Mars Hill Forum #32: the Bible, Homosexuality, Homophobia and Eisegesis
John C. Rankin
[excerpted from First the Gospel, Then Politics …, 1999, Vol. 2, not published]
On July 28, 1996, I addressed Mars Hill Forum #32 in Muskegon, MI, with Dr. John Allen, former writer with the Christian Science Monitor, then working on a book: “Out: Meditations of a Gay Christian Scientist.” Our topic was: Does The Bible Object More To Homophobia Than It Does To Homosexuality?
Allen published a sermon delivered at a Unitarian-Universalist church, which he published in his March 2, 1994 “Journal.” He was a columnist for the Muskegon Chronicle, and sent me a copy of his Journal.
He began his sermon, as he did his presentation at the forum, with an argument that protested the “Bible Thumpers” who use the Bible as an excuse to hate homosexuals.
Allen argues that the Leviticus passages only prohibited male prostitution, not intrinsic homosexuality. Which I address elsewhere, as the biblical exegesis demonstrates otherwise. From there, Allen speaks of Sodom, where he says that the Bible approves of Lot offering his two daughters. What we have here is an interpretation that operates apart from the biblical assumptions of creation, sin and redemption. Thus, Lot’s sin is confused with God’s nature, where God justified such “pimping,” as Allen puts it. This reflects a schizophrenic view of who God is, consistent with the hermeneutics of suspicion. Allen then alludes to the hospitality question atomistically, as we can easily discern, given our perspective which is in tune with the whole biblical record on the nature and reputation of all of Sodom’s sins. But the centerpiece of his argument is where he then says that the Bible knows nothing of a “true homosexual love.” When I presented to him the biblical outline of creation, sin and redemption in the forum, he did not contest it. And when I asked him where in the order of creation homosexuality was to be found, he admitted he could not find it.
As he continued in his published sermon, John Allen sought to use biblical stories to allow for homosexuality. The language from Daniel 1 is used, in the King James Version, where it speaks of the chief eunuch showing “favor” and “tender love” to Daniel. This is interpreted as “God’s doing,”and intimates the possibility that it was homosexual in nature. It is important to emphasize this non-scholarly element. John Allen, though with a Ph.D., was not trained in biblical languages or exegetical skills, yet he enters this territory and suggests conclusions. In our forum together, I made it clear that he was not taking the Bible on its own terms, and he could not answer otherwise. He would take a smattering of “higher criticism” sources against the Bible, then take the parts he wanted to retain, and all in a purely experiential hermeneutic that reverses the Wesleyan quadrilateral, a commitment to deconstruction where he remakes the biblical text in the image of his own ideas. He wanted justification for his homosexuality, and if he could alter the biblical witness to do so, he would. But not only does someone like John Allen do it, but theologically trained scholars and ministers are willing to forsake intellectual integrity as much as they can professionally get away with, in order to invent the presence of homosexuality in the biblical text.
The reality of the text is another matter. The Hebrew word in use here is hesed, a word famous in its own right to define the “steadfast love” and “mercy” of Yahweh to Israel. It is theologically rich in its many biblical uses, and as foreign to the concept of homosexual acts or identity as possible. Not only that, but it is a “eunuch” – a man castrated by Nebuchadnezzar – who shows the hesed to Daniel. The custom for a pagan king in the ancient near east was to castrate the men who had official duties to look after the his harem – so they could be sexually trusted not to sleep with the king’s wives and concubines. Yet here the suggestion is made that the chief eunuch had a homosexual liaison with Daniel. The chief eunuch, in reality, saw the presence of God in Daniel’s life, and thus he showed favor to Daniel, in allowing him not to break kosher laws, and thus able to set his own diet. Yahweh’s hesed to Daniel, coming through the Babylonian eunuch by sovereign initiative, is designed to empower Daniel to remain faithful to covenantal law. The suggestion that God is initiating a homosexual liaison for Daniel in violation of covenantal law is remarkable.
Allen then moved to the story of David and Jonathan, as we have already looked at. He quotes language from the King James Version how “ ‘They kissed one another, and wept with one another, until David exceeded.’ ” He then says:
“Now, just what that means, I also leave to you – and to any translator who is courageous enough to tell ME. All I have to go on is the dictionary’s suggestion that ‘exceed’ means to go beyond the bounds or limits – to go over the edge. A moment later, in any case, Jonathan is talking about ‘my seed and thy seed’ being committed forever.
“I don’t mean to bring more to this story than may be there, but I don’t like seeing it deprived of its erotic implications, either. Your average Bible Thumper had better be able to thump the story of David and Jonathan into Platonic shape before he tells me his Bible is adamantly opposed to anything even the least bit suspect. I believe it can’t be done, frankly, without depriving the story of David and Jonathan of its imagery, power and beauty – or of its immortal tribute to the love of one man for another.”
To “eisegete” is to import something foreign into the text, “discover” it, and pretend it was there all along. Allen’s rendition of David and Jonathan does so exceedingly. At every turn of his retelling in this published sermon, he chooses language to implicate an erotic encounter – the poet, musician and soldier (a “politically correct” portrayal of a “good” homosexual citizen) who sings over his dying “lover,” who shoots “symbolic arrows” (an eisegetical introduction of the pagan myth of Cupid?), and who employs a servant boy in keeping secret about his participation in arranging a romantic homosexual tryst.
And when Allen quotes the text showing Saul’s anger with David, he does so to implicate a possible and “knowing” opposition of Saul to their alleged erotic relationship, but stops his quote of the verse before the context is complete: “As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he must die!” (1 Samuel 20:31). Saul did not throw a javelin at Jonathan because of opposition to a supposed homosexual affair, but because of his opposition to his son’s allegiance to David’s anointing by Yahweh as the next king (as we already noted in 1 Samuel 22:8, which if there were any such homosexuality involved, would have been explicitly noted as well; and too, if there were, why did Saul originally keep David at his court rather than send him back to his family?).
Also, Saul opposed the Davidic covenant that Yahweh was initiating, since he had already rebelled against the covenant Yahweh had made with him. And as we have already evidenced in looking at David and Jonathan’s relationship, it was predicated on a genuine friendship based on a common faith in Yahweh, and Jonathan’s courage not to follow in his father’s sins. The late night meeting was not the erotic episode that Allen so much wants to discover. It was a biblically heathy male friendship in the face of political danger, where both men were choosing Yahweh as King, and not the rebellious Saul as king.
Allen makes much of the KJV word, that David “exceeded” after being kissed by Jonathan. The implication is that it is an erotic kiss, missing the fact that in the ancient near east as well as many other cultures, men kiss men as a sign of greeting or friendship – but it is not lips to lips as an erotic kiss between a man and a woman. Lips to cheek or forehead is the reality.
The use of such an archaic translation (the KJV), “until David exceeded,” is used here to postulate a sexual connotation. The NIV says here that “they kissed each other and wept together – but David wept the most.” It is an exceedingly common Hebrew word in use, gadal, which means the “greatest” or the “most” in this context. In other words, David cried more than Jonathan did, likely being aware of the danger Jonathan’s life was in.
Then Allen asks for a translator “courageous” enough to tell him what it means – all he has to go on is the “dictionary.” Though he does not know the Hebrew, he could have read a modern translation (which he does in other contexts) to see what “exceeded” means. Then he works on his sexual connotation and aligns David and Jonathan’s descendants (“seed” in the KJV), trying to draw a link to reproduction, as if homosexual acts have anything to do with the ability to procreate. The reference to descendants is in reference to the covenant between David and Jonathan, ensuring that David, in service to the Messianic lineage, will honor Jonathan’s surviving descendants – which David does explicitly later on (vis-à-vis Mephibosheth; 2 Samuel 4:4; 21:7).
Allen then says that he is not trying to “bring more to this story than may be there.” But that is precisely what he is doing. For then he says he does not want to see it deprived of its “erotic implications,” which of course, are not there to begin with, as simple exegesis shows. This recasting of the biblical definitions of love is typical of the homosexual-rights movement within the church today. Allen demands that “[y]our average Bible Thumper” needs to show a greater “Platonic” love at play between David and Jonathan in order to avoid the implication that it is an erotic love. No – no need for Plato and his dualistic religion that makes way for homosexuality on its own terms. Rather, the need is for a robust Hebrew understanding of Yahweh’s covenantal love, of hesed and ahav and agape, and not eros, for a rooting in the source and power of only Genesis.
This perversion of love continues as Allen’s tries to bring Jesus himself into a homosexual alliance. He says:
“And then there’s Jesus, who, at the last supper, was kissed by John, described in the Gospels as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’ If he loved them all, purely and Platonically, why is one of them singled out this way? Was it that same ‘favor and tender love’ the eunuch felt for Daniel? (Most people, I realize, prefer to think Jesus was altogether sexless. Poor Jesus!).”
Here, the hesed of Yahweh shown to Daniel is perverted, reducing it from an act of favor, to an erotic feeling, thus implicating God as the author of homosexuality. This is the “gift of God” argument. And now Allen wants Jesus to be a homosexual too. But he is wrong about the text. First, it was not John whom Jesus kissed at the Last Supper (cf. John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20; John “leaned” back against Jesus when reclining next to him), but it was Judas who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, as a signal to the soldiers (cf. Matthew 26:48-49; Mark 14:43-47; Luke 22:47-48). What a bold error. As well, such a kiss was the standard near eastern form of greeting – which Judas uses to indicate friendship when in fact he is Jesus’s enemy. Such a non-erotic kiss has been made erotic in this unsubstantiated interpretation, and Jesus is virtually blasphemed, accused as the one who erotically kissed the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (agape not eros).
Then Allen draws it back to his false understanding with Daniel. He so wishes for Jesus to have been a homosexual, and then employs a sarcastic lament about Jesus’s alleged reputation among people as being “sexless.” This runs counter to the Messiah’s purpose, which is to redeem, not to procreate. Allen’s assumptions are contrary to the power to give which is deeper than sex itself, and deeper than sexual differentiation in the person of God the Father; and contrary to the power to give to which sex in marriage points, and which is fulfilled in eternal life where marriage and procreation are transcended, since their earthy purpose is fulfilled. Jesus participates in the eternal power to give in the trinity, which precedes and defines human sexuality – so to say Jesus is sexless, is to miss the nature of the gift of human sexuality to begin with, as we have detailed in Chapter Six.
Allen’s attempt to call Jesus a homosexual literally demonizes the Messiah because it makes Jesus into an advocate for a doctrine of demons. The spirit of antichrist. Is this not the next level up from Mel White’s argument that the church is the true “sodomite” for refusing approval of homosexuality? Now we have an argument that Jesus was homosexual. I do not know of any more concerted attempt in church history to eisegete the text than what the homosexual-rights movement is attempting in this time. Theologically, there have been many equally serious attempts to eisegete Jesus away from his deity, but none that have gone this far in the pollution of the ethics of only Genesis.
Allen continues his argument, putatively finding homosexuality in Jesus’s discussion about divorce. He quotes the New English Bible, “ ‘While some are incapable of marriage because they were BORN so, or were made so by men, there are others who have themselves renounced marriage for the kingdom of God’s sake ….’ ” He then says:
“It seems to me this puts an end to the question of whether it is ‘Christian’ to insist all people are born heterosexual, but some perversely ‘choose’ to be gay. I will take Jesus’ word for it that we are BORN the way we are, and some are simply born not to engage in heterosexual mating. If this was clear to Jesus, I can’t see why it isn’t clear to all who claim to follow him.”
Tragically, in John Allen’s writings, he referred often to the “Bible Thumpers,” that he is called a “faggot” by such people, or has been dehumanized by similar language. We will address this issue later on, in terms of how to show love and respect to homosexuals – by treating them better than their homosexuality, by treating them as having been made in God’s image. But here we can note some deep pain on his own part.
And here again we have a classic example of eisegesis. It is needful to quote the whole text from Matthew 19:
“When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.
“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’
“ ‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.’
“ ‘Why then,’ they asked, ‘did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?’
“Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.’
“The disciples said to him, ‘If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.’
“Jesus replied, ‘Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it’ ” (vv. 1-12).
Allen’s shaping of the passage neglects the whole context. The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus, and they misrepresent the words of Moses by saying divorce can be arbitrary from the man’s perspective. Jesus’s response is to root himself in the order of creation and declare the goodness and normalcy of man and woman in faithful marriage. It is not to be broken. But then the Pharisees press him with Moses’s instructions concerning when divorce is allowable (when a wife is “indecent,” that is, exposes her nakedness [Hebrew term erah] with a seductive purpose that may or may not involve actual adultery; cf. Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jesus then says that Moses allowed it due to their hardness of heart – “but it was not this way from the beginning.” He then carves out the only exception – “marital unfaithfulness” (porneia in the Greek, the root for pornography as we looked at earlier in its nature and cognate effects).
So the disciples, in view of such a high standard for marriage, muse that it might be better not to marry, than to run the risk of divorce and the messy situations to which it leads. Jesus’s assumptions are clear – his instructions are based on the order of creation, and in the face of its reversal, how then to live in the reversal of the reversal. How to live for the divorcee, and how to live for the one who never marries – two situations not a part of the order of creation, but for whom redemptive counsel is needed in the face of their brokenness.
In the face of the reversal, some are eunuchs because from “the womb of their mother [they] were born so” (literal Greek construction), some are made so by men, and some “renounce marriage” (“make eunuchs of themselves” in the Greek) for the kingdom of heaven. Now the ancient near eastern understanding of a eunuch is that of a castrated male, and certainly that is the case with the eunuch under Nebuchadnezzar. But would Jesus allow for castration? No. For Deuteronomy 23:1 reads:
“No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the LORD.”
So foreign to the order of creation is emasculation, that the assembly of Yahweh cannot bear the presence of an emasculated man. The assembly of Yahweh is to be a holy assembly, with an emphasis on wholeness. Yet too, there is the eschatological reversal of the reversal, as Isaiah says:
“For this is what the LORD says:
” ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose what pleases me and hold fast to my covenant – to them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off’ ” (56:4-5).
In a play of words, those who have been “cut off” (emasculated), will have in eternal life a name that will not be “cut off,” receiving an everlasting name as Revelation 2:17 speaks about. Why? Because, despite their brokenness, however come by, they have chosen fidelity to the Sabbath, which necessarily means fidelity to the order of creation. But their fidelity is only possible by first acknowledging their brokenness. There is hope for the excluded eunuch, just as there is hope for the excluded homosexual, and in the case of Ruth, for the excluded Moabitess (as we have noted earlier). The Torah set the laws for holiness, and the Redeemer, prophetically in the Old and in fulfillment in the New Testament, redeems those willing to be redeemed. All we need do is to repent and trust God in Christ Jesus, rooting ourselves in the ethics of only Genesis.
Thus, Jesus’s mention of eunuchs assumes this diagnostic theological reality. But then we have an interesting question of chosen language. In Matthew’s text, the Greek word for eunuch is eunouchos. It is a compound word, taken from eune (“bed”) and echo (“to have” the power over). So the word says nothing about castration – only that it refers to an unmarried man who had the delegated authority over the bedchambers of women in the king’s service – whether his wives or others. Since virtually all men in Hebrew society in the first century became married, the eunuch was the common reference point, descriptively, to speak of a man who is unmarried. And that would either be a man who was castrated by an accident, or a Gentile who was castrated for some other purpose, usually to serve a king’s harem and/or other royal maidservants.
That is why the NIV speaks of those (Jews) who “renounce marriage” for the sake of the kingdom of heaven – who become as a eunuch in that regard, but with no reference to castration. In the Isaiah passage, the Hebrew root for “eunuch” is saras, which means to “castrate.” The LXX uses the eunouchos term in translating it, but it does not add any additional Greek element to indicate actual castration – only the word which indicates the de facto state of being a eunuch. Which is to say, that Jesus is free to use the Greek term eunouchos more broadly to speak of those who “like” a eunuch, are unmarried, but without necessarily implicating castration. And the context shows this analogical force in meaning and purpose – those who choose to remain single against the cultural norm, for the sake of the kingdom of God, in their own calling. The most common reference point in that culture, for singleness among adults (apart from being widowed), was the station of a eunuch.
But what to make of those that are “born that way”? John Allen seeks to expand the concept of being born “not to marry,” as though it means being born a homosexual, with the inference that it is genetic, unchosen. This the text does not allow, first because that is not the context, and second because of Jesus’s dependency on the order of creation. The concern is for the redemption of “eunuchs,” not for their confirmation in passive or active sin. To be a homosexual is to be confirmed in sin. Jesus’s comment about being “born that way” has nothing to do with the “genetics” of being a eunuch (there are none). His context deals with choice or the restriction of choice – those who are made into eunuchs (against their will in a tyrannical society, or who opt for it out of survival), and those who chose to be for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (i.e., choose to remain unmarried, with no castration involved).
Prior to these two categories are those who are “born that way,” and there is the sense that this is the starting point of a three-part progression. The first part refers those who are born as slaves to slaves – born eunuchs, and earmarked ahead of time by the king to be thus in his service. The second part refers to those upon whom this action is placed later on in life, whether in an accident or by the force of others upon them. The third part refers to those who renounce marriage for specifically redemptive purposes. Thus Jesus covers for the disciples two known human ways (which likely involve castration), and then sets for them the third way, which is redemptive, which does not involve castration, and to which only some are called.
In this whole mix, there is nothing about homosexuality. The import of homosexuality by John Allen reflects his commitment to reverse the order of creation, and to reverse Jesus’s purpose for these words. He imports a genetic component that is not there, and cannot be there, he rejects the power of informed choice, and speaks of those who are “incapable” of marriage. He says that Jesus is saying that some people are clearly not born to engage in heterosexual mating, and this syllogistically implies that homosexuality is “a gift of God.” In fact, Jesus is saying that all people are created heterosexual and born that way in their natural proclivity. Man and woman are not to be separated from the intent of marriage, but in view of the fact that the reversal does separate various people, Jesus addresses that broken estate with the redemptive possibilities.
But with his argument in place, Allen goes on to make his principle eisegetical point of all – that the real concern of the Bible is not to say no to homosexuality, but to say no to “homophobia.” Just like Mel White. Allen says:
” ‘But that’s not the most poignant thing Jesus had to say where the matter of today’s topic is concerned: “homosexuality or homophobia – which is the larger problem?’ For my money, he ends the debate once and for all with this single ultimatum: ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’ What others do, or don’t do, where love and intimacy is concerned, is not open to judgment by those outside the relationship.’
“And this may be the right point at which to ask, ‘Which does the Bible, in its totality, find the more problematic: homosexuality, or homophobia?’ That one passage, demanding non-judgmentalism of Christians, may be all that’s needed to put the anti-gay forces in their place; but it’s not the whole story.”
Allen then argues for a “totality” of the whole Bible, as a progressive revelation from Genesis to Revelation, where it moves from past judgmentalisms into an “all-loving” God. It “is a long, long story of increasing tolerance,” and those who do not accept homosexuality are stuck in “an early stage of development,” by definition being “homophobic,” and living in fear.
What he does here is to take Jesus’s words from the Sermon on the Mount as a proof-text, defines an all-purpose “non-judgmentalism” that is not in the text, by which to judge those who disagree with him, and as well, later he decries “too much attention to chapter and verse.” This is not a hermeneutic of the Bible on its own terms, but rather it is an agenda of whether or not someone accepts homosexuality as “a gift of God.” A hermeneutic is invented, one of an undefined, unbiblical and all-purpose “love” that really equals a modern and pagan definition of “tolerance.” Consistent with a hermeneutics of suspicion and contrary to the Wesleyan quadrilateral.
Jesus’s words in question are located in Matthew 7, and here quoted with some additional context:
” ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’
“ ‘Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye …’
“ ‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’
“ ‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
“ ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” ’ ” (vv. 1-5; 13-23).
When Jesus says “do not judge,” it is not a proscription against judging. Rather, he is saying to judge with equanimity – that by the measure we judge others, we will ourselves be judged. Abraham was brought into Yahweh’s judgment process on Sodom, Jesus teaches elsewhere to “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment” (John 7:24), and Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 6:1-6 of how we are to judge between truth and falsehood. But in each case, the judgment we participate in is not in passing ultimate sentence – that is God’s prerogative alone. Rather, we are called to discern between truth and falsehood, a) for our own right living, and b) for our witness to the world. The warning is that if we do not judge with equanimity, then we will be judging ourselves guilty of the sin we find in others.
It is another way of saying that judgment begins with the household of God. Judge ourselves first, then we will be fit judges of others. And if, in Christ, we know the mercy that triumphs over judgment, then we will always be looking to see mercy triumph in the lives of others. Judgment precedes mercy, and judgment is real. Without the acknowledgment that sin is judged, there is no acknowledgment for the need of mercy. If we realize this, then out of concern for our brother’s welfare, we will judge or help discern where sin is polluting his life. But before we can do that, we must first submit to God’s judgment of sin in our own lives, lest we become hypocrites, and open to the righteous judgment of fellow Christians who are in a godly position to help us.
And this is the concern – not to be hypocrites. Homosexual personss and others who struggle with temptation have had plenty of experience with hypocrites judging them. But that does not obviate the need to judge sin – for the folly of non-judgmentalism leads to the justification of sin, which leads to hell. Rather the need is to judge rightly as Jesus instructs. He says it is good to remove the speck of sawdust from our brother’s eye, but only after the plank is removed from our own, so we can then see clearly to help our brother. The only one who can help remove the plank from our own eye is someone who already can see clear enough – who does not himself have foreign objects clouding his vision. That is always Jesus himself, and through his chosen means. And when we help someone remove the sawdust from his eyes, we do so in Jesus’s name, and not by our own righteousness. We who have received mercy by confessing and having been forgiven of our sins, can then be agents of Jesus’s judgments which lead others to the same mercy.
In the second section of this passage from the sermon on the Mount, we see Jesus’s judgments. He is not “non-judgmental” as John Allen maintains. False prophets are to be judged, and they are first judged by the fruit of their lives. Those that are false, like bad trees, will be cut down (by Jesus) and cast into the fire. Many others will come to Jesus on the last day and claim allegiance to him. But he will command them to depart from his presence, as those whom he never knew, as those who were in fact evildoers.
Jesus’s judgments on the hypocrites, as we have already examined, are the most strident we can find in human literature – because Jesus is just, and his enemies have mocked mercy. They know that Jesus knows that they know it, thus they have already willingly judged themselves. Jesus talks about hell more than the rest of the Bible combined, in his desire to save us from the folly of choosing it. Allen thus posits a false dichotomy between the Old and New Testaments, not knowing the Gospel of only Genesis to begin with – the good love of Yahweh Elohim from the outset, and the nature of akol tokel versus moth tamuth …. The Bible is clear; homosexual identity and acts are evil, they are shaqatz and toevah – those who embrace the same, refusing to give it up, will be excluded from eternal life, consistent with the ethics of their own choices. Those who argue for homosexuality as “a gift of God” are wolves in sheep’s clothing.
In order to judge between the fruit of the good trees and that of the bad trees, between true and false prophets, we can put it in these terms, where by depending on God’s grace: Who reflects the Bible on its own terms, its rootedness in creation, sin and redemption, and who does not? Who reflects the God, life, choice, sex order of creation, and who does not? Who honors the Wesleyan quadrilateral of Scripture, tradition, reason, experience, and who does not? Who honors the ten positive assumptions of only Genesis, and who does not? Who reflects the six ethical components of biblical faith – the power to give, the power to live in the light, the power of informed choice, the power to love hard questions, the power to love enemies and the power to forgive – and who does not?
I am glad to be judged accordingly, and if at any point I can be shown wanting, I am delighted to be corrected, repent and be thus edified. I depend on nothing short of God’s mercy in Jesus Christ, and claim nothing in terms of human righteousness. What goodness that may come through my life is the work of the Holy Spirit, and what sin is in my life is to be confessed, and in need of the Holy Spirit’s purging work.
Do those in the pansexual jihad embrace these standards of judgment? If not, then why pretend to be Christian? Why not just be pagan, and take the same freedom Joshua offered, and go worship other gods?
So with an eisegetical stab at the Sermon on the Mount, John Allen continues to serve the reversal, invent his “totality” argument about the Bible and declares implicitly that the Bible is more concerned with refuting “homophobia” than homosexuality. He says the Bible is more concerned with refuting a modern deconstructionist concept (i.e., homophobia), than it is in saying no to a sin it diagnoses as sin (i.e., homosexuality).
Allen continues his reversal ethos as he claims to represent the totality of Genesis to Revelation, and yet he never dealt with its hermeneutical origins in the order of creation. Instead he imports a pagan “journey of the psyche” (perhaps from his metaphysical mooring in the Christian Scientist Church in which he was raised), and invents a “development” of human experience that trumps the word of God on its own terms. He sets the Old against the New Testaments in rejection of Yahweh and his power to give in the order of creation, and in rejection of the Jewish nature of the New Testament. He invents a catch-all non-judgmental love, and appeals to the image of God without ever having defined it. This development is labeled as a “long story of increasing tolerance,” where he imposes a modern unbiblical definition of tolerance, in opposition to the true tolerance of the ethics and power of informed choice in Genesis 2. He judges those who take the Bible seriously (and judgmentally calls them “Bible Thumpers”) as seeking to deny rights to homosexuals – and like Mel White, he needs to call them “executioner[s] of gay men and women” in order to justify his judgmentalisms against those who disagree with him. Thus he arrives at a new cardinal sin: homophobia, the “fear of homosexuality and homosexuals.” This is a word invented within the last several decades, and which he declares to be the Bible’s paramount concern. But in the process a schizophrenic view of things is maintained. He declares on the one hand that the Old Testament allows for homosexual expression, but on the other hand, those who oppose homosexuality are “trapped” in an Old Testament mode of thinking which is a primitive, earlier stage of development out of which elitist culture has already evolved. As Allen postulates the “evolvement” of religious faith in the Old and New Testaments, from “agrarian” to “urban,” I see rather his desire for the evolvement being from the countryside into the city of Sodom.
One final element worth noting in John Allen’s sermon is a reference he makes to “Mosaic stones” of judgment versus the supposed “non-judgmentalism” of Jesus. The story of the woman caught in the act of adultery, to which this phrase alludes, is a good balance to Allen’s contention. It is found in John 8:2-11. This story is not found in the two oldest and most reliable manuscripts of John’s gospel, so many scholars have questioned whether it is part of the original inspired canon of the word of God. And they have good reason to raise this issue. Nonetheless, it was included by the early church, likely because it was well attested as an authentic story which makes a superb point. And the point it does make is made many times over in Jesus’s ministry and the rest of the Bible – that judgment turns to mercy only when judgment is acknowledged. This is the opposite of a “non-judgmentalism” doctrine. Here is the story:
“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?’ They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
“At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ”
” ‘No one, sir,’ she said.
“ ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’ ”
We have seen other attempts of the religious elitists to trap Jesus. Here they begin by misrepresenting the law of Moses, just as they did on the divorce question. The Mosaic law (cf. Deuteronomy 22:23-24) only required stoning for certain acts of adultery, namely that of a woman who is a virgin and pledged in marriage to another man. This is why at first glance, Mary the mother of Jesus appeared liable to a death sentence when Joseph discovered she was pregnant. But even yet, his righteous and loving spirit did not want to prosecute – in his disappointment at the apparent sin of his beloved wife-to-be, he resolved to divorce her quietly. Then the angel intervened with the announcement of the truth.
But the spirit of the religious elitists, with the woman caught in the act, was the opposite – they wanted the judgment and death of the woman, and the silencing of Jesus, all in one stroke. And especially, they wanted Jesus to call for it, so they could allegedly blame him with resisting Roman rule by taking the law into his own hands. They wanted him to be a vigilante, then they could justify their refusal to acknowledge him as the Messiah, and thus have Rome crucify him as a lawbreaker.
The religious elitists also violated the law of Moses, in that both the man and the woman caught in the act of adultery were to be executed (cf. Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22). Here their male chauvinism and distance from the true law of Moses was evident. But Jesus was wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove in answering their entrapment. When he stooped down and started writing on the ground with his finger – before giving answer – it must have been an extraordinary event to witness.
The trap has been laid, but Jesus refuses to step into it, holds them and the woman in suspense, and instead begins to write in the dirt. What did he write? There have been many guesses. Did he write the exact law of Moses that the religious elitists had misrepresented? Did he write: “Who is the man?” Or “Who set her up?” Or “Which one of you is the adulterer with her?” Whatever he wrote, they kept on questioning him. Did they ignore what he was writing, or did what he write leave them undeterred in their agenda? Or did he write something like “MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN” from the Book of Daniel, in its judgment against Belshazzar (5:25-28), alluding to the supernatural writing on the wall? That to suggest the Pharisees and teachers of the law were being judged and deserving of a similar fate? Whatever he wrote, the religious elitists continued in their hypocrisy, so Jesus stood up and confronted it.
He did not tell them to stone the woman, so they could not rationalize an accusation against him for challenging Roman political authority. Rather he called them to account on the ethics of choice. He represented the Mosaic law which required them to execute the adulterer and adulteress if they were caught in the act. Jewish law required the accusers to also be the executioners, so that there was an accountability in place. But by reflecting a true “do not judge, or you will be judged” criterion, Jesus allowed mercy to triumph.
The elitists walked away beginning with the eldest, knowing that if they threw a stone, they would be likewise exposing themselves to the judgment of their peers. And they all knew that they were self-serving hypocrites. Also, these Pharisees may well have deliberately entrapped the woman to begin with, thus having complicity in the adultery, in order to try and entrap Jesus. They were certainly not above such tactics. For example, where is the man involved?
As Jesus stood there with the woman, he fulfilled his words to Nicodemus in John 3:17 – the Son of Man has not come to condemn the world, but to save it. Jesus frees her from false judgmentalism, and homosexuals like the late John Allen should be freed from the same by the church’s witness to them. I sought to do this in my forum with him. But “false judgmentalism” is not the same as “non-judgmentalism.” For Jesus continues, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Repentance is required to move from judgment to mercy. So, as the word comes to the adulteress, it comes to the homosexual by the One who has paid the price of sin’s judgment: “Go now and leave your life of sin.” We, like Jesus, have no Mosaic stones to throw at John Allen or any other homosexual. And if we fulfill this ethic, then we can serve the possibility that homosexuals can hear Jesus call them to repent of toevah because of his love for them.
Judgment does precede mercy in reality, and here in my discussion of the pro-homosexual eisegesis, I have sought to reflect the biblical judgment of it. When such a foundation is fully laid, then I can address the reversal of the reversal, and advance my position that the greatest means to protect the human dignity and civil rights of homosexuals is by attention to only Genesis, and not in flight from it. “Homophobia” is not right, but neither is homosexuality.
There are three final examples of pro-homosexual eisegesis worth noting. First, there is the practice in Genesis 24:2 and 47:29 of placing the hand under the thigh to swear allegiance. The homosexuals read this as an erotic act, when it is simply a covenantal act based in Jewish cultures which said no to homosexuality, where faithfulness to Abraham and Israel’s lineage is pledged – near (but not touching) the organ of procreation, for that purpose.
Second, it has come across my desk that the homosexual Metropolitan Community Church denomination (MCC) sees the presence of homosexuality in the story of the Roman centurion whose servant Jesus heals (Luke 7:1-10). The servant is referred to four times in this pericope, three times by the masculine form of the common Greek term for slave or servant (doulos), and once with a common term for child or boy (pais). The MCC argument is that pais means a catamite, that is, a boy sex slave to the centurion. In ancient Greece, pederasty (homosexual acts between a man and a boy) was approved, and perhaps the MCC seeks to allude to that background. But this is pure eisegesis – nothing in the text, theologically, culturally, linguistically or etymologically allows for such a reading.
An examination of the best Greek lexicon there is (Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich – which traces the word histories thoroughly in all Greek literature including the New Testament), and an examination of all other Greek lexicons, reveal no such idea. Rather, quite the opposite. The term pais is used for children or youth, especially for boys but also for girls, for boys as sons or male heirs (the opposite of a catamite), as servants of God (the opposite of a catamite according to the Bible’s self-understanding of God’s nature and human nature), and of Christ as the Son of God (the quintessential opposite of a catamite). In other words, this is eisegesis designed by the MCC to mutilate the word of God in service to their idolatry of homosexuality. The reversal of the order of creation. And this error is compounded by its entertainment of blasphemy, for such an interpretation then implicitly says that as Jesus commends the centurion’s faith, he commends pederasty, that Jesus would support NAMBLA (the North American Man Boy Love Association) as it were, a group of pederasts from whom even some homosexual groups keep their distance.
The final example is found in the text of Luke 17:34. Though I have heard it used by pro-homosexual eisegetes at various points, I saw it embraced once by a well-educated man who was raised in a solid Christian home. In a letter to his parents, which has been shared with me, he wrote the following:
“I begin by acknowledging that a literal reading of the Bible is perfectly correct. But a literal reading does not mean a “literal interpretation out of context” …
“I have a T-Shirt that had printed on the front: “Everything Jesus said about homosexuality is on the back of this T-shirt.” The back is blank.
“I disagree. Jesus answered the Pharisees’ question about his coming kingdom thus (Luke 17:20,34):
” ‘And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation ….
” ‘I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.’
“I read this plainly: one man is lying with another, at night. One is taken to be with Jesus, and one is not. Obviously the fact of their lying together does not impact whether they are with Jesus in His Kingdom. The issue is whether Jesus is the savior, not sexual activity, orientation, or choice. You may have a different understanding of this scripture. In this letter, I will explain to you why I do not think homosexuality is wrong, despite Paul’s letters and Old Testament regulations. You may disagree with my explanation and call it a “liberal interpretation.” I will listen to your explanation of Luke 17:34: the only words of Jesus on the subject. But if you must go beyond the precise 25 words of the King James Version, it only seems fair that you allow me to discuss other scripture in context; and I will do so in the context of the Bible, without reference to modern day hocus pocus theology. If Jesus had meant to speak differently on this subject in Luke 17:36
” [KJV],35,34, he would have said: Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; neither one shall be taken, and both shall be left. But that is not what Jesus said.”
We have already dealt with many of these points, tracing back to the order of creation. Here we can note the eisegetical presentation of the passage, where the writer of the letter jumps from Jesus’s introductory words in 17:20 to v. 34 – skipping the diagnosis that the last days shall be like the days before Noah’s flood, and the days in Sodom before its judgment (vv. 26-29). He has ignored Sodom to justify sodomy. But even taking him on his own terms, limiting the discussion to the 25 words of Luke 17:34 in the KJV, we can observe the following. First, the Greek text does not specify “two men” lying in a bed, or “two women” grinding together – but in both cases speaks of “two” lying in a bed or “two” grinding. The KJV specified them as two men and two women, reasonably, because of a syntactical likelihood that this is that to which Jesus was referring. Culturally it could only be assumed that two people grinding together were women. The NIV thus speaks of “two women” grinding, but of “two people” lying in the bed. But to be consistent, I believe it should, like the KJV, speak of “two men” lying in the bed in conjunction with the “two women” grinding at the mill, or use “two people” in both cases. Because of the “grinding grain” referring to a woman’s practice, I believe Jesus’s words used two women in balance with two men (also, cf. Matthew 24:40-41 – “two men” in the field), and if he were referring to husband and wife, he would have said so. Thus, for some who might seek to answer the homosexual man who wrote this letter, by trying to not make it two men lying in a bed – it would be a half-truth at best, and disingenuous regardless.
The second element is that two men lying in a bed does not require two men sleeping in the same bed, though it might possibly be the case. The Greek word for “bed” (kline, pronounced “kli-nay”) can also be rendered as “couch” in the sense of two men reclining on a couch while eating a meal – a common custom of the day. As well, the word the KJV renders “in” is the preposition epi which means most literally “upon.” Thus, the idea of two men reclining “upon the couch” is most literal, with two been being “in a bed” being only a very secondary possibility. The primary possibility is to be preferred since there is no context that necessitates sleeping at night. In fact, the two men are set in juxtaposition to the two women doing daytime work, even though they are grinding the grain at “night” when one is taken. Thus, for the men, it may be that this reference is also to two men during an evening meal – reclining on a couch.
But third, if the reference were to two men sleeping in a bed together, there is no sexual connotation. Like John Allen’s eisegesis with the “love” (hesed) shown Daniel by the chief eunuch, or the “love” (Hebrew ahav and Greek agape) between David and Jonathan, or the love of Jesus for the apostle John (agape), so too does the homosexual man who wrote this letter to his Christian parents import erotic activity where there is none, and where the text requires the opposite. It is an eisegesis birthed in an attempt to justify the writer’s own lifestyle. In Jesus’s day, few people had the luxury of their own bed, or even a bed to share with others. And for this reason alone, the kline referred to here may more likely be in reference to a living room couch upon which people ate and extended hospitality.
People too poor to own a bed, who slept on mats, did their best as a priority to have couches available at meals and especially for guests. For those who did have beds, most shared it with others, with husband and wife having priority. The reality of housing, and extended families often living under the same roof, meant as many as 4-8 people would share one room in which to sleep, and usually on floor mats. This would not mean unmarried people sleeping together – but men with men and women with women if they were unmarried for any reason. Or brothers with brothers and sisters with sisters in a family, and possibly brothers with sisters if they were pre-adolescent.
In view of all this, I think Jesus’s most natural reference would have been to two men reclining upon a couch eating a meal. Regardless, if it is two men under the same set of covers, it is not sexual. To make it homosexual is to make Jesus into a Messiah who is not fulfilling the Jewish law, but one who is deliberately breaking it by putatively affirming a homosexual relationship, or for that matter, any sexual relationship outside of faithful marriage.
As an interesting side note, the writer of this letter refers to a pro-homosexual T-shirt proclaiming that Jesus never addressed the subject of homosexuality. We have seen this elsewhere; a) by his explicit regard of the order of creation and its definition of human sexuality, b) reference to the word for fornication that refers in Greek to both hetero and homosoexual, c) fulfilling the Law of Moses, and d) by his final words in the book of Revelation, where the kunes, male prostitutes, are specifically excluded from eternal life by Jesus.