Christians in the western world are intellectually weak. Unlike Christians who live in countries that border non-Christian countries, or that have a large non-Christian population, western Christians have never had to prove the truth of their religions. But not only this is true. Mainstream evangelical Christianity in western countries has been challenged by movements and sects that may be considered unBiblical. Whether these are political movements –right wing or ultra-liberal, inside the church or outside, age-old (as in Islam) or fairly new (The Latter Day Church), Christians should know much more about “knowing how to answer.”
Most Christians should be cynical. They should have a divine cynicism which enables them to discern their Lord, the satanic, or human sin in the workings of the media. Let us not forget who is the Prince of the Power of the Air. Unfortunately, most Christians do not study how to answer. If someone were to ask, “Why is the Bible inspired and the Koran not?” most Christians would be at a loss to explain why. Or if someone were to say, why do you believe such and such a Christian sect is not truly Christian, most Bible Christians would simply answer, “Because they are.” Such answers, unfortunately do not cut it. This kind of non-thinking pervades much of Christianity. We’ve been left alone for the most part. And so we have not had to learn about the subtle deceptions in the world. And we have become lazy.
I am not saying that we should “Take back, America.” America, per se, is not a “Christian Country.” Nor is Iraq or the Arabian countries “evil countries.” The only Good Land is that great Land where our Savior lives. And the only evil kingdom is Satan’s kingdom. Everything else is human and prone to faults and deceptions.So the truth of the matter is, the US will have people whose cultures and religions are not like ours. Whether it be Taoism, Hinduism, reincarnation, Islam, a US-based cult such as Mormonism or whatever, we should know how to answer. I repeat: ANSWER. We are not supposed to go around hammering at people unless we are called to be missionaries. But if someone comes to our door, we really should have something profound to say that will send the cult missionary on his way. We don’t want an argument, by the way. Just the right answer. And if someone makes a snide crack against one’s religion, one should at least have the ability to show them how mistaken they are about Christianity’s history, ethics, spirituality, religion, etc. The perfect answer is often a combination of listening to God’s spirit within and remembering what one has read in the Bible or Bible commentaries. Sometimes God will bring the appropriate Bible Verse or counter-argument to your mind. Sometimes he will suggest something so odd that you’re afraid to say it. But after the words come out of your mouth, you will see that your words have touched the right chord, for that particular cult missioner.
Of course, you know what cults or religions are in your neighborhood or among your friends. In my neck of the woods, I meet up with a lot of reincarnationists. American reincarnationists. The normal Hindu does not want to be reincarnated. To them reincarnation is a wheel, not a ladder: it is very hard to get off that wheel when one is laden down with sins so one is doomed to come back again and again through many lives. The Hindu wants to blend back into Nirvana. To them death in the Ganges is the equivalent of Jesus’ death on the cross: ultimate forgiveness of sins, and bypassing the wheel of karma into nirvana. The American reincarnationists, on the other hand, tend to be evolutionists and often consider reincarnation as a good thing, thus they change the religion to suit their purposes. Of course if some one brings up reincarnation, I can come up with some minor artillery if necessary, but once as someone went on about their great spiritual growth (“Spiritual but not religious”) I heard God prompt me with, Say, “I don’t believe the world is fair, that’s all.” So I said it. My spiritual friend gave me an odd look. I then went on to tell her that in Christianity, good things happen to bad and good people; bad things happen to good and bad people. The devil is in the mix. Then I went on to discuss various close calls I’d had with the demonic.” She listened intently. Obviously God wanted this person to hear a real life person tell about the reality and dangers of evil spirits ...no mere theological argument. I planted a seed. And God gave the increase in His time. This person is not quite a Biblical Christian yet –I still have hope– but she is not as keen to go dabbling in flaky spiritualistic rituals now.
Please note also that there are discreet spiritual questions and indiscreet ones. An indiscreet spiritual question often calls for a discreet answer. Many people ask indiscreet answers simply because they want to prove that Christians are judgmental and cruel. For instance, someone might say, “Do you think all people who don’t believe in Jesus, a Muslim, for example, will go to hell?” (An indiscreet question, because the person obviously wants to show how ignorant and arrogant you are) The most discreet answer would be, “Why do you think a muslim would want to go to my heaven?”Yes, I’m being slick here. But it saves you from wasting your time on people who are simply badgering you. Yet, it gives you an opportunity to show the Muslim idea of heaven and God and Grace and the Christian idea of heaven. (See my article Different heavens.) So studying how to answer is a real art form.
Having said all this, I must say that I would not consider myself “equipped” to take on various groups. But I am trying. And with that in mind, I will share a few of the things I’ve learned about a particular deception that is popping up inside evangelical circles: the idea that the Bible does not forbid homosexuality at all. Someone might ask you, for instance, “Why do you want to prove that the Bible does not accept homosexuality?” You might make the mistake by answering indiscreetly. The asker is really saying, “So you want to prove the Bible is against gays so you can pick on gay folks?” You must be subtle in your answer: wise as serpents and harmless as doves. The real answer, for me, is that “I have no intention of picking on gay folks. I am a literature major who simply loves truth and clarity and I do this kind of thing in every situation, racially, politically, whatever the issue. I dislike fudging.” But that is my answer.
The idea that the Bible does not forbid homosexuality is found in many Bible churches. Below are a few of their arguments. I have written some counter-arguments. Note, this is not all. But it might help you if you ever got caught in one of these Bible Gay debate cross-fires, here are a few pointers which will help you keep your bearings.
People who say the Bible are against homosexuality are picking and choosing verses and are not seeing the overall theme of the Bible which is the saving Grace of Jesus.
Biblical answer: The gay Bible evangelical also picks and chooses and does not use the Bible or the scripture as a whole either. When it comes to grace and faith, they use what they want to and neglect the passages that show that although we have to be gracious and all is done by faith and grace, yet behavior is still important. St James talks about faith and works.
Point two: GRACE AND LAW
Grace is unmerited favor. It is God's mercy shown to us. Grace abolishes the death that we deserve under the law. Grace deals with sin. Grace cancels The Law. Through Jesus, the Law has been canceled for Christians
True Biblical answer:
Jesus said he came to fulfill the law and that one jot or one tittle of the law will not pass. Jesus came to fulfill the law for our sake’s. . Jesus said to the Pharisees, these you should have done and not left the other undone. The law still exists for those who wish to be under it, except that it does not give life as Christ gives lif. Does God change and allow some sins for Jews and not for Christians? God doesn’t change and He is still the God of all people.
It was for FREEDOM that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.
Some scriptures which speak of God's grace:
Colossians 2:14 He takes these descriptions of grace out of the context of the entire epistles. For example, Colossians 3:5 shows that even though we are under grace we can’t go on sinning.
; Galatians 3:24; Galations 4:2-6 shows that for those under Christ, the law was a guardian.
Romans 7:6 Romans 7:7 tells us that we would know the meaning of sins if the law had not taught us; Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:25; Galatians 5:16; Romans 8:1.
Romans 8:2 says the law is abolished because it was weak and could not make people holy. The law’s aim was to make people behave so the law is still valid as a teaching tool for holiness. It is simply unable to make people holy. Only God’s spirit within us can do that.
Jude and St Peter – warns us that the false teachers turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.
MOSAIC/LEVITICAL LAW was given to illuminate our sin, points to Jesus and Grace supersedes the Law.
St Paul says the law was given as a schoolteacher. The Law cannot make people holy but it shows what holiness consists of. The law told us not to commit incest also. Is incest now allowed? He argues against incest in the section about Baal. Why does he exclude homosexuality? By living in the Spirit, believers fulfill all of the Law's requirements –that’s just it…the law does have requirements. The law’s requirements are still valid. But now they are done in spirit and in truth, in love and self-awareness. And they are not done to free us from death because Jesus has already done this.
Gay Christian argument:
God and the Mosaic law was only talking about the pagan practices of the pagan deities of Canaan and temple prostitution.
The stories of Baal and Ishtar are all smoke and mirrors. The purposes of these depictions is often to show that the only kind of homosexuality in the Bible is the kind referred to in Sodom or Canaanite countries, temple prostitution. But the Bible doesn’t show any kind of “good” homosexuality. Here they may bring in the usual answers about David and Jonathan, Jesus and the Beloved Disciple, Ruth and Naomi. But ask if any reputable person in the Bible even so much as hinted at these relationships? Surely, God who knows all and God who does not like confusion would have made it clear to His people that He was for “good” homosexuality and was merely forbidding temple prostitution. Also, let’s remember that the original order given to Adam and Eve was that they be fruitful and multiply
Gay Christian argument:
The sins of Sodom were PRIDE, FULNESS OF BREAD, ABUNDANCE OF IDLENESS, Disregarding the poor, haughtiness, committing abomination. The Sodomites also had sons of Belial, there, worshipers of Baal.
Romans 2: 24-27 shows a causuality between false religion and false sexuality. St Paul says clearly that because they did not worship God, God allowed them to fall into lust. The homosexuality of Sodom and the other pagan countries happened because they would not worship the true God. He implies that the homosexuality was a consequence –and will always be a consequence-- of people not wanting to retain the holy God in their minds. Ezekiel lists the iniquity but doesn’t list the consequences of the great wickedness of Sodom. That goes without saying. The iniquity of Sodom are the main sins. This is a spiritual conclusion that is so obvious to the hearers that it need not be said.Ezekiel’s comment is an insightful utterance about what made Sodom that way. In the same way Romans 1, shows homosexuality as a SYMPTOM of iniquity. In addition, check out historical documents outside the Bible. Philo and Josephus both plainly say that same-sex relationships was the primary thing about Sodom. Other early Jewish writers outside of the Bible and writers of other middle eastern countries also speak of Sodom as being characteristically same-sex and very wild sexually. Testimony of Benjamin 9:1, Testament of Nephtali 3:4, 3 Maccabees 2:5, Jubilees 16:6
Gay Christian argument: The meaning of Toevah is idolatry...as in the Canannite nations.The real word for truly sexually immoral acts is the Hebrew Word ZIMMAH which IS used in speaking of abomination in connection with sexually immoral acts. The word used in the passage about Sodom is Toevah.
“Toevah" is not usually used in connection with words such as idolatry. For instance, in proverbs 6:16-19. These six things doth the Lord hate: yea seven are an abomination (toevah) None of these is about idolatry.
Gay Christian argument
Homosexual rape was a common practice at that time of humiliating strangers during times of war
There is no reference to any war at this time. The Sodomites were living in peace at this time.
Gay Christian argument:
LEVITICUS 18:22 AND 20:13 is really a condemnation of the practices done by the neighboring Canaanit countries.
These levitical laws against homosexuality appear in a long list of sexual sins, adultery, incest, sleeping with your wife’s sister while your wife is still alive, sleeping with a mother or a daughter. Although the sexual sins of the Canaanites involved some of these sins, this is primarily a long list of sexual prohibitions. None of these sexual relationships are truly accepted today. Nor are they accepted in nations who never heard of the Canaanites. In fact, throughout history, most nations adhere to these laws whether or not they heard of Israel or the Canaanites. So just because the Canaanites performed these doesn’t mean they are solely Canaanite religious sins. In addition, these same prohibitions against these sexual sins pop up apart from the Levitical codes in other places in the Bible.
Gay Christian argument:
The section in romans where Paul talks about those who burn in lust towards their own sex is not about homosexuals. Many of the same practices of the Canaanites were still being practiced in Rome. The Greek word PHUSIKOS is translated as "natural". This word means INTRINSIC; that which is born or inherent, so Paul is talking about people who are naturally heterosexual practicing homosexualty.Those in this passage, involved in the fertility rites were giving themselves over to do those things that were not natural (intrinsic) to themselves.Paul was not saying that "natural" refers to the heterosexual persuasion; that all humans are naturally heterosexual from birth.
St Paul says even the women forsook the natural ways and burned in lust for each other. Prostitutes generally do not burn in lust, especially not temple prostitutes.
St Paul and Saint Peter use PHUSIKOS to mean a general instinct that is natural to a particular kind of animal or class of nature. It is often found in scientific terms. It is connected to physical as in physics…the study of the nation of the physical, physical optics. It is also the root of phylum…the primary divison of classification in the plant or animal kingdom.. It does not mean intrinsic to a particular person but to a particular classification. The fact that scientists use the word to classify what each group has in common, what is PHUSIKOS to one person is phusikos to another person. Intrinsic conditions might include, height, weight, hair color, eye color, etc. true, but PHUSIKOS would say that all humans have hair, eyes, eye color. That is what is expected and intrinsic to humans. Paul talks about the PHUSIS of the Gentiles… whose natures are different from those of the chosen people. Eph 2:3, James 3:7, 2 Peter 1:4, Gal 2:15 Gal 4:8, Phil 4:3, I Cor 11:14…who by PHUSIS… nature are not Gods. Besides Paul is totally distrustful of anything “natural.” He would never use natural as a good thing.
Gay Chritian argument:
In the list of evils that come about from denying God (vs 28-32) homosexuality is not listed.
God said it other times. Very few of the lists in the Bible are complete and comprehensive. Jesus says certain things for instance but we don’t get some of the important truths of the Bible or the entire truth of the gospel until all the apostles have had their say. Compare 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. An incomplete list doesn’t say anything. The gospel also tells us that everything Jesus said and did were not listed in the gospels. So, just because something isn’t listed doesn’t mean diddly.
Gay Christian argument:
Science is showing that gay people are made that way.
Why are the statistics for gay men higher among boys who have been molested or among adopted male children? But if we accept that people are created one way it still doesn’t mean much. Some folks are born with unnatural or dangerous issues. Genetic presence doesn’t mean God and nature meant a person to be a certain way. In addition, just because something is supposedly incurable or unchangeable doesn’t mean it is a good and natural thing.
Gay Christian argument:CORINTHIANS 6:9 is translated wrongly. ARSENOKOITAI means man-active-bed ??? not homosexuals per se. Arsonokoites most likely means a heterosexual male who keeps a young boy as a "boy toy." The word ARSENOKOITE is used only twice in the New Testament (I Corinthians 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10) Homosexuality was very common in Greek culture, and there are many words used to describe various homosexual relationships. Why does Paul would use a word that does not appear anywhere in Greek homo-erotic literature? Transliterated, the word means "man-active-bed"
ARSENOKOITAI Paul coined this phrase from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament “meta arsenos ou koimethese koiten gyniakos” Leviticus 18:22 “hos an koimethe meta arsenos koiten gynaikos Leviticus 20:13. He took it directly from the levitical passages in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible forbidding homosexual behavior. ARSANE appears in the New testament to mean male. Most notably Rev 12:5, Matt 19:4, Mark 10:6, Luke 2:23, Gal 3:28. It means male and only male. In Matt 19:4, Mark 10:6, Jesus uses it to discuss the commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve that a man should marry a woman. And often in the Luke 2:23 passage it is used for a male child. KOITE means couch. (Coitus) “Marriage is honorable…and the bed (koite) undefiled. Hebrews 13:4 There is no hint of temple prostitution, or men using young boys in Paul putting these words together. It means homosexuality plain and simple.
These are just a few of the answers. There are much more. The main thing is to do our work and hold up God’s word.
Read more articles by Carole McDonnell or search for articles on the same topic or others.
excellent article. I must complement you! Your "discrete" answers are what I struggle with. I have often marvelled at how Jesus always had the right "come back" for every situation. I always seem to suffer foot-in-mouth disease, no matter how well prepared I am!
Thanks for this careful review of the facts!