Christianity and LGBT: The Law

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, January 8, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next one is here.]

Returning from my one-week hiatus on this topic, this is now the 5th post for this series on addressing Matthew Vines and the Reformation Project and his claims that the Bible supports homosexuality, Today’s topic is Vines’ 5th reason: Yes, the Law prohibits homosexuality. But it also prohibits eating shellfish, cutting your hair at the sides, having sex during a woman’s period, etc. These other things are not practiced by Christians today, therefore the homosexual prohibition also no longer applies.

There are several aspects to this argument. First, there is a legitimate one: cherry-picking. Christians are often accused of cherry-picking the laws we like and the laws we don’t. And there are many cases where that it is true. The modern church holding the “traditional interpretation” by and large has cherry-picked Scripture. They sound and denounce all forms of sexual deviancy, yet they have no problems with gluttony, laziness, or gossip. This is a legitimate concern, but beware of the tactic of deflecting the spotlight from the issue at hand.

The church will never be perfect, but that does not remove one of its jobs to call out sin. There is a legit reason for the church to single out homosexuality. Under the “traditional interpretation,” homosexuality is the front we are being faced with and is the front that is being flaunted. It is also one of the few sins I have ever seen people are calling “good” and is the current major sin our society is dealing with. So the church has good reason to call out homosexuality. But the church needs to do so, calling first for the church within to repent of its own sins, then to call for the secular society to repent. Is the church within repenting from its own sins? Overall, not much. That needs to change. We at Worldview Warriors do call out sin within the church, but let me be clear. Matthew Vines claims to be coming from within the church. So this series fits in with how the church needs to act: addressing sin from within.

Now let’s get into the Law. Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 are the two big verses mentioned. First, let’s examine the context. Leviticus 18 is all about the different types of sexual relationships, which ones are legit and which are not, not just homosexuality. Leviticus 20 is about the punishment for such actions. Each sexual sin is summed in one word: adultery. Homosexuality here is described as an abomination to the Lord and is punishable by death. That is what the Scripture says. But what about these others laws? Eating shellfish. Wearing mixed fabrics. Eating pork. Circumcision. Did not Jesus fulfill the Law so we no longer have to follow it? Let us break this down. There are a total of 619 different laws in this whole set. We need to understand the purpose of the Law, what it does, how Jesus did fulfill it, and what it means to us as a Gentile people.

First, we have to understand we are Gentiles. We are not Jews who were brought into the Mosaic Covenant (the Law given to Moses). The Law does not apply to us, at least that is the argument. This was a big argument between Jewish and Gentile believers in the early church, and there was a big council in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15. Let me point you to their conclusion. The Gentile believers were not to be required to be circumcised, but they would need to refrain from four things: from anything offered to idols, from blood, from strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. Because I am dealing with the homosexual topic, I will emphasize sexual immorality. Remember that the audience here is Gentile, meaning Greek and Roman backgrounds. Greeks and Romans were known for their homosexual practices. The stories of their gods are rift with sexual deviancy of all forms. Paul had directly addressed homosexuality is three of his letters. He KNEW what it was. Vines addresses Paul’s arguments on it and I will save that for next week.

So even though the Law did not apply to Gentiles, the church leaders recognized sexual deviancy in all its forms as something Gentile Christians should not do. This is a reinforcement of those particular statements. But there is more to it than just this.

Matthew Vines makes the claim that the bulk of the Law is talking about religious ceremonies. This is actually not entirely true. There are three categories of the Law: Moral Code, Civil Code, and Ceremonial Code. The Moral Code was to establish moral standards - what is right, what is wrong. This applies across the board. The Civil Code was how the theocratic government was to work. This included how to establish leadership, how to handle slaves, and how to handle work. Then there was the Ceremonial Code, which dealt with clean and unclean, how to worship, how to carry out the sacrifices, etc.

Now Jesus said he came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it. What does that mean? Vines suggests that we no longer have to follow the Law because of Christ. Well what did Jesus say right after that? Not one jot or tittle would pass away until ALL had been fulfilled. Has all been fulfilled? Vines would suggest all has been fulfilled in Christ’s death and I can see legitimacy on that. So how do we handle the Law?

There are three options: 1) All laws are annulled EXCEPT that which is reinforced in the New Testament. 2) All laws are still intact EXCEPT those which were annulled in the New Testament. 3) We break down the Law into the three parts I listed above. The Moral Code remains constant because it is based on the character of God. The Civil Code we do not follow because we do not live under that government. And the Ceremonial Code is done away with because Christ finished it once and for all. I believe any of these three methods can be legit. And notice that the idea that homosexuality is a sin is relating to a Moral code, which does not change, it is reinforced several times in the New Testament and is never annulled. But let me give you a different angle.

One thing Eric Ludy taught me in numerous sermons is that both Jesus and the Bible are the Word of God. Let me explain. Jesus is the Word of God in person. He is the Word who became flesh. But the Bible is also the Word of God, but in text. Jesus is not the Bible, but both are the Word of God. Now that being said, Jesus is the perfect fulfillment of the Law. He is the only one who ever perfectly lived the Law and did not violate it once.

As Christians, our salvation is not in carrying out the Law. It is carried out in a person: a person who perfectly carried out the Law, and a person who is the perfect picture of what the Law is about. The Law is there to show us we cannot meet God’s standards. Jesus is the only one who could do it. We look to Jesus for our salvation and in him is the entire Law lived out in a person. Christianity is about being made into the image of Christ so that when God or even any other person looks at us, they don’t see us, they see Jesus. That is what our faith is about: being conformed into the image of Christ. Vines believes that we are not bound to the Law as Christians and that is true. But that does not give us the freedom to do as we want. The Law had another purpose: to separate the Israelite people from the other nations, to show they are unique and not like how everyone else is. That did not change with Christ’s death. The Council of Jerusalem understood this and that is why they told the Gentile Christians to abstain from idols, blood, strangled animals, and sexual deviancy, which again included ALL forms of it, not merely homosexuality. Vines accuses us in this argument of cherry-picking which laws we want to enforce, yet in the same breath, Vines cherry-picks which verses he wants to use to support his position. However, Church, before we charge the unsaved world about their sin, let us make sure we have straightened out our accounts with God first. And that includes dealing with what is being taught behind the pulpits, which Matthew Vines is doing. That also includes me. I have specifically asked Worldview Warriors president, Jason DeZurik to monitor this series to make sure I am preaching a correct message with the right tone in how I am addressing it. The last thing I want is to find out what’s worse than having a millstone tied around my neck.

Next week, I’ll address the argument that Paul condemns homosexual lust, not love.

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