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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.

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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.

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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. bleak81

    Acts 10:15. Peter is told, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

    I believe this was a metaphor referring to non-Jews. In fact, Peter interprets this vision in such a way. It does not refer to food.
    Acts 10:28 He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean."

    May 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  2. Bootyfunk

    while i support the author trying to do away with religious prejudice, he has been very selective in his examination of the subject.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • bleak81

      yes, and uses bible verses out of context. it's a very flawed article.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
  3. Ambient Malice

    You can tell a lot about people by the way they respond to an article like this. I'm taking notes, dear friends.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Bet

      Here's a few notes for you:

      B major

      D minor

      C flat

      E sharp

      7th major chord

      May 22, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  4. Bootyfunk

    jesus got drunk with 12 dudes, never got with a woman, had wash board abs.....

    hmmmm.... g.ay much?

    May 21, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • bren222

      we don't know what kind of temptations Christ endured while on earth ... but, we do know he did not sin and having 'relations' outside of marriage would be a sin ... sorry to disappoint you

      May 21, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      jesus turned water into wine. wine is alcohol. alcohol is a drug. he gave it out to his friends. therefore, jesus is a drug dealer.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • bren222

      hm, have you been sipping some wine with that kind of reasoning?

      May 22, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Bet

      "we don't know what kind of temptations Christ endured while on earth ... but, we do know he did not sin and having 'relations' outside of marriage would be a sin ... sorry to disappoint you"

      You can't even prove Jesus existed, much less that he didn't "sin".

      May 22, 2012 at 2:25 am |
  5. Everyman

    So what we are to take from this is that the Old Testament was God's word until the new Testament when he changed his mind and we are supposed to forget parts of the Old. That's convenient.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Brandon Brown

      There are three types of laws. Ceremonial, judicial and moral. It's only the moral law that's for all eternity. That's implied by God in the various commands he makes throughout scripture. So it's not a matter of convenience, it's a matter of what God has revealed.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      except jesus himself says you are not to drop a single letter from the OT. sowwy.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Brandon Brown

      And he's talking about the MORAL law. In the ten commandments, God says do not kill. Yet he commands Joshua to go into Jericho and wipe out everything breathing. Do not kill is the moral law, God's command to Jericho is the judicial law.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Everyman

      Ok, there's a law about coveting a neighbors wife. If we break that what is the US legal consequence of it? If you say none then why are we sticking our nose into the gay marriage issue?

      May 21, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      where does it say jesus is only referring to moral law?

      May 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Bobby

      Forget only the parts that you don't like, like circ.umcision and skipping Red Lobster, but keep the parts that you do like, like bullying gay kids and otherwise keeping them down.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Robairdo

      @Brandon, actually most of Law of the OT is the Law of Moses. Only the ten commandments are Gods Law. The Law of Moses was only ever applicable to Jew and it died on the Cross with Jesus when the new covenant replaced it.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • rm

      if you follow the old testament and the jewish faith as it was taught then, you do not follow Christ and do not believe what he clearly told you ie you are having a really hard time accepting that forgiveness and inclusion in the family of God is complete – just take it. The Law never "saved" anyone, your quotes of the Apostle Paul should lead you to that doctrine in point of fact it did and does exactly what is going on here – divisions, wranglings about who is in and out, judgements, guilt and persecutions of those who "do not measure up" you really have the wrong image of God – have you really seen Him?

      May 21, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Everyman

      No one can really tell me why God cares if a man loves a man or a woman loves a woman. Can't be over procreation because there's plenty of straight people that are married an can't procreate.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • justinstl

      Jesus didnt say anything about the bible in any par OT or NT....why? zbecause Christianity and the bible were not created until a couple HUNDRED YEARS after his death.....so anything that he may have said (cuz he and most of his era didnt write or read) could not have been anything near the way he said it.....its like the telephone game(wisper something into a persons ear to pass on...by the time it gets around the room it is nothing what it started out to be.....now picture it said 2 hundred years before it was written! GET REAL PEOPLE!

      May 21, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Cq

      Bootyfunk
      Most scholarship agrees that Jesus didn't want to start a new religion, and that all he wanted was for his fellow Jews to act more compassionately towards each other. The Gentiles, however, were very fond of joining new cults, and they found a guru in Paul who was willing to bring the Jesus movement to them. It was probable the last thing Jesus would have wanted, next to his memory being made a blasphemy by those who said he was a demigod.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      there is no evidence that jesus existed at all. like hercules, he is a figure of myth.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • howard Dao

      Wow the Book of Mormons may very well be recognized as the next testament after January 2013 🙂

      May 22, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  6. rm

    First, I am a Christian too. As crazy as this sounds to most of you some of us in each generation are given a personal "experience" with God and His Son, I would imagine so we can speak out with some credibility but more importantly so that we can testify to the truth. The truth is God and His Son are spiritual beings and complete LOVE, LIGHT and SPIRIT. We are spirits too and return to them when we leave these bodies behind. Even a cursory study of the life of Christ and the New Testament would find that 1) Jesus did not judge "sinners" and commanded those who follow them to not do the same 2) The Apostle Paul clearly stated to not judge anything outside the "church" (his concept of a church as Jesus never taught or instructed us to create churches as we know them today) – the real conflict here is between those who "study" the scriptures and think they know the will of God and those who just know God. Those of us who just know God are not accounted for much in this generation but we typically are much more accepting as that is what we have found God is. You do not have to condemn or say anything about "gays" to honor God and obey Jesus in fact you would be doing a better job of honoring God by saying nothing – judge yourself – if you ever really get that right 100% you won't be hanging around here much longer anyhow in fact you probably will be in the next life. Follow Jesus and do what he showed us to do, Love and accept all men and women, be gracious and willing to lay down your life for them, open you heart and door to those you do not understand and even your "enemies" in this life ... Jesus words are clear .."by this the whole world will know you are my disciples, when you have love one for another" he did not subject that statement to any qualifier (like not gay, not anything) please do not call yourself a follower of Christ (christian) if you do not do what he says – stop judging others and especially people whom are not associated with your "so called churches" and drop the ridiculous idea that Jesus (the Son of God) is interested in creating an American religious state – it never was, will never work, was never taught by Christ and you do not speak for those of us who are trying our best to listen to Him and follow what he really taught and showed us by his life. I hope you can hear this and turn your heart to God and the Lord before you truly alienate most the world from the truth of the Living Son of God.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • Very concerned for humanity

      YES, AWESOME POST!

      But I'm sure there will be others who will disagree – give it time and they'll show up.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
    • Robairdo

      Very well stated most of these so called Christian churches are about as anti-Christian as you can get.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • Bet

      Paragraphs are your friend.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  7. CHEERIO

    Superb article , if I might say so myself. Spot on, sir!

    May 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Yeah. . ."spot on" if you're a moron who still believes in talking snakes, 600 yr old men, and "Noah's Ark".

      May 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Wha

      Woohoo, DeeCee's a little jealous that we have talking snakes...nothing near as exciting in the atheist's Bible.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      don't forget the talking donkey in the bible - just like in Shrek!!!

      May 21, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Bet

      I love the part where god spoke out of an a s s's mouth. Just like today's christians.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:28 am |
  8. Nilkinggary

    The author presumes to speak for all Christians and to suggest that his own fundamentalist interpretations are the most authoritative interpretations of Scripture. He is wrong on both counts.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Not quite

      Actually he is right on both points. And, man is he ever right.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • LOL

      Is he wrong because what he claims as authoritative is not the same a what you claim as authoritative? How is it that a sinner is able to claim that anything other than sin is authoritative?

      May 21, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Yeah, the "bible" is so clear about things that there are now thousands of Christian denominations each interpreting the THE SAME BOOK differently. Christianity, along with its bible is the world's biggest mess.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  9. Seyedibar

    Christians will gladly change their interpretations of their folktales. It's so much easier than admitting you've wasted your life believing in complete nonsense. I'd bet money that in a hundred years, Jesus won't even have supernatural powers anymore. Like comic book fiction, a certain amount of realism is required to keep people interested.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
    • Cq

      Well, they're not disappearing anytime soon, so let's hope that they're evolving into a kinder, gentler, more accepting religion, right?

      May 22, 2012 at 12:09 am |
  10. Edwin

    You know why christians hate gays? Because it is not *normal*. Christians, by and large, are conservatives, and conservatives think people should try to live "normal" lives. At one time, conservatives hated inter-racial couples, women who worked, and unmarried couples - those things were not normal once.

    Now those things *are* considered normal, so conservatives don't hate them. Instead, conservatives now hate gays and liberals - gays because they aren't yet considered normal, and liberals because they keep trying to change what is considered normal.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      It's mostly the older generation.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • Bobby

      DeeCee1000
      The older, dying generation. 🙂

      May 22, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  11. Mike_NC

    The truth is, the Israelites were God's chosen people not because God chose them but because they chose it for themselves, and they started behaving like God's chosen people – that is until they lost their homeland. And now American Conservatives are doing the same thing – acting like modern-day chosen people. Some day their arrogance could cost us our homeland.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  12. The Flamingo Kid

    PETERS IN POOP CHUTES MAKE FUDGE POOPSICLES. YUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PETERS IN THE POOPS IS A DEFINITE NO! NO!

    May 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Bet

      Does your mommy know you're on the computer? How old are you, twelve? Stupid.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:32 am |
  13. The Flamingo Kid

    Fat people should be banned from riding around on electric wheelchairs in Wal-Mart.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • David

      Not entirely banned, they should just be restricted to the vegetable isle

      May 21, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • spam

      I agree.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
    • JJ

      No, I believe the bible is saying fat gay people shouldn't be allowed to buy shellfish in Wal-mart.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • Bobby

      David
      You'll never see them in the vegetable isle.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  14. DeeCee1000

    Google "Pastor Charles L. Worley".

    May 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  15. Ambient Malice

    Good article, sir. I wish more people could be as honest and concise as you.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • ron

      For similar delusions read "mein kampf"

      May 21, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Ha

      "Ambient Malice"? Seriously? HAHA HAHAHAHA!

      May 21, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • ron

      Jesus was a "member of the community"

      May 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
  16. Paul

    Ahh the bible. What a load of garbage...

    May 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  17. justinstl

    Lol the bible...when people read the bible andread the part where God told abraham to kill his son Isac they accept it as truth ...that God wanted it ....but when they watch the news and see stories like a guy who axed his entire family to death because he says God told him to....these same people think "what a crazy crazy man to think God told him to murder his family.
    Whats the difference who is crazy the axe murderer or Abraham? What is the difference?
    That book is a bunch of nonsense that has nothing to do with life on this rock in this age!

    May 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Very concerned for humanity

      Hey, Satan's agent: Abraham didn't kill his son Issac.

      We are in the FINAL HOUR. Keep an eye on the skies.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      How about Jepthah? Don't know who that is? Maybe you should read your bible more carefully.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • Edwin

      Very concerned: we have been in the "FINAL HOUR" many times in the last 100 years, not to mention in the 1800's, the 1700's, and most centuries before that. When the Spanish Armada was destroyed, its people saw that as an omen for the End of Days... just like you and the other Doom-sayer Prophets said about last year - er, this year - er, next year...

      May 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm |
    • justinstl

      How can you call a person Satans agent,,,when there is no such thing as Satan and no proof of a deity at all? Just because a person does not believe in God the way the bible portrays it does not mean that they are against him/ or it. You Christians really are a piece of work.....you say look to the skies....why do you think God comes from the sky? are you saying that you agree that god is an alien?

      May 21, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • kent

      @concerned. You NEED it to be "the final hour". Its the only way it makes sense to you. Its also the only way you can function.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Very concerned for humanity

      You are all wrong and you'll find out soon enough.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Oooooo scary. That's fairly typical. Don't address anything and then give some va.gue threat about an afterlife.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • justinstl

      VERY CONCERNED FOR HUMANITY....iF WE ARE all wrong....then you tell me who is right? what is the real truth....it certainly iis not ..the Christian religion! What is the real factual truth with proof to back it up? the Gods creator of man were ET's (not of this earth) that is fact and they have found bones of no earthly origin on earth! so what is the truth. And what if there is a christian version of god.....do you think he will condemn people for not believing in his story because of the fact that there is no proof......I dont think so.....I think there's room for all in the unconscious state of the kingdom of heaven. There simply is no reason to condemn or have hell.at all. When the Gods/Et's come back for the gold the vatican and the countries of the world have been stock piling for no OTHER reason....they will not be taking ANY of us with them.....unless we are on the menu.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  18. ron

    Why don't baptists have "relations" standing up? Someone might think they are dancing. And this guy looks like he dances in stalls.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Bet

      Bathroom stalls or horse stalls?

      May 22, 2012 at 2:34 am |
    • Cristian

      The thought of redniag through the Bible in 90 days is overwhelming to me! I don't think I'm managing my time very well. You all inspire me. One day I'll get there hopefully![] Reply:March 25th, 2011 at 10:07 pmValerie, it was overwhelming to me too the first time I tried it. I didn't make it in 90 days it took me just about two weeks longer but it was well worth the try. It was neat.I am starting my second attempt April 1. Funny thing is, I picked that date a few weeks ago and have been looking forward to starting again. . .then I saw this post tonight. Nice to have more company![] Reply:March 29th, 2011 at 5:50 amSo nice to have friends to read along with. I'm glad you chose April 1. []

      September 7, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  19. Puckles

    Fantastic article! Well-thought, well-written and a true slap in the face to anyone who tries to use the Bible to defend homes.

    May 21, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Tom Paine

      Well, I for one am all for homes. 😉

      May 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Ha

      It's none of those things, but you don't seem too bright anyway, Puckles.
      It doesn't matter what Christians think about their inner squabbling over interpretations, none of it is allowed to be put into secular law.
      Hate on gays all you want but you have to allow them equal rights, otherwise you're just a criminal.
      It is illegal to put your religion and religious "laws" into the public legal system. Period.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • PJ

      Ha, You shall not kill. (Exodus 20:13) OK, lets get rid of that one, right?

      May 21, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • Edwin

      Ha: it's only illegal because a majority said so at one time. The goal of American christians is to change that - to make the United States a Christian Nation. Many of them have said as much. And they could succeed, too, if nobody recognizes the threat the represent...

      May 21, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      And that's why Tom is in Paine – rectal pain – right?

      May 21, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Not quite

      Hate to break it to you Ha, Ha. But you have your equal rights already. You and I, we both have exactly the same right, that is, to marry someone of the opposite s.ex. Heck, you can even love whomever you want and live with them like me. Apparently, though, you want an extra benefit nobody wants to vote for, so stop pushing it.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  20. ruemorgue

    It never ceases to amaze me how seamingly rational people can waste entire careers, go to school, and fight over what is a collection of myths, legends stolen from other cultures and delusions of *prophets* crazy with thirst and lack of food! Is it really so difficult to call a duck ... a duck? Christians consider *every* other holy book a collection of myths and legends. What makes you think your collection of inconsistent idiocies is any better?

    May 21, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      hard to break the christian cult programming. they are told that as long as they follow the bible, they're doing the right thing, no matter how crazy or prejudice it is.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • er

      Some of the worst racists I know are Atheists.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • er

      No crazier than beleiving there was nothing and then it exploded and everything you see around you happened.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • dexnew

      You are one confused, ignorant person - don't even realize how bad. Stop repeating what you have heard others say and do some real research on the origins and validity of the Bible.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • zeyn2010

      Not being a theoretical physicist, therefore not grasping the theories they suggest is no excuse to imagine an unexplainable force created it all.

      May 21, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      er, you haven't put even the slightest effort into reading about the big bang, have you?

      Are the words too long?

      May 21, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
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