I have friend who goes by the alias Felix J. Lockhart. He is a talented and gifted web programmer as evidenced on his site. However, despite our friendliness and his giftedness, we definitely disagree on the Bible. In Why is Homosexuality Considered Such a Sin? in the past, Lockhart argued why homosexuality should not be considered a sin. In his article, he opposed several challenging verses, not necessarily just about homosexuality. I will numerically list his original arguments and offer counter-arguments below them. [Note]
While homosexual persons are just as human as anyone else and are to be treated with human dignity, it does not mean that they are correct or moral in their lifestyle. Use of words like "minorities" indicates a non sequitir. In HOMOSEXUALITY, I indicate that whether one considers homosexuality a biological phenomenon or a lust, there is a choice. I believe homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle. Homosexuality involves a choice. If homosexuality is a lust, then it is a choice of rebellion against God. If, for the sake of argument, it is a biological phenomenon/predisposition, then while the choice is more difficult, choice is not nullified. A diabetic must choose whether or not to treat his or her condition. An alcoholic must choose whether or not to drink. Situationally, a single heterosexual man must choose whether or not to sleep with a woman before marriage. A married man must choose whether or not to sleep only with his wife.
The Bible applies today. This begs the question whether or not one believes in the Bible. If one does believe in the Bible, then he or she simply looks at 2 Timothy 3:16 to refute such an argument. "All Scripture is God-breathed…"
Yet, it is apparent that using such an argument indicates not believing in the Bible. Arguments along this line indicate that the Bible can be questioned, perhaps discredited, due to "several commandments which are not followed today," which gets to some of the arguments below.
While these verses in Leviticus are "part of a larger code of holiness ethics," which contain the verses below, we must again consider the larger context. For example, Leviticus 19:28 states, "Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD." Does this mean tattoos are a sin? No! I know Christians with tattoos. The larger context is to not act as the pagans do and the pagans at that time had special markings on their bodies to which this verse references.
Also, it is easy to look only at the verses deemed too pesky, and ignore the more easily understandable ones that are still reinforced or looked upon favorably. For example, consider the full context of Leviticus 19:
Now let's consider the full context of Leviticus 20 (NOTE: I will focus on principle of the verse, not the death penalty called for in some. And while some, like verse 18, call for banishment, this does not mean that the individuals in question cannot be restored to their community, just as we are in constant need of Christ's forgiveness):
Should we throw all of that out because some of the verses are from a different culture? Should we mistreat foreigners and give our daughters up as hookers? Of course not, and those who argue against Leviticus 20:13 would agree. So, I could just as easily make a counter-argument similar to the argument and say, "We get along just fine by following these other commandments. Shouldn't we consider Leviticus 20:13 (the one that speaks against homosexuality)?
Yet, there is a small amount of verses that seem difficult in today's world. I think we must consider the context even beyond Leviticus 19-20. The theme of Leviticus mentioned in the NIV Study Bible says the following:
In cases of banishment…
Even in the larger context than Leviticus, the Old Testament (OT) often shows external signs of an internal reality. If someone worships idols, curses his or her parents, or has sex with an animal, or other abominations, then he or she is dead spiritually, which really is worse than a physical death, especially eternally speaking. Externally, boys were circumcised, but this pointed to the later internal reality of the "circumcision of the heart," a heart changed by God (see Romans 2:28-29).
Think about how an owner has to more severely discipline a puppy than the adult dog "which knows better." God's people had a different relationship with Him in the earlier times than when Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law. God was and is concerned with making His people holy - reflecting His glory. The Old Testament was more external in the relationship between man and God, while the New Testament is more internal in the relationship between man and God.
However, even if one wanted to discount Leviticus, there are plenty of other responses to the arguments mentioned below.
The context of 1 Corinthians 14:34 is orderly worship. This important to remember. A second consideration is cultural (though to say that banning homosexuality is only cultural is preposterous when one considers the full Canon of Scripture). Looking at the NIV footnote for this verse helps.
As far as Islamic fundamentalists keeping this rule, they follow the Koran, not 1 Corinthians. Further, Islam is a legalistic religion of works. True Christianity is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The footnote offers some insight as well.
Just because the Bible mentions slavery does not mean it supports it. When a history book mentions Hitler, it does not make the author a Nazi. Just because a person misuses Scripture doesn't make the the Bible a supporter of what the person supports. When great cathedrals were bombed in World War II, they were full of holes and in shambles. This was not the architect's or builder's fault. I could take an EPA pamphlet and wad it up and throw it in a river or litter in the forest. This does not mean that the EPA is responsible for what I do with their pamphlet.
What does the Bible say to the masters?
Consider Ephesians 6:5 in context. Ephesians 6:5-9 is the context. Note especially verse 9, which says, "And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him." FEMA does not support the occurrence of disasters, but does assist in what to do when there is disaster. Similarly, the Bible does not condone all it mentions, but outlines how to approach the injustices and trials of life in a godly manner. Consider the footnote for Ephesians 6:5 below.
Consider Colossians 3:22 in context, namely Colossians 3:22-4:1. I would respond to the argument about this verse similarly to the way I responded to the argument against Ephesians 6:5 above. Also, look at the footnote below.
Consider Titus 2:9 in context. It seems like the rest of the sentence was ignored. This occurred one time when someone argued against the resurrection by saying people had gone to the wrong tomb. In this incident, the person quoted Matthew 28:6a, which says, "He is not here," but failed mention the rest of the verse: "he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay" (Matthew 26:8b). Don't forget about the next verse, Titus 2:10, which says, "and [slaves] not to steal from [masters], but to show that they [(slaves)] can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive." The point is to glorify God whatever the circumstance. Also, refer to the footnote below.
Consider 1 Peter 2:18 in the larger context of 1 Peter 2:13-25, which begins "Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men." Verse 19 captures a key point in the context: "For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God," and this leads into pointing towards what Christ's suffering for doing good (even further in that He is sinless!), in His not retaliating against His persecutors, and what He has done for you, and the believer's calling to be Christlike in the last few verses of the context: 1 Peter 2:21-25. Also refer to the footnote below.
And I would also add that these fit with Colossians 3:17 ("And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.") and Colossians 3:23 ("Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men").
In addition to my response to the slavery argument, I can say that just because the KKK or other white supremacist groups don't practice Scripture doesn't undermine the Bible. It undermines the group. There are plenty of crazy people who misuse Scripture.
I beg to differ! Today we have the breakdown of marriage, breakdown of moral values, children in decline, lack of absolutes (relativism), decline in education, disunity, perversity, pornography, lack of commitment, lack of resolve, hating ourselves while celebrating the terrorists, outlawing Christianity while supporting everything else, belief in the lie that it is one's "right" to not be offended (when reality is that I am offended daily and we must learn to be offended and to offend graciously) and call another opinion "hate speech" as yet another subtle tactic to silence the free speech of Christians and conservatives (Refer to God removed from monument and Battles over Christmas to name just a couple out of the many instances). And shall I continue?
This is addressed in my article HOMOSEXUALITY.
What is the Bible's message? Essentially, it is that there is a Holy God. Man has sinned. We were given the Law to see our sin and how we could not please God by trying to fulfill the law since we are all sinners. We were a people without hope, but God provided a way. He came Himself as Jesus Christ to fulfill the law and make the ultimate and perfect sacrifice on the cross. Now, an eye does not have to be taken for another since every eye that needed to be taken for another was taken at the cross. We no longer have to sacrifice lambs since the Lamb of God made the ultimate sacrifice. At the cross, Jesus took our resumes full of sin and offered His resume of perfection to us. And better yet: He rose again so that we can live a new life in Him. That's the message. That's what it all points to. Leviticus says be holy and honor God. Some of the New Testament verses discussed mentioned glorifying God no matter the circumstance. It's not about you. It's about God! Is He calling you? If so, respond!
What is a critical eye? Pulling just particular verses out of context and then making a generalized conclusion for the whole Bible is not a critical eye.
Society has changed, but are there absolutes? Yes! Absolutely! See below.
And to say, "The Bible is not supremely correct, and neither are those who pretend it is" can come across as arrogant, especially in view of the Bible being the Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit. However, if one does not believe in the Bible, then this will fall on deaf ears and go to blind eyes. If one believes in the absolutely illogical statement "There are no absolutes," then there is no logic indeed. This is just as illogical a statement as "All is relative." For more on this counter-argument, you can refer to For Atheists, Logic Seems Extinct (F.A.,L.S.E.).
With love and understanding in Christ,
James A. Johnson
2 November 2007
All of the above footnotes are from the New International Version of THE NIV STUDY BIBLE. Copyright 1985 by Zondervan Bible Publishers. Grand Rapids, Michigan.