When I first saw this hit piece I yawned and returned to my bowl of Corn Flakes. Ho-hum, yet another tired, lame case of theological rubbish from yet another leftist activist. I am so tired of these revisionist writers and their revisionist articles.
I have answered them dozens of times now in my books and articles – as have others – but these folks think they are being oh so clever and cute to pen these pieces over and over. They really think they have come up with some new, knock-down argument that will forever silence those who treat the Word of God with respect and not contempt.
As I say: ho-hum. So very tedious and tiring to have to even read these utterly vacuous and disingenuous pieces. So much baloney is being packed into so little space. It may be time for these folks to find a new day job. But of course as long as the hyper secular left ABC exists, they will keep running with these sophomoric pieces.
Consider one Robyn J. Whitaker, a lecturer in Biblical Studies at Trinity College Theological School, Melbourne University. What her page says is revealing enough: “Lecturer, historian, biblical scholar, social commentator, and author. Areas of expertise: bible, sexuality, gender equality, feminism, apocalyptic, evil, end of the world, religious rhetoric, and contemporary use of the bible in political discourse.”
Now that’s a surprise! She is into feminism, gender equality, sexuality, political discourse, etc. In other words yet another political and theological liberal who wants people to think she actually takes the Word of God seriously. Just another dime-a-dozen theological revisionist pushing her radical left hobby horses. Yawn some more.
Her article, which first appeared in the leftist Conversation, but then was gleefully picked up by the ABC and other leftist media outlets such as the Sydney Morning Herald, takes Christian pastor and tennis great Margaret Court to task for daring to say that marriage is a heterosexual affair.
Whitaker claims Court is wrong, that the Bible is full of all sorts of permissible sexualities, and she should stop taking the Bible so literally. I have dealt with these weak-as-water objections time and time again, but it looks like I must do it yet once more.
In my 2011 book Strained Relations I presented “Ten ploys of the theological revisionists”. Whitaker seems to have run with most of them in her scurrilous and deliberately deceptive piece. She begins her piece with my first ploy: “An old book, an old culture”.
She writes: “Much of the Bible was written 2,500 years ago, when family life was very different.” Whenever you see someone talk about how ancient the Bible is, you know you are dealing with a theological scoundrel. It is as if God is fully culture-bound, and he needs to get with the times.
It is as if God has no transcendent, moral absolutes when it comes to human sexuality, and therefore anything goes. The simple truth is heterosexual marriage has always been God’s morally acceptable vehicle for human sexuality. This is found in the opening chapters of Genesis and continues right through to the closing chapters of Revelation.
She continues this line of attack by claiming that the Old Testament characters were involved in all sorts of alternative sexualities and types of marriage, and this proves that God has zero preference in such matters. Thus she highlights cases of polygamy and so on, as if this clinches the argument, and we can all now go home, case closed.
Um, not so fast. This is a typical trick of the revisionists. They conflate description with prescription. Simply because the Bible describes various behaviours does not of course mean that God approves of those behaviours and considers them to be prescriptive.
Rape, incest and murder are also described quite often in the Bible. Only a real enemy of God and his Word would suggest that God therefore fully endorses and promotes such behaviours. But I have already penned two lengthy articles rebutting this nonsense, so perhaps it is best that I direct you to them:
Let me quote just a bit from these pieces:
God in his grace often allowed fallen mankind – including his own people – to engage in activities and behaviours which he is not at all thrilled about. He often showed patience and forbearance as his own people moved away from their pagan roots into the fullness of what he had in mind for them….
Because of the hardness of men’s hearts, less than ideal circumstances were sometimes allowed to proceed. But Scripture is also quite clear as it warns about such situations. Indeed, it directly warns against polygamy in places like Deuteronomy 17:17 where we find this said about future kings: “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.”
And this is just what happened to the likes of King Solomon. The OT makes it clear that there were very real consequences of his polygamy. This is shown time and time again, and the strong words applied to Solomon are true of all the others: “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4).
Another such quote:
Or as Old Testament scholar Richard Davidson puts it in his magisterial Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament, when we examine the patriarchal narratives where examples of plural marriages are found, “the narrator presents each account in such a way as to underscore a theology of disapproval. The record of these polygamous relationships bristles with discord, rivalry, heartache, and even rebellion, revealing the motivations and/or disastrous consequences that invariably accompanied such departures from God’s Edenic ideal.”
He goes on to state that of the 3000 men mentioned in the OT record, only 33 are involved in polygamy, and “invariably the divinely inspired narrators include their tacit condemnation of these practices. Contrary to other ANE legislation, Mosaic legislation condemns all polygamy, both for the people and (at least implicitly) for the king.”
While God at times may show some grace to the polygamist along the way, “the prohibitions in Lev. 18 – including polygamy – are presented as universal law, applicable to all humanity (transcultural) for all time (transtemporal), upholding the order of creation.”
And obviously the New Testament also enjoins monogamous relationships only. As Norman Geisler summarises, “Our Lord reaffirmed God’s original intention by citing this passage (Matt. 19:4) and noting that God created one ‘male and [one] female’ and joined them in marriage. The NT stresses that ‘Each man [should] have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband’ (1 Cor. 7:2). Likewise, Paul insisted that a church leader should be ‘the husband of one wife’ (1 Tim. 3:2, 12). Indeed, monogamous marriage is a prefiguration of the relation between Christ and His bride, the church (Eph. 5:31-32).”
And New Testament scholar Andreas Kostenberger puts it this way:
In short, the Bible is clear that individuals in the history of Israel who abandoned God’s design of monogamy and participated in polygamy did so contrary to the Creator’s plan and ultimately to their own detriment. The sin and disorder produced by polygamy, then, is further testimony to the goodness of God’s monogamous design of marriage as first revealed in the marriage of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
So much for the ‘polygamy is just peachy’ silliness being pushed by the revisionists. But this will not stop Whitaker from offering us more howlers, including this very lame chestnut: “In the New Testament, Jesus said nothing about homosexual relationships or marriage, except that people should not divorce.”
Oh good grief. This is so far past its use-by date that it seems rather pointless to even have to respond to it. This is Ploy #3 in my book. As I said there, “Jesus never said a word about rape, incest, child abuse, arson or pollution. Are we to argue therefore that these behaviours are acceptable? Is anything OK if Jesus did not specifically condemn it or mention it? The truth is, arguing from silence is always poor logic.”
And Jesus of course fully affirmed heterosexual marriage by directly appealing to Genesis 2:24 in Mark 10:6-9 and Matthew 19:4-6. As theologian and ethicist Stanley Grenz remarked, “Christians maintain that this radical teaching of Jesus forms the heart of the biblical understanding of marriage and as such constitutes the ideal in all eras.” And as New Testament Professor Robert Gagnon says, Jesus
shows no awareness, much less acceptance, of any other pattern – even though no Jew in antiquity could have been oblivious to homosexual relationships among many Gentiles. There was no need for him to comment on whether homosexual unions should be permitted and, if so, whether his stance on divorce and remarriage should apply to them too. The creation texts authorized only one type of sexual union. It would have been a forgone conclusion for him that homoerotic relationships and human-animal unions, both proscribed in Leviticus, were unacceptable.
As I conclude in my book, “Thus heterosexual marriage as intended by God is the measuring rod by which we judge homosexuality or any other sexual expression. As Schmidt reminds us, ‘Every sexual act that the Bible calls sin is essentially a violation of marriage, whether existing or potential’.”
And in another shocker she repeats the myth that only things like homosexual rape and power plays are being condemned in Scripture, not “loving” homosexual relationships. Sorry, wrong again Ms Whitaker. I cover this doozey in Ploys 7, 8, and 9 in my book.
Briefly, homosexuality in all its forms is everywhere condemned in the Bible. There are no exceptions to this. Take something like the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah which the revisionists like to say is only about rape and the like. As I write in my book:
Some seek to argue that it is homosexual rape that is condemned here, not just homosexuality in itself. Hamilton offers four compelling reasons why this cannot be the case, and then concludes, “Clearly, then, the incident frowns on homosexual relations for whatever reason.”
The revisionist account of this story may be appealing to some, but it is not one that can be derived from proper exegesis or hermeneutics. As Hamilton puts it, this “interpretation can only be evaluated as wild and fanciful.”
The mainstream understanding of this text has always seen homosexuality as being clearly in view. As Robert Gagnon reminds us, “the two most prominent Jewish writers of the first century C.E., Philo and Josephus, interpreted Gen. 19:4-11 to refer explicitly to homosexual acts. . . . For Philo and Josephus homosexual conduct was merely the most outrageous example of a much wider range of sinful excess.”
She also drags out the old canard about “neither Jew nor Gentile” as found in Galatians 3:28. That is appalling abuse of Scripture. This has to do with all people, regardless of the social standing, being one in Christ if they are part of the redeemed. It has nothing to do with people losing their genitals and somehow becoming gender-neutral.
As Ben Witherington comments, “Gal. 3:28 has sometimes been called the Magna Carta of Humanity and there is a sense in which that label is apt, but it is also well to be aware that Paul is not suggesting here the obliteration of the distinctions he mentions in this verse, but rather their redemption and transformation in Christ. The new creation is the old one transformed and transfigured. These ethnic, social, and sexual distinctions continue to exist but in Christ they are not to determine one’s soteriological or spiritual or social standing in the body of Christ.”
It is clear that Paul here says nothing about sexual lifestyles. He could have if he so chose, but he did not. As Paul Copan remarks, “Scripture clearly affirms the equality of all individuals – blacks, women, slaves – because they are God’s image-bearers. The same doesn’t hold true for sexual relationships.”
She closes with this line, straight out of the homosexual activists’ playbook:” Christian values of love, justice and inclusion found throughout the Bible are why so many Christians support marriage equality.” Um no. Biblical love is clearly tied in with keeping God’s commands, as Jesus made perfectly clear.
Biblical justice is always connected with God’s righteousness and holiness. Something like homosexuality which is everywhere condemned in Scripture in the strongest of terms is never something Christians can promote, condone or celebrate. And contrary to her secular left “inclusion” nonsense, any straightforward reading of the Bible makes clear its emphasis is really on exclusion.
Those who deliberately shake their fists at God, exult in their sin, make excuses for immorality, and try to twist Scripture to push an agenda of sin and rebellion – as Ms Whitaker so blatantly does – have excluded themselves from Christ and his holy Kingdom.
Unless they repent and start to agree with God, instead of in effect calling him a liar, they sadly are excluded from God now and will be for all eternity. They are the ones – not Mrs Court – who have a lot to answer for. And so do leftist propaganda outfits like the ABC and the SMH.