New Video Podcast on Homosexuality and Sexuality in the Church

Darrell L. Bock's picture
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The new podcast on homosexuality and the church was posted today for the Table podcast from Dallas Theological Seminary. This will be released in parts throughout January. This first installment discusses homosexuality and its relationship to sexuality in general in a biblical and social context.
It features Dr. Stanton Jones, Provost and Professor of Psychology at Wheaton College, and Dr. Michael Brown, who teaches at several evangelical schools and has a ministry to the homosexual community in North Carolina.
 
Here is the link:
 
http://www.dts.edu/thetable/play/discussing-homosexuality-sexuality-together/

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Al Rossi's picture

Thanks for offering this series Dr. Bock.  As a Pastor I realize that most of us are not equipped to handle the issues that homosexuality presents to the church.  The rapidly changing attitudes in our culture require we handle truth with integrity but never lose focus that Christ came to reach all people.

Darrell L. Bock's picture

Al:
Our pleasure. the cultrual engagement intiative out of The Howard G. Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement will be issuing this kind of material weekly on the Table podcast site.

Hello Dr. Bock.
I watched your podcast on homosexuality. I would like to take issue with a few of the points that were made. I hope you will take this as a fresh address, and not as something that has already been covered. This is not to engage in a debate, but to simply make some points.
 
First, there are two sides to the story, and Christian belief is deeply divided on the subject. You represent the conservative, "traditional" viewpoint, while claiming that it is the "Christian" viewpoint. A Gallup poll, taken in May of last year, with a sampling error of +/- 4 percentage points, asking the question of whether "gay/lesbian relations are morally acceptable" shows that 66% of Catholics say yes, and 41% of Protestants say yes. Thus, you speak for one side of an issue only. A poll doesn't make a case for truth, but it does show how many Christians disagree with you on what is the will of God upon people's lives--and neither does tradition prove what is the truth.
 
The Bible is a complex book, far from a simple set of laws or precepts. If this were not the case, you would have an irrefutable argument. There is disagreement on this issue for good reason. It is based particularly on (1) the clear context of the relevant passages; (2) the applicability of the Mosaic Law upon Christians, its meaning, and the doctrine of liberty which frees us from obligation to the Law; (3) the reason and discernment required regarding the applicability of the teachings of Paul, who gave teachings that the Christian church, undeniably, has not embraced as an inherent truth of God in all contexts; and (4) the emphasis and nature of Christ's teachings, which include no condemnation with regard to gender, only a reference to man and woman, which is not the same. This is not a belief that is without a foundation.
 
Granted, the full truth cannot be arrived at on a blog, or a podcast, at least not proven anyway, and won't be seen until we see Jesus Christ on that day.
 
Three things in your discussion are, in my opinion, false and unfounded.
 
One is the reference to the unity between a man and a woman as uniquely reflecting the image of God. I'm not aware of any emotion or action that either gender has that the other does not possess, except sexual and procreation functions. Sexual intercourse is a part of the animal kingdom, which are not made in the image of God. Love, intelligence, knowledge, and these kinds of things, are in the image of God. We have strengths and weaknesses, and people within the same gender have differences in their expression of their gender and personality traits, as you acknowledge in your podcast. You are making the statement that the "individual human being" is not made in God's image, only a "married man and woman" are. You are suggesting that the kingdom of God is satisfied or defined within the state of a married man and woman, when in reality, it has more to do with, not simply how they compliment each other, but an outreach to the world around you, which is obviously not limited to the ability of a married couple. In fact, the Bible states that a single person is better able to be a devoted servant of God than a married couple, quite the contrary to what you are saying.
 
You also make a reference to "the unity that can be acheived between a man and woman in marriage is somehow reflective of the complexity of God's relationship within the Godhead", and that "this includes gender and sexuality". I see no reference to this in the Bible. We do not see heterosexual marriage or a complimentary gender expression in the Godhead. We see a Father/Son relationship, which is reflected in the relationship between God and His people. We see marriage in the relationship between Christ and the Church, which obviously isn't gender specific, as the church is comprised of both male and female, and God is not a man.
 
People who are accepting of same sex relationships are not oblivious to the differences between the genders, or the beauty of God's creation in heterosexual marriage. What they see is that the gift of life itself, is not manifested solely in the heterosexual union, it is for all people, and not all gay or lesbian people are called to celibacy. It is unreasonable to consider heterosexuality a matter of "character", and that gay people are to conform to this character. The people and the relationships we are speaking about today, are indisputably not described in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, or seen in the people that Paul spoke of and condemned. It is legalism to see no difference there, and to hold people to your limited reading of this. This is why you have opposition to your argument amongst the faithful in the Christian church.
 
The third thing I take issue with, Dr. Bock, is your reference to the idea that "self-denial in regards to sexuality is something that affects all people in one way or another." (paraphrased) The idea being that homosexual people haven't been singled out in the address of this topic. In reality, there is no comparison between the requirement to wait for the person that God will bring into your life, and then engage in the lifelong experience of a fufilling relationship, and remain faithful to this person, and the requirement to either be celibate or marry someone you do not desire, which would be for a lifetime. Even those who divorce, do not embrace the idea that it is only within certain parameters that they may or may not be allowed to remarry. Nor is this command of Jesus part of any movement amongst conservatives that I have seen.
 
The world sees all of this. They see the rigid claims regarding the Bible, which conservatives do not hold themselves to necessarily, or teach to others as a command of Christ. Only God can gauge the level of evangelical impact this segment of the church has to a broad spectrum of people, with this inconsistent use of Scripture upon the lives of other people. Either "reason and discerment" with regard to law is taught by Jesus, with a view to God's priorities, or it is not. You can't have it both ways--rigid on one part, but reasonable on the other. I see this spiritual principle explicitly taught by Jesus, and this is verifiable and indisputable. It has nothing to do with a free reign to do whatever one wants to do.
 
Another point, in the example you spoke of, the children are deprived of a mother. A child in this situation may actually have a greater experience of a mother figure, with a close friend or relative who is regularly in this child's life, than a child might have with his parent away often for work or military obligations. He or she may have more of a mother figure present than a child who has a mother. To say that something is not ideal, doesn't make a case for it being immoral in any other area of life. God works with the real situations in His people's lives every day. I believe the potential consequences of your position are much more substantiated.   
 
Dr. Bock, thank you for letting me speak my viewpoint. I promise not to debate at any kind of length if I am challenged on my viewpoint.

Darrell L. Bock's picture

This is mostly a rehash of what we discussed, but I am not surprised you commented.
Your appeal to where the Bible is on this issue is decidedly weak. You have never answered in all our posts back and forth two questions. (1) Where is there a positive example or exhortation about same sex relationships in the text? Where is there even a neutral illustration? (2) When Jesus defines marriage he speaks of a man and a woman.
 
On your point 1, the exception you note about procreation and sexual functions is a part of the point about divine design (See Romans 1:18-32). You sidestepped that point. It helps to support the point I am making about design. I am using "reason" here about the text. The "one flesh" image is a male-female biblical picture (See Song of Songs).
 
Point 2 ignores the way gender is handled in 1 Cor 11:3, where Christ's relationship to God and that of man and woman are compared.
 
Point 3 is the question, whether it is morally right to be married to a person of the other sex. There are lots of freedoms I may perform but that may not be right to perform. Depriving someone of soemthing they can do but should not is not a deprivation of a freedom. It is exercising a moral choice. At that level, the comparison does work-- both groups are being asked to limit what they can do out of moral concerns and choices. That is why they refrain. That is the point of the comparison.
 
Lynn, keep to your promise about not debating at length. I almost did not post this reply because of the past. Anyone reading us both can see both sides of the discussion in these two posts.

Dr.Bock,
 
Your reply is misleading to my point.  
 
The case that you make is to show the "model" for marriage that the Bible speaks of. I am not in disagreement that is does present this. If we are going to look at the hierarchy of authority in 1 Cor. 11:3 as being related to marriage, this would not work as it is represented in this text. God, Christ, man, woman, obviously is not a mandate regarding marriage, as you are using this, as some people will be single. If you agree that this does not represent a mandate, you shouldn't use it to make a case as though it does.
 
Your case is that same-sex relationships are not cited as an acceptable variation to traditional marriage. My argument for God's acceptance does not depend on this to be cited as accepted to be valid. I've always acknowledged that it is not stated this way specifically. There are 613 laws in the O.T. The liberation that frees us from its authority does not cite each thing that is no longer authoritative over Christians. It is the principles of "liberty" and "reason" that are the foundation for my belief. I have to disagree with you that it is weak. It is the foundation of the New Covenant.
 
Paul's address was highly context-based. This is not a loose conjecture. It is a fact. Do we not have an obligation to examine the context of this? The context shows something entirely different, including the content of their hearts, which were filled with lust and evil, and which fell heavily under Paul's condemnation. It shows a lot. You also use Paul's blanket authority, and consider the cultural elements of his words, selectively.   
 
Your podcast is speaking about the "image of God". Males and females are both made in His image, according to Scripture. To try to say that a male and female, married couple, have some kind of "edge" over other people regarding the image of God, is wrong and it is unfounded. You make way too much out of what male/female marriage is in the Bible. This was for a helpmate, and to populate the earth. It is not the image of God in some kind of greater way than for the single person, or a pair of friends, or a group of people. Anything more than one person brings out a greater experience and knowledge of God. Married people do not have an edge on this. The image of God is Agape love, which knows no gender.
 
You inflate the Bible's representation of male/female marriage. It does speak of this, but it is what it is, and nothing more. It is not a condemnation upon people who were not created heterosexual. This is also a matter of scientific fact, which so many Christians notoriously have no use for.
 
In speaking about the male/female model of marriage, you are content that you have an indisputable argument. What my statements have been about, have to do with the absence of condemnation upon the homosexual believer who is acting in good conscience, with no evidence of harm involved, regarding a committed relationship of all things, which is based on love. A case for condemnation upon this type of relationship relies on being the judge of your fellow man, something we are commanded to be careful about. It also relies on a severely inconsistent use of Scripture, which uses an entirely different principle of interpretation for situations you deem as above condemnation, which are also not given a positive example of, i.e. remarriage after divorce, with the parameters specifically stated. This is something that no one has dared to answer. (Are they adulterers? No answer ever.) You don't have an irrefutable argument to claim that God does not approve or your brother or sister for a same-sex relationship. The Bible does not address this. It is legalism.    
      
I can see that my perspective isn't welcome here for any further dialog. (There was something mentioned about fruitful discussion on the podcast.) I wrote to address the way you and your guests have misrepresented what Scripture says. I don't think anyone else was going to point this out. The Bible does not say that the male/female marriage reflects the image of God in any kind of unique way. I believe it is inexcusable to say that it does. All people are made in His image. Its references to male/female marriage are not a command upon all people, and they do not imply condemnation or unacceptability on anyone, which is no minor thing to do, and shouldn't be left unchecked.             

Darrell L. Bock's picture

Lynn:
My comment on 1 Corinthians 11:3 was not about marriage but gender. It helps to respond to the argument made to have fruitful dialogue. You claimed there was no passage that showed interrelationship about the Trinity that tied into the argument about male and female design (not merely a claim about marriage but also about gender and gender distinctions). So I pointed to 1 Corinthians 11. 
If the texts addressed in this area were only in the OT, you might be able to make the argument, but as we have discussed and disagreed about, we have Romans 1:24-32. That makes this a new covenant argument. You are right, as we have said in the past, to note Paul condemns a lot of things in that text. But the example he zeroes in on is the same sex relationships. He goes out of his way to describe this in graphic terms. This is why I said the freedom you claim in the gospel is not there.
Now let's not twist what I was saying on another point. Marriage illustrates a truth about design, but to be single is also a blessed state as Jesus' own life shows. There is no trump on marriage versus singleness. What was claimed is that marriage as man and woman is what is illustrated as a completion of the creation. Genesis 2 makes the same point-- and marriage is shown to picture that. I am not sure you can deny that as a point of that text. Yes, a helpmate and a demonstration how together male and female picture something fundamental about being made in God's image. Each is and together they are even able to complete what God commanded- be fruitful and multiply. Explain to me please how two males or two females can do that. This is why I think the argument has weight.
Your claim of silence in the Bible for certain kinds of relationships that allows them is an argument that seems to bypass what is condemned. The category you create is one the Bible does not have. It is no legalism to articulate what moral lines the Bible may draw, especially when there may be good reason to read the texts in both Testaments as making a point about certain generic relationships.
Lynn, I find it decidedly unfair to claim your dialogue is no longer desired. We spent two months on this nearly daily a few years ago. We agreed then we were done. We are covering old ground. We have agreed to disagree. We agreed then that we were done. Every post you have ever written has been placed online. It is not that your input is not wanted. I actually do appreciate your iwllingness to express yourself here. It is that I do not see any sense in repeating what for each of us are positions we have already stated back and forth several times on this blog.
Do feel free to respond.

Dr. Bock,

In the Corinthians passage, you see a comparison of God and Christ, and man and woman, in regard to gender distinctions. I see a gender distinction in the male/female side, but I don't see a gender distinction with God and Christ. The "order of the authority" appears to me to be the only common denominator there. God is Christ's Father. What is complementary there isn't related to gender, and isn't comparable to male/female. Gender and sexuality are part of nature, and God is Spirit, so it doesn't translate that way, in my view. A Father/Son relationship is what is shown there, as demonstrated for us, His children. Marriage is symbolic of our relationship with Christ, but nothing related to marriage in the picture of Christ and the Church, ultimately, has anything to do with gender distinctions or complements, and the single person will experience this the same way as the married person.

I've heard of that belief, that this hierarchy doesn't apply only to marriage, but is concerning all people in the church. This would mean that all women are to consider all men to be their authority regarding spiritual matters. Some guy told me this once. But this would be ludicrous. In my humble opinion of course.

We see in Romans 1:18-23 that God's "eternal power" and "divine nature" are seen in what is made. I don't mean to offend or accuse anyone of anything, but it seems to me that "heterosexuality" has become an idol, in placing it at the level of the very nature of God. It is His creation. The people in these passages denied God, who is evident in nature, among other evils that made up who these people were. These people were idolaters.

Sound reasoning: Same-sex relations were an element of the picture that is being painted there. Paul was steeped in the Law, and this influenced his view. He was seeing this element in the context of a detailed and extensive list of godless behaviors, and condemned it as godless (rightly so). New Covenant principles would not come into view, with what Paul was seeing here. Sound theology in the view of many: This context requires discernment regarding what was condemned and why.

Another note about the hierarchy, which applies only to believers. If we relate this to marriage and singleness, the single man has Christ as his head, but is the head of no one without a wife. The single woman has Christ as her head, but does not have a man as her authority. The Bible makes it clear that this is not a problem. Also, all people are not commanded to procreate.

In the male/male partnership, both have Christ as his head, but function as equals, in terms of the human relationship. The same is true for the female/female partnership. Every individual person has Christ (or His Father) as his or her head, ultimately. The male dominance that we see in both the hierarchy, and in nature itself (they would claim it anyway, even if Scripture didn't give it to them), is not an issue of mine. Everyone is made up differently, and there is no one formula that works for all people. It depends on the individuals. Most people today, men and women, say they prefer an idea of equality in their marriage, and that is what works best for them. It works the same way in the same-sex relationship, and there is much more to a complementary relationship than simply gender. 

There isn't a case to be made that same-sex relationships don't work, on the basis of either the gender issue, or that they fall outside of the biblical order of things (as do most remarriages after divorce), which addresses the heart of your argument regarding why this is so important in your view. The relationship isn't defeated, as a result of being same sex. Some work better than many heterosexual unions, including in the church, as everyone knows. You believe the relationship is the same as what is depicted in the Bible, and cannot reflect the glory of God, and you are entitled to your belief.

My address has to do with the lack of a basis for a sound condemnation on this as sin. Successful, long-term, love-based relationships, are part of the case that there is no nature-based problem with these relationships. Also, the population isn't suffering for it. Also, there are many children in need of a loving home to grow up in, which fits together well with this aspect of humanity.
 
You see a problem in nature if two people of the same sex engage in a life-partnership, because it is not an opposite-sex relationship. You see a problem, all the way to condemning your children if they embrace this, and condemning their life-partnership. One thing that you don't make clear is, do you condemn it as your take on the Bible condemns it in 1 Cor. 6:9, and the statement that these people do not belong to God, all the way to eternal condemnation? This part of Scripture describes gay and lesbian believers? It is what the Bible teaches, in no uncertain terms, based on your interpretation of what is being spoken about. You don't address this, among other things.

Final note: I've learned that I can't say a little, so I won't say any more. I hope you forgive me for that. I'm sure we did close our discussion before. But it is an evolving discussion. In this address, you (your side) brought things into it that I feel are unacceptable and unfounded. I reacted, in defense of what, to me, represents what is holy. This is rendered differently to you, and you see a strong sense of complementary gender expression required there. I see the human being, as made in God's image, who is holy, as a believer who is sanctified by God. It is His call in His relationship with His children, and harm will have to be shown to make a case for God's concern. 

I haven't seen the next installment of the podcast. It is regarding research. I feel that it will show a distorted and unfair version of things. Such as, statistics that would also make a case that it is harmful to be black in America. Or, people having been abused by a parent or other adult, which is the case in straight people's lives too, and it didn't make them gay. But I don't know what you will present. I'll consider my side addressed right here on that. You won't be able to show that your position has been scientifically shown to be good for the well-being of young people or for adults. I believe your position denies nature. This is a category in God's family.

Anyway, due to the evolving nature of what gets addressed on the subject, I am tempted to write. This time I will remember and call it done. I do feel that you welcomed me in the discussion over the years, even though you were a bit beside yourself about it. Thank you again for that. 

In Christ,

Lynn  

Darrell L. Bock's picture

Rather than respond, Lynn, I will take your response and word that we are done on this. We have laid out the two sides on this. We have engaged. So for that I thank you.

Great podcast that has led me to more questions, maybe you can help. We are fallen, now with genetic abnormalities and brain chemistry imbalances. For example, the psychopath, someone without empathy. Not by choice but, neurological  imbalance. So many undiagnosed, how can they know they need help if their brain is'nt working? How can they be saved if their brain has no conscience?
I think it was Paul who said it is better to be single but, if you burn with lust it is better to marry than to burn (something like that). It's like if you're heterosexual you get an "out". I can't imagine how hard it would be to burn with a sexual desire with no "out". And then there are those born with both male and female genitals (not their choice). I then find it hard to believe the brain could not be divided against its' genitalia. Truely, I do not know just questioning.
And then God created men with a sexual aroused region that can only be appeased by another male contact and, then condemns that not giving women the correct assets. Oh my gosh, that was difficult!  Agian, I don't know. I suppose I am somewhat naive to male sexuality and don't know where to get sound information on such a topic or the above for that matter.
Thank you in advance. I hope you can clarify and/or point me in the right direction regarding my confustion.
 

Darrell L. Bock's picture

Good questions, all. The question is can we live single and be faithful to God? Yes, that is what Paul was exhorting us to do in 1 Corinthians 7 in the chapter you alluded to. Jesus lived as a single person.
Is every desire we have a good one we have the right to follow through on? No. Many men have desires to lust after a host of women, but that does not mean we have the right to act on those desires as naturally as they come to us. Not all desires we have are good. Not all desires we have come from God. So God asks us to consider to consequences of our actions and how we react to the desires we have. One problem is assuming we have the right to act on our feelings and impulses. That is not always good for us. Not every impulse we have is from God. Maturity is about discernment in how we act and appreciating our actions' consequences. 
 

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