Friday, September 19, 2008

Homosexuality In the Church

Tim Challies has blogged about Ray Boltz's divorce and admission that he is gay. Ray will be singing at the Metropolitan Community Churches (I assume in Texas). You may link to this information through Ray Boltz's website.

I decided to read a pamphlet written by Dr. Mona West in which she defends modern homosexuality. She explains:

"The word ‘homosexuality’ is a modern term and did not exist during biblical times. Biblical writers had no concept of sexual orientation or sexual development as we understand those today. Therefore, passages that reference same-sex sexual activity should not been seen as comprehensive statements concerning homosexuality, but instead should be viewed in the context of what the ancient world that produced the Bible understood about sexual activity."

So what is this context that makes homosexual acts different today from then? She quotes Professor Mary Tolbert:

"The single most important concept that defines sexuality in the ancient Mediterranean world, whether we are talking about the kingdoms of Egypt or of Assyria or whether we are talking about the later kingdoms of Greece and Rome, is that approved sexual acts never occurred between social equals. Sexuality, by definition, in ancient Mediterranean societies required the combination of dominance and submission. This crucial social and political root metaphor of dominance and submission as the definition of sexuality rested upon a physical basis that assumed every sex act required a penetrator and someone who was penetrated. Needless to say, this definition of sexuality was entirely male—not surprising in the heavily patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean."

Therefore, Dr. West concludes that when the angels appeared in Sodom and Gomorrah, "they want[ed] to rape them in order to show their social and cultural dominance over them".

So when we read the Leviticus texts that read

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” (18:22)
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; the shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.” (20:13)

We must understand that what God was saying is not that homosexuality is wrong. It is only wrong in their context of having dominance over one another.

"In light of the previously mentioned sexual practices of Israel’s neighbors, it becomes clear that this prohibition in Leviticus was an attempt to preserve the internal harmony of Jewish male society by not allowing them to participate in anal intercourse as a form of expressing or gaining social and political dominance. These verses in no way prohibit, nor do they even speak, to loving, caring sexual relationships between people of the same gender."

Traditionally, most people read these texts with the understanding that a man shall not lie with another man in a sexual manner since that is what a man does with with a woman. Dr. West challenges this assumption. A man shall not have dominance over another man as he does with women.

This raises a couple of questions for me. First, is she saying that God did not want men to lie with men as they do with women? This seems to strongly imply that God at least permits men to have dominance over women. Why is there no command by God telling men they should not lie with women with a sense of dominance over them? Why is that not an abomination to God?

If the story of Sodom is merely about inhospitality and domination, why does the New Testament lump all of these sins together. Are they not all selfish perversions of what God has commanded of men including sexual desires (1 Cor 6:9-10)? In the same text, God calls fornication sin. What if the couple that are fornicating truly love each other?

The Holiness code also forbids sex with animals. Is this merely a dominance issue? Should we have loving equality relationships with our pets?

I suppose we just have to wonder if our traditional understanding of what it means to "lie with a woman" is correct. Would a Hebrew living in Moses' day really have heard "Don't lie with another man with dominance as you are doing with your wife."? Inconsistency is the sign of a failed argument.

I am saddened for Ray Boltz's self deception at the clear teaching of Scripture. If you read the church's website, there is a sense in which they seem to take the Bible seriously. However, I must agree with Albert Mohler. Where a church accepts feminism, homosexuality is sure to follow. That is exactly what you have in this case.

Sexual sins are powerful sins, and no one is above them. I pray that God's grace would fill the lives of all those that have been deceived by false teachers such as the church Ray Boltz is now fellowshipping.

If you are struggling with the particular sexual sin of homosexuality, may I recommend to you Love Won Out ministry. Christ came to save sinners through His life, death, burial and resurrection. That includes homosexuals.

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