Marriage, Morality, Sexuality, The Law

Homosexuality and the Bible: Reflecting on the Discussion by Rob Bell & Andrew Wilson

Link to YouTube video in the post

Test Every Word From Every Teacher

Christian teachers like Rob Bell have a big influence on the body of Christ, and so their public views and teachings ought to be placed under greater scrutiny. Also, teachers in the body of Christ should welcome the examination of what they teach, for all see through a glass dimly (1 Cor. 13:12). Furthermore, it is praiseworthy and commanded to test what one gets taught. Paul commended the Berean Jews when he said that they “were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11 NIV). And John says, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1 NIV).

Faulty Equivalences

So, despite Rob Bell’s frustration during the discussion at focus being put on homosexuality and not on other issues, it’s appropriate what he advocates gets scrutinized. Furthermore, his claim that undue focus gets given to this topic is unreasonable, as is the red herring of making a topic like “worry” of equivalent relevance. For, though “worry,” like many other issues, is a problem, no one in the body of Christ embraces it as a way of life, and all agree on its remedy. No one argues that “worry” is natural and that we should allow people to happily live in “worry” if that is what they are comfortable doing. However, when it comes to homosexuality, that is what people like Rob Bell are arguing, and a schism in opinion has come about that needs attention. And, yes, all sin is evil, but it is evident from the entire scope of Scripture that certain sins are more heinous than others.

Faulty Leverage

Not only does Rob Bell try to bolster his right to being frustrated by using false equivalences, but he also undermines the issue of homosexuality and the word of God by suggesting that they talk on topics that Jesus spoke about, like “worry.” He implies issues addressed by Jesus are weightier than those like homosexuality which, according to him, Jesus never addressed. Yet, are we to assume, because Jesus didn’t specifically address the issues of incest and bestiality, that he diminished the need to discuss these evil practices? And what if these get embraced by some in the body of Christ? So why not homosexuality which is growing in prevalence and acceptance despite being, up until recently, unanimously understood by the entire Church as sinful?

Using Jesus’ silence on any topic is faulty leverage, for Jesus said, “Man shall . . . live . . . on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4 NIV). He did not place His words above the moral law in the Old Testament. And, it would have been illogical and absurd had He said anything to nullify what His apostles would be inspired to write.

Yet, this is a common defense used by those who advocate for homosexuality, like Tony Campolo in “Christianity and Homosexuality – Tony Campolo” (14:20), who distinguishes between the authority of Jesus’ words or, in this case, His apparent silence on the topic, from God’s word through Paul in Romans. Ironically, Tony Campolo began his talk by saying that “the Spirit of God infused the authors so that what they wrote became an infallible guide to faith and practice” (00:52). Consequently, he should know that Paul’s teaching on homosexuality in Romans Chapter 1 is equally God’s word and New Testament revelation. While I found his stories heart-wrenching and wholeheartedly agree that love is the only approach, we must be careful for, just as he did with Peter, Satan will target our feelings to have us “seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (Matt. 16:23 NLT).

Faulty Foundation

Rob Bell’s frustration appears to be a deflection by someone who has already decided to make light of what he does not consider a grave topic. In addition, it helps him hide from his lack of a helpful and robust hermeneutic that can thoroughly justify his position, which is a reasonable expectation of a teacher in the body of Christ who holds to such an opinion. Instead, he had not yet worked out what in Leviticus is timeless and what is not, limiting his ability to understand Jesus’ reference to “sexual immorality.”

In the end, Rob Bell did not offer a clear breakdown of his hermeneutics or of the scholars he mentioned. What he said seemed flakey and unable to withstand what Andrew Wilson was asking. His view on homosexuality, built upon little more than smatterings of scholarship and put together piece-meal, crumbles under the first bit of rigorous testing. And, rather than the word of God, his view is undergirded by experience, which is never a sure foundation.

Are Christians supposed to be appeased by this sort of defense? Are we supposed to acquiesce to his retorts that patronize and don’t offer substance, and simply change the topic? No, for we are to get to the bottom of teachings. Also, as a reminder, “you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1 NIV). Therefore, everyone should welcome a loving discussion like this so that our teaching can be pruned and changed if necessary.

Was Jesus Silent on Homosexuality?

In Matthew 15:19, Jesus lists “adultery” apart from “sexual immorality” by saying, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person” (ESV). However, in Matt. 5:32, He most assuredly included it when He said, “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (ESV).

Should only “adultery” be considered “sexual immorality” because that’s the only one Jesus specifically addressed? No! Jesus and His Jewish audience understood “sexual immorality” as defined in Leviticus, namely, homosexuality (Lev. 18:22), pedophilia (Lev. 18:23), bestiality (Lev. 18:23), incest (Lev. 20:17), or other forbidden familial relations (Lev. 20:11,12). Jesus, however, listed “adultery” separately from “sexual immorality” in Matthew 15:19. That leaves incest, other forbidden familial relations, bestiality, and homosexuality that fall under his reference to “sexual immorality.” Therefore, one cannot say that He didn’t deal with sins like homosexuality simply because he didn’t specifically name them. On that basis, one could argue for any sexual sins other than “adultery” to be excluded.

Jesus lived by “every word” and would have understood that homosexuality (Lev. 18:21) was one of the sins of “sexual immorality.” He also understood the ramifications of failing to live by every word, hence His warning.

Rob Morley

Sources:

Premier On Demand. (n.d.). Rob Bell and Andrew Wilson // Homosexuality & The Bible // Unbelievable? [YouTube Channel]. YouTube.

Suncrest United Methodist Church. (n.d.). Christianity and Homosexuality – Tony Campolo. [YouTube Channel]. YouTube.

Faith, Healing and Miracles, Health, The Law

A Faith-Based Approach to the Coronavirus

Light in a Dark Time

We have an opportunity to be the light in a dark time. Some Christians believe their faith will protect them from the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are complaining at our governments for passing laws to hinder our movements. Even if you have lots of faith and are feeling fine, you could still be carrying the virus without your knowledge. Faith, which comes from God’s word, teaches us how to behave when there is a contagious disease. Leviticus and Deuteronomy have many verses dedicated to clean and unclean things.

Faith in God’s Word

God’s people were given instructions that they had to obey concerning contaminants on their bodies, clothes, vessels, and walls of their homes. There were many instructions for washing, but those things that couldn’t be saved were broken or burned. People who were deemed unclean for different reasons were to distance themselves for a time. If the person had a contagious disease, they were sent outside of the camp and the priest had to visit that person outside of the camp to determine if they were still contagious or not.

Undeniably, washing and distancing are biblical practices, so let us spread love and not germs.

Tina Morley

Justice & Government

Government has a Mandate, and God has the Means

Here are some questions that we occasionally (maybe every 4 years) grapple with: Who to vote for? What are the candidates’ views on key issues? What are my views on these issues? And, most importantly, what is God’s mind on these things?

What!? God’s mind!? Who can know that? Fortunately for us, God’s views, His own laws, aren’t hidden mysteries, but have been left for us in His word, the Bible.

When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they were to become a self-governing nation and, in the light of that, God gave them His laws in the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. These laws covered all aspects of society and when Israel adhered to them they prospered. However, when these were dismissed (or misinterpreted) they struggled. Also, these same laws have had an influence in many nations in the creation of their own laws.

Various interpretations can be a problem at times, but this shouldn’t make us shy away from engaging with God’s word to discover the truth. While these disputes have their own challenges, at least we are looking in the right place. In Phil. 3:15 we have an example of how Paul accommodated believers holding different views where he says, “…if in anything you think otherwise, God will (in time) reveal that also to you.”

Imagine arriving at a stadium with a friend to see a game. You may have a dispute over which entrance your tickets are instructing you to use, but that won’t make you dismiss the tickets as your reference. In this case, a wrong interpretation just means a longer walk and possibly missing some of the game. Sadly, Christians can have a negative influence on society with awful consequences through their bad interpretation of God’s word or ignorance of it.

So, studying God’s word remains an excellent means for Christians to get to know God’s mindset and, in turn, influence society. As the salt and light of this world, Christians need to appropriately share God’s ideas in the arenas where they have direct and indirect influence. Sometimes, like the boy with the loaves and the fish, a small influence can be multiplied to affect a multitude.

We can be encouraged that many of the laws that exist throughout the world already reflect God’s laws. Man, despite his sinful nature and disregard for God, still has something of a moral compass in him. Also, while we might not be able to enjoy a government that fully embraces God’s laws as it ought to, nevertheless we can be an influence for positive change.

All we can do is bring the truth to the table. How society responds in making a government that reflects God’s laws or not is up to them. Having said that, it remains our responsibility as Christian’s to direct people toward the ideal of a government that reflects all of God’s laws.

Today, many are thankful for those who previously stood for change to make their lives a better experience. Slaves, various races, females, children and others have all been helped by those who have stood for God’s laws. It still remains for many to be protected, including the most vulnerable, the unborn babies, from the murder of abortion.

For a link to help you to study God’s word you can go our Bible Coaching site.

Rob