“Stand at the crossroads and look;
Ask for the ancient paths,
Ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.”
(Jer. 6:16 – NIV)
This is the third and final post in a three-part series responding to the fact that some evangelicals are discarding belief that the Bible defines homosexual activity as sin. Each post is a review and amplification of a major point of the sermon “How is the Gospel at Stake in Same-Sex Marriage?” (July 12, 2015).
The third and final point below follows a brief review of the first two affirmations seeking to demonstrate that the gospel is indeed at stake in this current discussion.
The gospel is at stake because the gospel calls for repentance as well as faith.
The simple fact of the matter is if homosexuality is not deemed sin; there is no repentance and if there is no repentance of sin, there is no salvation. Both Jesus and the apostles preached the necessity of repentance and faith as essential components of genuine conversion (our human response to the gospel call). That homosexuality is considered sin from which true believers must and will repent (not necessarily only once) is seen in various scriptures (1 Cor 6:9-11; Eph. 5:5-6; Jude 7).
The gospel is at stake because the gospel is publically portrayed in biblical marriage. Marriage has several purposes. One purpose of marriage is procreation. Procreation is the product of the consummation of a marriage – the union of two complimentary image bearers, brought together, to be fruitful and procreate. This cannot be done in same-sex marriage.
In addition, marriage also portrays the intimacy of our union with Christ. This is made evident in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church (Eph. 5:22-32). Within the union of a man and woman there are specific roles and gifts that are not arbitrary. Human marriage is a God-ordained picture in miniature of the relationship between Christ and His Church.
Married couples are not simply partners in the Bible – they are husband and wife. They are two complementary image bearers fulfilling different roles, reflecting different spiritual truths: husband and wife, head and body, Christ and church. All of this imagery is gone when we set aside the reality of gender differences as a gift of God’s creation order.
The gospel is at stake because the gospel is founded upon biblical authority. The gospel is at stake because it is in the scriptures and if you can dismiss the sinfulness of homosexuality in your reading of the scriptures then you can dismiss just about anything. You have in essence given up biblical authority.
It’s amazing to me, as I’ve read some of the contemporary books and blogs making a plea for gay evangelicals, to watch the exegetical linguistic gymnastics used by some to say the Bible not only does not speak against homosexual activity but also actually affirms them. The dishonesty of this argument boggles the mind.
This argument is understandable coming from those individuals and movements that have never affirmed the inspiration, authority, clarity and inerrancy of Holy Scripture. What the bible means by what it says has always been open to a slew of contradictory interpretations to this camp. But what is disturbing is to hear this line of argumentation blindly adopted by those who claim to be evangelicals. To claim this is simply intellectually dishonest.
As an example of intellectual honesty from someone who does not hold the traditional view I offered the writings of William Loader. He is a member of the “Uniting Church of Australia” and has done extensive research on sexuality in Jewish and early Christian literature. In his book “Sexuality and the New Testament” he states, (in regards to homosexual activity as seen by the New Testament) it is…
“A particularly crass instance of what happens when people turn away from the true God, for they also lose touch with their own reality and engage in unnatural sex.”
This is not Loader’s opinion. What Loader is arguing is that this is what Paul and the bible is saying. He does not agree with it but he is intellectually honest enough to say that this is precisely what the bible means by what it says. Furthermore, he goes on to explain that, like other Jews, Paul bases this judgment on what “biblical law prohibits” (Leviticus) and goes on to provide a range of supporting arguments which include understanding what is natural in terms of how God created things, a strong disapproval of excessive sexual passion, and the shamefulness of men taking women’s roles and women usurping men’s.
William Loader says in essence, “I’m for gay marriage but, I’ve studied the Bible, and I can tell you this, you can’t by any stretch of the imagination tell me that the Bible actually supports that.” And yet, we find self-proclaimed evangelicals trying to find a way to make the scriptures fit the times. Is there no integrity?
I do not have the space in this brief post to review the principles of hermeneutics (the science and art of biblical interpretation) that are ignored when arriving at the conclusion that the bible actually supports homosexual marriage. But when various long established principles of biblical interpretation held by evangelicals since the Protestant Reformation are violated, ignored or simply thrown out the window to arrive at such conclusion one has undermined not only an ethic but the very authority of scripture which is the basis of the Christian life and all doctrine. If you are ready to dismiss the sinfulness of homosexual acts on the reading of the Bible, then when and where will it stop? What else will be dismissed? Who gets to pick and choose and on what basis? This is a slippery slope of massive proportions.
I can only echo the words of Paul again, “Be not deceived by empty words.” “If you practice these things you have no inheritance in the kingdom of God.” This is a matter of eternal significance. Don’t let the winds of modern culture blow you wherever they’re blowing. Stay on the ancient paths.
[One final pastoral note: If this question of what exactly does the bible say about homosexuality and how are we to interpret it is of interest to you I encourage you to read “What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?” by Kevin DeYoung.]