I recently wrote an article about Jennifer Knapp coming out of the closet and revealing herself to have been engaged in a homosexual relationship with another woman for the better part of a decade. Somewhat surprisingly, I received a comment from a woman who clearly disagreed with the post, and made her feelings known in the comments section. As it were, I want to break that down a bit and make a few notes on the most salient points. Though as a disclaimer, while the post was written by our friend Irisdawm and presented as her own thoughts- It’s not. The thing was copied and pasted from several sources and are not original to her, though I don’t mind terribly, as it’s still not difficult to unpack.
Early on I talked about how homosexual acts were abominable. She countered with the fact that though Leviticus says homosexuality is an abomination, it also says that you shouldn’t plant two different seeds in the same hole, and that it is an abomination to eat a rabbit. Hopefully someone can help me out here, but I’ve never even heard of a scripture that forbids the planting of multiple seeds, and so if someone could find the reference [Irisdawn] I would be more than happy. As for the rabbit- this is part of the cacophony known as Old Testament dietary laws. You can thrown in carrion creatures, bats, mice, ostriches, cats, dogs etc in that list as well, as these were all forbidden to be consumed. In short- while were are not sure why exactly these were forbidden, we know that they were, and that God had a purpose for these. Most were used as a means of keeping the Jews separate from other people and cultures, as a way of maintaining their unique identities. They were a few dietary restrictions implemented at a particular time, for a particular length of time, for a particular people, for a particular purpose, and were repealed in the New Testament revelation as no longer binding. On the flip side you have something like homosexuality. The references to this being wicked spans the entirety of the Bible, has no restrictions,qualifiers or restraints, and is reinforced in the New Testament revelation with even stronger language than in the Old Testament.As it were, it really is a false dichotomy to try to play them off each other.
She later says, speaking about the Levitical references; “When the term abomination is used in the Hebrew bible, it is always used to address a ritual wrong. It is never used to refer to something innately immoral. That’s not true even a little bit. A simple example is found in Leviticus 18, where we are given a long list of perversions and abominations. We are told that the abominations include; having sex with a close relative, having sex with your mother, having sex with your step mother, having sex with your sister, having sex with your step-sister, having sex with your grandchildren, having sex with your aunt, having sex with your sister in law, having sex with your daughter in law, having sex with a woman and her daughter, having sex with a person of the same sex, having sex with a rival wife, having sex with your neighbours wife, having sex with animals, sacrificing your children to other gods. The scriptures flat out say “For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people.” So that’s one thing. Are we to say that these things are not innately immoral, but rather are simply ritual issues? That these are not really abominations, but were only for that time, and that we can engage in any of those actions because we’re not bound by “Irrelevant Old Testament Ritual Morality” ? Ridiculous. The second point is quite salient; are we to believe that all those things are wicked and vile and harmful to the soul, but that the one exception was having sex with the same sex. That that one is the exception. That everything else is terrible and immoral and sinful, but that one things squished between all the rest- that one is actually good and beautiful and glorious and pleasing to God and is part of his ideal for humanity?
The next chunk of space is dedicated to trying to explain away Romans 1. I suppose I should say that just because the translators of the NIV chose to use the word perverts as part of their dynamic translation, means very little. Every Literal and Formal translation of the Bible has some variation of “homosexual offenders.” Not only that, but the Greek “arsenokoitai” is still the same in both, so that point is really a non-issue. I find the shenanigans being played with the Greek meaning to be typical, so I won’t object on that point. Irisdawn concludes that the homosexual activity that Paul was talking about was homosexual activity between married men who had a boy on the side with which they had sex with. She also states that “there is in fact another word for homosexuality and homosexual acts, paiderasste. If Paul’s intent was to condemn committed and loving relationships, this would have been a much better choice of words. His audience was not educated, so to use a rare word like arsenokoitai when he could have used the much more commonly known paiderasste just doesn’t add up.”
Ironically enough, she has it quite backwards. It should be noted that yes, Paul indeed coined the arsenokoitai, but that shouldn’t bother us a bit. In fact, we should rejoice over it. Paul coined over 150 terms in the New Testament, and so to say that he invented a word isn’t an argument, especially when we see how he formed it. Paul used the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. The Greek translation of the Leviticus passages condemns a man [arseno] lying with [koitai] another man [arseno]. Paul joins these two words together into a neologism, a new word, and thus he condemns in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy what was condemned in Leviticus. It’s not remarkable at all when we see it in place. The two verses which condemn homosexual activity are as follows;
meta arsenos ou koimethese koitai gyniakos
hos an koimethe meta arsenos koitai gynaikos
When Paul adopted the term arsenokoite, he took it directly from the Levitical passages-in the Greek translation- forbidding homosexual behavior. The meaning, then, could not be clearer: Though the term is unique to Paul, it refers specifically to homosexual behavior. As for the argument about paiderastia being the better and more appropriate word, well, from what I can tell it doesn’t mean homosexual as in two adults in a same-sex relationship. Rather, it carries the meaning of “lover of boys.” It is a particular word, with a particular meaning– “one who sodomizes boy children”. Look at the etymology. Break it down. Paidos means child or boy and Erastes/ Erastai means love or lover. From this we get English words pederast and pedophile and pedophilia.
I’m not concerned with his whole “culture argument” that she’s bringing to the table-easily enough understood, but I am intrigued by this statement “You have to admit that there are at least some passages that either a) don’t apply today; b) still apply but don’t mean what they seem to mean on the surface; or c) are overruled by other passages or biblical themes.” Through a proper reading of scripture, employing proper foundational hermeneutics and the historical, grammatical method, this is not especially hard to do. Are there some things which don’t apply to us today? sure- the need for circumcision being one of them. Some passages we can have legitimate disagreements on [such as eschatological meanderings] but there are no passages that are overruled or rendered false by other passages and verses. That’s not how it works. We reconcile the Word to itself, not to our own subjectivity.
The example with Tom and Sam is a bit laughable to me and breaks down easy enough. The problem isn’t with the perception, but with the act itself. If homosexuality is indeed a sin [and absent hermeneutical gymnastics and desperate arguments to the contrary it indeed is sinful] then that make all the difference if such a sexual practice is in play. If you reverse it and plug “fornicating with my sister” instead of the gay angle, saying ” she’s not my sister, but my sister in Christ”, do we say that just because we misunderstood the first part, that the latter of having sex with one’s sister was not wicked? That it was just a matter of perceptions? I hope not.
Lastly, she missed the point of the “know them by their fruits”. Right now the end result of heterosexual marriages is a devastatingly high divorce rate, but do we say that heterosexual marriages are bearing bad fruit? No. I don’t know any Christ-centred gay couple, as I do not believe such a thing exists. Any such union is the result of a terrible turning away from God and a wilful disobedience to the word of God. These people are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. And because God gave people feelings and emotions and intellect, they may love each other, insomuch as they can understand it. They may enjoy each other’s company and laugh a lot and adopt a child and raise him as best as they can and grow old together and help the community and be roles models and finally die and be eulogized and beloved by thousands. You can look at the life of a gay couple and see genuine care and affection and joy present there, but they will die absent Christ and they will die in their defiant, unrepentant sins. The same arguments you make for the gay couple having a wonderful relationship in Christ can be made for the polygamous, or for the couple who have left their spouse and are now shacking up. You can’t. God does not reward idolatry, open rebellion and cosmic treason with blessings.
I don’t know why we’re playing this game where what the Bible says doesn’t matter, and where subjective feelings are the plumbline by which we measure if something is good and holy. Because I don’t base my views on that, but on the revealed word of God. We can mess around with Paul a bit, but let’s not be ignorant here. You can say “Oh, it wasn’t loving homosexuality that Paul was condemning, it was the typical, common, every-day pedophile relationship” but that won’t explain why we read in Romans 1 “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 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 themselves the due penalty for their error.” If it was just your typical Greek gay romps, then why would he include the women? Are we to believe that it was common for older women to be having sex with young girls and taking them as lovers? Try finding that anywhere in ancient literature. As well, are we to believe that Paul was unfamiliar with Leviticus 18 and 20, which are clearly not just ritualized sins? Are we to believe that Paul was not in agreement with Jesus, who said “Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” [Matt. 5] which indicated His agreement with all moral laws of the Mosaic Law including the laws prohibiting homosexuality. Or how about his statements on marriage and divorce in Matthew 5 and 19 which revealed His agreement with the definition of marriage as a lawful bond between a man and woman for life, and affirming that that was God’s plan for creation?
Not just the bible, but how about the witness of the early church fathers? You have comments and writings from men like Justin Martyr, Clement of Rome, Aristides, Theophilus, Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Novation, Cyprian of Carthage, Eusebius, John Chrysostom, Basil the great, Augustine, Clearly condemning it. Pick your poison- And that’s just in the first 400n years. Look, there really isn’t any question about what the Bible and 1900 years of Historical Judeo-Christian orthodoxy has taught and believed concerning homosexuality. The only question to answer is “Do I believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, or do I reject those teaching with which I disagree with?” Do I acquiesce to the authority of the word, written plainly, or do I treat it as toilet paper to be discarded when it makes me uncomfortable? That’s it. That’s what it comes down to. I’m not some raging homophobic who wants all gays to go to hell. Not at all. I love homosexuals, and my heart goes out to anyone trapped in sexual sin. I want them to come to church, and be washed and sanctified and justified. I want them to be delivered from their bondage to this, trusting and having faith in the Father even through this trial and burden that they must bear- so that God might be glorified and praised.
What I desire to be is faithful to the scriptures, and if that means that I have to take a stand against this and dismantle silly arguments about abominations and neologisms and everything else, then I’m more than game.