Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 5 (A Mock Debate)

the-bible-and-sexuality-blog-heading (1)Richard describes a mock debate put on during chapel at ACU. The idea is that you have two rostrums and two microphones, and the speaker is asked to argue both sides of a controversial issue — one side from one microphone and the other from the other mic. Excellent!

This sounds like law school training. I mean, you can’t fairly take on someone else’s argument if you don’t understand it well enough to argue the other side’s case. (And this is why I read Behold the Pattern multiple times before writing my books and posting here. I believe it essential to understand your opponent’s position as well as — if not better than — he.)

So Beck made two arguments, one on each side of the homosexual marriage issue. Here they are.

This was my argument for the position that, no, same sex marriages are not reflective of the image of God:

Same sex marriages are not in the image of God because when God created humanity in God’s image Genesis 1.27 says “male and female he created them.” Thus, the model for marriage is Adam and Eve. The basis of marriage is biological complementarity. This understanding is supported in Romans 1 where Paul describes same sex relations as “unnatural.” In light of this, the command God gives to marriage, as a reflection of God’s image, is reproduction (“be fruitful and multiply”). Obviously, same sex marriages are not based on biological complementarity and cannot procreate. Thus, same sex marriages cannot reflect the image of God. The theology informing this understanding iscreation theology.

This was my argument for the position that, yes, same sex marriages are reflective of the image of God:

Same sex marriages are in the image of God because the model for marriage is Yahweh and Israel rather than Adam and Eve. Thus, the basis of marriage is grace and election, God choosing Israel from among the nations. The primacy of election/grace over biology is supported in Romans 11 where God is found “unnaturally” grafting the Gentiles into the covenant with Israel. In light of this, the command God gives to marriage to reflect God’s image is covenant faithfulness. Obviously, same sex marriages display the grace of election and can model covenant faithfulness. Thus, same sex marriages can reflect the image of God. The theology informing this understanding is salvation history.

Let’s start with the second summary (which is very nicely worded — and much clearer than Williams and Rogers, from whom he borrows).

We’ve covered most of these points before. But there’s one really important point yet to cover. Sometime ago, I posted a series called “Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality.” Links to the posts are provided in the first of the six posts in this series most recently published.

Where I disagree with the election/covenant faithfulness theory most fundamentally is that, when the question of marriage and sexuality comes up, Jesus and Paul always allude to Gen 2 as the model to follow. I argue this extensively in the earlier posts in this series from 2013 listed here, but here are a few examples to make the point —

Jesus —

(Mat 19:4-6 ESV) 4 [Jesus] answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,  5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

Paul —

(1Co 6:16-17 ESV) 16 Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”  17 But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.

(1Co 7:2-4 ESV)  2 But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.  3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband.  4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

(1Co 11:8-9 ESV)  8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.  9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.

(Eph 5:31 ESV)  31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

(1Ti 2:13-14 ESV)  13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve;  14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

The relationship of Jesus to the church is mentioned by Paul in Eph 5 — along with a very explicit reference to Gen 2. So Paul certainly believes the relationship of Christ to the church matters in understanding marriage, but he also insists that Gen 2 matters. Therefore, we don’t get to pick one or the other. Both matter.

Why is this important? Because Gen 2 describes a sinless relationship, freshly created by the hand of God. And Moses, by inspiration, tells his readers that this is a template for marriage even after the Fall.

(Gen 2:24 ESV)  24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 

And I think this is the theological root of marriage. It’s not procreation so much as a natural unity found both in the natures of men and women and in their physical differences —

(Gen 2:20-25 ESV) 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.  21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”  24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

This is, in fact, Paul’s argument in Rom 1 —

(Rom 1:26-27 ESV) For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 

Now, to a Jew, “nature” is, in this context, how God made men and women. Moderns tend to distinguish God from science, and those without a truly biblical worldview see the origin of sexuality and all in Darwin and the Darwinian drive to maximize the genetic material passed to the next generation. Thus, to someone who thinks in modern terms, “male” and “female” are genetic accidents that happen to benefit passing along genetic material.

But the Judeo-Christian worldview sees God’s hand in the creation of male and female and in the creation of marriage itself. Marriage is not just an evolved cultural construct that serves the Darwinian purpose well, marriage is a gift from God, an expression of the very nature of God (as illustrated by the God/Israel and Jesus/church metaphor). Marriage demonstrates, among other things, what a good husband and good father are, and so marriage teaches us about God. But marriage also teaches us about good wives and mothers, and this teaches us about being a part of the church.

(Eph 5:32 ESV) 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 

So heterosexuality is woven deeply into the fabric of scripture, and we cannot excise Gen 2 as “silly” or “Darwinian” or whatever. Indeed, to attempt to dismiss Gen 2 with the wave of a condescending hand is to, well, surrender. I mean, if Gen 2 doesn’t fit into your understanding of sexuality, then you’re not engaged in hermeneutics or theology.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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22 Responses to Jesus and Paul on the Hermeneutics of Sexuality: Richard Beck, Part 5 (A Mock Debate)

  1. Price says:

    Man, you really ought not to use “rostrum” in a debate about sexuality… 😉

  2. Dwight says:

    It is strange though and I haven’t seen anything to the contrary, that when there is a documentary on biology….male and female are always pointed at. Why because female to female and male to male are not biologically active and viable. So even the Darwinist understand homosexuality to be a dead end street and not part of their “nature”. Biologist and evolutionist cannot make sense of it and have to do a lot of supposing and guessing to account for it, but it doesn’t fit in with their model.
    But we are talking scripture and scripture always, as Jay alludes, points to man and woman as partners, as created by God, as forming a covenant and in commitment. Anything other than that was condemned by God as not of God. And it is extremely notable that Jesus and the apostles point back to Adam and Eve as the pattern. The intent of God is marked in the Laws and the Jews undedrstood this from the Law. Homosexuality, bestiality, incest, and such were were often things of pagan cultures, but never of Israel.

  3. Gary says:

    Jay, I’m not trying to be offensive but your entire approach is based on a premise that is fatally simplistic. That premise is that outward genitalia of males and females being complementary is all that matters and that everyone either has to conform to the sexuality that seems to be intended from male-female body parts being complementary or be celibate. What about sexual orientations being complementary? And where do transgendered people fit in? It takes more than complementary body parts for couples to be suitable and appropriate life companions for each other. I think at some level you must at least suspect that the traditional position does not take into account the entire reality of human sexuality. The traditional position makes LGBTQ persons mistakes or, to be entirely frank, freaks of nature. You would never say that and maybe never even think of it in those words but that’s pretty much what it boils down to. Are you aware that homosexuality has been documented in over 1,500 species of mammals? More and more homosexuality seems to be a part of God’s intended fabric of creation. The traditional position also founders on its sole remedy of celibacy for LGBTQ persons. If that’s God’s will why is obligatory celibacy never found in Scripture, not even one time? If some 5 or 10% of the human race is expected to go through life celibate and alone why is there never even a hint of that in Scripture? Conservatives may continue to think that all that matters are male-female complementary body parts but the rest of the world knows that the reality of human sexuality is much more complex. Consequently the rest of the world is moving on leaving conservatives to become more and more like a flat earth society.

  4. John F says:

    To be emotionally (or in this subject, physically) invested — attached — tends to color and affect one’s viewpoint and leads to “searching the scriptures” for a predetermined outcome, and not on just this subject. It is true for most, if not all subjects. Example: If my view of scripture causes me to reject — judge — assign to eternal damnation those about whom i care deeply (spouse, children, family, etc.) then to soothe my mind, I must find a Biblical basis on which to accept the behavior I have viewed as “condemning”. Thus the “high view” of scripture and apostolic authority must be “lowered” to allow MY desired outcome to follow. Sad, but only too true.

    Also, may we never conflate or confuse legality with morality. No matter what a governing may determine, God is the author of morality (the holocaust of the Jews in WWII was legal under German law).

  5. Monty says:

    Jay,

    Do you believe that Cain married his sister and that Seth did also? If so, then can it be said that incest became a law at Mt. Sinai, and if so, then it would be something that God called good at the beginning but evil later on. Which seems contradictory. If homosexuality, bestiality, are against the designed plan from the beginning before sin, then what do we do with brothers marrying sisters? Or is it your view that Adam and Eve were the first created but not the only created? Thanks.

  6. Dwight says:

    Monty, I am not trying to answer for Jay, but just offer a thought. The eating of unclean animals was made into law by God, but it wasn’t before, but God had his reasons. Today we understand that many of the unclean animals carried parasites, but then again many did not. The wall that we must always recognize is that “God’s ways are not our ways” and are His reasons are to say and our reasons are to follow. Now it is always possible that while Adam looked for a mate, that he practiced bestiality, but this wasn’t in the end what God wanted and He created a suitable mate …his perfect complimentary mate. Just because something might have happened before the law doesn’t mean that it was according to God’s intended desire. After all we are without an expressed law in regards to murder before the law, but Cain still knew it was wrong despite that.

  7. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Apologetics: Ruminations on Eden, the Flood, Babel & Archaeology, with a Surprise Ending, Part 5 | One In Jesus
    http://oneinjesus.info/2014/06/apologetics-ruminations-on-eden-the-flood-babel-archaeology-with-a-surprise-ending-part-4/

  8. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Monty,

    It seems clear that Abram married his half sister, which would have violated the Law. But we understand that God’s self revelation has been unfolding over time. The Law revealed more of Gods will than had previously been known.

  9. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    “More and more homosexuality seems to be a part of God’s intended fabric of creation.”

    That’s quite a stretch in my opinion. Let’s look at what we know for a surety:
    -God created Adam as a heterosexual male, and it was “very good.” (Gen 1:31)
    -God created Eve as a heterosexual female, and we can infer that this, too, was “very good.” (Gen 2:22)
    -Sin entered the world in Gen 3 and wrought spiritual and physical havoc.
    -Physical havoc was exacerbated by the after-effects of the flood. (Gen 6ff)

    The statement at the top ignores the effects of sin on the human body through the ages, especially wrt genetics. How can you prove that homosexuality is “a part of God’s intended fabric of creation” as opposed to the effects of both a fallen creation and of sin through the ages?

  10. Gary says:

    Kevin, if God created Adam and Eve as heterosexuals then he has also created millions of men and women as homosexuals. Is their creation not also very good?

  11. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    The inspired word of God applies the adjective “very good” to heterosexual creation. All references to homosexual activity throughout the Word is decidedly NOT good.

  12. Monty says:

    Homosexual committed couples could not have obeyed God’s command to populate the earth. Therefore, it would follow it was never God’s intention for it to be so. How can God give a command in which it is impossible for you to obey? Not only can you not physically obey it, it is a command by God that goes against the nature he supposedly gave you, and now you would have to violate your God given nature to obey his command? One might argue that not all heterosexual couples can reproduce, but that would be a minute percentage and definitely not the norm. Some couples(hetero) for whatever reason choose not to have kids but not due to their sexual orientation. The idea proposed by Gary, places God in the untenable position of being the creator of sin because it is He who places commands on his creation , that by HIs own desire they can’t possibly fulfil. Just strange. Can’t help but think about how this applies to Calvinistic doctrine.

  13. John says:

    The older I get and the more I read through the Gospels, the more I see a Jesus who embraced the person, never demanding a change impossible for the person. A Gay human being cannot become non-Gay, and the demand from others that the individual live a celibate life is taking on an authority never given to them. Besides, when was the last time a church put an adult, single couple through the third degree to prove their celibacy? But, I have full faith this wall will come down brick by brick with each Gay man and woman who walks into a worship service. It will happen, be assured of that.

  14. Dwight says:

    Gary, your proposition also argues that God created millions of murderers and it was good. Kevin, makes a true statement. All refences to homosexual behavior in the scriptures, for any and all reasons, were condemned and considered not good.
    It is a strange argument to argue that desire for something equals good. The counter for this is Adam and Eve. God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree in the middle of the garden, but we can argue that eating is a natural thing and eating fruit is a natural thing, which would be true, but God placed a restriction on that one fruit tree, and God allowed other fruit trees. They sinned because they wanted something they wanted. We want want what we cannot have and we may not see the benefit in God’s plan.
    John, the scriptures proved that a sinner can become a saint and not sin, willingly against God.
    If it wasn’t for our ability to change and adapt, then we are not able to do the above. The propositon of homosexuality is defeated by those who are bi-sexual. We all have a choice.

  15. Dwight says:

    John, what are you going to do when: A woman and her handsome donkey walk into assembly? Or a man and his very, very, very young child bride walk into assembly? Or a man and his sister or two sisters who are together come in? Are you going to ignore it or read the scriptures to find out what God wanted. The point is that all of these sins were condemned together in the scriptures along with homosexuality and adultery. This is the raw point that supporters of homosexuality or who are homosexuals don’t want to talk about. Even homosexuals have a zero tolerance for many of the above things and yet all it proves is an ironic hypocrisy. All of those sexual immoral sins were culled under fornication.
    It doesn’t really matter who walks into or out of assembly, because all will stand before God based on what God has given to us to follow. We must stand with the scriptures and teach that. The love of man towards God is to follow God, no matter where, no matter if we agree, no matter if we feel otherwise.

  16. Monty says:

    Does everyone have to have sex? That is a false assumption on many’s part. What about the old maid who never finds a man to marry or the old bachelor? While Gary may never be attracted to women again, although it appeared he once was and was able to function in the male role in marriage, does that mean he has to have sex with men? Does a pedophile have to have sex with kids( not equating the two Gary) -many are pedophiles and still function as a normally functioning male in a marriage. They have secret deviant desires. Some desires obviously are their most titillating, like a drug of choice. Many married hetero men have fully functioning sex with their wives but have a secret lifestyle with pornography. It is what really turns them on. Satan has really done a number on us when we turn away from God’s laws. I went to school with a fellow who was married and had 4-5 kids, a great wife, but came out in the mid 90’s when he gets to midlife. It shocked his family, evidently he had been functioning as a male in a straight marriage. What changed? I would call someone who gets married has kids and is able to at least enjoy sex to some degree with their wife and then chooses to come out a bi-sexual. And not a hardcore homosexual(a choice) I have a niece who was married to a fellow for 10 years and they divorce, she falls in love with a woman, and says she’s always had thoughts/attraction to same sex while she is in this relationship with a woman. The woman ditches her after a couple of years and now she is back to dating men- go figure. One of our kids in our congregation came out. Said he’s always just been attracted to guys. I asked him what about the time a couple of years ago when you were dating a young lady and she broke your heart? I was there. I remember it. He basically denied he was ever attracted to her. It’s a mixed up, jumbled up, sin plagued world.

  17. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    John said, “But, I have full faith this wall will come down brick by brick with each Gay man and woman who walks into a worship service. It will happen, be assured of that.”

    This is very similar to another person’s statement on another thread:
    “I do believe that anti-gay Christians will more and more find themselves isolated and marginalized not only in our wider society but also in the Christian community. Within a decade churches that are perceived to be anti-gay will likely be as on the fringe as racist churches are today.”

    So now the whims of culture and population determine the truthfulness of scripture? It may be that these two predictions unfold exactly as the authors suggest; however, the truth of God’s Word will remain unaltered. A couple of passages come to mind:

    (Jer 36:21-24) The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and Jehudi brought it from the room of Elishama the secretary and read it to the king and all the officials standing beside him. It was the ninth month and the king was sitting in the winter apartment, with a fire burning in the firepot in front of him. Whenever Jehudi had read three or four columns of the scroll, the king cut them off with a scribe’s knife and threw them into the firepot, until the entire scroll was burned in the fire. The king and all his attendants who heard all these words showed no fear, nor did they tear their clothes.

    (Ex 23:2) You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice,

    (Acts 5:29) But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

    (Rom 11:2b-5) Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God’s reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time, there is a remnant chosen by grace.

  18. Dwight says:

    Some truths about the “naturalness” of homosexuality in animals “Are you aware that homosexuality has been documented in over 1,500 species of mammals? More and more homosexuality seems to be a part of God’s intended fabric of creation.”
    This is like arguing that birds have a natural desire for glass windows as they run into them all of the time. The truth is they fly, which is natural, but they hit the window for different reasons (reflection of them, reflection of the sky, blinding reflection, lack of seeing any reflection, etc.).
    In general animals will seek an opposite of their gender, but sometimes a male will seem to have relationship with another male, but this rarely results in penetration or a long standing relationship. But then again sometimes a male will have sex with another male, but then again sometimes males animals will mount non-animate objects, which they do, or other species due to being excited (dog on a leg anyone). The gay penguin that was touted years ago in a zoo was only “gay” until they placed a female within reach. I’ve had our female dog mount a child like a male driven by the excitement around her. The bonobos monkees will have sex with anything due to a high level of promiscuity and testotorine. The point is that the homosexuals interpret homosexual activity, but there are other more biological answers for these actions and when given the option these homosexual animals will choose and do choose the opposite gender. It has been put forth that 10% of male rams will mate with other males over ewes, but this by those that know sheep behavior know that it is to show dominance when the ewe herd is low and that the rams will choose the ewes. In a study of 400-500 Rams, only 5 classified as homosexual (1%) and ejaculation was one in five trails.
    Truth: Man is the only species that will mate with the same sex out with any sense of committment and they do it willingly and by choice.
    Or then again maybe birds really do have an innate attraction to windows.

  19. Gary says:

    David Brooks is a conservative who is respected by folks across the board whether they agree or disagree with him. Everyone in this conversation should read his article today on the editorial page of the New York Times. It is entitled “The Next Culture War.”

  20. Monty says:

    I don’t believe it’s the Christian’s job to condemn society. Paul said we are not to judge those outside the church. Everyone though is called to repent. I’m not going to carry a sign and picket Gay parades or harp on it from the pulpit. However, I don’t believe the answer is concession which David Brooks seems to be saying. As more and more congregations comply to the cultural pressure (not because they’ve reasoned it another way by some new revelation) those who hold to the truth will be persecuted. I think Jesus said something about that, if they persecuted me,they’ll persecute you. We in America as Christians have enjoyed a time perhaps like no other in history where we have gone without persecution because of choices made by our forefathers. Those days are quickly coming to an end. Time to buckle up guys. I have often wondered how in the book of Revelation some of the 7 churches could receive such a scathing criticism from the Lord concerning those that taught sexual license(the Nicolaitans). Now I think I know.

  21. Dwight says:

    Monty, I agree. It doesn’t matter what others say or write, but only what was written by God for us. Some things we may disagree on, but we should all stand on those things that are plainly written and are true from the OT on to the NT. And you are write, it isn’t the saints job to condemn the aline sinner, but to convert the aline sinner. And yet what we have is a society that doesn’t recognize sin and thus will not recognized that they need a savior. The common Jew knew they needed God, while the Pharisee reveled in their own self-righteousness and sometimes we are the bug and sometimes we are the windshield in this regard. We must mark sin as sin so we know not to dwell in it, but we musn’t use it as a sledgehammer against those around us either.

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