In the previous two posts, I addressed two aspects of Matthew Vine’s essay on the Bible and homosexuality, found at matthewvine.com
I first examined his surprising logic in looking at Genesis 2:18. “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.'” The lesson Vine learns from this is that we violate the Bible if we deny homosexuals the right to marry because God doesn’t want anyone to be lonely. Vine seems to think God did or at least should have created not just Eve for Adam but more Adams for other Adams if they preferred. having taken that flight of fancy, of course, Vine can no longer claim to be dealing with the biblical text but simply with his own imagination.
Then I looked at Vine’s discussion of the story of Sodom and its wickedness. It was not a sexual wickedness at all, says Vine, but simply one of inhospitality and violence. The sexual component is dismissed. He fails to tell us why we must choose just one component of wickedness and dismiss all the others in the character of the men of Sodom.
Today we looks at Vine’s treatment of two further Old Testament texts, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. He acknowledges that they condemn homosexual behavior but says they are irrelevant for two reasons. First, the Council of Jerusalem in 49 AD (when the early Christians were deciding whether Gentile followers of Jesus had to follow the Mosaic law) doesn’t forbid homosexuality. Of course, neither does it forbid murder, rape, bestiality or any other kinds of moral evil. the reference to the Council, far from making Leviticus irrelevant, is completely irrelevant itself to this questions.
Leviticus calls homosexual behavior an abomination but, Vine tells us, that only means such deeds violate the lines of distinction between Israelite religion and pagan religions. Does he really mean to suggest that the only reason Leviticus forbids homosexuality — and the numerous other deeds also labeled abominations — is that the Israelites weren’t supposed to be offensive to the pagans?
As always, Vine gives no citations to allow us to evaluate his claims, though it seems that in this as in most cases he is following John Boswell’s 1980 book, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Like Boswell, Vine tends to dismiss texts which seem to counter his views, usually leaving those texts quite pointless. Evasion is not a good hermeneutical principle.
Tomorrow: The New Testament, especially Romans 1