Alan responds to the claim that the Bible takes a progressive stance on past prohibitions, so therefore homosexuality is permissible today.
“Does the New Testament signal a progressive trajectory when things that were previously prohibited are now permissible, and therefore we should follow the path of grace set by Jesus and accept homosexuality today?”
Just to give you an example of this type of argument, people like Matthew Vines, and the Reformation Project, and other people who identify themselves as “gay Christians” point to the story of eunuchs in the bible. In the Old Testament times, eunuchs were not permitted to be in the assembly of the Lord. This is talked about Deuteronomy. But in the New Testament, we see a eunuch, the Ethiopian eunuch specifically, who becomes a Christian, who enters into the kingdom of God. So they note that there is this sort of trajectory, a progression, where you have things that were previously forbidden that are now permissible. They were forbidden in the Old Testament; they are now permissible in the New Testament. So, they’re thinking, therefore it’s possible, then, that homosexuality, which is also forbidden in the Old Testament, is now, under this sort of new age of grace, permitted in the New Testament.
Yes, the eunuch’s physical abnormalities were not a barrier to this person into the kingdom of God, but this does not in any way signal a new era where previously prohibited behaviors are now considered morally permissible. The fact that a eunuch was able to hear the good news, and accept the Gospel, and now enter into the kingdom should not surprise us, because after all, God’s grace can be extended to anyone, regardless of their sexual proclivities, regardless of their past, and that person can enter into the kingdom of God. But grace doesn’t leave the sinner in sin.
In fact, Paul talks about this in 1 Corinthians 6. He talks about how there are many people who are engaged in sexual sins, including homosexuality, but then He notes, “Such were some of you, but you are washed, you are sanctified.” In other words, yes, anyone can come enter into the kingdom of God, but God doesn’t want you to stay that way. Sanctification includes abandoning your old way of life, abandoning the old sins that you used to commit, and living a new life in Christ.
Plus, when it comes to sexual sins and what Jesus thinks is a sin, Jesus does not move in a more progressive fashion, He actually moves in a more strict fashion. Take for example, when He talks about murder. He says, look, if you kill somebody, you’ll be guilty of murder and you’ll deserve to be punished. But then He goes on, “But now I say to you,” if you even hate your brother, if you’re angry with your brother, you will still be guilty of that sin and deserving of the same punishment. Or when it comes to adultery, He says, yeah, if you have sex with someone who is not your spouse, you’re committing adultery. He then says, “But now I say to you,” if you even look at a woman lustfully you’ve committed adultery in your heart. So He takes previous biblical prohibitions and makes them actually harder to be obedient to. The progression is not in any way more lenient; it’s more strict.
Finally, we have two reasons why we know that now in the New Testament era homosexuality is not all of a sudden permitted based on a sort of progression of grace. The first reason is that Jesus, when He’s answering a question about marriage and divorce in Matthew 19, grounds male and female complementarity in the Genesis account. By citing the Genesis account, He’s suggesting that this is the way that God made men and women, and it’s a part of the way that they are designed, and this is not changing. This is why Jesus now, in the New Testament era, is still affirming men and women are supposed to function in a heterosexual way. This is why it can’t be possible that homosexuality is all of a sudden permissible—because Jesus now is still affirming the Genesis account as being relevant for His day.
The second reason why we know that homosexuality cannot be now all of a sudden permitted in a sort of progressive age of grace is that the New Testament has three passages that clearly condemn homosexual behavior. You’ve got Romans 1, we’ve got 1 Corinthians 6, and we’ve got 1 Timothy 1. All of them speak with one voice in no ambiguous ways to suggest that homosexual sex is forbidden.
Bottom line: There’s no way to justify this notion that homosexuality is now permitted based on a sort of trajectory of progressive grace. If anything, homosexuality is certainly one sin that we know that God has prohibited since the beginning of creation and extends even under the New Testament and New Covenant times.