how should we approach the “gay Christian” debate? (pt 1)

The central position for those who seek to affirm (and justify) the biblical validity of the homosexual-Christian identity is that we have misread the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality and that upon closer inspection we find no moral disparity between the heterosexual and homosexual lifestyles. The reasoning behind this position often goes something like this: (i) God made me/them this way (ii) the Bible’s prohibition concerns promiscuous homosexuality and/or (iii) the Bible’s prohibition is relative to the cultural context. We’ll take these arguments in order.

1) God made me/them this way. Some articulate this point in different ways–homosexuality is not a choice, I was born this way, etc.–but the basic idea is the assertion that people are created heterosexual or homosexual and that no one can alter their genetic code [some have coined this the DNA = Destiny argument]. I won’t deny a predisposition to certain behaviors but to be predisposed is far from being justified in that behavior. Just as important is the need to recognize that all of us suffer from the ill effects of sin on the created order so that no one can claim the mere presence of a desire to be a decisive justification for that desire.

2) The Bible’s prohibition concerns promiscuous homosexuality. Pointing to passages such as 1Corinthians 6:9-10 advocates claim that the Bible doesn’t condemn monogamous homosexuality but rather a licentious homosexuality free from the constraints of loving fidelity. However, if the issue was merely promiscuity or infidelity Paul would have no reason to mention homosexuality at all. In 1Cor 6:9, for example, fidelity and promiscuity are sufficiently covered by terms such as “fornicator” and “adulterer”. The most natural explanation for the appearance of “homosexual” in this verse is that God intends to communicate that homosexuality–like heterosexual promiscuity and infidelity–is unrighteous. [we should also note that we have no compelling lexical evidence that would lead us to believe that the Greek word arsenokoites in 1Cor 6:9 ever meant anything more than “homosexual”]

3) The Bible’s prohibition is relative to the cultural context. The cultural elements that proponents have in mind are temple prostitution and pederasty. No doubt these abuses were known in NT times but it takes a forced reading of passages like Romans 1:26ff to suggest that Paul meant to condemn homosexuality only in the contexts of idolatry or pedophilia. Arguments 2-3 are similar in that both arguments beg the question. Passages like Romans 1, 1Corinthians 6, and 1Timothy 1 can only be interpreted as friendly or neutral to a homosexual agenda when the conclusion is assumed before-hand.

Author: Jonathan P. Merritt

Happily married father of six. Lead pastor at Edgewood Baptist Church (Columbus, GA). Good-natured contrarian, theological Luddite, and long-suffering Atlanta Falcons fan. A student of one book.

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