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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Scripture Twisting and Delusion Compounded

May 12, 2010

You expect secular activists to mangle and abuse Scripture. That is bad enough, but it is much worse when people who call themselves Christians misuse and abuse the Bible. This especially comes out on the issue of homosexuality. There is a major push underway by theological revisionists who want to rewrite the Bible to justify their homosexual lifestyle.

Some of these revisionists are so intent on finding pro-homosexual messages in Scripture that they have come up with all sorts of bizarre and deceptive claims. Let me mention just one bit of deception being promoted by these subverters of the gospel, the idea that committed, loving same-sex relationships are not condemned in the Bible.

Revisionists will sometimes agree that some types of homosexuality are wrong, but only the promiscuous variety. They argue that homosexuals in a monogamous and long-term loving relationship can and do receive God’s blessing. But from everything the Bible does say about homosexuality we can safely assume that there is no such thing as “loving and loyal same sex” relationships. If homosexuality is a sin, full stop, then there are no respectable versions of it, just as there are no respectable versions of rape or murder.

As John Stott remarked, “I do not deny the claim that homosexual relationships can be loving. . . . [but] they are incompatible with true love because they are incompatible with God’s law. Love is concerned for the highest welfare of the beloved. And our highest human welfare is found in obedience to God’s law and purpose, not in a revolt against them.”

And if we really love someone, we will want the best for them. The best for a person never comes by violating God’s laws, which are for our good. As one counsellor has noted, “God has already declared what love is and is not by the commands He had given. Love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom. 13:10), so any breaking of the law is an unloving act.”

As one theologian points out, love is undoubtedly the central biblical principle of Christian ethics, but without further guidelines “we transform ‘love’ into a self-regarding relativistic individualism.” As former homosexual Joe Dallas rightly comments, “The love between two homosexuals cannot make homosexuality normal or legitimate, any more than the love of two people committing adultery justifies the breaking of marital vows.”

Moreover, as I have demonstrated elsewhere, long-term, monogamous homosexual relationships are quite rare. And even where longer-term relationships exist, they still tend to be characterised by involving outside sexual flings. The homosexual activists themselves are quite happy to admit this.

Moreover, all relationships need to be judged in the light of God’s standard, of God’s ideal. John Walton, commenting on the Sodom and Gomorrah episode, makes these pertinent remarks: “The Bible is clear that homosexual practice is wrong and sinful. It is not just wrong insofar as it is promiscuous. Rather, as with adultery, incest, and bestiality, it is wrong because of the nature of the sexual partner. An illicit sexual partner may be married to someone else (adultery), may be a close relative (incest), may be an animal (bestiality), and may be someone of the same gender (homosexuality). Monogamous homosexual relationships are no more acceptable than only committing adultery with one person.”

How Bizarre Can They Get?

Now in my line of work, I thought I heard all the stupid and theologically vacuous suggestions put forward by these revisionists as they seek to twist Scripture in order to push ungodly agendas. But I heard one just recently which really blew me away. I suppose I should have anticipated such a ludicrous remark – a remark presumably made with a straight face.

Some of these homosexual activists who seek to hide under the cloak of Christianity have actually claimed that they know something that theologians have been dumbfounded by for two millennia. They actually claim to know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was! You guessed it: a struggle with homosexual tendencies!

You will remember this famous passage in 2 Corinthians 12:1-10. Paul says that he prayed three times to have this removed, but God informed him that his grace was sufficient for him, and the thorn was not removed. Of course a lot of speculation has gone into seeking to determine the exact nature of this thorn that Paul wanted to have removed.

Some think of external things such as persecution. Many have suggested some sort of physical illness, such as malaria or bad eyesight (cf. Gal.4:15; 6:11). For example, Gordon Fee states that while we cannot know with certainty what it was, it must have been “some form of physical infirmity”.

Many commentators simply say we just can’t know for sure what it was. Some wits, seeking to throw a bit of light relief into the issue, suggest the thorn was Paul’s mother-in-law! But the idea that this was a struggle with homosexual feelings or actions is simply preposterous, and no serious New Testament scholar or theologian has ever offered such a suggestion.

Indeed, we might as well say that Jesus had struggles with sex addiction, or that Peter had a major gambling problem, or that James was a closet paedophile, or that John the Baptist secretly viewed child porn on the Internet. These claims make just as much sense as this idiotic and bizarre suggestion about Paul and his thorn.

And recall what Paul says about this thorn: it is “a messenger of Satan” (v. 7). Ralph Martin rightly says that “the thorn was inherently evil. Nowhere does Paul infer that this thorn was good”. So even if this were a struggle with homosexual desire, Paul tells us its origins are satanic, and that it is not something he ever countenanced embracing or submitting to.

In the light of such devious Scripture twisting and warped exegesis, we have to bear in mind that this is not simply a case of faulty reasoning or theological fuzziness. What we have here is real Satanic deception. Do not forget that Paul could speak of “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).

These are not mere foolish human inventions, but things birthed in the pits of hell. Demonic forces are blinding people, keeping them from believing the truth. And so-called Christians are just as able to be deceived and bamboozled in this regard.

Indeed, Paul speaks of the end-times apostasy in which this deception is worked out “by means of the hypocrisy of liars” (v. 2). Very strong words indeed. There is no pussyfooting around with such diabolical teachings.

Comments Philip Towner, “the temptation to write this off as rhetoric should be resisted in view of the strong sense present especially in the Corinthian letters and 1 Timothy that the Christian community lived under the constant real threat of Satanic attack (1 Tim 3:6-7; 1 Cor 5:5; 7:5; 10:20-21; 11:14; 12:7). Belief in the demonic was a fixture in the early Christian worldview.”

As Paul says in Eph. 6:11-12: “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Sure, we need to respond to the silly arguments of mere men, even those claiming to be followers of Jesus. But we must also recognize that behind these outrageous claims and twisted theologies lie real demonic activity. Given how ferocious the homosexual war against faith and family has been, why should we be surprised at the real roots of this attack?

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11 Responses to Scripture Twisting and Delusion Compounded

  • Fantastic article Bill and once again thanks for your stand! Satan is ever trying to twist the Word of God that’s for sure, but the Bible’s view is ever so clear and not even in the Sunday school basket of theology its so easy:

    Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is ABOMINATION.

    Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an ABOMINATION….

    Deuteronomy 23:17 There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a SODOMITE of the sons of Israel.

    1 Kings 14:24 And there were also SODOMITES in the land: and THEY DID ACCORDING TO ALL THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE NATIONS WHICH THE LORD DID CAST OUT before the children of Israel.

    Gen 19:4-7 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even THE MEN OF SODOM, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? BRING THEM UNTO US, THAT WE MAY KNOW THEM. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, DO NOT SO WICKEDLY.

    Jud 1:7 Even as SODOM and GOMORRHA, and the cities about them in like manner, GIVING THEMSELVES OVER to fornication, AND GOING AFTER STRANGE FLESH, ARE SET FORTH FOR AN EXAMPLE, SUFFERING THE VENGEANCE OF ETERNAL FIRE.

    2 Pe 2:6-10 And TURNING the cities of SODOM and GOMMORHA INTO ASHES CONDEMNED THEM with an overthrow, MAKING THEM AN ENSAMPLE UNTO THOSE THAT AFTER SHOULD LOVE UNGOLDLY; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the FILTHY CONVERSATION OF THE WICKED: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, IN SEEING AND HEARING, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with THEIR UNLAWFUL DEEDS;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, AND TO RESERVE THE UNJUST unto the day of judgment TO BE PUNISHED: But CHIEFLY THEM THAT WALK AFTER THE FLESH IN THE LUST OF UNCLEANNESS…..

    Romans 1:26-27 For this cause God gave them up unto VILE AFFECTIONS: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is AGAINST NATURE: And likewise also the MEN, LEAVING THE NATURAL USE OF THE WOMAN, BURNED IN THEIR LUST one toward another; MEN WITH MEN working that which is UNSEEMLY, and receiving in themselves that recompense of THEIR ERROR which was meet.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, NOR EFFEMINATE, NOR ABUSERS OF THEMSELVES WITH MANKIND, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

    1 Timothy 1:9-10 Knowing this, that THE LAW IS not MADE for a righteous man, but FOR THE LAWLESS AND DISOBEDIENT, FOR THE UNGODLY AND SINNERS, FOR UNHOLY AND PROFANE, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers. For whoremongers, FOR THEM THAT DEFILE THEMSELVES WITH MANKIND, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;

    Dorian Ballard

  • Bravo! You’re definitely not afraid to speak (or write) out against this sin at a time when (as you have written elsewhere) such action is strongly discouraged. I thank God for granting you this courage and pray for an army of believers who can and will do the same!
    Dominic Snowdon

  • Dorian,

    I cut and pasted your article for future reference. Hope that’s ok with you.

    Thanks,
    Graeme Cumming

  • The word of God is free Graeme use it use it use it shout it shout it shout it, furthermore its on Bill’s blog so its not my call at all, sorry Bill.
    Dorian Ballard

  • I would not argue that a wife beater does not love his wife. he does, but it is a twisted and damaging love.

    I will concede that a homosexual relationship can exhibit love, but it too is a twisted and damaging love.

    Michael Hutton

  • Bill you said

    Indeed, we might as well say that Jesus had struggles with sex addiction, or that Peter had a major gambling problem, or that James was a closet paedophile, or that John the Baptist secretly viewed child porn on the Internet. These claims make just as much sense as this idiotic and bizarre suggestion about Paul and his thorn.

    Please DON’T GIVE THEM IDEAS

    Jason Rennie

  • On a more serious note though,

    I always find christian apologists for homosexual behavior as rather frighteningly dishonest.

    Even if we assume, just for the sake of argument, that they were right that homosexual relationships modeled after heterosexual ones were OK biblically (again, just for the sake of argument) you don’t see them taking a stand against promiscuity, fornication, adultery, etc that is the norm in homosexual relationships.

    I might be willing to take them more seriously if they were at least consistent in this regard and stood for all of the biblical limits on relationships that they claim are good and proper. But they don’t.

    Jason Rennie

  • Talking to one of the guys after your Why vs Why Homosexual Marriage debate and he says – after confirming he was a Christian and Jesus loved him – I don’t believe in the Bible, it’s full of contradictions, written by man not God etc. etc. But absolutely I’m gay and I’m Christian and Christian’s around me affirm that.

    Talk about delusion and “demonic forces blinding people”!
    Nathan Keen

  • Go Dorian. Unleash the Bible. The homosexuals try to say that the sin of this city was inhospitality but as you have pointed out with Jude and 2 Peter it was something more than this and so does Isaiah 3:8-10: “The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.”

    Doesn’t this remind one of the Sydney Mardi Gras or any other homosexual pride parade?
    David Skinner, UK

  • Amazing how homosexuals and their friends accuse Christians of hiding behind religion and the Bible in order to commit acts of homophobia and yet endorse pagan worshippers, dressed as Christians, who use and rewrite the Bible to commit heresy.

    The so-called reverend, lesbian Sharon Ferguson of the LGBT Christian ministries will one minute try to divorce sex from homosexuality and then the next minute try to justify her disorderd state by describing relationships in the Bible as precisely that – red hot sex.

    Enjoy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1nD6N6DY3Q

    David Skinner, UK

  • Great article Bill. I used to think such people were deluded, but now I suspect they are deliberately trawling the scriptures for things to twist to fit their agenda.
    John Bennett

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