Friday, March 28, 2008

Love God - Don't Sin - and Don't Make Excuses

I read some rather feeble responses in letters to the editor at PSU today, on the topic of the Bible's testimony against homosexuality. (link)

Let me summarize the flaws in the letters.

1. Misuse of "Love one another."

Apparently the author of the first letter thinks that convicting others of sin is unloving.

But Scripture says:

Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

We can show our love for one another by correcting one another's faults. Of course, we must do so in a loving manner, but the command to love one another is qualified this way:

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Jesus called people to repentance, and we can show love by humbly following in his footsteps.

2. Failure to Distinguish Between Moral and Ceremonial Old Testament Law

Oddly, the author of the first letter groups homosexuality (which he apparently recognizes is condemned in the Old Testament) together with "eating pork or shrimp, wearing linen and wool at the same time, commingling crops and premarital sex."

Except for the "premarital sex" item, all those items are ceremonial law restrictions. In contrast, the prohibition on extramarital sex (including both premarital sex generally, and homosexual sex in particular) is a feature of the moral law, summarized in the Decalogue under the heading, "Thou shalt not commit adultery."

The ceremonial law has passed away, having been fulfilled in Christ.

3. Argument from Silence / Argument from Failure to Appreciate Christ as Logos

The author of the first letter argues, "Jesus never spoke of homosexuality."

Presumably the person meant that none of Jesus' recorded speeches in the gospels deal with homosexuality. But Scripture notes, first of all, that not everything Jesus said is recorded:

John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

But, Jesus did speak against sexual lust:

Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

It would seem odd to imagine someone so presumptuous as to argue that Jesus meant only that heterosexual lust was inappropriate.

4. Argument from Human Weakness

The author of the first letter concludes: "Humans are incapable of being perfect. That goes same for those who are in the Bible -- both teaching and being taught. Those who taught also failed in some parts of their biblical life."

This is mostly true (the perfect teacher, Christ, excepted). It's quite irrelevant to the issue, though. We ought to be careful not to be puffed up with pride because the sin of homosexuality is not alluring to us, because we should be aware of our own failures in other areas. Nevertheless, homosexual desires and behaviors are sinful. Nobody's perfect - true; which proves the high standard of the moral law.

5. Argument from "Some/Many Scholars Say"

The author of the second letter promotes a tenuous theory that the Old Testament prohibition on homosexuality (as well as many of the ceremonial laws) were added around 7 B.C. He claims that "many religious scholars" accept this theory. I would be mildly surprised if the number of such scholars couldn't fit in a phone booth. There are some "scholars" who will write anything in order to get published. If such scholars (who make the 7 B.C. claim) even exist, their scholarship is laughable in the extreme. The ancient origin of the Old Testament is well and abundantly established.

6. Argument from "You believe the wrong parts of the Bible"

The author of the second letter shows his true colors pretty quickly when he says: "I do not have a problem with Christians who preach the major themes of love and the golden rule, but when a person rashly adopts every thought presented in the Bible without any questioning, they will face judgment from me."

The problem is, Scripture as the rule of faith is a central tenet of Christianity. If the Bible says it, then we believe it, and that ends the matter. That doesn't mean that we don't search thoroughly to determine what the Bible says. We do search. But, when we follow what Scripture says, as best we understand it.

That's how we submit ourselves to God's revelation in Scripture. That's how we love God. After all, as Scripture says:

Exodus 20:6 (and Deuteronomy 5:10) And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Deuteronomy 11:1 Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.

Deuteronomy 11:22 For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;

Deuteronomy 19:9 If thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the LORD thy God, and to walk ever in his ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three:

Deuteronomy 30:16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

Joshua 22:5 But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD charged you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and to cleave unto him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Daniel 9:4 And I prayed unto the LORD my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments;

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

1 John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Or, most simply of all:

John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

May God give us grace to keep his commandments,


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