“So you still think homosexuality is sinful?”

 

 

So this little flowchart showed up a day or two ago at Theologyweb, and it’s been making the rounds lately as the latest ordnance in the culture wars.  The question is posed: 

Oy.  Where to begin.

Let’s begin by addressing the “No” option.  Unfortunately, whoever made this didn’t just poison the well by drawing a line between “You oppose redefining marriage” and “Civilized society,” he or she backed the dump truck o’ poison up to the well and unloaded the whole thing.  It is plenty possible to be civil, and an upstanding member of society, while standing on either side of the issue.

Moving on.  I have to give props to the person who made it for asking “Why?” immediately after the ‘yes’ response is given…but it goes downhill quickly after that.  I will address his responses in chronological Biblical order.

“Because God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!  That was when the earth wasn’t populated.  There are now 6.79 billion people.  Breeding clearly isn’t an issue any more!”

And thus, chronologically, we’re off to the races.  This response does ignore the actual definition of marriage given in Genesis 2:24:  “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.”  This thought is crucial at every further objection given, so we will be returning to it often.

Oh, one more thing.  I dare you to ask any abortionist on the planet if “breeding isn’t an issue.

“Because the Bible clearly defines marriage as one-man-one-woman!  Wrong.  The Bible also defines marriage as one-man-many-women, one man many wives and many concubines, a rapist and his victim, and conquering soldier and female prisoner of war.”

Immediately a bait and switch has been used: these are not definitions of marriage, but they are descriptions of marriages that take place within the OT and later under the influence of the Mosaic Law.  So from the outset I disagree with the terming of those particular marriages (and even marriage laws) as defining in any sense.

But there is another issue lurking just under the surface–a modern provincialism with which the text is approached.  Thankfully all of these issues have already been addressed by a friend of mine here.

Of particular note are the last two items included: without referent to the text and without further explanation, this constitutes an argument from outrage, that spurious tactic that relies upon emotion instead of reason–as though there were no reasons for this arrangement to actually be so.

“Because the Old Testament Says So!  The OT also says it’s sinful to eat shellfish, to wear clothes woven with different fabrics, and to eat pork.  Should we still live by OT laws?”

Aside from being a simple red herring (Well what about X, Y, Z, XX, YY, ZZ, …), it’s a great example of what happens when you ignore and/or dismiss the concept of purity and how it functioned in both the OT and NT.  In each case, the Hebrews were forbidden these things because they were to be set apart from the nations they would be living among.  That also applied to the laws surrounding sexual ethics as demonstrated in Genesis and given in the Mosaic Law.  Of note is the phrasing that reveals that the purity categories have been fudged for this flowchart: the sexual sins are called “an abomination” while the other things–shellfish, pork, and clothes with mixed fibers–are not.  They are forbidden, but not called sinful (and this is the argument most Jews use today when asked if they think non-Jews eating pork is sinful.  The text clarifies:

““Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean” (Leviticus 18:24)

But there’s something else I’m wondering.  Why did the makers of the flowchart stop at homosexual acts?  Idolatry and child sacrifice is also termed ‘an abomination,’ but–and this is the point–it is absurd to point to other purity laws and say “Well what about these?”

“Because Jesus said so!  Not true.  Jesus never uttered a word about same-sex relationships.”  

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”  He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”  (Matthew 19:3-6)

Now where have we heard that one before?  Oh yeah, Genesis 2.  The definition of marriage.  It is thus an argument from silence, and a false argument from silence, to suggest that Jesus did not say anything about same-sex relationships.  He didn’t have to: because he affirmed the original, positive, definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.  Just because he did not say anything negative about it does not mean that his positive affirmation of man-woman marriage do not apply to the issue.

“Because the NT says so!  The original language of the NT actually refers to male prostitution, molestation, or promiscuity, not committed same-sex relationships.  Paul may have spoken against homosexuality, but he also said that women should be silent and never assume authority over a man.”

Actually this is wrong: and at best it is a schizophrenic response to Paul.  This seems awfully scatter-shot, to try to explain it away and then immediately bite the bullet and point to other things he said with the goal of (once again) dismissing it out of hand.

Twice Paul uses the term arsenokoitēs to denote those who practice homosexuality, and is best translated as ‘male coitus.’     The passage that the graph is probably referring to is Romans 1, but this word is not used there, which further weakens the claim about ‘the text’ (the phrase used in Romans is ‘unseemliness’ as opposed to the natural order of male/female intercourse).

Which means the business about “committed relationships” is a strawman argument that doesn’t answer what Paul wrote elsewhere about the sinfulness of homosexual activity.

Now on to the other backhanded response to Paul: that said that women should be silent and that they should never have authority over men.  Once again, that dreaded provincialism rears its ugly hipster head.

For one, the passage on women being silent is in the passage about orderly worship, and as indicated elsewhere, be dealing with disruptive activities.

The other passage, about authority, actually backfires: as indicated by the things taught by some very particular women within the Ephesian community–and by extension, the fledgling Ephesian church–they had a bit of a struggle with the local cult of Artemis.  Miller’s work on that as well seems to disarm the passage as another club with which to bludgeon Paul (and any who would reference him).

“Because it just disgusts me, dangit!  Props for being honest.  However, a whole population of people shouldn’t have their families discriminated against just because you think gay sex is icky.  Grow up!

Well if this isn’t interesting: only here is honesty brought up, as though this were the only honest reason, and all the rest is a smokescreen.  And it’s a lousy ‘reason’ for considering homosexual acts sinful or basing a law on.

And, in conclusion,

Have fun living in your sexist, chauvanistic, judgemental(sic), xenophobic lifestyle choice.  The rest of culture will advance forward without you.

Cue Bill Cosby: Riiiiiiiiiiight.

Sexism: Perhaps, if one held to the view of women that the maker of this flowchart actually thinks Paul (and Christians) use.  That would also make someone a honking flaming fundamentalist as well.

Chauvinism: Not quite sure what this has to do with the debate at hand other than to indicate another character flaw of those who oppose redefining marriage.  Someone might well be chauvinistic, but does it mean that their argument on redefining marriage, or the sinfulness of homosexual acts, is therefore wrong?

“Judgemental:”  First, it’s ‘judgmental.’  Second, this entire flowchart is about as judgmental as it can possibly get towards people who oppose the author.  When the two conclusions given are that one is either horrible or enlightened, the pot is calling the kettle black.  The question, for the thousandth time, is not whether or not judging is wrong: the question is whether or not we are making right judgments.

“Xenophobic:” Because nothing quite says “I’m afraid of ‘the other'” like a flowchart that dismisses out of hand any reason for a given position other than hatred or ignorance.

“Lifestyle choice:”  This is perhaps the most ironic thing of all.  For starters, the Calvinists would certainly want a word with the maker of the flowchart; second, why can’t religious orientation be considered genetic as well?  Why not?  Or, why not “love the sinner, but hate the sin?”

As for ‘advancing forward,’ well, I wouldn’t call this progress.

Perhaps it is because there was only so much room, but the maker of the chart left out any other possible reasons for 1) the legitimacy of calling homosexual acts sinful, or 2) the matter of legally redefining marriage.  As such, it failed spectacularly to actually address the arguments being made, and completely ignored philosophical and sociological arguments.  But in trying to make a particularly religious claim to answering the question of the sinfulness of homosexual acts, it managed to either try to distract, to appeal to anachronistic, provincial emotion, and to ignore the Greek word that was used.  So if this thing shows up in your news feed, don’t be alarmed: it’s a mess–an ignorant, fallacious mess.