Orthodox Scriptural Views Do Have Grounding

A Response to Dr. Steven Tuell

Comments (4)

Comment Feed

Context is important

One important point to make is that unclean foods are also considered an "abomination" or toevah in Deuteronomy 14:3. Leviticus 20:13 also states that one kind of male homosexual practice is "toevah." Therefore Leviticus 20:13 could be considered to be a ceremonial law. Closely following this is the injunction is Leviticus 20:18 not to approach a woman during her menstrual cycle. The penalty IS severe there, for they would be cut off from their people. In many ways, that could be practically a death sentence. If a man wasn't circumcised, he would also be cut off from his people. So, it is simply false to suggest that violation of ceremonial laws never carried severe penalties. And of course, people will say some kind of law against homosexuality is continued in the New Testament. But so is an acceptance of the institution of slavery. And Romans 1 speaks of some kind of homosexual behavior combined with idol worship. The question is, is it the idol worship that is condemned, or is it the homosexuality? In Numbers 25:1-4 Heterosexual behavior combined with idol worship was so fiercely condemned that 24,000 were killed because of this. Paul mentions this in 1 Corinthians 10:9. Ahab's heterosexual marriage to Jezebel in 1 Kings 16:31 was very strongly condemned because it led him to worship Baal. So, is it the sex act, or is it the idol worship? Revelation 14:4 talks about men who did not defile or pollute themselves with women, for they were virgins. This probably means they did not even engage in a "one man, one woman" marriage that would lead them into idol worship. It isn't per se that heterosexuality is wrong, but that any kind of sexual behavior or relationship that is combined with idol worship is condemned.

Daniel Wagle more than 3 years ago

Context is the point

The article itself is all about covenant context.

Toevah, translated variously as abomination, perversity, repugnance, et. al., is used in a wide variety of contexts, from ceremonial to moral to practical. Its use in one context has at best incidental connection to its use in another.

Leviticus is generically characterized as the book of ceremonial law; and extensive portions of it, such as Chapters 1-7, are just that. There is much more to the book, such as sanitation and hygiene (Chh. 12-15), and moral standards (the heart of Chh. 18-20, highlighted by the Second Great Commandment in 19:18). The isolated exceptions such as 18:19 and 19:19 do not come close to neutralizing the commanding trend of moral context in those 3 chapters.

"It is simply false to suggest that violation of ceremonial laws never carried severe penalties." True, though neither the article nor others--on either side of the discussion, to this writer's knowledge--argued this. The point is that ceremonial law, with or without penalties, is no longer binding in the New Covenant of Jesus (eg, Mark 7:19, most of Hebrews). Our issue of controversy is a matter of moral law.

Of course any activity, sexual or otherwise, that becomes a bait for idol worship is condemned. Leviticus 18-20 are about proper moral life, not idol worship; and these are where the references are found. Almost everything else discussed in these chapters regards moral conduct, and most of us on both sides of the current debate would uphold all those other moral standards.

The behaviors proscribed in Romans 1, sexual and otherwise, are already presumed to be immoral. Paul cites them as a demonstration of what happens when worship of the true God is subverted with worship of anything less. The practices and traits listed in vv. 26-32 are seen as immoral in any context; idolatry simply makes them more likely.

Another area where "context is important": if proscriptions regarding homosexual practice were merely a matter of its association with idol worship, this likely would have surfaced quickly somewhere in the first 19 centuries of biblical study and criticism, prior to the context of the Sexual Revolution in the latter 20th Century.

Nothing about the article is contrived to justify unspecified reprehensible behavior by a perceived right wing, as another response to the article claims. It is an effort to respect the integrity of the original text's message, to avoid the risk of eisegesis to vindicate contemporary trends, however noble their intentions; and to be sure our assessment of all sexual behaviors evaluated in the same contexts is done with clear consistency. Otherwise we generate a double standard, or a level of broad permissiveness most of us want to avoid.

Joseph R. Stains more than 2 years ago

Invalid Slippery Slope Fallacy

The rest is just gravy. Not much to see here except the same old justification for the right-wing's reprehensible behavior.

George Nixon Shuler more than 3 years ago

I commend Um insight

For printing this rebuttal of Reconciling Ministries article. I hope that this is a step in acknowledging that the real problem is we have different understandings and beliefs and as a result when we try to talk to each other we end up speaking from completely different perspectives. It is no wonder that everybody is frustrated with everybody else.

Betsy more than 3 years ago

We Invite Your Support to Cover
A New Era 

     As we face challenging times, United Methodist Insight welcomes your financial support to bring you news of The United Methodist Church in a world seeking a new future.

     TEXT your contribution to 84-321 with "(amt) Insight" via your smartphone or go to https://ststephenumctx.churchcenter.com/giving/to/um-insight Your additional contribution of the 2.2% processing fee will make your donation go farther.

     Make CHECKS payable to our sponsoring congregation, St. Stephen UMC, and write "UM Insight" on the memo line. Then mail to United Methodist Insight, c/o St. Stephen United Methodist Church, 2520 Oates Drive, Mesquite, TX 75150.