Friday, July 3, 2015

Jesus, Repentance, and Homosexuality

Can any biblical case be made in favor of homosexual sex? Editor-in-Chief of World Magazine, Marvin Olasky, writes:

  • I appreciate the honesty of Emory University professor Luke Timothy Johnson, who teaches courses on the New Testament and acknowledges that he and liberal seminary colleagues “do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good… we are fully aware of the weight of scriptural evidence pointing away from our position, yet place our trust in the power of the living God to reveal as powerfully through personal experience and testimony as through written texts. (World, July 11, 2015, 24) 
I too appreciate their honesty. However, I doubt that their case can be made through “personal experience and testimony.” For one thing, it seems apparent that children raised by same-sex couples do not do as well as those raised by biological parents. In a brief filed against SSM in the US Supreme Court, the American College of Pediatricians wrote:

  • Despite being certified by almost all major social science scholarly associations—indeed, in part because of this—the alleged scientific consensus that having two parents of the same sex is innocuous for child well-being is almost wholly without basis. All but a handful of the studies cited in support draw on small, non-random samples which cannot be extrapolated to the same-sex population at large. This limitation is repeatedly acknowledged in scientific meetings and journals, but ignored when asserted as settled findings in public or judicial advocacy. 
Also, regarding the alleged “personal experience and testimony” in favor of SSM, we cannot ignore the horrid stats revealing that those who have adopted the gay lifestyle have attenuated lifespans, a greater incidence of depression, mental issues, substance abuse, domestic violence, and a range of STD’s.

Meanwhile, those who are less honest than Johnson try to justify SSM biblically. Walter Wink, professor of NT at Auburn states:

  • The crux of the matter, it seems to me, is simply that the Bible has no sexual ethic. Instead, it exhibits a variety of sexual mores, some of which changed over the thousand-year span of biblical history. Mores are unreflective customs accepted by a given community… The Bible knows only a love ethic, which is constantly being brought to bear on whatever sexual mores are dominant in any given country, or culture, or period.
Well, what is the “love ethic?” I’m assuming that Wink refers to the two greatest commandments: loving the Lord and our neighbor as ourselves. But what does it mean to love God? To keep His commandments:

  • Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him… If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. (John 14:21-24)
Do the commandments against homosexuality and other forms of sex represent a consistent warning (ethic) that transcends Israel? Yes! Let’s look at some in context:

  • And you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor’s wife and so make yourself unclean with her. You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion. (Leviticus 18:20-23)
The ethic against homosexuality did not only pertain to Israelite society. Rather, it is associated with other forbidden practices that go beyond cultural differences:

  1. Offering children as a blood sacrifice to demons
  2. Adultery
  3. Bestiality 
God does not wink at these practices even within the other nations. Instead, He punishes them for these. Observe the next two verse:

  • “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.” (Leviticus 18:24-25)
Evidently, these concerns were important. Therefore, they appear again two chapters later:

  • “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. If a man lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed perversion; their blood is upon them. If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. If a man takes a woman and her mother also, it is depravity; he and they shall be burned with fire, that there may be no depravity among you. If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. (Leviticus 20:10-16)
There is no reason to suspect that these commands were only relevant to the Old Testament culture. They are even repeated in the New. In fact, there is not a single verse in all of Scripture that gives even the slightest encouragement to homosexuality.

Meanwhile, Jack Bartlett Rogers, Presbyterian minister, seminary professor emeritus, and moderator of the 213th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), claims:

  • When we interpret Scripture in a way that is hurtful to people, we can be sure that we are not glorifying God. (Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality, 62)
Rogers interprets this to mean that any words of correction, any encouragement to repent that might offend a gay person “does not glorify God.” However, this claim is so far from the words of Jesus that it hardly needs any refutation. Jesus’ words to His opponents  – the Sadducees and the Pharisees – were hardly models of political correctness and comfort. Instead, they were downright hurtful. Even His words to His disciples were critical and discouraging at best.

Rogers presses his point further, affirmatively citing the PCUSA report in the 1983 notes:

  • “No interpretation of Scripture is correct that leads to or supports contempt for any individual or group of persons either within or outside of the church.” (62) 
Of course, Jesus was not motivated by contempt but love. However, Rogers invokes this principle as a warning against anyone who would suggest that active homosexuals need to repent. For Rogers, this represents contempt for the homosexual. (I guess it would also represent contempt for the adulterer or pedophile if they were called to repent.)

In contrast, Jesus’ love called people to repent:

  • There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-5)
Was Jesus’ demand that they all repent a display of contempt, as Rogers suggests? After all, weren’t Jesus’ words “hurtful to people?” They certainly were! No one likes to be told that they are in sin and must change their lives around. However, according to Rogers’ definition, Jesus failed the love test. In fact, Jesus almost always failed Rogers’ love test. Here are His hurtful words to the Pharisees:

  • Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” (John 8:42-43)
How hurtful, degrading, and insulting! No wonder they crucified Him! However, Jesus deemed that this is just what these unrepentant needed to hear. Perhaps Rogers and his PCUSA need to re-examine the meaning of love from our Lord’s perspective.

Does Rogers and his PCUSA love Jesus? Perhaps not:

  • “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.” (John 14:23-24)

No comments:

Post a Comment