Debunking Internet Arguments: Bible and Homosexuality

By Hendrik van der Breggen
The Carillon, December 6, 2012
Debunking Internet Arguments: Bible and Homosexuality
On the Internet there is a popular poster with the following caption at the bottom: “PWND: This is what it means.” (“PWND” is internet language for owned, dominated, annihilated, or outclassed.) Above the caption is a mock Facebook discussion about the Bible and homosexuality between two persons, Patti and Lacey.
Patti’s “biblical” position is PWND—owned, dominated, annihilated, and outclassed—by Lacey’s superior argument. Therefore, or so the poster would have us believe, the Bible’s view on same-sex relationships should be dismissed.
Today I will set out Patti and Lacey’s discussion. At risk of seeming homophobic, I will challenge Lacey’s argument. Then, at risk of seeming too sympathetic with homosexuality, I will challenge Patti’s position.
Here is the Facebook discussion.
Patti: “Homosexuality is a sin, Lacey, and it is in black and white in the Bible.”
Lacey: “So is not treating your body like a temple. And ladies should have their head covered. And in Deuteronomy, a marriage is only valid if the woman is a virgin, and she should be executed if she is not. And anyone who commits adultery should be stoned to death. In Mark, divorce is prohibited.”
Lacey continues: “I assume for homosexuality, you’re referring to Leviticus 18:6: ‘You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female. It is an abomination.’ A similar verse occurs two chapters later, in Leviticus 20:13: ‘A man who sleeps with another man is an abomination and should be executed.'”
Lacey continues: “Leviticus is a holiness code written 3,000 years ago. It also includes prohibitions against round haircuts, tattoos, working on the Sabbath, wearing garments of mixed fabrics, eating pork or shellfish, getting your fortune told, and even playing with the skin of a pig. (There goes football!)”
Lacey continues: “I believe in morality, which is doing right regardless of what I am told…not in religion, which is doing what I am told regardless of what is right.”
Lacey concludes: “You’re welcome to your own interpretation of the Bible and of politics, of course, but for me, I need more than ‘the Bible says so’ to justify certain things in this world and certainly to judge them.”
Thus, or so the caption at the bottom of the Internet poster tells us: PWND—this is what it means. That is to say, Patti’s biblical position has been owned, dominated, annihilated, and outclassed by Lacey’s superior argument.
Here is my challenge to Lacey.

I wonder if instead of PWND (i.e., owned/ dominated/ annihilated/ outclassed) a more accurate description of Lacey’s response is that she muddies the waters.
Consider Lacey’s reference to the Leviticus passages. Yes, the Leviticus passages do involve a “holiness code” (the purpose of this code was to keep the ancient Israelites consecrated or separated from neighboring non-Israelites).
However, as is not noted by Lacey (but should be noted), there are two dimensions to this code: an ethical-moral dimension and a ritual-ceremonial dimension—i.e., moral law and ceremonial law.
Significantly, the ceremonial law was abolished with Christ’s sacrifice, but the moral law wasn’t.
Significantly, the moral law included universal proscriptions against murder, theft, and sexual infractions (infractions such as adultery, incest, same-sex intercourse, human-animal sex), whereas the ceremonial law included the ritual cleanliness rules pertinent only to ancient Israel’s proper method of worship (rules such as washing after touching a dead body, not eating pork or shellfish, not engaging in sex during the menstrual period, etc.).
Of course, much more should be argued here. But my point is a modest one: Lacey blurs the distinction between moral law and ceremonial law, thereby causing confusion—i.e., she muddies the waters.
Further muddying of the waters occurs with Lacey’s bit about stoning anyone who commits adultery.
Here Lacey ignores the New Testament account of Jesus stopping the stoning of an adulteress, telling the adulteress that she is no longer condemned yet she should leave her life of sin. The point (clearly missed by Lacey) is this: Adultery is still sin, but the penalty of death is removed.
More can be said about Lacey’s misunderstanding of the Bible vis-à-vis divorce, head coverings, etc., but space does not permit.
Here is my challenge to Patti.
Patti’s position—that homosexuality itself is a sin—doesn’t seem to be the Bible’s position on homosexuality.
According to the Bible, what is sin is not homosexuality per se, but same-sex sexual activity (whether that activity is physical, as in the case of actual intercourse, or mental, as in the case of indulging in lust). A mere desire or temptation or predisposition to sin isn’t sin.
According to the Bible, what constitutes sexual sin is any sexual activity outside of the good, God-ordained confines of the monogamous heterosexual marriage bond (i.e., sexual activities such as adultery, premarital sex, incest, same-sex intercourse, bestiality).
In other words, same-sex sexual behavior is morally condemned, not same-sex attractions or orientation.
Significantly, and contrary to what Patti’s position would lead us to believe, someone with same-sex attractions is loved by God and he/she can lead a God-honouring life by not giving in to those attractions and acting on them—just as someone with tendencies toward gossip, greed, adultery, or hate is loved by God and can lead a God-honouring life by not giving in to and acting on those tendencies.
To conclude, I wish to draw attention to Lacey’s claim about morality: “I believe in morality, which is doing right regardless of what I am told… not in religion, which is doing what I am told regardless of what is right.”
I would want to make some qualifications. Surely, if a religion tells its adherents to do X even if X is wrong, then that religion is problematic. But if the religion agrees with Lacey’s sentence by encouraging its adherents to seek and live in accordance with whatever is true, excellent, noble, praiseworthy and good, then that would be a better religion. See Philippians 4:8.
Clearly, Patti’s view is not PWND by Lacey’s argument. Clearly, too, Patti’s alleged biblical view is very apparently not biblical.
From the point of view of logic and truth, the PWND poster is a mess. In fact, it very much appears that logic and truth have just PWND the poster!
P.S. For further inquiry into the topic of the Bible and homosexuality, please see/read the following:
1. Michael Brown, “Leviticus Laws and Homosexuality” (beginner level; 1-minute video).
2. N. T. Wright, “On Debate about Homosexuality” (beginner; 7-minute video).
3. Tim Keller, “Old Testament Law and the Charge of Inconsistency” (beginner; short online article).
4. Brett Cane, “The Bible and Homosexuality” (intermediate; short online article).
5. Joe Dallas, The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible (intermediate; book).
6. Richard M. Davidson, Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament (advanced; book).
(Hendrik van der Breggen, PhD, is assistant professor of philosophy at Providence University College. The views in this column do not always reflect the views of Providence.)

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