Apologies for the language and crude humor in this clip, but I love Robin Williams and this song cracks me up. (I’m not a South Park fan, but they have their moments.) Canada – it’s not just a country, it’s the perfect scapegoat.
In our last post we looked at what Jesus did and did not say regarding homosexuality. Let’s look further into the Scriptures, at the rest of the New Testament. Once we’ve gotten through the gospels, we come to the Acts of the Apostles (Acts for short), and then the letters that make up the majority of the NT. There we find further elaboration on how to live the Christian life, and several specific mentions of homosexuality as incompatible with our faith.
But wait! How could this be? There must be some mistake! The argument goes like this…
- Paul was only writing from his own experience, and his words do not carry the weight of Scripture.
- Paul did not know any real homosexual couples in committed relationships. He was actually writing against male prostitution, or molestation or promiscuity within a homosexual relationship.
More and more often, I’m seeing people blame Paul for having a bias towards heterosexuality, and that he personally caused a misconstrued understanding of the Lord’s thoughts on the subject. So, let’s take a closer look at these arguments.
Paul’s letters were actually considered Scripture by Peter, who wrote:
Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
2 Peter 3:15-16
(The “hard to understand” part always cracks me up. Especially when you read his frequent run-on sentence structure.) Anyway, Paul’s writings were taken to be Scriptural by the earliest Christians, including Peter, and if they gave his letters such weight, I’m comfortable with doing so as well.
For more information on the formation of the books included in the New Testament, please check here: http://www.tektonics.org/lp/ntcanon.html#seven
People Don’t Exist Until They Are Labeled
The term, “homosexual” was coined by Károly Mária Kertbeny, “an Austro-Hungarian man of letters, translator, and journalist”* in 1869.*,** Some have stated that since the concept of homosexuality wasn’t around until this guy came up with a word for it, what we read in Scripture on the subject is obsolete.
While the term wasn’t around back in the time the NT was written, the people who experienced same-sex attraction certainly were. An obvious example is Sappho, a Greek poet who lived on the island of Lesbos, from which we eventually got the word “lesbian.” In fact, there are examples of an acceptance of homosexuality in ancient cultures:
After a long hiatus marked by censorship of homosexual themes, modern historians picked up the thread, starting with Erich Bethe in 1907 and continuing with K. J. Dover and many others. These scholars have shown that same-sex relations were openly practiced, largely with official sanction, in many areas of life from the 7th century BC until the Roman era.***
There were occasions of same-sex marriage in ancient Rome.****
Of all the writers of the NT, Paul was the one most likely to know people like this. He was the apostle to the Gentiles. When he came to a city, he would first go to share the Good News that Jesus was the Messiah to the Jews at the local synagogue. Then he would take to the streets, as it were, and share this same message to everyone else. He traveled widely to many urban areas. These were Roman and Greek cities and colonies, not Jewish towns. Many were large areas of trade, and there were all kinds of people from around the known world and beyond traveling through.
Paul was the least sheltered or insulated from the culture at large, as opposed to many of the apostles who for the most part remained in Jerusalem.
More Thoughts to Consider
Not only was Paul quite aware of the world around him, we need to remember that what he was writing was Scripture, and therefore sacred, Holy writ, and God-breathed. The words of the New Testament letters were not dependent on the opinions of the human authors, but were and are the words of God. The Lord has never been ignorant of the existence of SSA, nor is He affected by the culture at any given time throughout history.
And That Is What Some of You Were
In this day and age, it’s rather unlikely for you to have come across a blog written by someone who has experienced a change in their sexual orientation – yet here you are. We need to keep in mind that “unlikely” is not equivalent to “impossible.”
Not everyone who experienced same-sex attraction in ancient times was a male prostitute, nor were they always considered to be. There were people who had SSA who became Christians, and who went on to seek change in their desires as part of becoming more like Christ.
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Cor. 6:9-11
For some reason, it had escaped me for a long time that this letter was read out loud to the believers gathered in Corinth – everyone could look around and know who had done what. There were former homosexuals in the early church, and Paul knew them and wrote to them in this letter.
When we come to Christ and accept Him as Lord, we become new people, with a new allegiance to a new King, in a new Kingdom. Everyone needs to make some changes when we choose to follow Jesus. But we don’t do this work alone – we are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
If you’d like to investigate further the actual words used in the NT writings referring to homosexuality, I found a surprisingly well-balanced view here: