Trying to Justify Homosexuality by an Appeal to the Bible and the Creeds
Rachel Held Evans is a Christian who supports same-sex marriage because “Jesus never talked about it.” This is a frequent argument for supporters of same-sex marriage. She also states that the creeds don’t mention anything about homosexuality.
Who is Rachel Held Evans?
Rachel Held Evans is a New York Times best-selling author whose books include Faith Unraveled (2010), A Year of Biblical Womanhood (2012), Searching for Sunday (2015), Inspired (2018). Hailing from Dayton, Tennessee — home of the famous Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 — she writes about faith, doubt and life in the Bible Belt.
For someone who writes about the Bible, she doesn’t seem to know much about the Bible or the historic Christian creeds and their purpose. It’s shocking to me that she would use such a trite and failed argument that has been answered numerous times.
The Christian creeds like the Apostles’ Creed (120-250), Nicene Creed (325), Chalcedonian Creed (451), and the Athanasian Creed (500) deal with very specific theological issues. None of the historic creeds touch on marriage, church discipline, tithing, law, missions, and a whole host of other theological topics. That wasn’t their purpose.
Historic confessions address a multitude of topics, for example, the Westminster Confession of Faith and its Shorter and Larger Catechisms (1647). Here’s the question and answer for Question 139 from the Larger Catechism regarding the Seventh Commandment:
Q. What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are, adultery, fornication, rape, incest, sodomy, and all unnatural lusts…
Here’s how the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith defines marriage: “1. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman; neither is it lawful for any man to have more than one wife, nor for any woman to have more than one husband at the same time. (Genesis 2:24; Malachi 2:15; Matthew 19:5–6).”
I’m always amazed when homosexuals and advocates for same-sex sexuality try to use the Bible to support homosexuality. It can’t be done. Let’s start with the Hebrew Scriptures.
“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination” (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). Abomination is a term of strong disapproval in Hebrew (to’evah). It is used five times in Leviticus 18 (vv. 22, 26, 27, 29, 30) and once in 20:13. “It is more common in Deuteronomy (17 times), in Proverbs (21 times), and in Ezekiel (43 times). Other writers use it less often. It comes from a root meaning ‘to hate’ or ‘abhor.’ An abomination is literally something detestable and hated by God (e.g., Prov. 6:16; 11:1).”1
The morality in the New Testament is based on the morality found in the Older Testament. For example, the Greatest Commandment (Matt 19:19; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; James 2:8) is actually a quotation from the Older Testament: “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:18). Notice that this love command is sandwiched between chapters that describe homosexuality as an “abomination.” This means that loving your neighbor does not mean always loving what your neighbor does, especially when that behavior is condemned in the Bible.
A standard argument against the Bible’s prohibition of homosexuality is that Jesus never mentions it. If Jesus not mentioning something means it’s not prohibited, then we are in some real moral trouble. Jesus didn’t condemn rape (Deut. 22:25–26), sex with animals (Ex. 22:29), sex with a minor, incest (Lev. 18:6–18), abortion (Ex. 21:22–25), kidnapping (Deut. 24:7), arson (Ex. 22:6), or tripping blind people (Lev. 19:14); therefore, Jesus must not have been opposed to rape, incest, bestiality, sex with minors, abortion, or tripping blind people. This is a terrible argument, yet it is used over and over again by homosexual advocates.
The Bible defines “natural” sexual relationships in Genesis 2:18–25. Anything outside the norm is abnormal. Jesus confirms the creation model in Matthew 19:4–6, and by definition condemns any other type of sexual relationship: “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? ‘So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’”
If my wife said to my children when they were younger, “stay in the house while your dad is fixing the roof,” she didn’t have to follow this up by saying “don’t go outside.” The positive standard (stay in the house) implies the negative prohibition (don’t go outside).
The speed limit sign that reads “55” includes a prohibition of any speed over “55” without ever saying don’t go “65 miles per hour.” Based on the Genesis account alone, there is no need for a single verse condemning homosexuality (Gen. 1:26–28; 2:18–25). Affirming the heterosexual relationship — one man with one woman — condemns the homosexual relationship by definition. With the norm established, any deviation is by definition abnormal, unnatural, and sinful.
Implied in Evans’ support for homosexuality is that other Christians should not judge people who engage in same-sex relationships. Paul Copan writes the following in his book“True For You, But Not True For Me, “It’s been said that the most frequently quoted Bible verse is no longer John 3:16 but Matthew 7:1: ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged.’” I would add that it’s the most frequently misquoted verse by those who quote the Bible only when they believe it helps their cause.
We cannot glibly quote this, though, without understanding what Jesus meant. When Jesus condemned judging, he wasn’t at all implying we should never make judgments about anyone. After all, a few verses later, Jesus himself calls certain people “pigs” and “dogs” (Matt. 7:6) and “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (7:15)! Any act of church discipline (1 Cor. 5:5) and rebuking false prophets (1 John 4:1) requires judgment.2
Jesus said, “Do not judge lest you be judged” (Matt. 7:1; Luke 6:37). But He also said, “Judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24; see Deut. 16:18). These are not contradictory statements because the context of Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 tells us what He means by “not judging” and what it means to judge with “righteous judgment.” Jesus was condemning those who judge using two standards of morality, one standard for the judge and another for the accused. The Bible maintains — in both the Old and New Testaments — that the standard of judgment must be equal for both parties (Num. 15:16). “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it shall be measured to you” (Matt. 7:2).
Rachel Held Evans is feeding a false narrative in the name of Jesus Christ. She is leading people astray and the culture to destruction.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires (2 Tim. 4:3).
This was a problem in the early church and today: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you,” addressing the recipients of his letter, “who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves” (2 Pet. 2:1).
The bigger problem is that Evans is not doing it secretly. She is openly bearing false witness against the Bible and the faith she claims to believe.