“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” — 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10
We are going to look at two recent controversies involving the teaching of the Holy Bible in regards to homosexuality that have have come to the forefront in the past few weeks. The vigorous discussions that ensued have rekindled the oft repeated insinuations that God’s Word somehow sanctions “hate speech” and violence against homosexuals because certain conservative Christians who do not accept gays into their congregations nor support the “right” to gay marriage. As a consequence many are falsely accused of not showing “unconditional love” to this class of individuals.
This past week has brought a firestorm of controversy regarding alleged ”anti gay” comments from Phil Robertson, the leading star of a television show known as Duck Dynasty. So much so that despite the program’s immense popularity, Mr. Roberson was suddenly dismissed by the program’s sponsor. The basis of Mr. Robertson’s comments stem from his Christian belief in the Bible as God’s Word that reveals that homosexuality is a sin along with a number of others mentioned in a scripture that he paraphrased (1 Cor. 6:9) that will prevent its participants from entering the kingdom of God. The popular media and a number of liberal pundits has characterized Roberson’s words as “hate speech” and in so doing directly imply the the Bible, and ultimately its author God are therefore responsible for hate crimes against homosexuals. As parties make their arguments for one side or the other on this issue, it all comes back to what the Bible actually teaches, especially certain Old Testament scriptures which call for the stoning of individuals caught in homosexual acts.
Another peculiar case centered around the marriage of two lesbian women where the step-father of one of the women, Brett Hadley, just happened to be the chaplain and Bible teacher at the Highland Academy of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Mr. Hadley apparently not only participated in the wedding, but signed their marriage certificate to the state of Maryland which recently sanctioned marriage between gay couples. When officials of the Chesapeake Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the employers of Mr. Hadley, learned of the event he was promptly placed on his administrative leave for “an unspecified period of time”. Accusations coming from the biological mother of one of the women and the wife of Mr. Hadley on her blog site is that if Jesus were here on earth He would have come to her daughter’s wedding as an act of love and would not have stood “outside a gay wedding holding a sign that says, ‘God hates gays.’”
Here are the two gross misconceptions stemming from these controversies that we would like to address in all fair mindedness and reasoning coming from the Bible which have been largely overlooked by most commentators.
- The Bible promotes “hate speech” and potential violence against practicing homosexuals amongst its believers.
- Showing “unconditional love” to homosexuals means that we should accept them into our church membership and attend their “same sex” weddings.
The charge the the Bible promotes “hate speech” and potential violence against practicing homosexuals stems from a verse in the book of Leviticus that calls for the death sentence to men or women caught lying with each other which is an abomination in the sight of God. The verse is quoted below.
“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.” — Leviticus 20:13
What nearly all commentators fail to recognize is that during this time in the Old Testament it was by a theocracy that God ruled directly over His chosen people and committed into their hands the authority to carry out punishments for violation of Divinely mandated laws. Later in time due to continued apostasy, God’s people forfeited this responsibility and it was transferred to the state. Such was the case when Jesus first came to earth and the residue of the two tribe kingdom of Judah and Benjamin were placed under the Roman yoke. As we move into the New Testament era the powers of church and state were separated (Matt. 22:21) and the authority to enforce civil laws as a terror to evil (Rom. 13: 3, 4) was placed in the hands of the earthly governments to enforce. This is plainly depicted in Bible prophecy in the leopard like beast of Revelation 13:1-10 which shows crowns (kingly authority) placed on the ten horns (earthly kingdoms or governments) and not on the seven heads (religious bodies). Thus to suggest that the Bible authorizes violence against sexually immoral classes of individuals is without foundation. Unfortunately, the rhetoric is fueled by certain groups of Christians who do not believe in the separation of church and state and are strongly motivated by their “dominion theology” influences that believe in order to restore America to God’s favor we must bring about the enforcement of Old Testament civil law by the hand of the state to punish wrong doers which would potentially include death sentences for adultery, homosexual acts, bestiality, etc. as found in the book of Leviticus. To gain some further insight as to which law we are to keep today as Christians we turn to the following inspired commentary.
Mal. 4:4, 5 — “Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.”
You know by now that Malachi, chapters 3 and 4, prophetically speak to the people of today, to the people just before the great and dreadful day, to the people to whom antitypical Elijah the prophet is sent. And what wise counsel does the Lord give through Malachi? — He says, “Remember ye the Law of Moses My servant.” Which law? — The law of “statutes and judgments” which the Lord commanded “in Horeb.” Since this is God’s faithful advice to His people of this day, we would do well to restudy this law of Moses, and to remember it, for we cannot disregard His counsel and still expect His blessings.
Broadly speaking, the law of Moses consists of three parts. The first is the Ceremonial law, the law of the temple — the sacrificial law. This law, of course, we today must not observe, except in antitype, for it foreshadowed things to come, particularly Christ’s first advent. Thus it is that if we had lived in Old Testament times and had failed to comply with the sacrificial law and system of that day, we would thereby have demonstrated unbelief in Christ, Who was to come. But since we are living in the Christian era, if we should now observe the typical sacrificial law and system, we should thereby demonstrate unbelief in Christ, Who has come.
And so, as this law was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14), we need not, and must not, observe it now.
The second part of Moses’ law, is the law by which Israel was to rule its people, the civil, or legal law, — the law which defines what penalty the government should impose upon those who are caught stealing, killing, or the like. Now, since we as Christians do not have a government of our own, but are still under the governments of the nations of today, we personally, or as a group are not required to enforce the legal law of Moses either.
The only law of Moses, therefore, that we can possibly be admonished to remember, is the third part of his law: the moral law, which consists of the things that pertain to us as individuals, the things that we as individuals must perform, the things that perfect our character, the things that make us a peculiar people. We therefore need to search out and do the things contained in the moral law of Moses — “The commandments, and the statutes and the judgments.” Deut. 5:31.
And the surest way to select these moral essentials from among those things which pertain to the sacrificial and the legal systems, is to go to the book of Deuteronomy. This book is the summary of all the laws and statutes which Moses spoke to ancient Israel, his last words.” – Timely Greetings, Vol. 2, No. 37, pp. 14, 15
Regarding the false charge that Christian churches who do not accept openly practicing homosexuals into full membership nor chose not to attend gay marriage ceremonies as somehow unloving reveals a complete ignorance of the unconditional love of God for all sinners and His desire to save us from our sins. If anyone can please show us a scripture where the Bible sanctions gay marriage then we might believe that Jesus would attend a state sanctioned wedding between two women.
We can think of no better commentary on this love of God for sinners than the example of Jesus and how he treated the woman who was caught in adultery and brought before Him by the hypocritical church leaders of the day and summoned for His judgment. Please read with amazement and reverential awe the way in which our Redeemer and exemplar dealt with this sinner and all sinners who come to Him in sincere repentance. Perhaps this is the type of love that God wants us to reveal to the erring whether they be adulterers, thieves, murderers, extortioners, fornicators, idolators, homosexuals, and the like knowing that we all have sinned and have fallen short of His glory and are in need of His saving grace to set us free from our sins. Especially notice the final words that our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus spoke to the woman, “go and sin no more.”
“From the excitement and confusion of the city, from the eager crowds and the treacherous rabbis, Jesus turned away to the quiet of the olive groves, where He could be alone with God. But in the early morning He returned to the temple, and as the people gathered about Him, He sat down and taught them.
He was soon interrupted. A group of Pharisees and scribes approached Him, dragging with them a terror-stricken woman, whom with hard, eager voices they accused of having violated the seventh commandment (adultery). Having pushed her into the presence of Jesus, they said to Him, with a hypocritical show of respect, “Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest Thou?”
Their pretended reverence veiled a deep-laid plot for His ruin. They had seized upon this opportunity to secure His condemnation, thinking that whatever decision He might make, they would find occasion to accuse Him. Should He acquit the woman, He might be charged with despising the law of Moses. Should He declare her worthy of death, He could be accused to the Romans as one who was assuming authority that belonged only to them.
Jesus looked for a moment upon the scene,–the trembling victim in her shame, the hard-faced dignitaries, devoid of even human pity. His spirit of stainless purity shrank from the spectacle. Well He knew for what purpose this case had been brought to Him. He read the heart, and knew the character and life history of everyone in His presence. These would-be guardians of justice had themselves led their victim into sin, that they might lay a snare for Jesus. Giving no sign that He had heard their question, He stooped, and fixing His eyes upon the ground, began to write in the dust.
Impatient at His delay and apparent indifference, the accusers drew nearer, urging the matter upon His attention. But as their eyes, following those of Jesus, fell upon the pavement at His feet, their countenances changed. There, traced before them, were the guilty secrets of their own lives. The people, looking on, saw the sudden change of expression, and pressed forward to discover what it was that they were regarding with such astonishment and shame.
With all their professions of reverence for the law, these rabbis, in bringing the charge against the woman, were disregarding its provisions. It was the husband’s duty to take action against her, and the guilty parties were to be punished equally. The action of the accusers was wholly unauthorized. Jesus, however, met them on their own ground. The law specified that in punishment by stoning, the witnesses in the case should be the first to cast a stone. Now rising, and fixing His eyes upon the plotting elders, Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” And stooping down, He continued writing on the ground.
He had not set aside the law given through Moses, nor infringed upon the authority of Rome. The accusers had been defeated. Now, their robe of pretended holiness torn from them, they stood, guilty and condemned, in the presence of Infinite Purity. They trembled lest the hidden iniquity of their lives should be laid open to the multitude; and one by one, with bowed heads and downcast eyes, they stole away, leaving their victim with the pitying Saviour.
Jesus arose, and looking at the woman said, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
The woman had stood before Jesus, cowering with fear. His words, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone,” had come to her as a death sentence. She dared not lift her eyes to the Saviour’s face, but silently awaited her doom. In astonishment she saw her accusers depart speechless and confounded; then those words of hope fell upon her ear, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” Her heart was melted, and she cast herself at the feet of Jesus, sobbing out her grateful love, and with bitter tears confessing her sins.
This was to her the beginning of a new life, a life of purity and peace, devoted to the service of God. In the uplifting of this fallen soul, Jesus performed a greater miracle than in healing the most grievous physical disease; He cured the spiritual malady which is unto death everlasting. This penitent woman became one of His most steadfast followers. With self-sacrificing love and devotion she repaid His forgiving mercy.
In His act of pardoning this woman and encouraging her to live a better life, the character of Jesus shines forth in the beauty of perfect righteousness. While He does not palliate sin, nor lessen the sense of guilt, He seeks not to condemn, but to save. The world had for this erring woman only contempt and scorn; but Jesus speaks words of comfort and hope. The Sinless One pities the weakness of the sinner, and reaches to her a helping hand. While the hypocritical Pharisees denounce, Jesus bids her, “Go, and sin no more.”
It is not Christ’s follower that, with averted eyes, turns from the erring, leaving them unhindered to pursue their downward course. Those who are forward in accusing others, and zealous in bringing them to justice, are often in their own lives more guilty than they. Men hate the sinner, while they love the sin. Christ hates the sin, but loves the sinner. This will be the spirit of all who follow Him. Christian love is slow to censure, quick to discern penitence, ready to forgive, to encourage, to set the wanderer in the path of holiness, and to stay his feet therein.” — Desire of Ages, pp. 460-62.