The Worthwhile Company, Inc.
Does your growing business need an IT dept.?
The Worthwhile Company can help!
Software Applications - Network Support - More!
Visit our Advertisers!
HOME | Contact Editor | Add Comment | Forum | Directory | Search | Advertise | Tell-a-Friend
October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


Join us in
South Carolina Headlines

Sign up today to take part in the forums, interact with the content, receive South Carolina Headlines newsletters, display current weather conditions in your area, and more.

Already a member?



The Common Voice
Where you help make the national headlines!
Visit our Advertisers!


Author (last 7 days)


 :: Jonathan Pait
 :: Benj Buck

 :: Jimmy Moore
Press Releases

 :: List All

Want to be a columnist? Contact the editor to learn how.

Book Review: A book for our time
Jonathan Pait
July 21, 2003

Justice Antonin Scalia issued a warning to those who do not back the homosexual agenda. He said, “The court today pretends that . . . we need not fear judicial imposition of homosexual marriage, as has recently occurred in Canada . . . do not believe it.” Already since he read aloud his dissent from the bench, we have seen how prophetic his words appear to be.

The Church that stands against homosexuality must come to grips with the fact that we may find ourselves in a culture that not only condones this behavior, but also seeks to make criminals of those who condemn it. It behooves us then to know where we stand. We must detect where the line marks the sand. We must seek through the topography of this issue to find on what hill we are willing to die.

We must also be willing to not only discern the lines of division between our practice and the culture, but to also react to those within our midst who would seek to bring this dissent within our church walls. In August, the Episcopal Church USA will vote whether to accept V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire. He left his wife and family, and started a relationship with a male lover – a relationship that continues to today.

With this in mind I picked up Robert A. J. Gagnon’s book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. It wasn’t that I was looking to learn something new. Romans 1:27-27 is pretty clear. However, I did want to see if I could find a full treatment of the subject from Genesis through to the Epistles. Gagnon provided it for me and he did so in a non-political way.

If politics is considered in the book, the author discusses it this way:

On matters of public policy, Christians should work toward a society that neither prosecutes nor promotes homosexual behavior. In effect, this means, positively, Christians should support the decriminalization of homosexual behavior and full prosecution of crimes against homosexuals. At the same time, the church should oppose any attempts to make “sexual orientation” a specifically protected class, or to grant to same-sex relationships status and benefits comparable to those married couples receive. The issues are too complex to address adequately here and will have to await elaboration in a future publication.
With that said, we read the extent of Gagnon’s delving into public policy. The rest of the book remains a work heavily footnoted and well-researched treatise. Just under 500 pages of argument/counter-argument, textual criticism, anthropological and archaeological supports, as well as scientific and psychological studies weave together a single message regarding homosexual conduct throughout the Scriptures.

Gagnon begins his quest in Genesis – a very logical starting place. He spends this first portion of this book examining the teachings of the Old Testament. He approaches the text compared against itself as well as the surrounding cultures of that time. He deals with the anticipated Sodom and Gomorrah passage (though not in the way that most pro-homosexual advocates would expect) and the David/Jonathan relationship.

Equal time is given to those who would offer counter arguments and, to this reader, Gagnon does a masterful job dissecting and then destroying the assertions. If he has a weakness, it is his desire to stay within the “scholarly realm” of higher textual criticism. He does a masterful exegetical job on the text and then turns around and gives credence to liberal views that undermine the text’s authorship and origin.

Chapter 3, where he begins to examine “The Witness of Jesus” – his treatment of the Gospels, is where I had my mind opened to a concept I had not really grasped before. I greatly enjoyed his opening paragraph because we have experienced this approach here at The Common Voice.

When Christians find a specific teaching of one or more New Testament authors to be unappealing, Jesus is often held up as a counterweight. For example, if many New Testament writers emphasized hierarchical structures in their theology . . . Jesus did away with hierarchies . . . Given such constructs, it is understandable that many proponents of same-sex relationships put a positive spin on the silence of Jesus as regards to homosexual behavior.
He counters with a not so strong statement, “Contrary to the above view, the silence of Jesus on the subject, combined with other factors, makes Jesus’ opposition to same-sex intercourse historically probable.” After this statement, he goes forward to make a very strong case that indeed the silence of Jesus on the subject and an emphasis on related issues makes Jesus’ opposition to homosexual practice a sure thing.

Already Gagnon has established that same-sex behavior was condemned in the Old Testament law and cultural practice. Jesus enters into the scene and nowhere does he overturn any prohibitions concerning sexual behavior – “gay” or “straight.” The author asserts that if anything, Jesus was more demanding than the Torah.

More importantly, what Jesus does emphasize is the importance of marriage as first expressed in Genesis. This was eye opening to me. It struck me that the Christian Church today faces this battle over homosexual practice because we have not been as vociferous in our stand against overt sexual sin, divorce and staid marital relationships. Ramesh Ponnuru wrote recently in the July 28 issue of National Review:

“Because of the sexual revolution among heterosexuals, social conservatives may have lost on gay marriage as soon as they started debating it . . . most people continue to agree with social conservatives that marriage should be reserved for heterosexual couples. but they do not agree with the premises that underlie that conclusion. The traditional moral argument against heterosexual sex has been part of a larger critique of non-marital sex – and, classically, of sex that is not oriented toward procreation within marriage.”
Jesus emphasized marriage. He emphasized sexual purity. You can’t get much more demanding than Matthew 5:28! “but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (ESV) Jesus took this view of adultery, what then could be his view of homosexuality?

Gagnon then turns his attention to the primary passage in the New Testament dealing with homosexual conduct, Romans 1:24-27. Here he once again gets under my skin by doing great exegesis on the passage but then undermining Paul’s “witness” by giving credence to the age old liberal textual approach that splits Paul into numerous persons. Paul becomes himself and the mythical Deutero-Paul (a supposed later editor that writes things with which liberal theologians have a hard time dealing).

Better get your Greek lexicon out for this one. It gets kind of technical – but not too much so. Also, the author spends a good amount of time dealing with interpretations that seek to pollute the obvious point of the Roman’s passage and others in the Pauline epistles that condemn homosexual practice. He even throws in some critique of Greek philosophers (some pretty wild stuff from the “Golden Age”!)

Finally, upon completing his textual adventure, Gagnon turns to the hermeneutical relevance of the biblical witness. In other words, “Okay, so this is what it says, what do we do with it in the Church today?” For fundamentalists, such as myself, it is simple. Just do it. However, the section is worth reading as it is very educational in exposing the fallacies that have been propagated over the years in regards to attempts to link homosexuality to biological origins, twin studies and other psychological research.

It becomes obvious that there is a concerted effort to find some genetic connection, but in every case the reports are suspect at best and intentionally deceitful at worst. Unfortunately, once the reports are ballyhooed in the media upon initial release, not much is reported when the research is later discredited. This has lead to a societal acceptance that “science” has proven there is a genetic/biological cause.

In the end, I agree with the assessment of John Barton, Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford, “No Christian concerned with homosexuality can afford to ignore this book. Agree with the conclusions or not, it presents a meticulous scholarly account of biblical and post-biblical traditions about same-sex relationships, and shows the weakness of many modern discussions.”

Perhaps Ponnoru is right. Perhaps our society is on the verge of accepting this sinful behavior. However, the Scripture remains unchanged. For those who wish to stand for its Truth on this issue, this book provides a tool for understanding its foundation and assurance that our stand is right.

Post a comment for this column

You must be logged in to participate. You may use the MyVoice! area at the top of this page to log in, or you may set up a new account.


Use the partisanometer to put this columnist in his place - liberal or conservative? Just click left or right. First, you'll need to sign on.

Join in the fun! Sign on and give your rating on the partisanometer.


Join in the fun! Sign on and give this article a thumbs down or a thumbs up.


Refer Column

Refer this column to a friend. Highlight the fields below, fill them out and press "Send."



Send your comment to the author of this column.


This column has no comments. If you would like to make a comment, go here.

Site Stuff

Sessions: 814813
Members: 829

  South Carolina Headlines
Made possible by The Worthwhile Company, Inc.