Friday, June 23, 2006

TerryMum asks a good question

Not to be a pain, or obtuse, but where in the Bible does it say that homosexuality is against God's will? Isn't it in Leviticus?
Short answer: yes

Long answer: while it is in the Mosaic Law (c.f. Le 20:13) and in the NT (c.f. Romans 1:26-7), that's not where I conclude God's opposition to it. In fact, the Mosaic Law makes several exceptions (e.g. divorce) due to human weakness and so is not always a good indication of Christian teaching. However, before I go any further I need to clarify that this answer applies only to homosexual acts and relationships, not to feelings or attractions. In other words, it's about deeds, not thoughts. We can't help how we are tempted, only what we do about it.

That said, we're not going to find much in the Bible concerning homosexuality specifically because it's not much of an issue in the Ancient Near East. Oh, it existed (thus the law in Leviticus) but it didn't even have a word, just a description, because as with many things biblical, you have a model or target, and you have everything else. Jesus talks a lot about the model, but shows very little interest in various schemes that don't conform to it. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

Jesus' teaching on marriage is pretty clear and it's very consistent. So let's take a look at a bit of it and look for the principles:

"...from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female..."
Simple enough, begin with two separate sexes who were designed that way by God, on purpose and presumably for a reason.
"...For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they shall be one flesh..."
Two separate sexes, joined together, and together become something different, something more than they were before. This is the absolute essence of all Jesus' teaching on marriage, because this joining of two incomplete sexual creatures into a single being was the very purpose of the creation of two distinct and differently-bodied human beings. Into their relationship was designed an emotional and spiritual bond. It is the physical act of sex ("Adam knew his wife") that is both the cause and the conduit of this bond. To create the bond, God created the parts used for bonding different and interlocking. It is both symbolic and very, very practical.

"...What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
But this bond is not just a natural cause/effect. Jesus says that married couples are joined by God. It must be a pretty important institution.

So what can we draw from this? Heterosexual marriage is the only relationship that it is ever said God has a personal part in, and its makeup is bound up in the very design of the human body. It is presumed to be one man and one woman by Jesus. It is in his teaching the model to which all sexual relationships are expected to conform.

Now, if we begin with this creation-based principle, then we can explain WHY Paul says what he says in Romans and why Moses says what he says in Leviticus. It's not simply a matter of this rule or that - as if this thing we call sex is just a blank slate that needs rules applied to it - it's a matter of understanding the model laid out in Genesis and explained by Jesus.

When you try to re-create that same model using parts as they were not designed by God to work that way, you have a counterfeit. That's why whatever gay marriage is, it ain't marriage. Since sex is designed for marriage (See Jesus' teaching on adultery), if sex is part of a relationship that is not marriage, it is outside God's will and therefore a sin. Ergo, homosexual conduct is a sin.

In that sense, a physical homosexual relationship is no different than an adulterous one, an incestuous one, or a bestial one, and the homosexual is no more (and no less) a sinner than a guy who cheats on his wife on business trips. The 'wrongness' of the act is not inherent in prudish reactions to the very thought of it. Its wrongness is certainly not wrapped up in votes or marches or societal acceptance. The wrongness of the act lies solely in the fact that God created us to do A and we do B, C, and D, instead. And the farther we get from God, the farther down the alphabet we go. That's Paul's point in Romans 1 and the liberal denominations are illustrating it for us in real-time.

But let me turn it around: is there in the Bible a single occasion where a same-sex sexually-engaged couple is blessed, accepted, or praised? If there is not, then we'd better be careful before we write God's name on something he has withheld it from.

* Yeah, I realize there is a sequence error in the picture. Just work with me here, people.

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