Wednesday, January 23, 2008

On Homosexuality

I find the typical conservative Evangelical approach to homosexuality appalling. Don't get me wrong, I don't think homosexuality is okay - but I don't think our treatment of it is okay either.
Homosexuality is never listed as the worst sin, and in the New Testament, is only mentioned in a list of other sins (and never as the worst in these lists either). We are way off in our treatment of the matter.

Besides, I think there is a much better way to view the situation.

I find a two things by looking at Scripture:

1. Any kind of sexual activity, including lust or impure thoughts, outside of marriage is wrong (cf. Matthew 5:28; Acts 15:29; Romans 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:12, 18, 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; I Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 1:4).

2. Marriage is only between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24; Romans 7:2, Hebrews 13:4).

Once these two things have been established, which I will take as givens for the large majority of Evangelical Christians, a different conclusion follows.

Specifically: There is no need to proclaim homosexuality as wrong.

Lust or sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong and there is to be no marriage except the union between a man and a woman. Any lust or sexuality activity, whether homo- or heterosexual, is immoral outside of marriage. Why don't we just say that lust and sexual activity is wrong? Why the need to proclaim homosexuality as wrong separately from heterosexual sexual immortality? The one place where homosexuality is mentioned (by name) in the New Testament is in 1 Corinthians 6:9 where Paul says that "neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." Clearly, Paul is not listing separate immoral offenses but delineating ones that overlap (who would argue that adulterers are not sexually immoral?). The few other New Testament verses to deal with it (though much more sparse than I first imagined) only refer to homosexuality as it typifies sexual immorality (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; Jude 1:7). Moreover the translation of the Greek word "arsenokoitai" has been notoriously difficult and means different things in different contexts. It can and, I would argue, does mean homosexuality in at least one of the contexts but the point is that it is a difficult word.

To end, just let me mention that while the word is translated as "homosexuality" only once in the New Testament, the word "serve" is used 58 times. Maybe our focus should be somewhere else...


jeremy zach said...

it is funny. Somewhere in america evangelical world, we decided to compile this sin grid. Underage drinking is sin #1. Sex is sin #2. Being gay is sin #3. Swearing is sin #4.

This is unfair! What about the sin of gossip? Gossip is just as destructive in the Kingdom then judging Adam and Steve.
At some level we all lie. Do not tell me we are all saints and living this holy high life. My guess is that you are struggling just as much as I am.

And everyone acts surprised when this ohhhh sooo ever holy pastor falls into "temptation". We are human beings, not spiritual beings.
I stink of sin, but when I get behind the pulpit and all of sudden I become perfect to condemn and judge everyone else. It is soo much easier to point the finger to everyone else, except yourself.

Keep fighting the good fight.

St. Brianstine said...

"Why the need to proclaim homosexuality as wrong separately from heterosexual sexual immortality?"

Because...a lot of churches/pastors say it is not a sin and it is "okay". That's why.

Jake C. said...

I hear ya jeremy, definitely agree that that sin grid got screwed up somewhere along the line. I think a bunch of guys who didn't do those things bumped em up on the list so that they would in turn look better. such is life right?

And SB I also hear your point, and agree. But I think the strong Evangelical overreaction to homosexuality was the cause of these pastors/churches saying it is okay - not the response to it. These pastors were so eager to keep a major portion of homosexuals from being disenfranchised from the Church (and Christ)that they overreacted in the opposite direction. As I said, I do think these pastors/churches are off in their understanding, but so is the other side.