wax Bibles

Perhaps the most serious long-term consequence of the new shift on homosexual practice is how many Christians are misreading Scripture. If the Bible can be read to support homosexual practice—or at least not condemn it—then what can’t we make the Bible say? There is no teaching that can’t be explained away or reinterpreted for today. The Bible becomes a wax nose, pulled this way or that to suit the sensibilities of its readers.

If the pro-homosexual hermeneutic is right, then our interpretation of Scripture says much more about us than about God. I read it this way because I’m conservative. You read it that way because you’re a progressive. How would either of us use the Bible to hear from God?

To illustrate how the pro-homosexual hermeneutic drowns us in the swamp of subjectivity, here is how it could be used to make a biblical case for incest between consenting adults. Sure, Leviticus 18 condemns this practice, but the Old Testament also condemns eating bacon and shrimp. How silly! (Tim Keller answers this objection here). Lot’s daughters did get their father drunk and sleep with him, but their sin was not the sex but their lack of hospitality—the same sin that ruined Sodom and Gomorrah from which they fled.

The Apostle Paul condemns the man who was sleeping with his father’s wife, but this relationship is different from the committed, loving relationships that we encounter today. We know that Paul’s world wouldn’t have understood our kind of mature, father-daughter romances, because Paul tells the Corinthians that their incestuous union did not even exist among the pagans (1 Cor. 5:1).

I understand the Yuck factor that comes with the idea of incest, but that would change if you knew my friend Tom and his middle-aged daughter, Sally. Their home may not be traditional, but their love is true and deserves our respect. God is on the side of love, of which there is too little in this world. If two consenting adults want to commit to spend the rest of their lives together, isn’t that a good thing? Anyway, their marriage won’t affect yours. Why wouldn’t you grant them this dignity?

I don’t expect this argument will persuade many people, but only because we don’t know many thirty something daughters who want to marry their fathers. If, in time, an increasing number of fathers and daughters “come out,” I would expect that to change. At least, I don’t know how someone who uses Scripture to endorse gay marriage would use that same Scripture to resist this kind of incest.

This is an exciting day to be a follower of Jesus. So much is at stake! We’re not just fighting for family and freedom. We’re speaking out for something much more valuable, the Word of God.

Photo by George Bannister. Used by permission. Sourced via Flickr.

6 Comments

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  1. You’re exactly right and this “wax nose” hermeneutic began before the gay rights movement gathered so much steam. When I was in seminary I did a paper on egalitarianism/complementarianism and had to read “Two Views of Women in Ministry”. At the time I was working on that paper, the Episcopal church installed their first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson. I heard an interview with him on NPR’s “Fresh Air” where he defended his homosexuality against the prohibitions in the scriptures like this:

    The other problem there is that homosexuality, as a sexual orientation, is a construct that’s only about 100 years old, so for us to take that construct and read it back into ancient texts just does not do justice to those texts. There’s no question that the seven very brief passages that are seen to be related to homosexuality, in scripture, both Old and New Testaments, are negative, but what I would maintain is that they do not in any way address what we’re talking about today, which are faithful, monogamous, life-long intentioned relationships between people of the same sex. The scripture simply does not address that issue.

    What hit me so hard was that this was the same hermeneutic I read Craig Keener employ to defend egalitarianism in the Two Views book. Since then I have stressed that this approach to reading the Bible in order to justify women in elder and pastor roles could be used to justify anything and you just demonstrated that masterfully in this post.

    It seems to me that an Achille’s heel to this hermeneutic is the amount of historical accuracy needed to maintain it. Does Keener *know* that women were less educated in Ephesus during the first century and that’s why Paul, in 1 Timothy 2, prohibited them from teaching and leadership ministry? That’s what he maintains. What happens if next week we find the ruins of an large, first century woman’s college there? Does Robinson *know* that in the first century there was no category of “faithful, monogamous, life-long intentioned relationships between people of the same sex” as he maintains? You simply cannot dismiss modern application because you assume the situation was different back then.

  2. I think it was Tim Keller who said that complementarianism is the guard rails that keep us from veering off into other sexual problems. Robinson was quoted in Time magazine this spring as saying that egalitarianism is the first step to homosexual practice. I have many egalitarian friends who definitely would not go there, or even come close to it, but this is an issue they must respond to. It was the impetus behind William Webb’s “Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals.” I don’t think his argument is persuasive, but he did see the problem.

  3. Regarding your point, on p. 256 Linda Belleville said that Paul was merely being “culturally sensitive” when he told wives to submit to their husbands. I doubt most Christians would have suspected this only applies to marriages in Ephesus. If that’s the case, I don’t know what other commands can’t be explained away as “culturally sensitive” (especially since Paul bases this command on the church’s relation to Christ).

  4. That raises the other issue with egalitarians and 1 Timothy 2. Paul doesn’t root his reason for prohibiting women from teaching or exercising authority over men in the situation in Ephesus, but in creation. And that ties in with the question of homosexuality and Biblical prohibitions of the practice also. Creation. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” To whatever degree cultural considerations may play in why Paul wrote what he wrote, his final authority in these areas have to do with creation. And that leads right into the issue of homosexuality because heterosexuality is a necessary consequence of the creation pair.

    I am fascinated about Keller’s statement that complimentarianism is guardrails. As we discuss this you can see it much more clearly. It isn’t an incidental doctrine tossed into the mix, nor is it a grasp at patriarchy. It is a truth woven in to the fabric of reality. Pull it out and things begin to come apart in other areas.

  5. Elden stielstra July 14, 2015 — 9:40 am

    Well said.

  6. Nice post, Mike — and with impeccable logic. I think the progressives’ insistence that their position does not lead logically to the abandonment of all sexual standards whatsoever results largely from a failure of imagination. Thanks for helping us to imagine more creatively, and therefore to see more clearly what is at stake.

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