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Liberal Scholars Agree: The Bible Forbids Homosexuality

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Some time ago, a lesbian living in Canada viewed a few of my YouTube videos on the subject of homosexuality, and a lengthy debate ensued. We went back and forth discussing all of the oft-repeated and ridiculous homosexual talking points.

Our conversations also included an examination of the New Testament’s teachings about homosexuality. I shared the traditional and obvious scriptural prohibitions against all types of same-sex behavior. My lesbian debate opponent, on the other hand, provided the typical contortionist interpretations of biblical sexuality. And no matter how comprehensive or meticulous my explanations, she was completely convinced (deceived) that the New Testament actually sanctions homosexual deviancy.  

The numerous Bible scholars to which I referred were each summarily dismissed. She contended that all of them were biased, homophobic, conservative scholars and therefore not to be trusted. Instead, she made the unsubstantiated claim that the vast majority of Bible scholars agreed with her interpretation. Although an anti-supernatural bias and a postmodern influence currently proliferate throughout academia, no names or statistics were ever provided to back up her general assertions. In fact, there has never been a study or survey conducted to determine the specific percentage of biblical professors on each side of the homosexual or same-sex “marriage” divide.

Nevertheless, she did issue me this challenge: To identify any liberal Ph.D. scholars who agreed with the traditional point of view on homosexuality in the Bible. She was convinced that no such academic individual existed – I myself even wondered about that at the time. But after only a little research, I found that there are actually several scholars who agree with the historic, true understanding of Scripture. And what’s more, they are all highly respected (widely published, recipients of numerous awards, highly acclaimed by their colleagues, and well-known in their respective fields) AND either homosexual themselves or strongly pro-“gay.”

Each of the following scholars and their quotes have been gathered from the various books and articles of Dr. Robert Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, the premier expert on the subject of homosexuality and the Bible. Dr. Gagnon is the author of the brilliant and thoroughly researched The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics.

Dan O. Via: A pro-homosexual advocate, Via has served on the faculties of Wake Forest University, the University of Virginia, Duke Divinity School, and the University of Zimbabwe. He is the author of eight books, 35 scholarly articles, and 17 edited volumes. His research and teaching have focused on various aspects of New Testament theology and ethics and on the issues of interpretation theory. He is currently professor emeritus of New Testament at Duke Divinity School.

In Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, a point-counterpoint volume co-authored by Via and Gagnon, Via admits that the Bible’s rule against homosexual practice is “an absolute prohibition,” and that Scripture condemns homosexual behavior “unconditionally” and “absolute[ly].”

“The Pauline texts … do not support this limitation of male homosexuality to pederasty … I believe that [Richard B.] Hays [George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament and Dean at Duke Divinity School] is correct in holding that arsenokoitēs refers to a man who engages in same-sex intercourse. The term is a compound of the words for “male” (arsēn) and “bed” (koitē) and thus could naturally be taken to mean a man who goes to bed with other men. True, the meaning of a compound word does not necessarily add up to the sum of its parts. But in this case I believe the evidence suggests that it does. In the Greek version of the two Leviticus passages that condemn male homosexuality (Lev 18:22; 20:13) a man is not to lie with a male as with a woman each text contains both the words arsēn and koitē. First Cor 6:9-10 simply classifies homosexuality as a moral sin that finally keeps one out of the kingdom of God.”

“Professor Gagnon and I are in substantial agreement that the biblical texts that deal specifically with homosexual practice condemn it unconditionally.”

Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, pp. 11, 13, 93-95.

Louis Crompton: Emeritus professor at the University of Nebraska and author of the massive 600-page work, Homosexuality and Civilization. Crompton is a self-identified homosexual and a pioneer of “gay studies.”

 “According to [one] interpretation, Paul’s words were not directed at ‘bona fide’ homosexuals in committed relationships. But such a reading, however well-intentioned, seems strained and unhistorical. Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstance. The idea that homosexuals might be redeemed by mutual devotion would have been wholly foreign to Paul or any other Jew or early Christian.”

Homosexuality and Civilization, p. 114

Bernadette Brooten: Lesbian New Testament scholar and Chair of the Dept. of Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. Brooten has written one of the most important books on lesbianism in Antiquity and its relationship to early Christianity, especially Rom 1:26 (Love between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism). From a pro-homosexual perspective, she has criticized both the late John Boswell and Robin Scroggs for their erroneous use of the exploitation argument (the assertion that homosexuality is only wrong when it is practiced within the context of pederasty or temple prostitution).

“Boswell … argued that … ‘The early Christian church does not appear to have opposed homosexual behavior per se.’ The sources on female homoeroticism that I present in this book run absolutely counter to [this conclusion].”

“If … the dehumanizing aspects of pederasty motivated Paul to condemn sexual relations between males, then why did he condemn relations between females in the same sentence? … Rom 1:27, like Lev 18:22 and 20:13, condemns all males in male-male relationships regardless of age, making it unlikely that lack of mutuality or concern for the passive boy were Paul’s central concerns … The ancient sources, which rarely speak of sexual relations between women and girls, undermine Robin Scroggs’s theory that Paul opposed homosexuality as pederasty.”

“Paul could have believed that tribades [the active female partners in a female homosexual bond], the ancient kinaidoi  [the passive male partners in a male homosexual bond], and other sexually unorthodox persons were born that way and yet still condemn them as unnatural and shameful … I believe that Paul used the word “exchanged” [Rom. 1:26]  to indicate that people knew the natural sexual order of the universe and left it behind … I see Paul as condemning all forms of homoeroticism as the unnatural acts of people who had turned away from God.”  

Love between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism, pp. 11, 244, 253 n. 106, 257, 361 

William Schoedel: Professor Emeritus of Classics and Early Christianity at the University of Illinois. He writes from a stance that is supportive of homosexual unions. Most significantly, Schoedel refutes the false claim that Rom 1:26-27 refers only to “same-sex acts performed by those who are by nature heterosexual [have a heterosexual orientation/preference].” In this regard, he writes:

“We would expect Paul to make that form of the argument more explicit if he intended it … Paul’s wholesale attack on Greco-Roman culture makes better sense if, like Josephus and Philo, he lumps all forms of same-sex eros together as a mark of Gentile decadence.”

Homosexuality, Science, and the “Plain Sense” of Scripture, pp. 67-68 

Martti Nissinen: Professor of Old Testament at the University of Helsinki. Nissinen is the author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice, which is considered by many to be best book on the subject of the Bible and homosexuality from a pro-“gay” perspective. In a moment of refreshing candor, Nissinen admitted:  

“Paul does not mention tribades or kinaidoi, that is, female and male persons who were habitually involved in homoerotic relationships, but if he knew about them (and there is every reason to believe that he did), it is difficult to think that, because of their apparent ‘orientation,’ he would not have included them in Romans 1:24-27 … For him, there is no individual inversion or inclination that would make this conduct less culpable … Presumably nothing would have made Paul approve homoerotic behavior.

— Homoeroticism in the Biblical World, pp. 109-112 

Walter Wink: Well-known liberal scholar and late emeritus professor of New Testament at Auburn Theological Seminary. His faculty discipline was biblical interpretation, and he was an ordained minister in the “flatline” United Methodist Church. In his review of Robert Gagnon’s book The Bible and Homosexual Practice, he was forced to concede

“Gagnon exegetes every biblical text even remotely relevant to the theme [of homosexual practice]. This section is filled with exegetical insights. I have long insisted that the issue is one of hermeneutics, and that efforts to twist the text to mean what it clearly does not say are deplorable. Simply put, the Bible is negative toward same-sex behavior, and there is no getting around it … Gagnon imagines a request from the Corinthians to Paul for advice, based on 1 Corinthians 5:1-5: ‘Paul, we have a brother in our church who is having sex with another man. But that other man does not put on makeup or heavy perfume, wear women’s clothing, braid his hair, or otherwise try to look like a woman. And the other male is an adult. The two men really do love each other and are committed to spending the rest of their lives together. Neither are [sic] involved in idolatrous cults or prostitution. When you mentioned that arsenokoitai would be excluded from the coming kingdom of God, you were not including somebody like this man, were you?’… No, Paul wouldn’t accept that relationship for a minute.”

To Hell with Gays? Christian Century, 119:13, pp. 32-33

Abraham Smith: Professor of New Testament at Southern Methodist University in the Perkins School of Theology. Dr. Smith is a New Testament editor for The New Interpreter’s Annotated Study Bible, and he specializes in the Gospels of Mark and Luke and 1 Thessalonians. Among his recent publications are several introductions and annotations for the Oxford Annotated Bible, third edition, and the Oxford Access Bible.

 “The statement that such acts are ‘against nature’ [Rom. 1:26] refers to the created order in Genesis and suggests that these acts show a disruption of the natural subordinate/superordinate relations between male and female ordained by God in creation … Paul’s cultural interpretation of the Genesis traditions would indeed have left him with only one option for sexual relationships — that between a male and a female.” 

The New Testament and Homosexuality, Quarterly Review, Vol. 11, 1991, p. 25

Pim Pronk: Gay Dutch professor of dogmatics and philosophy at an affiliate of the Free University in Amsterdam. Pronk is a biologist, theologian and philospher.

“To sum up: wherever homosexual intercourse is mentioned in Scripture, it is condemned. With reference to it, the New Testament adds no arguments to those of the Old. Rejection is a foregone conclusion.”

Against Nature? Types of Moral Arguments Regarding Homosexuality, p. 279

William Loader: Emeritus Professor at Murdoch University in Australia. A New Testament scholar, Dr. Loader is a strong proponent for “same-sex marriage.” Since 2004, Loader has written eight significant books on sexuality in early Judaism and early Christianity, and he has established himself as one of the premier scholars on sexual ethics for this time period.

Dr. Loader has acknowledged in his important recent work The New Testament on Sexuality that Paul’s indictment of homosexual relations in Rom 1:26-27 “included, but [was] by no means limited to exploitative pederasty,” “sexual abuse of male slaves,” or “same-sex acts … performed within idolatrous ritual contexts.” “Without differentiation he condemns all with such sexual attitudes and desires.” Same-sex relationships in the Greco-Roman world “could include lifelong consensual adult partnerships.” “It is inconceivable that [Paul] would approve of any same-sex acts if, as we must assume, he affirmed the prohibitions of Lev 18:22; 20:13 as fellow Jews of his time understood them.” Again, “it is also hard to imagine that Paul would approach [issues of homosexual practice] without awareness of the prohibition of same-sex relations in Lev 18:22 and 20:13, which had come to be applied to both men and women.”

Loader also affirms that the term arsenokoitai (ἀρσενοκοῖται ), “men who lie with a male,” in 1 Cor 6:9 was “certainly not limited to [pederasty]. Exploitation was a common feature in most same-sex encounters, but not all. Thus it is better to take the word as closely cohering with what Paul condemns in Romans 1 and reflecting the [absolute] prohibitions of Lev 18:22 and 20:13 on which it appears to be built.” “If we return to μαλακοί [malakoi, i.e. the ‘soft men’ of 1 Cor 6:9] in the light of this understanding of ἀρσενοκοῖται [arsenokoitai], then the former are most likely to be those who willingly engaged in the transgression, including male prostitutes, but also other consenting males.” “On balance, then, Paul probably uses the two terms [malakoi and arsenokoitai in 1 Cor 6:9] with reference to men who engage in same-sex behavior, with the first referring to the willing passive partner, whether by private consent or as a male prostitute, ‘those who submit to sexual penetration by other men,’ and the second referring to ‘those who engage in sexual penetration of other men,’ which would have a broader reference and include, but not be limited to, exploitation, also by force.”

The New Testament on Sexuality, pp. 314, 322, 324-326, 331-332, 565

Luke Timothy Johnson: American New Testament scholar and historian of early Christianity. He is the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Candler School of Theology and a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. He has a lesbian daughter and, for that reason, Dr. Johnson changed his views and is now a pro-homosex advocate for the unorthodox theology of “gay Christianity.” Yet, he stated in no uncertain terms, “The Bible nowhere speaks positively or even neutrally about same-sex love…The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says…I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality [Emphasis mine].

Homosexuality and the Church, Commonweal Magazine, June 15, 2007

At the end of the day, I accepted the lesbian’s challenge and found several exceptional Ph.D. scholars who all agreed with the traditional, plain reading of the Scriptures on homosexuality. That’s not to say that these distinguished professors accept or follow the Bible’s teaching, but they at least provided an honest assessment of what it actually means and says.

Each of these renowned intellectuals is among the most esteemed scholars within their respective fields of study. With regard to the Bible and homosexuality, none of them can be accused of employing a conservative bias in their interpretive methods. They had every reason to distort the Word of God in favor of their prior predilections, but unlike many homosexual activists, these scholars chose academic integrity and accuracy over self-interest and politically correct expositions. And in the process, they flatly rejected the fraudulent arguments that the homosexual apologists level at the Bible in a vile effort to infer God’s sanction on their deviant behavior.  

So, if a homosexual decides to reject the Bible on the basis that it forbids same-sex activity, then that’s one thing. But if they want to twist the Word of God and engage in self-deception to validate their perverse lifestyle, that’s another thing entirely. The former response is certainly tragic, but at least it is in keeping with an accurate understanding of the biblical message. The latter, however, involves employing an interpretive approach that is completely unwarranted and also does great violence to the text of the Bible. Moreover, it gives homosexuals a dangerous and false sense of security.

Ultimately, the Bible unequivocally and in no uncertain terms condemns homosexual practice. Even the best liberal scholars know that.

It’s time to stop distorting God’s Word once and for all — and admit that “gay” Christianity is an oxymoron. Worse yet, it’s a lie straight from the bowels of hell.



 

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