R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, recently shared his belief that Christians have been guilty of condemnation and their "own form of homophobia." Despite his open discussion about the mishandling of gay issues in Christian circles, Mohler is doubling down on the Bible's stance on homosexuality.
In a CNN Belief Blog article published on Monday, Mohler attempts to explain the Bible's stance on homosexuality, while answering critics' commonly held objections. He begins by bringing up one of the arguments that gay rights leaders and their adherents regularly raise. The central question posed is: "If the Bible instructs readers not to eat shellfish or wear mixed fabrics, among other rules and believers no longer comply with these requirements, then why should individuals continue to oppose homosexuality?"
While Mohler contends that, on the surface this is a fair question, he attempts to frame the difference between Old Testament rules that were set for Israel and those moral codes that are more universal.
"An honest consideration of the Bible reveals that most of the Biblical laws people point to in asking this question, such as laws against eating shellfish or wearing mixed fabrics, are part of the holiness code assigned to Israel in the Old Testament," Mohler explains. "That code was to set Israel, God’s covenant people, apart from all other nations on everything from morality to diet."
Mohler goes on to explain that the Book of Acts makes it clear that Christians are not commanded to follow this same code (Acts 10:15). The verse (speaking about Peter), reads, "The voice spoke to him a second time, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.'" This is taken to mean that the kosher code is not pertinent for Christians and, thus, is no longer binding.
However, when it comes to sexual behavior, the faith leader maintains that the rules are clear and consistent. He writes:
The Bible’s commands on sexual behavior, on the other hand, are continued in the New Testament. When it comes to homosexuality, the Bible’s teaching is consistent, pervasive, uniform and set within a larger context of law and Gospel.
The Old Testament clearly condemns male homosexuality along with adultery, bestiality, incest and any sex outside the covenant of marriage. The New Testament does not lessen this concern but amplifies it.
The New Testament condemns both male and female homosexual behavior. The Apostle Paul, for example, points specifically to homosexuality as evidence of human sinfulness. His point is not merely that homosexuals are sinners but that all humanity has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The seminary leader went on to call homosexuality "the most pressing moral question of our times." That being said, as he has in the past, Mohler said that adultery, pornography, dishonesty, injustice and other Biblical sins should also be important to Christians. He also maintains that Christian love calls believers to teach what the Bible proclaims, even on complex issues like homosexuality.
"The Bible names sins specifically so that each of us will recognize our own sinfulness and look to Christ for salvation and the forgiveness of our sins," Mohler continues.
Considering the high divorce rate, Mohler highlights that hypocrisy can be dangerous. While the church has failed in this regard, he calls for honest discussion and correction. This failure, though, should serve as a reminder, he contends, of what it is that the Bible teaches about all issues, from marriage to homosexuality.
(H/T: CNN's Belief Blog)