"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;" - 2 Timothy 3:16
"in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago," - Titus 1:2
"so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us." - Hebrews 6:18
"If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself." - 2 Timothy 2:13
"God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?" - Numbers 23:19
*emphasis mine in bold and italics
I am taking a step aside from the usual way of things on History with Mr. C to address a matter that I feel very strongly needs to be addressed. There comes a time when a follower of Christ must defend their faith and speak out against anything that attempts to slander and smear the Lord of all creation. This is my response, my take on misinterpretation and ignorance. I also would like to preface by saying that the focus of this post is not about homosexuality. This post is about claims made concerning the interpretation of the Bible with regard to human sexuality.
Recently, I read a blog post (you can read it here) that had been tweeted by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle, WA. Driscoll was not the one that wrote the blog post, but only mentioned it. The writer of the blog post is Jennifer Wright Knust, an assistant professor at Boston University. She professes to be a Bible scholar and pastor. I am not a Bible scholar and pastor and one is not required to be either of these to understand Scripture. The format of my response will be taking what she has said, quoting it, and then responding to it.
"The Bible's surprising mixed messages on sexuality"
This is the title of your blog post. You have written a book about the Bible's contradictions about sex and desire. Let's talk about contradiction. As I quoted from Paul to Timothy at the beginning of this post, ALL Scripture in the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Not some parts here and there. Not the verses that you like and agree with. ALL of it. I have also quoted several verses about the nature of God with regard to lying. He cannot lie. It is impossible. Take yourself back to your days of geometric proofs and if/then statements. If all Scripture is inspired by God and it is impossible for God to lie, then what the inspired Word of God says about a man lying with another man (Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:18-32) is true...it is an abomination, is unrighteousness and ungodliness. Anything that is an abomination, unrighteous, and ungodly is sin. Was biblical hermeneutics one of the required classes for your M. Div. at UTS?
"Truth is, Scripture can be interpreted in any number of ways"
Yes, anything can be interpreted in any number of ways, but that doesn't mean the interpretation is correct. The depraved, imperfect, finite mind of mankind can take anything and interpret it however it wants to be interpreted. Let's take something pretty simple. In several restaurant bathrooms that I have had to use, there has been a sign posted that says, "Employees must wash hands." I can interpret this to mean that employees must wash their hands before they return to their duties in the restaurant. I can also interpret this to mean that an employee has to come into the bathroom and wash my hands after I have used the facilities. Any reasonable and sane person would understand that the correct interpretation of the sign is that the employees have to wash their hands before returning to their duties in the restaurant. How do we know what the correct interpretation is? Context. The three rules of interpreting Scripture are context, context, and context.
Referring back to biblical hermeneutics, the correct interpretation and understanding of Scripture is with Scripture. Paraphrasing Cooper Abrams from bible-truth.org, if there appears to be a contradiction in the Bible, the issue and problem is not the Bible, but our understanding and interpretation. The true Interpreter of Scripture is the Holy Spirit. With the resting upon one's self by the Holy Spirit comes understanding, wisdom, knowledge, strength, counsel, and the fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2).
"Ancient Christians and Jews explained this two-step creation by imagining that the first human person possessed the genitalia of both sexes. Then, when the androgynous, dually-sexed person was placed in the garden, s/he was divided in two."
First of all, the proper terminology is "early Christians", not "ancient Christians." To use secular academic terminology, there is nothing in Common Era history that is referred to as "ancient." Now on the topic of this "two-step" creation. Just before the quote from above from your blog, you said that there are "two versions of God's creation of the human person." I think you need to go back and read it again. Genesis 1 is the story of the creation of the heavens and the earth in six days, in which it briefly mentions creating "man in His own image." Genesis 2 is the story of the creation of Adam and Eve.
There are not two references to different accounts concerning the creation of man, but two references to the same account concerning the creation of man. This is evident in the beginning of Genesis 2:4, "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven." Genesis 2:1-3 is about God resting on the seventh day. Verse 4 begins the specific telling of when Adam and Eve were created during the six days. This is for two reasons. The first comes from Scripture. The phrase, "in the day" in Gen. 2:4 refers back to Gen. 1:3-31, the entire six days of creation. The second comes from Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary. Regarding the word "day" in the second part of Gen. 2:4, "Here 'day' refers to the entire period envisioned in the first six days of creation" (pg. 54). To review, Genesis 1 is the broad telling of the six-day creation. Within that six days, God created man and created them male and female (i.e. Adam and Eve). Genesis 2 is the specific telling of the creation of Adam and Eve.
"The third-century non-canonical Gospel of Philip..."
It is "non-canonical" for a reason. Non-canonical texts do not trump the spiritual authority of canonical texts in the Bible.
"Despite common misperceptions, biblical writers could also imagine same-sex intimacy as a source of blessing. For example, the seemingly intimate relationship between the Old Testament's David and Jonathan, in which Jonathan loved David more than he loved women, may have been intended to justify David’s rise as king."
To assume or assert that Jonathan and David were homosexual because of their intimate relationship is absurd. The Hebrew word for the love between Jonathan and David, "ahabah," was so commonly used in the Old Testament that it might connote a sexual love, "therefore, behold, I will gather all your lovers with whom you took pleasure..." (Ezekiel 16:37). But it was also used to connote God's love for his people, "...because your God loved Israel establishing them forever..." (2 Chronicles 9:8). The act of sex was used more in the terms of "knowing/knew" and "to lay with". Ancient Greek had a better understanding of the word "love" so much so that there were four different words for their respective contexts. Author C.S. Lewis even wrote a book about them, The Four Loves. These words and meanings are taken from here.
-Eros (ἔρως érōs) - romantic or sexual
-Storge (στοργή storgē) - natural affection
-Agape (ἀγάπη agápē) - divine, unconditional
-Philia (φιλία philía) - friendship, brotherly
To better understand the love that Jonathan and David had for each other, it is best to go to the Septuagint (LXX). "Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself" (1 Samuel 18:1). The word "loved" in this verse cross-references to the word "loved" in 1 Samuel 20:17. Unfortunately, 1 Samuel 18:1-5 was omitted from the LXX, but not 1 Samuel 20:17. Here is what 1 Samuel 20:17 says in Greek:
καὶ προσέθετο ἔτι Ιωναθαν ὀμόσαι τῷ Δαυιδ ὅτι ἠγάπησεν ψυχὴν ἀγαπῶντος αὐτόν
I have put in bold and italics the Greek word that is translated to "loved." This Greek word that has been underlined is a form of the Greek word "agape," the divine, unconditional, and self-sacrificing love seen throughout the New Testament with God through Jesus Christ. It was agape love, not eros love, that was between Jonathan and David. In the words of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, "Bazinga!"
"It’s true that same-sex intimacy is condemned in a few biblical passages. But these passages, which I can count on one hand..."
You concede that the Bible does in fact condemn same-sex intimacy. There is no "but" needed. If something is, IT IS.
I would like to end with a few words. What you have done is attempted to conform the Bible to your worldview about sexuality. What you have failed to do is allow your worldview about sexuality to be conformed to the Bible. I pray that God would change your mind and your heart. I will leave you with two pieces of Scripture to reflect upon...
"Therefore I urge you , brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." - Romans 12:1-2
"Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." - Romans 2:24-25
*verses quoted come from the NASB