Monday, May 25, 2015

Does Romans One Condemn Homosexual Acts?

Does Romans One Condemn Homosexual Acts? 
By Sean Killackey 

What Does Romans Say? 
Romans chapter is often used to condemn homosexual acts. However some assert it only condemns homosexual acts in certain situations, so let us examine what Romans chapter one says and see if pro-homosexual interpretations hold fast. 

Romans 1:21-32 
"For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God nor did they thank him, but they became empty-headed in their reasonings and their senseless hearts became darkened. Although claiming they were wise, they became foolish and turned the glory of the incorruptible God into something like the image of corruptible man and birds and four-footed creatures and reptiles. 
"Therefore, God, in keeping with the desires of their hearts, gave them up to uncleanness, so that their bodies might be dishonored among them. They exchanged the truth of God for the lie and venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. That is why God gave them over to uncontrolled sexual passion, for their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; likewise also the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full penalty, which was due for their error. 
"Just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a disapproved mental state, to do the things not fitting. And they were filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, and badness, being full of envy, murder, strife, deceitand malice, being whisperers,  backbiters, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, schemers of what is harmful, disobedient to parents, without understanding, false to agreements, having no natural affection, and merciless. Although these know full well the righteous decree of God—that those practicing such things are deserving of death —they not only keep on doing them but also approve of those practicing them." 

Pro-Homosexuality Interpretation 
The most popular explanation presented by homosexual apolgists is that that Paul only condemned homosexual acts when done in connection with idolatry and pagan rituals. They typically cite the fact that Paul starts off by addressing idolaters. So they reason that though Paul did not explicitly state that homosexual acts are obscene when practiced in pagan rituals he meant that. 
How does their logic hold up? Let us follow their logic to the rest of the chapter. If because homosexuality was mentioned after idolatry it only condemns homosexual acts in connection with idolatry then the sins mentioned afterward (e.g., greed, envy, murder, haughtiness and disobedience) are only sinful when in connection with idolatry. We know that such sins are sinful regardless of where they are committed or in connection to anything else, so why would homosexuality be the special sin? It would be special pleading. 
Some might say that the latter sins are not committed by the same group of people who commit homosexuality, yet Paul introduces homosexuality by saying that "God gave them up" and when he introduces the other sins he says, "just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over" which indicates that they are the same group of people mentioned earlier.  
We also note that Paul didn't say that these homosexual acts were part of idolatry, but that they were a result of rejecting God. What does this mean? 

Correct Interpretation 
Paul here condemned all sin as a result of rejecting God. Sinners, who ought to have known better, rejected God, so God let them sin as much as they wanted. They now had "a disapproved mental state" and all their sins were a result of that. Since it could not be stated that the later sins are only condemned as part of idolatry, so too homosexual acts by their nature are sinful - part of idolatry or not. 

Now Paul was writing not simply to state that such sins were wrong, but to remind us that we are all sinful. Some make it seem that God is only concerned with homosexuality, or that homosexual sins are worse than others. Now of course God hates sins, yet all willful sin results in death and anyone - homosexual or not - who does not repent will have not be saved. Let us therefore remember the seriousness of the sin of homosexuality and rely upon God's undeserved kindness. Jehovah is just as able to save the homosexual as he is able to save the drunkard, provided they repent. And remember that anyone who is not in Jehovah's congregation is not judge by us, for we only judge those on the inside. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Is Homosexuality Good?

A Rebuttal to Matthew Vine's Defense of Homosexuality 
By Sean Killackey 

Just because I writer against the practice of homosexuality it does not mean I am hateful toward them. I am not, for we are all sinners and homosexuals are just as able to repent and serve Jehovah as others. However they need to be made to realize that they are sinning before they can repent. Instead some seek to justify such course which blinds many to the error of their ways. Therefore I have resolved to point out the flaw of such thinking. 

10 Claims 
Matthew Vine wrote what he considers to be biblical reasons homosexuality is acceptable; his words are in black, but mine are in blue. 

Condemning Same-Sex Relationships is Harmful to LGBT People 
Vine: Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that good trees bear good fruit, but the church’s rejection of same-sex relationships has caused tremendous, needless suffering to the LGBT community. 
Killackey: He is right that Jesus spoke that good trees bear good fruits, but he has not demonstrated that rejecting willful practicing homosexuals causes needless suffering. If practicing homosexuality is wrong then rejecting them is proper if they refuse to repent - it is needed suffering to bring them to their senses. His assumption that such suffering is unneeded ignore Jesus' words 'I have come, not to bring peace, but a sword.' 

Sexual Orientation is a New concept, One the Christian Tradition Hasn’t Addressed 
Vine: Many Christians draw on their faith’s traditions to shape their beliefs, but the concept of sexual orientation is new. Before recent decades, same-sex behavior was understood along the lines of gluttony or drunkenness — as a vice of excess anyone might be prone to — not as the expression of a sexual orientation. The Christian tradition hasn’t spoken to the modern issue of LGBT people and their relationships. 
Killackey: His not correct, for the Bible highlights the concept of sexual attraction and orientation frequently. In the scriptures God made man and woman so that the husband might stick to the wife. Paul says that those appointed in the congregation ought to be the husband of one wife. Furthermore Solomon ponders upon the way of a young man with a maiden and the list goes on. Jesus when he repeated what is found in Genesis only allowed heterosexual marriage, yet Paul in Romans acknowledges some have desires and commits acts that are unnatural. Regardless of what human tradition has spoken about or to whom we see that the Bible has spoken against homosexual acts and relationships from ancient times. 

Celibacy is a Gift, Not a Mandate 
Vine: The Bible honors celibacy as a good way of living — Jesus was celibate, after all. But it also makes clear that celibacy must be a voluntary choice made by those who have the gift of celibacy. Requiring that all gay people remain celibate because their sexuality is “broken” is at odds with the Bible’s teachings on celibacy. 
Killackey: He is wrong here because he assumes that homosexual people cannot marry a member of the opposite gender. Though they may not want do they cannot say that they are forced to be celibate. I cannot say I am forced to fast if my parents don't allow me to eat cake if a plate of vegetables is in front of me. 
Applying his logic to the Corinthian man who commited incest with his mother would teach us that Paul forced that man to be celibate, however Paul forced him to abstain from forbidend sexual relations. 

Sodom and Gomorrah Involved an Attempted Gang Rape, Not a Loving Relationship  
Vine: The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is commonly assumed to have been the result of God’s wrath against homosexuality, but the only form of same-sex behavior described in the story is an attempted gang rape — nothing like the loving, committed relationships that are widespread today. The Bible explicitly condemns Sodom for its arrogance, inhospitality and apathy toward the poor, but never for same-sex behavior. 
Killackey: He has a point in regard to Sodom and Gomorrah - yet not the extent that he thinks. For while the Bible does say that Sodom and its surrounding towns were destroyed for their pride and inhospitality and neglect of the poor we need not assume that this is an exhaustive list. For in some places the Bible says that Judah was exiled because they did not observe the Sabbath day. We know that Judah was removed for more than that, so to Sodom and its region was annihilated because of more than just pride or apathy. Jude 7 states: "Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them also gave themselves over to gross sexual immorality and pursued unnatural fleshly desires; they are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire." 
Some have argued that the phrase "unnatural fleshly desires" ought to be rendered as "non-human flesh," however that limits the meaning too much. The Greek text literally means "strange flesh." And while it was true that the ones who went to Lot were angels the Sodomites had no reason to know that, so they desired what they thought were me - strange flesh. Besides Jude also says that the cities "gave themselves over to gross sexual immorality" and this likely included consensual homosexual practices. 
His point seems to imply that if what the inhabitants of Sodom did was loving, or if they were committed to each other they would have committed no sin. However he has no basis to think that. As mentioned before certain Christian man in Corinth was in love and apparently committed to his mother and despite that he committed gross immorality; Paul ordered that such a man be thrown out if he doesn't repent. More than love or commitment is required to be acceptable before God. 

The Prohibitions in Leviticus Don’t Apply to Christians 
Vine: Leviticus condemns male same-sex intercourse, but the entire Old Testament law code has never applied to Christians in light of Christ’s death. Leviticus also condemns eating pork, rabbit, or shellfish, cutting hair at the sides of one’s head, and having sex during a woman’s menstrual period — none of which Christians continue to observe. 
Killackey: His first statement is technically correct, but misleading. He further misleads the reader by adding a bunch of additional information that is a red herringTrue the Mosaic law went away with Christ's death, yet some laws and principles are still relevant, and most importantly binding upon Christians. Laws that are repeated to Christians become part of a new set of laws binding upon us. Paul explicitly condemns the practice of homosexuality as we shall see. 

Paul Condemns Same-Sex Lust, not Love 
Vine: Like other ancient writers, Paul described same-sex behavior as the result of excessive sexual desire on the part of people who could be content with opposite-sex relationships. He doesn’t have long-term, loving same-sex relationships in view. And while he describes same-sex behavior as “unnatural,” he also says men having long hair goes against nature, and most Christians read that as a reference to cultural conventions. 
Killackey: Matthew Vine is correct that Paul condemns same-sex lust, but he is wrong in the latter statement. Paul condemns same-sex love too. Here Matthew Vine seems to be referring to the book of Romans where it says that men and women changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature and became inflamed with passion with each other, men with men and women with women. However he doesn't just call such things sinful, but he says that they worked what is obscene. It doesn't matter if you are lustful or not committing any kind of immorality is still sinful. 
Some try to raise the issue that in Romans Paul was only referring to pagan customs and not homosexuality in general (for that issue see this post). Besides Paul clearly condemned homosexuality in 1 Corinthians, as we shall see. 

The Term “Homosexual” Didn’t Cxist Until 1892 
Vine: Some modern Bible translations say that “homosexuals” will not inherit the kingdom of God, but neither the concept nor the word for people with exclusive same-sex attraction existed before the late 19th century. While the Bible rejects lustful same-sex behavior, that isn’t close to a condemnation of all gay people and relationships. 
Killackey: His bolded statement is technically true, yet is duplicitous. The word "homosexual" didn't come into English until it was published in the English version of a German book called Psychopathia SexualisHowever the term sodomite had existed for a while before that. 
The real issue is whether or not the Greek scriptures contains such a word and how it is used. He says that "[s]ome modern Bible translations say that "homosexuals' will not inherit the kingdom of God" incorrectly. However that is not the case. 
Paul uses the word "arsenokoites" in 1 Corinthians 6:9 which means "a male engaging in same-gender sexual activity; a sodomite, pederast" according to Strong's Concordance. Though some try to claim that it isn't connected to homosexuality all English Greek lexicons render it as such. That fact coupled with the very similar phrasing in Leviticus 18:22 as it appears in the Septuagint ("meta arsenos ou koimethese koiten gynaikos," i.e., 'You must not lie with a man as you do a woman'indicates that arsenokoites refers to homosexuals. (For more on this subject see this post.) 

Marriage is About Commitment 
Vine: Marriage often involves procreation, but according to the New Testament, it’s based on something deeper: a lifelong commitment to a partner. Marriage is even compared to the relationship between Christ and the church, and while the language used is opposite-sex, the core principles apply just as well to same-sex couples. 
Killackey: Well he is right that it is a lifelong commitment, but he stops too soon. Jesus and Paul, and the early Christians considered marriage to between a man and a women. And though there can be, and have been, lifelong comitmentbetween homosexual couples that doesn't mean anything Biblically speaking. Therefore homosexuality is a type of fornication. 
More than a commitment to each other is required in a marriage. Unless each mate is dedicated to Jehovah and to obeying his word more than the other a marriage is not as stable and in some cases empty. 

Human Beings are Relational 
Vine: From the beginning of Genesis, human beings are described as having a need for relationship, just as God himself is relational. Sexuality is a core part of what it means to be a relational person, and to condemn LGBT people’s sexuality outright damages their ability to be in relationship with all people — and with God. 
Killackey: Humans are also sinners, so the argument that is it in our nature and therefore good is fatally flawed. Sexuality is a core part of what it means to be a realtional person, but not all sexuality is good. Some people have a predisposition toward violence, or rape or pedophilia, yet such innate desires are not approved, so too with homosexuality. Besides one form of discipline in the Bible is disfellowshipping, or the breaking of previous existing relationships. Therefore his point is invalid. 

Faithful Christians are Already Embracing LGBT Brothers and Sisters 
Vine: From denominations like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Presbyterian Church (USA) to organizations like the Gay Christian Network and the Reformation Project, Christians across the country are already putting their commitment to LGBT equality in action. They’re showing their fellow believers what it looks like to be a faithful Christian who fully affirms LGBT people. 
Killackey: We have established that homosexuality is wrong and practicing it is sinful. Anyone not repenting deserves to be thrown out of the congregation. Therefore to associate with such ones or approve of what they do is sinful. - 2 John 1:11 

We cannot be deceived by such arguments, especially homosexuals, for it they do they may be incited to sin. Sure Matthew Vine and others may "use" the scriptures to make their case that they are right, but undoubtedly those in Paul and Timothy's day "used" the scriptures to prove that the resurrection had already occurred (2 Timothy 2:18). (Romans 3:8May each one tempted to commit homosexual acts continue to seek Jehovah and reject badness for He is kind and cares for us.