Well-Known Pastor Refutes Authors Claims About the Bible and Homosexuality
Some Christians are beginning to accept homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle, dismissing the biblical evidence that homosexuality is sin. The theological leap they make to ignore biblical doctrine in order to support homosexuality is incredible. But once again this shows a need for theological training.
Encouraging the exodus from historical biblical views concerning homosexuality have been recent books by such authors as Matthew Vines and Ken Wilson. Their books argue that the traditional understanding of biblical teaching on the issue of homosexuality is flawed in any number of ways (and for various reasons) and, therefore, needs reimagined.
Tim Keller, a highly respected pastor, theologian, and author, has taken the time to do an in-depth rebuttal of some of the basic arguments found in Vines’ and Wilson’s books. In Keller’s opinion there is six basic arguments each book makes for the support of homosexuality that he seeks to refute, they are:
Knowing gay people personally.
Consulting historical scholarship.
Re-categorizing same sex relations.
Revising biblical authority.
Being on the wrong side of history.
Missing the biblical vision.
It is upon these arguments that both Vines and Wilson argue for Christians to embrace homosexuality as a God-blessed lifestyle. But Keller brilliantly argues against these false positions in his report.
Considering the excellent job Keller has done with his rebuttal, there’s not much reason for me to comment on each of these points. However, a couple of them are most interesting to me and I’d like to share some thoughts on them.
The first common objection to the historical Christian position against homosexuality that Keller sees in each of these books is that “knowing gay people personally” helps to reshape a person’s view. It is on this point that Keller is somewhat glad to see a change in perspective on the part of the Christian. He writes:
“When I see people discarding their older beliefs that homosexuality is sinful after engaging with loving, wise, gay people, I’m inclined to agree that those earlier views were likely defective. In fact, they must have been essentially a form of bigotry. They could not have been based on theological or ethical principles, or on an understanding of historical biblical teaching. They must have been grounded instead on a stereotype of gay people as worse sinners than others (which is itself a shallow theology of sin.) So I say good riddance to bigotry.”
And I’m inclined to agree with Keller. Far too many Christians have been raised to believe that if a person is homosexual it requires nothing less than self-righteous distance. Those are people we cannot associate with, cannot befriend, and cannot enjoy good company. Such a view is rightly called bigotry and should be eradicated. But lest anyone conclude that Keller (or I) finds it appropriate to justify homosexuality here, think again. Keller concludes that “…the reality of bigotry cannot itself prove that the Bible never forbids homosexuality.”
This is an odd reason for any Christian to begin supporting homosexuality. To say, “You know, the gay people I met are really nice. They’re just like me, but gay. Maybe the Bible is wrong about being gay” is a leap that is hard to imagine. Are we really so naïve in our theology to think that gay people are monsters and it’s for this reason the Bible condemns their lifestyle? Were we expecting all gay people to be pedophiles, or the militant extremists pictured in most media coverage?
Supporting what the Bible calls sin because we discover the people engaging in it are actually pretty nice is the sign of a shallow theology that doesn’t understand the nature of sin at all. The Bible doesn’t call homosexuality sin because the people engaged in it are horrible people, they’re not. It’s because homosexuality violates God’s design for man/woman relationships and offends Him. Nothing, not even the really sweet, kind, caring, intelligent and successful homosexual person you know can change that fact.
Another common thread Keller discusses from the two books is the idea that defending traditional puts Christians (and anyone else) on the “wrong side of history.” While the two authors find this a perfectly acceptable reason to support marriage redefinition, Keller makes what should be an obvious statement:
“If we believe in the Bible’s authority, then shifts in public opinion should not matter. The Christian faith will always be offensive to every culture at some points.”
Since when does the fact that the Gospel message, or any other inherent biblical message people find offensive give us cause to change it? When we’re approached by Mormons, Buddhists, or Muslims and told that our Gospel of Jesus being the only way to Heaven is offensive, will we change it for them too? The Gospel is not just offensive to the lost, it’s also offensive to those of us being changed by it each day. We are offended by our thoughts and words and sins as we recognize that they are offensive to God. And yet I don’t want it to change.
Just because a bunch of secular analysts believe defending traditional marriage is “a lost cause” or that I am on the “wrong side of history” doesn’t mean I need to change my position. It means I have an opportunity to share the Gospel and why I believe God’s Word. Those denominations that sought to be more “inclusive” and reach younger generations by capitulating to culture have found that it doesn’t work. Talk about being on the wrong side of history.
Keller’s article is well worth reading. The arguments he is refuting are everywhere and his rebuttal will serve us well in discussing the issue with others. But, the bottom line is that it is theologically and intellectually dishonest (and impossible) to conclude that the Bible supports homosexuality. There is not a shred of evidence to support such a claim and, any author, pastor, or theologian that seeks to say otherwise has immediately discredited himself (or herself).
For Christians, theology should be shaped solely by the Bible, not a combination of personal relationships, cultural trends, and the Bible. We see the world through the lens of Scripture, nothing more or less. Any attempt to live otherwise will result in a shallow, fragmented theology that leads to inconsistency and hypocrisy. No one ever said being a disciple of Christ was easy, or wouldn’t cost us something. The price is becoming clearer every day.
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