This is the second installment in a 8-part series examining the DVD “For the Bible Tells Me So.”
Introduction – Why the DVD Deserves a Closer Look
Nineteen minutes into the DVD “For the Bible Tells Me So” (FTBTMS), when “what the Bible says” about homosexuality is finally examined, the brief segment is introduced by a song with the words: “The things that you’re liable, To read in the Bible, It ain’t necessarily so.”
Several people on the street are asked what the Bible says about homosexuality; some answer correctly that the Bible says it’s wrong, while others aren’t so sure.
Reverend Peter Gomes of Harvard University, who is a homosexual, says there are “six or seven verses” in the Bible that speak “even remotely” to homosexuality. In this, he’s not far off. Here are a some which speak pretty directly to homsexuality:
– Genesis 2:24 Where God outlined his design for human sexuality: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
– Genesis 19 where men of Sodom wanted to have sex with the male angels, and it was called a “wicked thing”
– Leviticus 18:22 “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.”
– Leviticus 20:13 “‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.”
– Judges 19 In Gibeah where “wicked men” wanted to have sex with a Levite man, and it was called a “disgraceful thing”
– Mark 10:6-8 Jesus reaffirms God’s design for human sexuality: “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one.”
– Romans 1:26-27 where the Bible talks about “godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” and says “Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
– 1 Corinthians 6:9 says, among other habitual sins, homosexuals “will not inherit the kingdom of God”
– 1 Timothy 1:10 condemns “men who practice homosexuality”
Reverend Steven Kindle of Clergy United cites Leviticus 20:13 from the King James Version: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
He says, “If you read the Bible on a face-value level, that reading disregards several very important things. The first one is, just a few verses before that, Moses teaches in Leviticus that it is an abomination to eat shrimp.”
Actually, rather than “just a few verses before that,” it’s a “few chapters” before that, nine to be exact, in chapter 11 of Leviticus; or measured another way, these references are separated by about 8,500 words, or about seven pages in the average Bible.
Chapter 11, unlike chapter 20 which deals primarily with immoral sexual conduct, outlines the dietary laws God gave to the Jewish people, and even says so at the end of chapter 11: “These are the regulations concerning animals, birds, every living thing that moves in the water and every creature that moves about on the ground.”
Rabbi Brian Zachary Mayer, says “a few verses above and below” (the reference to homosexuality) it says you shouldn’t plant two types of seed together. It actually says this in the previous chapter, chapter 19, separated by about 750 words. Again, a perception is being promoted which doesn’t accurately reflect reality.
What’s more, the Old Testament dietary laws the Jews lived under were explicitly done away with in Acts chapter 10 when God told Peter that all animals were now acceptable to eat. Unlike the dietary regulations, the New Testament never indicated a change of God’s moral requirements, specifically His disapproval of homosexuality, as evidenced by Romans chapter 1, 1 Corinthians chapter 6 and others references.
Next, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, tells us that the Bible was written particular to the time of those who wrote it, and we shouldn’t take it literally.
While there is some truth in what Tutu says, even those passages of the Bible which contain references to customs and instructions particular to a historic setting hold lessons and principles which teach us principles of right and wrong. As the Bible also says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Nowhere does the Bible say “Some parts of the Bible will become outdated and can be ignored.”
Besides, since homosexuality is so clearly spoken of disapprovingly in both the Old and New Testaments, and turns upside down God’s very design and intent for the expression of human sexuality, there is simply no evidence that the Bible’s admonitions against homosexuality were confined to a specific time period or cultural reference. While our willingness to follow God’s instructions may change, human beings do not change, nor does their nature…nor does God’s moral code.
Reverend Laurence C. Keene of the Disciples for Christ says that when the word “abomination” is used in the Bible, it is always to address a “ritual wrong. It is never used to refer to something innately immoral.”
Rev. Keene must not believe what God said in Proverbs 6:16-19:
These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Or Proverbs 8:7 which says, “wickedness is an abomination to my lips,” or Proverbs 11:1 which says, “A false balance is abomination to the LORD: but a just weight is his delight,” or Proverbs 11:20 which says, “They that are of a froward heart are abomination to the LORD,” or Proverbs 12:22 which says, “Lying lips are abomination to the LORD,” or Proverbs 15:9 which says, “The way of the wicked is an abomination unto the LORD,” or Proverbs 15:26 which says, “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD,” or Proverbs 16:5 which says, “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD,” or Proverbs 16:12 which says, “It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness: for the throne is established by righteousness,” or Proverbs 17:15 which says, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD,” or Proverbs 20:10 which says, “Divers weights, and divers measures, both of them are alike abomination to the LORD,” or Proverbs 20:23 which says, “Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD,” or Jeremiah 32:35 which says (speaking of human sacrifice), “And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination,” or Ezekiel 22:11 which says, “And one hath committed abomination with his neighbour’s wife; and another hath lewdly defiled his daughter in law.”
Does Keene believe that wickedness, fraud, pride, lying, injustice, child sacrifice and sexual immorality are not “innately immoral?” These acts are all clearly innately immoral, so it seems Rev. Keene is more than slightly mistaken.
Reverend Susan Sparks of American Baptist Church says, “To me that’s the important thing to recognize, the historical context in which this was written. That particular section, on a man not lying with a man, goes to procreation. It is about a nation trying to grow.”
Rev. Sparks’ assertion that this passage about homosexuality is “about a nation trying to grow” when the people of Israel numbered somewhere around 2-3 million people at that point seems like a stretch.
In fact, the Hebrew people were so numerous that when they were living in Egypt, one of the Pharaohs said in Exodus 1:9-10, “Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.”
A group of people so populous that the mighty Egyptian empire felt threatened doesn’t sound like a meager nation with a desperate need to grow.
Rev. Keene then cites the passage from Genesis chapter 38 where Onan was commanded to sire a son to his dead brother’s wife, to carry on the his brother’s lineage for him. Onan instead spilled his seed on the ground and Keene believes this displeased God merely because of the need for population growth.
Rather than illustrating a tool for population growth, this passage seems to indicate early practice of what became known as “levirate marriage” as it would eventually be outlined in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. This practice allowed a dead brother’s lineage to be carried on by his brother, and protected the status of the widow by providing her with a child.
Onan rebelled against the instructions of his father Judah and against his family duty to his brother’s widow.
In any case, homosexual behavior is not present in the story of Onan. Nothing in this passage can be interpreted to directly or indirectly cast homosexual behavior in a positive or even neutral light.
This first section of the DVD which actually examines “what the Bible tells us,” finally coming about 19 minutes or 1/5 of the way into the film, is about 5 minutes long.
In Part 3 next week: the DVD discusses context and Biblical literalism; is reading the Bible literally a recent error, or a long-standing benchmark?