Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Christianity, homosexuality, and the imperative to lurve

Derek Flood had posted an article on the Huffington Post on the issue of homosexuality, and only recently did I see it. I normally do not want to interact with such nonsense, except for the fact that there are professing believers who are taken in by such drivel.

Flood's essential case is that Jesus did not speak about homosexuality, but rather He stands on the side of the poor, the outcast and the rejected. Mentioning the problems self-identified homosexuals face in life, Flood calls us to empathize with them, and, with Jesus, defend and love them just as Jesus did the same with the woman caught in adultery as described in John 8:1-11. Christians therefore ought to change their priorities and "focus on the critical issue of communicating love and acceptance to people."

This article does make a good point in how we are to love people, homosexuals included. However, from there, everything quickly unravels.

The first point we want to note is that Jesus DID speak about homosexuality. In the supposed "red letters," Jesus is on record as saying that "from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female" (Mk. 10:6). The context is on the issue of marriage and divorce. What we want to see here is that Jesus grounded the whole idea of marriage, and thus the sexual relation, as being ordained by God in creation to be between a man (αρσεν) and a woman (θηλυ). If the sexual relation, which is to be consummated in marriage, is define as between a man and a woman, it necessarily implies that homosexuality is wrong, for homosexuality speaks about sex between two partners of the same gender, not between a man and a woman. But Jesus did not only speak in the "red letters" of the Bible. ALL of Scripture is Jesus' words, for Jesus is the Word made flesh, and this Word is inscripturated in the Scriptures, the God-breathed (θεοπνευστος) revelation for us in written words (cf 2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:16-21). Paul's words against homosexuality as against nature in Rom. 1 is just as much Jesus' words as the "red letters" represent.

Secondly, Flood has a false view of the Gospel. The Gospel is not Jesus coming to stand on the side of the poor, the outcast and so on. Such a reading of the Gospels wrestle the Gospel narratives out of their biblical canonical contexts! It makes Jesus a modern man, not a Jewish man living in the theocratic era. Jesus was no revolutionary, but someone who agrees with the general teaching of the Pharisees, while denouncing their hypocrisy in not practicing what they know the Scriptures teach (Mt. 23:2-3), and in some places not seeing what the Scriptures do teach (cf Jn. 3:10). That Jesus "sided" with the poor, and outcast etc was because they responded to the Gospel, while the self-proclaimed teachers of Israel did not.

Once we look at the Gospels in their proper redemptive contexts, and read them as first century documents in a Jewish setting, and NOT 20th or 21st century narratives, our views of what the Gospel accounts actually teach will be different. Jesus today would be seeking those persecuted by the world, and denouncing the liberal theological academy as the modern-day equivalent of the Pharisees. They are the ones who add law upon law and erase the Gospel message for one that leaves people in their sins. They proclaim a message that does not and can not save, while putting barriers before the true Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

Flood appeals to the narrative of the woman caught in adultery as portrayed in John 8:1-11. First of all, this narrative does not have textual manuscript attestations that it was originally in the Gospel account, as any reputable version of the Bible will inform you. This does not mean necessarily that the narrative is not part of God's Word, but I would certainly be extremely cautious in putting all one's eggs in one basket.

The issue here of course is that Flood distorts the teaching of the narrative. Let's assume for the sake of argument that the narrative is authentic. What does it prove? Does it prove that Jesus was defending and loving the woman caught in adultery? Did Jesus defend her? Where in the text do we read that Jesus said, "Well, since no one is without sin, therefore your sin of adultery does not deserve death?" While one can say that such was a trap meant to snare Jesus, since capital punishment can only be executed by the Roman authorities, the issue is that Jesus did in fact tell them to execute the judgment of the Mosaic Law. In Lev. 20:10, the adulterers (both parties) are to be put to death. And in Deut. 17:6-7, the eyewitnesses are to be the first one to cast the first stone. So when Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees to cast the stone, he is calling for the right implementation of the Mosaic Law. When Jesus ask those without sin to cast the stone, he is not asking those who are sinless to cast the first stone, for otherwise the Mosaic sanctions could not be implemented against those who commit such sins. Rather, Jesus has in mind that whoever did not sin in this affair of bringing the adulteress to him, that they should cast the first stone as a sign of their innocence with regards to this affair. We must remember that Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Mt. 5: 17). If Jesus said he would come to fulfill the Law, how can He go against the Law in this one case? Rather, in light of the scribes and Pharisees' desire to implement the Law, Jesus basically told them, "You want to implement the Mosaic Law? Fine. Do it properly in its fullness." Remember that in Deut. 17:6-7 the eyewitnesses were to throw the first stone. Conversely, if they did not throw the first stone, the death penalty could not be implemented. Such happened in the case of this woman who was caught in adultery. When Jesus asked her where are those who condemn her, he was not on her side. Rather, in the absence of eyewitnesses, the sin could not be punished. Does Jesus know that she was actually guilty of adultery? Of course he knew! But just because someone is guilty does not mean that he or she is to be punished until they have been proven guilty, and in this this woman was not found guilty in the eyes of the Law. It must be realized that Jesus did not tell her here that her sins are forgiven, but that he refused to condemn her, and then He exhorted her to sin no more.

As it can be seen, an a-historical, a-contextual reading of this text absent from its Old Testament background distorts the true teaching of the text. The text does not teach what Flood is making it out to mean.

Now, to the issue of the sufferings of homosexuals, we are certainly to empathize with them. However, we must also see that (1) the sufferings in bullying is not unique to homosexuals, and thus the question arises as to why bullying of homosexuals are elevated above all other types of bullying, and (2) sufferings are not necessarily wrong. If the homosexual feels suicidal because of his or her homosexuality, that could very well be his or her conscience working reminding him or her or his or her transgression of the natural law. Apart from Christ, the Law mediates death and condemnation. If the Law is working upon their hearts, the last thing Christians ought to do is to try to undo that by dressing up the wounds the Law inflict. Those who do such are like the false prophets of Israel who cry out "Peace, peace" when there is no peace (Jer. 6:14). The Christian response is not to "communicate love and acceptance to them." Such is dressing or healing the wound of people lightly (cf Is. 6:14). Rather, the true loving response is to affirm what their conscience is already saying, to allow the Law to do its work of condemnation, and then to show them the Gospel by which they can be saved.

To "stand alongside" LGBT people and affirm them in the manner prescribed by Flood, without doing the biblical thing (which they will label as a "hate crime") is to actually hate the LGBT people. LGBT people are sinners in the hands of an angry God, just as all sinners are. It is manifestly unloving to affirm them in their sins. To "communicate love and acceptance" to them apart from the proclamation of Law and Gospel is neither loving nor truly accepting. And such will not work ultimately to help them. The conscience of a sinner is not going to remain quiet if professing believers "communicate love and acceptance to them." The Law continues to condemn them in their conscience, and any affirmation they receive is just like a painkiller that temporarily dulls the pain, but the root problem remains untouched.

Should we love homosexuals? Yes, just as we should love all sinners. And just as all sinners have to repent of their sins, so likewise homosexuals have to repent of their sins. For those who have repented, they will be washed and cleansed from their unrighteousness, despite how depraved and wicked they formerly were.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9-10)


And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:10-11)

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