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. Red

    Most of the developed world has moved on from bronze age myths. Hopefully the U.S. will catch up at some point.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Pravda4U

      No, not really, Atheists existed then and were just as irrelevant...

      May 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Tom in ATL

      @ Pravda4U – excellent!

      May 21, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  2. It is all good and God is at the end

    Last week right before a man died the nurses witnessed a spirit at the foot of the bed.Several people witnessed it. I work with the dying. I think there is definitely an after life. I am quite sure there is a God and me thinks our ways are judged.
    For a non believing person, the bible,God's rules are a big bunch of BS. Hum believe what you will but I think God is real and if you are gonna be part of God's heaven you have to do it His way. Some of God's believers have some warts which don't do a good public relations job. We are to love all and leave judgment up to God

    May 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • n8263

      Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.
      ― Marcus Aurelius

      May 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      "I think there is definitely an after life."

      Come on, please, people seeing spirits? Supernatural nonsense!

      May 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @n8263

      Very good quote.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Mark

      Seeing a spirit may be evidence of an afterlife, but it IN NO WAY says that said afterlife conforms at all to a bronze-age book of stories from old men based on desert folklore. The incredible logical leap you're trying to take is maddening.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Drew

      n8263 Thank you for sharing that

      May 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • LOL @ n8263

      That's one of the best comments I've seen today. Well said, even if you did quote it from somewhere else.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  3. Garett

    If I see this kind of crap on the front page of CNN again, im finding a new source of information.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  4. bill

    i wonder if all these athiests will still be athiests on their deathbeds..i doubt it..what a bunch of fakes...

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

      Will you pray to the Tooth Fairy on your deathbed?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Allah is God

      Just wait until Allah thrusts you down to hell for rejecting the one true God.

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

      The fact that fear of death might make someone embrace religion does not mean religion is true or valuable. A common misconception

      May 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Bill, why do you think we are fakes? Because we have no fear of death? Because we know that you live and then you die, nothing more? You are the frightened one.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • DrLove

      "If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed."

      Albert Einstein

      May 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • DrLove

      On my deathbed I hope to be content that I have been a good father, husband, and friend, that I did what was right because it was in my heart and mind. I hope to have believed and lived by principle, and not what others tried to tell me to believe and not in the way others would tell me how to live.

      It's not atheism that's useless, it's a system of thought and action imposed by others. We have brains so that we may think for ourselves and decide what is right.

      May 21, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  5. swaf

    First of all, try reading your bible and you may know whats actually in it. There are alot of laws from the old "testiment" which is actually a contract with people and God, and their laws of moses were very strict, there was a purpose, basically to show you that you cant be holy from doing the law because its impossible for us to follow the law, though the laws of righteousness stand as the new "testimate" or contract says, we are under the law of liberty with the new contract (testiment) we are no longer under the laws of eat this, dont eat that, dont touch that etc. Though many afterward who were Jews kept the triditions of the old laws they were onder a new law of liberty, not saying you can do whatever you want, the laws of righteousness, (do not steal, do not lie, etc) still stand we are not bound by the laws of tradition, of eating and ritual.

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

      basically read the bible before you make all these silly statements and half truth opinions about things you think you know. Its complex and for some it takes a little study because you cant understand things in it or rationalize it. And no there are not multiple "translations" in the sense that there is no one truth, because there IS only one truth, but those "translations" are based on our different understandings of it ranging from close to understanding what it says and means to way out there "how did you get that from that" kind of thing

      May 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  6. nadeem

    One of the prophecies of end times by Prophet Muhammad is – Men will sleep with men and women will sleep with women.
    May Allah save us and our children from this act.

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

      Hey look Christians, you've got friends!

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

      not sure who this allah is, but the Christian God is the God of the abraham, moses, jews and the non-jews, the God of/is Jesus Christ

      May 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      seeing as men sleeping with men and women with women has been happening for thousands of years did he also predict that if it rains you would get wet or that if you drop a rock it will fall downwards?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • nadeem

      @ drew – we also believe that abraham , moses and jesus were great prophets.
      @cedar rapids – i forgot to add that this will happen in large numbers and all over the world. yes there are many prophecies for the end times – people will talk to one another over great distances and will be able to see each other (SKYPE).

      May 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  7. Joe A.

    Yes, there is a lot to condemn. It's even more condemnable when one tries to JUSTIFY an abomination. Christianity's entire essence is in admitting guilt. Not justifying what God calls evil as good............God saves those who admit and are sorry for offending Him.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Saboth

      Lol yeah...that's not even in the Bible, anywhere.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Joe A.

      How would you know? ever read the bible?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • LOL @ Joe A.

      Yeah he did. He read page 1.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • swaf

      READ THE ACTUAL BIBLE PEOPLE - ,basically God is a forgiving God, and sin is doing what God said not to, not doing what God said to do, simple as that, and for these crimes we pay with our souls because thats what the fine is. God knows we are weak and wants to keep us out of "prison" so he paid the price for our sins by coming to earth as a human "Jesus" (split from himself both himself and seperat, its God he can do anything) and Jesus paid our price by dieing which is basicall a blank check so that no matter the fine or payment needed it will cover it. UNDER one condition, that we repent, confess what we did (our sins) and obey God, that includes being baptized (not that baptizm itself saves but is your proof that you obey) and then God puts his mark on you (holy spirit) and when the time comes if you have obeyed etc you go to heaven, (whatever that is?) bible itself can only describ it in human terms of gold, diamonds and silver (basically we cant understand how awsome it is, but its like really really awsome)

      May 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  8. gravis

    I'm a believer. In fact, I'll be looking for a burning bush tonight.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  9. Amy

    The Bible is just another literary work, full of inconsistencies. Bestseller on the fiction list.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Joe A.

      HAHAHAAHAHAH!......no

      May 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Tom in ATL

      Point out one.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • swaf

      I love to see the "inconsistancies" because if you can disprove the best attacks against it how much more awsome does it become. And those inconsistances, just like how scientists says the bible is contrary to science, contrary, whey you find the bible has inconsistaces or contradics what science shows it either means you dont understand the bible or you dont understand the science.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  10. Duke One

    Many people claim God and Jesus to be a fairy tale but I don't see them so upset when any one talks about Snow White.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Drew

      No one is trying to ban contraception based on the message encapsulated in snow white

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

      Well, no one uses Snow White as a reason to deny civil rights to others.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Steve O

      On the cover of CNN today there is a picture of a young Afghan woman named Aesha who had her nose and ears cut off because of religion.

      When people start maiming those less powerful than them, denying civil rights to those less numerous than them, or ignoring any truths outside the scope of a single book because of Snow White, I promise I will be railing against the Brothers Grimm just as vocally.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Floyd

      Maybe that's because nobody ever got killed in the name of Snow White?!

      May 21, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  11. Todd Pritchett

    Love the way you don't pick and choose.
    So your wife women in your church are not allowed to wear gold, pearls or any fine clothing as commanded in 1 Timothy 2:9 & 1 Peter 3:3?
    So your church does not pray anywhere in public since you must pray in secret or in a closet as stated in Matthew 6:5-6?
    Also mentioned again in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John where even
    Jesus prayed alone.
    Do all women have to pray with their heads covered, men uncovered, women have long hair and men short as commanded in 1 Corinthians 11:4-16?
    Think you may want to read the New testament again since you missed lots of things about slavery.
    Matthew 18:25: "But for as much as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made." Also lots of rules about how to beat and punish them in Luke & Peter. Do you promote slavery as long as your followers know the proper way to beat and/or punish them?
    As Jesus commanded in Luke 14:26 do you require all your followers or at least your elders and deacons to hate all their family to be a disciple?
    Do all the men in your church that have ever looked at a women with lust only have 1 eye or both missing? Matthew 5:28-30

    May 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Pravda4U

      And... You missed it. Wow, some of the best misquoting I have seen today. Well, you get the gold for trying....

      May 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • JGray

      Fantastic!

      May 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  12. Mark

    Sooner or later Christians will have to accept the fact that the bible is a guideline for living THEIR personal lives and NOT a rubric for making laws for other citizens of the United States that have no interest in Christianity. As a pagan, I'm tired of Christians acting like they own this country when our founding clearly states freedom of religion.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Amy

      Thank you!

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

      the sad part is, they do not see the hypocrisy they show by pushing their religion on other who do not WANT it.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • @ Mark

      Sorry the extremists made you feel that way. Not sure what they're reading and/or drinking.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • @ Snow

      Hypocrisy works both ways. There are just as many people who are tired of religion being shoved down their throats as there are people who are tired of seeing non-believers shove their non-belief down our throats. That is your problem right there. You're one-sided.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Jesus

      Well said.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Tom in ATL

      You're always free to leave this country of hypocritical Christians. In the end, we'll all have to face the GOD of the universe. What say you then?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "In the end, we'll all have to face the GOD of the universe. What say you then?"

      i'll say "boy did you screw that place up, was it a 'close enough for government work' mentality"?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  13. LOL

    Based on a lot of these comments, it seems like a lot of people go to the religion section to bash religion instead of conduct a sound debate.

    But the same can be said for almost every article on CNN that I've seen so far. It's easy to point out the negative and call others names rather than talk things through. Public forums are fail.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  14. Henry

    Jeremiah 9, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.”

    May 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Drew

      It's nice you have something to feel good about, even if it's just a dumb book

      May 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  15. jc

    Joe 510-648-9253
    Why don’t you bible believers follow your own dictates and let your god sort it out when we’re standing in front of the pearly gates? Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work, or do you really think he/it needs your help?
    Alternatively, you could go found your own country where there is no separation between church and state. You could model it on Iran or Pakistan for instance.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Tom in ATL

      Oh He will 'sort it out', there's no doubt about that.

      Keep in mind, we all live forever. It's where you spend eternity that's at stake. There are only 2 options. Please don't dismiss the Bible. Read it, and let GOD work in you. He will transform your life and you can live with him in heaven.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "we all live forever. It's where you spend eternity that's at stake"

      why?
      why would any god create a system whereby you life your life to determine where you go when you die? what on earth would be the point?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  16. magnus

    Religion will be the ultimate downfall of civilization. The book was written by greedy males to keep the masses at bay.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • @ magnus

      Okay, so you claim a book written thousands of years ago is the cause for our downfall yet there are people here who would sit here and praise shows like Jersey Shore or any other reality garbage on TV. Get your priorities straight.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • @@magnus

      I've never heard anyone praise Jersey Shore.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Tacitus Talks

      Talk about ridiculous conspiracy theory. I would sooner believe that Bush, Clinton, and Cheney were placing the explosives in the WTC leading up to 9/11 and Barack Obama Sr, and Ann Dunham "hid" the fact that she went to Nairobi so she could experience sub-standard medical care so he could be president.

      Nutty left wing anti-Christians – 44 Authors over 1500 years "planned" to oppress women and the downtrodden. And you claim atheism is based on reason.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Floyd

      Just an FYI, that statement came originally from a fellow named Karl Marx more than 150 years ago: "Religion is opium for the people"

      May 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Tom in ATL

      @ magnus, "written by greedy males to keep the masses at bay". Please provide your evidence and proof.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  17. 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 religion by denying others civil rights.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Floyd

      Well stated

      May 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Tom in ATL

      Exactly what civil rights have been denied by Christians?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  18. Happy and Moral Atheist

    Another reason for not going to church. I'm sick of the double speak.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • anon

      I'm still waiting for a cople of atheists to show up at my door early one saturday morning, handing out cards inviting me to sleep in on Sunday.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  19. Michael

    I am a believer, however, I am not a judge. My job as a Christian is to speak the word to others and let God handle the judgements. It is a stain on our faith when we stop speaking the word and start judging others. We are all sinners and unfit to judge another's sins. I love Matt 7:5 that tells us to "take the plank of wood out of our own eye so that we can see to remove the (tiny) speck of dust our of our brother's eye."

    May 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Michael: So if you're not judging, how do you *decide* your brother has a speck in his eye?

      May 21, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Michael

      That is the whole point of that verse... we SHOULD NOT be judging others.

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

      We don't decide – our brother does. He just tells us when.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Michael: that's exactly NOT the point of that verse. You can't help your brother if you don't judge him/discern what's going on. Otherwise, you can't *see* your log or the speck.

      The way you're reading Mt.7 no one would ever help anyone else deal with what's blinding them. Jesus point is not "don't ever judge" – it's "be consistent! judge others the same way you want to be judged."

      May 21, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  20. marcell

    Thank You Dr Mohler. I completely agree with this and I appreciate you presenting this in a clear informative...compassionate editorial.

    May 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Joel

      Just like the Slave Masters were compassionate, taking care of the poor black folk because they couldn't be trusted to take care of themselves.

      May 21, 2012 at 5:22 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.