I was originally going to call this post, “Why no because no” isn’t good enough, but I think it also extends to this argument: “Why, ‘The Bible Says No’ is not good enough.” As always, please note, I’m no theologian, I’m just a guy walking out a journey, sharing thoughts and stories as I go. Read, think, ask and grow.
I was prompted to write this one as a response to a few blog posts I’ve seen that have used bumper-sticker type black-and-white language that boils down to “No because no!” and also after hearing a (very graceful, loving and generous) speaker on Sunday evening saying, “I think the Bible says that the only place for sex is between a man and a woman.” *
So I’m just gunna dive right into the fact that anyone same-sex-attracted (or not) sitting in the congregation on Sunday night, and the readers of those blogs, will most likely have Heard this: “No because No because the Bible says No. Stop being Gay, or if you are Gay, get over yourself and stay single and celibate.” (Once again, that’s not what was said in so many words, but that’s certainly what I heard.)
So, why is it not good enough? If the Bible does say NO, then surely that’s the end of the discussion.
The reason why I feel that argument is not enough is because the whole basis of it comes suddenly out of nowhere in the middle of the New Testament, it doesn’t stack up with the rest of Scripture and its really the only issue that we use that particular argument for.
Let’s look at stealing: “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.” Thanks Ephesians 4:28, that seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation. And, when measured up against the greatest commandments (love God, love your neighbor) it passes with flying colors. Stop stealing. It might not be easy, but it’s for your own good AND it’s for the good of others AND you can even share with those in need.
You can apply the same kind of reasoning to all the commandments. Do not kill, do not covet, honor your parents. Why? Because these are basic guidelines for life. They provide helpful boundaries when we need them BUT most importantly, they are things that simply come naturally when you start to selflessly LOVE your neighbor. John summed up all the law neatly with a phrase, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
So, then we have, 1 Corinthians 6:9 “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men…“. Does it add up with the golden rule? Does it give any explanation? Is there a logical, non-circular reasoning reason for this rule? Can we really apply, “Because it says so…” to JUST these few verses? Or is it worth questioning, is there something more here? Is there translation error? Is there something cultural that we don’t quite get here? Is this a kind of unloving act that doesn’t match up to the new (fulfilling the old) commands of Jesus, John and Paul? If so, why? Is “No because No” enough?
I’ve read through the whole Bible many times searching for answers to this issue (not looking for loopholes, as Justin Lee puts it in his book Un-Conditional, but looking for the truth because it’s important that we get this right.) And these few verses written by Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) seem to come here with little to no context if they are to be taken as literally as they appear. It’s actually the first time homosexuality is referred to without idol-worship or rape connections.* Is this an all-out ban then? Or something to be taken within the whole context of Scripture? Are we to take these verses as their own, special rule that isn’t somehow covered by the rest of Paul’s teaching?
There’s clearly more issues here that simply CANNOT be covered by, “No because No!” or even “The Bible says No!”
God himself is unchanging. Jesus is described as the very Word made flesh. It seems, to me, unlikely that a new rule would be introduced unexpectedly in the New Testament, that this rule would be an exception to the “Love Others” golden standard or that we should make people suffer under this rule just because Paul appears to say it once in seeming contradiction to all his other teaching.*
I’d really like to challenge people to please not use the “No because no” argument without admitting there is further investigation (more asking, seeking, knocking) still required.
As always, please feel free to challenge me, provide feedback, share or don’t share, Tweet me @mattdrapps or comment here.
Much love as ever,
*I don’t wanna go into the conversation that gay relationships are not all about sex, or that the opposite of singleness isn’t just sex, because that’s another story (and because there’s a great article about that here: “Can you feel the SEX tonight.“)
*Google teachings on the troublesome Greek word: “Arsenokoitai”
*I struggled to find a way to phrase that last part of the sentence. My point is, the Bible does NOT contradict itself. If it seems to, we’re still missing something.