Gay Affirming Christians Must Be Reading a Different Bible – Here’s What Mine Says
One of the biggest challenges in defending traditional marriage in our current culture doesn’t come from the Supreme Court, LGBT activists, or political agendas. Instead, this challenge comes from self-described “gay-affirming Christians.”
This group believes the Bible has been misinterpreted for hundreds of years and now wants to “set the record straight” on the biblical teaching regarding sexuality. For gay-affirming Christians the issue is understanding the cultural context of passages like Romans 1 in order to properly translate them for our current culture.
One standard talking point for gay-affirming Christians is that Romans chapter 1 is not a prohibition of homosexuality or same-sex “marriage,” but only a prohibition of homosexual fornication and abuse. In other words, Paul is simply saying that as long as homosexuals are given the opportunity to marry, as are heterosexuals, their lifestyle as homosexuals will be as pleasing before God as anyone else.
Not only is this “interpretation” of Romans 1 dangerous, it violates any sensible hermeneutic in studying Scripture. First, it goes against the plain text understanding of the Scripture. There is absolutely no way for any reasonable person to read Romans 1 and walk away with that understanding. The only logical conclusion after reading Romans 1 is that homosexuality is a sin. But even if we study the passage’s meaning from a cultural perspective, or look at the original Greek to get the meaning, we see a consistent message.
Supporters of same-sex “marriage” are quick to point out that Paul is only writing Romans 1 because he didn’t know of loving, committed homosexuals. The first century, they say, was so hostile to homosexuals that had Paul only been able to see the loving, committed side of homosexuality he would have affirmed them. Such a notion is utter nonsense.
Paul wrote Romans 1 under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, as God, is omniscient and devoid of any limitation. Had the Holy Spirit wanted Paul to know that homosexuals can be loving and committed, even if such a notion was counter-cultural, He surely would have made it clear to Paul. The very heart of Paul’s writing, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, was counter-cultural. It’s not as if Paul would have been opposed to writing something that would have angered people of his day.
It’s important to point out that what Paul wrote in Romans 1 is transcendent of context. Romans 1:24-28 says:
“24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.”
Within the context of this passage Paul makes clear that it is the homosexual act that is sinful and wrong. There is no mention of marriage because the context of the homosexual act does not matter. Whether one is “married” or not means nothing, any and all homosexual acts are seen as sinful and wrong. Had there been room for a loving, committed homosexual relationship within God’s plan for mankind there would surely have been mention of such. But because the homosexual act is inherently wrong and sinful such a marriage can do nothing to nullify the effects of the sin.
If someone wants to argue that Paul is only referring to homosexual fornication – homosexual acts outside of marriage – in Romans 1, that person would also have to qualify the other sins listed in the passage. In other words, if the plain text meaning and context of the passage makes clear that the homosexual act is sinful and wrong, but you would like to argue that it is only referring to homosexual acts outside of marriage, you must also explain the contexts by which envy, murder, gossip, slander, and being disobedient to parents are acceptable. These are the other sins listed in the passage. If we are not rightly understanding the passage regarding homosexuality then perhaps we are not rightly understanding the passage concerning these sins either.
Gay-affirming Christians want to further assert that Jesus never said anything against homosexuality or same-sex “marriage” and therefore He has no problem with it. Again, this terribly faulty line of reasoning ignores what Jesus DID say. Let’s recap, briefly, what Jesus did say regarding sex, marriage, and sin.
In Mark 7:21-22 Jesus lists a number of sins, including sexual immorality. That phrase simply means any sexual act outside of marriage.
In Mathew 19:4-6 Jesus makes it clear that the only definition of marriage that is valid before God is that of traditional, heterosexual, man – woman marriage. This means anything else, whether same-sex “marriage”, polygamy, or polyamory, is not only invalid but is also sinful.
Dr. Daniel Akin addresses the myth that Jesus never said anything about the definition of marriage:
“Is it truly the case that Jesus never spoke to the issue in terms of gender? The answer is a simple no. He gives His perspective on this when He addresses the issue in Matthew 19:4-6. There, speaking to the institution of marriage, Jesus is clear when He says, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 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’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.’ That Jesus was committed to heterosexual marriage could not be more evident. A man is to leave his parents and be joined to a woman who becomes his wife. This is heterosexual marriage. That He also was committed to the permanence and fidelity of marriage is clear as well.”
By understanding the comments Jesus made in Mark 7 and in Mathew 19 we can conclude that Jesus believed all sexual activity outside of traditional, man-woman marriage is sinful. Jesus also affirmed that the only marriage God approves of is the marriage between one man and one woman; anything else is sinful.
So while some self-described gay-affirming Christians want to argue that a new interpretation of the Bible is needed, we can clearly see that the transcendent trust presented by Jesus and Paul is easily understood. It may not be popular, and even more difficult to apply in our present culture; but that does not mean we need a new “interpretation.”
Only a person that is deceived could hope to contend that the Bible in any way supports homosexuality. Christians aiming to rewrite the Bible and change the church narrative on this sin are playing a dangerous game. A game with eternal consequences. Their opponent is God Himself and He is clear that He will not be mocked. It is impossible to worship God while approving and celebrating what He calls sin. Such mockery will not go unchallenged or unjudged.