Christian Homosexuals

There’s been a good bit of discussion about the nonsensical statements of the so-called “Biola Queer Underground” of late. To be candid, the only justifications they can offer for their revisionist position have been refuted so many times that you almost feel sorry for the research skills of these supposed university students. For instance, the “champion” for their revisionist eisegesis is one Justin Lee, director of the “Gay Christian Network“. What might be interesting to our readers is that this same Justin Lee debated Dr. James White on May 16th prior to the Reformation Montana Conference. I will be sure to let our readers know when the audio and/or video of this debate is available. Unfortunately for the Biola Queer Underground, Dr. James White is also a veteran of debates with Barry Lynn, minister in the United Church of Christ, as well as Bishop Shelby Spong, former Episcopal Bishop, as well as co-author of the book “The Same Sex Controversy”.

The real crux of this issue lies, however, in the curious tendency of homosexuals and their advocates to define their own identity around their sinful sexual proclivities. Make no mistake; Justin Lee, Biola’s Queer Underground, and practically every other homosexual in western society has bought into the meme that their identity centers on their activity. However, let’s think through something. Set Justin’s revisionism aside for the moment. We’ll return to it shortly. If their assertion is correct, would it not be the case that any “identity” which one might profess can become the basis for an “X” Christianity? (Where X is replaced by whatever supposed identity one has.) Well, let’s return to Justin, and examine his argumentation. As we are most concerned with their attempts to revise the reading of Scripture in line with their revisionist, truth-suppressing presuppositions, we’ll examine his eisegesis of 4 Scriptural texts he cites, then proceeds to butcher. It’s (blessedly) short, so we should be able to give it a thorough examination.

Prooftext #1: The Sodom Story (Gen. 19)

This passage is most often referred to by people who haven’t read it. Of all the prooftexts, this one is the least relevant and the least helpful.

According to popular belief, “God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality.” If you read the passage for yourself, you’ll see this isn’t quite the way it happened. Sodom and Gomorrah were set to be destroyed by God for a number of reasons (Ezekiel tells us they were “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned” and “did not help the poor and needy,” among other things [Ezekiel 16:49]). Like any other city in Bible times, these cities were populated primarily by heterosexuals; Lot found husbands for his daughters there.

The only reason people today think of Sodom as “a gay city” is that passage in Genesis 19 where two angels come to warn Lot of the city’s impending destruction, and the men of the city respond to these visitors by forming an angry mob and threatening to gang rape them. What most people don’t know is that this isn’t an isolated incident in Scripture. Judges 19 tells a very similar story about a town mob threatening to gang rape a male visitor in the city of Gibeah, though in that story they end up murdering his concubine instead. Does this mean that in Bible times, the landscape was dotted with “gay cities” everywhere that loved to rape men? Of course not. A threat of gang rape should be interpreted as an act of humiliating violence – a way of saying to a visitor, “You are not welcome here; we’re the big dogs.” (Just imagine if you were in prison and a bunch of big, burly men threatened to rape you. You wouldn’t assume they were gay men hitting on you; you’d realize that they were threatening you with the worst punishment imaginable!) Although it might sound strange to our ears, this would have made sense to the earliest readers of these texts.

Generally, serious Traditionalist scholars don’t use the Sodom story to make their arguments, anyway. They do, however, use the following passages.

Note, first, the well-poisoning at the beginning and end of the discussion. This text is said to be “most often” used by those who “haven’t read” this text. So, since we actually do care about the text, (which, you’ll notice, he doesn’t himself cite, thus perpetuating his own criticism) we will actually cite, and deal with properly.

Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? “For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. “I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD.

Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? “Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.”

And Abraham replied, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. “Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?” And He said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” He spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose forty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do it on account of the forty.”

Then he said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” And he said, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the twenty.” Then he said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the ten.” As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the LORD departed, and Abraham returned to his place.

Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said however, “No, but we shall spend the night in the square.” Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.”

But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. “Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand aside.” Furthermore, they said, “This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.” So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway. Then the two men said to Lot, “Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”

Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, “Up, get out of this place, for the LORD will destroy the city.” But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting. When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. When they had brought them outside, one said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away.”

But Lot said to them, “Oh no, my lords! “Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die; now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved.” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. “Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar. The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the LORD; and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.
-Gen 18:16-19:29

First, the greater context – note that Genesis 13:13 says this. “Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.” As new Testament believers, we also have to account for the New Testament interpretation of a passage. In Jude 1:7, it says “just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.”

Second, note that God is seriously ticked at Sodom and her sister city. It isn’t that God doesn’t know that they really are wicked. He has something to demonstrate by dealing with Abraham and Lot. Abraham, as others in Scripture, is put into a position of intercession, much like that of Moses interceding for Israel before the Lord later on. Also, note that there aren’t even 10 righteous persons in the city.

Third, note that Lot already knew something was wrong in Sodom. He tells the angels not to stay in the open square. He urges them strongly – and his plan, obviously, is to get them into his house while the men of the city are otherwise engaged, and to get them back out early the next morning. Debauchery, as we know, doesn’t lend itself to early mornings.

Now, starting in verse 4, let’s go through in detail.

Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter;

Note carefully that “men” is repeated twice here. “The men of the city, the men of Sodom”. Further, that they surround the house. This is a big group. Not only that, it’s an exhaustive group. All the people (and people has already been defined – the men), and not just young men. Young and old, “from every quarter” – poor and rich, tradesmen and land owners. The sense there is of removing exception. Every single male in Sodom is there.

and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.”

This mob is out for sex, and note that these are all men, and seeking for sex with men. This is the “variety” that is the hallmark of homosexuality. Much is made of “long time partners” and the like, but the fact remains that the vast majority of homosexuals engage in sex with a staggering amount of partners.

Of course, it must be pointed out that many revisionists argue that “relations with them” actually means simply “to know”. So, this is the welcoming committee for the town, and the real sin here is Lot’s lack of hospitality. Of course, this disagrees with multiple other arguments, including Justin’s. Lot’s response to follow is a bit odd, if this were the case – and his insistence that they shouldn’t stay out in the square, and that they take his daughters, rather than to violate the hospitality of his home looks rather odd. Not to mention that they try to break down the door, and the subsequent events.

But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him,

One other note. One common interpretation from revisionists is that the sin of Sodom is solely “the lack of hospitality,” and they typically use the section from Ezekiel to do so. Notice, incidentally, that he doesn’t quote verse 16:50, only verse 49. I wonder why? Go look it up, and the surrounding context. You’ll see exactly why he doesn’t. This is quite obviously not the case, and it is quite interesting to see Justin’s interpretation contradicting that of his fellow revisionist apologists. In any case, Lot shuts the door behind him. Wouldn’t you?

and said, “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly.

They quite obviously don’t like this, as we can see in vs. 9. However, this is probably Lot’s strongest attempt to act righteously in the passage, for what that is worth.

“Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them [fn]whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

Now, here’s something interesting for Justin’s argument. He cites Judges 19 in his interpretation. In that passage, they accept the concubine offered. I don’t know if Lot is trying to pull a fast one here, because he knows they won’t be interested, but it is still an interesting thought. It might be the case that in the Judges 19 passage is a man trying to emulate Lot. The story has a variety of parallels. Including the total destruction of the city in question, incidentally.

But they said, “Stand aside.” Furthermore, they said, “This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them.” So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.

Now, of course, here they include Lot in with the others – and they prepare to carry out their intentions. The two angels snatch Lot inside, and strike the assembled men with blindness. What follows is one of the most damning indictments in Scripture; so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway. Even after being struck with a judicial blindness, they still didn’t give up. Look, folks. This story involves some serious, heavy-duty, utterly amazing depravity. What should strike us as odd about Justin’s attempt here is that he is focusing only on the mode of their sin. The fact that it was rape doesn’t exclude the fact that rape is a more heinous form of… fornication. So, by the same logic, homosexual rape is a more heinous form of… homosexual intercourse. Right?

Just as an aside, were Justin’s assertion concerning “dominance” or some such correct, Lot himself would have been subject to such “hospitality” upon entrance to Sodom. Their comments to Lot suggest that such was not the case. Lot himself was a man of substance, and though he was an alien, their comments suggest that he had not been previously treated in such a manner.

Let’s get real. Most objections of this nature attempt to atomize, or break into disparate and unconnected sections, the text of Scripture. In Jude, which we referenced for you earlier, the objection is sometimes made (contra both Justin AND the “hospitality” proponents, that what is involved is an attempted sex with angels. One problem there. They didn’t know these were angels. Nice try. But in any case, in Jude, this is called “gross immorality” – ἐκπορνεύω – ek, added to porneuō, which serves as an intensification. Porneuo should be fairly familiar to anyone. The other key word in this passage is ἕτερος σάρξ – strange flesh. The JFB commentary remarks that this refers to “departing from the course of nature, and going after that which is unnatural.” In the preceding phrase we discussed, it remarks “following fornication extraordinarily, that is, out of the order of nature.” Now, is this consistent with the interpretation of the other 3 passages he discussed? Let’s see if consistency remains for Justin, as well as for our own discussion.

What is the second reference? A passage which I have done extensive work on, actually. In my Romans exegesis in the initial issue of In Antithesis, I actually skipped over addressing the primary section addressed by Justin, because of space considerations. I did, however, do the same amount of work on this section in my preparation, which I’ll relate to follow. Let’s look at his treatment of the passage.

Prooftext #2: Idols and Consequences (Romans 1:18-32)

Of all the prooftexts, this is the longest and most complex. In the first chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul talks about a group of people who “knew God” but “neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him.” Their hearts are darkened, and they begin worshipping idols. As a direct result of this idol worship, they begin engaging in homosexual behaviors (which they previously were not doing). Ultimately, they become depraved and God gives them over to a whole list of sins.

Most Traditionalists read this passage as referring to all humanity, with the idol worship used as a metaphor rather than a specific event. In their reading of the passage, Paul is essentially saying, “People (in general) have turned from God (represented by idol worship) and as a result, have become sinful (including homosexuality).” I don’t think the language of the passage quite supports that interpretation, however.

Paul begins by talking about all of humanity, to be sure, but he quickly moves to a specific example as a demonstration of humanity’s fallenness. The specific example is one his Roman readers would be immediately familiar with: the fertility cults in Rome, where men and women engaged in sexual orgies that included both heterosexual and homosexual sex rites. Remember, Paul wants a vivid example of fallenness for his audience, something they can all nod their heads in agreement with, because he’s getting ready to turn the tables on them in the next chapter. In ancient Rome, “homosexuality” as a general phenomenon wouldn’t have been the vivid illustration he was looking for (unlike today, when many conservative pastors use it for just that). [3] Roman fertility cults, however, were a great example that served his purpose nicely and required no explanation to his readers.

Notice that Paul talks about homosexuality in connection with the fertility rites (look for the “therefore” in v. 24 and “because of this” in v. 26), and not in the list of sins at the end of the passage. This is our clue that Paul isn’t bringing it up as “another example of sinful behavior.” Why, then, does Paul make such a big deal about the homosexual aspect of these rites? For two reasons: 1) to highlight the “unnaturalness” of turning from God; and 2) to describe the rites in the most unappealing way he can think of, to unify everyone in saying, “Yes! How disgustingly immoral!”

Now let there be no mistake; Paul has nothing positive to say about homosexuality in this passage. Clearly he views it as a bad thing, or at the very least, a “shameful” and “unnatural” thing. We must recognize that. At the same time, we must also recognize that homosexuality is not the point of this passage, even though some Christians today try to use it that way. It’s mentioned for a specific reason in connection with specific acts that were familiar to his audience.

So this passage speaks negatively of homosexual behavior, but on the other hand, it does so in a context which is clearly sinful. Paul does say homosexuality is “shameful” and “unnatural,” but he says the same thing (using the same Greek words) about men with long hair in 1 Corinthians 11:14, and we generally consider that to be cultural. Is this a prohibition for all time, or is it a matter of context, like with the tax collectors? Based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s tough to say. I wouldn’t put too much faith in either reading without something a lot more concrete to back it up.

If I might repeat something of the preceding to begin my reply; I wouldn’t put too much faith in Justin’s reading without something a lot more concrete to back it up. Why do I say that? Let’s examine the text, and Justin’s interpretation of it.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ” BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Now, note that this is the very beginning of Paul’s exposition of the Gospel of God. I won’t duplicate my comments from my article in this space, but you may find it here: In Antithesis, Volume 1. There are 8 pages of exegesis found for the initial remarks of Romans 1:16-25. To set the stage for the discussion that Justin embarks on, I would just point out a few things.

1) The context for the entire discussion of the remainder of Romans 1 is found in vs. 18. “[M]en who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” From that point on, follow the pronouns. In vs. 19; “them”, twice. In vs. 20, “they.” In vs. 21, “they” three times, “their” once. 22; “they.” 24; them, their, their. 25; “they.” Notice this, as well – in verse 26, does the subject change? In the following verses it is still “they”, “them,” and “their.” Paul is still talking about the same people.

2) There is a fundamental connection between the “For” introductions in the successive sections. Paul’s argument throughout Romans is linear. This initial section is quite obviously linear as well. Paul, as is his custom, introduces each section by reference to the preceding, by linking them all together successively. The underlying reason for Y is X. When he is speaking of parallels, he typically says “in the same way” – and here we have an example of this pattern demonstrated.

3) Note the significance of “gave them over.” This phrase is used several times in this text, and has great bearing on what this text discusses.

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ” BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

I’m not going to reproduce the entirety of my exegesis here, obviously, but will point out several key points. Firstly, the following discussion relates to truth suppression. That which is known, and “held down”, or “suppressed.” All of the discussion to follow is related to this point. Secondly, note that those who suppress the truth are without excuse.

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Again, just a few points, and responses to Justin’s assertions.

These men know God. Not honoring God, or giving thanks to God as He is due is idolatry. This is not metaphorical for idolatry, nor is it a “placeholder” for other sins by use of this metaphor. At base, all sin is fundamentally idolatry. As Calvin says, the human heart is a veritable factory of idols. Every wrong desire, every wrong thought is an idolatrous one. The worship of a carven image is the most obvious example – but only the most obvious. All sin is idolatry. The contrast with “honor” and “thanks” is “futile speculation” and “darkened hearts.” Their profession of wisdom is actually foolishness. Yet… look at the next phrase; “and exchanged.” This is also going to be important. There is a thematic comparison of exchange he will follow here, and it behooves us to pay attention to it. The attempt Justin makes to insert “Roman fertility cults” is purely eisegetical. He doesn’t support this contention, nor does he argue for it in the slightest. It’s simply assumed, as if it’s something that goes without saying. What strikes us as strange is that one the one hand, we’re being told that “homosexuality wouldn’t be all that strange” on the one hand – but open aspects of the very cultural religion of the day somehow would? Further, it also bears mentioning that many revisionists attempt to say that there was no homosexuality in ancient culture, only pederasty! So, which is it? Back to Justin’s point, why on earth would homosexuality not be odd, yet Roman religion would be odd… in Rome? This is an exceedingly odd statement. Justin makes no attempt to support this assertion. He just throws it out there, seemingly in the hope that nobody will think through the implications of it.

Where in the text is there talk of “Roman fertility cults”? Nowhere in the text. Yet, it is confidently asserted that this is speaking of Roman fertility cults. We aren’t told why, nor is any argumentation forthcoming. This is an example of eisegesis. Paul’s audience is the same audience to whom he quotes large sections of the Old Testament. Are we honestly expecting his audience not to consider homosexuality abominable under the moral law? ALL of the Roman religious system is abominable. It wouldn’t matter whether it was meat sacrifices to idols or sexual fertility sacrifices. It isn’t speaking about physical idols, and there is no evidence that he is speaking of fertility cults. Justin speaks of “turning the tables” in the next chapter – but in a typically antinomian style, he simply dismisses the law without explanation of why a statute is considered not part of the moral law. As with the implication he draws for Paul, he seems to feel he needs to give no explanation to his readers. His treatment of Romans 1 is exceptionally shallow.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural

“For this reason” – διὰ τοῦτο – the same phrase from Matt 6:25 – “For this reason I say do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” This immediately follows Christ’s antithetical statement – no man can serve two masters. For this reason… these men who suppress the truth cannot serve two masters. For this reason, God gave them over. Notice, in the preceding verses. There is an “exchange” that takes place. One cannot escape the talk of an “exchange” here. In verses 23, 25, and 26, a form of ἀλλάσσω is used. In 23, the corruptible is exchanged for the corruptible. In 25, the truth for a lie, the creature instead of Creator. In 26, the natural function for the unnatural function. This is not merely “the worship of idols” which, supposedly, as a “direct result,” ends up at homosexuality. In contradiction to Justin’s unsupported assertion, let’s look at the text.

Regarding vs. 23, I say in the above paper; “The suppression of the truth seen earlier is here expressed. The exchange of glory for the Creator is with glory for the creature. Of the incorruptible, the immortal (ἄφθαρτος), for the corruptible, the mortal (φθαρτός). Note the antithesis in the forms here – ἄ is the only change in the two words – the negation of φθαρτός. This exchange is of the real thing, for the image of the real thing. The ἐν ὁμοιώματι εἰκόνος φθαρτοῦ for δόξαν τοῦ ἀφθάρτου θεοῦ. I cannot help but note the connection of this exchange to the “darkened” (σκοτίζω) in vs. 21. The picture hearkens back to Matthew 4:16, Luke 2:32, Ephesians 5, and will be seen shortly in 2:19; it also finds parallel in 1Tim. 6:16; μόνος ἔχων ἀθανασίαν φῶς οἰκῶν ἀπρόσιτον. The light of the incorruptible wisdom and glory of God is exchanged for the darkness of corruption, foolishness, and dishonor.”

Followed by: “We again see διό used to tie the previous verse and this verse together. Because of the preceding, God delivers them up, gives them over (παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς). What does He give them over in, or to? ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῶν καρδιῶν αὐτῶν εἰς ἀκαθαρσίαν – in the lusts, or desires of their foolishly darkened hearts, to impurity. They are in the state of their lustful foolishness, and God gives them over to impurity. For what reason? τοῦ ἀτιμάζεσθαι τὰ σώματα αὐτῶν ἐν αὐτοῖς – that their bodies might be dishonored among them. Interestingly, this seems to be a direct tie to their refusal to honor God in vs. 21. If God is not honored, he gives them over to dishonor the very things that they are professing to honor, instead. That which they have exchanged for is thus shown to be just as worthless as their speculations are.”

Notice something – it is the desires they are given in, and in those, to impurity. Let’s make a connection here.

The expression of their faces bears witness against them, And they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. Isaiah 3:9

Notice here; The subjects of this prophecy bring evil upon themselves. In vs. 24, we see that they dishonor their own bodies. In verse 26, we see that in their own persons they receive the due penalty of their error. There is a direct tie to Sodom, and not to gang rape, but to homosexual intercourse. It is quite obvious that homosexuality brings about bodily harm. The life expectancy of homosexuals is far lower than that of heterosexuals. There are ravaging diseases that go along with this behavior. In the greater context, we see many of the same sins listed, we see arrogance addressed, as with the Ezekiel passage.

The example of homosexuality is used because, quite simply, it demonstrates the twistedness of sin. Sin twists you upon yourself so that you exchange the creature for the Creator, the corruptible for the incorruptible, a lie for the truth, and the unnatural for the natural. Note; this is not a series of “direct causations” – it is a a series of condemnations. Given over, given over, given over. Exchanged, exchanged, exchanged.

The passions called “degrading” in vs 26 are recapitulated in vs. 27, where “in the same way” men burn with desire toward one another. This isn’t a temporal thing. This is a consequences of the giving over – of the exchange that takes places when they are given over. Dare I say it, reprobated. When God’s common grace is lifted, the depravity of man is loosed, and this is being used as an example of the overall whole. There is a reason the phrase “given over” is repeated in vs. 28 – but there is a very interesting phrase in 28 as well. As stated in my paper, “The opening clause, καὶ καθὼς οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν, speaks of a voluntary act – a refusal to acknowledge, deem worthy, or fitting, having God in their knowledge. God’s response, since they do not deem it fitting (οὐκ ἐδοκίμασαν) to have Him in their everyday knowledge, gives them over to an unfit mind (ἀδόκιμον νοῦν). In essence, the judgment is commensurate with the crime – as we saw in the last two verses.” “For Paul, (and for Christ, of course) the operation of the mind is just as morally culpable as the work of the hands. Thus, in every thought of every mind, there is a moral element inherent in it. Hence, we cannot look at knowledge as simply intellectual; we cannot separate out the effect of sin on the mind, nor can we separate out the moral culpability of our mind from the equation, if we are to have a truly Biblical epistemology. In fact, our conception of epistemology cannot be divorced from the rest of our theological system; it must be organic to it, and be taught by it as part of the system as a whole. What knowledge is, what it consists of, is moral as much as it is intellectual.” In other words, Paul is drawing our attention back, after giving this example of God’s judgmental “giving over”, and the requisite “exchange” involved, to call our attention to the rest of the sins caused by a “darkened heart”. It is fitting to note that “darkened” is used of the worldly – and that the initial phrase is “and just as”. Paul is continuing the same thought, while redirecting the attention. He hasn’t introduced a whole new category here, and starting afresh. He is drawing our attention to the rest of what a darkening shows itself in.

He brings us full circle, in essence. He begins with “filled with all unrighteousness,” which references that truth suppression in unrighteousness that he began with. Incidentally, I would make the case that the sin he outlined previously, that of homosexuality, is included in this. He treats “them” the same way throughout all of the preceding, and all of the sins listed thereafter are all still referring to those who suppress the truth. Thus, it is the cardinal head of the list. It’s not necessary to list all of these sins, but I would ask – would Justin be up for sponsoring a “Deceitful Christian Network”? Ergun Caner would be happy to get on board, I’m sure.

So, in summary for this text: Justin eisegetically inserts roman fertility cults; assumes direct causation from worship of physical idols, although no such discussion is within the text; and ends up with “well, we don’t know, and it’s all so confusing!” Which, while quite helpful in demonstrating that he doesn’t really believe that we can know these were Roman fertility cults being discussed, doesn’t do much of anything for his contention.

Prooftext #3: The Sinful “Arsenokoitai” (1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:10)

Aside from Romans, the only other New Testament reference to homosexuality occurs in two passages known as “vice lists,” in which Paul casually mentions the “arsenokoitai” as a group of sinners. People spend a lot of time debating about the translation of this word, because it appears only rarely in ancient writings. Even the translators of the NIV couldn’t seem to make up their minds about it; it’s translated as “homosexual offenders” in 1 Corinthians, but as “perverts” in 1 Timothy.

The word arsenokoitai is a compound word in Greek, and the parts of the word make reference to “male” and “bed,” which indicates that this word probably referred to some kind of male homosexual behavior. The same Greek words (“male” and “bed”) appear in the Greek translation of the Leviticus passage I’m going to discuss in a moment, which tells men not to lie (“bed”) with a man (“male”), giving support to this theory. On the other hand, we must be careful not to assume too much; Greek compound words don’t always mean what they might appear to mean. “Cyclops” in Greek is a compound word literally meaning “round eye,” but we know from ancient literature that a cyclops was a mythical giant man having only one eye – which makes sense once we get the connection, but isn’t something we could have figured out without all the literary references.

Still, I think that it’s fairly safe to assume that the arsenokoitai of Paul’s day were men engaging in some kind of homosexual behavior. But what kind of behavior? That’s pretty much impossible to know for sure. Whatever it is, it would have to be something fairly common and well-known to Paul’s audience; these are very short lists of common sinners (e.g. thieves, greedy, liars, etc.) everyone would be readily acquainted with. The most likely explanation is that Paul is referring to a practice that was fairly common in the Greek culture of his day – married men who had sex with male youths on the side.

The extramarital relationships of men with boys in ancient Greece are infamous even today. Archaeological and literary evidence prove that these relationships were common for centuries in Greece, though they were frowned upon by many even while they were publicly practiced. This would make a perfect target for Paul’s vice lists, and it would explain why, in both lists, he mentions the sin of the arsenokoitai separately after he mentions adultery – because technically, by Greek thought, having a boy on the side wasn’t adultery.

Another piece of evidence for this interpretation is the Greek word malakoi, which appears next to arsenokoitai in the 1 Corinthians passage. Malakoi literally means “soft ones,” and could be translated simply to mean “morally lax.” However, many scholars believe that “malakoi” and “arsenokoitai” are meant to be taken together, so that the malakoi are the young men who service the arsenokoitai. For this reason, the Jerusalem Bible translates malakoi to mean “Catamites” (that is, young male prostitutes), the New American Catholic translation says “boy prostitutes,” and the New International Version reads “male prostitutes.” [4] Personally, I don’t think that “prostitute” is the best word to use to describe these relationships, but it does at least convey the idea of a sexual relationship outside of marriage without getting into an entire history lesson.

That’s it for the New Testament, but there’s still one Old Testament passage we haven’t covered.

As usual, the revisionist talks about “arsenekotai” while throwing fluff to see whether he can obscure the issue. As Jeff Neal says, it refers to “what men do with men in bed – and it ain’t eating crackers.” Again, note the Ehrmanesque appeals to history, but then the “but we don’t know!” appended to it. He does this over and over, and over – while making confident assertions concerning what was true in ancient societies. Convenient, that. It’s almost humorous. “Without all the literary references?” Folks.. he’s talking to a New Testament church. Granted, a rather rowdy and not especially well-behaved church, but he’s directly referencing the Old Testament in using this word. It’s obvious what is referred to. Since the next appeal is going to be to West Wing type “but we don’t know what the law is!” nonsense that evangellyfish eat up with spoons, it equates to a non-answer. Hear me plainly. Justin doesn’t even answer the objection here. All he does is obfuscate and throw dust in your eyes. When Paul directly appeals to the law as if they know what that law is – and Justin says “but we don’t know what the law is” – this is a non-answer. A Casey at the Bat of monumental ignorance. He swings, and misses. Mighty Casey has struck out. He appeals to a “most likely” explanation. Why? Why on earth would members in a New Testament church think “whatever arsenokoitai means”, after having been visited by Paul prior to this, and second, why on earth would that have any relationship to pederasty? Is it just me, or does Justin have an obsession with reading it in any other way but that which flows plainly? Lastly, note the variety of bad translations and paraphrases that he cites for the meaning of malakoi. There is a reason for that, folks. To sum up; Justin not only doesn’t make an argument, but wouldn’t know one in these passages if it smacked him upside the head. It always amazes me that these folks take interpretations nobody has ever assigned to these passages, and say that they’re all of a sudden “obvious” or “most likely”. Folks, if they were that obvious, or “most likely”, don’t you think there would be early commentators, closer to the scene, who would have noted that? Come now. Let’s be serious. Be honest. Why is it that Justin is dodging the historical, plain reading of the text? He does so to attempt to justify things that he is suppressing the truth concerning.

Just a word to the wise about these sorts of arguments. If you’re going to engage in these arguments, you need to have a fairly good idea of what the law is, and how it is applied. For instance, Justin’s argument is that this is essentially “cultural” in Leviticus. Immediately, one would want to ask whether the command to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength is likewise cultural. However, we have to be able to clearly articulate what falls under the ceremonial and what falls under the moral law of God. So many of these arguments are not only contradictory to those of other revisionists, but even self-contradictory, such as Justin’s “we don’t know” coupled with his frequent historical appeals. I’m not going to respond to his whole article. My primary concern was his faceplant in Romans 1. I’ll be posting as soon as I know where Dr. White’s debate with Justin is available. His debates with Barry Lynn, Shelby Spong and others are also quite informative as starting points for your study.

My personal note to students at Biola; I’m fairly adamant in opposing the apologetics program at your school. What I would encourage you to do is surpass your teachers when it comes to sound exegesis of the Word. Only then will you be equipped to answer this sort of superficial objection, but plausible from the standpoint of the world. Fight the good fight! Don’t let them simply assert all of this nonsense. Make them prove it. Take them to the text. They will not do well there, I assure you. For Biola Queer Underground; Get a better champion. I don’t mean Matthew Vines, either.


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