Preston Sprinkle’s editorial work on Two Views on Homosexuality explores and challenges the Christian response to modern sexual ethics surrounding same-sex couples within the church. Sprinkle referees a two-on-two literary debate over the affirming versus non-affirming views on the topic of homosexuality. Sprinkle leverages the work of Loader, Defranza, Hill, and Holmes to advance a civil and respectful argument over what the Bible says and what the Bible means regarding same-sex sexuality. My post, written from a chaplaincy bias to reach anyone and everyone with the ministry of presence, holds a non-affirming position towards the matter under review. Nevertheless, I love and intentionally minister to affirming Christians and strive to give unconditional love and grace through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit living inside me. I will look for ways to intersect the armor of God ministry into both affirming and non-affirming positions with the goal to help anyone and everyone who needs Salvation and then the means to wear Christ as their personal defense against sexuality-based schemes of the devil. This post will start with my personal position on homosexuality and then briefly review both sides of the debate posited by Sprinkle’s sources.
Forty years ago, I was not ready to be reading, analyzing, and critiquing a narrative about homosexuality in the Bible and in the church. I grew up in a mostly Baptist practice of Freewill, Southern, and North American traditions as my family accompanied my Dad’s geographic assignments around the world during his career in the Air Force. I was not exposed to homosexuality until I was in my 20’s working in public safety and responding to assaults calls from bars where cross-dressing relationships turned violent once the other party realized the gender of the cross-dresser. Trying to book homosexual suspects into the jails in the 80’s was quite a safety and security challenge for everyone involved.
Fast forward to 2015 after serving five years in the foreign mission field, one MA in Christian Leadership and just completing a MDiv Chaplaincy at Liberty University. Along the way, slowly and deliberately, God peeled back my bias and prejudice and showed me how to love people through Christ that I once considered unlovable. My foreign missions experience and chaplaincy focus helped prepare me for my membership with the LGP8 cohort of today.
The two affirming positions come from Loader and DeFranza, who both at one time were non-affirming. Loader concludes that neither Scripture nor Jewish tradition affirm same-sex relationships but gives them the affirming nod based on his “personal reflections” and “assertion that the church has moved beyond what the Bible teaches.” Peterson’s review warns that Loader’s “belittling the knowledge of the inspired authors will put off a number of people.” DeFranza bases much of her affirming arguments on the idea that the creation narrative in Genesis does not give a full account of all the creatures created; for example amphibians. She concludes that since amphibians are not listed she deduces that since “persons of mixed sex are not listed in the creation account does not prove that they are therefore not good or not part of God’s plan.” I promise I am trying to remain objective regarding their arguments, and if Loader and DeFranza were not challenging the divine spoken word of God, I might give them a neutral pass. However, I believe the Holy Spirit has the power to keep the Bible inerrant and as such must respectfully disagree. What was Satan’s argument to Eve, “Did God say” to create just enough doubt in His divine attributes of power, presence, and knowledge that she would challenge God’s rule about not eating the fruit from the Tree of Life. My question to these authors is, would we be having this debate if Adam and Eve did not disobey God and eat the fruit? Holmes gives my “what if we still live in Eden” proposition a theological nod but does not expand on the idea as any form of defense or rebuttal for the arguments for the non-affirming position.
The two non-affirming positions come from Hill and Holmes. Surprisingly, Hill writes from a self-identified gay Christian viewpoint who takes a Biblically traditional position and states strongly that “Scripture is clear in its teaching” that God’s creation design for sex and marriage is “to be between a male and female.” Holmes takes an Augustinian position that marriage is for procreation and garners little Biblical support for his argument. Personally, I support the heterosexual marriage model established by God, indorsed by Jesus, and managed by the Holy Spirit. While the argument for or against homosexuality is serious stuff for ministry leaders today, the spiritual tension and the sin conflict has been around ever since God booted the first heterosexual couple out of the Garden. Eschatologically speaking, the Bible says we will never see the end of this sexual tension until Christ returns, calls His elect into the clouds, and gives us our new upgraded supernatural bodies. I hope to think, and believe Scripture points this direction, that once the sin problem is out of our earthly body system when we are with Christ, that we will default to our original creator programing, so to speak.
While I give credit to Sprinkle for mediating a respectful essay debate over the modern responses to homosexuality in the Church, I think the Bible has all the answers we need, depending on your view of the inerrancy of the Bible. I was sad to see Sprinkle say, “We need to move beyond what the Bible says and seek to understand what it means.” I see that as another example of Spiritual Warfare when we challenge God, as if God did not mean what he said. So, somehow from our human advances since creation we now understand more and are better positioned to help God say what He really means. Sorry Sprinkle, you chose the dangerous side of doubting and challenging God and His written Word with those concluding remarks.