April 25, 2013

Cultural Crossroad I - Christianity & Homosexuality

I will state outright that this series of posts is timely in light of the groundswell to legalize gay marriage and the push by modern culture to normalize homosexual behavior. So forceful is this push that even many within the Christian Church are beginning to abandon long-held doctrines, beliefs, convictions and Scriptural truths to morph or merge to the culture rather than engage it with the intent to teach it, correct it and stay distinct from it.

This will be the first post of approximately two dozen on the topic of Christians and homosexuality. I anticipate at some point I will be censored or shut down as this is a firebrand issue that draws the ire of people on both sides of the debate. This is an abridged presentation of my thesis from college. Had I not abbreviated this it would've been twice as long. If it appears as if some research is missing it is because I had to curtail some content. This being said, if something looks weakly debated please understand there is probably more research behind it. I've cited nearly 60 sources. If pressed hard enough I will bring it into the comments section to validate points further.

This series of posts is as balanced as my conscience would allow so not to be horribly biased or intellectually arrogant. Many conservative evangelical Christians will say that I shouldn't have helped argue the homosexual point-of-view or given this ideology any ground to stand on. For me this is untenable and in the end would be counterproductive for the purposes of teaching and maintaining an academic balance (i.e.: fairness). This would just validate the accusations that Christians are ignorant of homosexuality or ignorant in general. In an attempt to not give the pro-homosexual movement any ire to aim back at me I have actually included many of their views. This was done primarily as antithesis to the biblical view in a form of dialectic so we can arrive at an acceptable biblical apologetic that incorporates as many arguments of the culture as possible.

Additionally, centuries of church abuses, double-standards, hypocrisy and true hateful intolerance (like the people at Westboro Baptist and those of their ilk) has already given homosexual advocates too much fuel for a fire that is already raging out of control. In this series I would like to build the homosexual views as clearly as possible alongside orthodox Christian views. The difference being that I will also systematically dismantle those claims biblically, theologically and through plain logic. I will do this to show why homosexuality's arguments are either Scripturally, morally, ethically, or logically flawed. I intend to show exactly why acceptance of homosexuality in church leadership or as unrepentant sin is unacceptable in a Christian church and by extension why it is damaging to society through forced litigious marriages. Consequently, in my defense of this thesis I will inadvertently show why homosexual marriage is not biblical also and should not be done by Bible believing pastors/ministers even under threat of being ostracized or other penalties.

Regardless, this series of posts will most likely have half the people that read it nodding their head in agreement and the other half will turn a decidedly unfavorable eye towards it. I expect that it will maligned by some, perhaps vehemently and aggressively at times. Unfortunately, I suspect this will divide my readership...but it won't be because of bad theology or poor interpretation/hermeneutics. It will be because those that reject a biblical argument are not as versed in biblical truth or worse, they are not biblical. It will be because of emotion or how they feel about the topic and what presuppositions that they bring to it and also to the Scriptures.

Thesis & Introductory Statements

The intent writing this thesis is to describe the Scriptural position on homosexuality which is adamantly and strongly against the sin of homosexuality as it is against all sin. A predominately conservative, traditional or orthodox Christian viewpoint will be presented. At times though I will also view the debate from a non-orthodox or liberal theological viewpoints where there is no biblical parallel or where a liberal/non-orthodox view exemplifies, establishes or helps accentuate a point being made. To conclude, I will offer a theological response and biblical reactions to the sin of homosexuality. Furthermore, homosexuality being a sin which is an affront to a Holy God should not be an acceptable practice or “alternative lifestyle” tolerated within the Body of Christ/Church regardless of the unyielding cultural pressure to accept it which is decidedly homosexual friendly. In the end I will offer suggestion(s) on how the Church can better address this issue based on what can be learned from this analysis.

Liberal Theology

When I say liberal or Liberal Theology, what I am referring to is those in the theological realm that lean mostly towards more radical criticisms or unbiblical higher criticisms, man’s reasoning and the findings of modern academia and modern scholarship. A liberal viewpoint usually takes elements of the Bible and Scripture that do not align with modern precepts and discards many of them. As such many of their theories or precepts either reject the supernatural or consider much within the Bible as dubious as a reliable source (Enns 587). In an attempt to save Christianity from becoming irrelevant, liberal scholars try to rescue Christianity from irrelevance by putting it on a Procrustean bed and proceed to amputate the Faith until it becomes invalid theologically. They end up abandoning many historical Christian doctrines along the way (Enns 593). What remains is a syncretistic Christian blend that mostly relies on reason, rationalism and is devoid of virtually all of its metaphysical/supernatural elements. 

Because of these anthropocentric views, liberalism (generally) believes that a person (being the source of reason) is basically good and through education can be improved (Enns 593). Additionally, there is a desire in the liberal theological viewpoint to modernize the understanding of Scriptures and to include modern cultural phenomenon such as Liberation Theology which seems to be a catch-all for theologies that unite sociological or economic concerns (Enns 630). The socio/economic theologies that would fall under this category include feminist theology, black theology, social justice/socialist theology and gay (GLBT) theology. Their presuppositions and methods of interpretation therefore fall along these lines.

Conservative Theology (Traditional)
When I say conservative or traditional view I am referring to a theological view that stands opposed to Liberal Theology/Christianity and holds to historic doctrines of Christian faith (Enns 648). Specifically, I speak of an approach to theological issues that are historically linked to reform movements, especially the Reformation and the backlash against liberal theology of the late 19th and early 20th century (Enns 648). Generally, the conservatives to whom I refer also adhere to verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible, the inerrancy of Scripture, historic and time honored hermeneutic methods, and a triune sovereign God that includes the full deity and full humanity of the Son. The conservative view also believes that humanity was originally created holy but chose to sin in Adam and fell in Adam also, therefore all of humanity has this sinfulness imputed to them through Adam. Because of this Fall, humanity is totally corrupted and depraved by their nature. Because of this wickedness, God being perfectly righteous must eventually judge it (Enns 648, Erickson 100).
I will revisit certain passages repeatedly to draw out a proper defense or apologia to support Christians and Christian belief versus homosexuality (or sexual immorality in general). It was especially hard to find credible scholarly resources to defend some of the more unconventional homosexual philosophies so I was relegated in some cases to pulling resources from the popular culture on the Internet as a point of reference. Where it was possible to use strictly scholarly resources I did. Additionally, all Scripture passages are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted directly in the text.

Christ-like Behavior

For those that will say that I am not following in the footsteps of Jesus by not loving these sinners in their sin I respond this way. If I love people in their sin and do not expect them to repent and turn from their sin, I am actually hating them in reality. How you say? Because as unrepentant sinners I am allowing them to accrue judgment against themselves which is accumulating God's wrath on the day of judgment. People that truly love God obey His commands (John 14:15). Conversely, people that do not love God disobey His commands and continue willfully in their sin (Romans 1). The truth is that I do have a heart for the lost and the sinners of this world but the culture has so twisted what is considered love and hate that they literally have been turned on their head in an illogical manner. 

To continue to do things that are clearly shown and described as sin in the Bible is to willfully disobey Scripture and this can only accumulate the wrath of God. I would truly hate you if I would allow this to happen without informing you and warning you of the error against God. Only a twisted mind would say that I was "hating" you for telling you that you are in sin when you are sexually immoral whether it be adultery or otherwise. To continue in these sins unabated is to be unrepentant therefore you are condemned to eternal separation from the love of God. Hell awaits you down that path, yet the world will have you believe that I do not love you for not letting drowned in that very sin. Sin that the Bible clearly condemns.

Just so people know, it is not as if I take some warped pleasure in always confronting the confused cultural zeitgeist head-on in issues such as homosexuality, women in ministry and other hot button topics. It is just the way society is going. The farther afield the culture and society drifts from God and Scripture the more I find myself either in conflict with the culture and society or the more I as a Biblical teacher need to confront it with Scriptural truth. When I bring a correct exegesis and study of the text I realize it is not those people that hate me but it is their sin confronting God and the truth of Scripture. I will admit there are even some truths of Scripture that I find difficult to accept and assimilate but as a sinner it is my sinful nature that rejects those hard to stomach truths, just as it is other's sinful nature that causes them to reject the truths I will put forth in these posts.

[Please understand that deliberate flames in the comment section will be deleted by the moderator. Illogical, philosophically flawed or theologically unsound comments will be corrected. Responses may not be immediate but they will be forthcoming.]

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