Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Biblical Response to a Controversial Issue



“God and the Gay Christian:” A Response
Recently I was asked to review and respond to a YouTube video entitled, “God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships.” It was posted by its author, Matthew Vines, in 2012. To date there have been over 730,000 views of that video.
You may watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmp6lLct-fQ.
What I have to say is not directed personally at Mr. Vines, any other individual, or any group. I do not write with any ill will or animosity toward anyone! My concern is strictly with the question, “Does the Bible positively support same-sex relationships?”
Mr. Vines’ video notes six Scriptures, three from the OT and three from the NT. I will list these below and ask, “Do these passages positively support – or does any one of them positively support – same-sex sexual relations?” Note the difference between “positively support” and “fail to condemn.” It is the latter that Mr. Vines actually defends. His premise is, “The Bible does not expressly condemn monogamous, committed, faithful marriage between members of the same sex.”
So let’s ask our original question, the one which his YouTube title purports to answer:
“Does the Bible positively support same-sex relationships? If so, in what passage(s)?”
If you know of such a Scripture, even one, please refer to it in the comments section below. I will then update this post, taking the biblical reference into account.
All of this begs us to ask the question, “What sexual relationship(s) does the Bible actively, positively, and unequivocally endorse?” We will discuss this question first, before going further. Please read each passage noted next. The Word of God speaks clearly and unmistakably.
The words of Genesis 1-2 predate the Law of Moses given to the Jews and are universal and timeless in scope:
Ge 1:26–28 (ESV)
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Ge 2:18–25 (ESV)
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had 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. 20 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. 21 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. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 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.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Based on the words of Genesis 1-2, “What sexual relationship(s) does the Bible actively, positively, and unequivocally endorse?” It is the relationship between one man and one woman, and no other. No “mate” would do for Adam except a specially-created female counterpart, Eve. This is indisputable.
“But that’s the Old Testament!” some may say. What about Jesus Himself? The response of Jesus, when He was questioned about marriage, echoed and affirmed the words of Genesis 1-2.
Mt 19:1–9 (ESV)
1 Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there. 3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Based on the words of Jesus, let us ask again, “What sexual relationship(s) does the Bible actively, positively, and unequivocally endorse?” It is the relationship between one man and one woman, and no other. Jesus interpreted the union of Adam and Eve as the prototype for all marriages. This too is indisputable. A man – one man – shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife – one female human – and the two shall become one flesh. In fact, Jesus said that it is God Himself who joins together one man and one woman.
So let’s ask our original question again, the one which the YouTube title purports to answer:
“Does the Bible positively support same-sex relationships? If so, in what passage(s)?”
It’s not in the Old Testament. It’s not in the New Testament. It’s not in the Bible.
In spite of his subtitle, “The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships,” Matthew Vine does not note even one biblical case that actually supports such relationships. If he could have, he would have. His silence on this matter is very significant.
What he does instead is to say, “The Bible does not expressly condemn monogamous, committed, faithful marriage between members of the same sex.” Then he takes six passages that have been cited against same-sex relationships, and he attempts to refute and reject this conclusion. Let’s consider each one.
[1] Gen 19:1-11
Mr. Vines says that here the Bible condemns gang rape, not monogamous, committed, faithful marriage between members of the same sex. In support he cites Ezek 16:49 to say that the real sin of Sodom was violence and hostility toward strangers. Here is the reference:
Eze 16:49 (ESV)
49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.
What Mr. Vines misses here is that Ezekiel is actually preaching about the sins of Israel’s northern kingdom. See verse 46, which makes this clear. See Isa 1:10, which calls the southern kingdom of Judah “Sodom” and “Gomorrah,” because of Judah’s multiple sins. This does not mean that their sins were exactly identical to those of Sodom.
He also omits these NT references to the actual Sodom and Gomorrah.
2 Pe 2:6–8 (ESV)
6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard);
Jud 7 (ESV)
7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
So the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, according to Scripture, involved sensual conduct, lawless deeds, sexual immorality, and unnatural desire. This was not mentioned in his YouTube video.
Again we ask, “Does the Bible in Gen 19 positively support same-sex relationships?” The answer is, “No.”
Next Mr. Vines notes two additional OT texts.
[2] Lev 18:22 and
[3] Lev 20:13
Mr. Vines denies that these two similar passages condemn monogamous, committed, faithful marriage between members of the same sex today. He gives two reasons:
First, the Law of Moses also prescribes the death penalty for such things as eating pork, rabbit, or shellfish, or charging interest on loans.
Second, Jesus fulfilled (all) the OT law, so the passages in Lev do not apply to us today.
In reply we may note that bestiality and incest are also prohibited in Lev. May we use the same argument to say that such relationships are acceptable today? Why or why not?
We may also note that Jesus Himself affirmed and explained the moral code in the Sermon on the Mount. See Matt 5:17ff. In fact He specifically affirmed the one sexual relationship that God approves in that same sermon. See Matt 5:31-32.
So if we ask, “In the entire OT, what one sexual relationship does the Word of God approve?” then the answer is clear. One man and one woman. It is again indisputable.
Now let’s turn to Mr. Vines’ three NT references:
[4] Rom 1:26-27
Mr. Vines notes that the text speaks of people who have turned over to lusts and vices. It notes that men committed shameful acts with other men. However, he claims that Rom 1 only condemns lust, not a same-sex union characterized by faithfulness, commitment, and love.
He says the Bible speaks only against relationships between adult males and adolescent boys, between masters and slaves, or between men and male prostitutes. He says that most of the men addressed were married to women. He says that this behavior was only wrong because it sprang from out-of-control lust and excess. He puts it in the same category as gluttony or drunkenness.
Mr. Vines acknowledges that Paul here labels same-sex relationships as “unnatural” (Rom 1:26), but only in the same sense that men wearing long hair was “unnatural” in that culture (1 Cor 11:14).
The problem with Mr. Vines’ argument is that none of his points can be found in Rom 1 or anywhere else in the NT! Please read carefully Rom 1:24-32. Do you see any basis or evidence that supports same-sex marriage?
Again we ask, “Does the Bible in Rom 1:26-27 positively support same-sex relationships?” Again the answer is, “No.”
[5] 1 Cor 6:9
Mr. Vines maintains that the two Greek words used here do not refer to people in a committed, monogamous, same-sex sexual relationship. Rather they only apply to licentious behavior involving men who abuse other men.
He is mistaken.
The first word, transliterated as malakos, refers to the passive partners in consensual homosexual acts, according to the English Standard Version translators.[1]
Note the following, from Louw and Nida, regarding this term:
88.281 μαλακόςb, οῦ m: the passive male partner in homosexual intercourse—‘homosexual.’ For a context of μαλακόςb, see 1 Cor 6:9–10 in 88.280. As in Greek, a number of other languages also have entirely distinct terms for the active and passive roles in homosexual intercourse.[2]
The second word, transliterated as arsenokoites, refers to the active partners in consensual homosexual acts, according to the English Standard Version translators.[3]
This second Greek word itself is not only clear; it is graphic. It is a compound of two words, one meaning “males” (not females) and the other meaning “have sexual intercourse with.”
Note the following, again from the reference in Louw and Nida cited above, regarding this term:
ἀρσενοκοίτης, ου m: a male partner in homosexual intercourse—‘homosexual.’ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτιοὔτε μοιχοὶ οὔτε μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖταιβασιλείαν θεοῦ κληρονομήσουσιν ‘don’t you know that … no adulterers or homosexuals … will receive the kingdom of God’ 1 Cor 6:9–10. It is possible that ἀρσενοκοίτης in certain contexts refers to the active male partner in homosexual intercourse in contrast with μαλακόςb, the passive male partner (88.281).
Note also the following, from Arndt et al., regarding this second term:
ἀρσενοκοίτης, ου, ὁ (Bardesanes in Euseb., Pr. Ev. 6, 10, 25.—Anth. Pal. 9, 686, 5 and Cat. Cod. Astr. VIII 4 p. 196, 6; 8 ἀρρενοκοίτης.ἀρσενοκοιτεῖν Sib. Or. 2, 73) a male who practices homosexuality, pederast, sodomite 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Ti 1:10; Pol 5:3. Cf. Ro 1:27. DSBailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, ’55. M-M.* [4]
Again we ask, “Does the Bible in 1 Cor 6:9 positively support same-sex relationships?” Again the answer is, “No.”
That brings us to the sixth and final passage that Mr. Vines cites.
[6] 1 Tim 1:10
This passage uses the second term just noted, arsenokoites. It is consistently and correctly translated in our English Bibles as “homosexuals.”
So one last time we ask, “Does the Bible in 1 Tim 1:10 – or any of these six passages –  positively support same-sex relationships?” The answer is still, “No.”
Conclusion
So, while Mr. Vines has noted six Bible passages, not one of them makes “The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships.” Not one!
And oddly enough, he admits this very thing in his video. He says toward the close, “The Bible never addresses the issues of sexual orientation and same-sex marriage.” If the Bible never addresses same-sex marriage, how can anyone say that there is a biblical case in support of it?
As I noted at the outset, this post is not directed personally at Mr. Vines, any other individual, or any group. I do not write with any ill will or animosity toward anyone! My concern has been strictly biblical. I have asked the question, “Does the Bible positively support same-sex sexual relationships?” The answer I have found is, “Positively NOT!”
Cory Collins





[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001).
[2] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 771–772.
[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001).
[4] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature : a Translation and Adaption of the Fourth Revised and Augmented Edition of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Worterbuch Zu Den Schrift En Des Neuen Testaments Und Der Ubrigen Urchristlichen Literatur (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 109.

2 comments:

George Carman said...

I appreciate your good biblical exegesis of the scriptures dealing with homosexuality. The Bible clearly shows that marriage that is acceptable to God is between one man and one woman.

Phil Sanders said...

Excellent article, and one worth copying and saving for future reference! You have spoken clearly. I saw Mr. Vine's video, and all the people clapped at the end. He did not make his case; he merely built an imaginary case and appealed to silence. You have certainly blessed us all with this study!

Phil Sanders