Why does the Bible forbid same-sex marriage?

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Why does the Bible completely forbid something like a homosexual loving marriage? It seems to be rather unfair to me.

Teleskoid

[Editor’s Note] This article is based on a comment on another article.

First, thanks for writing. I’m always aware that my perspective is limited, so I really appreciate hearing from you. Second, you’ve asked some good questions. I have two points to make here.

1. While it’s a good idea to understand the basis for the instructions we’re given, the job of the disciple is to be obedient…regardless of whether we fully understand. What you’re asking for is the rationale behind the Scriptural prohibition of homosexual behavior. That’s not a bad question, but it would be a mistake to base your obedience on whether you like the reasons you’ve been given, or whether they make perfect sense to you. I don’t really understand why we’re told to pray so much…but I pray all the time, trusting that I will understand later. I very much appreciate that you want to serve God with your life! I hope that you’re able to trust God with ALL of your life, and not just with the parts you understand and agree with.

2. I do have some information that might be useful. Marriage plays a very significant role in Scripture. It’s a big deal. Considering that, some find it odd that Jesus said that we won’t be married in Heaven. I wondered why, so I did some thinking and reading on the subject. I’ve kind of kept an eye out for more info over many years.

You see, a whole bunch of things in the Bible are substitutes for other things. The Temple – the place where God dwelled with His people – wasn’t just a temple. It also pointed to a future reality, when the Holy Spirit would indwell God’s people personally. This is why we read in 1 Corinthians that we are each a temple of the Holy Spirit. The physical temple was important, but it also pointed to a spiritual reality to come. There’s even more to it: the day is coming when all of God’s people will be in Heaven, dwelling where God is. The Temple in three different formats, if you will. Do you see how that works?

It’s the same thing with marriage. Marriage is important, but it also points to a greater spiritual reality. Our marriages aren’t simply important human relationships…they point to something bigger, and more important. First-century Jews understood this, but we need a bit of an explanation to get the point. You might be familiar with this passage:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3

Jesus is telling His disciples that He’s going to Heaven to prepare a place for them. However: what we don’t see right away, that they understood immediately, is that these words came straight from a marriage proposal. This is what a young Israelite man would say to a young Israelite woman when he wanted to marry her. He would say this, then disappear for a while. He would build a new addition on his father’s home, making room for his new bride and their future children. Then, when it was finished, he would appear at his fiancee’s house and take her with him to live there. What does this mean? We see it everywhere in the New Testament, but we seldom think it through: Jesus is the groom, and we are the Bride. Our human marriage relationships mirror our relationship with God, and point to the future reality where we will be united with Him, living in His Father’s house.

When we think about marriage solely in human terms, we find it difficult to suggest that there’s ANY marriage that God would not bless. After all, our argument goes, isn’t marriage about love? Doesn’t God want us to love each other? How could a lifelong commitment to love another person ever be less than what God wants? The answer to these difficult questions is really pretty simple: just as the Temple wasn’t simply about animal sacrifices, so marriage isn’t simply about human love. Both are important, but the most important part is that they point not to us, but to God. There were very strict rules about what happened in the Temple. This wasn’t because God needed things on earth to happen in exactly one way, but because the Israelites would better understand Him by understanding the Temple. In the same way, the prohibition against homosexuality isn’t really about us. It’s about us understanding Him, learning through the tangible things we can see about the intangible things we can’t yet see.

The Sabbath was never really about resting one day per week. The Temple was never really about sacrificing animals. The priesthood was never really about having a mediator between God and man. Marriage was never really about a man and a woman. All of these things (and hundreds more) have always been about YOU and God, and ME and God. When we get these things mixed up, we misunderstand who God is…and we find it harder to trust Him. When we find it harder to trust Him, we find it easier to go our own way. God wants everybody to be saved, and so these things are of eternal importance. There are no mistakes in God’s system, Teleskoid. As much as we might like things to be different, there’s a very good reason for the prohibition against homosexual behavior: truly, the fate of the world depends on it.

I hope that makes sense to you. Let me know if you’d like to talk further. I don’t have all of the answers, but I’m eager to serve.

Don’t talk about making disciples. Make disciples.

Francis Chan takes less then two minutes to put us back on track. How many times have we believed that memorizing a Bible verse was as important as obeying it? I’m certainly not a great example of what Chan is talking about, but it’s my goal to do better.

Is Loving Yourself Bad?

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In a recent online discussion a friend claimed that you can love God, or you can love yourself, but not both. To support his claim he cited 2 Timothy 3. Here’s the passage in question:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

That sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Nobody should be like that, of course. If that’s the result of loving yourself, we should avoid loving ourselves.

On the other hand, the Bible clearly indicates that we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). How can we love our neighbor that way without being the kind of lover of self that Paul warned Timothy about? How can we reconcile the two passages?

When trying to understand any communication (including the Bible), context matters. We have to look at more than just the words being used. We also need to look at the bigger picture. If we ask a few simple questions, we can clear up all kinds of confusion:

  • Who wrote this?
  • To whom did they write it?
  • Why did they write it?

…and so on. Let me share a real-life example of context: I can say the words “I like cheese” and “I don’t like cheese” without being contradictory. Both can be true, depending on the context.

Context 1
We’re at a pizza parlor, deciding what to order. You ask whether I’d like to share a cheese pizza, and I reply “I like cheese”.

Context 2
We’re at an ice cream parlor, deciding what to order. The clerk asks whether I’d like to try some cheese ice cream, and I reply “I don’t like cheese”.

Suggesting that I’ve contradicted myself is silly. Clearly, there are some situations in which I welcome the taste of cheese, and some where it’s kind of gross. In the same way, the Bible can say to love God RATHER THAN self and say to love your neighbor AS yourself without being contradictory. Both are true, and we can reconcile them by examining their context.

In case you were wondering, the following passages do indeed say to love your neighbor as yourself:
Matthew 5:43
Matthew 19:19
Matthew 22:39
Mark 12:31
Luke 10:27
Romans 13:9
Galatians 5:14
James 2:8
Read all of these verses on Biblegateway

The Greek word translated “as” in each passage is HOS, which means as, like, or even as. The source passage is Leviticus 19:18, where the Hebrew word KEMOW has the same meaning.

Clearly, there’s more than one way to love yourself. We can love ourselves in a way that makes us arrogant and rude and treacherous, and there’s another way that we should use as a blueprint for loving our neighbors. Loving yourself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be.

We shouldn’t even be having this conversation, really. The problem isn’t that my friend is having trouble reconciling two passages of Scripture. The problem is that he took the Timothy passage and agreed with it…and then had to reinterpret the Mark passage to mean something else. That’s not a wise way to handle the Bible. We should avoiding taking any passage as “standing alone”, but keep its greater context in mind. God would not tell the Israelites to love their neighbors as themselves if they weren’t supposed to love themselves at all. Looking at the big picture makes this clear.

How to Evaluate Different Points of View

I always appreciate when a leader lets me peek into the inner workings of their thought processes. Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason – a Christian apologetics ministry – trains believers to defend their faith. This video is an excerpt from an STR podcast, where Greg lays out some principles behind engaging non-believers:

  1. Make sure you’ve understood the opposing viewpoint.
  2. Think through the argument.
  3. Develop counter-arguments, looking for decisive arguments.

I especially like the section about making sure we represent an opposing argument fairly. I can’t recommend Greg and STR highly enough.

A Fresh New Look

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First-time visitors won’t notice anything different, of course…but returning GodWords visitors will notice a huge design change for my website. When I’m not studying and posting on GodWords, I’m a freelance web designer. As a result, I’m able to make changes to my website(s) very easily. This design has been in the works for over a year. It isn’t just cosmetic…I’ve been creating a custom WordPress theme from scratch, making sure it does exactly what I want it to do. I haven’t finished (not that I’ll ever be finished) but figured it was ready for prime-time.

I’d love your feedback…especially if you have any trouble with the website. My goal is to make it useful for everyone. Thanks in advance for your help!

Tony

I am Second – Whispering Danny

A popular Kansas City tattoo artist, “Whispering Danny” has an impactful story that he should shout for all to hear. But he can’t. His medical condition requires him to have tumors on his larynx and vocal cords removed every three months or so. It leaves him with a voice just louder than a whisper.

However, the weight of his story speaks volumes — How he, as a Jewish youngster in the Soviet Union, left for America with his mom in the hope of finding better medical care for his condition. How he came to believe in Christ as savior. How he lives for the Lord today.

Danny describes the circumstances around how he became a believer in Christ. It is a moving story that will leave you prepared to encounter the Lord yourself.

You can see more I am Second videos on their website, http://iamsecond.com/, or on their YouTube channel.

Questions that God asked Job

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The Bible tells of a man named Job, who suffered the loss of his family, his possessions, and his health. When he questioned God about why this had happened, God responded…but, in His response, God did not answer Job’s question. Instead, God asked Job a series of questions. Essentially, God’s response was, “Who are you to question me?”. The idea is that we know very little about how God operates, and why He does what He does.

I find that reading this part of the book of Job to be an awe-inspiring and humbling experience. We too wonder why we suffer. For those who know little of God, the question is troubling. Those who know how God has revealed Himself to humanity over time can cite His character, and His track record of faithfulness, as evidence that He can be trusted even though we may suffer. Christians read in the New Testament that suffering produces character, which leads, in the end, to hope (Romans 5). It seems strange that suffering would lead to hope but, in my experience, suffering makes us ask important questions…questions that should, eventually, lead us to the same conclusion that Job himself came to: that God knows what He’s doing, and that we can trust Him.

Recently, someone asked me if I knew how many questions God asked Job. I wasn’t sure, and couldn’t find a definitive answer…so I did a little homework. We find the questions that God asked Job in the book of Job, chapters 38 through 42. I counted 66 question marks, so there are at least 66 questions. Some questions, however, have more than one question in them. For example, in verse 24 we find these two questions:

  • Where is the way that the light is divided,
  • Or the east wind scattered on the earth?

Here are the questions that God asked Job, taken from Job chapters 38-42. I do not offer them to you to answer the question, “How many?”, but as food for thought. As you read, consider the implications of who God is, and how vast is the difference between the Creator and mankind, His greatest creation.

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,

Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding,
Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?

On what were its bases sunk?

Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

Or who enclosed the sea with doors
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;
When I made a cloud its garment
And thick darkness its swaddling band,
And I placed boundaries on it
And set a bolt and doors,
And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther;
And here shall your proud waves stop’?

Have you ever in your life commanded the morning,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?

Have you entered into the springs of the sea
Or walked in the recesses of the deep?

Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?

Have you understood the expanse of the earth?

Tell Me, if you know all this.
Where is the way to the dwelling of light?

And darkness, where is its place,
That you may take it to its territory
And that you may discern the paths to its home?

Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
Which I have reserved for the time of distress,
For the day of war and battle?

Where is the way that the light is divided,
Or the east wind scattered on the earth?

Who has cleft a channel for the flood,
Or a way for the thunderbolt,
To bring rain on a land without people,
On a desert without a man in it,
To satisfy the waste and desolate land
And to make the seeds of grass to sprout?

Has the rain a father?

Or who has begotten the drops of dew?

From whose womb has come the ice?

And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?

Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
Or loose the cords of Orion?

Can you lead forth a constellation in its season,
And guide the Bear with her satellites?

Do you know the ordinances of the heavens,
Or fix their rule over the earth?

Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
So that an abundance of water will cover you?

Can you send forth lightnings that they may go
And say to you, ‘Here we are’?

Who has put wisdom in the innermost being
Or given understanding to the mind?

Who can count the clouds by wisdom,
Or tip the water jars of the heavens,
When the dust hardens into a mass
And the clods stick together?

Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
When they crouch in their dens
And lie in wait in their lair?

Who prepares for the raven its nourishment
When its young cry to God
And wander about without food?

Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth?

Do you observe the calving of the deer?

Can you count the months they fulfill,
Or do you know the time they give birth?

Who sent out the wild donkey free?

And who loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
To whom I gave the wilderness for a home
And the salt land for his dwelling place?

Will the wild ox consent to serve you,
Or will he spend the night at your manger?

Can you bind the wild ox in a furrow with ropes,
Or will he harrow the valleys after you?

Will you trust him because his strength is great
And leave your labor to him?

Will you have faith in him that he will return your grain
And gather it from your threshing floor?

Do you give the horse his might?

Do you clothe his neck with a mane?

Do you make him leap like the locust?

Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars,
Stretching his wings toward the south?

Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
And makes his nest on high?

Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
Let him who reproves God answer it.”

Now gird up your loins like a man;
I will ask you, and you instruct Me.
Will you really annul My judgment?

Will you condemn Me that you may be justified?

Or do you have an arm like God,
And can you thunder with a voice like His?

The following questions are related to “behemoth.” The identity of behemoth is unknown, but the text clearly suggests a large beast. Some commentators suggest that this is an elephant, a hippopotamus, or possibly a dinosaur.

Behold now, Behemoth, which I made as well as you…
Can anyone capture him when he is on watch,
With barbs can anyone pierce his nose?

The following questions are related to “leviathan.” The identity of leviathan is unknown. Some commentators suggest that this may be a crocodile, a whale, a shark, a dragon, or a dinosaur.

Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook?

Or press down his tongue with a cord?

Can you put a rope in his nose
Or pierce his jaw with a hook?

Will he make many supplications to you,
Or will he speak to you soft words?

Will he make a covenant with you?

Will you take him for a servant forever?

Will you play with him as with a bird,
Or will you bind him for your maidens?

Will the traders bargain over him?

Will they divide him among the merchants?

Can you fill his skin with harpoons,
Or his head with fishing spears?

Behold, your expectation is false;
Will you be laid low even at the sight of him?

No one is so fierce that he dares to arouse him;
Who then is he that can stand before Me?

Who has given to Me that I should repay him?

I will not keep silence concerning his limbs,
Or his mighty strength, or his orderly frame.
Who can strip off his outer armor?

Who can come within his double mail?

Who can open the doors of his face?