What the Bible Still Says About Homosexuality (Part 2)

In yesterday’s post, we looked at Daniel Helminiak’s first argument regarding the Bible and homosexuality.

Today, we’re going to turn to the second phase of his argument; as you can probably guess, we’re going to have to deal with the story of Sodom in Genesis 19. Here’s what Helminiak has to say:

Hard evidence supports this commonsensical expectation. Taken on its own terms, read in the original languages, placed back into its historical context, the Bible is ho-hum on homosexuality, unless – as with heterosexuality – injustice and abuse are involved.

That, in fact, was the case among the Sodomites (Genesis 19), whose experience is frequently cited by modern anti-gay critics. The Sodomites wanted to rape the visitors whom Lot, the one just man in the city, welcomed in hospitality for the night.

The Bible itself is lucid on the sin of Sodom: pride, lack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49); hatred of strangers and cruelty to guests (Wisdom 19:13); arrogance (Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 16:8); evildoing, injustice, oppression of the widow and orphan (Isaiah 1:17); adultery (in those days, the use of another man’s property), and lying (Jeremiah 23:12).

But nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom. That intended gang rape only expressed the greater sin, condemned in the Bible from cover to cover: hatred, injustice, cruelty, lack of concern for others. Hence, Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31); and “By this will they know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

What we have here is really only one argument, despite the fact that it spans four paragraphs. The argument is this: the sin of Sodom was about social injustice, not about sexuality. But what I find most interesting, in reading these four paragraphs, is what is omitted, and what Helminiak doesn’t do.

First we have what’s omitted, namely Jude 7. While Helminiak rightly points out the Bible’s teaching regarding Sodom and it’s various other sins, he never mentions that Jude explicitly states that the sin of Sodom was that they “indulged in gross sexual immorality and pursued strange flesh (ἐκπορνεύσασαι καὶ ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἑτέρας).” Clearly it isn’t the case that “nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom.” To say so is patently false.

Then we have what Helmeniak doesn’t do; contrary to his own statements at the beginning of the quoted paragraph, he has yet to place the Bible in its own context. There has been no exegesis of the quoted passages, much less exegesis based on the original languages. We look in vain for an explanation of what it means that  they “indulged in gross sexual immorality”, or for an explanation of the meaning of their pursuing of “strange flesh”. One would think, given his previous statements, that there would be some explanation of the participle ἐκπορνεύσασαι, or perhaps an examination of its extra-biblical usages. But there is none of that. Instead, there is only the same logical fallacy committed once already, that is, proof by assertion.

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"I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve." (Romans 16:17-18) Please read "The Comments Policy."

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