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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. Mojicac

    What a load of baloney. Biblical apologetics always insist that others are just simply reading the sacred book incorrectly. The plain truth is that there is simply no honest way to dance around the fact that the Bible prohibits all sorts of nonsense, and condones slavery, honor killings, war, and discrimination. Yes, in some parts it also talks about turning the other cheek, and loving your enemies, but also sending folks to hell for unbelief, human sacrifices, etc. All of which makes it an intrinsically schizophrenic book of contradictions. That anyone can accept this collection of assays as revelation from some celestial omniscient creator of the universe is only testament of the gullibility of human kind. So Mr. Mohler can dance around the issue all he wants. It is patently obvious that Biblical apologetics like him are picking a choosing whatever they want and ignoring or pooh-poohing whatever they find inconvenient. Explanations about what to take seriously and what not are as credible as… well the tooth fairy.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  2. aj0714

    frankly, i am more concerned with the Christians, who stand in Congress with a budget designed to cut off programs for the poor and desperate and disabled to pay for tax cuts for the rich. the path is indeed narrow..... for each of us......

    May 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  3. mutray

    The writer for the call for.children who who strike their parents to be put to death, and for women to wear head coverings in church. These ate not included in the things that people can eat now.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Review your work before turning it in.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  4. Samuel

    I hate all minorities, gays, and atheists. If it was up to me I would have them all killed so the Christian and Jewish people could live without fear of persecution and/or violence

    May 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      But aren't you a black, gay atheist, Samuel? Or maybe I got you confused with some other troll.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Mojicac

      In case you did not know, you are probably a sociopath. Please seek therapy. Soon.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Bet

      Obvious troll is obvious.

      May 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • @ samuel

      you cant be serious. you reveal that you have said these things, even though you dont believe them, to rile up others when you include the jews in the people you dont hate. later you point out that commies are worse than nazies, which is actually true. hitler killed 10 million, stalin killed 20 million, we dont know how many mao killed, the chinese communist party probably has a pretty good idea but aint tellin, might be 50 million. but anyway, i digress. you cant possibly be a nazi and not include the jews on the hate list. not that i would suggest for a moment that you should avoid saying things you dont believe just to rile up the fun. i think it's funny too. just wanted you to know that i am on to you.

      May 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  5. Scot

    TAX THE CHURCHES !!!!!!!!

    May 22, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Bet

      No, because then they would have even more influence in the government than they already do. They rake in billions, what politician isn't going to want a piece of that pie?

      May 22, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  6. JennCoolva

    WHO CARES!? Honestly. There are MUCH more pressing matters in this World than who loves who or does what in the privacy of their own bedroom.

    This "pastor"'s phone is ringing busy and an email I sent him has gone unanswered (duh)... HATE is NOT a Christian Value!

    May 22, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Ooooh, what's his email address?

      May 22, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Bet

      The gay people who don't have equal rights think it's pretty important, and so do those of us who agree that they shouldn't face this kind of discrimination.

      I understand what you are saying, that whether someone is gay or not doesn't hurt anyone. But we can't allow people to deny them their rights under the law just because they find gay love "icky".

      May 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  7. Samuel

    Its funny when everyone on here thinks of evil they immediately think of nazis. People need to realize the atrocities of the communists are far worse than the nazis. I would rather worship nazis then the communists

    May 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • sam stone

      Knock yourself out, Sammy

      May 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Harry

      Is a Southern Baptist theologian actually claiming participation in the abolitionist movement? Yes, Christians were at the head of the abolitionist movement, but SOUTHERN BAPTIST Christians were at the head of opposing the civil rights movement. Let's not be disingenuous.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  8. kurtinco

    The Bible is NOT the word of God. It is the word of man. If God wants to speak to me, I'm sure He can find a way to do so clearly without pointing to a collection of books writen by men claiming to have a finger on the pulse of the Lord; books that have been translated and re-writen so many times that nobody can be sure anymore what the original texts actually said. If you don't like gay marriage, then by all means don't get gay married. But keep your shallow, hypocritical moral sermonizing out of my life.

    May 22, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • wabob62

      I agree it is like a joke tellit to 10 people and have # 10 come back and it is all changed from the original.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  9. Realist

    Who cares? It's all made up anyway.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  10. Freelancer

    Here's a thought:

    Christians don't like it when Muslims force their beliefs on Christians.

    So, why do Christians believe they can force their beliefs on anyone else?

    ** Freelancer is Christian - so don't throw stones at me for being Muslim. I'm just trying to make a point! 🙂

    May 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  11. BOKinLarksville

    Religions were designed to keep people inline.. While I believe in a higher power, I don't believe most of what was written in religious books, unless they are World Religion books used in colleges.. If you ever played the game "Pass it On" you would understand how good intentions get corrupted to suit the people in power i.e. the king/pope...etc. All people need is the golden rule.. Religions have caused wars and genocide.. There is nothing wrong with organized religion, as long as they benefit the needy.. As soon as they start telling you how to live your life, that is when I start yawning..

    May 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  12. Bet

    Anna said: "Wow.....have witnessed hundreds of miracles – they are raising the dead in Africa and Mexico.......there are cities in the US – that at being hailed as No Cancer Zones.....because the miracles are happening. People with MS are being healed.....people are receiving new limbs. Jesus heals today.....its a common fact for those who follow Him. We find it facinating that CNN never cover this.....i am talking about full on miracles....the blind see and the deaf hear.....Jesus Christ is the Way!!!!!"

    Please provide evidence of these miracles you've witnessed. Raising the dead? People growing new arms and legs? MS going away? How is it that the news media missed this but you were somehow there and saw it all. Can you provide the name of a person who grew a new leg, along with before and after pictures?

    Could you possibly be any more delusional?

    May 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • No Agenda Here

      Because the news media would rather focus on political points that might help their choice of person elected. There is no political power in people getting healed... Who could profit from that???

      May 22, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Bet

      You still haven't provided any solid evidence that these "miracles" have actually happened, so the rest of your argument about politics is irrelevant.

      If you don't think there would be any profit in being able to heal the blind, deaf, and infirm, you're just as delusional as Anna.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • moragami

      This author is a blatant liar. The New testament has many passages endorsing slavery, even commanding slaves to obey their masters on Earth as if they were God.

      Ephesians 6:5-9: "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart."

      There are many more. Even this author picks and chooses what he chooses to acknowledge in his 2000 year old book of fairy tales. Boo! Bad article!

      May 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Are you nuts? A video of the dead rising would command world-wide attention. Having a single amputee "cured" would be news around the world.

      None of this is happening. Anna is either lying or delusional. Like most theists.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Bet

      Ask Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, or Ted Haggard if there's any profit in these "miracles". There's profit all right. There's just no proof.

      Ironically, Swaggart engaged in an on-air smear campaign against Jim Bakker and Marvin Gorman, accusing them of adultery, the allegations were subsequently proven to be true.

      Gorman retaliated by having Swaggart investigated. We've all seen Swaggart's "I Have Sinned" speech. He was caught again with a pros ti tute three year later. Rather than confessing to his congregation, Swaggart told those at Family Worship Center that "The Lord told me it's flat none of your business."

      Ted Haggard was caught with a male pro sit tutee, has admitted to a second hom os ex ual affair and has been accused of several more, to which he has declined to respond.

      Of course, god has "forgiven" them and they continue to freely bilk money out of their ignorant "flocks".

      May 22, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Bet

      Still waiting, Anna. C'mon, not even one little picture?

      May 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  13. Arch

    i want to be saved from the disciples of all religious organizations.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  14. jungleboo

    Mr. M and his crew have rejected the one divine attribute that separates us from the animal kingdom: REASON. That, for lack of a better word, is Blasphemy.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • No Agenda Here

      LOL! What are you talking about? How did you even get that from the article???

      May 22, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • jungleboo

      The rational man will have none of his bunk, because all of religion defies reason and common sense. It requires a "belief" in the impossible. Not rational, honey.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • No Agenda Here

      As if Atheism is more damaging to humanity? It is just as evil a religion as any of the others. Except intellect is an atheists god. Atheists choose their own moral code and beliefs just like any other religion. And don't forget the evangelists.... CNN is a convention center for Atheist Evangelists...

      May 22, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • No Agenda Here

      *less damaging

      May 22, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Man's logic and rationality have gotten us to the moon and back in our lifetime. Man's rationality has given us Google Earth and images of galaxies unknown only 100 years ago. We did not even know that the Milky Way wasn't the entire Universe until Edwin Hubble announced his discoveries in the '20s. Your religion has brought nothing to the party except crushing bigotry, all over this tender little planet.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Mr. "All Agenda Here" Atheism is not a religion. Sorry to burst your bubble. Study up on something besides your book of pretend.

      May 22, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
  15. No Agenda Here

    Best article on CNN in a long, long time. Kudos Mr. Mohler!

    May 22, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • DEC

      Agreed

      May 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • patientschool

      I agree completely! His response was Biblically correct and tempered with love and understanding. CNN should have more people like him!!! Great job!

      May 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Best article on CNN in a long, long time. Kudos Mr. Mohler!"

      No it's not all it is doing is continuing to fuel the hatred and bigotry towards this group. You only agree with it so you can feel justified in your prejudice. Nowhere in the bible does your god condemn the saved loving respectful relationship of a gay couple.

      May 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  16. CLBonner

    When did GOD give man the power over GOD to judge for him (GOD)? The preacher in NC is reading from a strange book (THE DEVIL'S BOOK) with the ideas he is coming up with. GOD IS LOVE not HATE. We are all children of GOD, he loves us all.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • No Agenda Here

      Are you even commenting on the right article???

      May 22, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • CBKidder

      God is not real, neither is the devil. So simmer down.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Double R

      @ No Agenda Here

      I don't think he is, but the point is we, as God's people, have a responsibilty to judge others of faith rightly, and with compassion. In 1Cor 5:12-13, the Apostle Paul writes, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?
      Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” In other words, we are to judge those within the church, the Body of Christ. However, we are not to condemn, we are to correct with compassion, much like we would correct our children when they do wrong. We would never condemn our children for doing wrong, we simply point out why what they are doing is wrong and we teach them how to correct their mistakes and avoid them in the future. But we must remind them that we will make mistakes in life. The same is true in the Body of Christ. We all fall short of God's glory, however our God is compassionate and forgiving. That does not mean I can go outside of my church and judge those who do not believe in Christ. I am simply to present them the word of God and allow them to judge for themselves whether it is the way for them. But I cannot stand idle by while a Christian brother willing sins, and not call them out on it, with compassion of course. "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." (Prov 27:17).

      May 22, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Double R, you would be a horrible neighbor to most of the people in the world, because most of the people in the world do not subscribe to your theories and ideas about life. But the self-satisfaction you derive from your self-appointed moral perch is obviously so important to you that you pursue it without regard for those you offend. Religion belongs in your head. Not in someone else's face as you 'point out their errors. Sharpen your weenie elsewhere.

      May 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  17. Charlie

    And this goofball is why so many people don't take organized religion seriously. The bile he spews in all honest might drive away more people than it attracts.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  18. carlyjanew6

    http://www.Hear-The-Truth.com

    May 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  19. Jonah

    The only thing that scares christians more than the gays is the v@gina. If you want to drive all the little jesus betches away from commenting, talk about period blood or fishy smells, or about how women can give birth to gay babies.

    May 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Freelancer

      WAIT! You've hit the nail right on the head! These "Christians" shouldn't be after the gays - they should be after WOMEN, who give birth to the gays!

      If it weren't for WOMEN, then gays wouldn't exist!

      ** Freelancer is not being serious with his above text. Freelancer is just mocking the "Christian" way of thinking, such as, "Let's throw the baby out with the bathwater!"

      May 22, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Buhay

      No problemo....we'll talk about those things, but like the guy in the article said, most folks don't really want an answer. and the absolutely funny thing about it is.....your arguement ain't with us, it's with the big man upstairs and that little ol' book he gave us. talk about the V....sure...! but can you stand hear about someone who did something really cool for you....? and we like to talk about football too...

      May 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Bet

      @Buhay

      No, I really do want an answer. Don't presume that you and this author know what I'm thinking. Did your god give you special mind reading super powers?

      May 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  20. brotherjukebox2012

    finally a good plan! and place all the illegal mexicans in there with them so they can get one up the rear too

    May 22, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
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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.