Friday, June 27, 2008

What does the Bible say: Homosexuality

The Church desires to and should be an influence in its culture. Over the course of history, many issues arose in the culture surrounding Christians, and the Church felt it necessary to form an opinion on the issue and affect the culture. Presently this pattern continues.While Christians are quite prone to forming opinions on modern issues from a "Biblical" perspective, many aren't actually aware of what the Bible has to say on those issues.

One of the present issues is homosexuality. While there are a multitude of resources available on this topic, I would like to approach it from the perspective of one who believes that the Bible alone is ultimately authoritative, especially regarding the actions that Christians should follow. Therefore, the questions I will be dealing with over the next several posts are, "What does the Bible directly say about homosexuality?" and "Do those commands apply to us today?"

The first passage that is used in direct reference to homosexuality is Genesis 1:27-28.

"So God created man in his own image, / in the image of God he created him; / male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.'" (English Standard Version, more literal)

"So God created human beings in his own image. / In the image of God he created them; / male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, 'Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.'" (New Living Translation, more paraphrased)
This is one of two passages we'll discuss that only speaks of homosexuality by nature of exclusion. This passage contains a couple major elements. Primarily it contains the first two commands ever given to mankind (even before the "don't eat from this tree" thing). They are: fill the earth (that is, with people) and manage the earth (that is, animals).

The first command would be directly violated by a homosexual relationship. Their command was to make more people, which is obviously a contradiction to a homosexual lifestyle. So, does that mean that this is our primary command in life today?

The primary focus of the passage is God's creation of mankind. This makes it difficult to apply to homosexuality today, as that is not the theme of the passage. However, it is clear from these commands that sexuality was originated in a heterosexual marriage relationship. How do we know it was a marriage? This comes shortly later in the book: Genesis 2:24.

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." (ESV)

"This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one." (NLT)
Of course, this is a comment from the author (likely Moses) to the readers, but it demonstrates the early Biblical perspective on this relationship. It is because of the method of God's creation, (that is, male and female created in his image) that a man will leave his family to be joined to his wife. In addition, the last phrase is most certainly a euphemism for the best way to become "one flesh."

What we can gain from these passages is that from the very outset of creation, God's methods strictly exclude homosexuality. But does this apply today?

1) Jesus himself quotes these references together when he answers a question about divorce in Matthew 19. This reinforces the idea that this relationship was the normative expectation.

2) Challenges about applying the Law of Moses to today do not apply here, as this is not a declaration of the Law. Granted, these are commands, but they don't have anything to do with the sacrificial system, which is what Christ's sacrifice replaced.

3) When reading the Old Testament, the minimum requirement for a Christian is to see God's attitude then as close to how he feels now. In other words, if people were to be executed or punished for something in the Old Testament, then it is probably at least a bad idea now.

4) This passage only tells us what the normal expectation was for a relationship and seems to logically exclude homosexuality.

The greatest difficulty in applying this passage today is that it doesn't appear as a direct command. Therefore, we're going to have to look at the Bible as a whole to answer this question. (Horrors!) I believe what you'll see on this journey are a few very clear prohibitions against homosexuality, and several general references like this one that seem to exclude the reason behind homosexual behavior.

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:42 PM

    Quality explanation without any pompous emotive language. Looking forward to the rest of a well thought out Biblical explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  2. once you get into the new testament, you'll see it (kjv) say directly of its sin. But that doesn't mean christians must point the finger and judge.

    ReplyDelete

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