Over the course of at least the past 100 years, the American church as a whole has been entirely unprepared to give an answer to the reasoning, arguments, and objections raised by its enemies. Every Christian should be prepared to defend the faith against attacks (Col. 4:5-6; I Pet. 3:15; Jude 1:3-4). After all, we have been given all the answers (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:3)! Yet, with issues like evolution, abortion, and now homosexuality, Christians have been often malnourished in God’s Word, often to the point of affirming the arguments of Christ’s enemies.
In this article, I will begin to lay out basic Biblical responses to some of the common arguments from the LGBT community and its supporters.
Gay marriage is a basic civil right; aka “Gay is the new black”.
Legally, marriage has never been a blanket right without restrictions. This is why a man cannot kidnap his baby daughter and get a marriage license. Marriage laws have restrictions like age, mutual consent, etc. The “right” to marriage is superseded regularly by other laws that govern civil behavior, or morality. Therefore, it’s not a question of having boundaries (at least not yet), but where the boundaries are placed.
Comparisons with emancipation or racial integration break down on several levels. Civil rights based on race can be applied with a consistent, objective standard because the category in question is inherent to the person and self-evident to others. Sexual preference is a state of mind, not a state of being. As such, it is subject to change, and is not self-evident. Furthermore, the decision to marry is a choice, while race is an intrinsic quality.
The underlying assumption in this argument is that marriage laws are discriminatory toward gays. This is not true. It is not that gays can’t get married, it is that they don’t want to. What LGBT advocates demand is not the right to marriage, but the redefinition of marriage.
The Bible deals clearly with the issues of race, sexual preference, and marriage. Every race has equal rights under God’s law simply because there is only one race (Gen. 3:20)! Scripture teaches that the difference between the “races” is in appearance only, and outward appearance is not something upon which God discriminates (I Sam. 16:7; Rom. 2:11; Jas 2:1-4).
Scripture also teaches that while man may have any number of sexual preferences, inclinations and desires, divine approval is limited to the boundaries that God ordains (Gen. 2:24-25; Heb. 13:4; Lev. 18). A deep-seated desire or longing for sin does not justify its practice.
Marriage was created, ordained, and defined by God. It is an institution which is both a mercy upon mankind and pleasing to Him. God has given a clear definition of marriage, and it is always between a man and a woman (more about polygamy later). God formed this institution in Genesis 2:21-25, and He is the one active in establishing the bond of marriage (Mark. 10:9). A union outside God’s boundaries is no marriage at all. A same-sex option is emphatically denied by both the condemnation of homosexual activity and the definition of marriage itself!
The Bible does not limit marriage to one man and one woman. Polygamy, rape, sex slaves, etc. were permitted.
This is not so much an argument for homosexuality or gay marriage, but an attack upon God’s Word and those who base their position upon it. If you silence the opposition, you don’t have to defend your own position.
The most common “alternative” advanced among these supposed Biblical definitions of marriage is polygamy. Renowned men in the Bible such as Jacob, David and Solomon had multiple wives. However, does this equate to Scriptural justification of the practice?
It should be stated up front that Scripture does indeed recognize the relationship of a man to an additional wife as a marriage. It calls these women “wives”. LGBT activists are quick to claim that this breaks the “one man and one woman” definition of marriage. However, that is not correct. Even in the case of a man who has multiple wives, the bond of marriage is never considered to be between one man and “x number” of wives. Each bond is considered an individual marriage. In other words, the man does not have one marriage bond to multiple wives, but several marriage bonds to individual wives. The man neither marries them corporately nor is obligated to them corporately, but each one individually. Understanding it in the sense in which Scripture frames it, the Biblical definition of marriage is still between one man and one woman.
That being said, not all marriages are created equal. Just because God acknowledges the marriage does not mean that God approves of it. II Corinthians 6:14 specifically forbids a union (which would certainly include marriage) between a Christian and an unbeliever. In the same way, there are instances where God allows a divorce, but does not condone it (Matt. 19:8). It is a well established fact that there are portions of Scripture which are prescriptive (“thou shalt”) and other portions which are descriptive (“just the facts, maam”). Scripture records factual narratives, not fanciful ones.
In almost every case of Biblical polygamy that includes significant additional narrative, you can find evidence of the pain, misery and complication of the practice (Gen. 30:1-2; II Sam. 11:27; I Kin. 11:1-3, et. al.). Furthermore, a Biblical pattern of monogamy is found in the qualifications for civic and spiritual leaders who would serve as examples for the common people (Deut. 17:17; I Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6). No, we don’t find God striking the offending husband down with lightning bolts. That’s because God is merciful. Many ancient Godly men made the mistake of marrying more than one woman!
The clearest and most compelling evidence of God’s disapproval of polygamy is found in the creation model (Gen. 1:27, 2:24) and in Jesus’ recounting of it when He addressed the issue of marriage and divorce (Matt. 19:4-6). Polygamy is never affirmed by command or precept in Scripture.
Sometimes Deut. 22:28-29 is used to claim that Biblical law would force a woman to marry her rapist, essentially rewarding or excusing the act, while making the woman subject to the domination of her rapist. First, one should read back a few verses for context (Deut. 22:25-27) and realize that raping a woman who was betrothed (essentially engaged) was punishable by death of the rapist. It’s rather absurd to claim that Scripture condones rape using verses 28-29, when verses 25-27 command death to the rapist!
There is some question of whether verses 28-29 are referring to rape or a consensual act. Verse 25 is clear, because of the Hebrew term “khaw-zak”, translated as “force her” or “sieze her”. In verse 28, the term is different (although sometimes translated the same). It is “taw-fas”, which still indicates domination, but is not quite as bold as “khaw-zak”. Verse 28 also stipulates the condition of the couple being “found”, which may indicate that the incident might not be exposed without a third party.
If the passage is describing a rape, the fact remains that the purpose of the law was the protection of and provision for the abused woman. According to verse 29, the man would have to pay the father a substantial penalty, marry her, and have no legal recourse for divorce. This case law should also be understood in the light of Exodus 22:16-17, where the father, acting as the legal guardian and protector of his daughter, could refuse the marriage. The onus on the passage is not the wife becoming subject to her abuser, but the man’s obligation to care permanently for the woman he violated, because he had taken a privilege that belonged only within the covenant and protection of marriage.
The practice of taking concubines or wives from among the captives of war is sometimes equated to Biblical justification of acquiring sex slaves. With regard to concubines, let it suffice to say that this was a cultural practice used (especially of kings) to raise up heirs, and is nowhere commended or justified in Scripture. Just because the Bible records it does not mean it condones it.
An incident of young ladies taken from among prisoners of war is recorded in Numbers 31 and was a unique circumstance. The codified laws discussing the conditions of taking a wife from prisoners of war is seen in Deut. 21:11-14.
The background of Numbers 31 is that the Midianite women had seduced the Israelites into idolatry (Numb. 25:1-2), resulting in the death of 24,000 Israelites from God’s plague (Numb. 25:9). God commanded Midianite’s destruction (Numb. 25:17, 31:2), but the Isrealites failed to kill the women in the conquest. The passage does not specify these girls being taken as wives, but kept “alive for yourselves” (i.e., brought into the community). In context, this was an act of mercy upon those who were young and not complicit in the wickedness of the other women.
The entire tone of the codified law in Deuteronomy 21 is that of gentleness and respect to those foreign women who might be brought into the nation of Israel via marriage. This is referring to a consensual marriage to a woman bereaved of all her family by the war. She was to have a month of mourning before any marriage, and should the husband later desire a divorce, he would not be permitted to sell her as a slave. In essence, she would have the full rights of an Israelite. These laws, used to accuse the Bible of mistreatment of women, are in fact precisely the opposite!
Christians are hypocrites to argue that gay marriage will destroy the sanctity of marriage when they themselves are divorced and/or approving of divorce.
There is an element of truth to this argument. Scripture clearly speaks of the intent of marriage to last until the death of a spouse (Rom. 7:2). Although divorce was permissible under the Mosaic law in the case of infidelity, this was a result of sin and not by design (Matt. 19:8-9). The current culture of “no-fault” divorce is patently unbiblical and invites God’s wrath (Mal. 2:14-16). Beyond that, the acceptance of pre-marital sex as normative has served to erode the Biblical ideal of sexual relations and significance of marriage, even in the Christian community.
A Christian who has been divorced, especially outside the boundaries of Biblical permission, is therefore not “above reproach” (as in I Tim. 3:2), and is left vulnerable to attack, especially when speaking to the subject of marriage. This does not necessarily prohibit such a Christian from speaking to the issue, but demands discretion and humility when doing so. A more serious issue arises when a Christian is unrepentant over his or her own divorce while condemning the sin of others. Without repentance and an attitude of personal humility, a Christian who is an unbiblical divorcee should remain silent. For such a one to speak only invites further denunciation of Christ and His church.
That being said, it should be understood that divorce and same-sex marriage are not “equal” issues. Divorce is a sin because it breaks the marriage covenant. As outlined above, same-sex marriage cannot even exist by definition, and the very nature of the relationship is condemned. Therefore, affirming homosexual unions as “marriages” is on a different plane than heterosexual divorce. The LGBT lobbying community presents a facade of loving, committed, long-term relationships; trying to parallel the wholesome ideal of traditional marriage to gain support and affirmation.
Let me be clear on this point: There is no such thing as a loving gay or lesbian relationship. There may certainly be emotion, passion, lust, and deep feelings of yearning, but genuine Biblical love is impossible. Engaging in any type of activity or relationship which is opposed to God’s law and invites His wrath cannot possibly qualify as the sacrificial, selfless love that is the Biblical model. The Bible consistently characterizes homosexual activity (as well as other forms of sexual immorality) as a lustful and selfish pursuit (Gen. 19:4-9; Rom. 1:24-27; I Thess 4:3-5; II Pet. 2:7-10).
While divorce is a normal consequence of sinful behavior, homosexuality is an unnatural behavior in and of itself. While divorce is common in almost all cultures, homosexuality is indicative of cultures where mankind has already rejected God and has turned into gross, unrepentant idolatry. So while Christians may certainly do harm to their testimony by sinning in the areas of divorce and pre-marital sex, do not be deceived by the underlying implication that homosexual “marriages” and heterosexual marriages are equivalent in nature.