Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Bible Still Condemns Homosexuality

Recently, gay Christians of many denominations have been campaigning for Christian denominations to be more "inclusive" of them. To bolster their campaigns, they twist and demean what the Bible and other scriptures state about homosexuality. Here are some of their claims:

1) The Old Testament was just for an ancient tribe and has no bearing on present-day conduct.

2) The Old Testament was superseded by the "new covenant" of the New Testament.

3). Jesus never mentioned "homosexuality".

4). The Apostle Paul was preaching his own prejudices instead of the Gospel.

5). "God made me this way, so God must love me the way I am."

These are just some of the more prominent rationalizations. Since I'm LDS, I will focus more on the activities of "gay Mormons", and in particular, their primary advocacy group known as "Affirmation".

A recent article published on Affirmation's website gives an account of Buckley Jeppson, who legally "married" another man. Jeppson claims he should not be excommunicated from the Church because "in the temple, Mormons covenant to have no sexual relations except with their husband or wife to whom they are legally and lawfully wedded. He claims that because gay marriage is legal at the place where he contracted it, that it meets the "legal and lawful" test, ignoring scriptures which roundly condemn that type of relationship between those of the same gender. Not only does he supersede the laws of God with the laws of man, but apparently expects the LDS church to recognize and affirm it by allowing him to remain a member in good standing and even grant him a temple recommend.

Let's review the phrase "legal and lawful". The term "legal" would seem to be self-inclusive. So why is the term "lawful" also used? I suggest the use of both words is to denote the possibility that although a measure may be legalized through legislation or judicial fiat, it may not be "lawful". In fact, it may be downright reprehensible morally. The practice of elective abortion (abortion for convenience rather than medical necessity) is certainly legal (except in South Dakota, thank God), but that doesn't make it lawful. Pre-emptive war may be legal, but if it is immoral, it's still unlawful. So the use of the entire phrase is designed to denote a practice or procedure that is both legally correct AND morally correct. Monogamous straight marriage is both legal and lawful. But because gay marriage violates the law of God, it can never be lawful regardless of how "legal" it gets, unless God chooses to supersede His law through the process of revelation, as He did in 1890, when He authorized Wilford Woodruff to indefinitely suspend plural marriage to prevent disincorporation of the Church, and again in 1978, when He authorized Spencer W. Kimball to lift the ban against otherwise-qualified black men holding the Priesthood.

Let's examine the relationship between the Old and New Testaments on the subject. First, the New Testament does not supersede the Old Testament any more than the Book of Mormon supersedes the Bible. Jesus said "Think not that I have come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it". And what law was He to fulfill? The law of Moses, which called for animal sacrifices as a teaching device to remind the Israelis of the Ultimate Sacrifice to be made by one of their own, Jesus Christ. His sacrifice would obviate the need for further animal sacrifices, which is why animal sacrifice is not a part of Christianity. So that implies that those portions of the Old Testament that do not actively conflict with the New Testament are still valid (although the Old Testament dietary laws can be considered to be superseded by the modern day Word of Wisdom outlined in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants).

Homosexuality is condemned in both the Old and New Testaments. Leviticus 18:22 states "Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is an abomination." Romans 1:27 states "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." Note that while homosexuality is downgraded in severity across Testament lines from a full-blown abomination in the Old Testament to being merely "unseemly" and "unnatural" in the New Testament, it is still equally unacceptable across the board in the sight of God. Homosexuality is also condemned in the Book of Mormon. 2 Nephi 13:9 states, "The show of their countenance doth witness against them, and doth declare their sin to be even as Sodom, and they cannot hide it. Wo unto their souls, for they have rewarded evil unto themselves!" Apologists for homosexuality try to sugarcoat it by pointing out that Sodom's sin was "total" (because Lot had several married daughters, implying that heterosexuality was also practiced), but it was their rampant and compulsive homosexuality that brought them the greatest condemnation and triggered the fiery judgement.

However, the penalty for homosexuality is not necessarily the same across Testament lines. Leviticus 20:13 states "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death..." No different penalty is discussed in the New Testament. However, we don't just stop and throw up our hands. Homosexuality is a form of sexual misconduct. So the next step is to find out how the scriptures handle other forms of sexual misconduct. Enter "adultery". Like homosexuality, the Old Testament also prescribes the death penalty for adultery (see Leviticus 20:10). But then in John 8:10-11, we see how Jesus himself deals with an adultress. After Jesus drove the crowd away by saying "He who is without sin cast the first stone", he continues as follows: "When Jesus had lifted up Himself and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, 'Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee'? She said 'No man, Lord'. And Jesus said unto her, 'Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more'." This means the death penalty for adultery was no longer mandatory, which, by inference, suggests the death penalty for homosexuality is also no longer mandatory. Note carefully that Jesus did not render any judgement of His own until after the multitude had departed. This effectively backstops his admonition to "render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's". He recognized secular authority and allowed it to run its course.

True, Jesus never mentioned "homosexuality". He also never mentioned the Internet, or toilet paper, or many other things, so this is an invalid argument. Besides, homosexuality is addressed throughout other parts of the Bible, so perhaps He didn't want to be redundant.

Then there are those who won't attack the Father or the Son directly, but who attack them indirectly by launching proxy attacks on the Apostle Paul. Because of his seemingly ambivalent statements about marriage, Paul is mischaracterized as a "woman-hater", "homophobic", and even "misanthropic". Of course, they conveniently forget that Paul also stated "It is better to marry than to burn." Paul single-mindedly dedicated his life to preaching the Gospel after his dramatic experience on the road to Damascus, to the point where he never married. He chose to defer that and several other normal life choices in order to "take up the cross and follow Jesus." Yet it is traditional for apologetics to cherry-pick and twist the scriptures for personal gain. When they do so, they cross the line from priesthood to priestcraft, which is the Satanic counterfeit of priesthood. In its most extreme form, the power of priestcraft can convince rational beings that it is godly to ram a skyscraper with a jetliner. It is important to understand that Satan reaps his richest harvest not by coming out in open opposition, because he tried that once and lost his salvation permanently, but by subtly counterfeiting the words, the works, and even the glory of the Father. The Bible is either all the Word of God or none of it is the Word of God. Jesus Christ is either Lord of all, or he's not Lord at all. There is no middle ground.

God does indeed love all of us, as well as his other creations. However, He cannot love sin, otherwise He would cease to be God. Therefore, He must hate our unrequited sins. We do not know why some people become gay, or even if they are born gay. There is anecdotal speculation, usually from "near-death experiences", that people may have chosen their disabilities and challenges to be faced in this life before the foundation of this world. Perhaps some people chose to contend with homosexuality as their main challenge in this life. This possibility is addressed in a book by Duane Crowther, entitled "Life Everlasting". Nonetheless, God has clearly delivered His expectations in His word, and it is not up to us to overrule Him. One does not need to be perfect in this life to get to heaven, for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ solved that problem, but we cannot call black "white" and darkness "light" and expect to be rewarded. Gays who wish to remain Mormons in good standing must either choose celibacy or attempt heterosexual marriage with a fully-informed and understanding woman who will voluntarily share the burden, otherwise they will lose fellowship and possibly even membership. Gay Mormons who wish to practice homosexuality need to consider finding a more tolerant denomination, or even join a Metropolitan Community Church congregation designed to minister to their specific needs, rather than emotionally blackmail a 12 million member church to change just to suit them. Groups like Affirmation will render a better service if they will also provide support to those gay Mormons who wish to practice celibacy to retain their membership.

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