Thursday, August 16, 2012

"So You Still Think Homosexuality is Sinful?"

Another graphic that is floating around the social media sites is one titled "So You Still Think Homosexuality is Sinful?" and subtitled "And therefore gays shouldn't be allowed to marry?" (Example)

That's not actually the reason that "gay marriage" shouldn't be allowed. The reason is that such a thing is an oxymoron. Marriage is a permanent union between a man and a woman. Homosexuals have always been "allowed" to get married, they just don't want to because they don't want that kind of permanent union with a member of the opposite sex. More precisely, many have been married (for immigration reasons, because of family pressures, or the like), but that is not what they are demanding now.

The graphic itself is a flow chart. If you answer the title question, "no," it rewards you by telling you "congratulations on begin part of civilized society!" Apparently, the graphic's author thinks that having a faulty understanding of morality is part of being in a "civilized" society. It used to be that "civilized" referred to societies who live by rules (especially those rules associated with the Bible), not those that abandon rules.

For those that answer "Yes," the graphic asks, "Why?" and offers six alternatives. The first alternative is, "Because Jesus said so," which the graphic answers by saying, "Not true. Jesus never uttered a word about same-sex relationships." There are several responses to this.

First, Jesus repeatedly referred to Sodom as an example of hardhearted wickedness deserving severe divine punishment:
Matthew 10:15
Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Matthew 11:23
And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Matthew 11:24
But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

Mark 6:11
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Luke 10:12
But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
He doesn't explicitly mention the term "homosexuality," but he doesn't have to. Everyone knows what kind of people the men of Sodom were.

Second, Jesus endorsed the old testament law.

Matthew 5:17
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

Third, Jesus sent Paul as his apostle:
Romans 1:1
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

1 Corinthians 1:1
Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

2 Corinthians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

Galatians 1:1
Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)

Ephesians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

Colossians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

1 Timothy 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;

2 Timothy 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

Titus 1:1
Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;
... and Paul clearly taught that homosexuality is sinful.

The chart assumes that we will accept the claim that Jesus had nothing to say about the matter, and returns to the question "why." The next option provided in the chart is "Because the Old Testament said so."

The chart responds by asserting, "The O.T. also says it's sinful to eat shellfish, to wear clothes woven with different fabrics, and to eat port." The chart then asks, "should we still live by O.T. laws?"

The O.T. also says it's wrong to kill people, commit adultery, and steal their things. Should we still live by O.T. laws? It's safe to say that the chart's author thinks we should, when it comes to those, and that we shouldn't when it comes to eating kosher and avoiding mixed fiber clothing. In fact, aside from Jews and some Judaizers, we all generally agree on the points.

The question (which is begged by the graphic) is whether the prohibition on homosexual relations is one that falls in the former category or the latter category. The chart doesn't offer any argument as to why we should consider it to be similar to the requirement to eat kosher, and not consider it similar to the prohibition on adultery. But homosexual sex is much more like adultery than it is like eating shrimp. Moreover, we have New Testament guidance which helps us distinguish between the ceremonial laws (like the dietary laws) and the moral laws (like the laws regarding sexual behavior).

The chart assumes that the answer to the question posed will simply be "yes" or "no," rather than actually addressing the premises provided. Since there is another way to the "yes" outcome, we'll address that in a minute. The "no" outcome loops us back to the "why" question.

The next option the chart provides is, "Because the New Testament says so." The chart responds:
The original language of the N.T. actually refers to male prostitution, molestation, or promiscuity, not committed same-sex relationships. Paul may have spoken against homosexuality, but he also said that women should be silent and never assume authority over a man.
The chart then asks, "Shall modern-day churches live by all of Paul's values?"

Actually, the original language of the NT does not distinguish between "committed" and other kinds of homosexual activity. In other words, it's not as though the NT exclusively refers to male prostitutes (although it does refer to them, using the euphemism "dogs"). It uses terms that cover the range of homosexual activity, including both "active" and "passive" homosexuality. For example:

1 Corinthians 6:9
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

And the New Testament broadly addresses both male and female homosexuality:

Romans 1:26-27
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Regarding what Paul said about women, he said that they were to be silent in the church not always. But yes, there are many things that Paul teaches about women that modern feminists (of both sexes) don't care for.

Regarding the question of whether we should adopt "all" of Paul's values, even if the answer were "no," that would still leave open the question of whether we should adopt this very clearly stated moral value. One might argue that there are some of Paul's values that were culturally conditioned (the typical feminist argument for egalitarianism). But even if we grant that argument's force (I certainly don't grant it, just to be clear), that still does not lead us to a conclusion that we throw the baby out with the bathwater.

In other words, raising an objection that we shouldn't accept everything Paul taught does not automatically lead to a conclusion that we should reject everything Paul taught - or even that we should reject any particular thing that Paul taught.

If you think we should follow everything that Paul taught (or everything that the Old Testament taught - and it is clear that Paul is following Jesus and the OT), then graphic provides the following outcome:
Have fun living your sexist, chauvinistic, judgemental [sic], xenophobic lifestyle choice. The rest of culture will advance forward without you.
Of course, that's not really an argument, it's just a stream of epithets and an unsupported assertion regarding the direction of "culture." But were we really expecting a rational argument? A return to a time where homosexuality was widely accepted is not a step forward - it's a step backward. After all, it's such activity that was widespread in Greek culture that Paul was condemning. To try to overthrow Biblical morals is not to move forward along a moral uprightness trajectory, but to revert to the lower pre-Christian state.

The chart is not through, though. It offers another option: "Because God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." The chart responds:
That was when the Earth wasn't populated. There are now 6.79 billion people. Breeding clearly isn't an issue any more.
That might make sense as an argument in favor of the use of contraception, but it is pretty much irrelevant to the issue of marriage. Notwithstanding what homosexual males may think, women are help meet for men in more ways than just breeding.

The argument from the large number of human beings is a red herring. At the time when Adam and Eve were created, it was just them. But by the time Jesus introduced the "Adam and Eve" argument, there were at least millions upon millions of people on the earth. Granted that billions is more than millions, but trillions is more than billions, and millions is still a large number. Jesus' argument that marriage was ordained to be one man and one woman by the creation of one Eve for Adam was made when the Earth was already largely populated, and was not tied to the question of reproduction - it was addressing the issue of divorce.

The chart assumes that the large number of people negates Jesus' argument, and so returns to the question "why." The next option is "because the Bible clearly defines marriage as one-man-one-woman" to which the chart responds:
Wrong. The Bible also defines marriage as one-man-many-women, one man many wives and many concubines, a rapist and his victim, and conquering soldier and female prisoner of war.
This argument is itself wrong, which has already been thoroughly addressed in my previous post (link to post regarding Biblical definition of marriage). In very brief, the rapist/victim and soldier/prisoner examples are also one-man-one-woman examples. Moreover, the examples of polygamy are examples of a man being married multiple times, not of a multi-party marriage. Furthermore, polygamy is described but not condoned by the Bible. Finally, for the purposes of this particular argument, we should add that expanding the definition of marriage to include polygamy and concubinage still excludes "gay marriage."

The chart seems to think that this argument is helpful, however, and so it proceeds to a final option, from which the chart provides no "out." The chart's final option is: "Because it just disgusts me." The chart responds:
Props for being honest. However, a whole population of people shouldn't have their families discriminated against just because you think gay sex is icky. Grow up!
What "whole population" does the author have in mind? The whole population of Sodom? What the chart's author really means is, "the homosexuals" - and not really all of them, because most of them prefer promiscuity - but let's assume that it is all or most of them.

Their families aren't "discriminated against." What defines a family is the presence of parents and offspring. They are parts of families (they are offspring of parents), but they do not form their own families. But even if their social units were "families," they are not "discriminated against," simply because we don't mislabel their relationship "marriage," just as we are not discriminating against divorcees by failing to call them "widows" and "widowers."

Whether or not homosexual sex is "icky," is not really the point. We may think that toilets are icky, but we don't discriminate against plumbers who fix them.

But we can flip it on its head. Just because a small fraction of males think that women are "icky," and wish to abandon the natural use of women in favor of men, doesn't mean we have to make such perversion legal, much less pretend that a "committed relationship" that is based on such perversion is "marriage."


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