Pharisees and his disciples (Genesis 2, Leviticus 18, 20).

There are major assumptions taking place here and there is little to base them on, either in the text itself (Sitz im buch) or in the historical context. They have taken a statement by Jesus in an ascetic context and try to make it mean something based on a homosexual framework. They are literally attempting to impose a new context on the passage. To mix a homosexual aspect into this is to totally fail to see that Jesus may very well have been presenting an apologia for Himself as he was celibate for the sake of the Kingdom.  Jesus was literally the third type of eunuch that he mentions (France 283).

Furthermore, Jesus beginning this passage about proper sexuality in marriage shows God’s concern for the sanctity of marriage and also the plight of sexual sinners that performed sexual acts outside of marriage (v.9) (Gagnon-Sexuality 743). By Jesus condoning and actually encouraging the heterosexual marriage here in Matthew 19 and Mark 10:1-10 we also see the Creator God addressing the fact that He made humanity, male and female (Genesis 1:27) and they were to become one flesh (Genesis 1:27, 2:24). This means that the Creator God ordained this to be the proper marriage. It was not a social construct which is the idea that is being pushed today in western ballot boxes and in some cases through the judicial systems and courtrooms (Gagnon-Sexuality 745).

Flawed Hermeneutics

What is seen in this line of debate is historical revisionism (Holtam 592). Those who come to the Scripture with homosexual bias re-interpret the Bible, as well as church history to make it advocate their way of thinking. They thereby distort the Bible's teaching on sexuality (Matthew 19) to include homosexuality by deconstructing the idea of what a eunuch was. They are trying to make this passage mean what they want it to mean (Gagnon-Sexuality 739). By redefinition of words and reframing of ideas, Scripture can then be made to say whatever those reframing it want it to say. This is exceptionally evident in when Helminiak states there is speculation (by whom he doesn’t say) that eunuchs in the Ancient mid-East were not necessarily castrated men at all but instead men whose sexual interest was only for other men yet he cites no source (Helminiak 127).

It should also be noted that similar to the interpretive leap being taken above in Matthew 19:12 the same assumption is often made about the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 and of the prophet Daniel in the Old Testament (Robinson, Rogers 131-133). The hermeneutics used to determine that Jesus’ first eunuch who was “born that way” was homosexual is borrowed and applied to other Scripture and vice versa. Rogers even goes on to portray the Ethiopian eunuch as a sexual racial minority and also refers to him in racial terms as a black African subsequently calling him a person marginalized of society. This is merely imposing a modern context on an ancient one. Black Africans would not have been uncommon in the Middle East in ancient Jerusalem considering the Mid-east's geographical proximity to the African continent. Additionally, there is absolutely no context of sexuality in this passage except for that which can be drawn from the ambiguous sexuality/gender of a eunuch. It seems purely based on the misinterpretation that a Eunuch in general could be gay due to vague sexual physiognomies (Helminiak 127).

May 16, 2015

The Bible and Homosexuality XII: Adam & Eve or Adam and Steve?

Scriptural Support: Indirect References to Homosexuality

I now delve into the portions of Scripture that do not necessarily comment directly about homosexuality. Due to their sexual or relational nature, they need to be examined closely because of what they imply in principle. As we all know, the Bible doesn’t explicitly speak to every possible scenario in human existence but principles can still be gleaned from biblical knowledge or divine wisdom. The case of Adam and Eve in Genesis should be our first stop because it defines what God intended to be the proper relationship for a marriage. I will be as succinct as possible to avoid confusion.

Genesis 2:23-24 ~ “The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

This passage in Genesis tells the reader quite a few things. First, it defines the proper order of marriage or how man and woman are joined. Jesus’ reaffirmation of it in Matthew 19 thereby strengthens the biblical position on it. A marriage being the only proper partnership and place for sexual relations that are not considered improper or sexual immorality (Sailhamer- Pentateuch 102). The entire gay marriage issue for the Christian then becomes a moot point because of what the Bible defines as a real marriage. If true marriage is define as a union between a man and woman, then a same-sex marriage is spiritually invalid....period. The Bible has told us what constitutes a marriage. Therefore by logical deduction, we should clearly understand what marriage is not. For the purposes of this series on homosexuality it will suffice to say that any marriage other than that between a single male and single female is unbiblical and therefore disobedience to God's statutes.

The bulk of my argument in this series should lead a reader to no other conclusion. The Bible is clear and plain with no wiggle room. With the backing of a few additional passages this is not a hard claim to support. If pressed I will do so clearly and articulately to avoid any ambiguities. Therefore...any sexual acts outside of marriage are considered sin and outside the boundaries of Gods order for sexual relations.

The second thing this passage tells us is the interesting nature of the woman as opposed to the man. When Adam calls the female "woman" he is not only saying that she is different from him being a woman/man, he uses the word בְּאִשְׁתּ֔וֹ / ishshah in Hebrew (Harris 59-60). It is a word that means specifically: Woman, wife or female. More interestingly it is specifically used as a reference to the gender that is “childbearing” or by inference, the gender that can be impregnated/pregnant in Genesis 3:16, Genesis 25:21, Exodus 2:2, etc. which a male clearly cannot be (Jenni et al 188).

This as opposed to the מֵאִ֖ישׁ / ish that specifically means man, husband or the name of the gender that has no childbearing correlation (Harris 38). The inference alone from this passage implies that a gender that can bear a child in the historical context of Genesis is female (no surprise there).

Therefore it indirectly alludes to the biblical fact that sexual relations need to be male/female or a partnership that can produce an offspring or progeny which is bolstered by God’s command to be “fruitful and multiply” in Genesis 1:28 (Gagnon 746). It also shows that the proper partnership approved by God is male/female obviously...the only way to bear a child.

Same sex partnerships are incapable of producing a child at the time Genesis is written. Only modern medical practices allow this to happen and there still needs to be a surrogate. This passage also shows a Complementarian view of man/woman or husband and wife. In other words, God specifically made men and women different to fulfill different roles. One of which is to emulate the Trinity when the man and woman come together in marriage. In essence it is to be one in person yet distinct in personality. Eve was created to be the helper of Adam.

The permanence of this partnership or marriage is alluded to in the fact that the man should leave his parents and joined/cleave to his wife as if they are one flesh (v.24) (Harris 39). This means to break this bond is to effectively perform a type of amputation of oneself or a lessening of oneself. The mentioning of one flesh shows the complete unity of man and woman in marriage. Since this is pre-Fall we know that there is no sin therefore we see a perfect image of marriage being between opposite sexes.

Although this passage on Genesis 2 does not directly address homosexuality or same-sex intercourse it speaks volumes about what God and His word deems acceptable in terms of sexual relations as they correlate to marraige. From this passage alone we can conclusively ascertain the proper order or organization of the male/female, husband /wife partnership within marriage. As mentioned earlier, further dynamics, definition, roles and structure of marriage can be gleaned from Ephesians 5, Proverbs 5, 18 and 31, 1 Corinthians 7, assorted places in the Gospels and even Hosea but are outside the scope of this paper.

May 14, 2015

The Bible and Homosexuality XI: The Corinthian Homosexuals

In continuation of the last post I conclude the examination of the 1 Corinthians 6 passage where Paul addresses sins of people that will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (because of said sins).

The word that is translated homosexual in modern English translations is  ἀρσενοκοῖται / arsenokoitai. It is also a nominative masculine noun. It means a male who lies with a male as with a female (in a bed) (Brown 569-570- Vol.2, Evans 288). Even if the grammatical default for Greek is male when addressing a group which is what Paul is doing in Corinth, Paul made no disambiguation here so it had to have been intentional. He states male (effeminate) to male (homosexual). As a masculine noun, this passage has referred to the arsenokoitai as nominative 1st person plural that are men and they are associated with other men or "soft ones"/catamites. This is a clear allusion to homosexuality and/or even pedophilia since catamites were often young boys (Evans 288). It is also interesting to note that cognates of ἀρσενοκοῖται/arsenokoitai are used in the Septuagint in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 in the form of ἀρσενοs/arsenos/male and κοῖτεν/koiten/bed (Brown-Vol.2  569-570). In Leviticus the practice of homosexuality is clearly condemned. Paul used this compound term for a reason. It is to reiterate the forbidden nature of the homosexual act (Evans 288) and to also show the continuity of the Old and New Testaments. This thereby shows the unwavering and immutability of God’s truths and attitude towards sexual immorality of this form.

Cultural Support

The effeminate partner more than likely refers to young men who sold themselves to old men as "mistresses." It also probably refers to young cult prostitutes who took a passive role on pagan alters (Halperin 721). This type of practice was so rampant that Roman Emperor Nero was known to have castrated a boy named Sporus. Nero then married him and lived with him as his wife in his palace (Champlin 146-147). To castrate a male is to effectively arrest puberty by removing the testicles. Thereby the young boy maintains his androgynous or effeminate attributes staying a catamite in perpetuity.

It can see from 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 that Paul understood that homosexuals of Corinth had come into the church. He understood their former practices which he denounced on the basis that they were sins that were not compatible with a Christian’s new life and worldview. From the text we can also determine that Paul also knew that there was a passive effeminate male and an active masculine male in a homosexual relationship. What Paul wrote about concerning homosexuality and sexual immorality in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 he soundly denounced not only directly in the text but also through his use of Greek cognates that are linked to Leviticus 18 and 20. There is no equivocation in this passage regardless of what modern linguistic experts have intended by intentional or unintentional misreading.

Sexually Immoral Then, Sexually Immoral Now

This passage shows that Paul and the early Christians did indeed understand the homosexual community (DeYoung 205, White et al-Kindle location 1355-1356). The authorial intent of 1 Corinthians 6 is clearly referring to the sexually immoral as unrighteousness ἄδικος/adikos wicked, sinful and it is stated directly in the text.  They are then categorically condemned if they do not turn from their sinful ways. It is also interesting to observe that obedient Christians, having understood homosexuality, still accepted homosexuals and other people committing sexual immorality into the church but subsequently condemned it. They expected a change to non-sinful behavior once a person converted or chances are they had not really converted.

From the homosexual view, as noted in the section on Genesis 19, John Boswell believes the word ἀρσενοκοῖται refers to male prostitutes but even he acknowledges its application to homosexuality as being understandable (Boswell-Kindle location 2915-2922).

John Boswell then asserts that this is a myth(s) popularized during the early centuries of the Christianity. Boswell also says there was no word in classical Hebrew or Greek for homosexual and that arsenokoitai in Greek and kadëshim in Hebrew were not descriptions of gay people. Instead they were merely designations for prostitutes (Boswell-Kindle location 3009-3013). This assertion seems to be invalidated by the fact that nowhere in this passage are prostitutes (temple or otherwise) mentioned either directly or indirectly (DeYoung 53). Although there may be lingering ambiguities about the word arsenokoitai, it has been shown in the conservative viewpoint and translation that Paul was indeed speaking about male on male sex acts. This view is further bolstered by Paul’s choice of Greek cognates that are similar to the terms used in Leviticus (Septuagint). Therefore there is an association to the punishments and other connotations found there also. These are the same Leviticus passages that have been affirmed by the likes of Boswell as referring to homosexuals in an overtly negative manner (Boswell-Kindle Location 2796).

Dr. Helminiak is less tactful in his criticism of the Bible itself and more blatant in his advocacy of homosexuality.  He bluntly states that the “men lying with men” does not provide” a satisfactory translation of ἀρσενοs / ἀρσενοκοῖται (Helminiak 114). He further states that the meaning has changed between the time the Bible was written and our time. This is improper hermeneutics. The words can only mean what they originally meant when the author wrote them. What the text means stays the same, the applications change. He also says that in Leviticus “men lying with men” is condemned but then goes on to say that because of the context of Leviticus which he claims is ritual impurity, the condemnation does not apply to early Christianity and most of the contemporary world because of the abrogation of ceremonial law (Helminiak 114). This again is a miscategorization or misunderstanding of law in Leviticus. He has grouped in the moral law of homosexuality which has not been abrogated by Christ with ceremonial laws that have. He then appears to contradict himself in his own conclusion when he states:
“Whether we take arsenokoitai to refer to male-male sex or not, the conclusion is the same. These texts intend no blanket condemnation of homosexuality, nor even homogenitality” (Helminaik 115)
This statement is made after admitting that male on male sexuality was indeed condemned as sin in Leviticus passages. If this is true then it would only be by abrogation of a mischaracterized ceremonial law that would it become annulled in Christ. It would follow then that it is still a denounced sin that one would need to seek forgiveness through Christ for -- even if his own hermeneutic was correct.
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