Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I hate how some Christians make hating some things their focal point. Can I say that? I guess so. What I mean is that rather than seeking the Kingdom of God first, or focusing on right relationship with our Saviour and King, some seek out sin in others and major in exposing error. They are wrong. Can I say that?

At the same time, some (and it seems vogue in the Emergent community although Iggy's perspective is that this isn't the case in "the stream he swims in" - I love this guy) seem to be working overtime to make homosexuality ok. Actually, I perceive at least a few of those aren't trying to make homosexuality ok. Instead they harbor bitterness toward their perception of "abuses by the church" and when they see those people pointing out the sin of homosexuality, they confront the hypocrisy in a way that seems defensive of homosexuality. Either way, they are wrong. And I think it is more than coincidental that the folks I've observed doing this are the same that are excited about their perceived demise of Sola Scriptura.

I think Kevin DeYoung posted an excellent piece regarding Scripture and homosexuality so I will copy much of it here. It is based on a sermon series he was doing on Leviticus 18.1-30. This post is focused on Lev 18.22.

Sometimes evangelical Christians get criticized for spending so much time talking about homosexuality. “Why don’t you talk about divorce or greed or gossip? Why are you always harping on this sin like it is worse than all the others.” Well, I talk about those sins when they are in the text. But homosexuality is in this text. And besides, the reason we have to talk about this sin in particular is because there are lots of professing Christians, not to mention society as a whole, who are saying that homosexuality is good. Every generation in the church has its issues to deal with. This just happens to be one of ours. There is so much confusion about this issue and so many voices affirming what is wrong and destructive, that we have to spend some time here. I can’t recall ever preaching a whole sermon on homosexuality. It is not some hobby horse for me, but when it comes up in the Bible, we have to deal with it, and if necessary defend the teaching of Scripture.

So here’s the place where I can take this sermon in a number of different directions. I could talk about ministering to homosexuals. I could talk about loving homosexuals. I could get very serious and warn about the judgment that God promises to those with unrepentant sin, like homosexuality. I could appeal to anyone here in sexual sin to repent and come to Jesus Christ for freedom and forgiveness. All of those would be biblical directions to go. But what I want to do at this point in the message is simply demonstrate to you that this verse is still God’s word on same-sex relationships.

There are several reasons we know that God still forbids homosexual behavior.

1) Leviticus 18 appeals to nature. “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman...” The implication is that homosexuality is contrary to nature. It’s just not the order of things. Men are supposed to have sex with women, not with other men. That’s how God designed it from the beginning. He made male and female bodies to fit together, to reproduce together. His original design was for a man and a woman to become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

Both Jesus and Paul reaffirm this creation design. Jesus didn’t have to mention homosexuality by name to disapprove of it. Second temple Judaism and the Rabbinic traditions are all absolutely unequivocal in their rejection of homosexuality. Jesus does absolutely nothing to overturn this. Instead he explicitly affirms the normativity of God’s creation design for marriage (Matt. 19:4-6) and goes out of his way to emphasize his submission to the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17-20). God’s design from the beginning was for one man and one woman to enjoy sexual intimacy in the context of marriage.

All sin is offensive to God and renders us liable to judgment (James 2:10), but certain sins, like homosexuality or bestiality, are particularly detestable because they are contrary to nature and pervert the order of God’s creation. It sounds harsh to make that judgment, but the conclusion was self-evident to virtually every single Christian until about 50 years ago.

2) The witness of the rest of Scripture teaches us that homosexual behavior is sinful. Sodom and Gomorrah are used throughout the Bible as examples of particularly heinous rebellion. Their sin was not just being inhospitable, as some liberal Christians like to argue. Jude makes clear that Sodom and Gomorrah sinned by indulging “in sexual immorality” and pursuing “unnatural desire” (Jude 7). The crime at Gibeah in Judges 19 was not just the violence but the desire by men to have sex with men. Romans 1, in listing many sins (all of which need to be taken seriously), makes reference to “dishonorable passions”–women exchanging natural relations for those that are contrary to nature and men likewise committing shameless acts with men (Rom. 1:26-27).

3) Two passages in particular demonstrate the abiding significance of the prohibitions against homosexuality in Leviticus 18.

First look at 1 Corinthians 6:9. The ESV says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality...will inherit the kingdom of God.” The word translated “men who practice homosexuality” is the Greek word arsenokoitai. That same word is used in one other passage in the New Testament. 1 Timothy 1:10 says the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for (among other types of sinners), the sexually immoral and “men who practice homosexuality.” Again, that phrase translates the Greek word arsenokoitai.

That word is only used these two times in the New Testament. In fact, no one used the word at all before Paul. It seems that Paul just made it up. So the question becomes: what does this made up word mean? One article I found online says, “What does arsenokoitai mean? Nobody knows for certain. Arsenokoitai is made up of two parts: arsen means man; koitai means beds. Although the word in English Bibles is interpreted as referring to homosexuals, we can be fairly certain that this is not the meaning that Paul wanted to convey. If he had, he would have used the word paiderasste. That was the standard Greek term at the time for sexual behavior between males. We can conclude that he probably meant something different than people who engaged in male-male adult sexual behavior” (religioustolerance.org). Then the article gives some possible meanings for arsenokoitai: abusive pedophiles, male prostitutes, pimps, maturbators, a boy sex slave, but not homosexuality.

This is the sort of argument you will hear all the time from those trying to defending homosexuality from the Bible. They’ll say, “Look, Paul was talking about pedophilia or sex slaves or man-boy love or something else. But he wasn’t talking about two consenting adults.” This line of reasoning sounds plausible, but it ignores the most obvious place Paul would have gone in order to create this word, the Old Testament. The most natural meaning for arsenokoitai comes from Leviticus 18 and 20. Paul made up the word by combining two words used together in Leviticus. You don’t have to know any Greek to see the connection.

Lev. 18:22 kai meta arsenos ou koimethese koiten gunaikos (“you shall not lie with a male as with a woman)

Lev. 20:13 kai hos an koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikois (and whoever shall lie with a male as with a woman...”

Remember, the word in question in 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 1 is arsenokoitai. Some scholars pretend like we just have to guess as to what this new word means. But it seems clear that Paul, a former Pharisee who knew the Old Testament (including the Greek translation of the Old Testament) better than any other book, combined the two words arsen and koiten from Leviticus to make a new word, arsenokoitai. So Paul was not using a narrow word that refers to only some kinds of homosexuality. He was using a purposefully broad word that referred to any sexual relations between members of the same sex. That’s what Leviticus clearly forbade. And Paul restates the principle from Leviticus in these two places in the New Testament.

In fact, if you look at the context for 1 Corinthians 6, you’ll see that in the surrounding chapters Paul is talking about incest and marriage and sexual immorality. So it would make sense that he has the Holiness Code in his mind. Likewise in 1 Timothy 1, Paul’s list of vices is simply a commentary on the Ten Commandments, so it makes sense that Paul would reference what the rest of the Law says about sexual immorality. Given the Holiness Code in Leviticus, and the unequivocal stance against homosexuality in ancient Judaism, and the clear rejections by Paul and Jude, and the implicit rejection by Jesus–given all of that, I don’t how see any honest student of the Bible can conclude anything except that the Bible considers homoerotic behavior a sin.


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