Characters in a Christmas Drama: A Desperate World
Text: Isaiah 41:8-13
Rev. Dr. John E. Manzo
December 7, 2014
The way we can change the focus of a discussion or a debate is to state that the other person is lying.
If, for example, I say that all blue-eyed people lie about being respectful, the conversation moves away from my audacity in saying such a thing, it moves away from talking about respectfulness, and puts the onus of burden on blue-eyed people and their honesty. It’s classic bait and switch maneuver in discussions; you bait people with one thing and switch the topic to something else.
I just saw this in an article with two slightly different titles, appear on two different website. It is written by a man named Gary LeMar, the President of American Vision, an organization that is looking to assure God’s will is lived out in all of life.
I’ve included a link to Mr. LeMar’s article. Simply click the graphic.
On the website called “Eagle Rising,” it is entitled, Why do Liberals Lie and Say "Jesus Never Spoke Against Homosexuality"?
The article is only partially on there and it refers you to a website called “Godfather Politics,” where the title is The Jesus Didn’t Say Anything About Homosexuality Lie.
The premise of the author is that the statement, “Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality,” is a flat out lie. If one reads the title of the article one determines that Jesus, in fact, DID talk about homosexuality and condemned it and those dastardly liberals are covering this up and downright lying about this.
Then one reads the article. Ordinarily if someone says that someone else has lied in a document and they refer you to the document than you would presume, of course, that in the document they will point out the passages. If you read this article you just have to see where Jesus spoke about homosexuality----only to find no references where Jesus spoke about homosexuality. Mr. LeMar did not forget to put passages in where Jesus spoke about homosexuality because, alas, Jesus didn’t talk about homosexuality.
His arguments are interesting, to say the least. He takes issue with the pastor of Hillsong Church, Carl Lentz who said:
“Jesus was in the thick of an era where homosexuality, just like it is today, was widely prevalent, and I'm still waiting for someone to show me the quote where Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people. You won't find it because He never did."
Actually, Jesus wasn’t in the thick of homosexuality in a way we were understand sexual orientation. The concept of sexual orientation and the terminology of homosexuality are relatively modern concepts. When the word ‘homosexual’ is used in the Bible it’s a poor translation as there was no word for that in ancient Greek or Hebrew. There was same gender sexual activity, however.
Although we view our modern world to be very sexual charged, the ancient world was significantly more sexual than our world is today. We know little about female sexuality from that era as no one at that time was interested in it. We do know that men were sexual with their spouses, concubines, and prostitutes. They were also sexual with one another. In most of the ancient cultures same gender sexual acts had little to do with sexual orientation and more to do with availability. Sex was often seen as entertainment and was not viewed church differently than having dinner or going to the ballgame with a friend.
I say this recognizing that Pastor Lentz was someone with whom Mr. LeMar disagreed, but it helps set my perspectives.
At Hillsong they said that they don’t judge behavior and Mr. LeMar does on to say that Jesus very often did challenge people’s behavior. He uses two instances, one of the adulterous woman and one of the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus’ teaching of ‘Go and sin no more,” is quite valid. One woman was guilty of adultery and condemned whereas the other woman had been with many men. Of course, Mr. LeMar didn’t point out that in the story of the adulterous woman, who had been judged harshly by the mob, was the only one of the two people being punished. Under Jewish Law, and how it was practiced, if this woman was unmarried but the man she was with WAS married, she was guilty of adultery but he was not. Convoluted logic? Yes. Mr. LeMar didn’t say anything about this.
He goes on to intimate that Jesus was, in fact, speaking about homosexuality as he was teaching Jewish morality as found in the Hebrew Scripture. He uses a couple of examples….but….
Jesus used Old Testament examples and some of his teaching was the same as found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Some of his teachings, however, were different. The story of the adulterous woman being one instance. His view of the Sabbath was often different from many others at the time. His usage of the word ABBA in reference to God. Jesus’ teachings were often different from other people within Judaism and to say he bought Leviticus word for word would, in fact, be incorrect.
Mr. LeMar goes on to note that whereas rape, incest, and arson, etc., are condemned in the Old Testament, Jesus didn’t say anything about them and we don’t presume that he accepted those things. Of course, comparing rape, incest, and arson to a loving, committed relationship two people may have is intellectually dishonest and would be another bait and switch scenario.
If people want to discuss gay rights and gay marriage and use the Bible there actually are portions where this is somewhat discussed. In reading such books as Jennifer Wright Knust’s, Unprotected Texts, many of the passages often presumed to condemn homosexuality are questionable. (This is a fine book written by a Scripture scholar----it is not an easy read, however.)
There is also Matthew Vines’ book, God and the Gay Christian, that also addresses many of these texts. This is a good read that is very interesting and much easier to comprehend than Dr. Knust’s book.
In fairness there are books written to the contrary and they are often worth considering and observing.
One thing both sets of books have in common is that they don’t reference Jesus’ statements on same sex relationships and both perspectives acknowledge the same thing. Jesus didn’t speak about same sex relationships.
Mr. LeMar is welcome to his own opinions but he is not welcome to his own facts. When he calls people liars who say that Jesus didn’t speak about same se behavior, he is flat out wrong and owes people an apology. His effort is a classic bait and switch and it is, in my opinion, a very poor way to discuss difficult subjects.