“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.

14 thoughts on ““So you still think homosexuality is sinful?”

  1. David. Someone could even think homosexuality is moral, which it isn’t, and it still would not demonstrate redefining marriage is good. The argument fails there as well thinking that if it proves the Bible is wrong (Which is still a long way from proving homosexuality is moral), then redefining marriage is good.

  2. Re: xenophobia

    And like I said, this doesn\’t even make sense wrt Paul, because Paul spent most of his life ministering to Gentiles. You know, like, not Jews. Like, the type of people he, as a Jew, would avoid if he were xenophobic.

    And what does xenophobia have to do with gay marriage anyway?

  3. “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?”

    Let’s say you’re right and only those things classified as “abomination” should be brought up for comparison (i.e., let’s exclude eating shellfish, etc.). Your examples: idolatry and child sacrifice. Isn’t idolatry perfectly legal? Child sacrifice: this constitutes actual bodily harm to people. That seems like a fair basis to ban it.

    Does recognizing gay marriage cause harm to anyone?

      • I define it as a union between two people who love each other and want to make a life together (at least, that’s how I define the thing I’m planning with my same-gender fiance).

      • Arthur. Could two roommates of the same sex in a non-sexual relationship have a marriage by your definition?

        How about a brother and a sister?

        How about a man and a boy?

        How about a man living alone taking in an elderly mother in a non-sexual relationship?

        How about a pair of twelve year-olds?

        Why limit it to two people?

    • Well, that raises an interesting point, but not one that I had preferred to get in to with this post. As for the ‘abomination’ part, I was simply pointing out that not all things forbidden by the Mosaic law were deemed abominable, but some things–a pretty short list, in fact–were deemed such. All of these things tend to point to the denial of the purpose of sexuality as given in Genesis 1 and 2.

      However, with regards to child sacrifice, let’s ask a question. I would argue that the very thing in question with redefining marriage is usually not even addressed–that is, the ontological basis for arguments against. If they’re good enough for banning child sacrifice (because of the moral status of the child), then it is good enough for this as well (the moral and ontological status of men and women as such): and if marriage is as malleable as all other morality in a given society, why isn’t child sacrifice?

      As for redefining marriage harming anyone, is this panel discussion reflective of the overall attitudes of the homosexual movement in general?

      • I’m afraid I don’t understand… how do you define “the moral and ontological status of men and women”?

        I was proposing that we draw a line between gay marriage and child sacrifice because the latter causes bodily and/or psychological harm to children, while the former does not.

        While I haven’t read the entire page you linked to, I would say no, it does not reflect the overall attitudes of the gay movement.

      • (You two are wreaking havoc on my inbox, lol)

        Well, the ontological status of a human being is simply ‘man or woman as he or she is,’ but this takes into account the goal of basic human physiology, which is procreation. Thus my particular ethic, which borrows quite a lot from natural law, regards the goal of sexuality as a natural ideal and a basis for determining whether or not a given use of sexuality is in accord with that ideal or not. And it’s not necessarily theistic, either; one could just as easily say the same from an evolutionary standpoint.

        There is one paragraph in the article I referenced that seems to be the crux of the entire debate: “One of the things that for me was important about coming out as gay was that we came into a community that accepted a whole range of different relationships, different possibilities, and the fact that lots of people are not in primary relationships or that they are in primary relationships which really are quite different to those of the heterosexual norm.” It seems to me counter-intuitive to call all these different types of relationships ‘marriage’ and to keep any semblance of the term. And if we as humans have an ideal sexual nature found and completed in roles of masculine and feminine, then it stands to reason that blurring the lines of those roles would have a negative effect on everyone in that culture, if that is indeed how we operate on a deeply fundamental level of our nature as human beings.

        I’m still doing as much research on this as I can manage in my time, so I’m always on the lookout for new arguments and reasons one way or the other.

      • Okay I read a little more, and it sounds like (correct me if I’m wrong) that you’re bringing up an example of gay people who do not practice monogamy and/or gay people who have no interest in getting married. I would point out that this is obviously true of some gay people, but not all. Similarly, there are straight people who do not practice monogamy and/or have no interest in getting married; however, that is not used as an argument to deny marriage to those straight people who do want to get married.

        I also think that bringing up the opinions of gays who aren’t monogamous or don’t want to get married has no bearing on whether or not gay marriage would be harmful to anyone.

  4. I actually take a different tack with the “Jesus Never Mentioned Homosexuality” canard (though yours is a good way to go):

    Aside from the fact he didn’t mention a lot of things condemned both in the OT and today, he was addressing a primarily Jewish and proselyte audience- groups that already held the OT as true and forbade such conduct- thus making addressing homosexual behavior irrelevant to address at the time.

    It seems to work most of the time. Especially when they start asking for examples of things Jesus doesn’t address that everyone typically accepts as immoral. :p

  5. Pingback: Going Against The Flow « Deeper Waters

  6. I take a different view:

    Marriage is a religious term. Religions should define it, and churches license it.

    Government should get out of the “marriage” business. They shouldn’t define it or refine it. Everyone who us married has a civil union, if they want it to be religious also they consecrate it in a church.

    Then we protect religious freedoms with facts and LGBT with facts and no one feels they are bring stepped on because government stops defining everything by marriage.

    • I see that happening in at least a few states but I think it will have the unintended effect of flooding the court systems with more and nastier custody disputes, which was also the unintended effect of introducing no-fault divorce. That was supposed to fix everything and has managed to get us to where we are today. Getting government out of marriage means getting government out of recognizing the basic rights and wellbeing of children.

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