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H3 Four kinds of love in the Bible, When Love is not Love

(Warning – mature content, parental guidance, items of a sexual nature are discussed)

In Agape – First Things First – Christians Love we learn that the love of God is the great commandment of God and the mark of the true believer. But not every place that the word love is used in our English Bible does it mean this love of God.

There are four different Greek words translated love in the English Bible, and they mean different things.

The four words are:

  • Agape – unselfish, unconditional love
  • Phileo – friendship
  • Eros – sexual, romantic love
  • Storge – familial affection

The Definition of Love is a Huge Cultural Topic.

There are some popular songs along the line of love is just love. In fact, Love is Love is a popular song by Grace Potter. It’s a song about infidelity where love is the justification for it.

LeeAnn rhymes wrote a named song Love is Love is Love which is a pro LGBTQ song. Here are some of the lyrics:

“These politics and religion
Everyday they’re starting wars
And we believe we’re not the hateful, no no
When we can dance with the worst of them
When we can sing with our enemies “

In this song, LeAnn projects that anyone that disagrees with the LGBTQ agenda is a hater. But in the song, she does promote hating the hate, not the hater. Hating the sin, not the sinner has been a theme in Christianity for who knows how long.

Love is love is an LGBTQ mantra sold on T-shirts and other paraphernalia. A visit to a gay pride site reveals that mantra along with things like, being Bi is not a choice, being gay is not a choice, being trans is not a choice, do you know what is a choice? Homophobia!.i And then the mantra Love is Love. The LGBTQ point being that any of those lifestyles is not by choice (see H2 Born Gay: Scientific Fact or False Idol of Bad Science?) and they do involve the argument that love and any kind of love is love and is therefore okay and anyone who disagrees with that is just wrong and a hater and so on and so forth.

But, even people in those camps will draw the line at some things. For example, incest. Incest is sex between immediate family members, and in some jurisdictions, first, or even second cousins. For example, in the United States over half of the states ban sexual relations between cousins while the remainder does not. That begs the question of whether love is love there.

Or even more taboo, bestiality! Did you know that bestiality is not illegal in ten states in the US?ii There are three countries in Europe where it is still legal.iii But in most places it is taboo. Sexual love between people and animals in those places banning bestiality is not considered love. Do the people in favor of bestiality call the rest of us bestiphobes?.

There are even groups that advocate for the decriminalization of pedophilia. That is another love that today almost everyone sees as taboo. But the point is that the procession of homosexuality from taboo to legal is an example that what is taboo today could be legal tomorrow. That is true especially if the rule is that all love is love. But the truth is that not all love is love everywhere under all conditions. The disagreement then is what are legitimate conditions. Fifty years ago the argument was for free love, that is sexual love outside of marriage to be acceptable. Today the push is for LGBTQ loves to be acceptable. What is coming tomorrow?

Examples of Different Kinds of Love in the Bible.

Agape – the Love of God

Agape love is the topic of Agape – First Things First – Christians Love. Basically, the greatest love in the Bible is agape. In fact, it is written that God is love:

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1Jn 4:8 ESV)

The words used for love in the above verse are both the verb and noun forms of the Greek word agape.

As we saw in the above-mentioned article agape is the love that we as Christians are called to live.

While it is hard to put into words the greatness of this love we must try. Agape love, the love of God, is the subject of many verses in the Bible including first Corinthians chapter 13:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1Co 13:1-13 ESV)

Some of the highlights to me are that Love is patient, kind, rejoicing, and enduring. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and never ends. Of all the fruit of the Spirit it is the most powerful and important.

It is impossible to quantify this love. In I John it is written that God is love. That is so huge! Agape, the love of God, is God himself, Everything that you can imagine about being good and awesome is in there and then some. That’s our God and that’s the love that we are called to live.

Phileo Love – Friendship

Phileo love is a category of love that refers th that special bond between friends:

… there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Pro 18:24b ESV)

Here we see a closeness referred to that is closer than family. That is the potential of friendship.

In the Bible a very interesting place where we see this friendship love being talked about is regarding Lazarus:

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” (Joh 11:1-3 ESV)

Now we all know this great story of Lazarus and how Jesus waited until Lazarus was actually dead before he came to heal him. And the resulting miracle is of great note in that Lazarus was raised from the dead.

But this is also an illustration of the fact that our Lord and Savior had friends. Verse three refers to the person that Jesus loved, and the word love there is phileo. Another way to translate it would’ve been “was friends with.”

A very interesting example in the Scripture that contrasts two Greek words, agape, and phileo is in John chapter 21:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. (Joh 21:15-17 ESV)

The first two times that Jesus asked Peter if he loves him he uses the word agape, but Peter responds with the word phileo. The third time that Jesus asked Peter if he loves them he uses the word phileo, and again Peter responds with phileo. In the English, this looks like they’re using the same word but in the Greek, we see that they are not which shines new light on what is going on here. Jesus is asking Peter if he loves him with the love of God to which Peter never responds that he does. But he does respond that he loves him as a friend. In the end, Jesus charges him to feed his sheep, to pastor his flock.

We are not called to have this special phileo love with everyone. In fact, Paul writes:

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Rom 12:18 ESV)

This verse expresses the reality that you will not be able to live as peaceably with some as others. Not everyone will be that special phileo friend, but we still are called to agape love them,

And not all friendships are good! Look at these verses:

Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1Co 15:33 ESV)

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. (Pro 13:20 ESV)

One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Pro 12:26 ESV)

Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways, for the devious person is an abomination to the LORD, but the upright are in his confidence. (Pro 3:31-32 ESV)

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (Jas 4:4 ESV)

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. (Pro 20:19 ESV)

There are some strong admonitions here. You may be attracted to certain people as friends who are not good for you. Basically, if someone is following the ways of the world they may be an influence for you to do likewise. Stay away from the violent person, the devious person, the foolish person, the babbler. Don’t make friends with people that will increase your temptation to sin!

If you tend to drink too much stay away from people who drink too much. Any person that manifests a tendency to do things that tempt you is probably not a good person for you. People get caught up in all kinds of things; lying, stealing, gossiping, envying, being lazy, hooking up (sexually), drugs. And it may not be apparent right away.

That isn’t to say you can’t be friends with a person with flaws because we all have flaws. But being friends with someone who is weak in a flaw that you are also weak in is flirting with disaster.

On the other hand, there are cases where God calls people to help flawed people with caution:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. (Gal 6:1 ESV)

There is a great benefit of friendship. If you are caught up in some flaw and someone could help you get out of it, wouldn’t that be great? Or maybe you could be the inspiration for someone else to overcome something! How great would that be!

That brings us to something else. The bible has some good things to say about the benefits of friends:

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Pro 17:17 ESV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! (Ecc 4:9-10 ESV)

How great it is to have a friends to help each other out in times of need,

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Pro 27:17 ESV)

You want to have sharp friends! And you should want to be a sharp friend yourself.

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered. (Pro 11:13 ESV)

Are you a person that blabs everything they hear? You won’t be a good friend. Good friends keep secrets so that there is trust. With trust, you can feel safe. Good friends can confide in each other.

And the Bible teaches us that it is not about how many friends you have but how good they are. Good, good friends are precious gifts:

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Pro 18:24 ESV)

Eros – Sexual, Romantic Love

Sexual love is its own category. We are attracted to some people and not to others. That, of course, does mean that God okays pursuing every attraction we feel. King David was severely admonished for chasing his attraction with Bathsheba, a married women. She got pregnant! David schemed to cover it up! When he couldn’t he schemed to have Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, a valiant man, killed! God sent Samuel to reprove David for his sin:

And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’”

(2Sa 12:1-12 ESV)

This isn’t just about the murder of Uriah. Samuel says David despised God by taking another man’s wife. This is definitely against infidelity and adultery as not being something to pursue because love is love.

However, God is in favor of sexual love and believers have celebrated it throughout history. The Song of Solomon is in many ways an erotic poem. You don’t have to go further than the first verses to see that this is about love in the bedroom:

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine; your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you. Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers. Others We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you. (Son 1:2-4 ESV)

“His chambers” is his bedroom! This whole book is talking about romantic, sexual love.

The Greek word Eros isn’t found in the New Testament other than being in the root of a name: Erastus. But it is in the Old Testament as found in the Septuagint. It’s found in the context of both legal and illicit love. Here’s an example of “legal” use.

the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. (Est 2:17 ESV)

The king loved (eros, romantic, sexual love) Esther more than all the women.

In the next verse, the word lover has as its root this erotic, sexual love. This is in the context of illicit love as it involves the multiple lovers of a loose woman:

Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. (Hos 2:10 ESV)

The love that a man and his wife share is this eros love. But, interestingly, when the husbands are commanded to love their wives the word used is agape, not eros!

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (Eph 5:25 ESV)

Husbands aren’t commanded to romantically love their wives here, rather, they are commanded to love with the love of God. The commandment is that husbands are not just to love their wives romantically and sexually, but with the whole love of God.

In like manner, in the context of the LGBTQ mantra, “Love is Love”, any kind of romantic, sexual love falls in the eros category which is clearly different from the agape love that we as believers are commanded to live. Eros love is not Agape love. Again, while the Love is Love mantra certainly has an emotional charge to it, it has flaws in its argument.

Storge Love or Lack of it

The last Greek word, storge, that we’re going to look at is found in the New Testament only in its opposite sense. By that I mean the word is used in a couple of places to indicate a lack of appropriate affection:

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. (Rom 1:29-31 ESV)

The word heartless above is the Greek word storge meaning hard-hearted, heartless, without natural affection toward. Another example is:

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, (2Ti 3:2-3 ESV)

Again, storge is translated heartless here. Both these examples show lists of sins, deficiencies, that mark people that are the opposite of true believers.

The theme here is to guard against losing your natural affection and becoming hard-hearted.

In Summary

There they are, the four words for love in the Bible; agape, phileo, eros, and storge, They all have their place. If we want to live in holiness, we need to be careful to love in each of these categories in the way God has called us. Just because we are attracted to a person in either a friend way or a romantic one does not mean that it is a good thing as God has called us to be holy in all the ways we love.

ihttps://www.pinterest.com/pin/299348706462963455/

iiFor Nat’l Cousins Day, 3 Legal Facts About Cousin Relations, https://blogs.findlaw.com/law_and_life/2014/07/for-natl-cousins-day-3-legal-facts-about-cousin-relations.html

iiiDenmark passes law to ban bestiality, http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/article/32411241/denmark-passes-law-to-ban-bestiality

December 8th, 2019 Posted by | Homosexualtiy, Sermons | no comments

H2 Born Gay: Scientific Fact or False Idol of Bad Science?

The science of whether sexual orientation is biological is pretty sparse and full of disparate, mixed and unreplicated findings.i

I’ll get right to the point. The above line from a USA Today article challenges the simple rallying cry of the gay rights movement, born gay, that is the basis for the huge shift in both the cultural and political attitude towards the LGBTQ community,

The article goes on to elaborate that using that slogan has been “central” to moving the population to their cause, The pro-gay argument is that if people can’t be helped then denying them political rights is wrong.

Christian gay rights activists have extended the logic to how gays should be treated in the church. The Christian gay movement has grown to now include a new theological framework that revises the previous teaching on homosexuality and teaches that homosexual sex in a monogamous marriage is blessed by God. The basis of this is traced back to the born gay mantra. As one pro-gay writer put it, “It’s simply who you are” (so its wrong call the behavior wrong.) ii

The USA Today article further articulates on the born gay debate. It quotes Jane Ward, a university professor and author of Not Gay, Sex Between White Men. Regarding the being born gay issue, Ward says that anyone that supports gay rights has to believe the “born gay” mantra even while many LGBTQ don’t believe it claiming it shouldn’t be necessary for them to have their rights. Ward calls it “almost an obligatory story”. But she further explains that it really isn’t that simple and she says that over time people do take ownership of their queerness (as opposed to being born that way).

The concept that is at stake is fixed versus fluid nature in sexuality. If people are born gay then that sexual nature is fixed. But if it is not fixed then it is called fluid because it can change.

Its a great article (the link is on the endnotes). But, the article dismisses the idea that the opposite of born gay is a simple choice, rather elaborates on the history of the science of sexuality pioneered by Alfred Kinsey and goes on to explain that sexuality is not purely biological but a combination of biology, psychology, and social interaction. Gayness isn’t turned on with a simple decision, rather a complex interaction of biological, social, and psychological factors from the toys kids play with to social interactions to physiological conditions interacting behind the process. Everything points to it being a complicated process scientifically with no clear answers yet. Read the article for all the details but here are some key points.

Identical twins are great cases to show the genetic component involved in an aspect of people lives. The article points out that if one of the twins is gay it is more likely that the other is straight than gay, powerfully suggesting that DNA alone is not determinant in the process that results in a person becoming homosexual.

There are many LGBTQ who do not identify themselves as born gay, rather they say that their sexuality is fluid. They argue that their rights should not need this false slogan, but argue the legitimacy of their cause for other reasons.

Studies that show differences biologically between gay and straight don’t determine whether biology caused the difference or the difference caused the biology. There is an interesting study by Simon Levay of the size of the hypothalamus being different in the autopsies of gay vs straight men that is used to illustrate that point.

This article highlights some of the issues in of same-sex marriage and the promotion of individuals promoting LGBTQ in the church.

Remember, it’s not just Conservatives that cry that the science of “born gay” is flawed, its Pro-Gay groups that argue also that the science is not only not there but shouldn’t be needed. iii “The false belief in biological determinism does considerable damage.” iv The article with that line goes on to say that the reason that scientists and activists alike have promoted this fiction is the fear of the perception that the opposite of born gay is a simple choice. The article also argues the complexity of the process that ends in the way that sexual nature is expressed. This article, by a sociologist, argues heavily on the importance of social construction. In fact, he argues that gender, as well as race for that matter, does have some biological underpinnings, but is more due to social construction than anything else. He cites as an example the Brazilian saying that “money whitens” and enables people of color to move up the social ladder. In the article he calls the born gay argument the “false idol of bad science.”v Yes, the part of the title of this article referring to bad science doesn’t come from a conservative Christian, it refers to a pro gay article written by a sociologist.

This is a huge debate. You can see a pro and con debate side by side at borngay.procon.orgvi. This page is not a debate by average Joes, rather, everyone has a string of initials after their name. The pro side shows actual participants who swear they didn’t make the choice to be gay. They affirm the APA statements ruling homosexuality as normal as scientific proof of the legitimacy of their claim. It includes statements by people who believe that their gayness is absolutely in their DNA.

The Con challenges the scientific basis, begs for the proof of the genetic component of homosexuality and cites the counter cases: people who have changed from gay to straight, the prison phenomenon where individuals become “gay” for their term and then revert to straight when released.

Statements of any type including that homosexuality is not outside the realm of normal behavior by the APA and the AMA are not scientific proof. They are opinions of people with training in their field. Scientific proof requires tests that show reproducible results in a laboratory. Not too long ago both groups had very different stances on this and a host of issues. Of course, everyone believes that both medical science and psychology have advanced with the times. And I certainly go to the doctor and have talked with psychologists, both with good results, although, like a lot of people, not always. But these are organizations that in my lifetime, while I was young, performed vibrator treatments on women to cure hysteria and lobotomies to cure mental illness. My point is that these groups have always been capable of promoting policies that everyone now agrees are unsound. To use their statements now as scientific proof to revise biblical interpretation is at the very least, premature. People don’t normally go to a medical doctor or psychologist for spiritual advice, and this area is no exception.

Sexual issues are very powerful, and complicated. Consequently, they are very hard to deal with. The multiplicity of issues involved in the LGBTQ world are no exception.

The above statement does not mean they are beyond God’s power. As Christians, we say we believe that God has the power to change, to heal, and to deliver. Programs and examples that haven’t worked are not proof that God can’t work in this powerful, emotional, complicated area.

Consequently, Pro-gay Christian proponents that argue the born gay argument and say that the homosexuality as sin doctrine has to be revised because it produces the negative fruits of depression, despair, and even suicide because they were born that way are misguided. That argument only holds if it’s really true that gays are born that way. Not only is there not any proof to justify that position, but counter-proofs like the existence of ex-gays, the testimony of scientists including pro-gay scientists that teach that sexuality is fluid and the testimony of some current gays that sexuality is not fixed besides all these ex-gays professing that fact all lead to the conclusion that the born Gay slogan has been a powerful argument that is still heavily promoted, but is, in fact, fiction.

iUSA Today article “’Born that way’? It’s way more complicated than that dated June 15, 2017 and updated April 10, 2018 located at https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/16/born-way-many-lgbt-community-its-way-more-complex/395035001/

iiGod and the Gay Christian, Matthew Vines, Convergent Books, New York, 2014, p. 29

iiiAeon, Why Should Gay Rights Depend on Being Born This Way?, at https://aeon.co/essays/why-should-gay-rights-depend-on-being-born-this-way

ivIbid

vIbid

vihttps://borngay.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001335

August 21st, 2019 Posted by | Homosexualtiy, Koine (Biblical) Greek | no comments

H1 Homosexuality Revisited

This is an article primarily about what the Bible says about homosexuality, not about culture, or individual people and relationships. But because culture and individual people and relationships are involved I am going to say that in the United States and a lot of the western world a cultural shift has been going on where there is now not only a substantial population that accepts homosexuality as well as a number of the LGBTQ objectives, but same-sex marriage and some of the LGBTQ objectives have become law in many places.

From being rejected in the not-too-distant past LGTBQ objectives are now promoted on public and commercial media networks. So they are part of both main street media and public education. The movement has swept the culture to the point that LGBTQ practitioners have identified themselves both as victims and cultural heroes very similar to the black cause with its history of civil rights abuses and slavery.

That is not by any means to say that there have not been civil rights abuses of LGBTQ practitioners.  Setting aside the biblical issue of whether LGBTQ is allowed or disallowed by scripture, the participants in this behavior have been mistreated  socially far worse than people with what are generally accepted as social ills in the sexual arena.   Presidents and top  leaders have had affairs and mistresses and people winked. Even with the me too movement I doubt that behavior is over. People use prostitutes, and don’t have groups chasing them to beat them up. Philanderers are recognized as participating in a activity harmful to society but they have not been treated as badly simply because they are participating in hetero versus same sex activities.  They didn’t automatically lose their jobs, get beaten up, or worse.  That behavior is changing somewhat with this movement and that is a good thing.

Even beyond that, this is a powerful, emotional issue because so many of us know, have family members, have met, and work with people in the LGBTQ community, and many of them are nice people. Many are loving people, talented people.  We are talking about friends and associates, even loved ones.

While you can find scoundrels in any class of people including the church, many LGBTQ people are talented, loving, people who may even hold high positions in different aspects of society like media, business, and government. Because of these relationships with people that have good qualities in their life it becomes very hard these days emotionally for even ardent traditional conservative people of faith not to want to avoid having to take a stand against homosexuality and LGBTQ objectives.

So the question then becomes not whether these are nice, talented people who have something possibly to contribute but whether same-sex marriage and LGBTQ objectives are something the word of God allows.

Homosexuality in the Church and Bible
While there are clear verses in the Bible that talk about homosexuality, there are disputes over what they mean and how they should be applied today. Evangelical, fundamental, and most mainline churches speak loudly against homosexuality although the number appears to be diminishing some. On the other hand, some Episcopal, some Lutheran, Presyterian, and other liberal Christian churches reject that view and accept homosexuality to the point of ordaining gay bishops, and accepting gay marriage.i

Furthermore, the acronym LGBTQ, stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.  Some churches are now including this in the discussion saying that people with these orientations not only should be accepted, but they are worthy of being leaders in the church.

Biblical Basis

First of all this is a discussion of sexual nature, attraction, and intercourse.  There is no ban on men loving men or women loving women.  On the contrary, our command is to love all.  And people have been making close personal friends with people of the same sex since Adam.  That is not an issue.  There is no ban on same sex friendships.  The issue is whether same sex sexual relationships are endorsed or not in the bible.

Homosexuality means same sex.  It is a scientific term but the term “same sex” is gaining popularity over homosexuality.  They mean the same thing and have the same connotation as regarding marriage and sexual relations.  Everyone acknowledges that biblical verses talk about homosexuality. They argue about the interpretation of the verses. For example;

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.  (Lev 18:22 ESV)

and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.  (Rom 1:27 ESV)

As stated above, to the majority of Christians, these verses speak loudly against accepting homosexuality in any form. Homosexuality is thus clearly defined as a sin. Moreover, it is a very serious matter as this behavior can result in ministers being defrocked, and members being disciplined. To the majority of Christians, homosexuality identifies a behavior, an act that is sinful. There is no biblical mention of any kind of acceptable homosexual relationship, and the argument is that if the act is sinful then there is no allowable relationship allowed for which this activity is an integral part. On the other hand, heterosexual marriage is allowable, and even honored, because while sex between unmarried partners is sinful, sex between married partners is an honorable act.

Liberal proponents use multiple arguments to counter these mainstream ideas. They argue that Levitical laws are not necessarily binding as we do not practice many of them, i.e., an eye for an eye, stoning people caught in adultery, etc. They argue that Leviticus 18:22 only refers to anal intercourse, not the forming of a loving bond between two people of the same sex who wish to cohabit together. Some even cite that the translations are biased and do not present the truth in their current form. For example, according to the National Gay Pentecostal Alliance (NGPA) interpretation, the verse should read, “And with a male thou shalt not lie down in beds of a woman; it is an abomination. That is, “rather than forbidding male homosexuality, it simply restricts where it may occur.”ii

While the point that many of the Levitical laws do not apply to the Christian Church has validity, the passage in Romans is not limited to Levitical Law.  Paul is talking about what homosexuality represents in a letter to Christians.  We are Christians so he is talking to us.

Since the argument is that the verses are mistranslated by biased translators it becomes important to look at the meaning of the words.

Romans 1:18-27 directly addresses same sex relations in Paul’s epistle. A look at the context of shows this:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  (Rom 1:18-25 ESV)

The context here is ungodliness and unrigheousness of men. This is clearly talking about behaviors that God does not want us to do.  In this explanation Paul writes that he is talking about people that know God.  This is very harsh language, as harsh as anywhere when talking about people being foolish.  In this context we see that Paul is writing about believers worshipping idols.  As a bi-product of this idol worship, these believers dishonored their bodies, because they exchanged the truth of God for a lie.

Then we get to Romans 1:26-27 where it talks about same sex relations of both women and men:

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.  (Rom 1:26-27 ESV)

In Romans 1:26 we read that God calls their passions (desires) “dishonorable” and it calls same sex sexual relations  “unnatural”.

At this point I want to address the fact that no matter what the reason that people do this behavior it is still called dishonorable and unnatural. That cannot be emphacized enough.  I have read the argument that what is bad here is worshipping idols and the behavior looked at here is pointed out as bad because they were worshipping idols.  That is faulty logic.  Yes, they fell into this behavior because they worshipped idols.  But the behavior is unnatural and dishonorable no matter what the cause.  Another way to look at it here is that one ungodly behavior led to another.

I have also read the argument that this does not apply to loving relationships in committed relationships because this is talking about believers worshipping idols.  Again, that does not negate the fact that these verses define sexual relations between a man and another man or a woman with another women as unnatural and dishonorable.

However, homosexual activists say these verses could only be used to condemn heterosexuals who go against their own heterosexual nature and engage in homosexual activity.iii Their argument is that the sin lies only with those who have had a heterosexual orientation because the sin is going against your orientation.  We will address the term orientation later in the article, but first, gay articles also teach that translating these verses in Romans chapter one with the current words shows prejudice because they are mistranslated.  They stake their claim on the context of the idolatry and the plural of the men and women in the verses claiming that what is described is an idolotrous, sex-crazed orgy.

First, the words are not mistranslated:

In Romans 1:26 “…dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature.”

Dishonorable is pathos, meaning passion especially inordinate affection,

Natural is phusikos, translated here means physical,

Relations is chresis, which means employment or use, specifically in this case, sexual intercourse,

“Are contrary to” is para, used with the accusative, means contrary, against

In Romans 1:27, “leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness”,

Leaving is aphieÌ, translated putting aside or forsaking,
Natural is phusikos, translated natural here means “physical”,
Burned is ekkaioÌ, which means to be inflamed or burned with desire,
Lust is orexis, which means excitement of the mind,
Working is katergazomai , which means working or performing,
Unseemliness is aschemosynen, which means shame or indecency.

Comparing these meanings to the way the verses were translated, we see that verses 26-27 are not mistranslated. They also could be translated, “women exchanged sexual relations for those that are contrary to nature” and (men) putting aside the physical use of the woman, lusted in their excitement one toward another, men with men performing indecently…” This is clearly describing homosexual behavior as unnatural and indecent.  That fact that it is cited within the context of the idolatrous situation does not negate the condemnation of homosexual activity,

The sin described in Romans 1:27, according to some homosexuals, is only for those who are heterosexual and do homosexual acts. Their reasoning starts with the logic that the phrase leaving the natural use of the woman means that the individual at one time had a heterosexual orientation. Therefore only those who have had a heterosexual orientation can sin because the sin is going against your orientation.

There is nothing to justify that logic in Romans 1:27.  First of all, orientation is a recent invention.  The Bible does not teach that anyone has a hetero, homo, or bi orientation.  It simply states that people are created male and female.  In order to establish what a verse says you have to use the logic of the bible and sexual orientation is not in the bible.   The bible talks about behavior, and whether it is godly or not.  People have tendencies to do all kinds of behaviors, some godly and some not.  Exercising, some people tend to be walkers, and some tend to be runners, and some ride their bicycles. Do we say that one has a walking orientation and the other has a running orientation and the third has a cycling oriention.  No, we don’t.  We say that one likes to walk, one likes to run and the third likes to cycle.  But we know that they are activities that they are choosing to do.   The bible doesn’t talk about orientation, it talks about behavior.

On the other side, Leviticus 18:22, pro-homosexual activists point out, is not a blanket condemnation of homosexuality as it is a condemnation of men who are heterosexual sleeping with meniv

In response, Leviticus 18:22 does not require that a man have heterosexual tendencies first. There is absolutely nothing in the context to justify that reasoning. Again, the bible doesn’t recognize sexual orientation, just sexual behavior that people like to do, some ordained by God and some not.  And everytime someone makes a choice to do a second option over the first does not mean that they had a tendency to do the first option at all.  That is a faulty argument.  An example of two possible choices might go like this:

Deciding to not take the ferry, the Smiths took the air shuttle to the island.

This shows how the Smiths made a choice between the using water and air transportation. There is no indication whether the Smiths ever took the Ferry before or were inclined to, only that it was one of the possibilities. Just like there are two sexual behavior possibilities, there are two transportation possibilities in our examples. The biblical phrasing, putting aside the physical use of the woman gives the status that one of the options for men sexually is heterosexuality.  There is absolutely no indication of an assumed tendency to do the first option.  It is just a statement that the option exists.  Likewise, the phrasing “lying with mankind as with womankind” is stating two options.  It does not give any basis for assigning tendency or orientation on the reader.

So, again, the wording in “Women exchanging natural relations for those that are contrary to nature and men with men performing indecently” states the unacceptability of the homosexual act irrespective of the context of what led them to their choices.  Furthermore, the argument trying to incorporate orientation into the verbiage has no basis.

Despite gay Christian activists’ claim that homosexuality is not fully explored in the bible and the sections that are claimed to be anti-homosexual are really against idolatry, abusing male prostitutes, heterosexuals going against their own nature and so forth, the fact is that there is no biblical basis  for any same sex sexual relationship, and consequently the marriage ceremony that would make that sexual relationship honorable in the bible.  We will see next in the article numerous references to biblical heterosexual marriages without a single reference to a valid homosexual one.  And that, coupled with the fact that the only references to homosexual activities are against them precludes any endorsement as allowable of same sex marriage on biblical grounds.

In Genesis and in every place mentioned in the Bible a marriage is defined as a man and a woman. It says in Gen 2:24:

“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”

Same sex marriage might be allowed if the words were a person and their mate.  These words are gender specific, a man and his wife.

Remember, these words were also quoted by our Lord in reference to marriage in Matthew 19:5.  The Lord did speak on what a valid marriage was!

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.  (Eph 5:25-30 ESV)

Notice the “gave himself up for her” in  verse 25.  Its a him and a her!  Look at all the hims and hers in that example.

When you look at marriages in the bible its always a him and a her:

Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the LORD and the wall around Jerusalem.  (1Ki 3:1 ESV)

Now the men of Israel had sworn at Mizpah, “No one of us shall give his daughter in marriage to Benjamin.”  (Jdg 21:1 ESV)

So Sheshan gave his daughter in marriage to Jarha his slave, and she bore him Attai.
(1Ch 2:35 ESV)

Its always a him and a her, a man and a woman in the marriage being discussed!

Fire devoured their young men, and their young women had no marriage song.  (Psa 78:63 ESV)

Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease.  (Jer 29:6 ESV)

When discussing the end of marriage by death or divorce if sexes are mentioned its a him and a her, a man and a woman:

For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.  (Rom 7:2 ESV)

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’  (Mat 5:31 ESV)

To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife. To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.  (1Co 7:10-14 ESV)

This last section gives two scenarios.  The first is a believing man and woman, you know that by the pronouns, his wife, her husband.  There are no verses with “his husband” or “her wife”!

The second scenario is a married believer with an unbelieving spouse.  They are not to get divorced.  More than that, it itemizes two and only two combinations.  A man with an unbelieving wife, and a woman with an unbelieving husband!  Paul itemizes the two available combinations: a man with an unbelieving woman, and a woman with an unbelieving man.  Why wouldn’t Paul include man with unbelieving man and woman with unbelieving woman if they were available.  The answer is that he didn’t include them because they are not available.

I am saying that there are many verses in the bible that talk about marriage and if it mentions genders it gives a man and a woman.  I have shown that the bible talks about marriage in a multitude of contexts in the Old Testament and the New and it is always a him and a her.  In the Old testament multiple marriage was allowed for reasons beyond this article.  In the New Testament it is one man and one woman.

Marriage and Sex Outside of Marriage

Central to the issue of homosexuality are the issues of marriage and sex outside of marriage.

While there are some questionable heterosexual practices in the Old Testament, in the New Testament marriage is the only place where sex is allowed.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.  (Heb 13:4 ESV)

Adultery and fornication, sex outside of marriage for anyone, are forbidden. Whoring, adulterous affairs, fornication, and other sexual misdeeds are treated as serious sins.

“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.  (Luk 16:18 ESV)

Look at the pronouns.  The Bible only gives this guidance for dissolution of a marriage between a man and a woman!

Even heterosexual men who look at women with the desire to have them sexually is sinful, according to Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:28.

So where does the rationalization come that somehow it is okay for a man to desire sex with other men if Christian men are not supposed to desire sex with anyone other than their wives any way? Is it because adultery and fornication have become “acceptable” in the churches that this step to homosexuality has less meaning? Perhaps, but the truth is that all sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage are forbidden. To follow them is to follow the lust of the flesh, not the spirit of the Lord.

Summary and Conclusion

Acceptance of same sex marriage has no biblical basis. While there are numerous references to heterosexual sexual relationships, both goodv and shameful, there are no good references to homosexual sexual relationships. Since all the sexual acts of homosexuality are shamefully discussed biblically and the text is completely devoid of any endorsing verses, there is no basis to allow for a godly relationship based on homosexual sexual interactions. With all the verses that positively talk about women and men marrying, there isn’t a single verse that endorses same sex marriages.

Verses that endorse sex within marriage only include:

Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.Heb 13:4

The verses that give the basis of marriage are based on heterosexuality:

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.Gen 2:24-25

There are no verses that refer to a man and his husband, or a woman and her wife.

The pro same sex marriage argument is too much of a stretch. It doesn’t fit with the context of scripture.

However, despite the biblical logic against the acceptance of homosexuality there are a number of churches that accept homosexuality. This is causing more division in the church.  A major emphasis that I have seen to allow this is the simple “love” premise.  Boiled down it’s they are good, loving, talented people and we should love and accept them because the basic message of the gospel is love.  The logic includes things like the following statements:  What can can be wrong with let loving LGBTQ people marry or lead us? Aren’t some of them high quality individuals that are leaders in the community? These are our friends, loved ones, and co-workers.  More and more people are doing the LGBTQ thing in their church so we should do it too.

Again, the accusation is that it is not loving not to accept and include people who choose these lifestyles to be not only part of us but we should do weddings for them and let them be our leaders.

But, the simple love argument can be used to accept a ton of ungodly situations: people who choose to co-habitate instead of marry including serial monogamy and polyamory. And how do you “biblically base” the love life of a bisexual besides multiple marriage?  It can justify affairs between loving partners of any marital status. That a person is loving and therefore acceptable can be used to justify any sin, lying, stealing, you name it.  The simple love argument is too simplistic and is really unbiblical.   It negates the truth that good people can be mistaken.

Christianity is not a democracy.  The number of churches endorsing same sex marriage won’t make it any more or less right than the number of churches endorsing slavery two hundred years ago made that right or any of the other controversial doctrines that churches have dealt within the centuries since the apostles.

As much as it appears otherwise sometimes, the word of God is not something that is just reasoned out. It isn’t just what makes sense to the community or the leaders in charge or any human at all. What sets the word of God apart and makes it holy is that it has been revealed to us as the will of God.

Sometimes the revelation that is in God’s word is not something that we want to hear. A common refrain from almost any area of life is “how could something that feels so right be wrong?” As a child of the fifties one of the things so many reasoned and said felt good was free love. Free love is another term for casual sex. My generation reasoned, “Who gets hurt by that?” “Make love, not war.” I heard the question so many times, How can it be wrong when it feels so right and doesn’t hurt anyone? Or why do we need a ceremony when we can just say we are married or living together. But it is wrong because it doesn’t build the relationship that God says is best. Likewise for same sex relationships.

Sometimes the things that nice, otherwise loving people want to do are not the things that God wants us to do.

Sometimes I look around at myself and others as adults as we congratulate ourselves that we’re not like these crazy toddlers who throw fits because they just want something so bad and just keep screaming for something because it’s what they want. But what I have learned as a grandparent is that we still want those things and sometimes just as bad. We have just learned not to throw the fit like a two-year-old does, but sometimes now we are so much more calculated and cunning and use calculated behaviors and cultural tools like social media and more to obtain our want. We say that anyone that doesn’t agree with us is mean and hateful. We talk up to everyone we know about how what we want is a good that we are being denied and try to gather support. We use every tool at our disposal.

We are in the middle of a great cultural battle deciding whether this long-standing issue of faith, this standard, that has been held for thousands of years shall stand.

That’s why I am going by the ancient doctrine against same sex marriage and homosexuality on this one. I see no evidence that it has been mistranslated or erroneously taught for 2000 odd years.  Our heavenly Father knows best and while He loves all people He doesn’t allow same sex marriage as painful as that may appear to some.

————-

i. In a recent news article about my neighborhood titled, “Pa. Episcopal diocese OKs split over Bible, homosexuals” (Joe Mandak – Associated Press Writer – 10/6/2008 9:40:00 AM) “MONROEVILLE, PA – Clergy and lay members of the theologically conservative Pittsburgh diocese voted overwhelmingly Saturday to break from the liberal Episcopal Church, with which it differs on issues ranging from homosexuality to biblical teachings on salvation.

Assistant Bishop Henry Scriven said the vote means the Pittsburgh diocese is now more firmly aligned with the majority of the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion, which is more conservative than the communion’s 2.2 million-member U.S. church.”

The article goes on to say that dividing is perhaps the most “egregious” act the church can do. About how the breakup over this major issue developed there was this statement:

“The church became as gray as the culture,” said Alison McFarland, who voted for the split. “Undefined Christianity became the problem, and now the church is indistinguishable from the world.”

ii. http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibh.htm#ngpa
iii. The Bible, Christianity & Homosexuality, Justin R. Cannon, available at http://www.truthsetsfree.net/bible.htm
iv. The Bible, Christianity & Homosexuality, Justin R. Cannon, p11
v. The entire book of Song of Solomon is a heterosexual love story.

(c) 2009 Mark W Smith, All rights reserved.  Revised 2019

April 21st, 2009 Posted by | Divisions, Homosexualtiy | no comments