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. deck2012

    What is with CNN always doing articles that demean Christian values? Where is the Islamic Koran articles? Too afraid of those aren't they?

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

      Ummmmmm Did you read the article?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Well for one reason, at this moment in time, Islam is not trying to put their holy book into law that everyone has to adhere to. Is there any more reason you need?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Joel

      Percentage of US population that is Christian: ~90%
      Percent that is Muslim: ~1%

      Which one do you think is more relevant? And this article is in support of the Southern Baptist Conference, a Christian sect.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Drito

      Religious beliefs are idiotic. You don't need the illusion of some mystical sky being judging your every action in order to be a good person. The fact that you have to rely on people telling you how you should act and feel is proof of how brainwashed fundamentalist are.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • eric

      By your login Drito, parenting is useless as well. Don't parents teach write and wrong to their children?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Kalessin

      @Drito- "Religious beliefs are idiotic."

      ~No it's not. Unless you feel that having any type of code or discipline is idiotic.

      "You don't need the illusion of some mystical sky being judging your every action in order to be a good person."

      ~Christians don't have any illusion about "some mystical sky being". They have a pretty defined view on what they believe. Not to mention that within Christianity, punishment isn't suppose to be the driving force for spiritual growth.

      "The fact that you have to rely on people telling you how you should act and feel is proof of how brainwashed fundamentalist are."

      ~Not unique to people of faith. There are atheist sheep as much as religious ones.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • alienprophecy

      @Jacques That is an outright lie, and you know it. Do you really deny that hard-line Muslim Conservatives aren't trying to instill even stricter interpretations of Islam into their governments? Did you know that Iran's Ahmadenijad is actually seen in his country as a moderate?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  2. momoya

    Why do so many christians think that somehow they're being slighted or having their rights taken away if gays marry?? Seriously?? That argument could not be more stupid.. They're oppressing others, but claim that if they stop oppressing, they'll be the oppressed ones.. What dipsh!ts.

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

      When one feels they are the dominant culture within a society...from their view, there is only one way they can go if challenged and that is down.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Rod in Texas

      LOL....I never thought of it that way but you are absolutely right.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  3. Steve

    If I may quote;

    "Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? What is the one end, which all means go to effect? They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book, than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system. The one thing in the world, of value, is the active soul." – Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar".

    Mr. Emerson argues that no book is the arbiter of things. Rather, the "active soul" of the individual is. The bible is held as some absolute arbiter of right and wrong? In order to be a "good Christian" I must dogmatically adhere to that book's *every word*? Sounds a lot like indoctrination to me. I hope for two things; One I am able to, at least in small doses, maintain my *own* opinions. Second, I hope that I can try to be good to others. I suppose I like this trait that is often associated as a "Christian" trait.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  4. n8263

    Christians think Sharia Law is immoral but impose their own Sharia Law in America.

    No matter what version, it's immoral to impose your religious superstition and deny others civil rights.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  5. LovesIrony

    The baptist church is NOT the church Paul started.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Well Paul didn't start the Catholic church either.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Joel

      Neither is the RCC.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • tom LI

      Amen.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • eric

      The RCC changed the doctrine of Paul's church in the 3rd century. They based it off the doctrine that the Emperor of Rome started. Fact. So, since the Baptist church is a breakaway from the RCC and uses the same basic doctrine, that is obvious.

      Thanks for sharing.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  6. GeorgeB

    It will never matter what the Bible says.. We're born this way.

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

      born a freak of nature that refuses to bend to the will of God? I see you have things well under control good luck with those genetics.. oh no you cant reproduce unless you do more Godless acts.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  7. historyrepeatsitself

    In 50 years, Mr. Mohler will be looked upon in the same light that people who believe blacks shouldn't have equal rights are now looked upon today. If you don't believe me, please look at what book the KKK uses to back their idea of white supremacy.

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

      You mean like Mitt Romney when he spent two years in France, dodging the draft and preaching that Blacks where marked by God as being of the bloodline of Cain and therefore inferior to Whites?

      Seriously, that was his job for two years, to preach the doctrine of LDS, which was exactly that!

      While American men and women of all races where learning to live together by dying together in Vietnam, Romney was teaching a gospel of hate to anyone who would listen.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Joel

      Many Southern churches were doing the exact same thing at the exact same time. And are you going to vote for the teenage Romney, what does it matter what he believed forty years ago. It sounds like you just have some personal vendetta. And if he did go to France as a draft dodge, good for him, that shows intelligence.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  8. rr

    The Bible is a whole book that must be read from beginning to end. Skipping over stuff and taking in what you want too is not what a Christian does. Jesus fulfilled the old testament but didn't do away with it. There are lots of things that we do today that we shouldn't do. They are sinful and wrong. Those who don't believe will believe on judgement day.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • tom LI

      But the Bible was NEVER a front to back sort of book. It has always been a book where people pick and choose what they NEED to agree with them...rare is the person who seeks to be disagreed with...rarer still is the American Xtian who seeks a contrary POV on purpose...

      May 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  9. tom LI

    Thankfully our laws are NOT based on the Bible. We dont source legislation from the Book of Silliness...for good reason.

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

      You mean our laws about murder, adultery, etc. etc. Please do your research. Many of our founding fathers used scripture to help with laws.

      Sorry, just a fact.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Joel

      Um, laws against murder are secular laws, they existed long before anybody though up Yahweh, and will exist long after Yahweh is forgotten. And just because the founding fathers did it doesn't magically make it right.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • eric

      Being right wasn't the question or topic. It was stated we DIDN'T BASE LAWS OF THE BIBLE when in fact we did. Go research it. Several laws specific to the bible and church were instilled into the government. That is just fact whether it is right or wrong. Whether you or I like it or not. It just is.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  10. Rod in Texas

    I'm confused. If incest is explicityly banned in the bible and Adam and Eve had two sons, Cain and Abel, where did future generations come from?

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

      Incest is not explicitly banned in scripture.

      Glad to help.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • alienprophecy

      Incest -is- explicitly banned in the Bible, but not until much after Adam and Eve's time (in Leviticus, I believe).

      May 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Joe

      HA HA HA according to the good book, the entire human race was born from incest. Hmmmm, I'd rather evolve from an ape, thank you very much

      May 21, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  11. Smarter than you are

    Adam and Eve is just as stupid, as it IS A MADE-UP STORY!

    May 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  12. Peter Kramer

    Who should we all rely on when religious and moral issues are addressed by our leaders in Washington? I thought that our leaders respected religious freedons until our top two, VP Biden, and President Obama, issued statements that are intended to influence the beliefs of all Americans. Personally I expect and demand that I have the freedon to listen to my minister or priest and to try to abide by their guidance. My minister or priest is knowledgable and qualified to guide me when it comes to religious and moral issues. VP Biden and Presidenty Obama need to respect and protect my religious freedoms!

    May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • tom LI

      name the specific threats.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Rod in Texas

      So you still enjoy hearing about fairytales huh? You'd think you'd outgrown that by now.

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

      That's fine, then tell the Christian Bible-thumpers to respect my freedom of religion and stop trying to ram their ideology down the rest of America's throat.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • TheTokenSquare

      I'm concerned to hear the President and VP changed your mind. I agree with their position. However, I'm surprised how you take other people's opinions to heart and believe them as truth. Is is possible you hear what someone else thinks/believes (even with evidence and reasonably solid support) and still be able to decide for yourself? I hope you can. I trust you can. What I'd be opposed to is you (via your preacher) voting in laws that thake that choice away from me. Was it Aristotle who said it is the mark of a wise man he who can contemplate another's position without accepting it? I support your personal right to condemn gay people, However I disagree with you and I don't support laws that codify that belief.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  13. alienprophecy

    Nice to see CNN allow a religious article by someone who is actually defending a socially conservative position, rather than attacking it. This is certainly different.

    Not that I'm a social conservative, by any stretch of the imagination...but I get so tired of CNN seeking out that one Catholic that thinks that women should get abortions and people should be gay, etc. It really shows bias when you put the emphasis on what people know is obviously the exception to the rule.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • sam stone

      "....and that people should be gay..."

      do you believe orientation to be a choice? if so, at what age did you make yours?

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

      Yes, and twelve...like all of those people that chose to be gay just so they could spread evil about the world.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  14. surfdog

    Finally, CNN printed an article that is accurate and non biased, with respect to the Bible. Well written, and straight forward.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Joel

      So this guy's interpretation of the bible is non-biased because it agrees with yours. Thanks for the clarification.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Rod in Texas

      Not to mention make believe.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Toughlove

      You're right, surfdog. This is actually surprising and refreshing...not that I am going to expect this kind of perspective at CNN very often in the future. What a lot of people don't want to accept is there are absolutes. Something really can be wrong and something really can be right. There is a right way and a wrong way to understand the Bible. 2+2 really does equal 4 even if someone doesn't like it.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  15. Woman

    Well, they can't hold their GOP group together hating blacks, so now its time to really hate gays

    May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  16. donny

    i just dont understand how 2 men can look at each other in that way or 2 woman. well one good thing im not gay thank god.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Smarter than you are

      Glad you are not gay either. You'd ruin the party.

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

      May not, but I bet you have a piece of artwork, a piece of clothing or furniture that was created by a gay person. Your next doctor or nurse could be gay, you wouldn't know. Maybe you should interview them in the E.R. prior to you getting treatment.

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

      I think gay people are probably pretty happy you are not gay either.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • I Don't Get It

      I don't get how some skinny men are turned on by fat women... or redheads!

      May 21, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  17. joe

    The Christian God, the biggest mass murderer in history. Christians do you wonder if your God just sat there watching and fully entertained as every child and baby on the planet suffered a slow drowning death after the parents could no longer hold it afloat in the flood?

    May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • alienprophecy

      Yep...he's killed everyone in history except those that live today. But I suppose that you are more Righteous and have something better to offer? Because you dare to judge Him, you must certainly be one even greater...

      May 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      its kinda messed up that god drowned all them animals all the humans and all the birds besides two of every kind (not going to get into the logistics of the improbability of that not to mention the technology Noah would need) its a little unfair when you think the sea creatures weren't affected. i think the fish got off a little to easy. also what did Noah do about all the fresh water fish?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • Kalessin

      @joe- Hmmm...some problems. From a literalist perspective, there was a cause for the flood wasn't there? One might question if bringing on the flood was a bit overkilll but there was a cause for it. It wasn't like God got bored and did it.
      Theological perspective: If mankind had continued on the way it did, the entirety of mankind would have been utterly lost. Though extreme, the cancerous growth that was the pre-flood human population had to be removed for the benefit of the whole.
      Lastly, I would question if your are of a high enough paygrade to judge a omnipotent being. I am pretty sure you are very finite in your wisdom and knowledge. No a cheap shot...we all are.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • STLBroker

      You would have to know what God knows before you can judge him and that is not going to happen so you can't judge God. It may very well be that God knew that those people/babies would be better off drowning than continuing to live. Those babies could be sitting on God's lap right now in paradise looking down on you with pity for the pile of crap you are living in and then turning to God and saying "thank you, thank you, thank you for rescuing us from that crap hole of a planet." Does a child understand and appreciate everything a parent does? No, they resent much of it until they gain understanding and knowledge and realize that the parent did those things for their own good. I don't understand how God works and much of life is very painful but if it utimately leads to eternal life in paradise, then I say "keep it coming, God."

      May 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  18. Rachel Lee

    Both non-believers and believers miss the key part of the bible that needs a second glance. God made Eve out of Adam's rib; therefore Eve was made out of man DNA–which technically means Adam married Steve in the first place.

    May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Smarter than you are

      The Bible is MADE UP and requires NO further study. I read it. Fine book. Made up. Next.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  19. NeoGraphix

    Theory was Jesus married Mary Magdeline and had two sons. There is a crypt in Israel that has his name and Mary's. There was a special on Discovery about a year ago on it.

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

      One thing to keep in mind...the aramaic names of Jesus and Mary were quite common around the 1st century CE.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  20. DaveinCincy

    I see all the anti-christian dolts are in full hate mode.
    Just remember....Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

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

      Troll

      May 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Smarter than you are

      You are one of many reasons why religion is for fools.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • NeoGraphix

      And Cain beat the crap out of Abel and killed him. Nice

      May 21, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      yea and then what? incest for a few generations?

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

      And Eve magically appeared from a rib. Star Wars had better special effects than that.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      Cain and Abel nothing like the story of Romulus and Remus...

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

      Yeah, and Jesus and ... oh, wait. He never married. He even told others to not marry if they could handle it.

      Very anti-marriage that Jesus guy was!

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

      "Just remember....Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."

      Oh so you support incest. Talk about being brainwashed by your cult.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • sam stone

      Anti-Christian dolts? Still on your knees, Davey?

      May 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • JJK

      NeoGraphix: yet those who promote the evolution position would have one believe that life came from nothing, in all it's complexities and species, rose from nothingness...

      what's more reasonable to believe, something from nothing or something from something??? Modern science can only "grow" tissue from existing tissue.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • nana

      This comment has no value at all. It is just a few strung together slogans.

      May 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Conscious and Concerned

      Sorry I wasn't raised by farm animals so I may be prone to taking that story a little less literally than you might

      May 21, 2012 at 9:55 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.