Apostle of the Heart Set Free
The standard Biblical case against homosexuality is not as air-tight as many people seem to think. People bring up many points routinely, and it’s amazing how the attacks don’t hold up–if you look at their Biblical “evidence” carefully.
In this post we will be looking at two verses in Leviticus used as Clobber Passages, proof texts used to condemn gays and lesbians.
We Are No Longer Under the Law
The apostle Paul taught that we are no longer under the Law. Period.
The verses are Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. First, Thou shalt not lie with a man, as with a woman: it is abomination. Second, If a man lie with a man, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
There is, however, a big problem with quoting Leviticus. The problem is that Christians are no longer under the Law. We do not live our Christian life by following the Old Testament Law. The Apostle Paul makes this abundantly clear. It is not something fabricated to win an argument, or made up in the twentieth century, or manufactured to get around something somebody doesn’t like. It is clearly stated in the Greek scriptures. The Apostle Paul wrote it in Galatians:
All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” (Galatians 3:10)
If we rely on following the Law (the Torah, the first five books of the Bible) we are under a curse. The passage above, Galatians 3:10, contains a quote from the Law itself, Deuteronomy 27:26. According to Paul’s statement below, things have changed.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us. (Galatians 3:13)
It was Jesus’ death on the cross that rescued us from the curse of the Law. If we insist on following the Law and imposing the Law on others, we negate the cross of Christ, and repudiate Christ’s death on the cross.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
Return to the Law = Return to Slavery to Sin
If we measure ourselves as Christians by how well we follow the Law, we have returned to our slavery to sin. We are then measuring ourselves, “justifying” ourselves, by evaluating our behavior by the Law. For us religious folks, this is precisely what is meant by “a dog returning to its own vomit” (Proverbs 26:11; II Peter 2:22). And if we put other Christians under the Law, we are subjecting them to the very yoke of slavery Paul warned them about. We force them to return to their own vomit as well.
If you insist that other people observe the Law, then you are burdening people “again by a yoke of slavery,” which makes you a slave master. When people resist your attempt to place them under the Law, they are acting in accordance with the urging of Paul, “Do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Stop burdening people with a yoke of slavery.
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. (Galatians 5:18).
You Cannot Observe the Law and Walk in the Spirit Simultaneously
A mature Christian cannot be led by the Spirit and follow the Law simultaneously. This is an example of “serving two masters,” which Christ said was impossible. In the Greek scriptures Paul urges us to walk in the Spirit, to be filled with the Spirit, to keep in step with the Spirit, and warn us against the bondage to the Law. We can’t live life in the Spirit if the Law has us in chains.
The Bible Does Not Teach a “Ceremonial Law” and a “Moral Law”
The people who would return you to slavery to the Law, slavery to sin, will say, “Paul was talking about the ceremonial law, not the moral law. He abolished the ceremonial law, but we are still under the moral law.”
Sorry. That distinction between the ceremonial law and the moral law is a man-made excuse to keep themselves and others under bondage to the Law. An argument can be made to support the alleged distinction between a ceremonial law and a moral law, but it is not a Biblical distinction. None other than conservative Bible scholar F.F. Bruce says this in his book, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, in chapter 18, “What the Law Could Not Do.”
Paul never makes a distinction between a so-called ceremonial law and a so-called moral law. The Bible makes no such distinction. The Law is the Law, according to James the brother of Jesus.
For whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10)
Not only is no distinction made between a ceremonial law and a moral law in the scriptures, the actual emphasis of the scriptures is the unity of the law. That phrase, “the whole law,” is used in at least half a dozen places–Deuteronomy 4:8; 33:10; Galatians 5:3,14; 6:13; James 2:10; and elsewhere.
James never makes a distinction between the so-called ceremonial law and the so-called moral law, either. There is no discussion in James of dividing up the Law into different kinds.
So just remember this: anyone who tries to use the Law in Leviticus to prove that God condemns homosexuality is abusing scripture — totally misusing Leviticus. God ruled that piece of evidence “inadmissible.”
In the book of Romans Paul describes the death-dealing destructiveness of the Law, and he also describes what has taken the place of the Torah for Christians in various letters: 1) the Image of God, 2) the Law of Love, 3) the Holy Spirit, 4) our Conscience, and 5) Human Government.
How to Respond to False Teachers
If someone uses Leviticus 18:22 or 20:13 to prove that God hates homosexuality, challenge them on it. Tell them, “Don’t quote Leviticus to me. In Galatians Paul says we are no longer under the Law. Paul said Leviticus is the yoke of slavery, Galatians 5:1.”
If they say, “God was talking about the ceremonial Law, not the moral Law,” ask them, “Where in the Bible does it say there’s a difference between moral law and ceremonial law? That distinction was made up by men (literally true). Show me in the Bible where those phrases even appear, moral law and ceremonial law.” that.” The word ceremonial only appears in the New International Version; no other translation even uses the word.
They won’t be able to show you any Biblical reference distinguishing between the so-called ceremonial and moral laws. If they refer to the book of Acts and the sheet being lowered from heaven, simply say, “That was just one concrete example of the cancellation of the entire Law.”
Simple truth: You cannot quote Leviticus to prove God hates homosexuality. The Apostle Paul said so in Galatians.
If You Obligate People to Obey the Law, You Bring them Under a Curse
Please note: I did not say that the Old Testament is irrelevant to us. And I did not say that the Law is irrelevant to us.
The WHOLE Bible is relevant.
All I said is that you cannot legitimately quote Leviticus to prove that God hates homosexuality. If you make people accountable to obey the Law, you bring them under a curse. The Apostle Paul said so in Galatians.
About the verses in Leviticus. To put it simply, if a judge rules a piece of evidence inadmissible, it cannot be introduced as evidence. If one of the parties mentions the evidence anyway, the judge declares a mistrial. When people say, “The Bible condemns homosexuality throughout the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments,” God the Righteous Judge would throw the case of the accusers out of court.
[edited for content 3/5/12]
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If you want to Demolish the Strongholds of shallow anti-gay slogans, click here.
If you want to respond to the Clobber Passages, click here.