Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"I Don't Read It That Way" -- Homosexuality and the Bible

"I don't read it that way," was the response in a recent online YouTube interview on homosexuality with Rob Bell (See http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/videos-for-pastors/167776-andrew-wilson-and-rob-bell-discuss-homosexuality.html). The interviewer plied him with a number of questions on the text of the Bible, the nature of God, and the obvious moral statements made in the Scriptures by Jesus and Paul on the subject of sexual deviation and homosexuality. Bell said Jesus made no statements per se on homosexuality, and that Paul must be read in the context of idolatry of his day, especially the rampant homosexual environment of men and boys at  pagan temples. And, as far as Leviticus and its obvious prohibitions, Bell discounted those as "particularized" instances for Israel in a pagan environment. In other words, Bell summarily dismissed most of what Scripture says against homosexuality.

However, he still insisted on being called a Christian, being held as a Christian minister of the gospel, and having fellowship with other Christians, even though and in spite of the fact they disagree with him on this and other issues. He discounted the label "liberal" as narrowly centered on a few issues, such as this one, and stated that should never bar Christian fellowship. 'We must get on with life as it is today," he insisted in accepting homosexual Christian couples into full church fellowship and communion. "Life as it is today" includes faithful, caring homosexual couples. The main issue with him was "unfaithfulness" either in regular marriage or homosexual unions. His response to his debater was, "I don't read the Scriptures that way."

So, let's recap. A person's private interpretation of Scripture, seen through his own lenses, takes precedent and is biblically warranted in spite of the fact that hundreds of Christian orthodox writers and theologians and commentators and churches have said otherwise. "Me and my spectacles" is the post-modern way of understanding the Bible and its prohibitions. This is dangerous self-sufficiency and proud obstructionism against centuries of recognized Christian evangelical scholarship.

Most theologians and church people who AGREE with Rob Bell DO take a more "liberal" view of the Scriptures. That means they question whole sections and parts of it being the very Word of God written. They wonder if this or that is simply Jesus or Paul or whoever "contextualizing" his words "for their time" or a special "situation." It is not the declarative, propositional Word of the Living God that crosses all time and all cultures for all people. So, whether or not Bell sees himself on the "liberal" side of the equation, he is certainly there by his bedfellows. This in no way takes away from the humanity or situation of the writer of Scripture. But I am affirming that the Holy Spirit spoke with all authority divine revelation, not just "current advice."

I say again, as I have elsewhere, that much of the modern evangelical church, especially the mega-churches, will no doubt rationalize their way through the challenge of gay marriage and homosexuality to somehow "affirm" people who practice such lifestyles. They will accept Rob Bell's premise that "this is just life the way it is" and we better get on board with life the way it is to effectively minister. This is a watershed issue and moment for the Christian, evangelical church. Make no mistake. What we say and do in the homosexual arena will mark us for years to come as to whether or not we have been faithful to God and the Scriptures. It does not matter if we are, at the end of the day, "relevant" or "up to date" or "seeker sensitive" or whatever. What matters is what GOD thinks and says.