I wouldn’t expect to see an uncompromising statement regarding the Bible’s condemnation of homosexual sex featured prominently on CNN. com. But on March 3, 2011, that’s exactly what happened. While we may not agree 100% with all of what Dr. Gagnon writes, he makes some thought-provoking statements. What do you think?
My Take: The Bible really does condemn homosexuality
By Robert A. J. Gagnon, Special to CNN
CNN Editor’s Note: Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., is associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics and (with Dan Via) Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views.
In her recent CNN Belief Blog post “The Bible’s surprisingly mixed messages on sexuality,” Jennifer Wright Knust claims that Christians can’t appeal to the Bible to justify opposition to homosexual practice because the Bible provides no clear witness on the subject and is too flawed to serve as a moral guide.
As a scholar who has written books and articles on the Bible and homosexual practice, I can say that the reality is the opposite of her claim. It’s shocking that in her editorial and even her book, “Unprotected Texts,” Knust ignores a mountain of evidence against her positions.
I’m surprised that there have been no comments on this article.
I posted this some time ago because I was surprised to find an article like this on CNN.com. Having heard Robert Gagnon in person, I feel he is missing something. The Bible is not just about “correctness” of belief. It is even more about God and His plan to save us all from this world of sin where we are all messed up one way or another.
I’ve been just studying the book of Galatians, where Paul makes very clear that we are not saved by any works of the law, but by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
The way I see it, the law of God functions somewhat like a mirror which tells us that our face is dirty, but it doesn’t help us clean up our faces. For that we need soap and water.
In the same way, when we compare ourselves to the law of God – especially as demonstrated in the life of Christ – we see that we are sinners who need cleaning up. The only One who can do that is Jesus Christ.
Gay people run into a problem when they are led to believe that God condemns them just for being attracted to their own sex. There is no hope in such theology. There is no way to change first and then come to Christ.
Christ takes us just as we are – gay or straight, murderer or church-going hypocrite – and He gives us a new heart, a new orientation to life, if you please.
Does that mean that our struggles will vanish? No, but when we put our will in submission to His will, He will give us the power to live according to our new values in Him.
Speaking of values – every single person is of utmost value to the Creator and Savior of mankind. I believe He would have died for just one sinner – either you or me. If that doesn’t help us realize our value, nothing will.
Christians need to see others with the eyes of Jesus – as of infinite value. We need to demonstrate the same love for sinners that He did, remembering that we are all sinners. We just sin in different ways.
I was really struggling right now on the fact if God condemns us for being gay, but because of what you said I feel that you are right that i am accepted in Gods eyes. My one question, when you said, “There is no way to change first, and then come to Christ” what exactly do you mean by that?
What I mean is that we must come to Christ just as we are, without trying to clean ourselves up first. I’m guessing you have tried to change yourself, and it hasn’t worked very well. Although a self-improvement program works reasonably well for some people who have very strong wills, it doesn’t work for most people, and it is not a salvation solution. We don’t get to heaven by our own effort, and we can’t make ourselves holy by our own efforts.
I was baptized as a teenager, and my commitment was genuine. But I don’t think I really understood how impossible it was for me to “be good.” Perhaps it was because I didn’t understand the level of holiness required to be saved. Perhaps I didn’t understand the perfection of Christ’s character which I couldn’t possibly reach. But I looked pretty good on the outside.
I do remember the many times I pleaded for God to change things in my environment, with no results. Finally I pleaded, in desperation, “Lord, show me where I need to change.” And it seems that’s what He was waiting for. I started to see how unlike Christ I had been in my behavior. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of helplessness. That’s when I threw myself on His mercy, saying, “Lord, help me! I cannot make myself better, but you can. Please give me a new heart, as you promised. Take me, and mold me into your image.” And that’s when I experienced a transformation of heart that brought me peace.
Not too long after that, I found myself in a rather hot verbal disagreement and knew I was about to lose my temper. Suddenly I remembered my commitment, and in my mind I said, “Lord, I don’t want to be like this. Help!” It was as though a relief valve opened, and all the pressure was gone. I could react with a “soft answer” that the Bible says turns away anger. Now, when I feel myself slipping, I know where the answer lies.
I’ve found that the secret to a daily walk with Jesus is to commit myself to Him anew each morning, and to spend some time with Him in His word and in prayer. I ask Him to be with me throughout the day. Then, when I am tempted, I can ask for His strength to change my thoughts. And that’s where it’s really at — in the thought life. Because our actions spring from our thoughts.
As far as same-sex attraction goes, this is the way it works: We cannot change the attraction, but we can choose whether or not to dwell on it. Luther is reported to have said, “We cannot keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building nests in our hair.”
We are all sinners, and we are attracted to different sins. God hasn’t promised to take away our attractions, but He has promised that we will not be tempted beyond what we are able to bear. We become stronger each time we say No to a temptation, and the temptation becomes weaker.
To be tempted or attracted is no sin. But it is a sin to lust, and that lusting comes from playing with scenarios in our minds.
In every situation, we can ask God for wisdom and help. He is willing to give it. (We don’t have it on our own.)
A practical suggestion: We all need friends, particularly same-sex friends. The danger comes from focusing on one person exclusively, becoming obsessive and obsessing over that one person. The way to head this off is to focus purposely on keeping several good friends. Ask the Lord for help in this. These friends do not have to know everything about you, but they can fill different friendship needs. You don’t have to tell them about your sexual attraction struggles. Only God knows everything about you, and I think we sometimes look for friends with whom we can be as intimate as with God. That may be violating the very first commandment: “You shall not have any other gods before me.” And I think that’s why some have labeled gay relationships as idolatry.
What do you think?
My question regarding you last statement is how can you make a differentiation between same sex & opposite sex relationships. If you assert that a gay relationship is idolatry, then the same would hold true for a hetero relationship having the same feelings.