Why does the Bible forbid same-sex marriage?

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. 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.

The King James Only Controversy

What is it?

The KJVO controversy is about whether Christians should consider only the King James Version of the Bible to be reliable and trustworthy. While there are a variety of views within the KJVO movement, the basic idea is simple: no other Bible will do.

The King James Only movement is largely built on the claim that modern Bibles are doctrinally corrupt…that they have strayed from responsible and accurate translation of the Greek texts. There are a variety of other claims in the movement. Here are a few:

  • The KJV is the only true word of God.
  • The KJV is the only English translation that can be trusted.
  • The KJV contains no errors.
  • The KJV was supernaturally translated by God.
  • The KJV is more perfect than the manuscripts from which it was translated.
  • The KJV contains no errors or problems with translation.
  • To understand God’s Word, everyone on earth should learn English…so they can read the KJV.
  • Any deviation from the KJV is wrong, and may create doctrinal errors.
  • Translators (and possibly readers) of modern Bibles have a sinister ulterior motive.
  • Modern Bibles are a perversion of God’s Word.
  • Modern Bibles like the NASB and NIV are part of a satanic conspiracy to lead the world astray.
  • People who use other Bibles are not Christians.

Which KJV?

There are a number of different versions of the King James Version. Most KJVO advocates do not use the version finished in 1611, but the Blayney version from 1769. Between the two are revisions from 1613, 1629, 1638, and 1762. After many years of discussing this issue, no KJVO person has suggested to me that one is better than the other. This is a serious problem for their point of view, as each differs from the others.

Errors in the KJV

Most KJVO advocates claim that the KJV is better than all other Bibles because it alone is without error. This is absurd, and demonstrably false. The errors in the KJV are too numerous to list here, but it only takes one error to prove them wrong. I’ve made note of a few that should be persuasive for anyone willing to consider the evidence. Unfortunately, I’ve never met a KJVO advocate that was willing to consider the evidence…they usually run away from it. If you’re a KJVO person who wants to discuss the evidence, please leave a comment!

Unicorns

Most adults realize that unicorns don’t really exist. KJVO advocates must overlook the nine times that the word “unicorn” appears in the KJV: in Numbers 23:22, Numbers 24:8, Deuteronomy 33:17, Job 39:9, Psalm 22:21, Psalm 29:6, Psalm 92:10, and Isaiah 34:7 (read on Biblegateway). The Hebrew word is RE-EM, and probably means an auroch or other, now extinct, wild bull.

Easter / Passover

In Acts 12:4, the KJV mistranslates Pascha as Easter, rather than Passover. I’ve written more about this in Easter in the KJV.

Jupiter/Zeus, Mercury/Hermes

In Acts 14:12, the KJV says that the people in Lystra called Paul “Mercury” and Barnabas “Jupiter”. This is in spite of the fact that the Greek uses the words “Zeus” and “Hermes”. (read on Blue Letter Bible)

Don’t trust the demons

In Acts 16 we read about a young lady, possessed by a demon, who followed Paul and Silas. The demon – according to the KJV – said that they were servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. Unfortunately, this is simply wrong. The Greek (the original language of the New Testament) doesn’t say “the way of salvation.” It says “a way of salvation.” The Greek word is Hodos, which means “a way” (see the definition in context). The demon wasn’t agreeing that Paul and Silas taught the only way to be saved…it suggested that they taught one of many ways. The King James is simply inaccurate here.

Listen to the KJV translators

Most Bibles have a preface, in which the translation team explains their motives and methodology. The KJV is no different. The 1611 version of the KVJ had an extensive preface, removed from later versions. Read the full preface. In it, the translators themselves demolish the KJVO controversy:

  • They didn’t intend to make a new translation, but to improve on previous ones
  • They acknowledged that previous Bibles were “the word of God” despite containing “imperfections and blemishes”
  • They wrote that translations will never be infallible.
  • They noted the supremacy of the original manuscripts over any translation
  • They wrote that one should not object to the continual process of correcting and improving English translations of the Bible
  • They were often unsure how to translate specific words or phrases
  • They did not always translate the same Greek or Hebrew words into the same English words

Questions and Objections

But the NIV takes out stuff

The primary target of KJVO folks is the New International Version (NIV). Their claim is that the NIV translators have removed crucial words and phrases from the Bible, undermining God’s word and leading unwitting people astray. There is a very serious flaw in this argument: they invariably use the KJV as the standard. Any word or phrase that differs from the King James is then suspect.

Is this logical? Of course not. The KJV translators themselves would object to this method. They would never consider the KJV to be the standard by which all future Bibles should be judged. Instead, they would recommend exactly what the NIV translators have done: go back to the manuscripts, in their original languages, and try to improve on the Bibles that already exist.

Trickery: comparing the KJV and NIV

The KJVO folks like to compare verses side by side, to show how the NIV (or other Bible) differs from the “right Bible” – that is, the KJV. That seems reasonable, on the surface. It’s a serious problem, however. It presumes that the KJV is always right, and that other Bibles are corrupt because, well, they’re not the KJV. The proper approach is not to compare one translation or version with another, but to compare all of them with all available ancient manuscripts.

There are more scholarly ways to describe this controversy, involving more complex considerations like different manuscript families, formal vs dynamic equivalence, and so on. This article is meant as an overview…a summary of the controversy and why I believe the KJVO folks have no real argument. If you have specific questions, feel free to ask them.

What I am NOT saying

I am not suggesting that there is anything wrong with the King James Version of the Bible. In fact, I recommend it. One could read the KJV and learn all they need to know about being in a right relationship with God. I’m not criticizing the KJV here. I’m only criticizing the idea that the KJV is in any way superior to every other quality Bible. I agree with the KJV translators: it’s good, but not perfect. Those who claim that the KJV is better than any other Bible must not only claim it, but also demonstrate it. Simply put: they cannot.

A Higher Authority: Church vs Bible

Is the Church over the Bible, or is the Bible over the Church? That’s the question Michael J. Kruger addresses, in response to an article by Friar Stephen Freeman. In his article, entitled There Is No “Bible” in the Bible, Freeman lays out what appears to be a very poorly constructed argument. Kruger’s article addresses Freeman’s main flaws better than I might, but I’d like to focus on one point in particular.

Freeman makes the following claim: The word “Bible” simply means “book.” Thus, it is a name that means “the Book.” It is a particularly late notion if for no other reason than that books are a rather late invention. There are examples of bound folios of the New Testament dating to around the 4th century, but they may very well have been some of the earliest examples of such productions. This isn’t just a bad argument, it’s ridiculous. By claiming that books are a modern invention, Freeman suggests that Biblical authority is a modern, Protestant invention as well.

First, the word book isn’t all that new. In fact, the Christian Scriptures are referred to as ta biblia as early as 223 AD. John Chrysostom wrote of ta biblia as early as 388 AD. These are well before the Reformation, and can’t be considered, as Freeman claims, a “by-product of the printing press”.

It’s easy to make crazy claims. It’s so easy that one can search the internet and find almost every claim imaginable. Unfortunately, many people are easily swayed by such claims, and are quickly led astray by claims that don’t deserve an audience. Take the time to read both articles, and think through the evidence, and come to your own conclusions.

Should Christian Women Have Long Hair?

I do not cut my hair because I believe the bible says not to. This may seem silly, but I would like to style my hair by putting lots of layers but keeping it looking long. I am 54 and look 20 years older with long hair but feel like it is wrong to cut it in any way. I know one Pastor says never ever cut your hair and others just do not care one way or the other. What do you think? Thank you for your help and God Bless.

Doreen

Doreen:

Thanks for writing! Clearly, your question isn’t exactly about hair, but about how to understand what the Bible teaches. I commend you for wanting to do the right thing, and hope that I can clarify the situation for you.

It’s important to ask the simplest questions first: does the Bible teach that women shouldn’t have short hair? Certainly not. If we look at Numbers 6, we’ll see the following:

“If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the Lord as a Nazirite…no razor may be used on their head. They must be holy until the period of their dedication to the Lord is over; they must let their hair grow long…when the period of their dedication is over…they are to be brought to the entrance to the tent of meeting. Then at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the Nazirite must shave off the hair that symbolizes their dedication. They are to take the hair and put it in the fire that is under the sacrifice of the fellowship offering.” (vv. 2, 5, 13, 18)

As you can see, both men and women made this vow. They grew their hair as a symbol of their dedication to God, then shaved it all off. If women aren’t supposed to cut their hair, they could never take part in the Nazirite vows. Women took the Nazirite vow and shaved their heads, and that was good. In case anyone thinks that this is an ‘Old Testament vs New Testament’ thing, I refer you to Acts 21 .

If women shaving their heads to take part in an important vow to God was good, why would it be bad for you (or any other woman) to cut your hair?

Those who teach that it’s wrong for Christian women to cut their hair generally refer to several verses in 1 Corinthians 11 . “every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head – it is the same as having her head shaved.” (v.5)

If Paul’s words to the Christians in Corinth weren’t about the length of a woman’s hair, what was he talking about? Look at v5: a woman was expected to cover her head during prayer, or when she prophesied. Paul likens a woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered to one who has her head shaved. The Greek word used is KEIRO…the same word use to describe the shearing of sheep.

Paul’s instructions had nothing to do with cutting your hair, and everything to do with living in Corinth. Corinth was a city where many pagan gods were worshipped, including Dionysus. One of the names used in ancient Macedonia (Greece) for Dionysus was “Pseudanor”. It means “false man”, as in “effeminate man”. He was pictured in art from that time as a beardless, sensuous, naked or half-naked androgynous youth. Literature described him as womanly or “man-womanish”. Because of this, worshippers of Dionysus would often engage in cross-dressing, where men would grow their hair and wear women’s clothing…and women would cut their hair and dress in men’s clothing. These women were known, for hundreds of years prior to Paul’s letter, as “imitators of men”.

That is why women having short hair was a big deal in Corinth: everybody would assume that they worshipped Dionysus instead of worshipping Jesus Christ.

Paul didn’t teach that women should have long hair. He taught, as was the custom of the day, that women should cover their heads while praying or prophesying. Keeping their heads uncovered at those times would have been considered shameful…as shameful as having people assume you worshipped a pagan god.

I don’t know where you live, but it’s unlikely that cutting your hair will confuse your neighbors and convince them that you worship Dionysus, or make you look like a man. That’s what Paul was saying, clearly…so please feel free to cut and style your hair.

While you’re at it, you might take a moment to read another article: Should Christians Separate from the World?. From where I stand, those who teach that you shouldn’t cut your hair are guilty of misrepresenting God, making it harder for others to trust Him.

Were Cain and Abel Twins?

I have heard that Cain and Abel were twins. If this is true, how would I find this in the bible? Thank you.

Doreen

That’s an interesting question. The Bible doesn’t specifically say either way. Cain was born first, and Abel after…but Genesis 4:1-2 doesn’t tell us how long after: Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

The Hebrew word used in the text is YACAPH, which has more than one meaning. One meaning is ‘to do again’ and another is ‘to add’. It could be that Abel was born in a separate pregnancy, or that the one pregnancy had two births. Without more information from Scripture (which we don’t have), we simply don’t know.

Why Trust the Gospels? – Peter J. Williams

I never get tired of hearing about the historical evidence for the people and events in the Bible. Here Peter J. Williams gives a fairly brief explanation of why the four Gospels should be considered trustworthy.

I recommend it highly!

Tell me about the Bible

What I’m about to say about the Bible might shock you. In fact, I’ve never heard it taught in any church…ever. When you read it, take a moment to let it sink in:

The Old Testament is primarily about Judaism.
The New Testament is about Christianity.

Shocking, right?

Jews don’t live by the New Testament because they don’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah they’ve been waiting for. That makes sense. Christians don’t live by the Old Testament because they believe that Jesus IS that Messiah. That belief includes the idea that Judaism is incomplete, and that Christianity is its fulfillment. That makes sense too.

Both Testaments are part of God’s plan, of course…but for Christians, confusing the two causes all kinds of trouble.

Are you a Christian? If so, how much of Judaism are you trying to live by? Your relationship with God will be incomplete if you try to live by an incomplete understanding of what He wants, what He’s taught, and what that means.

Are you a Christian? If so, how much of the New Testament are you trying to live by?