home
RSS
My Take: The Bible condemns a lot, but here's why we focus on homosexuality
The author writes that it's fine for Christians to take certain biblical condemnations seriously while ignoring others.
May 21st, 2012
10:00 AM ET

My Take: The Bible condemns a lot, but here's why we focus on homosexuality

Editor's Note: R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

By R. Albert Mohler Jr., Special to CNN

Are conservative Christians hypocritical and selective when it comes to the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality? With all that the Bible condemns, why the focus on gay sex and same-sex marriage?

Given the heated nature of our current debates, it’s a question conservative Christians have learned to expect. “Look,” we are told, “the Bible condemns eating shellfish, wearing mixed fabrics and any number of other things. Why do you ignore those things and insist that the Bible must be obeyed when it comes to sex?”

On its face, it’s a fair question. But it can be posed in two very different ways.

First, the question can be asked to suggest that the Bible’s clear condemnation of sexual sins can simply be set aside. The other way of posing the question represents a genuine attempt to understand how the Bible is to be rightly applied to life today.

In truth, those asking the question the first way really don’t want an answer.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

An honest consideration of the Bible reveals that most of the biblical laws people point to in asking this question, such as laws against eating shellfish or wearing mixed fabrics, are part of the holiness code assigned to Israel in the Old Testament. That code was to set Israel, God’s covenant people, apart from all other nations on everything from morality to diet.

As the Book of Acts makes clear, Christians are not obligated to follow this holiness code. This is made clear in Peter’s vision in Acts 10:15. Peter is told, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

In other words, there is no kosher code for Christians. Christians are not concerned with eating kosher foods and avoiding all others. That part of the law is no longer binding, and Christians can enjoy shrimp and pork with no injury to conscience.

The Bible’s commands on sexual behavior, on the other hand, are continued in the New Testament. When it comes to homosexuality, the Bible’s teaching is consistent, pervasive, uniform and set within a larger context of law and Gospel.

My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage

The Old Testament clearly condemns male homosexuality along with adultery, bestiality, incest and any sex outside the covenant of marriage. The New Testament does not lessen this concern but amplifies it.

The New Testament condemns both male and female homosexual behavior. The Apostle Paul, for example, points specifically to homosexuality as evidence of human sinfulness. His point is not merely that homosexuals are sinners but that all humanity has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

The New Testament condemns a full range of sexual sins, and homosexuality is specified among these sins. In Romans, Paul refers to homosexuality in terms of “dishonorable passions,” “contrary to nature” and “shameless.” As New Testament scholar Robert Gagnon has stated, the Bible’s indictment “encompasses every and any form of homosexual behavior.”

Your Take: Rethinking the Bible on homosexuality?

Some people then ask, “What about slavery and polygamy?” In the first place, the New Testament never commands slavery, and it prizes freedom and human dignity. For this reason, the abolitionist movement was largely led by Christians, armed with Christian conviction.

The Old Testament did allow for polygamy, though it normalizes heterosexual monogamy. In the New Testament, Jesus made clear that marriage was always meant to be one man and one woman.

“Have you not read that He who created them made them male and female?” Jesus asked in Matthew. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” For this reason, Christians have opposed polygamy on biblical grounds.

Why are Christians so concerned with homosexuality? In the first place, that question is answered by the simple fact that it is the most pressing moral question of our times. Christians must be concerned about adultery, pornography, injustice, dishonesty and everything the Bible names as sin. But when my phone rings with a call from a reporter these days, the question I am asked is never adultery or pornography. It is about homosexuality.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

Christians who are seriously committed to the authority of the Bible have no choice but to affirm all that the Bible teaches, including its condemnation of homosexuality. At the same time, our confidence is that God condemns those things that will bring his human creatures harm and commands those things that will lead to true human happiness and flourishing.

In other words, we understand that the Bible condemns all forms of sin because our Creator knows what is best for us. The Bible names sins specifically so that each of us will recognize our own sinfulness and look to Christ for salvation and the forgiveness of our sins.

Christian love requires that we believe and teach what the Bible teaches and that we do so with both strong conviction and humble hearts. The Church must repent of our failures in both of these tasks, but we must not be silent where the Bible speaks.

Are Christians hypocrites in insisting that homosexual behavior is sin? We, too, are sinners, and hypocrisy and inconsistency are perpetual dangers.

The church failed miserably in the face of the challenge of divorce. This requires an honest admission and strong corrective.

At the same time, this painful failure must remind us that we must not fail to answer rightly when asked what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. Love requires us to tell the truth.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of R. Albert Mohler Jr.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Gay marriage • Opinion

soundoff (7,995 Responses)
  1. Alex

    CNN, you really are in a race toward the bottom for letting this sort of bigotry & selective reading of the bible to be on your site. Way to try and get web traffic... I won't be returning.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • CNN Editor

      ...but you were here today Alex...thanks for dropping by!

      May 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • palintwit

      Don't let the door hit you in the @ss on your way out.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • In the beginning

      ...and you were here when it mattered most. we pray for your conviction.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  2. WOW

    “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ 3 and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.[a] 4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.”

    For those who understand will understand.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  3. Fred M Hofstetter

    And what will all these "Biblio"-philes say when someone figures out what SNP or genetic difference makes an individual gay? Will they apologize for their arrogance? Somehow I doubt it.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • A Serpent's Thought

      What then will happen when the genetic code is found to carry the "God Gene"? Ignorance about false practicalities regarding genetic algorythms is so very far from detailed truths and are but fictiscious blatherings of today's falsenesses!

      May 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • hellonews

      go ahead a continue looking for "genetic" excuses to do whatever you want to do....

      May 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • A Serpent's Thought

      @ hellonews

      I would rather see science continue on in other ways. Machines to help the immobile move their limbs unassisted by others! But what is it taking center stage nowadays? Drone aircraft with self-guiding missles taking out mostly civilians and but a few terrorists! Next big leaps of technology will be driverless autos! Damn! It's already happening!

      May 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  4. khrog

    lest you ever get into a "conversation" with any such person as this, remember, he/she doesn't see your position as a non-believer as legitimate and therefore, there is no underlying respect. Furthermore, all history, legal contention, and much personal interaction confirms a lack of respect and no recognition of a heathen/gentile/infidel's concerns as legitimate. Ergo, you don't need to pretend to show any religious dogmatist with political ambitions (and make sure you see that I'm trying to qualify the person) any respect or time.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Josiah

      Why do you equate disagreeing with a person's stance disrespect? By your logic, which tacitly dismisses Christianity on its stance that there is no God save our God, do you disrespect me?

      May 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  5. LT

    God created Eve for Adam. The woman completes the man. The man completes the woman. God our Creator's PERFECT design.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Interested48

      The bible was written by men to try to explain the mysteries of life. It is not a science book and it is not written by God. The sooner people realize this the better off we'll all be. Do some research and see just how the bible was put together. Use the brain God gave you.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • COGowan

      prove it.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • LinCA

      @LT

      You said, "God created Eve for Adam. The woman completes the man. The man completes the woman. God our Creator's PERFECT design."

      Your Adam and Eve myth shows that your god was pretty open minded about sexuality. Since Eve is said to have been crafted from Adam's rib, she is genetically a man. She (and so nice of christians to be all-inclusive and calling her "she") and Adam formed the first transgender marriage. Maybe what christians call "traditional marriage", isn't so traditional after all.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • LT

      The Word of God was given unto men by the Holy Spirit. Of course men had to write down what they received through the Holy Spirit by Prophesy. It's better than science. It proves what science can not. The origin of all existence. Since matter can not create itself in and of itself....AS SCIENCE HAS PROVEN. The law of causality demands an Eternal Source.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • LT

      @LinCA, your logic makes absolutely NO since. There's no getting around it. Man + Woman = PERFECT UNION for reproduction. Man + Man = CAN'T HAPPEN.....Woman + Woman = CAN'T HAPPEN! Man for Woman. Woman for Man.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • ava

      Interested48, I HAVE done extensive research on how the Bible was put together, so if you want to have that little debate I'd be all ears. Just make sure you go a little deeper than what the DaVinci Code contends 🙂

      May 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • LinCA

      @LT

      You said, "your logic makes absolutely NO since. There's no getting around it. Man + Woman = PERFECT UNION for reproduction. Man + Man = CAN'T HAPPEN.....Woman + Woman = CAN'T HAPPEN! Man for Woman. Woman for Man."

      – Eve was made from Adam's rib. That makes her genetically identical to Adam. Eve started out as a biological male.
      – Your god formed her into a woman. He performed what we now recognize as gender reassignment. She became a woman.
      – Adam and Eve got married. They had the first transgender marriage.
      – The first ever marriage, according to christianity, was between two biological males.

      What is so hard to understand?

      May 21, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  6. Raymundo

    The Bible is a great work of fiction but as such, only the things we agree with are adhered to. Is anyone so naive that they still really believe the whole Adam and Eve thing??? Noah's Ark??? Come on get serious. With regard to the whole gay marriage thing... I am as straight as they come but between my wife and I we have 7 children of which 3 are openly gay. Having first hand experience with gay relationships I can tell you that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. They are the same as you and me and deserve 100% of the benefits and happiness that marriage brings. Period! end of debate!

    May 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Atheist more selfless than most Christians

      It's so nice to hear of a parent (especially a man) accepting their gay children. Too many, sadly, don't. I am also straight, but my father was gay. There are few things I know for certain, but one is that there is no way he is in hell. And if he is, the God many of you believe in is not who you think he is. The bible is a work of fiction, and until Jesus pops out of the sky again and tells me what to do, I am going to make my own decisions about what is right and wrong. Hate – wrong. Acceptance and support – right.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Jeremy

      I pray for you, you blind fool.

      nothing you just said means anything but that you raised sinful children and failed as a father.

      That sounds mean right?

      how about you failed to teach your children not to be lustful fools to live their lives in a fog of "everything is ok, I am who I am" instead of showing them how to be good people in God's eye's

      You and your whole family and way of life is what makes me pray so strong that Jesus comes soon so you have a chance to see what you are blind to.. follow the blind.. but here i am throwing pearls to swine.. that's all..

      May 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Kalessin

      @Raymundo- While I agree with you about how our nation should treat their citizens (regarless of gender preferences and such)....I cannot say that the Bible is a great work of fiction for different reasons.
      First of course is that the Bible isn't a singular book but a collection. The Bible is inaccurate in places, uses symbolism in others and can be flat out wrong in translations....but that does not mean that the Bible is 100% of all those things.
      Also, modern readers sort have a presumptious perspective when it comes to ancient texts. They were written in the style of the times with a certain purpose. We shouldn't condemn them when they don't meet our "superior" modern methods of writing and recording information.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Tim

      Ah, so just because you've experienced it makes it perfectly fine...

      May 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  7. Daniel

    Shake off all the fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear. – Thomas Jefferson ("Enlightenmentalist")

    May 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  8. ME II

    Hate speech?
    I disagree with it, but it doesn't seem like hate to me.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • ME II

      misposted

      May 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Hank

      Nah, its not hate.

      Its just condemnation.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  9. John Smith

    I care enough about this topic to write this comment, but not enough about the author of the article to think past ignoring him.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Someone I finally agree with. Don't throw pearls to swine. let them be blind and follow the blind into their ditches.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  10. Pedro the Rock

    As he is born, so shall a man rightly be. If he has been given too much of the "feminine" traits by birth, he is attracted to the opposite which is a man. If he loves that man then what concern is it to God? None.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  11. 8th E ist

    The Bible is one big work of fiction and should be dismissed just as easily.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • A Serpent's Thought

      So says the school kid! Get back to your booklearning and leave the communities of nuts alone!

      May 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • ava

      Sorry, but you might want to pick up a history book. You may not agree with the faith, but to throw out the Bible as a work of fiction pretty much means you haven't studied what it says. That's like a doctor throwing out the book on acupuncture because it's not what he practices. Doesn't mean there isn't truth and application to its methods.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • The slave

      You are going to hell.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • In the beginning

      How do you know? If you can prove it...I'll believe you.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  12. 3 cents

    God is Great! Christians suck

    May 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Phylicia

      I was raised in believing in christian religion. I absolutely agree with u.Christians are closed minded. It really sucks. I've seen a lot of stupidity and ignorance come out of a lot of christians.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • ava

      Huh. Didn't realize you know every Christian. I've met some amazing Christians in my life who are doing powerful things in the world. Also met a few who know how to brew a great beer.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  13. palintwit

    Worth mentioning again... that thin paper used in bibles makes good toilet tissue. No itch, no scratch.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • mb2010a

      It also works very well for rolling marijuana cigarettes in a pinch...

      May 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Stephen1746

      Hmm, no mention of the Koran? Wonder why. I will ponder this for the microsecond as I know why as you.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • ava

      If you ever want to have a respectful conversation about faith I'd be happy to oblige.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  14. WachetAuf

    The one thing which always escapes the "conservative" mind is the two part analysis which is required to evaluate every moral sin. The first issue is to identify the sin. The second issue is to determine the remedy. I cannot criticize "conservatives" for their concern about identifying the moral sins. I do criticize them for not correctly determining the remedy. They are in so much fear that they always seem to impose the harshest remedies. Jesus himself taught tolerance. He took into his circle of friends a woman, Mary, who was convicted of a mortal sin. He did not allow her to be stoned to death. We are all sinners, so why do we pick on one set for punishment of the severest kind and ignore our own sins? We cannot continue to compare what is best in ourselves with what we perceive to be the worst in others? What's going on?

    May 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • hellonews

      Christ's teaching was not to judge hypocritically, it was never to ignore others actions that would lead to destruction. Take the log out of your own eye and then help your neighbor...BUT HELP YOUR NEIGHBOR...Dr. Mohler makes a very clear point that not caring about what God's Word says about sin is unloving. If you look through the 4 gospels, Christ emphasizes repentence from sin over and over again....it's the prerequisite for Christ being the propitiation for your sin.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Josiah

      Jesus spoke love, not tolerance. In the same way that a parent loves their child even when they misbehave but does not tolerate their bad behavior, Jesus loves us but cannot tolerate our sinful ways. When the woman accused of adultery tells Jesus that those who would condemn her have all gone, Jesus tells her "Go. From now on sin no more."

      May 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • YeahRight

      ""Go. From now on sin no more.""

      Everyone knows the story about Jesus and the woman about to be stoned by the mob. This account is only found in John 7:53-8:12. The mob asked Jesus whether they should stone the woman (the punishment required by the Old Testament) or show her mercy. Jesus doesn’t fall for this trap. Jesus allegedly states, let the one who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her. The crowd dissipates out of shame. That story was not originally in the Gospel of John or in any of the Gospels. It was added by later scribes. The story is not found in the oldest and best manuscripts of the Gospel of John. Nor does its writing style comport with the rest of John. Most serious textual critics state that this story should not be considered part of the Bible.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "but does not tolerate their bad behavior,"

      Being gay is NOT a bad behavior. Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience.

      The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      May 21, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  15. I'm free.

    "I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
    ...Stephen F Roberts

    May 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • ava

      As an atheist, you can't prove 100% that there's not God. As a Christian I cannot prove 100% there is a God. Either way both are believers (or nonbelievers) whose beliefs are based in faith.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  16. steve505

    I just love watching Christians quote bible scriptures as though they are evidence that somehow supports their ancient Bronze-age beliefs.

    Kinda like I can quote Dr. Seuss when trying to prove to others that the Snorlax exists.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Inconsistent comparison

      May 21, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • FMH

      Baptists don't like gay Pokemon either.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • ava

      stereotyped, cliched & overgeneralized response. congrats, you're now responding the way some christians respond to things.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Hank

      The author of the editorial points to the words in the Bible as evidence of a truth outside of the Bible. To justify accepting the statements in the Bible as being true he provides this reasoning – that the words are in the Bible.

      That;s really all he does.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  17. Jger

    You can be certain that you have created "god" in your image when he hates all the same people that you do!

    May 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  18. justinstl

    Jesus was the savior.....What did he save anyone from??? Sin? if so then why does it matter what you do?

    May 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • David

      It is eternal death that Jesus saved us from. Non Christians do not understand the Bible or the teachings of Christ and what does the age of a book have to do with anything?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Novechek

      I just ate a cheese-burger!

      May 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • ava

      God is love, so start with that. As such, you can't force anyone to love you. It's a choice. When we "sin" we are basically choosing what isn't God's best for our lives. There's nothing you can do to earn God's love. There's no amount of religious traditions you can perform. But when we sin we create turmoil, pain, hate, anger, and that's what God wants for this world. Christ died as a living sacrifice to pay for our sins once and for all. He did it out of love because He is God.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  19. NeoGraphix

    Jesus is a fictional character in a book written many centuries ago.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Kalessin

      I think you will find that most historians conclude that Jesus was a historical person. Now if you believe he was or wasn't divine...that's another topic.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • ava

      Not true. Even historians, other religions and atheists worth their weight in their history & archaeology doctorates will agree Jesus was a living human. It's cool to have opinions, but do a little reading first so you can actually engage in a meaningful debate.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Novechek

      I agree 100%.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Sean C.

      This is false. Jesus is a historical figure born within 4 years of the year people think he was (0 CE/AD). There's corroberating archeological evidence to suggest he was alive and that he founded Christianity.

      Whether he was the son of god may be in question, but his existance is not.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  20. Harry

    Why does CNN print this hate speech?

    May 21, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • I'm free.

      The author started it. No religion = no control. Free yourselves and think for yourself. Do you need a mortal man to tell you right from wrong?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Marky Merlot

      Sorry, Am I missing something?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.