Homosexuality and Jewish Law - 07/02/2004

Did you know that the term homosexual or homosexuality, as used in the biblical scriptures, did not actually come into affect in our english language, until the early 1900's? Therefor, any specific text which uses the word homosexual or homosexuality, cannot be taken entirely litterally, because it is an obvious man made altercation to God's word. God's word can stand alone- why does the church feel the need to use such man made interpretations, and then pass them off as God's gospel truth? I do have another question. The bible also condoned slavery, polygamy- and had a holiness code that stated that Sabbath was to be observed on Saturday, among many other things. We do not acknowlege of any of this, for various different reasons, the most recent being 'they don't apply to us'. I am curious as to how we pick and choose, what part of God's word applies to us, and what part simply applies to others? We cannot simply pick up a bible, and take it at face value, or none of us would be wearing shirts made of certain textile blends, we wouldn't be eating shell fish, rabbit, or certain kind of meat. Men would still be allowed to have numerous wives, we would still have slaves and slavery, and women would still be subserviant to men, so says the word of God. I'm simply asking- how shall we differentiate as to what we will apply to our every day lives, and what we simply think doesn't 'fit' our lifestyles anymore? Because playing that game, is going to lead to many, many other 'rules' of the bible, being prone to interpretation. Food for thought.

Courtney





CONTENDER MINISTRIES RESPONSE:

Hi Courtney.  I'm sorry it's taken so long to respond to your email, but we get quite a few of them.  Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.  I agree that it's dangerous to "pick and choose" from the Bible to apply it to our lives.  However, a little textual criticism is necessary.  For instance, the Bible doesn't condone slavery or polygamy.  Where those things are mentioned, they are descriptive in nature, as opposed to prescriptive.  In other words, in mentions historical realities, but does not command the practice.  For instance, I've heard some people contend that the Bible condones incest, as Lot's daughters had sex with him.  However, the Bible did not hold this up as an example to follow, nor did it praise it.  This story is included as a historical event, not doctrine.  You also mentioned the foods and textiles that were prohibited.  Those are a matter of Jewish law.  In the book of Romans, Paul (who was a Jewish scholar who became a Christian), teaches that Jews are not to impose their Jewish laws on what to eat and not eat, circumcision, etc., on the gentile believers.  Therefore, when we read the Bible as a whole (rather than pick and choose), the Jewish law regarding foods, textiles, sabbath, etc., are put into the correct context.
 
You're right that the term "homosexual" is a fairly modern term.  However, while the word is new, the concept is very old.  The Hebrew language and Greek language used different terms to describe what we call homosexuality.  Even seventeenth century English used different terms (as found in the King James Version).  Many modern versions of the Bible include the word "homosexual", as a matter of translation -- not interpretation.  Christians have not changed the meaning of the ancient text to suit a pre-conceived doctrine.  Rather, Bible translators have always translated the ancient texts into modern language.  When the NIV translators came to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, they accurately tranlated into the modern language: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 
 
Also, keep homosexuality in perspective.  The Bible lists it as a sexual sin, just like adultery and prostitution.  There are many sins from which people must repent as they receive Christ if they are to be saved.  With active homosexuals, they are not recognizing or repenting from their sin.  Thus, their eternal souls are at stake.  The difference today between homosexuals and adulterers, is that the homosexual community has been successful in trying to mainstream their sin.  Thus, Christians are often seen as the "bad guys" when we try to counter this movement.  Believe me, if adultery were gaining the same mainstream acceptance as homosexuality, we would loudly be countering that as well.  None of us are without sin, Courtney.  The difference between me and a homosexual is that I have recognized my sinfulness, received forgiveness through Jesus Christ, and repented from my sins.  I hope this answers your questions.
 
In Christ,
 
Ben and Jennifer Rast
Contender Ministries