The Christian Controversy Over Homosexuality
by: Kenneth E. Lamb
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
(II Timothy 4:3-4).
In 1980, John Boswell was an obscure professor of medieval history at Yale University. Then he published Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality and the Christian world was rocked by his assertion that homosexuality was once accepted within Christianity-and should be again.
Last year, Dr. Boswell died from complications caused by AIDS. But even from the grave, he is taking direct aim at the Christian definition of Holy matrimony in the last book published just months before he died, Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (Villard Books). It’s exploding on the gay marriage debate with the force of a nuclear blast. As we struggle to cope with changing cultural values, gay activists are holding up Boswell’s findings to claim God blesses homosexual unions as fully as He does heterosexuals.
This assault on traditional Christian concepts heralds the next battle between theological liberals and conservatives. Gay activists are using this as a historical basis for legitimacy. But to those grounded in the truth, Boswell’s assertions are a perversion of Scripture by a school of thought known as Gay Revisionists, “theologically correct” heretics marching to destroy society’s understanding of the family unit.
Professors and seminarians normally wage this type of war by hurling ponderous articles at each other in journals never noticed by the general public. But this time, nearly sixty-million people were told that Boswell’s declarations were true by an aging Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist named Gary Trudeau, who made it the centerpiece of his Doonesbury strip four days running in late June 1994. When the gay character “Marvelous” Mark Slackmeyer tried to pick up a self-described “deeply religious, married” man in a bar, later identified as a “fundamentalist Christian,” he placed Bowel’s theories squarely in the spotlight with this pronouncement about Christianity: “For 1,000 years the church sanctioned rituals for homosexual marriages!”
We know Trudeau’s picture is false: A true “deeply religious, married” man wouldn’t set foot in a bar in the first place! But nevertheless, reaction to his strip’s theological claims struck with the force of lightning; the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, CNN and ABC TV all detailed the book’s conclusions within days; People magazine followed up with a multi-page story just two weeks later. From Doonesbury’s initial base of readers, the additional coverage allowed Boswell’s analysis to reach more than a hundred million people. Now warriors on both sides of the question are drawing their swords to engage in a conflict for the soul of Christian morality.
The publisher’s press release touted Boswell’s discovery of “Catholic liturgies for a same-sex ceremony that bear striking resemblance to heterosexual nuptial services … performed by priests from at least as early as the eighth century to the twentieth.”
Douglas A. Stumpf, Villard Book’s executive editor, claimed “the Roman Catholic Church didn’t make marriage a sacrament until the 13th century. They blessed same-sex marriages as well as heterosexual ones, and in fact, you could be married without the blessing of the church. The early church wasn’t all that comfortable with any form of marriage, being basically an ascetic religion-and that is understandable given that Jesus’ mother wasn’t married when she got pregnant.”
Of course, Stumpf’s assertion that Jesus was born to an unwed mother demonstrates the common Gentile ignorance of Jewish marriage laws, the type of ignorance Gay Revisionists use regularly to nurture their false doctrines.
As the Bible clearly states, Mary was “espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David” (Luke 1:27). Some versions use the word betrothed which Gentiles take to be equivalent to our modem-day use of “engaged.”
But it is not equivalent at all. The noted Jewish Law expert Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan makes exactly this point in his standard reference, The Living Torah: “Betrothal rights (erusin) is the first step in marriage, where the couple is legally married, and the marriage can only be dissolved by an official bill of divorce.”
So the truth is that by being “espoused” Mary and Joseph were wed under the law. Any assertion “the church” wasn’t comfortable “with any form of marriage” makes a liar out of more than 2,000 years of Halacha (Jewish Law). But such deceiving “Parlor theology” among Gay Revisionists is not unusual.
Consider the remarks of Gay Revisionists in academic circles. One such person is Dr. John D’Emilio, a University of North Carolina professor who specializes in the history of sexuality. He believes, “Boswell has proven that for many centuries Christianity was quite hostile to heterosexual marriage, preferring celibacy. Marriage was for weaklings.
“The other innovation is that Christian tradition has not been uniformly hostile to same-sex intimacy. There have been competing claims for what is holy. There is no true Christianity.”
The present emphasis on the Catholic Church could lull us into thinking we, are not affected by such controversies. But this is neither a single denomination’s problem nor a single-dimensional issue: Presbyterians (USA) just narrowly defeated a motion at their General Assembly to sanction same-sex marriages; Episcopalians are in their fifth draft of a statement skirting the homosexual issue; the Evangelical Lutheran Church nearly came unglued when homosexual activists pushed for approval of their lifestyle in a statement on sexuality last year; and the United Methodist Church got hit with grassroots outrage over neo-pagan goddess worship when members discovered their church helped fund a feminist-sponsored conference asserting that God has a female name: Sophia.
The prophecy in II Timothy 3:1-4 has never been more obviously true: “In the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”
All these elements together swell the controversy beyond the question of legalizing gay marriages; pastors will be confronted by members of their flock who themselves are being confronted by members of their family outside the body and other unbelievers asking, “What is the truth?”
In response, the first thing we should do is recall the consequences imposed by God on those who practiced homosexuality: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. [God] turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly” (II Peter 2:1-2, 6).
Then, recalling Peter’s warning that we will suffer as “truth shall be evil spoken of,” we must recommit ourselves to believe, preach, and teach nothing else, so that on the Day of Judgment we can say: “I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation” (Psalm 40:10).
Brother Lamb is a member of First Pentecostal Church in Pensacola, Florida, pastored by Paul Welch. He evangelizes the Oneness truth through ACTS Ministries and writes for the New York Times, the Miami Herald and is Editor of the Florida Edition of Tongues of Fire.
The above material has been published in the July 1995 issue of the Pentecostal Herald, pgs. 17 & 21. This material has been copyrighted and may be used for research and study purposes only.