Objections to Barring Homosexual Practice in the Church
This sensitive subject warrants discussion and questioning. The historic stance of the Church of Jesus is clear. There are however many today who are trying to change the position of the Church to be more attractive to a wider audience. Some may do this as a good gesture and maybe others for harm. This ongoing article series hopes to answer some of the questions and objections that are thrown around today concerning the Church’s stance. Feel free to leave your own questions in the comments. To be clear the subject is engaging in same-sex relationships where intercourse is involved and not simply someone’s inner desires.
The Church is submissive to God and Jesus as Lord. So unlike a democratic society where laws are decided and changed on a whim the Church is a society which submits to the will of God on a matter. It’s not something the Church can change.
Objection: Homosexuality is love, right? How can it be classified with other sins?
The Apostle John in His first Epistles records plainly that sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4). Like what was said above, Christians are under the authority of One Supreme Lord and bound to the same laws He gives just as everyone else is. So while it is true that something like consensual homosexual practice is different to non-consensual stealing it still is not permissible. God does not only give laws which protect “our rights” or well being, but prescribes laws that are pleasing to Him. Therefore sin has to do with living according to God’s ways and not according to what a changing culture tells us is wrong.
Objection: The Early Church was born in a “patriarchal” society and their view on this issue was colored by this. Therefore God actually approves of this action.
When the word “patriarchal” is used in these contexts the speaker usually is referring to some kind of oppression. The word simply means “fore” and “father”. The implications in these societies being “men first”. So is it true that our Lord, His Apostles, and the early Church were unable to discern the difference between holiness and culture? I don’t think so. I’d like to answer this in two parts.
(1) The Apostles wrote many things that were against culture. The Apostles saw the faith of Christ as something opposed to the world (James 4:4). They saw the tenets of their beliefs based on holiness and not culture. In a culture where it was acceptable to beat women and wives, Peter tells husbands to “love their wives.” Paul says that men ought to treat women as their selves with the implication that “no man ever hated his own body, but nourished it and took care of it.” In a culture where it was acceptable to make women, and boys, prostitutes the Apostles taught that modesty and abstinence was to be applied. If the Apostles being the representatives of Jesus were unable to discern holiness from culture then maybe one needs to consider what else Jesus’ representatives got wrong. Hopefully one will come to the conclusion that Jesus made the right choice when choosing His Apostles. No one knew the culture of 1st century better than those who lived themselves in it and no one knew Jesus better than the ones who lived among Him (1 John 1:1).
(2) When those who object to this issue connect the idea of “men first” with the issue of homosexuality in the 1st century and following, they may imply that the word “Malakos”, from which the English translations of the Bible get the word “homosexual” or “effeminate”, has to do with a low view of women rather than the act of engaging in sexuality. This is because the Greek word literally means soft or effeminate. So when those in this culture referred to homosexuals they called them effeminate because they would take the female role during sex. The argument then is that misogynists of the first century hated homosexuality because they really hated women, whom Homosexuals played the part of during sex. The argument continues on that 1st century folk regarded women as weak, so homosexuals were weak. Homosexuality according to these objectors then has to do with “misogyny” rather than the acts of same-sex intercourse. Since they hated weakness in this culture, our “culturally blinded” Apostles fell for, or actually were never teaching, a misogynistic view on sexuality. I have discussed in the first part why I believe the Apostles superseded culture when it comes to holiness and why they were not “blinded” by the very culture they were in, but actually knew it better than any supposed 21st century historian.
Paul was really against uncommitted relationships, which include same-sex relationships. Therefore the practice was never condemned.
If Paul was only against uncommitted same sex partners one should wonder why he never mentions the practice with this preface. Whenever the practice is mentioned it seems to be mentioned in the general sense and not in a preface, specific sense. If adultery was all that was spoken against, why ever mention the general acts of homosexuality in the first place? Saying that adultery was wrong should cover same-sex type as well, should it not?