Abdu Murray’s Grand Central Question (IVP, 2014) actually deals with four central questions: What explains existence? Is there an objective purpose and value to human existence? What accounts for the human condition? Is there salvation from our present state? But he begins by noting that our minds are closed until God opens our hearts: Some people have problems not with the gospel but with the consequences of accepting it. Before embarking on lengthy answers to adversarial questions, we should try to discern why the questioner is asking.
That may be particularly important in talking with secular college professors: Murray quotes Upton Sinclair’s statement that “it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Personal desires are also influential, as Aldous Huxley admitted in his book Ends and Means: “I wanted to believe the Darwinian idea. I chose to believe it not because I think there was enormous evidence for it, nor because I believe it had the full authority to give interpretation to my origins, but I chose to believe it because it delivered me from trying to find meaning and freed me to my own erotic passions.”
Huxley’s candor leads me to backhanded praise of gay and pro-gay scholars who frankly admit what Scripture says. Pim Pronk: “Wherever homosexual intercourse is mentioned in Scripture, it is condemned.” Dan Via: “The biblical texts that deal specifically with homosexual practice condemn it unconditionally.” Bernadette Brooten: “I see Paul as condemning all forms of homoeroticism.” Louis Crompton: “Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstance.” Walter Wink: “The Bible is negative toward same-sex behavior, and there is no getting around it.”
Michael Brown’s Can You Be Gay and Christian? (FrontLine, 2014) offers those quotations plus one from the GLBTQ online encyclopedia: “The bad news from the Christian Bible is that it condemns same-sex desire and same-sex acts without qualification of age, gender, role, status, consent, or membership in an ethnic community.” Brown’s book is not elegantly written but he’s provided an important service, because some gay advocates are making outlandish claims in an attempt to find biblical justification for homosexuality.
Among the debunkings: Brown critiques gay pastor Timothy Koch’s turning of Elijah, described in 2 Kings as a hairy man who wore a leather belt, into a gay leather man and “holy homosexual,” and Jehu, who slaughtered idol worshippers, into an “ancient Lawrence of Arabia” (a gay guy) because he took the hand of one Jehonadab and helped him into his chariot. Brown also points out how ludicrous it is for professor Daniel Helminiak to suggest that Ruth and Naomi shared a sexual relationship, and that “Daniel’s role in Nebuchadnezzar’s court included a homosexual liaison with the palace master.”
Those may be fringe graspings even among gays, but it’s common to assert that David and Jonathan had a homosexual relationship, that the Leviticus definition of homosexuality as “abomination” was for ceremonial purposes, that Paul did not understand homosexuality, and that Jesus didn’t say anything about it. Brown annihilates all of those claims, showing that Jesus reaffirmed and deepened Old Testament sexual morals. Brown also has a chapter on an emerging claim that when Jesus healed the Roman centurion’s servant he was affirming a homosexual relationship since the Greek words used indicate the servant was the soldier’s lover—but nothing in the Greek text supports that.
On refuting gay Scripture-twisting, see The Bible and Homosexual Practice by Robert Gagnon. On reaching out to gays, see Love Into Light: The Gospel, the Homosexual and the Church, by Peter Hubbard, and two books by authors interviewed in WORLD: The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Rosaria Butterfield and Out of a Far Country by Christopher and Angela Yuan. (Interviews published in the March 23, 2013, and Feb. 8, 2014 issues of WORLD.) —M.O.