Last week I posted a question to ask pro-gay theology advocates. What should we believe about their claim that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality?
Option 1: Jesus was wrong.
Option 2: The Church has been wrong.
Option 3: Some 21st century Americans reading their Bible in Tallahassee (or Tempe, Tulsa, or Tacoma—doesn’t really matter what city or whether the city begins with “T”) are wrong about the Bible affirming gay relationships.
Option 1 is incredibly unlikely given that Jesus is God. Option 2 is unlikely given that the Church has unanimously believed and taught for 2,000 years that sexual activity is reserved for a married man and woman and, consequently, homosexual sex is sin. That leaves us with option 3 being the most likely possibility. Plus, we can show that pro-gay theology arguments are mistaken, which further underscores why option 3 is most likely.
Pro-gay theology advocates try to sidestep my question with an objection. They try to play—what they believe to be—their trump card. They say, “But Alan, there hasn’t been a category for modern gay people until recent times. The Bible and/or biblical authors didn’t know about loving, consensual homosexual relationships. Therefore, the Bible and the Church can’t be condemning gay relationships as we understand them today.” In other words, none of the options are true because the modern category of gay relationships was never in view by Jesus or the Church.
Four responses to this objection come to mind.
First, this objection suggests the Bible, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, did not anticipate this moment in history when 2-4% of the population began entering into “loving, consensual, gay relationships.” It’s as if God was caught by surprise. He didn’t bother to look far enough into the future to see what His creatures would do and plan His special revelation accordingly.
That’s not consistent with how we understand God and the Bible, though. Scripture often anticipates and even predicts future events. The biblical authors—inspired by the Holy Spirit—warned of coming trends (e.g. 2 Tim. 4:3), penned messianic prophecies (e.g. Psa. 22 and Isa. 53), anticipated the anti-Christ (e.g. Matt. 24), and even described the end times (e.g. 1 Cor. 15:52, Revelation, etc.). Isn’t it safe to assume the God who inspired all these predictions with such detail also gave us holy writ addressing behavior within modern gay relationships?
Second, it seems pro-gay theology advocates suggest Scripture provides no moral framework to assess same-sex behavior of today. That seems odd. There are many examples where biblical principles penned thousands of years ago address a modern behavior. For example, embryonic stem cell research didn’t occur during the biblical era. We can easily draw upon a biblical principle, though, that addresses this modern technology. Scripture teaches that it’s wrong to kill innocent human beings. Embryonic stem cell research kills innocent human beings. Therefore, embryonic stem cell research is wrong. Voila!
The same is true of modern gay relationships. Scripture teaches that homosexual sex is sin. It doesn’t say homosexual sex is allowed if it’s consensual. It doesn’t say homosexual sex is permitted within a loving relationship. Rather, it says the act of two men or two women having sex is sin (Lev. 18:22, Rom. 1:26–27, etc.). Since the majority of modern gay relationships entail that act, those two people involved are committing a sin. Therefore, the Bible provides us with a principle that can apply to homosexual relationships of today.
Third, by claiming there was no biblical category for modern gay relationships, pro-gay theology advocates are essentially claiming option 2: the Church has been wrong. Remember, the Church (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant) has always condemned homosexual sex. If someone engaged in it, that person would be considered guilty of sin. Whether you sodomized a man in prison, engaged in a sexual tryst at a bath house, or pursued an ongoing and consensual sexual relationship with someone of the same sex, it never mattered to the Church. If pro-gay theology is correct, then the Church has been incorrectly condemning both abusive forms of homosexual behavior and non-abusive forms (e.g. loving, gay relationships). In other words, the Church has been wrong for 2,000 years because it incorrectly identified loving and consensual gay relationships as sin. That’s an example of option 2.
Far from sidestepping the three options I laid out, the revisionist rebuttal further affirms that option 2 is what they’re essentially claiming (intentionally or not). But this is an incredible claim. It means God, in His infinite power and sovereignty, allowed the Church (His bride) to mistakenly teach for 2,000 years that any type of homosexual sex is sin and wrongly condemn countless thousands of innocent men and women who pursued loving, consensual gay relationships.
Fourth, even if it were true that the Bible and/or biblical authors weren’t aware of the modern category of gay relationships, it wouldn’t matter one bit. The Bible doesn’t make a distinction between abusive homosexual sex and loving, consensual gay relationships. That’s a 21st century invention. What the Bible prohibits is a man exchanging the natural sexual function of a woman and, instead, having sex with another man (Rom. 1:26–27, which also mentions lesbianism). That can certainly occur in an abusive homosexual sex act, but it can also occur in a loving and consensual gay relationship in Tallahassee. The Bible, therefore, prohibits all types of homosexual sex, not just abusive or coercive forms. Modern gay men and women don’t escape the prohibition of Scripture just because their sex acts are consensual or characterized by love.