Is the Bible’s Teaching on Homosexuality "Unenlightened"?
“And God loves all his children,
But we paraphrase a book
written thirty-five-hundred year ago”
-Macklemore, Same Love
“They exchanged the truth about
God for a lie
and worshipped and served the creature
rather than the Creator,
who is blessed for ever! Amen.”
There are a lot of rumours about the Bible’s teaching on homosexual practice. One of these rumours purports that the Bible has been mistranslated or misunderstood on the subject and that homosexual practice is actually endorsed by Scripture. A simple reading of the texts will show that the type of intellectual gymnastics needed to arrive at this conclusion are akin to those which would suggest that we’ve all misunderstood Martin Luther King Jr. who was actually a neo-Nazi with a message was about exterminating left-handed Italians.
Another idea is that while the Bible may call homosexual practice “sin” [it also refers to many common heterosexual acts like fornication and adultery as “sin”], it does so from the perspective of a culture which didn’t understand homosexuality. “The Bible,” they say (with a remarkable sense of expertise), “was written in an unenlightened time when people weren’t free to experiment with sexual practices and therefore it cannot be expected to reflect our advanced knowledge of such matters.” Those who support things like gay marriage are therefore labelled as being “progressive” and those who oppose are “conservative” or “old fashioned”.
This sort of reasoning reflects just how little ancient history we’ve actually been taught. The Old Testament condemnations were not written in a time when everyone was heterosexual or even monotheistic. When Moses forbade SSP in ancient Israel it was very much the norm in the surrounding nations; much more so than now. In addition when the Apostles wrote the New Testament homosex was also practiced among many of the cultural avant-guard of his day. Nero, the Roman Emperor, was in a homo-poly-amorous marriage with two men: Pythagoras (with whom he acted as wife) and Sporus (who was castrated and with whom he acted as husband). The real division is not Unenlightened v. Enlightened. The real division is Christian v. Pagan.
The good news we proclaim to the world is not about spinning faux arguments for excusing or justifying our sexual sin be it heterosexual or homosexual in nature. It’s about being forgiven, cleansed and healed. This is something we all need whatever our sexual orientation or history may be.