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Revisionist Gay Theology: Did God Really Say…?

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Understanding Theology
Revisionist gay theology questions 5000 years of Judeo-Christian teaching. How do Christians explain what the Bible says about homosexuality?

No matter where one turns in the culture today, the issues of homosexuality and “gender identity” are being hotly debated. The “homosexual rights” ideology continues to seek legitimization and approval—not just tolerance—of homosexual behavior, resulting in rapidly changing societal mores and values. This deeply impacts us in our day-to-day relationships with family and with fellow church members, neighbors and co-workers.

A key strategy in ushering in this uncritical acceptance and promotion of homosexuality into the wider culture has centered on churches and synagogues. Specifically, homosexual activists and their allies know that the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic found in the Bible is the last bastion of defense holding back the widespread embrace of homosexuality throughout the culture. They understand that if Bible-believing Christians and Jews can be convinced that homosexual behavior is no longer sinful in God’s eyes, then the battle to fully implement their political and social goals will be won.

For example, gay strategists Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, in their landmark homosexual public relations manual published in 1989, boldly encouraged gays “to muddy the moral waters, that is, to undercut the rationalizations that ‘justify’ religious bigotry and to jam some of its psychic rewards.” They go on to specify that this entails “raising serious theological objections to conservative biblical teachings.” Further, gays are called to “undermine the moral authority of homohating churches…by portraying such institutions as antiquated backwaters, badly out of step with the times and with the latest findings of psychology.”1

It is in this context that a propaganda campaign aimed at biblically orthodox believers has been launched, with the goal of sowing seeds of doubt about God’s commands concerning homosexual behavior.

In its theological application, this campaign of misinformation is often known as “revisionist gay theology,” and it’s presently playing out in denomination after denomination with increasing discord. Beginning in the mid-twentieth century, a systematic questioning of clear scriptural teaching on homosexual behavior began to take place within the church – recalling the serpent’s question to Eve in Genesis 3 – “Did God really say…?”2

Indeed, the Apostle Paul warns about this situation when he writes to Timothy and says:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.3

While Paul was referring to certain false doctrines that Timothy would undoubtedly face in his ministry, this warning similarly applies to the Body of Christ today as we face a revisionist theology that – in this case – questions God’s clear command to not engage in homosexual behavior.4

Specifically, the intended effect of revisionist gay theology is to disengage the church from the wider cultural debate about homosexuality by redefining it as God-ordained and morally permissible. And just like the serpent’s temptation to Eve in the Garden, leaders in the “gay-Christian” movement are tempting us with the question: “Did God really say…that homosexuality is a sin?”

In general, there are several broad categories of arguments that gay revisionists are employing to cast doubt on God’s Word concerning homosexual behavior:

  1. Christians’ prejudice against homosexuals leads them to misread biblical texts about homosexuality;
  2. Scriptures that supposedly condemn homosexual behavior have actually been mistranslated;
  3. Scriptures that supposedly condemn homosexual behavior have been taken out of context and do not apply to our present society.5

While it is not possible to offer an in-depth rebuttal to each of these sets of arguments in the scope of this article, a few general observations about revisionist theology can be made:

  • The Bible is wholly reliable, trustworthy and true in all that it affirms. It clearly teaches the honor, dignity and value of the two sexes as created in God’s image  – intentionally male and female – each bringing unique and complementary qualities to sexuality and relationships.
  • Sexuality is a glorious gift from God – meant to be offered back to Him either in marriage for procreation, union and mutual delight or in celibacy for undivided devotion to Christ.
  • Revisionist gay theology violates God’s intentional design for gender and sexuality by saying that women don’t need men and men don’t need women.
  • Revisionist theology places human feelings and desires above biblical truth, leading people to believe lies. Often those having a personal interest in the promotion of gay revisionist theology twist the plain teaching of Scripture to support and justify their behavior.
  • Scripture begins and ends with the picture of marriage as an institution ordained by God – designed for the union of a man and a woman in a life-long, faithful, covenantal relationship. This view is affirmed by Moses, Christ, and Paul, and has been upheld through thousands of years of Judeo Christian history and tradition. Gay revisionists usually do not even attempt to address God’s created intent for human sexuality, but instead twist Scripture and argue against those texts which condemn same-sex behavior.
  • It remains highly unlikely that Bible translators mistranslated five references to sexual ethics in two different testaments of Scripture. Even more unlikely is the possibility that they only mistranslated Scriptures regarding homosexual behavior.
  • Scriptures that testify against homosexual behavior—including Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10—are so clear and specific that they defy reinterpretation. It is intellectually dishonest to say that conservative individuals and leaders “interpret” such clear verses as “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman” out of prejudice against homosexuals.
  • Homosexuality in Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy is mentioned in the wider context of sexual, immoral, and prohibited behaviors, all of which elaborate on the commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” prohibiting sex outside of a male-female marriage.6 This casts doubt on the argument that Scriptures condemning homosexuality have been taken out of context.
  • References condemning homosexual behavior were addressed to highly different Ancient Near East cultures (from Hebrew to Greco-Roman) – nullifying the argument that scriptural passages against homosexuality are culturally bound and inapplicable to today’s society.
  • The argument that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality in the gospels is misleading and illogical for at least five reasons:
  1. The gospels are not more authoritative than those books of the Bible that condemn homosexual behavior. All authors of Scripture were inspired by God’s Holy Spirit.7
  2. The gospels are not comprehensive. Some of the Bible’s most important teachings—the explanation of spiritual gifts, the Priesthood of Christ, the doctrine of man’s old and new nature—appear in other books of the Bible.
  3. The gospels do not claim to be a complete account of Jesus’ life or teachings.  Sections of Jesus’ life are not discussed in the gospels and we cannot be certain that Jesus never spoke about homosexual behavior.
  4. Scripture teaches that Jesus kept all the Law and affirmed all that the Law and the Prophets taught.8Undoubtedly, this would have included the affirmation of committed, monogamous male-female marriage and an unwavering condemnation of homosexual behavior. Given that all first century orthodox Jews would have held to this standard, the question of affirming homosexuality would not have been open to discussion in Jesus’ day.
  5. Jesus clearly referred to heterosexuality as a standard. He specifically described God’s created intent for human sexuality: “

Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.9

In sum, gay revisionist theology threatens to substantially alter the Christian church and biblical doctrine. When God is said to sanction what He plainly forbids, then a serious heresy is unfolding before us in bold fashion. Confronting this false doctrine lovingly – but firmly – is necessary because it demands that we confirm professing Christians in their sin, when we are biblically commanded to do just the opposite.

The author is indebted to Joe Dallas for content in this article.

References for Further Study

What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality? Answering Revisionist Gay Theology

Joe Dallas, The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible, 2007 (Harvest House).

James B. DeYoung, Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and other Ancient Literature and Law, 2000 (Kregel Publications).

Robert A.J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics, 2001 (Abingdon Press).

  1. Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen, After the Ball:  How America Will Conquer Its Fear & Hatred of Gays in the 90’s, Penguin Books USA, New York, 1989, p. 179. 
  2. Genesis 3:1-7. 
  3. II Timothy 4:3-4, ESV
  4. Leviticus 18:22. 
  5. Joe Dallas, The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR, 2007, p. 105. 
  6. Exodus 20:14. 
  7. 2 Timothy 3:16. 
  8. Matthew 5:17-19. 
  9. Matthew 19: 1-8; Mark 10:6-9. 

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