In the 1960s as the sexual revolution took hold across the nation, encompassing feminism and the decriminalization of homosexuality, the seeds of homosexual affirmative churches were sown on the west coast with the formation of Metropolitan Community Church. Started by a gay man, who struggling to deny his flesh, affirmed his "identity" as a homosexual, and as a result was expelled from a Pentecostal Church. As homosexuality began to experience greater acceptance in society, more homosexual affirming churches began to form, and began to infiltrate mainstream denominations, whom as a result began to reconsider their position on homosexuality. As the United States entered the 90's and homosexuality was moved to the forefront of the culture war, networks began to form around homosexual affirming churches, as homosexual affirming theology was developed, coined "Queer Theology". By the time the 90s came to the close, cracks began to form in some denominations adherence to scripture as their leaderships were deceived by the false teachings of Queer Theology. As states began to allow same sex marriage in the 2000s, deceived denominations began to allow practicing homosexuals into their leadership, and as the legalization of same sex marriage steamrolled its way through the nation in the last 6 years, deceived denominations began to bless same sex marriages and approve of practicing homosexuals.
This brief history lesson on homosexual affirming theology was needed to highlight the cultural influence of this theology. It formed, not as a revelation of scripture, but as a symptom of society abandoning scripture. Every generation contains a small fraction of the church, which, wanting to conform to the world, sacrifices itself to the world resulting in unfaithfulness to God’s word. When confronted by a society engrossed in sin, they are deceived by new teachings. It should surprise no one, that as society slides down the path into full affirmation of homosexuality, these unfaithful churches followed suit.
It's important to address this false teaching, and similar misconceptions caused by this heresy. To be all things to all men, as spoken by the Apostle Paul, never meant compromising on the moral law of God. In the following Bible verses, the Apostle Paul writes…
I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:1-2)
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires (Ephesians 4:22)
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. (1 Corinthians 3:19)
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. (Ephesians 2:3)
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. (Ephesians 4:17)
This understanding was shared by the Apostles Peter, John, and James.
As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. (1 Peter 1:14)
For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. (1 Peter 4:3-4)
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. (John 2:15)
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. (1 John 5:19)
You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:4)
The apostles paint a clear picture; to be a follower of Christ means to reject the world, it’s ways, it’s passions, and it’s sins. Our stance on homosexuality should be no different, to be a follower of Christ means to reject ways of the world, especially in our western culture, which celebrates homosexuality. In 2014 a controversy arose regarding Hillsong, NYC Pastor Carl Lentz said in an interview on Anderson Cooper:
“Jesus was in the thick of an era where homosexuality, just like it is today, was widely prevalent, And I’m still waiting for someone to show me the quote where Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people. You won’t find it because he never did.”
This statement, while technically true, is based on ignorance of scripture. Jesus provided a Biblical model of marriage, one which we must follow as Christ's followers.
He said to them, “Have you not read that He Who made them in the first place made them man and woman? It says, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and will live with his wife. The two will become one.’ So they are no longer two but one. Let no man divide what God has put together.” (Matthew 19:4-6).
Jesus’ ministry spent much time correcting the law, since it was being abused by the Pharisees. Because of the different rabbinical schools during the time of Jesus, the Jews were highly educated in God’s Law. In Luke 19:19, Jesus responds to the ruler with only half of the 10 commandments:
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’"
It was customary in that time to paraphrase scripture, bringing to mind the rest of the verses at hand. The rabbis, scribes and students would have in mind the whole ten commandments as Jesus spoke. Therefore, since Jesus was not explicit in his mention of homosexuality, we can learn from the Talmud and Josephus' The Antiquities of the Jews their view of homosexuality. Before exploring what these texts say about homosexuality, it’s important to understand the application of the Law.
Jesus did not come to abolish to Law, but the fulfill the Law. This meant Ceremonial Law of the Old Testament was fulfilled in Jesus. As the perfect, final sacrifice, the sacrificial system of the Old Testament was being fulfilled in him as was the rest of the Ceremonial Law with it’s rules about ritual cleanliness. No more rules against food, no more rules against wearing mixed fabric clothing, no more rules against planting your field with two kinds of seeds. These ritual laws represented an external cleanliness which co-aligned with the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. These laws were a system by which God separated the Jewish people from the pagan nations around them. No longer applicable was this physical separation; the Gospel was going out into all the Gentile world, where separation from the world was by spiritual ancestry, not physical ancestry.
Regarding the Moral Law, it is eternal, and remained a part of the New Covenant. Jesus would not, nor could he change the moral law. Changing it would violate the justice of God. If Jesus had anything to add or correct about the Jewish view on homosexuality, he would have had the proper opportunity in the account of Luke 19:19. It’s important to note Jesus never talked about bestiality, incest, or graven images.
On the topic of homosexuality, Josephus in his The Antiquities of the Jews writes:
Book 1, Chapter 11:
they hated strangers, and abused themselves with Sodomitical practices. …Now when the Sodomites saw the young men to be of beautiful countenances, and this to an extraordinary degree, and that they took up their lodgings with Lot, they resolved themselves to enjoy these beautiful boys by force and violence; and when Lot exhorted them to sobriety, and not to offer any thing immodest to the strangers, but to have regard to their lodging in his house; and promised that if their inclinations could not be governed, he would expose his daughters to their lust, instead of these strangers; neither thus were they made ashamed.
Book 3, Chapter 12:
He also forbade a man to lie with his wife when she was defiled by her natural purgation: and not to come near brute beasts; nor to approve of the lying with a male, which was to hunt after unlawful pleasures on account of beauty. To those who were guilty of such insolent behavior, he ordained death for their punishment.
Further, we find written in the Talmud:
CHINUCH, MITZVAH 209
At the root of the precept lies the reason that the Eternal Lord blessed is He, desires the settlement of the world He created. Therefore, He commanded us that human seed should not be destroyed by carnal relations with males. For this is indeed destruction, since there can be no fruitful benefit of offspring from it, nor the fulfillment of the religious duty of conjugal rights (due one’s wife).
MAIMONIDES, HILCHOT ISSUREI BIAH 22:2
Jews are not suspected of a man lying with a man or bestiality. Therefore, there is no prohibition (for man and another man or an animal) to be alone together. However, he who does separates himself from another man or animal is praiseworthy.
SHULCHAN ARUCH, EVEN HA-EZER 24:1
Jews are not suspected of a man lying with a man or bestiality. Therefore, there is no prohibition (for man and another man or an animal) to be alone together. However, he who does separates himself from another man or animal is praiseworthy. And great Sages of Israel would separate themselves from an animal in order that they should not be alone with it. And in these generations when licentiousness is prevalent, two men a man should not be alone with another man.
This teaches the punishment: whence do we derive the formal prohibition? — From the verse, Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.From this we learn the formal prohibition for him who lies [with a male]: whence do we know a formal prohibition for the person who permits himself thus to be abused? — Scripture saith: There shall be no sodomite of the sons of Israel: and it is further said, And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to the abominations of the nations which the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel: this is R. Ishmael’s view. R. Akiba said: This is unnecessary, the Writ saith, thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: read, ‘thou shalt not be lain with.
Further down, the Talmud specifically address pederasty separate of “man laying with man”.
Now, he who [actively] commits pederasty, and also [passively] permits himself to be thus abused — R. Abbahu said: On R. Ishmael’s view, he is liable to two penalties, one [for the injunction] derived from thou shalt not lie with mankind, and the other for [violating the prohibition,] There shall not be a Sodomite of the sons of Israel. But on R. Akiba’s view, he incurs only one penalty, since thou shalt not lie and thou shalt not be lain with is but one statement.
The evidence is indisputable that all forms of homosexuality were forbidden in the Torah. But what about the New Testament? Why did Paul mention it if Jesus didn’t? Jesus spent much time correcting the abuses of the Law, but the Apostle Paul spent much time teaching the Law to a gentile audience, who unlike Jesus’ Jewish audience, was not raised from youth learning the Torah and the Prophets. The Apostle Paul, to a greater extent, covered the law of God, teaching the Moral Law in context of the New Covenant. In part 2 of this series, we will dive into the Greek and address some common arguments to justify Homosexual Affirmative Theology.