About two weeks ago, the Huffington Post published an article by a Christian pastor named Adam Phillips entitled The Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality. Why Does Franklin Graham Not Get This?. The character and quality of the arguments in this article are evident by the very first sentence: “The word “homosexuality” didn’t even show up in English translations of the Bible until 1946, so why do we say the Bible condemns it?”
That is such a ludicrous question, that it’s hard to believe that an intelligent and educated person could ask it. The absence of the word “homosexuality” makes no difference, when the thing which that word indicates is clearly expressed in clear words (both in the “Torah” and in the “New Testament”). The Bible is not condemning a word, but a thing. Leviticus 18:22 – You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 20:13 – If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them. Romans 1:26 and 27 – For this reason [that they “worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator”] God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
Using the same argumentation, one could claim that the Bible does not condemn “bestiality” because that word does not even occur in the Bible. Yet Leviticus 18:23 says And you shall not lie with any beast and defile yourself with it, neither shall any woman give herself to a beast to lie with it; it is perversion. The word itself is absent, but the ‘thing’ is present and condemned.
Adam Phillips does in fact realize that condemnation of the ‘thing’ itself may be present even if it is not mentioned by ‘name’; so he devotes a good portion of the argument seeking to explain how such explicit statements of condemnation for homosexuality do not really mean what they ‘seem’ to say. In reality, he simply asserts that those verses “have nothing to do with homosexuality” without dealing with the actual wording of the statements.
For instance, concerning the verses in Leviticus, he approvingly quotes someone else as saying: “This is not a verse about homosexual love, or being gay. This command is there with all kinds of connotations of adultery, promiscuity, and idol worship from the surrounding nations.” So because there are prohibitions of other things also within the contexts of the Leviticus verses, we can somehow pretend that a man lying with another man as with a woman has nothing to do with homosexual sex??? What kind of reasoning is that?
The Leviticus passages claim to be forbidding the “Israelites” to do certain things which the nations around them do; and homosexual sex is one of those things (as well as sex with animals, heterosexual adultery, sex with a woman while she is in her menstrual period, and idolatry). The very act of homosexual sex is itself forbidden; it simply doesn’t matter whether the homosexual couple claims to desire to have a ‘committed, loving’ relationship. When the act of sex itself is forbidden, the continuing ‘committed’ relationship is also obviously forbidden.
The Torah (Leviticus) only forbids male homosexuality, though; for whatever reason female homosexuality is not mentioned (although females having sex with animals is forbidden). I have been told that the Talmud runs with that and maintains that female homosexuality is perfectly legitimate, because only male homosexuality is specifically forbidden. The Christian ‘apostle’ Paul corrected that oversight in Romans 1, though, where he castigated both male and female ‘unnatural’ acts of homosexuality.
The problem is not that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality – it most certainly does. The problem is a dishonest and lying “Christian” who doesn’t want to accept and obey the Biblical prohibitions, but still wants to convince himself that he is being ‘serious’ about the Bible and accepts its supposed ‘authority’. He agrees with the prohibition against sex with animals, so he feels no need to explain away that prohibition. But he doesn’t agree with the Biblical statements about homosexual sex, so he performs amazing acts of mental contortion to deny that those statements mean what they plainly say. Really, for him the simple assertion that “this has nothing to do with homosexuality” is sufficient; and he can’t understand why other people can’t see that.
The second sentence of Mr. Phillips’ article says this: “Billy Graham’s son is terrified that President Obama and a whole host of us have chucked out our Bibles in order to support marriage equality.” Well, in practice that is precisely what such “Christians” have done (“chucked out our Bibles”); and they ought to have the courage to openly acknowledge the fact instead of trying to hide in dishonesty. Adam and other “Christians” of like mind openly proclaim that they feel no need to practice certain other ‘Biblical’ requirements (thus ‘chucking out their Bibles’ in regard to those ‘laws’); why can’t they just say “yes the Bible does say that homosexuality is a major sin, and worthy of capital punishment; but we don’t give a hoot what the Bible says about it. We consider that ‘outdated’ at best.”
They certainly do this with other things. For instance, in the section dealing with the Leviticus prohibitions, the final paragraph (apparently still approvingly quoting someone else) says: “And if we want to get all Levitical about it, the same laws dictate that shellfish cannot be eaten (there goes Boston clam chowder and Willapa Bay oysters), mixed fabric garments cannot be worn (I guess I need to burn my Portland Timbers jersey), and sex with animals is strictly forbidden (yep, I totally agree).”
There are very few “Christians” today who accept Jesus’ strict teachings about divorce – that divorce is absolutely sinful except in the case of ‘fornication’. Those who divorce, and those who marry divorced people, are guilty of the heinous sin of ‘adultery’.
The Roman Catholic Church, I believe, still pretends to take a strong stance against divorce; but with casuistry worthy of the Jewish Talmudists, they get around it by ‘annulment’ of marriages. Instead of granting a ‘divorce’ to married couples, they just declare that the marriage was invalid from the beginning. Logically, of course, this annulment means that the couple was living in ‘fornication’ during their ‘invalid’ marriage, and any children they have are ‘bastards’. I’m sure they have some ingenious way to avoid that logical conclusion, however.
I’m not going to get into the other passages which Mr. Phillips explains away. The passages produced in Leviticus and Romans are so clear that it doesn’t matter whether the Biblical myth of Lot in Sodom is actually dealing primarily with homosexuality; or whether a couple of Greek words in the New Testament actually refer to homosexuality. While I don’t buy Adam’s explanations, I’ll let him go with them for the sake of the argument. As I said, the other passages are so clear as to not leave any doubt that the Bible explicitly condemns male/male and female/female sex, even though it doesn’t use the word ‘homosexual’ or ‘homosexuality’.
The point of my article is not to defend Biblical injunctions; I hope that is obvious. As I said in my last article: “For an ‘infidel’ such as me, though – who believes that the Bible is at best the teachings of men, and in fact much of it is more worthy of being labeled “doctrines of demons” than “the word of God” – the fact that the Bible teaches something is not at all a favorable recommendation for that teaching.” My point is that one needs to be honest with him/herself and others. Don’t be dishonest about what the Bible teaches in order to defend your own position; acknowledge what the Bible says, and have the courage to say you simply don’t care what it teaches (like I do). Why should anyone accept something just because some Jewish or Christian writers fraudulently put forward their beliefs as being “the Word of God”? We ought to just laugh at their presumption and would-be tyranny, and go on our way.