#10 Post of 2015 – 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and gay marriage proponents are quoting from Leviticus and other books of the Torah to prove that those books contain outdated moral commands that nobody follows any more.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Now, to address the proponents of gay marriage who quote from the Torah to show that its teachings are outdated.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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sean,
    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?

  • 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.”

  • 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)

  • Greg Blackshaw

    The question that always enters my mind when someone speaks out against marriage equality is this…

    I understand that you believe your religion says homosexuality is wrong, I understand you don’t want your religious freedom attacked, but what about other people’s religious freedom?
    Why do you have the right to force your religious beliefs on other people?

    The Universalist Unitarian church is pro marriage equality but can’t exercise its religious freedom because of unjust laws.

    No one is going to force a church to hold a marriage ceremony that it doesn’t consent to, but you’re OK with not allowing a church to marry two people that it wants to.

    You do realise that there’s a war going on right now because a group of people think they are entitled to force their religious beliefs on everyone else. What makes you enforcing you beliefs on marriage any different?

  • Greg,

    Every law that has ever been legislated forces one group’s point of view on the entire society that falls under the authority of that legislature. There is no such thing as a neutral law that enforces nobody’s point of view.

    Up until about 20 years ago, the entire history of human civilization agreed that marriage is between one and one woman because marriage is first and foremost about producing and raising children (that’s not all it is, but that’s certainly the primary reason for it). It takes, biologically, one man and one woman to procreate. We have almost unanimous scientific research that demonstrates that children are most successful when raised by their biological mother and father.

    What you want is to throw out the 5,000 year old purpose for marriage and make it something like: “Marriage is for two people who have strong feelings for each other, who want to be sexually intimate with each other, and who want the state to celebrate and recognize that relationship.”

    You are asking for something brand new that has never existed before in the history of the world (until recently). Therefore, all of the burden is on to you to prove that this re-definition of marriage is good for our society.

    The Supreme Court ruling overturned the marriage laws in some 30+ states that had been voted on by each of the state’s citizens. Thus the clear view of the majority of people in the United States was to retain the original definition of marriage.

    By the way, you said: “No one is going to force a church to hold a marriage ceremony that it doesn’t consent to.” Why do you think that? We have already seen bakeries and photographers forced to help gay couples celebrate their “marriages” against their will. Why not churches next?

  • Greg Blackshaw


    Sorry it’s been so long since your reply, I’ve been busy, and my first reply got deleted when it was only half finished. That was my stupid tablet’s fault. Eahhhh… anyway here I am and here’s my counter argument.

    Your first statement doesn’t seem to have much point. Yes laws enforce things, but they usually do it for a reason and the major reason for outlawing marriage equality is for religious reasons. Some people didn’t like seatbelt laws either but they were enforced because it was best for everyone.

    Your second point is ironically dis-proven by your own bible. How can you say “the entire history of human civilisation agreed that marriage is between one and one woman” when Abraham(A man chosen by your god to be worthy of fathering his nation) had multiple concubines. King David had at least 8 wives and you think that puts Henry the 8th to shame, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines(Honesty, I’m sure this is poetic licence but it had to be a lot). So no “the entire history of human civilisation” didn’t agree. This video lays out how many times ‘traditional’ marriage has changed and that’s just in western culture…

    …there’s cultures that don’t even have a concept of marriage and other’s that practice ‘serial monogamy’ having multiple relationships and never being expected to stay together for ever.

    You bring up the biological argument that marriage is for “one man and one woman to procreate” but we don’t stop post menopausal women from marrying, we don’t stop infertile people from marrying. They get married for all the same reasons that gay people want to get married.

    Your next sentence made me a bit angry. It’s a massive slap in the face to every foster parent, adoptive parent and step parent on the planet. I defy you to show me one just one study that shows that children in adopted homes are worse off than being in their “biological” homes. It is also a gross misrepresentation of the scientific research. What we DO have is research that shows that children are better off with two parents in a stable relationship. It doesn’t matter who they are or what sex they are. Feel free to read this paper release by the Australian Institute for Family Studies which says “On measures of general health and family cohesion children aged 5 to 17 years with same-sex attracted parents had significantly better scores when compared to Australian children from all other backgrounds and family contexts. For all other health measures there were no statistically significant differences.


    What anti marriage equality activists tend to do is take a study that
    shows kids are better off with two parents and spin that to say they
    need a mum and a dad. I remember reading a headline that said ‘Kids
    are better off with a stay at home mum’. What the studythat was
    sighted actually said was, children were worst off in a home with two
    full time working parents. Ironically it also found that children
    were best off with one full time and one part time working parent not
    a stay at home parent and never said what roll should be male or
    female.(Sorry it was a long time ago and I don’t have a reference.)

    who line of argument completely overlooks that you don’t have to be
    married to adopt anyway. Single people adopt whether they’re gay or
    straight, and unmarried couples both gay and straight adopt. Stopping
    marriage equality will not affect this one little bit.

    the supreme court overturned laws. That’s their job.

    you seem to overlook when you claim the majority voted is that you
    don’t just a Democracy. You live in a Constitutional Democracy. So
    when people vote for a new law, that law has to be in line with the
    constitution and if it’s not it’s the job of the supreme court to
    strike it down. If you have a problem with this then organise a
    referendum to change your constitution.

    not churches next?”!!!!!!!!!!! Because of the first amendment of your constitution. That’s why. Your comparison between a bakery and a church is ridicules because the laws are very clear about both.
    Individuals and churches have religious freedoms protected by the constitution(you know that thing your so pissed off about for overturning laws), businesses don’t. If you own a business and it is open to the public then you have to serve all of the public.

    We get back to the only argument you have, that you think your god says its wrong.

    I don’t force my beliefs on you. Please don’t force your beliefs on me.