Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Everyone's literal about sin until you bring up homosexuality

In the crucible of what passes for discussion about the sin of homosexuality, I've noticed an insidious acceptance in Christians of one of the conditions that the gay lobby insists we make. This acceptance has crept in and is in fact a double standard. It is akin to the scenes in the old Seinfeld episode "The Outing." Let me explain.

Twenty years ago, in an episode of the comedy sitcom "Seinfeld," Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza, lifelong buddies, are mistaken for a homosexual couple, and "strenuously deny that they are gay, conditioning their denials with 'Not that there's anything wrong with that.' The line would soon afterward become a catchphrase. Jason Alexander maintains that it is the most popular to originate from the series. The episode earned a GLAAD award. (source)

In each case when the catchphrase was uttered, the person would shrug, throw up their hands in a mock submission and shake their head. See this 17 second compilation:



In discussing homosexuality today, immediate ire rises from all quarters unless homosexuality is couched in the most glowing of terms. If a person does not give hearty approval to homosexuality, (Romans 1:32), one is immediately scourged. The scourging is fast, immediate, and vicious. Just ask Phil Robertson.

If it were up to the homosexual lobby, no one would ever mention homosexuality as a sin. Evah. Failing that, the double standard now is that we can't mention homosexuality as a sin unless we also mention all the other sins too, at the same time. To paraphrase many of the other discussions I've read, such as Rachel Held Evans's question, "Why is homosexuality the great biblical debate of this decade and not slavery?" a discussion along those "not that there's anything wrong with that" lines might go like this-

"Homosexuality is a sin".
"Wait just a minute, bub. Gossip is a sin, what about that? Or envy, that's a sin too. And drunkenness. Why single out homosexuality? Hey, bub, there's lots of sins. Not that there aren't other sins too!"

We are now supposed to cushion the sting of stating sodomy is a sin by including it in a list of all other sins.

The double standard enters in because the reverse is not true.

"Murder is a sin."
"Wait just a minute, bub. Homosexuality is a sin, too. What about that? You didn't mention that one. Or envy, that's a sin. And drunkenness. Why single out murder? Hey, bub, there's lots of sins. Why aren't you talking about them, too?"

"Gluttony is a sin"
"Wait just a minute, bub. Homosexuality is a sin, too. What about that? You didn't mention that one. Or drunkenness, that's a sin. And anger. Why single out gluttony? Hey, bub, there's lots of sins. Why aren't you talking about them, too?"

We have allowed ourselves to substitute the phrase, "Not that there's anything wrong with that" with "Not that there aren't any other sins!" And throwing up our hands in a mock submission and shaking our heads, in vain attempts to stave off anger and vicious comebacks.

Don't fall for it. This is just a temporary compromise to the gay lobby's ultimate goal: full-on prohibition of any talk of homosexuality being mentioned as a sin at all. (Romans 1:32 again). It's a diversionary tactic.

It is a given that we understand there are many sins. Lists and lists of them are given in the bible. (Romans 1:29-31, 2 Corinthians 12:20, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Jude 1:16). Committing even one of them disqualifies a person from heaven and Jesus is great enough to forgive them, no matter how many you committed. If a person is talking about the greatness of Jesus in His ability and desire to forgive any and all sins, then by all means, list the bunch of them to illustrate the breadth of His mercy and grace! That's what Phil Robertson was doing when he mentioned a hearty selection of sins, not just the one that must not be mentioned.

Even then, you see the gay lobby can't ever be satisfied, because they complained that in mentioning homosexuality together with a bunch of other sins, he was comparing homosexuality to them...you see the pointlessness of caving even an inch to their demands.

But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. (Galatians 2:5)While the discussion may legitimately call for an expanded list of sins, it is not necessary to hide homosexuality within a larger list of sins just to make it palatable to the LGBT lobby. If the discussion is about the sin of gossip, then the discussion will be about gossip. No one will suggest including adultery in the talk because it is in some way perversely fair to all the other sins to mention them too.

So if the discussion arises about homosexuality, it is disingenuous to force an inclusion of all sins along with homosexuality. Homosexuality is not a protected class of sins, and it has biblical merit as a discussion point all on its own.

Here is where some, like Rachel Held Evans, make the mistake of selective literalism. The doctrinally ignorant will insist that if we are going to take the bible literally and include homosexuality as a literal sin (all I can picture is Sheldon saying 'Literally? Literally?') then we must also wear head coverings and gouge out our eyes if looking lustfully at another woman. Because, let's be literal. It's just another diversionary tactic.

Evans wrote: "We may laugh at these examples or dismiss them silly, but the biblical language employed in these contexts is actually pretty strong: eating shellfish is an abomination, a bare head is a disgrace, gossips will not inherit the kingdom of God, careless words are punishable by hell, guys who leer at women should gouge out their eyes."

Below is a parable of incorrect biblical literalism as acted by the Big Bang Theory's Zack, posed by Evans above:


Correct use of literally:

So if you're discussing homosexuality as a literal and factual sin and that is the topic, don't feel you have to say "Not that there aren't other sins too!" We don't bow in subjection to them for even a moment, give not an inch. Here's why. Going back to the Galatians 2:5 verse above,

"The unyielding stand of Paul and Barnabas and their strong support by the Jerusalem apostles and leaders was to show the Judaizers that from now on, no Judaizer could ever say that Paul deceived you. No Judaizer could ever say that the prominent leaders of Jerusalem agree with us, not him..." (source)

Don't cave. Stay strong. Speak plainly the truth of the bible, not compromising its truths where and when we are called to proclaim them. Otherwise, all too soon, "Not that there aren't other sins too!" literally will become, "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"



13 comments:

  1. I have been thinking of this aspect of the homosexual debate too, the fact that we are supposed to have a laundry list of sins when mentioning homosexuality as a sin. The fact of the matter is, homosexuality is a HOT TOPIC in society right now. So the fact that a Christian says that it is a sin, without mentioning the laundry list, isn't being unfair, or ignoring other sins. They are simply responding to the topic at hand. Its not like all of a sudden, a bunch of Christians decided to wage war on homosexuality, singling it out and ignoring other sins. They are simply giving truth to a topic already being discussed. But, the secular world will never see it that way. *sigh*
    Jennifer

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  2. Great blog post Elizabeth! I must confess, The Big Bang Theory is one of my few weaknesses. I know it isn't the healthiest show, but it can be very humorous. Plus, it is one of the few my wife likes to watch as well. We have that, HGTV and the DIY channel. :-)

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  3. Excuse me, I'm a little confused. How is Rachel "making the mistake of selective literalism"? Isn't it selective literalism to say that some sins laid out in the Bible (eating shellfish, for example) aren't really sins, but others (like homosexuality) are? It seems like Rachel is saying that NONE of the Bible should be taken literally, rather than saying we should select some parts as literal and others as figurative.

    And if someone were trying to outlaw gluttony because it was a sin, why wouldn't it be valid to bring up all the other things listed as sins in the Bible? Not that anyone would ever TRY to make gluttony or greed or envy illegal, since they're the foundations of modern secular society. There's money to be made through gluttony, greed and envy, so there's no way those making the money would ever let it be banned.

    I'm just trying to understand. How can some sins require literal interpretation while others don't?

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    1. Hi packy,

      You asked a good question, “How can some sins require literal interpretation while others don't? “

      RHE mixes up a fulfilled civil law to the eternality of sinning against God. There is civil law, moral law, and ceremonial law. Under each of these, there are different instructions and some of those apply to different times. See two links below about these.

      For example, if a woman in 1820 America voted in the presidential election, she would be breaking the law. If a woman in 1920 voted she would be within the law. That is because the 20th amendment to the constitution had been passed. It was literally true the woman from 1820 was outside the bounds of the law and it is equally literally true that the 1920 woman was within the bounds of the law. A person from the future, would be mistaken if they wrote a report saying that the 1920 woman was doing something illegal, because the future person would have failed to see the entire picture and grossly failed to do proper research in seeing that the law had changed and how that affected the target population.

      That’s RHE.

      A second point is regarding the language in the bible. The bible should be taken literally but that doesn’t mean that all the language in it should be taken literally. Jesus used parables and metaphors. Solomon & David used poetry, John used symbols. Luke chronicled. Chronicles chronicled. Mark summarized. There are different kinds of language in the bible and for different purposes.

      To use a hypothetical example, a shepherd coming in from the fields might say “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse!” Other times in the bible literal language was used, for a hypothetical example, “The besieged Israelites were so hungry they ate a horse.”

      You understand the difference when you read a book or a newspaper article, etc, because you’re part of the culture today. In order to understand the different language in the bible you have to study and that includes history and context to comprehend what it is saying. The people of the hillside at the sermon on the mount understood the metaphors Jesus was making when he compared things to agriculture. A person today who grew up in the inner slums of Rio De Janeiro and never saw a farm in his life would have to study more deeply to understand the full meaning and context of the metaphor. It is all about context. RHE rips context from the bible and thus, her own understanding. But then she pretends to know things and shares them with a false assurance of her own wisdom.

      RHE is a perfect example of the Romans 1:20-22 verse: “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,” (Romans 1:22)

      In addition, Mrs Evans makes spurious and incorrect comparisons. For her to equate the sin of eating shellfish to homosexuality simply shows her gross lack is understanding of what the bible is all about.

      She is not a saved person and thus has no clue as to what the bible is about. How do I know she is not saved? She supports gay marriage, is an evolutionist, has served communion to active homosexuals, rejects the inerrancy of the bible, refuses to submit to its authority, rejects exclusivism (Jesus is the only way) and is a feminist. She is in gross rebellion and is not a person worthy to gain biblical wisdom from. She has the spirit of antichrist. The only interaction a person should have with her is to share the Gospel, advise her of her rebellion, and then move on (1 John 2)

      For a correct understanding of the shellfish issue:
      http://www.gotquestions.org/foods.html

      Do Christians have to obey the Old Testament?
      http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-law.html

      Are Christians expected to obey Old Testament law?
      http://www.compellingtruth.org/Christian-OT-Law.html

      More on why RHE is in open rebellion
      http://standupforthetruth.com/2012/10/the-influence-of-rachel-held-evans/

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    2. I would further offer this scripture from Peter, who makes an excellent point:

      2 Peter 3:15-17,
      And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

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  4. Hey Elizabeth, if everyone would take the time to listen to John MacArthur's sermons on 1st Peter, they might better understand the Christian life.
    Salvation is not just forgiveness of sin but also includes a transformed, resurrected life, which bears good fruit. We are to love God's precepts and desire to be obedient if we are. Not look for ways to condone one sin or another based on interpretation. I know you would agree.
    Best one to help understand what you are trying to say here,
    is one titled ,"The Christians Duty in a Hostile World".
    Part 3. All of the sermons are great but this one really describes the Christian life.
    Thanks for your posts!
    pam

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    1. thanks Pam!! I am going to bake bread and was searching for a sermon to listen to while I worked in the kitchen. I'll listen to part 3 right now. A person can't go wrong with a good exegetical sermon, and from MacArthur even better. Thanks again for helpful input!

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  5. A good point made in your post, Elizabeth. I've also witnessed and frankly have grown weary of "Christians" minimizing sodomy by saying all sin is sin and thus denying there are some sins which are "worse" than others (which also denies various punishments in Hell as Scripture teaches (Matt. 11:22-24;Luke 12; Heb. 10:29). After all, God did not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities for gluttony or stealing. He obliterated them off the face of the earth for their heinous sexual immorality, namely (although I don't think it was limited to) sodomy ("their sin is very grave", God said in Gen.18:20).

    No, not all sin is equal before God. But all sin is equally sinful and deserves His wrath. Even one sin. See Gen. 3 or Acts 5 for examples.

    I found this quote to be helpful:

    It must be stated that homosexuality is a heinous crime against God. It is first of all, a sexual sin, and secondly, it violates natural law to a great degree. Homosexuality (together with pedophilia, beastiality and necrophilia etc) are considered extremely debased sins (cf Rom. 1:24-27), worse in degree compared to other sins like theft. Now of course, we admit that all sin is sinful before God. Yet there are graduations of sin. For example, it is definitely better to lust than to engage in rape, although both are sinful. Likewise, it is better to covet than to commit a robbery. The failure to understand that there are horizontal graduations of sin is what gives us the generic "evangelical" eisegesis of Mt. 7:1, and the false idea that no one can judge sins (yet ironically they judge the one who judges as committing a worse sin). It gives rise to the specter of the sinner coming before God and praying, "Dear Lord, I thank you that I am not a judgmental person like those Pharisees. I sin openly and proudly, since I know that your blood covers my sin, unlike those self-righteous, narrow-minded and bigoted people."

    ~Daniel Chew
    http://puritanreformed.blogspot.com/2013/10/disowning-homosexual-son.html

    One also might consider that the back door to getting "Christians" to accept sodomy is by way of first getting them to accept that they can be a sodomite of the heart ("celebate homosexual") and that merely the desires of sodomy are like any other sin. Don Green dealt with this on his Facebook page and I posted here:

    http://surphside.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-sin-of-sodomy-desires.html

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    1. Denise, even as Christians, we still have an inclination to sin. "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me."

      Many of us struggle with sin in different ways--pride, gluttony, lust, homosexuality, etc. I put pride at the front of the list because I find God does, too. "These six things does the Lord hate," yet surprisingly, perhaps, homosexual behavior is not listed. I don't look at someone who came to Christ and still struggles with homosexuality and think, "They're not saved," because I find I have my own struggles with sin.

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  6. I'm confused. Still. After reading this post, and the accompanying comments and references to the Rachel Evans' posts, I'm not quite sure how this essay answers her argument.

    She says:

    "We may laugh at these examples or dismiss them silly, but the biblical language employed in these contexts is actually pretty strong: eating shellfish is an abomination, a bare head is a disgrace, gossips will not inherit the kingdom of God, careless words are punishable by hell, guys who leer at women should gouge out their eyes."

    For me, she raises the question: "How do we interpret the Bible?" – or maybe more appropriately – "How do we *individually* interpret the Bible?"

    The fact of the matter is that, in one regard, it has already been interpreted for us. In the comments section Elizabeth Prata says, "It is all about context." and then goes on to say, "RHE rips context from the bible and thus, her own understanding. But then she pretends to know things and shares them with a false assurance of her own wisdom." The real context of the Bible is semi-unknowable/very very hard to know. Translations. The Bible is easily the most translated text of all time and in those translations, meaning – or more specifically *context* – is changed and altered by the human being who translates it. You tell me which is worse. Is an 'abomination' worse than a 'disgrace' worse than a 'debased sin?'

    Biblical interpretation is already done for us by someone else on that level. Even if you go down to the original languages that are presented in biblical text, we still have to decide what is a metaphor and what is to be taken literally, and as a practicing Christian it is hard for me to say what is the right way. If I say one passage is to be taken literally, but someone else says it is to be taken metaphorically, who is right? We are not God, nor are we even the conduits through which he breathed the divinely inspired words of the Bible. We are...us. We can sit and sift through the myriad of translations and even stare at the original text, but we each decide how to interpret it and there is no appendix, index, prologue, or afterword that tells us which way to interpret specific passages.

    I am confused. This article explains that we can't be making comparisons, and one hand I agree. Each topic/issue presented in the Bible should be able to be discussed without comparison to change the topic or shift the focus. But, on the other hand, the only context we have for the Bible is...the Bible. If it says "abomination" in regards to shellfish and "abomination" in regards to laying with a man as with a woman, that's all we really have to go off of. Individually, I can choose to interpret one literally and the other figuratively, but that doesn't make it right...so what do we do as Christians when confronted with this issue?

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    1. Anonymous, the reason you're confused is that you don't believe scripture to be inerrant and sufficient. You said "The real context of the Bible is semi-unknowable/very very hard to know."

      Scripture is perfect in their original languages and still profitable and sufficient in their translated languages. Your issue isn't one of being confused about sin, but about belief. Scripture is hard to know if we do not rely on the Spirit. He helps us know it. It takes work, and time, and maturity, but we can know it. He didn't come to indwell us just so that we'd be unclear about what Jesus said.

      No, we don't "each decide how to interpret it . The Holy Spirit illuminates it for us. That is His ministry and what He indwells us for, to illuminate the word of God so that it points to Jesus and we may know Him.

      Yes, other people interpret the word and we rely on them but the Spirit still gives us discernment to test what they say against the scriptures, so that we can know if the person we are relying on to explain it to us is doing it correctly. It always comes down to our individual relationship with Jesus, who sent the Spirit to point to Him and to open the scriptures to believers so that we can.

      Some people change the translation, yes. You''e right. Many do not. So...find a translation that the translator hasn't been changed. Here is an essay that addresses your' concern:
      "How does the translation process impact the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible?"
      http://www.gotquestions.org/translation-inspiration.html

      Here is a good essay to help you understand Biblical Illumination:

      http://www.compellingtruth.org/biblical-illumination.html

      And how you can increase your biblical discernment
      http://www.gotquestions.org/spiritual-discernment.html

      Discernment helps you distinguish from truth and error, or as Spurgeon said, between right and almost right

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    2. Anonymous, I surely don't know WHICH bible is "quite" sufficient for you. The real, Christian, holy-Spirit inspired bible written by the men of Jesus's time was completed in 96 AD. Homosexuality has appeared as a topic since the Old Testament, in Genesis, the first book of the bible, finished before 1405 BC..

      Homosexuality is condemned as a sexual practice in both the OT and the NT.

      There is no getting around the fact that active, unrepentant homosexuals are sinners, and as such, won't go to heaven. It is equally true that repentant unactive homosexuals can become forgiven sinners and like the rest of us sinners, attain heaven through Jesus Christ, the Door.

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