BY BEN DAVIS
We’ve witnessed a rise in anti-Christian hostility in recent months, particularly when it relates to the Christian view of sexuality.
Campaigns have been launched, legislation put forward, protests held, individuals cancelled, fired, and threatened all in an effort to expel the “bigoted” and “intolerant” idea that the Bible is our final moral authority.
What they’re essentially asking for is that Christians abandon their belief that “right” and “wrong” are defined by God in the Bible, and instead, embrace the incoherent idea that these are malleable concepts, shaped, defined, and redefined according to whatever a particular society deems acceptable until it’s no longer fashionable.Advertisement
But it’s simply not going to happen. Christians will never believe moral relativists have a better grasp on ultimate reality than Jesus Christ, the most influential and powerful person the world has ever known and will ever know.
We’re at a stalemate. The Christian church cannot budge without undermining their very foundation for existence. And that’s something the Church’s opponents need to understand.
Church history is filled with countless examples of futile attempts to make the Church bend the knee to ideas that contradict their faith. In the end, the threats and persecution only worked to make the church stronger in their convictions.
The same is true in recent years. Before 1949 there were only 4 million Christians in China. Today, that figure is reaching 67 million. That’s more than three times the population of Australia. And this, despite the Chinese Communist Party’s tireless efforts to halt the growth of the church.
So, what’s the solution? Well, tolerance of other human beings is a good start. Remember tolerance? It was all the rage before people started demanding absolute affirmation and allegiance at the expense of their own faith. Unfortunately, this is now a quality you’ll often only find on one side of the debate, at least when it comes to the most vocal.Advertisement
Australia has seen it in recent weeks with tennis great Margaret Court. The now Pentecostal minister has received backlash over the years for holding to a Christian view of sexuality. The heat was turned up in recent days after she was awarded a Companion of the Order of Australia, the nation’s highest award.
Even a state premier weighed into the decision, saying Mrs Court was undeserving of the award because her Christian faith is “disgraceful,” “bigoted,” and unworthy of oxygen. Which is a little ironic considering the Oxford Dictionary defines bigotry as “intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself.”
R.C. Sproul Jr. hit the nail square on the head when he said, “Tolerance was never the goal. Approval is. We who give the former and not the latter will not be tolerated.” There’s no shortage of examples that can be offered up as proof to that.Advertisement
Tolerance is something these outspoken activists no longer care about. They want complete ideological submission, and they’re willing to enforce that on Christians by dishonestly suggesting that disagreement equals hatred, and hatred equals intolerance, and intolerance should not be tolerated.
In reality, however, Christians do not hate people who identify as LGBTQ. Pretending they do only hurts the most vulnerable into believing that they’re despised by everyone who does not agree with their views.
The fact of the matter is, we can disagree with each other and remain civil. We can hold to contradictory ideologies and still treat each other with love and respect. Shunning people from society and disqualifying them from awards because they believe what your grandparents most likely believed will resolve nothing, and only create more social division.
What needs to be understood is that Christians are bound to their moral standing by more than personal opinion and a mere whim. Holding to the Bible as the supreme authority on all matters to which it speaks is paramount to the Christian faith. Everything we know about Jesus is derived from the revelation that God has given to humanity through the Scriptures.
So, asking Christians to overlook certain portions of their Bibles and adopt a contradictory view is simply out of the question. It’s on par with demanding legislation that compels non-Christians to affirm the entirety of the Bible, regardless of their personal beliefs.
What does the Bible say about these matters? Of course, you’re going to find some folks who claim the Bible says nothing at all about LGBTQ issues, and that anyone who says otherwise is importing their “bigotry” and “hatred” into the text. Mark them as irrelevant troublemakers.
There are several passages in the Bible that specifically refer to homosexuality. One of the more talked about verses is found in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. This is a passage that made headlines in Australia after rugby star Israel Folau was sacked for citing it on his personal Instagram account.
The passage reads: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Some have attempted to dismiss this passage, and others like it, by arguing that homosexuality as it’s known today is a fairly recent concept, so “homosexual” is not a correct translation of the term the Apostle Paul originally employed.
The word Paul used was ‘arsenokoitai’ and this passage contains the first known occurrence in Greek literature. The Apostle most likely coined the term himself, deriving it from two words found in the Greek translation of Leviticus 18:22 (and 20:13).
The infamous verse reads: “Do not (koite) bed a (arsenos) man as you would bed your wife.” The term arsenokoitai is clearly a compound word which literally means man-bedding.
Thomas Schreiner, professor of New Testament at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said, the term is a “vivid way of denoting same-sex intercourse between males.”
The Apostle adds further clarity to the text by pairing the word arsenokoitai with another word, malakoi.
According to Schreiner, “this word refers to the passive partner sexually, an effeminate male who plays the role of a female.”
In short, Paul is referring to (1) men who bed other men, as a husband would his wife, and (2) men who are bedded by other men, as a wife would her husband.
“But that’s just Paul,” people will say. “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.”
There’s a notion out there that when it comes to homosexuality, Jesus was silent on the subject, and therefore, his position on the matter is unclear. For many, Jesus’ supposed silence on the issue is definitive proof that Jesus had no real objection to homosexual relationships. That means, Christian refusal to affirm LGBTQ ideology is ultimately out of step with Christ.
There are a number of things wrong with this line of thinking. The most obvious is the fact that, by this standard, Jesus was silent on many issues. He never specifically mentioned anything about rape, paedophilia, or incest, for example. Are we really left in doubt as to whether Jesus considered these things immoral?
Search the Gospels and take note of how many times Jesus used the word ‘idolatry.’ You won’t find a single instance, and yet the sinfulness of idolatry was a major aspect of Jesus’ teaching.
The argument from silence could also be used against Paul. In his letters to the early Christians, the Apostle makes no specific mention of the virgin birth. Should we then conclude that Paul’s silence is an indication of doubt or disbelief? Obviously not. Just because Jesus or Paul never explicitly mentioned a matter, does not mean they were indifferent towards, or affirming of, that issue.
As Voddie Baucham, Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, rightly noted: “If our new Christian ethic is, ‘only if Jesus talked about it specifically,’ then homosexuality is the least of our problems.”
But was Jesus silent on the matter? Is it true that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality? While Jesus did not specifically use the word “homosexuality,” we must understand that the absence of a term does not, by necessity, indicate an absence of teaching on the topic. Here at four reasons why it is that we should never accuse Jesus of being silent on the subject of homosexuality.
First, Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. We can’t divide the Bible or divorce Jesus from the rest of the Scriptures. Modern Bibles may print Jesus’ words in red letters, but that doesn’t mean his words are more important than the rest of the book. “All Scripture,” Paul says, “is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16).
All the red letters and all the black letters are the Word of God. The “Word made flesh,” cannot be separated or divided from that Word, and this includes the Old Testament. Why is that? Because Jesus is a member of the perfectly unified Godhead.
As Baucham put it: “Jesus existed eternally in perfect union with the Father and the Spirit, which means when rocks and fire and brimstone were coming down on Sodom and Gomorrah, he was not absent, nor was he in disagreement.”
In short, what the God of the Old Testament believes is what the God of the New Testament believes. He is the same unchanging and immutable God.
Second, Jesus affirmed the authority of the Old Testament. Every time that Jesus appealed to the divine origin and authority of the Old Testament Scriptures, he was affirming the divine origin and authority of what those Scriptures said.
In other words, when Jesus referred to the Old Testament as the unbreakable Word of the God who cannot lie and does not change, he was attesting to the truthfulness of everything the Old Testament Scriptures contain (Jn. 10:35; Matt. 5:18; 15:3; Mk. 7:13). And that includes everything the Old Testament has to say about homosexuality.
This wasn’t a subject Jesus shied away from. At various times, he referred directly to the Sodom episode fully aware of what the story was about and why it was they were subject to the judgement of God.
Third, Jesus said the only appropriate context for sex is marriage. Jesus certainly wasn’t silent on the issue of sexual immorality. In fact, he explicitly rejected all forms of sexual immorality by using the categorical term ‘porneia.’ At the time, the word porniea, and the concept of what constitutes as “sexual immorality,” did not exist in a vacuum, devoid of meaning and with no attachment to any sexual practices at the time.
For Jesus and his listeners, the word had a clear definition, and that definition was derived from the Old Testament, especially the porneia code found in Leviticus 18. To put it simply, the Analytical Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, defines porneia as “every kind of extramarital, unlawful, unnatural sexual intercourse.”
Jesus explicitly prohibited porneia, so if porneia includes homosexuality, then we do have a strong statement by Jesus on the issue. Any sexual expression outside of the one flesh marital relationship is prohibited by the Bible in general, and Jesus in particular.
According to Jesus, sex has a context. Every expression of sex outside of that proper context falls into the category of porniea, sexual immorality. And for Jesus, the only appropriate context for sex was marriage. And that brings us to our final point.
Fourth, Jesus’ definition of marriage was limited to one man and one woman. In Matthew 19:5, Jesus grounds his definition of marriage in the creation account. Quoting from Genesis 2, Jesus states God’s original intention in marriage: “A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
For Jesus, marriage is the union of man and woman. Which means, unless there is both a man and a woman involved, there is no marriage. Jesus’ own words won’t allow for it.
So, if marriage is the only appropriate context for sex, and according to Jesus’ own definition, same-sex couples cannot qualify for marriage as both a man and a woman are necessary, then every other form of sex falls under Jesus’ prohibited category of porneia, or sexual immorality.
In sum, Jesus is the God of the Old Testament; He affirmed the Old Testament in its entirety as God’s Word; He rejected sexual immorality as defined by the law; And he defined marriage as the exclusive union of one man and one woman.
Is Jesus’ view of homosexuality an uncertainty? Of course not. Anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant or dishonest. Whatever the case may be, their opinion on the matter is not worthy of serious consideration.
In the end, you may not agree with Paul and Jesus, but at the very least, you can now understand a little better why it is that Christians are unwilling to budge on this subject.
What we need is more tolerance of other human beings who might think differently. What we don’t need is any more politicians and activists feigning outrage every time a notable Bible believer believes the Bible.