8.11.2009

God, Homosexuality, and The Bible

This post is a response to a post on Two Friars and a Fool on homosexual marriage. I commented on the post but am going to put a more detailed argument on here.

First and foremost, the difference between this blog and Two Friars and a Fool is one of how we treat the Bible. I believe that the Bible is complete, without error, and breathed by God. The good folks at TFF (cause Two Friars and a Fool is way too hard to keep typing) take the view that the Bible can be bent, as long as the main point is kept. The author, Aric Clark, responded to my comment on the article and said, that "Paul wasn't right about everything." This post isn't going to be about why the Bible is inerrant, just be reminded that hermeneutics is at the core of the debate.

On to homosexuality and marriage.

Marriage. Clark states, "The New Testament, especially, is very ambiguous about marriage." This really isn't true. Read Matthew 19, I Corinthians 6-7, and Ephesians 5 just to start. The Bible has a lot to say about marriage.

Homosexuality. Paul says in Romans 1:18-32

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Read all the verses, in context. Paul is clear. Homosexuality is against nature. It is "indecent" and "perversion."

You can argue that Paul was wrong, that doctrine is flexible, and that the only point of the Bible is to help us experience God.

Great. Argue that.

But it goes back to what you believe about the Bible. You can say that Paul was wrong on some stuff.

Great. Believe that. Say that.

But know that the book God breathed says you are wrong. (1 Timothy 3:16)

Unless, of course, Paul was wrong on that too.

7 comments:

Drew Tatusko said...

so is doctrine the issue or hermeneutics? how does inspiration, which is the essence of "breathed" equate with inerrancy or infallibility? how do we know the canon is inerrant given that it was not sealed in its current form until centuries after jesus? why is intertestamental literature not included in protestant bibles but in catholic and orthodox bibles? was the very canonization god breathed? did paul know about all of the other scriptures that were also god breathed? how do we know that? did god breathe the scriptures in greek? if so, why are there intertextual problems with the greek text that scholars have had to piece together over the centuries? where are the original letters and other writings that paul and other wrote? has anyone ever seen them?

here is an answer. rather than root an understanding in scripture that must by nature ignore all of these and numerous other very important questions that make up the entire discipline of biblical studies, why not take in faith that how we interpret the word today may be quite inconsistent with previous interpretations, but that somehow god works in the midst of our fallenness to show us the way. it is important that a view of the bible does not usurp the knowledge that god is beyond what we claim to know about the bible. the pharisees and scribes thought they had it absolutely right and jesus discredited their faith in the law. perhaps if jesus visited us today, he would feel the same way about both my understanding of how the bible should be interpreted and yours. this is where we should seek humility and do what works for the people to whom we are called to minister.

Andrew Winter said...

Or,

Why not take in faith that the Bible we have today is what he preserved as accurate and how he works in the midst of our fallenness is his Word?

It's a matter of faith, presupposition, hermeneutics, and worldview.

I miss-typed. It is hermeneutics, not doctrine.

Anonymous said...

I like this blog title - very apropos.

Aric Clark said...

Andrew,

We've already agreed that debate is not fruitful, so I will not lodge a counterargument. If you wish to explore this with me sometime we may. Your points are too simple by far here. Each point with but more detail and clarity means the opposite of what you think.

God's blessings on your journey of discipleship.

Jodie said...

"I believe that the Bible is complete, without error, and breathed by God."

We could say the same about Adam and Eve. Look how well that turned out.

You do know that the notion that God dictates text to humans is Greek mythology, right? (See the opening verses of the Odyssey and the Iliad, for example.)

On to Paul. You left out the most important verse in that passage! You should not stop reading him at the end of Chapter 1, but read on to Chap 2:1 (I presume you know that chapters and verses were not in the text as he originally wrote it), and you should ask yourself to whom was he writing.

Doug Hagler said...

"The good folks at TFF (cause Two Friars and a Fool is way too hard to keep typing) take the view that the Bible can be bent, as long as the main point is kept."

With respect, I do not accept this characterization. I will say this about myself:

One good folk at TFF believes that the Bible is exactly what it appears to be - a collection of diverse documents written by human beings about themselves and God. Further, one good folk at TFF privileges the Bible over other books because the witness of his tradition and experience is that this particular collection of books tells us more than other books about God.

I have a lot more to say, but I'll say it as I have been saying it. I appreciate you saying 'fine, argue that' and so on - I will :).

Doug Hagler said...

As an aside, I don't understand your use of 1 Timothy 3:16 here. That seems to have nothing whatsoever to do with marriage, homosexuality, or the supposed inerrancy of the Bible. I'm just confused, and maybe you could clarify for whoever else might be confused.

As for the implied quote from 2 Timothy, I often see that taken too far. The quote is about the Bible being "useful" or "profitable" (let's leave Greek out of it for now) for particular functions, and doesn't say "inerrant" or anything like it. This is, to me, an important point, because the quote seems to come up so often, and I don't think it serves your purpose.