What do I think of what Thom Stark has to say on the Bible and homosexuality? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
It’s not a shock that Thom Stark has jumped on the bandwagon with wanting to support homosexual behavior. Now he thinks he has hard questions for Christians. Really? Let’s see what he has.
If you’re a Christian who condemns homosexuality because the Bible condemns it, there are at least five things you must also do before you can condemn it consistently:
Well I guess we’re off to a bad start since I have other grounds for my condemnation, but of course, Stark has this idea that all Christians are the same. But hey, let’s leap into the text.
1) You must also condemn sex between a husband and his menstruating wife (an act condemned on equal footing with adultery, incest, homosexuality, bestiality, witchcraft, and child sacrifice in both Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20).
On equal footing? Well no. Leviticus 18 doesn’t mention the punishments for certain crimes, but Leviticus 20 does. Leviticus 20 gives incest, homosexuality, bestiality, child sacrifice as leading to death. Witchcraft involves expulsion from the community. The same follows for sleeping with a woman while she’s menstruating since that involves blood and the punishment is being cut off. Homosexuality is right there with the ones that end in death and is thus treated differently. So sorry, point #1 doesn’t really work.
2) You must also acknowledge that, according to God’s laws, polygamy is morally acceptable to God, and is a standard type of “biblical marriage.” It is given tacit approval in the laws of Moses, in Deut 21:15-17, where a man with more than one wife is told that he must treat the children of unfavored wives equally to the children of favored wives. There is 2 Sam 12:8, where Yahweh reminds David that he gave Saul’s wives to him as a gift, and would have given David even more if he had asked. Then in the New Testament, only church elders are told they cannot marry more than one wife (ostensibly because more than one wife is a distraction from caring for the church family), a prohibition that does not apply to any other Christian.
Or being a good Christian, you could remember that this was a practice allowed because of the hardness of the hearts of people, much like divorce was. The NT has several indications about a time where God let some people have a little bit more leeway. But what about 2 Samuel 12:8?
And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.
Does this mean more wives? No. It refers to wealth period. Would God have given David other houses besides Israel and Judah? Israel was told to not expand their borders. It refers to increasing wealth entirely. It’s a way of saying “Look what all I gave you! Isn’t that enough?!”
3) You must also acknowledge that, according to God’s laws, it is morally acceptable to capture the women of your defeated political enemies and force them to marry you. “When you go out to war against your enemies, and Yahweh your God hands them over to you and you take them captive, suppose you see among the captives a beautiful woman whom you desire and want to marry, and so you bring her home to your house: she shall shave her head, pare her nails, discard her captive’s garb, and shall remain in your house a full month, mourning for her father and mother; after that you may go into her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife” (Deut 21:10-13). That is biblical marriage.
I suppose Thom would have preferred that the women be either killed or left to fend for themselves alone in the ANE. That they were allowed to marry was a way to protect the woman. Is that a different kind of marriage? No. It is still a man-woman marriage. It is a different way to enter into marriage but the reality of marriage as the union of man and a woman is the same.
4) You must also acknowledge that, according to God’s laws, it is morally acceptable to force a rape victim to marry her rapist. “If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and forcibly seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman’s father, and she shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives” (Deut 22:28-29). This is biblical marriage.
And Thom again doesn’t realize that this was set in place to protect the woman. In the culture, she would have been shamed and seen as undesirable for marriage by being raped. Forcing her rapist to provide for her for the rest of his life would make him think twice about the activity. The woman would have welcomed the arrangement wanting the man to be punished and making him pay the price for her.
5) You must also acknowledge that, according to God’s laws, it is morally acceptable as a matter of course to own slaves. “As for the male and female slaves whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves. You may also acquire them from among the aliens residing with you, and from their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property. You may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property. These you may treat as slaves, but as for your fellow Israelites, no one shall rule over the other with harshness” (Lev 25:44-46). You must acknowledge that the New Testament orders slaves to obey their masters, even while it tells their masters to treat them kindly. Nowhere does the Bible condemn slavery, and thus, if you wish to continue to condemn homosexuality simply because the Bible says so, you must never condemn slavery again.
Or we could try understanding the way slavery worked in the ANE. Sorry Thom, but you couldn’t just go to Wal-Mart and get a job. You had to work for someone else and the system set up for that was slavery, a way to actually care for the poor. It was nothing like the slavery that we saw in Civil War Times.
We could go on with things you ought to support: genocide, patriarchy, etc. But these five are a good jumping-off point. When you can honestly say 1) that you do not have sex during menstruation and that you excommunicate any fellow Christians who do, 2) that you support a man’s right to marry multiple women, 3) that you support a man’s right to invade a country, kill a woman’s husband or father, and take her as his wife, 4) that you support a rapist’s right to forcibly marry his victim and deny her right to divorce him, and 5) that you support a man’s right to purchase and own human beings as slaves and bequeath them to his children, then you may come to me and tell me that you believe homosexuality is immoral because the Bible tells you so. Until that time, suffer your own hatred in silence.
Ah yes. The hatred card at the end. You see, I took the time to write this post in the middle of stomping around my house talking about how much I hate homosexuals. When I meet other Christians, all we do is gather around and share stories of mean things we did to homosexuals that week. Please excuse me because after this post I have to go to a meeting where we will hold up our Christian flag and continue our prolonged hate of homosexuals.
Yeah Thom. That kind of drivel about hate means I just don’t take you seriously there. You see, believe it or not, hate can be a very good thing.
You see, I take it you don’t support genocide, slavery, or patriarchy. I would wager you hate those things. Do you think that’s a problem? I don’t. I think if something is evil, you should hate it. Even if it isn’t evil, if you think it is, you should hate it.
Meanwhile, it would have been nice of you to explain what these passages mean that you think we should just throw out. It would have also been nice to have seen you touch a passage like Romans 1 and deal with what Paul said. Oh. Maybe next time you can look at the work of Robert Gagnon and comment.
But until then, it’s this kind of handling of the text that I just find completely unpersuasive and banks on people not understanding the historical context.
By the way, telling people to suffer it in silence is a way of saying “Shut up.”
How tolerant of you.