Does the Bible condemn homosexual relationships? Part 1

Through a chain of websites, I’ve recently found a long argument that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality. It doesn’t contain new material but does put it altogether in a careful and articulate manner. The argument is presented by Matthew Vine [matthewvine.com]. I was directed to it by the blog found at clareflourish.wordpress.com, which in turn I found through a comment on the blogsite causeforjoy.com.

I have read Matthew Vine’s essay with some care and am happy for the chance to think through my reading of Scripture again because I know that God is continuing to teach us to see the Bible more clearly, such as in the area of the equality of women. Is homosexuality such an area?

One of Vine’s first points is that the traditional view against homosexual relationships is wrong because it violates Matthew 7, in which Jesus teaches us that a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bad fruit. The pain homosexuals feel because of the traditional view, he tells us, is bad fruit and therefore the traditional view must be a bad ethical tree. His argument is broader than he realizes. If a man is especially drawn to sheep for sexual pleasure, does that make it wrong for others to disapprove? Or drawn to promiscuity? Just what can be called “immoral” without making someone unhappy?

Self-defined happiness is not a moral barometer.

Vine’s second point is that opposing committed gay relationships violates the Bible because Genesis 2:18 says God doesn’t want us to be alone. His logic has a familiar ring for me. I’ve heard it many times in pastoral counseling: “I know divorce (or adultery or whatever) is wrong but I also know that God doesn’t want me to be lonely (or unhappy or whatever), so I’m going to go ahead with whatever makes me happy.” Deciding for ourselves what will make us happy doesn’t mean we are therefore morally justified in doing whatever we like.

Genesis 2:18 is not a promise that every individual will find a partner who seems “suitable.” When God says it is not good for the man to be alone, that is an explanation for the creation of Eve. We cannot twist the passage to mean he also created another Adam for those with such a preference. By Vine’s logic, we could also say that Genesis 1:27 (“God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”) proves that God approves of homosexual marriage. When our interpretation of what a passage means reverses what it actually says, we know we wrong-headed.

If we are going to find biblical justification for homosexual relationships, we’ll have to look elsewhere than the opening chapters of Genesis.

In the Gospel of Mark we find an important discussion about divorce. Moses had permitted divorce but Jesus goes to a deeper moral foundation than the law of Moses. “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:5-9). Laws and permissions do not constitute sufficient ethical guidelines. It is creation itself and God intent in it which guide us. The foundation for ethics relating to marriage is found the union of male and female. No ethical position which fails to take this into account can be considered fully biblical.

Certainly to say that Genesis teaches that God made Eve for Adam, plus another Adam for some of the Adams and another Eve for some of the Eves, is to make nonsense of the clear sense of the text as we find it in Genesis and echoed in Jesus.

[Tomorrow: The story of Sodom and Gomorrah]

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About mthayes42

I am a retired pastor, interested in the Bible, cross-cultural ministries, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the current and past history of western civilization.
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