January 15, 2014

Pro-Gay Theology: A response to Matthew Vines’ YouTube video

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The following material is a response to a talk given by Matthew Vines, a student at Harvard, in which he challenged the traditional interpretations of Scripture regarding homosexuality. The video can be found at http://www.upworthy.com/every-biblical-argument-against-being-gay-debunked-biblically?g=4.

Here are the key Scripture passages that Matthew addresses.

Genesis 2:18-25

I am pleased that Matthew begins with this passage and honestly tries to address the primary contention of traditional interpretation–namely, that heterosexual marriage is the divine plan for sexual relations. It is a straightforward passage:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)

Matthew rightly represents the traditional contention that because this institution of marriage takes place before the Fall, the passage presents what God intends to be “natural.” That is a critical understanding. Once the Fall takes place and sin enters into the human condition, what may seem natural to man does not necessarily equate with what God intends to be right.

Matthew is a bit disingenuous in his claim that the “helper (or help-meet) for him” happens to be a female in this case. He says the helper could be another male for another person. He approaches a clear, straightforward passage like a lawyer looking for loopholes. “Well, it didn’t say you couldn’t have a marriage partner of the same sex.”

But the plain teaching of this passage to scholar and lay person alike, throughout two thousand years of history of Christianity (until the late emergence of pro-gay theology), is that the union between man and woman is presented as the divine institution of marriage. There is and will be no passage throughout the rest of Scripture that will present an alternative pairing of man and man or woman and woman. All references to marriage in both the OT and the NT is of a heterosexual pairing, many of which will refer specifically back to this passage in Genesis.

So the question for pro-gay adherents is this: Why would God have this passage placed at the beginning of Scripture, where it presents a heterosexual marriage as instituted at the time of creation, never have homosexual marriage even mentioned, and yet intend for homosexual marriage to be right and good?

Genesis 19:1-9

Matthew then examines another passage in Genesis.

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.

Matthew’s argument here is that the situation is obviously that of gang homosexual rape. Furthermore, the real sin depicted is that of in hospitality. Ezekiel refers to the sin of Sodom as pride, indulging in luxury, and exhibiting a lack of care for the poor. All this is true, but the context of the Ezekiel passage (chapter 16) is that of depicting Jerusalem and Samaria in terms of prostitutes. In Ezekiel 16:50, God says, “They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.” That abomination was, of course, the gang rape.

Rape, and gang rape, of course are obvious, disgusting sins. And Sodom is held up in the rest of the Scriptures as exhibiting the height of sinfulness. That is why Ezekiel is accusing Jerusalem and Samaria of being like and even worse than Sodom. He is telling them how low they have fallen. That is the same point Jesus makes when he tells Capernaum that it will go easier for the inhabitants of Sodom than for them (Matthew 11:20-24). In other words, chose the worse example to get your point across.

How low did Sodom go? The inhabitants are not merely inhospitable; they will even go as low as homosexual rape, even rejecting the alternative to rape women. Having said all this, I would agree that Genesis 19 is not a passage to make a strong case against homosexuality. I think one can point to it as another Scriptural disapproval, but it does not stand alone by itself against homosexuality.

Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination (18:22).

If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them (20:13).

Matthew’s primary assertion here is that the book of Leviticus is concerned with cultic law. He is correct in pointing out that scholars differentiate OT laws, categorizing them as moral, civil, and cultic, the last of which applies to the religious life of the Jewish people and which distinguishes them from other nations. He then notes that while cultic laws could also be moral laws, the way one knows that they have moral application is that they appear in other parts of the Jewish canon. When cultic laws are violated, they are described as abominations, along with moral laws. So, the mere use of the term “abomination” does not signify the violation of a moral law. Finally, when we come to the NT, there we have a clear declaration that the cultic laws—concerned about what is clean and unclean—are now removed.

Thus, as Matthew’s argument proceeds, one should understand these two verses in Leviticus as falling under cultic laws, which in this case identifies what is considered ceremonially clean and unclean. There is no further condemnation of homosexual acts in other OT Scripture; if there were, that would have moved such acts into the moral realm (because of his assertion that cultic laws are applicable in the moral realm if they appear elsewhere in Scripture).

Again, I appreciate Matthew’s respectful handling of Scripture. But I see two clear difficulties with his conclusion about these two verses. One, though the NT does, in fact, remove the OT restrictions about what may be ritually clean and unclean, it nevertheless continues to uphold the OT prohibitions on sexual relations. There is no indication that any sexual activity prohibited by the OT is now permitted in the NT. If anything, one could easily make the case that the permissible boundaries of sexual behavior are tightened rather than loosened. Two, there is no indication that OT law restricts sexual activity to mere ritual cleanness. Matthew is correct that homosexual behavior is not proscribed elsewhere in the OT, but such an argument as this reaches too far. Neither are sexual relations between father and daughter mentioned beyond Leviticus, nor is anyone advocating for that to be acceptable. The real question is how OT law views sexual relations.

Matthew makes another argument to limit the implications of these verses in Leviticus. He asserts that the Levitical law applied only to the Jewish nation up until the time of Christ. Taking his statement at face value, he must then accept that God–who not only regards same-sex relations as morally acceptable but also created individuals to have such attractions–nevertheless denied to his own covenant people the right to engage in an activity that is good in his eyes. In other words, he was willing to subject his people, who experience same-sex attraction (SSA), to lives of futile aspirations. Matthew eloquently describes the heartache of being denied expression of his sexual orientation. By his own argument, though, he concedes that this is what God did to his own covenant people. It is one thing to not be able to wear clothing of mixed material or be denied bacon. If I understand Matthew correctly, it is hellish to be denied the opportunity to fulfill one’s same-sex attractions.

Yet to accept Matthew’s argument, we are to understand that God subjected his people to such a prohibition only because he thought it was a good ritual for them to observe, in order to distinguish his people from others. We are to further understand that God intended for his covenant people–both the Jewish nation and the Christian church–to have understood all along that homosexuality is good apart from any explicit endorsement from his Scriptures.

Romans 1:18-32

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

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.

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Matthew’s two main points in his examination of this passage in Romans are that “nature” refers to what is accepted custom, and that the violation spoken of by Paul is that of heterosexuals engaging in homosexual behavior. Verses 26 and 27 speak of exchanging and giving up one type of relationship for another.

If we follow his logic and keep in context with the passage, we must also conclude that each violator first started off with a true knowledge of God (21), determined not to honor him (21), and then began worshipping idols of animals (23). God then gave each of them up to impure lusts (24), followed by the exchange of natural to unnatural relations (26-27). But it doesn’t end there. These same individuals go on to be filled with the whole list of sins in verses 29-31.

Matthew’s argument fails here. It is clear that Paul is not presenting the biography of each sinner but rather he is describing mankind in general. His argument, beginning with this passage and running through 3:20, is that everyone stands under the wrath of God. This passage, Romans 1:18-31, presents the status of the Gentile world and demonstrates that it has only spiraled downward over the centuries. Going further, in chapter 2 and the first half of chapter 3, Paul will then address the Jewish people who consider themselves morally superior to the Gentiles. By connecting Romans 1:18-31 with the rest of his argument that stretches into chapter 3, the passage is put into its proper context.

In addition, Matthew’s argument that the sexual relations described in verses 26 and 27 are behaviors that went against one’s own natural affections, we need to note that the men and women described are, in fact, giving in to their passions. They are not forcing themselves to engage in conduct that seems unnatural to them, nor are they described as forcing themselves upon others. They are “consumed with passion for one another.” This is hardly the description of heterosexuals forcing themselves to go against their nature or of a two-party relationship in which one partner is being forced to go against his or her true nature.

Matthew is right that the term translated “nature” is also used of what could be considered customary, and he rightly describes its use in 1 Corinthians 11 where it speaks of hair length for men and women. But, as Matthew makes clear, we must look at context. Just as “nature” in the English language can have different connotations depending on context, it’s the same for the Greek. It is a far stretch to take this Romans passage description of the downward spiral of mankind (or even each individual) and believe that the real horror is that of men and women forsaking the customs of their times.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 1:8-11

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. 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 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:8-11)

Matthew, if I recall correctly, takes the same view that other non-traditionalists have taken with these passages–namely, that the type of homosexual behavior described here is that of prostitution. Indeed, this argument goes on to say that all NT references of homosexuality are about abuses. Supposedly, the Apostle Paul did not know of loving homosexual relationships, of the kind that is being promoted today.

And yet, in the Roman-Greco world of Paul’s time, homosexuality flourished openly, perhaps more so than our own post-Christian culture. For until the spread of Christianity, the culture did not have a strong sexually moral code. Historical work in the last fifty years has demonstrated its widespread practice in all its variations. That Paul, who was regarded as a highly educated man of his time apart from his Jewish education, who was raised in the Gentile environment of Tarsus, and who carried out his ministry throughout the Roman Empire, would not have known of “acceptable” same-sex relations begs disbelief.

At minimum, one can easily make the case that malakoi is used in 1 Corinthians 6:9 to describe men who serve as the feminine partners and arsenokoitai in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 to describe men who serve as the masculine partner. The only question is whether Paul intended to apply the terms across the board to all homosexual activity (rather than, as the non-traditionalists like Matthew do, apply Paul’s references to homosexuality to a more limited context, that of cultic prostitution).

What do you think, given what is known about Paul? Think of what Paul has to say about any sexual activity outside of marriage, regardless of whether the relations are “loving” or not. Do you think Paul thought of marriage as anything but between a man and woman, given that his moral code would be that of an orthodox Jew? Think of what he wrote in the Romans passage.

Consider a further point. Christians have always understood, historically, that the writings of the New Testament were under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as were those of the Old Testament. To hold to a non-traditionalist position forces us to confront the same conundrum we encountered in Matthew’s argument from Leviticus. We have to believe that a practice which is blessed of God, who himself gave SSA as a gift to be enjoyed, nevertheless gives no explicit or implicit blessing in the New Testament. The apostle who wrote that love is the greatest of all and that to love one’s neighbor is to fulfill the law, cannot seem to understand that love could exist within homosexuality; or if he did, he keeps it to himself. To push things further on the grounds of Matthew’s argument, the Holy Spirit cannot figure out a way to get some kind of message across that would lead to its acceptance.

Of course, Matthew and others would say that the message is the one about love. I understand that. Then why doesn’t the New Testament come out and state it? Was Paul afraid? Was Jesus afraid? According to Matthew (correctly, by the way), the NT presents the OT laws on ritual purity to be nullified. Then why, as it does with diet and rituals, not give a single teaching about homosexual relations? Was it not deemed important? Was it considered an obvious acceptable practice? What was God thinking that he would leave his written Word silent on the subject, i.e. silent about its acceptability? The silence is deafening.

The place of the Fall 

Matthew makes reference to traditional teaching about the place of the Fall, but he does not (understandably) take time to consider it at any depth. But understanding the Fall is key to the whole subject of human behavior and what is considered acceptable.

From the Fall onward, Scripture chronicles the disease of sin that has set itself in the nature of man. Regarding sins of a sexual nature, there is no longer a natural sense of monogamy. Polygamy becomes a common and acceptable expression of marriage. Even in marriage, a man is expected to keep concubines and sleep with prostitutes (see the example of Judah in Genesis 38). Chastity, though it remains an ideal to honor, is no longer considered a realistic way of life for a man. While chastity before marriage has never been considered natural for a man outside of the Judaic-Christian heritage, in our post-Christian society, it is not considered natural for male or female. This is the result of the Fall. Sex became separated from marriage–marriage between one man and one woman–as taught in Genesis 2.

How does human society handle sin? It can seek to restrain sin with laws, or it can seek to accommodate sin by normalizing it. The societies of biblical times outside of the Judaic-Christian culture have always normalized sin, as does our post-Christian society today. Thus, one who is not sexually active is considered abnormal, especially when he or she will not participate in loving sexual relations. It is normal and healthy to engage in sex that is loving in whatever sense it is described. And it does not make sense to non-Christians to see Christians struggle to remain chaste. Why, they wonder, would it be considered wrong to do something that, at worse, brings a moment of enjoyment and fulfillment? Why deny what is a natural feeling and need?

This is what the Fall has done. Once man and woman began to hide themselves from God; once God evicted them from his presence and they went on their own way, their descendants moved further and further away from true knowledge of God and reversed the perception of what is natural. Or to put in another way, instead of examining and judging the rightness of their own feelings, they merely gave approval to their feelings, regarding them as natural, i.e. good in the eyes of God (in whatever way they regard him).

All societies and individuals still retain a sense of a moral code. In the best of societies, especially those that have been influenced by the Christian faith, that code is generally a version of Jesus’ own teaching that the greatest commandment is to love God and to love one’s neighbor. As you know, he also taught the golden rule–do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It is to this code where advocates for homosexuality appeal.

I think it is indeed their strongest argument. It certainly disarms the arguments that equate SSA with aggressive sins such as murder, lying, and violent sex. How can loving relationships, regardless of sexual orientation, be wrong? That is a powerful argument–too powerful actually, at least for the Christian.

For it is the same argument that polygamists make. It is the same argument that the unmarried make. It is the same argument that those caught in a loveless marriage make (which they are trapped in) when they find a love outside of marriage. It is the same argument that incest advocates make. (Did you know that consensual incest between adults is legal in China, France, Israel, the Ivory Coast, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, and Turkey?) Without divine injunctions as to what is and what is not morally acceptable, one can only conclude that “love” trumps all restrictions because those restrictions are merely seen as cultural taboos.

Every argument that Matthew makes, as every other pro-gay advocate has argued, as to why homosexuality should now be acceptable by the church; and every attempt to explain a biblical text that labels homosexual behavior as unacceptable and should not be applied to loving same-sex relations is the same argument that can be used to remove most biblical sexual restraints. The reason Scripture gives laws as to what is and what is not acceptable sexual activity, and the reason we need Scripture for guidance is that what seems natural and good to us does not always equate with what is natural and good in God’s sight. That is what the Fall is all about.

We cannot trust our instinct. We cannot determine from our feelings what was natural before the Fall. Consider why it is that it is only in an increasingly post-Christian world that Christians and Jews are reconstructing how to interpret what the Scriptures have to say. This is not like the Reformation in which Christians reclaimed what had grown dormant in the church. What is taking place today is that the non-Christian world (which grows increasingly pagan) is forcing Christians like Matthew (and you) to accept desires and behaviors that Scripture gives no warrant to deem as good.

On the one hand, Matthew keeps emphasizing the point of reading scripture in context. But with the other hand, he then deconstructs context, isolating each passage to be viewed alone without acknowledging the context of Scripture as a whole. Why? Because he has given in to the fallen world’s worldview as to what is true, good and acceptable. That is the result of the Fall, and even regenerate Christians continue to yield to the ways of the world.

In studying the subject of common grace, I see how something which is so good can still be used in a post-Fall world for deception. How so? Common grace teaches that God gives blessings indiscriminately to the believer and unbeliever alike. Love is a common grace gift, which includes the blessings of loving relationships, even relationships outside of God’s intended design. The reason that living together before and outside of marriage is so popular is that it is pleasant. The non-Christian reasons that the biblical prohibition of sex outside of traditional marriage must be wrong, because they see people are happy for engaging in it. How then can it be wrong?

In the same way, the pro-gay argument comes down to one foundation: that of experience. See how same-sex couples can be happy? See how they can love? How can such love be wrong?

For the Christian, the answer never lies only in experience–how one feels or what happens to a person–but rather on what God’s Word teaches. And by the way, Scripture reveals, as does experience, that those who do not love can also feel happy and receive good things. For the Christian, then, love–important as it is–does not cover the whole story. Love–right love–also is concerned with holiness, with purity, with being right before the Lord. The expression and experience of that kind of love is not identified by human feelings but by what God reveals in his Word.

The place of the Cross

It is to the cross that we must come whenever we are deliberating on what is acceptable behavior. Matthew is resentful of heterosexuals telling him that he must bear his cross of denying to himself what they may freely enjoy. That is understandable. I would feel the same way.

But anyone identifying himself as a follower of Jesus Christ must look at his own life in sight of the cross that Jesus bore for us. After all, Christianity is not about a system of rules and doctrines. It is about good news, about the gospel, which tells us of the sacrifice made by God to win us to himself.

God the Son died on a cross. “Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

What do we do with that, with what our Lord had to do to become our Savior? Do we determine what crosses we will and will not bear?

But this is not about duty. It is everything about love. Do we love Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for us? Do we? Do we measure how meaningful or happy our life is according to what temporal blessings we may find or according to the costly mercy shown to us on the cross? This is not about guilt–Jesus died for me and now I will feel guilty if I don’t bear my own cross. This is about thanksgiving, about joy and peace that comes from knowing that I am forgiven, that I am accepted without strings as a child of my Father. It is about realizing that nothing compares to these riches.

Matthew sees two alternatives for himself–fulfill his SSA desires to allow him to have the homosexual version of a family and thus be happy, or deny his desires and live a lonely life. I want to look at those alternatives on two levels.

First, are those really the options for Christians–whether one has heterosexual attractions or same-sex attractions? Is fulfilling the desire for a family through marriage and having children the key to happiness, and not to have it is to live a lonely life? What then am I to tell the heterosexual singles who come to me for counsel, expressing the same sorrow as Matthew? Do I just comfort them with the acknowledgement that theirs is a lonely life? That they must simply look at it as a cross to bear, maybe for the rest of their life if they never marry?

Or should I lead them to the love that they may claim which is infinitely more superior than that of sexual love? Because, after all, it does boil down to sex. Why should a single person not become part of a family? We have a friend who is a single woman who adopted a son. She also has biological family, as well as friends who are closer than family. (There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24). I don’t think she considers her life a cross to bear. I think that she has taken the love of Christ shown to her and let it flow out so that her life is enriching both to herself and to others.

That is what happens for a Christian who looks to the cross. She doesn’t focus on what she doesn’t have. She is moved to see the glorious blessings she does possess and then focuses on how she will honor the one who died for her. She wanted a family. No one proposed. So she made a family in a godly way. The only thing that she has denies herself is sex. For, again, that is the only thing that differentiates romantic love and companion love–sexual passion. What every married couple knows is that what takes over a marriage through the years is companionship. Sexual satisfaction is an aspect, but only an aspect–not the core of the marital relationship.

The cross to bear for the single Christian, whatever their sexual attractions may be, is not denial of family or companionship, but sex. It is a hard cross to bear, no doubt. But don’t take it beyond what it is. It is the world, not God, that has turned sex into the all-important fulfillment of life.

Now go back to the cross–the very real cross that bore our Savior. See what our Savior bore for us–not a cross, but our guilt; not a denial of pleasure but the just wrath of God. Why would he do so? Because God loves us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10). The Father gave his Son; the Son gave his life. How then can we resent giving up whatever his gracious hand brings into our life?

Second, Matthew makes the assumption that nothing can be done about SSA. It is fruitless to seek fulfilling relationships, either with the same-sex because of temptation or with the opposite sex because of lack of attraction. Is that true? I am not suggesting that all homosexuals can reorient to heterosexual attraction, but it is fatalistic to assume nothing can change. I just put down a book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, the story of a lesbian who chaired the department of feminist studies at Syracuse University. This woman, who never struggled about her sexuality, quite content as a lesbian, nevertheless ended up happily married to a man. Is she someone who had really suppressed her true heterosexual nature and finally it came out? Or is she someone who, after coming to a knowledge of the gospel of Christ, found her understanding changed about what is good before God, and as she learned she gave herself over to a progression of change in her attractions and feelings?

I know Christian’s with SSA who have remained single, and some who have married opposite-sex partners. Whether single or married, they have found fulfilling relationships either with friends or spouses. I don’t mean to make the whole matter simplistic, but I do question the fatalistic assumptions made by Matthew and those in his camp. There are many testimonies of individuals who feared committing themselves to Christ because they did not believe they could control whatever their desires might be, only to find Christ’s Spirit doing the change in them.

The strongest argument made by same-sex proponents is that homosexuals can possess as strong a self-giving love as heterosexuals. And the argument is reinforced by Christians with SSA by their willingness to be bound by the same biblical restrictions as heterosexuals; that is, committed, monogamous marriage. The only difference is in who they are sexually attracted to, something which they do not control. That is a strong argument, and no doubt that is what drives sincere Christians to re-interpret otherwise clear scriptural teaching.

So, what of the argument? For me, the argument has a foundational error: It is an argument that is selective in application. Polygamists and incest practitioners make the same argument. Couples who choose to live together make the same argument. Individuals trapped in loveless and abusive marriages make the same argument in explaining their affairs. They have fallen in love, and their love is self-giving, enriching, life-affirming and mutually beneficial. What could be wrong with that?

Christians, however, must concede that Scripture sets up laws and boundaries that do not take into account the natural love-feelings of individuals. It does so, not because it does not recognize love but, again, because the Fall blinds us to what love really involves. Love does fulfill the law, but it is the law that reveals what love involves. And because we have inherited the consequences of the Fall, what feels like love and what is love do not go hand in hand.

Does not the divorce rate, the prevalence of physical and emotional abuse, and the many more loveless marriages that once began with deep-felt love in heterosexual marriages demonstrate how little we humans understand true love? To simply say that in cases where homosexuals really love one another, then it must be good–how strong is such an argument to make us doubt the teaching of Scripture?

In the end, let the cross be your focal point for understanding true love–the love that God has for you; the love of Christ marked by real sacrifice; the love that calls for sacrifice from us; the love that makes any sacrifice seem as nothing before the love of God.

This post was written by a guest writer, Marion Clark, Assistant Pastor of Lake Oconee Presbyterian Church.

Updated 5.29.2017

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