Archives For Homosexuality

A Gay Response

July 20, 2012 — 2 Comments

I know I am a little late but I was intrigued by the recent “coming out” of news correspondent Anderson Cooper who is a prolific journalist/reporter for CNN. Cooper is just another individual in a long string of people who have announced to the world that they are gay. I thought about blogging then but waited until I can read some more and then a magnificent post came out by Craig Gross who is Pastor of the XXXChurch.com. He wrote a fabulous article for CNN called, “My Take: Will there be gays in heaven? Will there be fat people?” He said this:

In 1 Corinthians, the Bible says don’t indulge your body with food or sex: “‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,’ and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

I have always heard people go this direction when discussing the issue of homosexuality. Quite frankly I can almost anticipate someone who speaks about the sin of homosexuality and then their wardrobe of selected verses. Gross made this comment that got me thinking:

If you indulge your body with sex via pornography, affairs, strippers or hookers, and your secrets are exposed, you will not be preaching on Sunday. Sexual sin is not tolerated in our churches. If clergy are caught in these things, they’re disqualified.

What if you indulge your body with food? Well, then you can pastor some of the largest churches on the planet and have the most successful broadcasts on the religious channels and sell a lot of books.

Same biblical passage, same sin. Why is one accepted and one rejected? Why is it that religious folks want to camp out on a few things rather then all things?

Why do they believe that the gay guy goes to hell but the fat preacher who builds some of the largest churches in the world makes it to heaven?

He concludes by pointing out that the road to sanctification for the homosexual is much like that of a person losing 100 lbs. It does not happen overnight but it takes a while. He points to the need for churches to be more open in practicing community with gay people instead of ostracizing them to the corners of the disenfranchised. Whether you agree with his post is irrelevant because I think the underlying issue he unearths is what we in the evangelical world struggle with: Do we really care for gay people like we do heterosexual people?

Look at any evangelical church infrastructure and you will notice committees delegated with the task of reaching a specific need. A mission’s committee, a youth committee, a benevolence committee, a women’s ministry committee, a prison ministry and on and on the ministries go yet I wonder how many committees exist to find ways to reach those who are gay. I don’t think developing a committee approach is the answer but it should prick our hearts that Jesus spent a majority of his time with sinners and the marginalized and most church-goers only surround themselves with people they fundamentally agree with.

I wonder if our churches are even safe places to harbor those who are gay.

A church should be the safest place for a person to say, “I am gay,” yet that is the last place a gay person wants to share this news.

Or even someone who is alcoholic.

Or even someone who is addicted to porn.

Or even someone who is addicted to drugs.

Or even someone who is having an affair.

Why? Church has become a place for those who have already got it together instead of a place for those to get things together. We have become saints who are once and for all sanctified instead of sinners who are continually seeking sanctification. I wonder what our churches need to do to help gay people in their journey of sanctification. I wonder what if we spent more time and energy focused on helping gay people, drunk people, addicted people and people who need us instead of paying the different ministers, and building projects and on and on.

What would a church look like if it really welcomed sinners like that…like you…like me?

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Homosexuality – Part 3

August 10, 2009 — 2 Comments

When I started this study I wanted to be able to keep it as short as possible while being faithful to the text but I realize that it is difficult to be brief especially when there is so much scholarship written about the issue.  Homosexuality is a severely-contested issue that is not one that is easy to address.  What you will hopefully (maybe obviously) notice in these posts is that I do not cover the material extensively.  Consider these posts more or less “teasers” to do your own study and come up with your own conclusions.  I just wanted to formulate some of my own and hopefully address them in a Scriptural manner.  Also, keep in mind that I am not discussing objections from a homosexual perspective at this time.  I am simply introducing the major Scriptures and making brief observations on them.   

 Leviticus 18:22; 20:13

These are the Old Testament abominations against homosexuality.  Since they are short I will give the verses in below:

 Leviticus 18:22—You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.

 Leviticus 20:13—If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.   

These verses occur within a larger context of holiness (18-26) where priests and others are to keep oneself removed from impurities and things that were not to be associated with the people of God.  The verses above do not describe an action as one may see in a larger narrative like those we have seen in Genesis 18-19.  This is a command or a prescriptive action given to the people of God to follow for their sanctification.  Failure to comply with such would be an “abomination” (toebah in Hebrew) to the Lord and, according to 20:13, would be worthy of death.[1]  Death was extreme as the penalty in Middle Assyrian Laws was just castration.[2]  Although castration is no easy punishment it is less severe than death.  Thus, this was a serious offense against God.  Something of note about the seriousness of this sin is that it is mentioned in the same context as adultery (18:20; 20:10), bestiality (18:23; 20:15), incest (18:6-17; 20:13, 17, 19) and child sacrifice (18:21; 20:2-5). Robert Gagnon makes two other observations that are worth noting:[3]

  1. God’s concern was not to accommodate the prevailing cultural milieu of the times but rather his people were to be set apart and holy (see 18:1-5, 24-30; 19:2). 
  2. This prohibition is not something that stands on its own but (as we will note later) is carried over by Paul in the New Testament. 

Judges 19-20 (specifically 19:22-24):

This story mirrors the story found in Genesis 18-19 and is about a nomadic Levite who came to Bethlehem and received wonderful hospitality.  No matter how hard he tried to leave it seemed he could not get away from the city.  However he did leave and came upon the city of Gibeah which belonged to the tribe of Benjamin (19:11-14).  Immediately his experience was negative as he came to the square and no person received him (19:15).[4]  One author writes of this experience:

“The last clause of verse 15 would have been shocking anywhere in the Ancient Near East, but it is especially shocking in Israel.  The social disintegration has infected the very heart of the community of God’s people.  Thus the people of Gibeah abuse in general the Levite and his party passively (by refusing basic hospitality) before the rapists abuse them actively (19:15, 22).”[5]   

Finally, an old man saw them and brought them into his house and gave them nourishment and washed their feet (19:15-21).  The men of the city came knocking on the door begging to sleep with the Levite (19:22).  The old man said that this act was “wicked” (19:23) or evil.  There are number of difficulties with this verse (e.g. the treatment of women vis-à-vis the Levite offering up his own concubine to save his life) that I am not going to address but it seems that the issue at stake was that for the men of the city to commit homosexual acts was atrocious.

Before we move on to other Old Testament witnesses it seems important to make this assertion:

“Each of the above stories [including Gen. 18-19-RM] is about homosexual rape. We should not condemn homosexual behavior simply because these stories condemn homosexual rape any more than we should condemn heterosexual behavior because Judges 19:25-30 condemns heterosexual rape. Nevertheless, each of these stories has a common thread—the ultimate act of inhospitality was a homosexual act. The evil of society was epitomized by homosexual rape. It was powerful image of degradation and humiliation—the reverse of what was expected of one who was shaped by God’s intent for humanity (cf. Job 31:31 may be allusion to these stories [NRSV]: “O that we might be sated with his flesh!”).”[6]    

Stay tuned as in the next post we will finish the Old Testament witness on Homosexuality and move towards New Testament attestations.  Let me know what you think. 


[1].  I am tempted to get into the meaning of toebah but I think this needs to wait until I answer objections from the gay community.  To give you a teaser consider this objection at http://www.gaychristian101.com/Abomination.html.  Of course, I disagree with their interpretation but I want you to look into it yourselves to see what you think.     

[2].  Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, 114.   

[3].  Ibid., 116-17.   

[4].  We are reminded that the angels also went to the town square in Genesis 19:2-3.   

[5].  K. Lawson Younger, Jr., Judges/Ruth, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002): 335.   

[6].  John Mark Hicks, “Homosexuality and the Biblical Witness,” Class Notes, Summer 2009.


Richard B. Hays writes, “…the issue of homosexuality differs significantly from matters such as slavery and the subordination of women, concerning which the bible contains internal tensions and counterposed witnesses.  The biblical witness against homosexual practices is univocal.”[1] Approaching the Scriptures to find approval for homosexual behavior is difficult without doing some exegetical gymnastics.  I go to the Scriptures to find the basis for the discussion as the biblical witness must be the final authority on matters of judgment.[2] I will address passages in the Old Testament in a few posts and passages in the New Testament and merely introduce them instead of mentioning every detail about them. 

Genesis 9:20-27

After Noah and his family exited the ark something happened that is still confusing to scholars today.  The Scriptures say that Noah became drunk and was uncovered in his tent (9:21; see Hab. 2:15 for a judgment against those who expose themselves).  Ham “saw his father’s nakedness” and told his brothers.  At first glance this seems to be innocent gazing like Ham “stumbled” upon his father.  Not the case.  The Hebrew word for “saw” means to look at searchingly and is not a harmless gander at something.[3]  Some say that this means Ham castrated his father while others, like Robert Gagnon, say that he committed sodomy and, “by raping his father and altering his brothers to the act, Ham hoped to usurp the authority of his father and elder brothers, establishing his right to succeed his father as patriarch.”[4]  Another possibility (using Hab. 2:15), according to Waltke, is that what is occurring is not sodomy or castration but “prurient voyeurism” (voyeurism is sexual gratification [masturbation] by observing the sexual bodies or actions of another) and that it is homosexual voyeurism that is occurring.[5] I would agree with Gagnon in that a lot of what we read in the Old Testament has an Ancient Near Eastern foundation to it.  Plus, using verse 24, it seems something was done “to” Noah and he realized it.  The story unfolds that Canaan will be cursed for the rest of its days and such is the case as Joshua enters Canaan and destroys it. 

Genesis 18-19

Genesis 18:20 says that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was “very grave” and so destruction was inevitable.  18:22-33 is the discourse where Abraham barters with God (for the sake of Lot) to see if he will not destroy the land and God agrees that if Abraham finds 10 righteous people there he will not destroy it.  Genesis 19 is the encounter with the angels God sends and the people of Sodom.  Lot knew of the people and asked the angels to stay with him instead of the town square.  They made a feast and then the “men of the city, the men of Sodom” came and surrounded the house (19:4).  The title is almost given as if it is a reputation most people understood at the time (especially at the time this would be read).  Verse 5 indicates to the readers that they wanted the angels out so that they could “know them.”  The Hebrew word for “know” here indicates a sexual relationship where clearly it is of a homosexual nature (Verse 5 says, “Where are the men….”).  Lot offered his daughters but that was not what these “men of Sodom” wanted. 

The action was so despicable to the angels they struck the men with blindness and then proceeded to destroy the city and eventually Lot’s wife for looking back.  It is important to note that God did give these people a second-chance in that if 10 righteous people were found he would save it.  But it was so detestable (v. 13) that he destroyed the whole city.  The disapproval of homosexual behavior is obvious in this instance for God destroyed a city because of it. 

Keep in mind that this was spoken of in Ezekiel 16:50 almost like a proverb that they did an abominable thing against God.  The two instances we have seen are very much against the practice homosexual behavior.  I invite you to stay tuned and not to tune me out as a typical treatise of homosexuality by a typical minister.  Please do not jump to conclusions as we must look at Scripture as a whole.  Stay tuned as we next post we will discuss Judges 19-20 and Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.


[1].  Richard B. Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics (San Francisco: Harper, 1996): 389.   

[2].  But that does not mean the issue must be decided apart from human experience.  Human Experience plays a vital role in the discussion but often human experience is charged with emotion and subjectivity and so the biblical witness must be the guiding light in the discussion.  For more on this subject see Thomas E. Schmidt, Straight and Narrow? Compassion and Clarity in the Homosexuality Debate,  (Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity, 1995): 15-21.  Click here for a link to Google Books to read it online.

[3].  Bruce Waltke, Genesis, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001):149.   

[4].  See Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001): 66-67.  I would like to thank Dr. John Mark Hicks for directing me to this material as I first came across it in his material during a class I took this past summer at Lipscomb.   

[5].  Waltke, 149.


This post marks the beginning of a series on homosexuality.  I am not sure where this will take us or even how many posts will be in this series but my plan is to keep it as short as possible.  Homosexuality is a hot topic that deserves our attention and consideration.  I think that too often the gay community has a negative vibe towards the church (rightfully so) and so trying to talk objectively about the church is impossible because they have been hurt so much.  Consider the quote below:

“The Christian community has not always handled this [homosexuality – RM] issue very well.  Some leaders have basically said ‘homosexuals are going to hell,’ and then we wonder why people who struggle with gender identity don’t feel welcomed at our churches.”  (Jim Burns, Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality, 135). 

As if that is not enough there are radical groups who are very political with their views and go to gay rights rallies protesting the rights of the gay community claiming it is an abomination.  There is even this group from the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas who travel all over protesting the gay communities.  Their slogan (and website) is called God Hates Fags.  Below are some pictures that are consistent with their message and what they advocate at their protests.

 

Now I understand these are extreme circumstances but I do think this is the general message the gay community receives from churches.  Are we advocating this type of message within our own congregations?  What sort of message do we portray when we speak honestly and openly about issues like homosexuality and abortion?  The problem is that we feel so strong about the issue sometimes we neglect to understand that there are souls embedded within the issue itself.  What I mean is that when we say homosexuality is a sin we must understand that we are saying people who commit homosexuality are sinners.  That sounds a little different doesn’t it?  It is no longer arguments or facts on a sheet of paper, it is people’s souls that we are talking about. 

But on the other hand, we do not need to take the route the Episcopal Church is taking and approving homosexual behavior as acceptable in God’s sight (see New york Times article here).  So it is time we look at what God says about homosexual behavior and spend some time wrestling with the text.  Then we need to discuss what we should do to reach out to the gay community to let them know that there is love for them.  I don’t know about you but I am tired of us simply looking at arguments to see what is right and what is wrong but there is a need for sound exegesis but there is also a need for contemporary application.  So here we go…wait for the next post!