Friday, August 09, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Five Bad Reasons (1)

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

More Christians are becoming “LGBTQ-affirming”, says blogger Benjamin Corey, basing his claim on this Pew poll.

This comes right on the heels of a Harris Poll commissioned by GLAAD which appears to indicate — much to the chagrin of LGBTQ advocates — that affirmation of same-sex relationships by unsaved millennials is trending in the opposite direction.

Disregarding the Bible

Tom: Well, IC, I’m flummoxed. Sure, it’s possible one or both polls were flawed. It’s also possible both polls are bang on. Trends among older evangelical conservatives lag behind those of the popular culture by as much as a decade. It’s quite conceivable that middle-aged evangelicals are softening on the issue just as unsaved millennials are knee-jerking in the other direction. But there’s little profit in speculation. What interested me were Ben Corey’s thoughts on the main reasons evangelicals are slowly coming to accept the blatant practice of a sin whose condemnation in scripture is to my mind not at all ambiguous.

At the most general level, what do you think of Corey’s analysis, IC? (Full disclosure: Corey is an ex-fundamentalist turned LGBTQ advocate.)

Immanuel Can: Well, Corey’s five “reasons” are not themselves scriptural at all. His first is about dismissing scripture, not about listening to it; his others are about culture and feelings. There actually isn’t an exegetical argument for homosexuality or other forms of fornication and sexual deviancy in his article. Essentially, he says, “The Bible says negative things about LGBTQ-ness, but now we have found reasons to disregard what it says.”

Tom: That’s a good summary, I think. Thank you. But let’s explore these arguments one by one. It is not the first time I’ve heard any of them, and we will surely hear them all again. So here goes ...

1. More Christians are engaging with biblical scholarship.

This argument is pure sophistry. What Corey really means to say is that the faux-Christian LGBTQ lobby is pretending to engage with the text of scripture in order to give a shred of credibility to their claim that the Bible doesn’t actually say what it plainly says.

IC, what do you think of Corey’s statement that “OT law was completed through Christ, rendering [the Old Testament prohibitions against homosexuality] (along with that shellfish and mixed fibers stuff) relics of an ancient tribal people”? Does Christ’s fulfillment of the Law really mean that he invalidated the moral force of all 613 of its commandments?

IC: No, of course not. In the New Testament, some moral commands are modified (Matthew 5:43-48, for example) and some are added to (Matthew 5:21-22), but none is explicitly revoked. Some, like the prohibitions on homosexuality, are reaffirmed. What Corey’s doing is trying to imply that recognizing those prohibitions is somehow textually unsophisticated. He wants people to suppose that if they continue to see the obvious, they must be failing to see something his “more Christians” are now seeing. And he avoids specifying how that works. Really, he just tries to use shame and the insinuation that his audience is untaught to do what proper exegesis will not do for him.

Abstain from Sexual Immorality

Tom: Exactly. It has often been pointed out that nine of the Ten Commandments are restated in the NT epistles, not once but on multiple occasions. This is true of numerous other provisions of the Law of Moses. Sure, the sacrifices of the Law no longer apply. The ceremonial laws no longer apply, as was decided at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Nevertheless, the apostles still instructed Gentiles to abstain from sexual immorality. New Testament morality is not more relaxed than Old Testament morality, except in the sense that homosexuals and adulterers no longer need to fear being stoned for their sins. The Church does not possess quite the same authority as the theocratic Hebrew state. But if anything, love for Christ ought to make us even more careful about displeasing him than if we were still under the OT regime.

So, yes, as you say, Corey either completely misunderstands — or, more likely, pretends to misunderstand — what it means that Christ fulfilled the Law. First century church life was not some moral free-for-all.

Those ‘Clobber Passages’

What about the so-called “clobber passages” of the New Testament? Corey claims scholarship in that area “reveals that the type of homosexual behavior observed and critiqued by Paul was hardly a 1 for 1 correlation to the movement for the monogamous, life-long relationships being advocated today.” Do you have any thoughts on that?

IC: That’s the old “cultural” dodge: you can avoid any commandment of scripture by claiming it was specific to the cultural practices of the day in which it was given, and thus only indirectly and opaquely applicable to today. Corey wants to say these commandments are not applicable at all, really. But I’ve heard this angle many times before. It goes, “It’s not the quality of the action that was wrong; it’s that it wasn’t done in a committed way.” You won’t find that distinction made in regard to homosexuality in scripture, though. It calls the very act itself “an abomination”.

You could use Corey’s strategy to argue equally for incest or pedophilia: “So long as you really meant to do it, and so long as you stick with a single person (at a time) it’s not wrong,” you could say. “It’s a marriage.” When we apply Mr. Corey’s reasoning to these acts, we can see just how bad it is.

Tom: Corey is all for “scholarship”, “history” and “cultural investigation”, which he then uses to invalidate the plain words of scripture. But these sources (which he doesn’t even bother to reference) are highly subjective. If you have ever heard a real historian talk about what we know about the world as it was two millennia gone, it is very evident that you can find a quotable scholar to say almost anything you want to say. Appealing to an extra-scriptural authority you don’t even cite is just hand-waving to cover the fact that you don’t actually have any compelling evidence to put forward.

Those Poor, Unscholarly Pastors of Yesteryear

But worse, when Corey talks about previous generations of Christians who had to rely upon the limited knowledge of their “unscholarly” pastors, he is simply being obtuse. We have commentaries on the New Testament going right back to highly educated church fathers like John Crysostom, who lived in the early fourth century AD. Crysostom is exceedingly blunt in his commentary on Romans 1, making no distinction between “monogamous, life-long” homosexual relations and acts associated with idol worship or excess. For Crysostom it is the act of sodomy itself that is appalling, not the context in which it takes place. As he puts it, “Genuine pleasure is that which is according to nature. But when God hath left one, then all things are turned upside down.” Living so much closer to the writing of the epistles, I am confident Crysostom had a much better handle on what Paul was talking about than any of Corey’s modern scholars.

IC: Right. Should we go on to the next point?

Tom: Yes. One other little thing. When Corey talks about “the movement for the monogamous, life-long relationships being advocated today,” he is being spectacularly disingenuous. We just lived through another “Pride Month”. If you watched thirty seconds of one of those parade debacles, you know beyond doubt that monogamous, life-long relationships are not at all what the movement is about. Never have been. Never will be.

Next point …

2. More Christians are realizing that being gay isn’t a choice.

Corey’s claim that “one can no more repent of being gay than they can repent of being left handed” sounds hilarious to me. As you probably know, IC, I started life as a lefty. I’ve been a righty since public school, thanks to a little assistance in early childhood from my dad. In effect, I repented of being right handed, and to no ill effect I’ve ever been able to note.

But let’s go back to his claim that “orientation chooses you”, which of course he makes no serious effort to substantiate.

IC: There’s a lot of incoherent talk about this.

Born This Way

Firstly, just because you were “born with” something does not suggest it’s legitimate.

Tom: This is a fallen world. We are not genetically perfect at birth. That should be obvious.

IC: Yes. Some people are more inclined to addiction than others. We don’t argue that addiction is therefore a good and natural lifestyle. Same with gambling: some people are drawn to it immediately, and some find it no temptation. But nobody thinks it’s good. And remember: any argument that works for homosexuality works equally well for any other form of deviancy or any inclination, no matter how dark, depraved or violent. There’s genuinely no stopping point on the slippery slope down which Mr. Corey wants us to go.

Tom: This is the problem.

A One-Way Door

IC: Secondly, it seems sexuality has a one-way door. You’re told by the “community” that heterosexuality is completely optional and changeable. But once you cross the line into their camp, the language is all fatalistic — you become “one of them” and you can’t go back. They tell you that you can’t be “authentic” unless you stay LGBTQ+. We’re told that these people have no choice but to “be what they are”. We’re told they never had a choice, and were “born that way”. So the whole thing is like the famous Hotel California: “You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.”

Tom: I think it’s about time conservatives and Christians realized this is not really a debate. If it were a debate, the other side would have already lost. They are completely incoherent. What they are doing is speaking in rhetoric to those in the middle and on the Right who are logic-challenged. They say, “Look at this poor person who’s been hurt,” or “They can’t help it!” That’s supposed to be a reason for the church to make a policy change in an area of morality it hasn’t touched in 2,000 years.

Science You Can’t Talk About

IC: Yeah. Thirdly, there is not even a discussion about the correlation between things like addiction, self-abuse, sexual exploitation and interference with minors, or defective parenting and sexual deviancy. You’re not allowed to do that kind of research, even though anecdotally the correlation with such things is extremely high. Nobody’s interested in what the data might even say. Nobody wants to hear the truth about that. The politically correct myth is that homosexuality settles on you genetically and inevitably, like eye-color: that there are no sociological, psychological, chemical, criminal, familial or environmental contributors to sexual dysfunction in human beings.

And lastly, of course, nobody wants to know what the Creator says about it.

Tom: I’d say that addresses the “choice” issue. Let’s talk about Corey’s remaining three reasons next week, IC.


  1. I might have mentioned this already some time ago. To me the most definitive argument concerning this topic was provided as the final conclusion of an extensive scientific investigation into this topic which was presented in several one hour increments on then TV PBS. I can no longer find a reference there to this study and have concluded that it must have conveniently been shelfed by "friendly" actors to prevent the obvious from being repeated. The study involved practically all scientific disciplines involving genetics, twin studies, psychiatry, behaviorists, biology, etc.. The very Final Conclusion agreed to by the entire investigative cohort was this - "Nature is not cruel and cannot force anyone to do what they do not want to do." Hence, it is clear ( uncomfortably so to today's LGBQ community) that all these aberrations are really not compulsory but are a matter of free personal choice. No wonder that the study seems to be unlocatable these days.

    Furthermore, my own conclusion is, additionally, that for some reason, and I think to assure procreation, God decided to provide something like an addiction mechanism in humans towards sex. That nearly opiod trend is also, at the same time, intended to act as a stumbling stone and test of character. It seems that nowadays a lot of people fail that test in important ways especially because of unprincipled and irresponsible public entertainment.

    1. The "choice" issue is a big one. Experience makes me side with you on that.