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Gay Marriage Is Forcing Us to Get Straight on the Old Testament

Post Author: Bill Pratt 

Recently I wrote a blog post on why Christians don’t stone people to death. I then wrote a 4-part series on how Christians should apply the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament). What do these posts have to do with gay marriage?

In a nutshell, Christians are quoting from Leviticus to prove that homosexual behavior is sinful and gay marriage proponents are quoting from Leviticus and other books of the Torah to prove that those books contain outdated moral commands that nobody follows any more.

Both groups are confused about how the Old Testament (the Torah in particular) is supposed to be applied to Christians.

Christians cannot just quote from Leviticus to show that homosexual behavior is wrong and leave it at that. As I showed in this blog post, the Law (aka the Torah) does not apply to Christians. Jesus fulfilled the Law. We are no longer under the direction of the Law. The Law was written to the Israelites as they traveled to the Promised Land, not to us.

The only legitimate means for applying the Law to our lives today is by identifying the timeless truths that were taught in the Law and correlate with New Testament teachings. I covered that in the 4-part series entitled “How Should Christians Apply the Law?

So, we don’t say that homosexual behavior is wrong because Leviticus says so. We say it is wrong because the teachings in Leviticus on homosexual behavior are timeless truths that are reiterated in the New Testament. Then we point to the New Testament passages that speak to homosexual behavior.

Now, to address the proponents of gay marriage who quote from the Torah to show that its teachings are outdated. Your quotations have no force with Christians. We are not arguing that every single command found in the Torah is to be applied today. In fact, to say that the Law applies directly to Christians today is to flatly contradict the New Testament writers!

This approach by proponents of gay marriage only works on Christians who are arguing that the Law can be applied to us today, and who never offer any evidence showing that the teaching is timeless and reiterated in the New Testament.

I have had two Christian teenagers in the last week tell me that proponents of gay marriage in their schools constantly use this illegitimate argument to prove that the Christian position against gay marriage is wrong. Both of them were confused about how to answer these charges because they had never been taught why Christians don’t stone people to death, as is commanded in the Law.

Pastors, teachers, apologists – we need to get straight on the Old Testament. Our brothers and sisters are not prepared to defend the real Christian position.

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  • sean

    Another angle I’ve seen is the idea the whether or not it applies, it only applies to you. You shouldn’t expect that non-Christians adopt your views on morality. If you believe it’s wrong to do this behavior that really only affects only the people involved, then fine, you can not do it for yourselves, but the legislation that prohibits these relationships is what people are really upset about when it comes to the Christian positions on this issue. What are your thoughts about this particular idea?

  • Bill Pratt

    Every piece of legislation is applying someone’s morality. I see no reason why Christians should be singled out and told, “Secularists may legislate their morality, but not you.”

  • nfq

    Secular means it’s about everyone. Secular does not mean atheist. There are secular (non-religious) reasons not to murder or steal, so those reasons apply to everyone.

    “The Christian god told me not to murder or steal” won’t convince a Muslim or a Sikh. “We all want to live in a world where we don’t have to worry about being murdered or robbed” is something everyone can understand and get behind. That’s why we base our laws on secular values, not religious ones. If you can’t make a secular argument for why something should be a law, it probably shouldn’t be.

  • sean

    I’m pretty much with nfq on the response here. I don’t tell it to Christians specifically, I would tell it to anyone who want’s to do what is effectively legislating religion, something highly unconstitutional. If you could come up with a secular argument against it that I found convincing, then I’d be with you on banning that behavior, but I am thus far unconvinced, and I doubt either of us expects that to change. But certainly in theory some good secular argument would work. It’s a secular morality for a secular government.

  • Bill Pratt

    I never said that Christians could point to the Bible, state a moral command, and expect it to sway anyone else besides other Christians. Obviously that tactic doesn’t work.

    In fact, on my blog, I have almost never done anything like that when arguing for my moral positions. I always make a public argument that does not invoke a Bible passage.

    The problem I have is when atheists say things like, “Oh, he’s a Christian, so his position is automatically out of bounds because he’s just trying to legislate the Bible.” That kind of thing is said all the time and it’s crap.

    It shouldn’t matter what my religious beliefs are. Deal with the arguments I offer and quit bringing up my religious beliefs when I am not bringing up my religious beliefs. Agreed?

  • sean

    You are correct that when you don’t invoke religion to make your point whatever your religion is doesn’t matter, however, I’ve yet to see any secular argument against gay marriage that is both valid and sound, yours included.

  • sean

    Just want to say I thought your title to this post was pretty clever.

  • Bill Pratt

    Just to be clear, though, you think that marriage between any group of people is fine. Your definition of what should be illegal seems to be that an activity should be shown to be obviously, immediately, and seriously harmful to the people who are directly participating in the activity. Otherwise, it should be legal.

    I would imagine that if you could control legislation, you would make a huge number of things that are illegal today legal because you can’t see that these things are obviously, immediately, and seriously harmful to the people involved.

    I think that this definition of what should be illegal is far too restrictive and, if implemented, would completely destroy the comfortable, safe, civilized western society that you currently take for granted.

  • sean

    “Just to be clear, though, you think that marriage between any group
    of people is fine. Your definition of what should be illegal seems to be
    that an activity should be shown to be obviously, immediately, and
    seriously harmful to the people who are directly participating in the
    activity. Otherwise, it should be legal.”

    Are you of the opinion that rights should be withheld unless specifically granted? What does the US constitution mean to you?

    I think the idea system would be to get rid of marriage in any legal capacity and just have civil unions. The idea of marriage is too tied up in the idea of love and with the church. But I think it’s a good idea to have a designated person with whom you can co-designate rights and such. What marriage means legally, what that implies, is I think fine to be generalized to any two people, with the exception of having biological children in the case of families. And in the case of families a lot of these rights are already granted. But I see absolutely no problem with allowing two friends to tie themselves financially to one another and live in the same house. I think that if you’ve got a person like that you should have the right to decide that such a person has the rights of a family member and gets to decide your fate over and above a family member’s wishes just as a spouse does. The romantic thing is a bit of a separate issue from a secular perspective, don’t you think?

    But you’ve sort of dodged the main point here which is that if you are not going to resort to using religion as the basis for denying this right we offer straight people to gays couples, all the secular arguments don’t hod any weight with people who don’t already have this belief based on their religion. That is indicative that the secular arguments against gay marriage are bad, and do not have the authority to inform legislation in this matter.

  • Bill Pratt

    False. French secularists have been protesting against the legalization of gay marriage because of the adverse impact on children (a point I’ve made several times). I guess you don’t consider the well-being of children to be relevant to this issue?

    The vast majority of the 7 billion people on the planet are against gay marriage. Only a small number of “enlightened” western progressives are in support of it.

    The arguments against gay marriage are very strong. Just because you aren’t convinced by them says far more about you than about the arguments.

  • sean

    Are these secularists also against single parent adoption? Moreover, I consider marriage a separate issue from the ability to adopt, something gays already have the right to do in this country. But if there’s some real issue with gays raising children, then social services already has the ability to deny parents who are unfit to raise a child said child. This could be extended to these new couples as well. But again, that’s a separate issue from marriage.

  • Bill Pratt

    I think it would be news to gay marriage advocates that if gay marriage is legalized, that they could still be legally denied the right to adopt children, or produce children through artificial insemination.

    In their mind, once gay marriage is legalized, they have the exact same rights to raise children that heterosexual married couples have. The only difference being that they can’t biologically produce the children on their own. They need help.

    Do you really think that if there was legislation offered that legalized gay marriage, but they were banned from raising children, that the gay marriage proponents would go for that? I think not.

    It’s obviously a package deal because everyone in the world naturally associates marriage with reproduction and child-raising, except you.

  • sean

    Yes, it would be news, but not for the reasons you say. It would be news because while we’ve taken a step forward by recognizing that they should have the same right to marriage we’ve also somehow gone backwards and taken away a right. You don’t seem to be aware that gay people already have kids, and have the right to have them. I dated a girl who was born to a lesbian woman who got artificially inseminated. This woman lives with someone she’s not married to (as far as North Carolina, the state she lives in, is concerned) and that person is also a women. They raised this girl, and not one took the girl away. They are both her mother, and the girl is not suffering depression. She’s affluent, and very intelligent, getting along just fine in this world. Gays already have the right to have and raise children. That Bill, is why your contention that these are a package deal is simply false. They have the child thing, and they also want the marriage thing. If your contention is that gay marriage is bad on secular grounds because of the children thing, you should be fighting gay’s right to children (I’ll reiterate once more, a right they already have) and not their right to marriage. I don’t understand how you do not realize these are separate issues.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “The vast majority of the 7bn…”

    How do you know that? If you’re saying 7bn then you’re including all the children too. Who’s been polling children around the world on their opinions on gay marriage? Even leaving kids out, where are you getting ‘vast’ majority?

  • Bill Pratt

    There are only a handful of western nations where gay marriage is legal, or is even being seriously discussed as an option. That leaves the rest of the world, which easily constitutes a “vast majority.”

  • Bill Pratt

    There are many organizations today that deny children to gay parents (whatever the means they want them) based on their beliefs that children are best raised by a man and a woman. When gay marriage is legalized, gay couples will sue these organizations to stop denying them access to children based on the fact that gay marriage is now the law of the land. This is exactly what happened to Catholic adoption agencies in Massachusetts.

  • Andrew Ryan

    You said “The vast majority of the 7 billion people on the planet are against gay marriage”. Now you’re saying this is demonstrated by most countries not having gay marriage being legal.

    You assume that the laws in every country represent the wants of ‘the vast majority’ of its citizens. This is simply not a valid assumption. What percentage of countries in the world are even democracies? Would you say that ‘well over a billion people’ on earth support a ‘one-child per couple’ policy because that’s the law of China? Of course not.

    Further, SSM is being ‘seriously discussed as an option’ outside the West anyway, in countries including Vietnam, Turkey, Taiwan, Nepal, and Colombia. SSM is already legally recognised in several non-West countries, including Argentina, Israel, Mexico and South Africa.

    Laws generally lag the will of the people too – the majority often accept an idea before it is legally enforced – so it’s another assumption to say that because SSM isn’t recognised YET in a country that the majority are against the idea.

  • sean

    I suppose it’s their right to determine what families are fit to have children, though I’m not entirely sure about the legality there. But I think in any situation a family could sue. Lets say they denied a straight couple access to a child because the potential Father consumed beer, and they saw that as unfit. (Let’s say it was Mormons and not Catholics with the adoption agency so that’s why alcoholic consumption was viewed as wrong) If in this situation the prospective parents are justified in a lawsuit, then they are equally justified in the other situation. I’m not up on my Massachusetts adoption laws, but these are comparable situations with respect to lawsuit justification. If they Mormons could then justify their refusal (or the Catholics) on secular grounds, then they’d win the lawsuit. (So would the Catholics)

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