By Ed Vitagliano
| AFA Journal News Editor
In 2003 the Episcopal Church consecrated as bishop of New Hampshire
an openly homosexual man, triggering an all-out intra-denominational
war between conservatives and liberals that mirrors conflicts in
other Protestant churches.
The action on the part of the 2.4-million-member branch of the worldwide
Anglican community highlighted the distinctly different approaches
to Scripture taken by both sides of the conflict.
Conservatives argued that the Scripture is as clear on the subject
of homosexuality as it can possibly be.
Advocates for the acceptance of homosexuality within the church
responded by saying that things are not as simple as they appear.
For example, presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, head of the Episcopal
Church, said, Homosexuality, as we understand it as an orientation,
is not mentioned in the Bible.
with the Law
Not mentioned in the Bible? There could hardly be a clearer passage
than the plain directive of Leviticus 18:22: You shall not
lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.
(See also Lev. 20:13.)
How could an activist possibly evade the condemnation inherent within
such a verse?
Most claim that the Levitical condemnation of homosexuality was
only meant to keep Israel separate from the surrounding nations
and thus did not reflect Gods universal disapproval
of such activity.
The point is that The Holiness Code of Leviticus prohibits
male same-sex acts for religious reasons, not for sexual reasons,
said Catholic priest Daniel Helminiak in What the Bible Really
Says About Homosexuality. The concern is to keep Israel
distinct from the Gentiles.
In their excellent book, The Same Sex Controversy, James
R. White and Jeffrey D. Niell disagree with this argument, insisting
that Leviticus codifies for Israel how God felt about homosexuality
in a universal sense. The proof? The Lord had pronounced judgment
upon the non-Jewish inhabitants of the Promised Land for committing
these very same sins. Because the Canaanite nations had done
all these abominations, the inhabitants had defiled the land
(Lev. 18:25, 27), and were to be expelled.
[T]hese were nations that did not have the Law of God given
to them on tablets of stone, yet God still held them responsible
for their immoral behavior, White and Niell argue. Unquestionably,
Gods prohibition of homosexuality wasnt only a Jewish
matter it was something that transcended ethnic boundaries.
Moreover, Helminiaks argument proves too much. If the Levitical
condemnation of homosexuality does not apply to all men everywhere,
what about the other sins in Leviticus such as adultery,
bestiality, incest, and prostitution?
Clearly, White and Niell suggest, such practices are immoral
and reprehensible wherever they may occur, whatever the address
or the locale.
In their pro-homosexual tome, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?
Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Mollenkott also try to undercut the
force of Leviticus by noting that other (non-sexual) prohibitions
of the Law are no longer practiced by Christians. They state: Consistency
and fairness would seem to dictate that if the Holiness Code is
to be invoked against twentieth-century homosexuals, it should likewise
be invoked against such common practices as eating rare steak, wearing
mixed fabrics, and having marital intercourse during the menstrual
But Levitical laws regarding diet, for example, are no longer observed
because God, in His own Word, has repealed them, White
and Niell said. Where in the Bible has God abolished the prohibition
against homosexuality? Nowhere!
Some activists declare that the references to homosexuality in the
Mosaic Law are only prohibitions against sexual acts committed in
the context of idolatry and the temple prostitution that was rampant
in pagan nations.
Ex-gay Joe Dallas, founder of Genesis Counseling and the author
of three books on homosexuality, discounts such arguments. If
the practices in Leviticus 18 and 20 are condemned only because
of their association with idolatry, then it logically follows they
would be permissible if they were committed apart from idolatry,
he said. That would mean incest, adultery, bestiality and
child sacrifice (all of which are listed in these chapters) are
only condemned when associated with idolatry; otherwise, they are
allowable. No serious reader of these passages could accept such
only words that count?
Being able to somehow by-pass the Levitical code is extraordinarily
important for homosexual advocates, since its condemnation of homosexual
activity is so clear. It is not surprising, then, to find activists
arguing that, since we are no longer under Law but under grace,
the only words that matter are those of the New Testament.
For example, they ask, what did Jesus say about this issue? Keith
Boykin, former executive director of the National Black Lesbian
and Gay Leadership Forum and author of One More River to Cross:
Black and Gay in America, said the truth is that Jesus
Christ said nothing negative about homosexuality.
Did Jesus ever mention homosexuality? We can never know the answer
to that question. All we do know is what statements the Bible records
Jesus as saying. And it is true that, in the New Testament, Jesus
does not mention homosexuality.
However, this is an argument from silence. Simply because Jesus
did not condemn homosexuality does not mean He approved of it. Jesus
never mentions rape or incest, either, yet that does not mean He
approved of those sins.
In any case, the New Testament as a whole does address homosexuality.
The apostle Paul, the author of almost half of the New Testament,
explicitly mentions homosexuality in three passages:1 Corinthians
6:9; Romans 1:26-28; and 1 Timothy 1:10.
In the latter two texts, for example, the apostle condemns homosexuals
(the Greek word arsenokoitai) along with thieves,
fornicators and others declaring that they are lawless
and rebellious, and will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Pro-homosexual activists, however, try to deflect the force of Pauls
condemnation away from modern-day homosexuality, claiming that arsenokoitai
refers to abusive homosexuals, pederasts (adult men who have sex
with pubescent boys) or homosexual prostitutes.
The biblical writers never contemplated a form of homosexuality
in which loving, monogamous and faithful persons sought to live
out the implications of the Gospel with as much fidelity to it as
any heterosexual believer, said homosexual Rev. Peter J. Gomes,
the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard, in his book,
The Good Book: Reading the Bible With Heart and Mind. All
they knew of homosexuality was prostitution, pederasty, lasciviousness
To the contrary, as James B. De Young argues in Homosexuality:
Contemporary claims examined in light of the Bible and other ancient
literature and law, the ancient world was very aware of loving,
monogamous and faithful homosexual relationships. He cites
Platos Symposium, for example, which speaks of homosexuals
who are wondrously thrilled with affection and intimacy and
love, and are hardly to be induced to leave each others side
for a single moment.
Surely, then, the New Testament writers especially a well-educated
man like Paul would have known that homosexuality consisted
of more than pederasty or male prostitution.
But did Paul intend his readers to understand arsenokoitai in this
manner i.e., to denote the entire breadth of homosexual feelings
Absolutely, argues De Young, stating that the apostles use
of arsenokoitai suggests that Paul had in mind the
prohibition of adult homosexuality in Leviticus. His reason?
Arsenokoitai, which literally means male [sexual] beds,
is most likely an allusion by Paul to the Greek translations of
Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, the latter of which is translated, If
there is a man [arsenos] who lies with [koiten] a man as those who
lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act.
Like Leviticus 18:22, Paul in these two New Testament passages does
not differentiate between types of homosexuality (loving, non-loving;
committed, uncommitted; caring, abusive), but puts the condemnation
squarely on the same-sex act. Whatever the motivation, and however
much two men or two women may claim to love each other, Paul says
they are forbidden to have sexual intercourse.
This is also true about Pauls clearest statement on the subject,
Romans 1:26, 27: For this reason God gave them over to degrading
passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that
which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the
natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward
one another, men with men committing indecent acts
Amazingly, activists claim that Paul is not condemning natural homosexuals
(that is, men and women who are homosexual by nature), but heterosexuals
who experiment with homosexual activities out of lust.
The whole point of Romans 1, in fact, is to stigmatize persons
who have rejected their [sexual] calling, gotten off the true path
they were once on, said the late John Boswell in Christianity,
Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality.
However, as White and Niell state, in Romans 1 the focus is upon
the willful twisting of Gods truth, and the resultant judicial
giving over of men to the results of their own refusal
to worship Him and acknowledge Him.
In other words, rejecting God as Creator results in the rejection
of the male-female created order. Just as such sinners sometimes
willfully exchange God for idols, they also sometimes willfully
exchange opposite gender sexuality for same-sex intercourse.
As confusing as homosexual advocates try to make this issue, Bible-believing
Christians had better get used to such verbal sleight-of-hand. And
they had better prepare themselves to answer it, because the arguments
of gay advocates are creeping into virtually every denomination.
Of course, Christians could start by familiarizing themselves with
another verse in 1 Corinthians 6. In verse 11 Paul concludes his
list of sins which includes homosexuality with a statement
of hope: And such were some of you; but you were washed, but
you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord
Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.