I hesitated to write the title of this post because of what may become controversy. I consider this blog a more personal note to myself and a small group of others. Imagining that I could create a controversy through my blog is a bit of a stretch, but I never want to be at the center of one on the internet. But I believe this may be the reason to start, if there ever was one.
I came away from the last sermon we heard, confused. I wonder at all the warnings in the Bible about not listening to people who have strayed from the truth, about how lies become truth and the truth becomes a lie, or good becomes bad, or evil becomes right, how that many things in this world will lead us astray, that we’ll make justifications for ourselves to begin believing the lies. And I ask myself how can there be all these warnings and yet, and yet, And Yet, there are people who will blatantly, freely go down those paths of lies, not recalling anything in the Bible that might be considered a warning about the exact path they are treading.
Is the Bible for confirmation of our way of life? Or is it a transforming, transcendent work that challenges us to not live as we want, but grow through our struggles within oneself? Calling us to push our brother toward truth when they hit a wall of lies? Exhorting us to be set apart from the world, because the world seeks its own self-interest and we, the reader, are to seek none but the LORD?
I believe the Bible to be transforming, transcendent, challenging, calling, exhorting and much more. And there are those who claim to know Him and His word, who are wrong. I am not calling them wrong, God is. He hates the lies. He would spit out compromise. He honors those who fight for His truth.
The Homosexual Bible Movement is just another lie that people will feel good about compromising with. And those who are faithful in not joining in the world and their compromising His eternal values, are to speak against it. So here I am.
Let’s start with the video of the book that provoked these last sermons:
Before I get into the analysis of the verses Matthew Vines brings up, I’d like to talk about the video in general and who we are as a Church. We love Matthew Vines. His story is compelling. Our hearts goes out to him as he has struggled with his faith and his sexual orientation. His understanding of the Bible should be met with compassion and not hatred.
This video is created to evoke an emotional response. It has meaningful piano scales, thoughtful glances, and studious desk situations. He wants us to make an emotional response. You must agree, it seems to say, or you don’t have a heart of compassion as Jesus did.
He begins the video narrative by saying, “Marriage equality is on the rise, but despite this trend religious beliefs remain a major obstacle to acceptance.” There it begins. Something the world is finding more and more acceptable is running into problems from the conservative christian church. He says that as he started really studying the Bible and where it supposedly condemns homosexual behavior, he found that it really didn’t. All these years? All these years and he found something we all missed these two-thousand plus years? And it changed his parent’s views and many others in his life.
I love my children and hope the best for them, but if they find that the bible doesn’t specifically condemn the killing of babies, yet it is acceptable to their lifestyle, I’m going to have some serious issues with their beliefs. “That is a bit of a jump,” you say, “comparing a homosexual lifestyle with abortion.” But is it? As we compromise and rationalize our way away from the truth, where does it end? That is what I ask, where can I draw a line in which God has made firm? Will there ever be a time when these rationalizers say, “Enough!”?
Sadly, I think not. God sees every sin as the same: violation and outright rebellion against His Holy standards.
Mr. Vines goes into 6 passages from the Bible. Three in the Old Testament: Genesis 19, Leviticus 18:22, and Leviticus 20:13. Then three in the New Testament: Romans 1:26-27, 1Corinthians 6:9 and 1Timothy 1:10. These passages, as Mr. Vines says, “refer” to same-sex behavior.
Genesis 19 tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. “For centuries, this story was interpreted as God’s judgement on same-sex relations,” say Vines, implying that it really was only recently that it was interpreted that way. I, myself, have never thought of this story as only the condemning of same-sex relations, but about choosing what appears best, only to find out how appearances of a desirable land can be an illusion. Allowing someone else to choose before others, seeing that a life of apparent difficulty may be a better choice in the long run. Those are what I see as a major teaching of this story. The homosexuality in the story serves a moral to how far a people of ease may descend in their deviancy. (Take heed America! For our life of “ease” may be the catapult to accepting many immoral behaviors.) In response he brings up Ezekiel 16:49, and claims that Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because they did not help the poor and needy. In fact, it does mention their life of ease. But verse 50 goes on to say that “they were haughty and committed abominations” before God.
Are we to read Genesis 19, seeing the actions of these men, and believe that their greatest abomination before God was their carelessness towards strangers and the poor?! Jesus said we will always have the poor, and our care of them shows who we are as a society. But to understand the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to show how much God cares about the poor? I think not.
In looking at Genesis 19 we must also consider Lot’s actions in offering his daughter to the mob. We look back on creation and see God creating Eve from Adam. From man, came woman. There is an order, a natural order. We must not dismiss that so easily. If we claim to be Christian, there are ideas we must maintain. One of those is the idea that God created and He created in an orderly way. Even if you are an old earth believer, you understand that God was wholly involved in the creation and its order. Lot’s actions have no excuse for his offer of his daughter to the mob, but we must not dismiss that even in the abominable sin of rape, he had in mind a natural order. It may have been worse for him to allow an unnatural order of sin than a natural. Who entirely knows? I can’t imagine what that would be like to confirm a choice like that in my own mind as the father of three daughters.
Lastly, we are to look at Jesus’ confirmation or approval of, the condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 18 speaks about 3 men appearing to Abraham. One of them is referred to as the LORD or Yahweh, the Great I Am, God Himself, in human form: Jesus if you will. The LORD reveals to Abraham His plans for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In considering that God agrees to not wipe out the cities if 10 righteous men are found there, you must contend with Matthew Vines assertion that this is about treatment of strangers and the poor. The culmination of the mob desiring to rape the new men seems to go far beyond just the idea that this is about not giving someone a living wage or an extra slice of bread. This is about complete and total descent into a depravity that God gave them over to. In Matthew 10, Jesus says that for those who reject the good news from the apostles, it’ll be just as bad for them as for Sodom and Gomorrah.
God is sovereign. Sodom and Gomorrah serves a warning that is harsh. God has a limit to His patience. Are we to throw up our hands and say, “then who can please Him?” No. For in Jesus is found grace. If we reject who He is, if we are to reject sovereignty, if we are to reject trust, and embrace all who we are and to seek our own self-interest, then it’ll be just as bad for us, the judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah. He wants us to stop and look around at the deviancy we have embraced. There was not one man among the mob who paused and saw what was really going on. Not one man shouting above the others, “What Have We Become?!” This isn’t about homosexual sin. It reveals the most unnatural tendencies we embrace as a culture, embrace and wallow in how rebellious against a harsh and indifferent God we imagine. (Listen up American Church.) To assert that if one man came to Lot’s door in the light of day and asked for a date from the new guy in town would have been okay, is absurd. To say that if they were offered an extra helping of bread, all would have been well, pushes the boundaries of our understanding of God. Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because of their total embrace of rebellion. The homosexual behavior, and demand of it reveals how far they descended.
Leviticus 18: 22 and 20:13 seems to outright condemn same-sex behavior, says Vines. He says it is an abomination and talks about other things God calls an abomination: sex with a woman during menstrual period, eating pork, rabbit, shellfish, and charging interest on loans. Vines lumps in all these laws as, “the Old Testament law code.” He points out in Hebrews 8:13, that the Bible says the laws are obsolete and outdated. Also, the passage in Romans 10:4 says that Christ is the end of the law. And then Vines says that Christians are not settled by this, that these passages should make us realize that the Old Testament laws should be done away with. We will now turn to the different types of laws God gave us that we forget about in arguments such as this one. There is the ceremonial law, the civil law, and the moral law.
The ceremonial law has to do with worshiping God. These laws were either maintained and ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Ceremonial law revealed how imperfect we were compared to a perfect God deserving of all our adoration. It contained dietary laws that were abolished because there is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. God sees us all as one because of the fulfillment of Christ. The Jews saw themselves as set apart with these restrictions in clothing and food. Now we all come to Christ, as we are, and He will change us. Some choose to follow the dietary laws, not as a means to gain favor with God, but as a reminder of who He is, of the sacrifice He ultimately made for us, and as long as they do not frown upon those not following the law or putting others under it for legal reasons, They Are Free To Follow The Law! Amen! In Christ there is freedom, and he released us from the ceremonial law because of Christ’s sacrifice. Hallelujah!
The civil laws are our principles for living together, as a community. God led the Jews out of Egypt and through the desert, and He made laws for them to follow so that they could live in harmony. Those laws are good and right for a people who choose to live with one another and allow God to transcend their ideas of self to community and worship. As a community of Christians, those laws may be great to follow, but not necessary. These kinds of laws, as all of the types of laws, were broken by the Jews. It were the civil laws that kept harmony, the ceremonial directed worship, but the moral law revealed the heart of God and is to be considered unchanging.
The moral law is God unchanging law. It reveals who He is, how He created and maintains His personal character in His people. It is His heart, His being. God is saying, “this is who I created you to be and there is no other change in this.” Following the moral law was obeying who He commanded us to be. God does not desire sacrifices or burnt offerings, but He desires our obedience. Our obedience is understanding His character, His moral law, and striving toward that holiness.
From the beginning His moral standard has been revealed in the marriage relationship; A man and a woman. Marriage is the cornerstone of a culture. It reveals our hearts. What kind of compassion do we show in compromise? How far are we to go in order for people to feel comfortable with themselves or others? Is there no challenge or difficulty in our lives we are to take on? In all this, I am addressing the Christian brother and sister. For the world is revealing its character all day long! Where is our character based on brother? Do we continue in the path of the world sister? Marriage is the first sacrament and naturally follows to multiply on the earth. It is the natural order of creation. Dear brother, I am in no way perfect and have many sins, hidden and revealed. I hope my close brothers will see those sins in me a call them out as not following the character of God. Your whole life, dear brother, is difficult and complex, and you can’t see how you can turn from what you believe is who you are, and I understand that. But how much more compromise can we handle in a world that is so selfish and whatever feels good is told to us is right? Brother? Sister? Are we revealing God’s moral law in our behavior, or ourselves? Is the Bible meant to confirm our desires? Or is it meant to reveal our need for Him?
Romans 1:26-27, Vines says, is about lustful behavior. He says there is no mention of love, commitment or faithfulness. To me, this is much rationalizing. I have the most trouble in this section with Vines because he has to stretch so far in saying that this isn’t about a one man, one man committed relationship, but about the cultural idea of young and old, slave and free, married men, or idol worship. He compares what Paul says about men having long hair being unnatural, to what he mentions in this passage, as accepted as cultural. So we must accept these passages as cultural. But in the 1 Corinthians passage, it is about the nature of authority. Our hair, or what we wear on our head show either authority or a placement under authority in the Jewish culture. The Roman passage addresses Gentiles and how we all have God’s character within us, but in our rejection of His creation and worshiping the creation, or creature, He gave them over to our desires. Any culture that begins to reject the worship of God and His creation, and turns to what pleases them, will ultimately birth all manners of rebellion, and men with men and women with women is a symbolic last maneuver in that rebellion. God gives them over to these abominations.
This is a self pleasing culture we live in. We live in the most at-ease culture in the world, perhaps ever. We are allowing a child to decide that how he/she were created, was wrong, and the world can fix that in order to please ourselves. We are harvesting the fruit of God giving our culture over. It will not stop. Will you be shocked when a man requests to be changed to any manner of other species or sex? Is there no end to this descent? Sure, I’ve said all this before, but with each passage addressed, I am driven back to the confusion I have in slowly drifting with the tide. “Well the world is going this way, how long will the church stand in the world’s way?” That is why Christians are being attacked, because it stands for something. Truth? Morality? Not for long I daresay.
That is why I am writing this. Brother, sister, will you stand, or will you crumble? Is the Word, Logos, not worth fighting for? Are the words written in the Bible not enough to say, “that is far enough”? Idolatry always moves toward immorality. Open your eyes. Stand firm. Do not waver. You are not alone. Your brother and your sister accepts their homosexual family marriage. In the Church, will you accept this? Has God Changed? Have we misunderstood these passages all these years? Our goal is to multiply and fill the earth. Not only in Genesis is this said, but in Matthew as well. Does the postmodern church, affected by a weakness of truth and morality, have responsibility for its dwindling numbers. I believe others see our wavering stance for truth as wishy-washy. Our capacity for multiplicity is shrinking because of our weak-knees in standing before the mass of giants in this world. They mock us because of our standing on the wrong side of history. Do we cry and cave to this mockery? Or do we stand?
1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 is the final address of Matthew Vines. Vines says the concept of sexual orientation didn’t even exist in the ancient world. He claims that the use of the word, “homosexual” in these passages doesn’t make sense because of the fact of not understanding sexual orientation back then. In looking up this word, I see that many scholars interpret it the same as Vines. They say that in Paul’s making up of a word, naturally garners misunderstanding of his meaning. As Vines looks at these verses, the word, “homosexual” in both passages gets wiped away to become “Licentious” and “Abusers of themselves with Mankind.” Vines agrees that Paul doesn’t have a positive view of same-sex relationships, but not in the concept of a committed, monogamous one.
The word Vines and other scholars are wiping away is, “Arsenokoitai.” A Greek word Paul did create from the very passages in Leviticus we looked at earlier. He combined man and “lie-with” another word you may understand looking at, arsenokoitai. Vines says our cultures are worlds apart. We should dismiss Paul’s view because it was so long ago, and sexual orientation wasn’t known in the context of commitment and monogamy. Again, Paul is addressing God’s moral character, that never changes. We can rationalize our way out of anything, and the Church is riding the wave to the depths of depravity.
Vines concludes by saying the Bible never addresses sexual orientation or same-sex marriage. But it does tell you what marriage is, and Jesus confirms it. Vines claims that some of those verses address old and young (children), but what if they were committed to a monogamous relationship? Is that approved of then? Again, I come back to the idea of rationalizing away every guilt that comes upon us.
“So there is no reason why faithful Christians can’t support their gay brothers and sisters. It’s time.”
No reason? In every one of the verses Vines brings up, there is every reason for us not to support gay marriage. I am assuming he means gay marriage when he tells us “faithful Christians” to be supportive. I’ve seen the Church not discipline a man caught in adultery. Does he think we can just wipe away thousands of years of God’s word standing, and the Church continually losing ground, that we can just say, “yea”? Just because the world sways to one side of history doesn’t mean the Church should justify our stance away. I said it at the beginning and I’ll say it again: I love you, my gay brother or sister. Just like I love some people in my life despite leaving the truth for a life of lies. Just like I love those who run an abortion shop. Just like I love those dependent on substances to get them through their day. Just like I love myself when I sin one more time, but not because of myself, but in spite of myself and His work in me. We can live in peace and harmony with our choices, if we’ve justified and rationalized the guilt and pain away. But there is a moral standard we will all be measured against. His heart is that moral standard; unchanging, ever gracious. I cannot stand with the Homosexual Bible Movement. It strays too far from the truth. Just like I cannot stand with the New Apostolic Reformation because it twists the truth. I am not perfect. I rebel. I sin. I am broken. There is a solid rock to stand on. And I am ever, and always, with that rock. Thank you God for Truth.