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The subject of Homosexual relations and the Bible is one in which the Biblical condemnation of homosexual relations has been upheld from the beginning, throughout thousands of years. However, beginning shortly before the sexual revolution of the 1960's continuing afterward, extraordinary attempts have been made to negate the universal injunctions against homosexual relations, and to find sanction for the same.

This interpretive conflict regarding homosexuality and the Bible is not only a relatively recent phenomenon, but it is one which is a conflict between two fundamentally different positions and interpretive schools.[1][2]

Prohomosexual/revisionist position

While some scholars do confess that it appears, "Wherever the Bible clearly seems to refer to homosexual activity, we must recognize a judgment of condemnation", [3] or even affirm that "Simply put, the Bible is negative toward same-sex behavior, and there is no getting around it," and that "Paul wouldn't accept [a loving homosexual] relationship for a minute,"[4][5] yet they contend that circumstances or other aspects provide reasons why injunctions against homosexual relations cannot apply to "loving, monogamous homosexual relationships."

If not formally asserting that the Bible does not provide any transcendent universal sexual ethic, leaving all up to personal judgment, the typical recourse of prohomosexual polemicists to the Biblical prohibitions and lack of sanction for homosexual relations is to argue that all the injunctions against homosexual relations are culturally or contextually bound, such as only being forbidden as part of religious idolatry, or done out of lust, and thus they cannot not universally apply today.

This school will most often also argue that the Bible was later edited to remove sanction for homsoexual relations, and usually assert that homoeroticism and even same-sex marriage can be seen in many close relationships between persons in the Bible.[6]

Historical exegesis

Historical/traditional scholarship evidences that the Bible contains basic transcendent morals laws which include prohibitions of homosexual relations (same gender sexual relations; also referred to as homoeroticism or homogenital relations, or “homosex”). And which are treated within Scripture as being as universal and immutable as laws against illicit heterosexual partners are shown to be, and in which motive was not a determinative factor in their prohibitions. Additionally, unlike incest, homosexual relations were never allowed, with the necessary positive sanction of marriage only being provided for opposite gender sexual unions, and explicitly so.[7]

The historical position also recognizes that the Christian Scriptures manifest a distinction between basic immutable moral laws as well as culturally adaptable ones, versus typological ordinances which are to be spiritually fulfilled.[8][9]

It further evidences that many basic moral laws were given in the context of idolatry, including those against incest and fornication, yet as idolatry, formal or otherwise, is the mother of all sin, such practices, like that of homosexual relations, are only unconditionally condemned from the time of their being proscribed.[10]

Doctrinal effects

In response to the hermeneutic involved in negating the injunctions against homosexual relations, traditional apologetic points out that the effect of these hermeneutics is to disallow the immutability of most any specific basic moral law as being literally enjoined to obey, and to negate the authority of the the Bible as the word of God.

Many have been rather explicit in asserting such. L. William Countryman contends, “The gospel allows no rule against the following, in and of themselves: . .. bestiality, polygamy, homosexual acts,” or “pornography.” [11] Bishop (Ret.) John Shelby Spong disallows all miracles in the Bible, including the virgin conception and literal bodily resurrection of Christ, as well as the Divine inspiration of Scripture, and also denies that there are any moral absolutes [12] and relegates the clear condemnation of homosexual relations in Romans 1 to being the product of the apostle Paul's “ill-informed, culturally biased prejudices.” [13] Christine E. Gudorf flatly denies that the Bible is the primary authority for Christian ethics. [14]

In response, traditional apologists James R. White and Jeffrey D. Niell join others in stating,

The net effect of this revisionist approach is a novel and destructive twisting of Scripture...The Bible is being reinterpreted according to urges that are "against nature" and then said to support the homosexual agenda...Despite the revisionists' protests to the contrary, their position is in actuality based upon human desire rather than upon biblical authority and interpretation.[15]

Further reading

For principal sources in the modern debate and a thorough examination of these issues from the traditional position see Homosexual relations and the Bible

References

  1. A. J. Gagnon, "The Authority of Scripture in the 'Homosex' Debate"
  2. The Bible and Homosexuality The Current Debate, by Lionel Windsor (2005)
  3. McNeil, drawing from the word of Dutch scholar Herman van Spijker, referenced by By Stanley J. Grenz, Welcoming But Not Affirming, p. 83
  4. Walter Wink, "To hell with gays" and "the Bible and homosexuality"
  5. HOMOSEXUALITY and the BIBLE (Walter Wink refuted
  6. Homosexual relations and the Bible; Revisionist/pro-homosexual position
  7. Matthew 9:5,6
  8. Albert Barnes, (Mt. 5:18)
  9. J. P Holding, "Does Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 Flat-Out Condemn Homosexuality?"
  10. Homosexual relations and the Bible; Traditional/historical position
  11. "Dirt, Greed, and Sex" (Fortress, 1988)
  12. Michael Bott and Jonathan Sarfati, "What’s Wrong With (Former) Bishop Spong?"
  13. Spong, "Living in Sin? A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality," pp. 149-52
  14. Balch, "Homosexuality, Science, and the 'plain Sense' of Scripture" p. 121
  15. The Unthinkable Has Become Thinkable

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