BP_blog
How Should Churches Receive Same-Sex Couples?

All Things Examined



MV5BMTUwNjUzNjAzNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTQ4Mjc1Nw._V1_SY317_CR20214317_AL_That’s the question that occurred to me after viewing the trailer for “Seventh-Gay Adventists,” a documentary about homosexuals in the church. The answer I gave on the BreakPoint Blog and a Facebook page promoting the film was as follows:

“The same way they should have been [receiving] heterosexual individuals and couples whose lifestyles are at odds with Scripture and church teaching: For non-members, enthusiastically welcome them and invite/include them in all programs, events, and services the church has to offer (Matt. 11:29); for those seeking membership, call them to repentance (Acts 2:38); for those who are already members, invoke church discipline for the purpose of restoring them into the fellowship (Matt. 18, Gal. 6:1); and for those who willfully remain in unbiblical lifestyles, disfellowship (1 Cor. 5)."

I also shared my suspicion, given the endorsement of gay advocacy groups and statements made by the filmmakers, that the purpose of the documentary is to convince Christians “to ‘get over’ their fetish with biblical teaching and ‘get on’ with the full integration of non-celibate homosexuals in all aspects of church life, including leadership, lay and ordained.”

In retrospect, I could have worded that more delicately. One of the filmmakers who read my comments took me to task for rushing to judgment on her work without seeing it. She offered to send me a complimentary DVD, which I accepted and recently viewed.


“Seventh-Gay Adventists” chronicles the lives of Marcos, Sheri, David, and their respective same-sex partners as they yearn to find their place in the church. It is a raw depiction of the hopes, fears, and struggles of real homosexuals, with an emotional tug sure to convince many Christians wondering “What Would Jesus Do” that anything less than full, unconditional acceptance of non-celibate homosexuals into the church is un-Christlike.

Churches and Christians featured in the film are those who invite gay folk to “come as you are” and “stay as you are”—or, as Bonhoeffer would put it, to “Christianity without discipleship” which, he more bluntly stated, is “Christianity without Christ.”

The film’s homosexuals tell of wanting to change, trying to change, and pleading with Jesus to make it happen, all without effect, before concluding that God must be okay with their homosexuality and the church should be too. It is an argument that could play equally well for the alcoholic, substance abuser, compulsive gambler, sex addict, or person with [fill-in-the-blank] “orientation.”

Missing from the central characters is any conviction that Jesus’s call to repentance might apply to them. Or that “denying self” might mean that we must not pursue satisfactions contrary to nature and God’s Word.

Instead, what comes across is their desire, their choice, to be accepted and live “just as they are,” and the denial their loved ones must endure because of that choice.

Sheri and Jill chose to become mothers, because, as Sheri says, they wanted children. Consequently, their daughters are denied a relationship with their biological father, parents who can credibly teach them how to understand their own sexuality and relate with the opposite sex, and a family structure that is best suited for their nurturing and well-being.

David, after years fighting against his homosexuality, chose to embrace it by taking a lover, moving in with him, then getting “married.” That caused heartache for his parents as well as difficulty for them as prominent leaders in a conservative denomination. During the film’s “wedding” sequence, they valiantly try to balance supporting their son against condoning his lifestyle and the transmogrification of a sacred ceremony they are obliged, as loving parents, to attend and witness. Of the film’s central characters, David alone is shown considering those costs. Yet, in the end, like Sheri and Jill, he deems his own needs more important.

Then there’s Marcos who, after an adulterous affair with a man, chose to leave his wife and family, denying his two children an intact family headed by their natural parents. Ironically, toward the end of the film Marcos is shown grieving over the breakup of his own childhood family, wondering why his parents couldn’t have stayed together for the sake of him and his siblings. Why, indeed?

The featured homosexuals are all “good” people: They pray, read their Bibles, and serve in their congregations. They love their families, they love community, they love their churches. But they love up to a point, the point of agape, other-centered, sacrificial love—falling short of denying themselves what they believe will bring them happiness, for the sake of others. Instead, their choice not to live celibate lives trumps the feelings, needs, and even well-being of people around them.

Not surprisingly, the film also gives voice to a revisionist exegesis of Scripture: namely, that biblical injunctions against homosexuality refer to temple prostitution, pederasty, forced sex, and the like, not what goes on between “committed” same-sex partners. It is a fashionable reading based on a contrived contextualization that goes against the plain meaning of the text, 2000 years of church teaching, and millennia of moral norms and social tradition. What’s more, it fails to consider what Jesus had to say about sexual morality.

In one “red letter” passage, the sin of adultery is expanded to include lust—entertaining sexual desire for someone other than one’s spouse. With no provision for same-sex marriage within the culture of the day or Holy Writ, that sin would include all unrestrained homosexual desire.

On another occasion, when the subject of marriage was raised, Jesus reaffirmed its heterosexual design and went on to say that, for reasons of nature, nurture, or the kingdom, it is not for everyone. Although He mentioned eunuchs specifically, the exception would apply to homosexuals who, like eunuchs, can form emotional attachments, but cannot fulfill the purpose, nor conform to the design, of marriage.

But even if we let pass what the Bible says, we are faced with what nature says. Considering the design of sexuality, uniquely suited for life's most essential function, reproduction, we are left to conclude that: 1) homosexual orientation is not normal, 2) homosexual sex is dysfunctional, and 3) same-sex “marriage,” as it originates from the mind of man rather than the design of nature, is unnatural.

All that said, I was profoundly saddened for everyone in the film.

I was saddened for Sheri, David, Marcos, and their partners, whose smiling faces couldn’t hide their fear, doubt, and internal conflict as they pursue a path at odds with the natural order, church teaching, and societal expectations.

I was saddened for family and friends who must sacrifice something while their loved ones pursue that path.

I was especially saddened for the children who are denied parents who can adequately model what it means to be a man and woman in a normal, natural context.

I was saddened for churches that offer membership to non-celibate homosexuals in the sincere belief that it is up to God to judge, not us, and that the love of Jesus requires unconditional inclusion. To such churches, I would simply pose the following questions:

What should we make of Jesus’s instruction to His disciples, “If your brother sins, rebuke him,” or the authority He gave them to proclaim forgiveness and unforgiveness for sin?

Was Paul out of line to chastise the Corinthians for their conduct, or for calling out Hymenaeus and Alexander, in a written letter no less? Was Peter, when he confronted Ananias and Sapphira?

Did Paul contradict Jesus when he told the Galatians: “if someone is caught in sin, you who are spiritual should restore him”; or when he told the Corinthians, “Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.”

Was Peter wrong to require repentance for the forgiveness of sin and inclusion in the church? Was Paul, for demanding the expulsion of the sexually immoral man from the church in Corinth?

Could it be that the popular proof text “do not judge” is not a command against judging, but a caution against doing so without acknowledging one’s own sins?

Is it possible that Jesus’s intervention for the woman caught in adultery was not because of people judging her, but because of their condemning her and failing to bring the other party (the man) into account?

If churches should receive homosexuals without regard to their lifestyles, what about polygamous and polyamorous families, man-boy couples, cohabiting heterosexual couples, or families headed by transgenders or any of the 54 gender identities that Facebook, for example, now acknowledges? Once the biblical standard is jettisoned, is there a criterion by which a church should, or could, exclude any menagerie of relationships that man can imagine?

Do you think we should be loving people by helping them live in accordance with their design, however imperfectly, rather than affirming them in lifestyles that conflict with it?

Finally, as the Church’s mushy stance on heterosexual sin has contributed tragically to the “tearing asunder what God has joined together,” do we want to become equally culpable for the consequences of “joining together what God has left asunder”?

Just some things to ponder for churches considering how to receive homosexuals and heterosexuals biblically, redemptively, and Christianly into their fellowships.

Image copyright Watchfire Films.

Regis Nicoll is a freelance writer and a BreakPoint Centurion. Serving as a men’s ministry leader and worldview teacher in his community, Regis publishes a free weekly commentary to stimulate thought on current issues from a Christian perspective. To be placed on this free e-mail distribution list, e-mail him at centurion51@aol.com.


Articles on the BreakPoint website are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BreakPoint. Outside links are for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply endorsement of their content.

Comments:

Thank you for your reply, Regis.

My point was not that we can understand morality JUST from looking at the behavior of the patriarchs. However, if we see the Bible's holiest men doing something AND we see that God did not forbid them from doing it beforehand AND we see that God did not condemn them from doing it after the fact, THEN we can be confident that God did not have a fundamental problem with their behavior. If that is not true, then "All scripture is [NOT] useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training is righteousness (2 Tim 3:16)." The only scripture available when that quote was written is the scripture I am referring to - the OT.

You mention David's adultery and murder. That's a great example of what I'm talking about because both actions were forbidden by scripture before David did them, and both actions were rebuked by God after the fact.

Another big question: Could OT Jews depend on the Law to tell them what was / was not sin? If not, by what standard could they know whether they had sinned? If not, why did God tell them over and over (and over) to be careful to obey all of His commands AND to not add to them? Wasn't the POINT that they COULD know His expectations of them? What kind of God would He be if He gave one set of prohibitions but then condemned people for violating other prohibitions He did NOT give?

Regarding nature, please consider that some animals engage in non-monogamous and/or homosexual behavior. I agree that nature and scripture agree on this issue, but I see the evidence as showing that strict heterosexual monogamy is not the mandate many claim it is.

Please consider that God did more than merely tolerate polygamy and divorce. According to scripture, He personally engaged in both practices. (Did God merely tolerate His own behavior?) Especially with polygamy, do you know of scriptures saying God was displeased with the practice or that he reluctantly allowed it?

You asked, regarding my objection that my views on female homosexuality are “revisionist,” how else would I describe an interpretation that goes against the history of church teaching? I guess it depends on how far back in history we want to look. If we are just talking about tradition taught over the most recent several hundred years, then this is not a discussion of scripture. If we are looking all the way back to scripture, even the scripture referred to by the NT writers as THEIR standard - then we see not all homosexuality was forbidden. As I have pointed out, God gave very specific commands regarding sexuality, but He didn't even mention female homosexuality, much less forbid it. If things that were NOT forbidden were still sin, then His commands were pointless.

So then, if a NT writer is rightly understood to be condemning ALL homosexuality (and I believe that NOT an accurate understanding), then the NT writer would be the one who is revisionist, accusing people of sin for doing things NOT forbidden by the scriptures available at the time.


Please consider that I provided 5, not just 2, points in favor of polygamy. The ones your reply did not address are:

3. God Himself claimed to be the source of some of King David's wives (2 Sam. 12:8).

4. God Himself was metaphorically a polygamist, equating Israel and Judah to two sisters he was married to (Jer. 3:8, 31:31-32). He divorced Israel for adultery and lamented that her sister Judah committed adultery as well.

5. Even the NT writers made allowance of polygamy with the Greek word "idios" (non-exclusive ownership) in 1 Cor. 7:2, Eph. 5:22, Titus 2:5, 1 Peter 3:1 and 1 Peter 3:5. Here is a detailed word study, taken from http://www.biblicalfamilies.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=3280

It is said by some that 1 Corinthians 7: 2 excludes or prohibits polygamy, in that the Greek word translated "own", in the phrase "let each woman have her own husband", excludes joint ownership, that is ownership of a particular thing by more than one person. Does the Greek word translated "own" in the above mentioned phrase mean that a woman is not to own her husband jointly with another woman or other women, thereby making her ownership of her husband exclusive to her? And if so, would not this verse exclude the validity of polygamy, that is one man having more than one wife?

1 Corinthians 7: 2 reads, in the New King James Version (NKJV), (used throughout unless otherwise specified), "Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own [Strong's No. 1438] wife, and let each woman have her own [Strong's No. 2398] husband."

Strong's No. 1438 reads: heautou, heh-ow-too (incl. all the other cases); from a reflex. pron. otherwise obsol. and the gen. (dat. or acc.) of 846; him- (her-, it-, them-, also [in conjunction with the pers. pron. of the other persons] my-, thy-, our-, your-) self (selves), etc.: - alone, her (own, -self), (he) himself, his (own), itself, one (to) another, our (thine) own (-selves), + that she had, their (own, own selves), (of) them (-selves), they, thyself, you, your (own, own conceits, own selves, -selves).

Strong's No. 2398 reads: idios, id-ee-os; of uncert. affin.; pertaining to self, i.e. one's own; by impl. private or separate:- x his acquaintance, when they were alone, apart, aside, due, his (own, proper, several), home, (her, our, thine, your) own (business), private (-ly), proper, severally, their (own).

Does idios exclude joint ownership in its meaning and usage? In other words, does the meaning and usage of idios imply sole ownership, that is one entity solely owning a particular thing without sharing that ownership with another? Scriptural usage of the word idios ought to shed some light on this matter.

SCRIPTURAL USAGE OF THE GREEK WORD IDIOS

Mattityahu 9: 1 states that Yah'shuah "got into a boat, crossed over, and came to his own [idios] city." Mattityahu 8: 28-34 shows that Yah'shuah had just been in the region of the Gergesenes (Gadarenes), whereby he cast out some demons from some demon-possessed men, and permitted the demons to enter into a herd of swine, whereupon the whole herd ran violently down some steep place into the sea and perished therein. The inhabitants of the city of that region then went out to Yah'shuah and begged him to depart from their region. It was then that "he got into a boat, crossed over, and came to his own [idios] city."

Now, did Yah'shuah exclusively own this city termed "his own city", or did he own it jointly with other inhabitants of that city? Is it not the case that Yah'shuah, by virtue of being a resident of that city, termed that city his own [idios], just as other residents of that city also termed that city their own [idios]? Does not this show that idios does not exclude joint ownership, but can include it, as clearly shown in Mattityahu 9: 1?

Luke 2: 3 states that "all went to be registered, every one to his own [idios] city." Verse 1 of Luke 2 shows that Caesar Augustus issued a decree that all the world should be registered, the census first taking place while Quirinius was governing Syria, as verse 2 states. The implication derived from verse 3 is that all had to travel to their cities or regions of origin to be registered therein. So Joseph, as verse 4 states, went up from the city he was residing in, Galilee, in the region of Nazareth, into the region of Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, for he was of the house and lineage of David.

Now, was Joseph the only one who was of the house and lineage of David, and therefore the only one with the right to term Bethlehem as his own [idios] city, excluding all others from so terming Bethlehem, or were there others who were also of the house and lineage of David, and who could also rightly term Bethlehem as their own [idios] city? Does not the record show that there were others who were also of the house and lineage of David, and who also considered Bethlehem their own [idios] city? In fact, does not verse 7 show that so many were these people who considered Bethlehem their own [idios] city that by the time both Joseph and Mary arrived at Bethlehem for the census, so crowded was Bethlehem with others who so termed Bethlehem as their own [idios] city that Joseph and Mary could not find accommodation at some inn, thereby leading to Yah'shuah, after his birth, being wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger? Does not this show that idios does not exclude joint ownership, but that its usage does in fact include joint ownership?

Yahchanan (John) 4: 44 states that Yah'shuah "himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own [idios] country." This testimony is recorded in Mattityahu 13: 57 where Yah'shuah is noted to have said to those Galileans who were offended at him, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house."

It should be clear that prophets do not exclusively own their countries in the sense of residence or genealogical origin. This ownership they have of their countries is shared ownership with others who also reside in or also genealogically hail from those countries. It is therefore seen that idios does not exclude shared ownership, for the usage in the above-mentioned scriptures clearly shows its meaning including shared or joint ownership.

Acts 2 verse 5 states that devout Jews from every nation under heaven were dwelling in Jerusalem. Verse 6 states that when the sound mentioned in verse 2 occurred, "the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own [idios] language." They were all amazed and said to one another in verses 7 to 11 "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own [idios] language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs - we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of" the Almighty.

Is it not clear that the various members of the multitude in Jerusalem were not the only individuals who respectively spoke or had ownership of the languages in which they were born? There were several others who respectively spoke those languages of their birth, the languages they called their own [idios]. It should therefore be clear that idios does not exclude shared ownership, for one's own [idios] language is not owned exclusively by one, but is shared in ownership by all those born in that language and therefore speak it. If one could exclusively own a language in the sense of being born in it and speaking it, then that one would be the only one who would be speaking that language, thereby not being able to communicate with others when speaking that language. The word idios does not exclude shared or joint ownership, but includes it in its usage.

Acts 4: 23 shows that after the apostles Kefa (Peter) and Yahchanan had been let go by the chief priests and elders of Israel "they went to their own [idios] companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them." This verse clearly shows that the companions were not Kefa's to the exclusion of Yahchanan, or vice versa, but were common to both of them. The usage of idios in this verse clearly shows joint or common ownership usage. The word idios does not therefore exclude shared or common ownership, but includes it in its usage.

Acts 13: 36 shows Shaul (Paul) stating that "David, after he had served his own [idios] generation" by the will of the Almighty, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption. David's generation was not exclusive to himself, but he was one amongst many who were also of the same generation, and therefore these others who were also of the same generation rightly called that generation their own [idios] generation. The usage of idios does not exclude common or shared ownership, but includes it.

Acts 25: 18-19 shows Festus stating that, as part of his laying of Shaul's case before King Agrippa, "When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed, but had some questions against him about their own [idios] religion" and about a certain Yah'shuah, who had died, whom Shaul affirmed to be alive. In its usage in this verse idios shows common ownership of religion, rather than singular exclusive ownership. For the religion referred to here is that of the Jews, which belonged to or was owned by the Jews as a group of people, rather than by a single Jew to the exclusion of all others. The usage of idios does not therefore exclude common or shared ownership, but includes it.

Romans 10: 3 shows Shaul stating, in speaking of the Israelites, that they were ignorant of Yahweh's righteousness, "seeking to establish their own [idios] righteousness," and had not submitted to the righteousness of Yahweh. Two distinct righteousnesses are spoken about over here, one belonging to Yahweh, and the other belonging to the Israelites. Of this latter righteousness belonging to the Israelites the usage of the word idios shows that the Israelites collectively had a claim over it. In other words, one Israelite to the exclusion of all the other Israelites did not claim the righteousness the Israelites collectively had a claim over. Rather it was jointly claimed by all the Israelites. The usage of idios does not therefore exclude common or joint ownership, but includes it, as in its usage in the above-mentioned verse.

Romans 11: 24 shows Shaul, speaking to the Gentiles, stating that "if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these," speaking of the Israelites, "who are natural branches, be grafted into their own [idios] olive tree?" Shaul's usage of idios clearly showed joint ownership by the Israelites of the cultivated olive tree. His usage of idios did not exclude common or joint ownership, but included it.

Titus 1: 12 shows Shaul stating, in reference to many insurbodinate idle talkers and deceivers, especially of the circumcision party, that "one of them, a prophet of their own [idios], said 'Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.'" Shaul's usage of idios in this verse shows that this individual prophet belonged to, or was of, this group of many insurbodinate idle talkers and deceivers. Usage of idios can therefore show a single individual being owned or claimed by a group of people, as Shaul's usage of it in this verse shows.

Yahudah (Jude) 6 states: "And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own [idios] abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day". Yahudah's usage of idios in this verse shows a plural group of persons - angels - having a singular abode, which they shared. Usage of idios does not therefore exclude common or shared ownership by plural persons of a singular thing or entity.

All the above-mentioned scriptures show that usage of idios does not exclude common, joint or shared ownership. It is therefore not correct for one to assert that idios excludes common, joint or shared ownership, allowing only sole ownership.

In the context of 1 Corinthians 7: 2 and its alleged prohibition of polygamy, that is wives being prohibited from common, joint or shared ownership of their husband, it is seen that this allegation does not hold any water on the strength of the usage of the word idios, for idios does not exclude shared, common or joint ownership, but in fact includes it. 1 Corinthians 7: 2 does not therefore appear to prohibit polygamy.

DOES 1 CORINTHIANS 7: 2 ALLOW WOMEN TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE HUSBAND?

Now someone may ask whether the word heautou allows shared, common or joint ownership, just as the word idios allows. And if so, whether women also are not prohibited by 1 Corinthians 7: 2 from having more than one husband?

Examination of the various scriptures in which the word heautou is used does not show an allowance for shared, common or joint ownership. These scriptures are: Luke 14: 26, Luke 22: 71, Yahchanan 20: 10, Acts 7: 21, Romans 4: 19, Romans 8: 3, Romans 11: 25, Romans 12: 16, Romans 16: 4, 18, 1 Corinthians 6: 19, 1 Corinthians 7: 2, 1 Corinthians 10: 24, 29, 1 Corinthians 13: 5, Galatians 6: 4, Ephesians 5: 28, 29, Philippians 2: 4, 12, 1 Thessalonians 2: 8, 2 Thessalonians 3: 12, Yahudah 6: 13, 18.

It therefore appears that 1 Corinthians 7: 2 does not give room to women to have more than one husband, for the word heautou does not appear to allow shared, common or joint ownership.

CONCLUSION
Therefore, the clear implication of 1 Corinthians 7: 2, from the meanings of the words heautou and idios, as determined from their usage in various scriptures, is that while a wife is not allowed to be owned by more than one husband, a husband, on the other hand, is not prohibited from being owned by more than one wife. If a husband is so owned by more than one wife, then the ownership of those wives of him would be shared, common or joint. 1 Corinthians 7:2 does not therefore prohibit polygamy, that is one man having more than one wife.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
© 1998, All rights reserved. Servants of Yahweh, P O BOX 942, HARROW, Middlesex, HA3 9XY, UNITED KINGDOM, servantsofyahweh@serveyahweh.org. Permission is hereby GRANTED to reproduce, in entirety, this and other documents in the Servants of Yahweh web site, unless otherwise stated.
Jamie--Your apologia for polygamy hinges on two arguments: 1) God never forbade it, and 2) the Patriarchs practiced it. As I recall, God also never forbade cannibalism, substance abuse, animal cruelty, strip mining, euthanasia, sex trafficking, forced sterilization, and myriad other practices. As for the Patriarchs, if morality is based on their practices, then God must be okay with lying (Abraham), deceiving (Jacob), and adultery and murder (David), right?

While it is true that God tolerated polygamy, as He does divorce, He designed human intimacy for a one man and one woman union. That’s why Jesus re-affirmed the original design and Paul said that “Each man [should] have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2), and that church leaders should be “the husband of one wife” (Titus 1:6). The fact that there is nary an incidence of polygamy in the bible that didn’t create more problems than it “solved” (the most egregious example being Solomon), is a sufficient indictment on the practice.

As for your objection that your views on female homosexuality are “revisionist,” how else would you describe an interpretation that goes against the history of church teaching? Like your argument for polygamy, your argument for female homosexuality is based on an argument from silence which, as I've pointed out, can lead one to all sorts of wrong conclusions. But to paraphrase what I wrote in the article above, even if we let pass what the Bible says or doesn't say, we are faced with what nature says. Considering the natural and most essential function of sexuality – reproduction -- we are left to conclude that homosexual orientation (male or female) is not natural or normal and homosexual sex (male or female) is dysfunctional. The Book of Nature reflects the Book of Scripture because they have the same Author.
I am a Christian. I love Jesus. I am also saddened to read much of this article because I do not believe it agrees with what scripture says specifically about sexuality. There are several things that I consider red flags. One of the biggest is this statement that I believe negates much of the Bible:

"If churches should receive homosexuals without regard to their lifestyles, what about POLYGAMOUS and polyamorous families..." (emphasis added)

It sounds like the article is saying that polygamy is wrong. Please consider:

1. God has not forbidden polygamy for all men.

2. The Bible recognizes polygamists as some of the holiest men in history. Some will argue that even holy men sinned, but that is irrelevant because God never forbade their polygamy or rebuked it as sin in scripture.

3. God Himself claimed to be the source of some of King David's wives (2 Sam. 12:8).

4. God Himself was metaphorically a polygamist, equating Israel and Judah to two sisters he was married to (Jer. 3:8, 31:31-32). He divorced Israel for adultery and lamented that her sister Judah committed adultery as well.

5. Even the apostle Paul made allowance of polygamy with the Greek word "idios" (non-exclusive ownership) in 1 Cor. 7:2, Eph. 5:22, Titus 2:5, 1 Peter 3:1 and 1 Peter 3:5. For a detailed word study, please see: http://www.biblicalfamilies.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=3280

On the subject of homosexuality, I am saddened to see the label "revisionist" applied to what I understand as sound scriptural study. I encourage you to pursue additional research, carefully noting what God did and did not forbid or condemn in the OT Law and life examples. Although scripture does condemn some male-specific homosexual acts, it does not condemn ALL homosexuality because it does not condemn FEMALE homosexuality at all.

If we look at the Law's female-specific commands, we see that God forbids and punishes women committing adultery and bestiality but does NOT forbid women from having sex with women. Female homosexuality is not even mentioned. Obviously, God did not forget to forbid something he actually viewed as sin. He intentionally did not forbid it because it was / is not sin. Deut. 4:2 even warns God's people not to add to or take away from God's commands. Some would argue that the prohibition on "man lying with man as with woman" implies condemnation to women lying with women, but consider how that would've played out in OT times: The male-specific law required the death penalty for offenders. If you caught two women having sex with each other in OT times, would you accuse them of sin? What if they pointed to the Law, asking how they as two women had "lain with a man as with a woman?" They would not have broken God's Law by having sex, so there would be no means to accuse them of sin or require their execution.

Studying the OT, we see major differences between the laws for women and laws for men. Men could have more than one wife, and it was called polygamy and a blessing from God. If a woman had more than one husband, it was called adultery and subject to the death penalty. A man was not expected to be a virgin on his wedding night (since he might already be married), but a woman might be executed if she was discovered to not be a virgin, deceiving her father and her husband. And as I've mentioned already, God did not see fit to even mention female homosexuality in the Law, much less forbid it.

That's the Old Covenant, some would say, and things are different in the NT. But the obvious question is: Where did NT speakers and writers get their understanding of sexual morality? From the scripture that was available to them, of course. The OT informed NT writers of WHAT sexual behaviors ARE sin. Things like polygamy and female homosexuality were not on the list of sins in the OT, so when NT writers referred to sexual sin, there were not referring to those things.

Neither Jesus' nor Paul' teaching departed from what the scripture available to them said about sexual sin. Paul used male-specific words to condemn homosexual acts just as God's Law did. (Even Romans 1, which some cite as condemnation of female homosexuality, does not say that women did unnatural things *with other women.* Some assume it MEANS that, but it does not SAY that.) Even Jesus in Matthew 5:28 addressed coveting a neighbor's wife - exactly what was forbidden in Exodus 20:17. Jesus did not condemn all sexual looking, as many believe. Sexual desire wasn't the issue. The issue was theft and the intent to commit theft. This is apparent as we see the same Greek words in Matthew 5:28 as we find in Ex. 20:17 in the ancient Greek OT (LXX). For specifics, please see: http://www.godrules.net/articles/mat5.htm

Again, I encourage more study. The article appeals to the Bible as the standard for sexual morality, so I believe it is imperative to closely examine what the Bible specifically does and does not say on the subject. This is especially crucial if a church plans to implement discipline on matters of sexual sin.

Thank you for considering my thoughts.




BreakPoint Columns