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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

(Sunday) Schooling People

If you're going to cherry-pick Bible passages at me, you'd better bring your A-game, because not only am I going to read the entire chapter for context if you do, I'm also going to research your position using various concordances and commentaries. And if you're wrong, I will absolutely beat you over the head with it, and the icing on top will be Jesus's words against your position.

For context, last week a friend of mine made this Facebook post:


The comments are about what you'd expect. Most of them were from people who either moaned about how far we as a people have fallen from the light, or how Paul was deeply mistaken and that he'd be paying for this mistake in the afterlife.

Now when it comes to personal opinion, that's all well and good; you can believe whatever you like as far as I'm concerned. But when someone quotes the Bible in order to justify a belief which is completely in opposition to what Jesus preached, I go all Rarity on them.



The Old Testament
So when Christians try to condemn homosexuality using the Bible, the first place they usually go to is Leviticus, because it states twice (Lev. 18:22 and Lev. 20:13) that homosexuality is an abomination. In fact, Lev. 20:13 goes so far as to state that a man who has sex with another man must be put to death.

Now, setting aside for a moment the irony that the people who are making this quotation won't go out and execute homosexuals -- meaning they are violating the exact same Law which they claim to uphold -- there's the fact that they are cherry-picking the Law to suit their own ends.

No, no, no, sweetheart; you don't get to do that. You either follow ALL of Leviticus, or you follow NONE of it. And if you decide to follow all of it, that requires a radical change in lifestyle, because the Law bans a whole lot of things, including but not limited to:
  • Eating Fat or Blood (Lev. 3:17) - Sorry, no marbled rare ribeye for you!
  • Drinking alcohol in holy places (Lev. 10:9) - Sucks to be you if you're Catholic. 
  • Eating an animal which doesn’t both chew cud and has a divided hoof (Lev. 11:4-7) - This is the basis for the whole "no pork" part of Judaism. No bacon for you!
  • Eating seafood without fins or scales (Lev 11:10-12) - This basically amounts to "Fish and only fish." No shrimp, no crabs, no lobster, no calamari. I expect a LOT of people in Louisiana and Maryland would be upset by this. 
  • Mixing fabrics in clothing (Lev. 19:19) - No blends for you! All your clothes must be 100% cotton or wool or whatever. Go on, check your underwear; I bet it's a blend. 
  • Trimming or shaving your beard and/or sideburns (Lev. 19:27) - I guarantee you that every single American male has broken this law countless times throughout their loves. Fortunately for them, there's no penalty given. 
  • Getting a tattoo (Lev. 19:28) - Yes, even the cute little one on your ankle. 
  • And finally, my favorite:  (Lev. 20:9) "Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head." This pretty much dooms anyone who was ever a teenager. 

What's that, I hear you say? You don't want to do all these things? You want to shave and wear blended clothing and drink sacramental wine and eat bacon?

Sure, you can do all those things. Mark 7:14-23 is your escape clause.
Of course, if you use this, then you can't condemn homosexuals, either.

But wait! I hear you cry. Jesus specifically said 'sexual immorality'! Doesn't that include homosexuality?

Perhaps it does and perhaps it doesn't; I'll address that in a moment. Let me point out, though, that Jesus intervened to save the life of a woman caught in adultery -- the penalty for which was death of both parties, although the male adulterer is nowhere to be found -- so is it truly that difficult to believe that He would also challenge the death penalty for those who are homosexual?

But Erin! I again hear you cry. Jesus told the woman to 'Go and sin no more.' If He tells her to stop being an adulteress, then wouldn't He also tell a homosexual to stop being gay?

That is a topic for another discussion, because it assumes homosexuality is a choice.  I've met enough gay people who have fervently wished they could be heterosexual just to feel "normal" to cast that particular assumption into very strong doubt for me. Furthermore, there is a debate that homosexuality may be the result of genetics or environmental factors such as birth order.

If you want to have the debate that homosexuality is an illness or genetic defect, then I suppose we could argue that Jesus might cure a gay person of his gayness the same way He cured lame people of their lameness. But that's categorically not the same thing as telling a sinner to stop sinning.

The New Testament
Speaking of sinners and the New Testament, let's talk about the other favorite passage which is brought out. While there are several references to homosexuality in the Epistles (1 Corinthians 6:9-101 Timothy 1:9-10, and Jude 1:7 -- although with that last one, I'd argue that the "sin of Sodom" wasn't so much homosexuality as it was the roving rape gangs), the one I see most often is Romans 1:26-27.
Taken by itself, this passage seems pretty damning... except one should never take a Bible passage by itself; one should always read it in context with the passages before it and after it. In this case, start at the beginning of the paragraph -- which is Romans 1:18 and titled "God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity" -- and read to verse 32, the end of the chapter.

The very first verse of the chapter says "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people". Verse 21 says "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to Him ." In other words, God's wrath is directed not specifically at homosexual people, but rather at the people who are neither worshiping God nor thanking Him. In fact, verse 24 specifically states that it's only after they failed to honor God that God abandoned them to their sinful natures.

Then there's the verse which follows the quote:
You can see where it quite plainly states that those people who didn't worship God had depraved minds and were deceitful, malicious, envious murderers. Now since the Apostle Paul didn't differentiate between the people in verse 27 and verses 28-31, it's fair to say that he's talking about the same people. But not all all murderers are homosexual, and not all homosexuals are murderers. So the Apostle Paul is speaking categorically, i.e. all who fail to worship God give themselves over to some form of depravity (sin).

Now here comes the best part! The very next line -- which is Romans 2:1 - says "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things."
In other words, Paul is saying "Hey, reader! YOU'RE A SINNER TOO. So stop passing judgement on other people, because you will be judged for that as well."

According to Christian doctrine, we are all sinners -- man and woman, gay and straight -- and the wages of sin are death , but those wages have been paid through the blood sacrifice of the lamb, Jesus Christ. All we must do is accept His forgiveness, believe, and we shall be saved (1 John 1:7, Acts 3:19).

As far as I'm concerned, this addresses all of the objections which may be found in the New Testament. If you aren't convinced, though, let me leave you with the words of our Savior, as recorded in the Book of Matthew, chapter 7:
Go, and do thou likewise

2 comments:

  1. Actually, the "sin of Sodom" was not sodomy, it was refusing to care for the poor.
    http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-sin-of-sodom-and-its-impact-on-creation/amp/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “Behold this was the sin of Sodom…She and her daughters had pride, excess bread, and peaceful serenity, but she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy” (Ezekiel16:49).

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