Some Seminars on Homosexuality, Change, and the Gospel
Because of recent news the issue of homosexuality is on the front page again.
I thought it might be helpful to pull together a few resources by gifted brothers that can equip us to think through some of the key issues.
A couple of years ago Matt Chandler did an hour and a half of teaching, followed by 40 minutes or so of answering questions from the audience, on this subject. This is tough to handle well. Some pastors harp on this issue in a disproportionate, condemnatory way. Others, swinging the pendulum in the other direction, don’t want to appear insensitive or right-wing and thus avoid it altogether. So it takes courage to tackle it head-on without being a jerk.
In the first video below Chandler begins by tracing the biblical storyline. In the second video, he gives some basic responses to several street-level objections, like:
1. If you’re not hurting anyone else, what’s wrong with it?
2. Since you’re a sinner, too, who are you to call out others?
3. Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality.
4. Some animals have same-sex relations, so if it’s in nature it must natural.
5. The homosexuality condemned by Paul is a different type of homosexuality than we see today.
6. Revisionist arguments from modern scholarship.
He also talks about the way in which he seeks to engage in dialogue with homosexuals in a gospel-centered way.
In the third video he fields questions via text message—e.g., on how parents should handle their adult kids who are gay with partners coming to visit.
You can listen to the whole audio below or download it:
Or you can watch it via video:
If you’re looking for a good resource on thinking about the arguments for homosexuality—especially exegetical ones—the best authority to consult is Professor Robert Gagnon. His book The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics is the standard in the field.
You can go here to order a set of DVDs—plus a bonus audio CD—for $35. You can watch a half hour clip below, though you’ll want to skip the introduction and go to 1:45 to hear Gagnon start talking.
Here’s a summary of the DVDs:
DVD 1: What’s at Stake & What Are the Closest Analogies (83 min.)
Treats why we disagree in the church about homosexual practice; what’s at stake in this debate; why the oft-cited, alleged analogies to Gentile inclusion, slavery, women in ministry, and divorce and remarriage are not in fact good analogies to the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual practice; what the main problem with homosexual practice is; why adult-committed incest and polyamory are the closest analogies; and responses to audience questions.
DVD 2: The Witness of Paul on Homosexual Practice (72 min.)
Treats the witness of Paul, showing how Paul opposed homosexual practice absolutely by looking at: echoes to the creation texts in Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9; the meaning of Paul’s argument from nature in its historical context; the case for identifying Rom 1:26 with an indictment of lesbianism; the conception of caring homosexual unions in the ancient world; the condemnation of even such caring unions by some Greek and Roman moralists; and the case for identifying the terms for homosexual practice in 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1;10 with homosexual practice per se.
DVD 3: The Witness of Jesus & the OT on Homosexual Practice (76 min.)
The first 11 minutes completes the discussion of Paul by showing why the “orientation argument” (i.e. had NT authors known about sexual orientation it would have changed their view on homosexual practice) doesn’t work. The next 19 min. are devoted to discussing the witness of Jesus; 8 min. to the witness of Genesis; 7 min. to Sodom and related texts (Ham & Noah, the sacred cult prostitute texts, Levite at Gibeah, commentary on Sodom in Ezekiel, Jude, and 2 Pet); 5 min. to the Levitical prohibitions and the problems with alleged analogies to menstrual law and cloth mixtures; 2 min. to David and Jonathan; and 23 min. to responding to questions from the audience.
CD: The Importance of Sexual Ethics in the NT (72 min.)
The lecture below by Professor Sam Williams (Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is not an exploration of or defense of interpreting the Bible with regard to homosexuality (for that, see Gagnon above). Professor Williams assumes the biblical perspective in this lecture. Rather, he answers questions like:
- What causes homosexuality?
- Can we be responsible for that which is not consciously chosen?
- What is the difference between having same-same attraction, same-sex orientation, and being “gay” or “lesbian”?
- How many people self-identify in these ways?
- Do people with same-same attraction actually change?
- How can they change?
- What does the gospel have to do with this issue?
- How can we promote change in the church for those who struggle?
For more on some of the social-science research see Mark Yarhouse’s summary paper, “At the Intersection of Religious and Sexual Identities: A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality.”