by Jerrold Lewis

 

 

Introduction

In March of 2000, the Federal Government of Canada voted to approve legislation that would give same-sex couples identical status and rights as common-law heterosexual couples. The vote carried in the House 137-118. On July 12, 2002, the Ontario Superior Court ruled that it was against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to discriminate against same sex marriages. Ontario’s Premier Ernie Eves said, “"If two people decide that they want to be in a union, why should I interfere with that?" The Federal Government has chosen to appeal this decision, but the outcome is uncertain. Canada, while leading in little else on the world’s stage, is receiving top marks for moral decline as the passive voice of the Canadian people is drowned out by minority activism. The aggressive lobbying of the proponents of a “new morality” has paid off, and the prophets of liberal thought are rejoicing in their success. “How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?” (Psalms 94:4)

Over 30 years ago, Francis Schaeffer wrote regarding the future of ethics,

The thinkables of the eighties and nineties will certainly include things which most people today find unthinkable and immoral, even unimaginable and too extreme to suggest. Yet — since they do not have some overriding principle that takes them beyond relativistic thinking — when these become thinkable and acceptable in the eighties and nineties, most people will not even remember that they were unthinkable in the seventies. (Koop and Shaeffer 2)

Since the beginning of time, homosexuality was a heinous sin. Whether one studies the ethical writings the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Early Church, the Middle Ages, the Reformation and Post Reformation eras, homosexuality has collectively been condemned as a odious sin. And it has been so for over 6000 years for one simple reason — the Bible says it is a sin. Now, at the turn of the millennium liberal theologians are telling us that homosexuality is natural, and apostate denominations are lining up to welcome to their rolls, homosexual members, Sunday School teachers, elders, and even ministers. In spite of the modern onslaught of liberal thinking in the area of homosexuality and religion, the Bible remains unchanged on its position of condemning homosexuality as a great wickedness.

Liberal theologians who defend homosexuality do so at the expense of truth. The plain meaning of Scripture has been cast off, and a linguistic transformation has taken place which justifies the “new morality”. First, they take the plain meaning of the text and gut it. Second, after discarding the plain meaning of the text, they fill it with an interpretation of their own construction, which is clearly void of any hermeneutical principles at all.

Creation

When the Lord gave us the Scriptures, he did not leave us without an interpretation of those Scriptures, but built into them a guide, or a rule, to discover his will in all matters of faith and life. Scriptures such as “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:32) And, “You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 18:4)

As followers of Christ, we are not free to draw our own conclusions or interpret the Scriptures in a private way. “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20) In other words, the Bible is not a wax nose that can be twisted or manipulated to suit the face of our particular circumstance, nor is it to be used as a pretext machine that justifies all our closely held sins. To be a Christian means abandoning our sinful desires at the feet of Christ, denying ourselves, and taking up our cross and following Him. (Matthew 16:24)

When God created male and female, He did so, in part, to reflect the intimacy and unity of the Trinity. “Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”(Genesis 1:26) The creation edict dictates our understanding of God’s will in respect to sexual intimacy, love, and reproduction. Homosexuality is a distortion of the creation ordinance of marriage. In Genesis 2:24 God tells us, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” From this point on, there should be no doubt as to what God intended in respect to fleshly or sexual union. John Murray states, “The prima facie sense in Genesis 2:24 is that one man is to be joined to one woman and that the two would become one flesh. (Murray 29) The word marriage is used 18 times in the Holy Scriptures, and in every instance it demands a female object. All sexual union therefore (as the fruit of Genesis 2:24) is between male and female. We have absolutely no biblical instance of God ever permitting a male/male, or female/female relationship in the sanctity of marriage, or in any other permissible circumstance pertaining to sexual union. In fact we have quite the opposite. But before we go any further let’s look at the first account of homosexuality in the Word, and discover what God is telling us about it.

Sodom

In short, the men of Sodom demanded that Lot produce the two guests that they might “know” them. (Genesis 19:5) The end result was the citizens of Sodom were smitten with blindness and the city was destroyed by fire and brimstone. It is true that Sodom was guilty of far more than sexual perversion but it can’t go unnoticed that the men of Sodom wanted to “know” Lots guests. Those that defend homosexuality try to prove at this point that the word “know” (yadha) is not the normal word used for homosexual activity (shakhabh) but is rather a more generic work for “get acquainted with”. The liberal gay interpretation of the story goes like this: As an alien resident in Sodom, Lot was responsible for introducing his guests to the established townsmen and letting them examine their credentials. For that reason the Sodomites asked to “know” Lot’s visitors. The Sodomites wanted to get to know Lot’s guests, to see where they were from, where they were going, and why they were in Sodom. Since (in the Hebrew mind) a stranger had a right to hospitality, the Sodomites actions would appear to be overbearing and inhospitable. For such a breach of love and hospitality, God destroyed the city with fire and brimstone (Helminiak 39-40).

The problem is that the interpretation set forth above does not work if we take the rest of the story into account. Only if we leave the story in its isolated form is this conclusion possible.

First then, in context, we must see that the men of Sodom came to Lot and asked to “know” his guests. Lot’s response was to shut the door and characterized this request to “yadda” (know) the visitors as a great wickedness (See Genesis 19:6,7). It is very strange to think that Lot would believe that a simple civic custom like getting to know the visitors would be a “great wickedness”. In fact it would seem quite the opposite, for it has the appearance of friendly and hospitable warmth to want to drop in on the new visitors. Certainly this was not a warrant for divine destruction?

Second, why would Lot offer his virgin daughters in place of an introduction to his guests? The Sodomites were already acquainted with them, for Lot was a prominent man in Sodom by virtue of his homes location (he lived at the gate of the city, the most prominent place to reside. See Genesis 19:1). If these men were just wanting to “get to know” Lot’s visitors, then why does Lot turn around and say, “Take my daughters, they are virgins who have not been with a man, and you can do with them as you wish” (Genesis 19:7,8). Was Lot debauched? Would he exchange his daughter’s virginity for a short visit with his new guests? How insulted and shocked the Sodomites must have been to be propositioned in such a way. To be given a sexual bribe in exchange for a short visit, Lot would have to be mad. And how does this square with the belief that Sodom was destroyed because of inhospitality? Surely the only inhospitable one in this story is Lot, and he was saved from the city’s destruction.

Only those who want to avoid the obvious and natural meaning of these texts would say that they wanted to “know” the visitors in a generic, general way. The great wickedness in this text was sexual perversion in the form of homosexuality, and God destroyed Sodom for it.

The Law of God

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)

If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13).

It is impossible for the thinking man or woman to read the Scriptures quoted above and not see their objective. Still, some theologians will argue that these laws set down in Leviticus were only for the nation of Israel, that these laws were strictly ceremonial in nature and are therefore terminated with the coming of the New Testament (Helminiak 55). While we would agree that the specific laws known as “judicial laws” have expired with the nation of Israel, we still believe that the general equity of the law remains. The Westminster Confession says, “To them also, as a body politic, he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the State of that people; not obliging any other now, further than the general equity thereof may require (Confession 81).

While it is true that certain laws were abolished with the coming of Christ (ceremonial laws), we are left with the moral portion of the Law even in the New Testament. Matthew 5:17,18 says, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” The truth remains, that in respect to sodomy, there is a ceremonial feature (uncleanness) that was abolished with the final sacrifice of Christ. Nevertheless, sodomy remained a moral crime as well, falling under the judicial heading of the 7th commandment. The Larger Catechism speaks directly to this when it says,

Q. 139: What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?

A. 139: The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; wanton looks, impudent or light behavior, immodest apparel; prohibiting of lawful, and dispensing with unlawful marriages; allowing, tolerating, keeping of stews, and resorting to them; entangling vows of single life, undue delay of marriage; having more wives or husbands than one at the same time; unjust divorce, or desertion; idleness, gluttony, drunkenness, unchaste company; lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others. (Emphasis mine) (223)

Sodomy was one of the few ceremonial laws that transcended its primary typical category and was firmly imbedded in the judicial and moral laws. Furthermore, if Sodomy (as mentioned in Leviticus 18) was abolished with Israel as a body politic, then so was incest (vv. 6-17), adultery (v. 20), and bestiality (v. 23). The theologian who is arguing for a termination of the sin of sodomy is, ipso facto, arguing for the termination of every other sin mentioned in Leviticus 18.

The New Testament

Professing to be wise, they became fools . . . Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting. (Romans 1:22-28)

Romans chapter 1 tells us that even in the New Testament the principle of homosexuality is unchanged. Vile passions can only be interpreted in light of what we already know to be moral or immoral. The New Testament is off its hinge if we separate it from the moral grounding of the Old Testament. Many current liberal theologians would like to take Romans 1 and place it in the context of the Greek culture found at the time of its writing instead of the Old Testament. That is why when we see words likeburned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful” we have nothing to tell us what is being done here unless we look at the etymological root of male/male lusting. We can only do this through the viewfinder of the Old Testament. “Vile passions” is in direct relation to Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” It is very clear here what Romans 1 is speaking about.

Cleaver attempts have been made by the homosexual community to divest Paul of his clear condemnation of homosexuality and put a new twist on his words. This has been called the pederasty theory (Miller 1-11). This theory asserts that Paul was only condemning the sexual and emotional exploitation of boys. The problem with this hypothesis is we have absolutely no mention of boys in the text. Arrhen arhrane en arrhen arhrane means, “men with men”, arrhen arhrane en paidion means “men with boys”, the text says, arrhen arhrane en arrhen arhrane. As well, if the Apostle was speaking about sexual the exploitation of minors in Romans 1:27, doesn’t the problem of Leviticus 18 come back and haunt the exegete? If pedophilia was abolished with sodomy at the coming of Christ, why then would Paul be condemning pederasty in Romans 1?

Lastly, Jude 7 interprets the story of Sodom for us. What better interpreter of the Scriptures are there than the Scriptures? It is quite clear that Sodom was destroyed because of sexual immorality. “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” What is this strange flesh? Jamison, Faussett and Brown believe it to be “departing from the course of nature, and going after that which is unnatural” (651).

Conclusion

Our response to those who practice the sin of homosexuality needs to be biblical, not simply loaded with emotion. All too often the homosexual is lost in a blaze of expressive rhetoric that hardly seems like reasonable, cogent, argumentation. Chances are most homosexuals won’t care much for the arguments set forth in this paper. On the other hand there is an increasing interest in the gay community to incorporate spirituality into their historically pagan lifestyles. That is why in Canada they are seeking a distinctly religious term “marriage” to front their sin. It is the duty of every believer to defend the Bible in any way that they can. When the bible is circumvented to establish sin, we must rise up and fight. Not with weapons of violence and hate, but the armaments of passionate debate and interchange. And we must all remember that sin is the plague and pestilence of the human race, not just gays. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13)


Works Cited

  1. Miller, James E. (1995). "The Practices of Romans 1:26: Homosexual or Heterosexual?" Novum Testamentum.
  2. Helminiak, Daniel A. (1994). What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. San Francisco: Alamo Square.
  3. Murray, John. Principles of Conduct. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1968.
  4. Westminster Divines. Westminster Confession of Faith. Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Publications, 1995.
  5. Westminster Divines. Westminster Larger Catechism. Glasgow: Free Presbyterian Publications, 1995.
  6. Koop. C. Everett & Schaeffer, Francis. Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, revised edition. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1983.
  7. Jamison, Fausset, & Brown. A Commentary: Volume III. Grand Rapids: WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1973.

Author

Jerrold Lewis is a student under care of the APC Presbytery in Vancouver Canada. He is married to Catherine and has 6 children. He is a student at Whitefield College and Theological Seminary in Lakeland Florida and also the Managing Editor of a new online E-Journal called The Credo Quarterly Theological Journal.


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