Before reading on, please review the rules here.
The short answer is no.
First, let’s address Sodom and Gomorrah. While the idea that Sodom was destroyed for reasons other than homosexual behavior may seem preferable to some audiences, Scripture does not support a theory that the city was destroyed for being inhospitable. To begin with, although this incident is prior to the giving of the Law, we can learn from the Law what does and does not gain God’s wrath. Being inhospitable does not garner the sentence of death, but homosexual behavior does (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13). The idea that God destroyed these cities because they didn’t treat their visitors nicely is absurd. To be sure, Jude and 2 Peter describe the sin of Sodom as of a sensual nature, not as sins of hospitality. Jude says that the sin was “gross immorality” and “going after strange flesh.” Peter writes that Lot was “oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men.” He says these people were “those who indulged the flesh in its corrupt desires and despised authority.” Knowing this, when you read the Sodom and Gomorrah tale, it is clear that it is the sexual part of the story that God is punishing, not the lack of hospitality. While it might seem possible then that the attempted rape was the sin that received God’s wrath, it makes no sense. The men didn’t simply want to rape. They wanted to have sex with men and were overcome with that desire, which is evident in that Lot offered his daughters (a terrible thing to do by the way) and they rejected the women.
Now to Leviticus. It’s pretty rare to hear an argument that attempts to say that Leviticus doesn’t condemn homosexual behavior. On that point, the text is clear. The common argument is that since we don’t picket Red Lobster for violating Levitical standards about shellfish, we are being hypocritical by speaking against homosexuality using Leviticus. It is true, that there are many parts of Leviticus that the New Covenant supersedes. To begin with, the rites of the Old Law have been replaced with the rites of the New Law. Circumcision becomes Baptism. Passover becomes Eucharist. Priesthood of the Levites becomes the Sacerdotal Christian Priesthood. What foods were unclean are now clean. What goes in does not defile a man as much as what comes out. But to believe that every stroke of the pen of Leviticus is irrelevant is quite simply put…stupid. One only has to open their ears to the words of Jesus Christ to see that morals are not optional. Repentance is not optional. Following Jesus is not about creating our own ethic, being nice, and not judging people. Every moral imperative that Jesus gives goes far beyond the moral imperatives of the Old Law. No longer is just adultery a sin, but even lusting after a woman is the same sin as adultery. Jesus illustrates the importance of holiness by telling us that it is better to enter heaven maimed, then to let one of our body parts lead us to sin and to hell. Jesus Christ takes sexual ethics very seriously, almost as seriously as his mercy, and nowhere is this more evident than in the stoning of the adulteress. What the claaaaassssic gay activist will point out is how Jesus gave a scathing rebuke to the crowd about being the first to cast stones, and saved this woman’s life and did not condemn her. True dat. BUT, what they either ignore or purposely suppress for their own purposes is that Jesus then told the woman to sin no more. He gave her mercy, not a free pass. He loosed her from the bonds of sin, not from the bonds of righteous living.
And while we are at it, we might as well address Jesus’ silence on homosexuality. Silence does not equal affirmation. Any person who tries to say so is a deceiver. We can draw many theories about Jesus’ silence on many issues, because homosexuality was not the only one, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. There are some sins that just may not have been ultra prominent in the culture and the context, or some sins that simply did not need further explanation by Jesus. And while Jesus may not have explicitly stated that homosexual behavior is sin, he did de facto condemn it when he defined marriage:
He set out from there and went into the district of Judea [and] across the Jordan. Again crowds gathered around him and, as was his custom, he again taught them. The Pharisees approached and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother [and be joined to his wife], and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”
While, the specific question is about divorce, Jesus does more than simply remove divorce from their understanding of marriage. He goes to the beginning and describes what marriage was in the beginning and restores marriage to that state. Male and female. Jesus’ words. One-fleshness occurs when a man is joined to his wife. This is marriage. Only this. Jesus offers no other option. And we know from the teachings of Prophets, Apostles, and Jesus, that any sexual behavior outside of marriage is sinful. Jesus didn’t have to define what marriage is not, but what marriage is (and one can argue that by referring back to the original state of marriage at the beginning of creation, Jesus also condemns contraceptive use because it violates the first command to be fruitful and multiply—but that is a different topic).
And so we don’t even have to address the Pauline passages because Jesus’ definition of marriage is strong enough. But it would suffice to mention that many semi-honest revisionists will admit that we don’t completely know what Paul’s word arsenokoites means, and so that at best, their interpretations are simply theories. In any case, whether Paul speaks against masturbation or pedophilia or homosexuality, Jesus Christ, God himself defines marriage and it doesn’t include homosexual behavior.
Tomorrow we answer the question: “Since the biblical authors didn’t know about committed homosexual relationships, the Bible can’t really speak out against gay marriage, right?”