Lies, Liars & Liberals—or—On the Death of a once respectable news organization part 2
I will begin this 2nd portion of my review of Lisa Miller’s Newsweek article in defense of homosexual marriage by recommending a very good book on the issue entitled Marriage on Trial, by Glenn T. Stanton and Dr. Bill Maier, published by IVP press in 2004. On p.15 they discuss the difference in attitudes on this issue historically in America as described by Mark Steyn, in the Chicago Sun-Times in an article entitled “There’s No Stopping Them Now”
“Steyn explains that historically, moral concern for sexual activity between two persons of the same sex was identified as sodomy, an act. And an act is what it is. You can either think it is a good idea or you can think it is bad. Either way, it’s very objective. It’s what someone does. Then, Styen explains, in the late nineteenth century the act was redescribed as a condition of certain persons, and it was termed ‘homosexuality’ – a condition a person is in. Next, a few decades ago homosexuality got upgraded again, now referring to a person’s very identity, so that we now identify people as being or not being ‘gay’. Now it describes who a person is. Steyn explains: ‘Each formulation raises the stakes: One can object to and even criminalize an act; one is obligated to be sympathetic toward a condition; but once it’s a fully-fledged 24/7 identity, like being Hispanic or Inuit, anything less than wholehearted acceptance gets you marked down as a bigot.’ This is where so many good people get stuck. If being gay is a person’s identity, how can you object to what they do without objecting to who they are? We find ourselves torn between our desire to treat other people as we would want to be treated, the golden rule, and our uncomfortableness with homosexuality. Thus we seem to have one foot on the dock and other on the boat heading out for sea.”
This is a very good description of the dilemma that many Christians find themselves in today. We have allowed our perception of the issue to be drawn by our culture and those who are advocating for “gay rights”. Another important book on the issue is David Kupelian’s work entitled The Marketing of Evil: How Radicals, Elitists, and Pseudo-Experts Sell us Corruption Disguised as Freedom. The terms of the discussion have already been stacked so that we cannot win on this issue. And it is from there that this author is now taking the attack directly at the church.
Once again I will be making my comments in blue and the article is in black. You can find part 1 of this blog entry posted on December 10th.
If the bible doesn’t give abundant examples of traditional marriage, then what are the gay-marriage opponents really exercised about? Well, homosexuality, of course—specifically sex between men.
Here is a fine example of the Straw man argument once again, an obvious favorite for Ms. Miller. Here is the line of reasoning (I use the term loosely):
1. The Bible does not give an adequate amount of examples of “traditional marriage”
2. Therefore, this must not be the real issue with opponents of gay marriage.
3. It therefore must be homosexuality in general.
4. By implication therefore, it is merely prejudice and bigotry.
Her first premise is clearly wrong. There are many Biblical examples of one man, one woman marriages, as well as examples of sinfulness and hardness of heart ( a great theme of the Bible, referred to in Reformed circles as total depravity). What seems to not register for Ms. Miller is the clear and unequivocal commands and requirements of scripture. Paul in Ephesians 5:33, makes it clear what a marriage relationship is to look like. The requirements of all church leaders are made clear on this issue, with no equivocation in 1 Timothy 3:2, 12 & Titus 1:6. When clear commands and directions are broken because of hardness of heart, this does not lower the bar, or eliminate the requirement.
Sex between women has never, even in biblical times, raised as much ire. In its entry on “Homosexual Practices,” the Anchor Bible Dictionary notes that nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women, “possibly because it did not result in true physical ‘union’ (by male entry).”
Once again Ms. Miller is simply lying, confused or a terrible researcher. I am inclined to believe that she is a terrible researcher, not interested in providing a fair portrait of the issue, but only interested in furthering her own agenda. The major line of biblical attack by pro-homosexual marriage advocates has always been directed at Romans 1, because they know that Christians are most familiar with that section of scripture on this topic.
Paul writes in Romans 1:26-27 “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual 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 shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”
Paul includes the women in first position as the more heinous of the act, in the exchange of natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. There is either a clear agenda here of painting a picture of traditionalists as extremely bigoted and fearful of the male homosexual act, or extreme biblical ignorance. Finding this in the context of this article as a whole, I am inclined to believe the former.
The Bible does condemn gay male sex in a handful of passages. Twice Leviticus refers to sex between men as “an abomination” (King James version), but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world, a text that devotes verse after verse to treatments for leprosy, cleanliness rituals for menstruating women and the correct way to sacrifice a goat—or a lamb or a turtle dove. Most of us no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices; our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions. Why would we regard its condemnation of homosexuality with more seriousness than we regard its advice, which is far lengthier, on the best price to pay for a slave?
Dr. Gagnon does an excellent job of presenting a thorough refutation on this in his response to this Newsweek article, so I will not go into great detail on this. Only to say that this too does a great disservice to how the church has understood Biblical hermeneutics and interpretation throughout the centuries. Holiness codes in sexual behavior have shown not only continuity throughout both testaments, but the New Testament often increases the requirement. Much of Leviticus 18 focuses on incest, which was popular in the ancient near-eastern cultures of Moses’ day. Would Ms. Miller be willing to allow incestuous marriages? How about child sacrifices…that restriction was for past ignorant people, why don’t we start that again (ooops…it looks like we already are in a slightly different form in abortion clinics, sacrificing children to the God of selfish convenience)? How about Leviticus 19:18, referred to by Jesus as the 2nd greatest commandment – Love your neighbor as yourself? Should we be rid of that idea as a “throwaway” line.
When it comes to understanding Old Testament Laws, there are three simple rules, put as questions that are traditionally followed in application of them today
#1 Is the law/regulation repeated, clarified or enforced in the New Testament?
#2 Is there a fulfillment aspect in Jesus Christ? Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” It is in Jesus Christ as the Gospel of John and the book of Hebrews make clear that we find that ultimate rest for our souls, so there is fulfillment of the Sabbath law. It is in Jesus Christ that we find fulfillment of the food laws and many of the purity laws (inner holiness) because we are clothed with his righteousness at the time of conversion.
#3 Are there allowances in the law because of the hardness of our hearts, therefore we should not look for loopholes – this applies directly to sexual purity laws and marriage relationships. Jesus in Matthew 19:8 makes it clear that Moses allowed divorce in the law because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not as a normative loose loophole.
Paul was tough on homosexuality, though recently progressive scholars have argued that his condemnation of men who “were inflamed with lust for one another” (which he calls “a perversion”) is really a critique of the worst kind of wickedness: self-delusion, violence, promiscuity and debauchery. In his book “The Arrogance of Nations,” the scholar Neil Elliott argues that Paul is referring in this famous passage to the depravity of the Roman emperors, the craven habits of Nero and Caligula, a reference his audience would have grasped instantly. “Paul is not talking about what we call homosexuality at all,” Elliott says. “He’s talking about a certain group of people who have done everything in this list. We’re not dealing with anything like gay love or gay marriage. We’re talking about really, really violent people who meet their end and are judged by God.” In any case, one might add, Paul argued more strenuously against divorce—and at least half of the Christians in America disregard that teaching.
Dr. Gagnon has an excellent and once again very thorough response to Neil Elliott’s article, which I will refer you to for further research. I will only say that Elliott’s creative exegesis is inaccurate and reads into the text assumptions that are simply not there. Simply because there are examples of a more egregious nature in Gentile national leadership does not mean that this is what Paul is referring to. It also takes these verses of Paul in Romans completely out of context. Paul is laying out the complete argument that all are guilty and sinful before God (this being one very important example) and are therefore without excuse. All will be judged as guilty and only those who by faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ, the only way to be justified before a holy God, will be found justified. In context Paul is in fact, speaking about homosexual behavior of an example of depraved idolatry and where sin leads. Elliott is clearly wrong when the text is read in context.
I will post the final part of this review in the next few days.
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