Attacks on Marriage Destroy Civilizations – Part 3
Independence Day Special: Marriage and Freedom in America
July 7, 2015
Before we begin we always have a few moments of silent prayer to make sure we are in right relationship with the Lord. We’ll have a few moments of silent prayer and then I will open in prayer. Let’s pray.
“Our Father, it is such a great privilege we have again to come together that we can be reminded of the greatness of Your grace, the goodness of what You provided for us that we might be reminded that our faith is not built on the shifting sands of public opinion or polls or on what seems to make sense to the greatest number of people this decade as opposed to last decade. But there is absolute truth, and the very fact that there is absolute truth is evidenced just in the way people talk day in and day out. Everything we say presumes that there is something absolute, even communication presumes a common absolute that is true for everyone and every situation and every country. Your Word gives us those absolutes, and as we continue to study Your Word related to marriage and freedom reflecting upon the things that are changing in our culture, we pray that You would guide and direct our thinking. Help us to focus upon Your Word. Give us the spiritual strength and courage we need to stand firm and to shine as lights in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We are in a mini-series right now. It will probably go one more class to cover some of the legal aspects and issues that need to be addressed, but I’ve tried to take a focal point, at least in the previous two lessons (slide 2), on what the Bible teaches about marriage, why marriage is important. Marriage has truly come under attack quite a bit in our culture over the last 100 years. Marriage, as we’re going to see in our study this evening, has come under attack throughout the generations ever since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, because this is a way that Satan brings instability and destabilizes cultures. It is always destructive to a culture when marriage and the family break down.
This is not just something that is recognized by Christians. It was recognized in the Roman Empire and during the time of Augustus and later Tiberius. They were passing various laws related to the family that made it at times much more difficult for divorce, and to do other things that threatened the family and threatened the education of the next generation. It has been recognized in numerous cultures from those that were less sophisticated and advanced to those who were advanced, whether we’re talking about some of the ancient cultures in the Indus River valley or in China or in Western Europe. Ancient civilizations, like the Persians all the way up, all recognize that marriage was between one man and one woman and it was not based on the Bible; it was based on the tradition, which we believe ultimately went back to Creation, but recognition that this was vital for stability in a nation, and for that to be changed would negatively impact a society, impact a culture.
But we have a certain amount of arrogance today. I believe it is manifested where people think that they can make the same mistakes of previous generations, but they won’t have the same consequences. What I’ve been focusing on is the value of marriage. The other thing that I have been focusing on is evidenced by our logo (slide 2) is the fact that this is an Independence Day special taking us back to how the founding fathers thought, not just about marriage, because they didn’t have to address much about marriage. Because they all came from a Judeo-Christian background nobody was challenging the definition of marriage. In a couple of lessons back I gave a quote from Noah Webster’s dictionary related to marriage: that it was between one man and one woman and was designed to protect morality, to provide regulations for the expression of God’s gift to sexuality, and also to provide a stable environment for the rearing and the training of children. But that has not always been true.
We live in a culture that our founding documents, our founding ideals, are grounded in a Judeo-Christian heritage. I’ve said this over and over again. You will find in the debate over the role of Christianity in America basically two polar groups. I don’t agree with either one of them. One of them as represented by David Barton, and I appreciate a lot of things that David Barton does. David Barton has produced a lot of positive material emphasizing the role and the impact of Christianity in the colonies and in the thinking of our founding fathers. But if you listen to David Barton you will hear him talk about all these people as Christian. If you investigate some of his sources that he quotes, they are the early Unitarians. They didn’t believe in the deity of Christ. There were other factors. Theologically they were quite off the rails. So I have a lot of problems with where he goes.
I think David Barton is reacting and he goes too far. He is a necessary corrective to the other view that was very dominant back in the 1970s and 1980s and represented by a number of evangelical scholars, and that is the impact of Christianity was minimal, that you don’t have really clear statements like we would like to have from a lot of the founding fathers about their understanding of the gospel, which is not true. That is where David Barton has been a very positive corrective on a lot of those statements. But they wanted to take Christianity almost completely out of the equation. The reality is that you have people who were a part of the founding fathers, some who had participated or partaken of some deistic ideas, some of them did not have completely orthodox views on the Trinity or the deity of Christ, but they all operated within a Judeo-Christian worldview.
That is what is important. It is that they believe that everything was created by a Creator-God and that the Creator-God endowed His creatures who were created in His image and likeness with these inalienable rights, and that they didn’t derive from the government, they did not derive from society, they were inherent to what it meant to be a human being. That is why you have that phraseology, as I read on Sunday morning, in the Declaration of Independence. Even those who were the most distanced from I would call a biblically correct view of man and government, such as Thomas Jefferson, who is noted for coming up with his own bible. He read through the Bible and he took out his razor blade and he would cut words out and verses out because if it partook of that which was supernatural; or if it was a miracle, he didn’t believe in that. So he would remove that from his bible but he still thought within the forms and structures and the norms and standards that derive from a Judeo-Christian worldview, a theistic worldview.
That worldview began to become less dominant and less significant as we move into the early part of the 19th century. It comes under a full-bore attack by the time you get to the middle of the 19th century, so that by the time we get to the 19th century people are beginning to think less and less within a Judeo-Christian worldview, especially certain intellectual elites that are at that time beginning to shape new theories on judicial interpretation and legal interpretation. But we believe that if you are going to interpret anything, even a book by a post-modernist on how to interpret writing, you must interpret it the way the author intended it. That to me is just one of the great ironies of this whole debate. It is that the person that tells us that it does not matter what the author intends to communicate and what he writes is at the same time intending for you to interpret his writings in terms of what he intends to communicate. This person does not see the contradiction in that. He doesn’t realize that.
It is like the person who says there are no absolutes. Is that an absolute? Well not really. Well wait a minute. It either is or it is not. If you are going to make a universal statement there is no ‘x’, that is a universal statement. If you say there are no universals then that is a self-contradictory statement, and you are irrational, which sort of reminds me of an article that was pointed out to me a couple of days ago that was written by a professor. I forget which Ivy League school this professor taught at but he said that basically all this emphasis on logic and reason only derives from an Anglo-Saxon white male background.
My question is first, does that mean that anybody that is not from an Anglo-Saxon white male background that they are basically irrational and illogical?
I think there are a lot of women that probably would not want to go along with that. But for a professor to say that, it is also sort of self-refuting, because if he is teaching in a university, teaching assumes a certain level of reason and logic in order to communicate. If everybody that is not white male with a European background in his classes is irrational and illogical, then why is he teaching? Why should he teach? Why have university? It is an argument that destroys his whole logic. But he does have a point in that many people today do not know how to think logically or rationally. They only know how to think in terms of setting forth their agenda: and power rules.
This is something that Francis Schaeffer predicted in the 1970s (many others predicted it) that when you take God out of the picture there is a vacuum and all kinds of things rush in to fill that vacuum. Once you take an external reference point out of the picture where law and ethics and morality don’t relate to something that is universally true in every century and every civilization, then the only thing that gives you the ability to set forth an ethic or a law is just power and might. Ultimately this will always deteriorate into some form of tyranny.
When we come to American history we had something unique take place, truly unique in the founding of this nation, because the men who came together were a group of men who were not of a self-centered vantage point. They were not trying to promote any one person or any one small group of people to be the power source. They believed the power, the ultimate authority, derived from the people, from the citizen. They were men of genuine humility who recognized that they were not seeking to establish their own power base but a nation that had true and genuine liberty and true and genuine freedom. But they thought profoundly about these issues. This is why I’ve been using these quotes, because they recognized that for freedom to be successful it involves someone who has a highly developed sense of responsibility.
Someone who has a highly developed sense of responsibility must also have a highly developed ethic and morality, that if you do not have a high morality or ethic, then you will not produce a citizenry that will consider what is best for others. When you don’t have a high view of ethics and virtue and morality, and people are just seeking that which is best for ‘me’ then the nation will fragment into a lot of irresponsible people seeking what is best for them, and it blows everything apart. You have writings from people like Benjamin Rush (slide 3), who was a doctor in that generation. He was a doctor for many of those who signed the Declaration. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and served in three different administrations.
Benjamin Rush said, “The only foundation for a useful education is a republic …” This country was not founded to be a democracy, but a representative republic. He said, “The only foundation for a useful education is in a republic is to be aided in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” So if we are going to have liberty that means that we have to have virtue, and that we have to have a way to train future generations to live on the basis of a pursuit of virtue and morality in order that the government can function as it should be.
John Adams (slide 4), like most of the other signers of the Declaration, believed that was in the principles of Christianity. What they meant by it, because he wasn’t actually orthodox in all of his views of Christianity, was the Judeo-Christian heritage. It is how they used the Law of Moses and how that impacted them. They were not theocratic. They were not trying to impose the Mosaic Law, but they saw it as a pattern of law. He said, “The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity”—so much for the so-called “wall of separation” between religion and the state.
He also said (slide 5), “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion …” Notice that last phrase because what we have by the legalization of same-sex marriage is we now have a situation where a lot of people can’t think through—where a sexual act has become legal they think that it is moral. There is no longer a legal restraint on their passions; and so, as Adam’s noted, in order to control human passions you need morality and religion. The highest form of which, for him, was Christianity.
John Witherspoon (slide 6), who was a professor at Princeton. He taught James Madison. He was a pastor and theologian in the Presbyterian Church. He said, “He is the best friend to American liberty, who is most sincere and active in promoting true and undefiled religion.” In fact, he would say that if you are not actively involved in Christianity you are the enemy of liberty and the enemy of freedom. I would agree with that. He says a person “who sets himself with the greatest firmness to bear down on profanity and immorality of every kind” that is the duty of the leader. That is the duty of the government, to restrain immorality. “Whoever is an avowed enemy of God, I scruple not to call him an enemy to his country.”
I had some other quotes from Supreme Court rulings, State Supreme Court, Federal Supreme Court rulings through the 19th century, showing this to be a Christian nation. Now I want to give you a couple of quotes about marriage from legal documents that were dominated in the 19th century. What is interesting is in John Roberts’ Majority Descent in the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) decision last week, is he sites these legal precedents. What happens on the other side, and all five of those justices operate from a progressive viewpoint that believe that the role of the judiciary is not to serve as an umpire, ruling on whether this is what the law says or not, but they believe the role of the judiciary is to change society through their legal rulings. That goes back to a view called positive law. That came into prominence through several men, and the most prominent jurist was Oliver Wendell Holmes from the period of the 1870s. It is an outgrowth of an evolutionary worldview, a Darwinian worldview.
Black’s Law Dictionary of 1891 (slide 7) said that marriage is “the civil status of one man and one woman united in law for life.” The “for life” there shows a permanence because that permanence, that stability provides for the framework of rearing children in a stable environment. This does not mean that divorce was not possible, and in some cases necessary because of circumstances, but it shows that they understood that the standard, the ideal was one man and one woman. According to Bishop (slide 8) in his Commentaries of the Law of Marriage and Divorce, published in 1952, he said that marriage is “a civil status, existing in one man and one woman legally united for life for those civil and social purposes which are based in the distinction of sex.”
How about that? That was the law of the land up until about two weeks ago. Now it is no longer the law of the land. In fact, they have found in the 14th amendment something that means that all of these lawyers, all of these founding fathers, everybody and every politician who affirmed heterosexual marriage up until two weeks ago, were in violation of the 14th amendment. Who knew?
A couple of other quotes here, Dr. Joseph Warren (slide 9), who was one of the founding fathers, one of those men from Massachusetts who gave his life at Bunker Hill, a close associate of John Adams, said, “Ease and prosperity (though pleasing for a day) have often sunk a people into effeminacy and sloth.” We’re failing the prosperity test. That’s what he is saying. The man who meanly will submit to wear a shackle, condemns the noblest gift of heaven, and impiously affronts the God that made him free … Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of. Our enemies are numerous and powerful; but we have many friends, determining to be free, and heaven and earth will aid the resolution. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important question, on which rest the happiness and liberty of millions of yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.” He was addressing the troops that were standing against the British in Massachusetts.
Thomas Jefferson said (slide 10), “Without virtue, happiness cannot be.” Benjamin Franklin (slide 11) said, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
You know, it is interesting that as you read this you see that they all put this emphasis on virtue. Well whose virtue? That becomes the question. Whose virtue? What gets lost in the discussion is that everybody is putting forth a different moral system. We all say, well, we’re going to get rid of Christianity and somehow we have a moral system that is not religious. That does not happen. The question is whose morality is going to reign, a virtuous morality or a non-virtuous morality? In fact, a morality that changes from generation to generation and from decade to decade and even from year to year ... we have to have a permanent basis or the culture will implode.
I have talked about the divine institutions (slide 12). The first three being: individual responsibility, marriage, and family, which were all before the fall. These are designed to provide stability and to protect people even before the fall. They were to provide stability and to perpetuate the human race and to advance civilization under the command of God to be fruitful and multiply, which in and of itself excludes any kind of homosexuality or same-sex union. After approximately 1800, 1500-1899 years, between the fall of Adam and the flood of Noah, the human race had deteriorated so much that God instituted two more institutions, government, indicated by the judiciary in the Noahic Covenant. Then after Babel national distinctions were put into place to negate internationalism.
Last time I pointed out some purposes of marriage (slides 13–15). I’ve gone through these. I want to hit these real fast and move on. I wanted to get them on a slide though.
Family is emphasized later in the Mosaic Law. Family is important. It is the natural outgrowth of marriage because family is that framework that God instituted in order to provide for the health, the rearing of children, the training of children, and the education of children. We see this in Deuteronomy 6:6–8 (slide 16), “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children.” That’s the role of the parent. “And shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” In other words, it does not say you should talk about them at eight in the morning and three in the afternoon. This is the on-going responsibility from “can see to can’t see” as they used to say, from when you wake up in the morning until you go to bed at night. It is the role of the parent to teach the children, in any and all situations, to think about life in terms of God’s revelation and to train them. This is inherent.
One point I want to make before we move on is that one of the things that we are pointing out is that only men and women, a male-female union, can properly rear children. That does not mean you can’t have a measure of success in this instance or in that instance of a same-sex union, but generally speaking this does not work. One of the problems I have, and there are a lot of things you can read about testimonies of children that are brought up in same-sex unions, the problem with this – is what is called an ad hominem argument. They may be reflecting what their experience is, but you can always have people who can marshal someone else’s experience that is different from their experience. You can see certain experiences where two people who love each other, who are of the same sex can spend the rest of their life together and enjoy that relationship. That doesn’t make it right.
You also have people who are men and women, male and female, who can’t make a go of it. That does not mean their position is wrong. It is grounded in something that is greater than our experience. How many times have I taught you ‘we evaluate our experience by the Word of God and not the Word of God by our experience’? I don’t want to fall prey to these experiential arguments. They may have a place, but I do not think that is where we want to ground things. One of the things that I ran across that is interesting is from an article that appeared in the Atlantic in the summer of 2013, which was discussing a large amount of research done over a period of time and in different Scandinavian countries, because Scandinavian countries have recognized same-sex marriage for a longer period of time.
What they discovered is quite surprising. They discovered that women in long-term committed relationships break up at dramatically high rates. Even in countries that are very strong in affirming same-sex marriages. Research conducted in Scandinavian countries showed that same-sex male relationships break up at twice the rate of heterosexual relationships, whether they are simply cohabiting or whether they are married. Lesbian relationships break up at more than twice the rate of male gay relationships. They’re not stable primarily because women tend to be more relationally intense and men tend to temper this in women. This is what the article has concluded.
What I find also interesting is that over the last 30–40 years we have seen a dramatic decrease in marriage in this country. People do not respect it. They recognize it as sort of a sham because the definition has been so diluted that it is basically a form of legalizing cohabiting. Well, if you do not have a moral standard, then why do you need to have your sex life legalized? A lot of people just say, well what the hay, we’re just going to live together, so fewer and fewer people are getting married. Well, if there is a silver lining in all of this same-sex culture shifting thinking it is this: that in European countries that have had same-sex marriage for quite a while now, most of them have had this for a while—after an initial popularity same-sex couples start running into the same problems that heterosexual couples run into.
Except, according to this study I just cited from the Atlantic, quite a bit more frequently. The men break up at twice the rate of heterosexual divorce and the women break up at twice the rate of the men. Wait a minute, if we are going to get mired in a legal relationship and call it marriage, where all of our property and everything is now legally intertwined, and then we are only going to last a couple of years, and then we have to go through a divorce, this is a really negative consequence. So, maybe getting married is not a good idea. What a lot of European countries have witnessed is that not that many homosexual couples are still getting married. Maybe what this is is a huge thing. We’re going to get the privilege. We’re going to do it – but wait a minute – then we’re going to get shipwrecked on the shoals of reality and realize there is a real downside to getting married, and that is that we’ll probably end up in divorce. So we’ll see.
The Bible represents a number of attacks on marriage. I just want to run through these because it helps to understand what we are talking about as Christians. A lot times the caricature of Christians is we are just going back and we want to apply the entire Mosaic Law to everything; that we have all these inconsistencies where we are for one man one woman, but there is polygamy in the Old Testament. So we are just picking and choosing what we like and what we don’t like. What I want to do over the next 25 minutes or so is just run through what the Bible says about these various attacks on marriage.
1. The first attack on marriage comes up in Genesis 4:19 (slide 17).
Turn with me there, Genesis 4:19. We have this first assault on marriage, which is Lamech. Lamech is a descendant of Cain, and that is not ever a good thing in the Bible. That he is a descendant of Cain and those in his line that are talked about, there are a few good things said about those who developed metallurgy and music, a few things like that, but Lamech is noted because he’s the first polygamist; he has two wives in Genesis 4:19. But the story about Lamech does not stop there, it goes on to talk about his descendants in Genesis 4:20–21. Then in Genesis 4:23 we find out that he is a murderer. He is the second murderer. Cain is the first. In the context of Lamech we do not have, someone who is an upright pillar of society. Lamech is tearing down society and he’s got a problem.
Just a note about polygamy: Polygamy is never reported in a positive light in the Bible. There are some people who say well, it is regulated in the Mosaic Law. That’s right, it was regulated. It did not promote it; it was not approval. Recognize that it was an existing reality in the ancient world just like slavery was, and it regulated it in favor of the person most likely to be victimized, so that if polygamy was practiced it had to come under these stipulations in the Law; the same thing with slavery. That is another thing that the pro-homosexuals like to come up with, well, throw away the Bible because it approved of slavery. Well, you are misreading the text. It approved of a certain kind of slavery, what we would call today indentured servitude which was a way to protect those who lost everything, who ran up all of their credit cards, got upside down in debt, and they could indenture themselves voluntarily in order to work their way out of debt.
Slavery was not permanent unless they did it. Under the Mosaic Law they would be indentured until the next sabbatical year came along, and then they are freed. It has a short fuse on it. It is only for a short period of time and then they are free. But if they still felt like they would be a financial failure, they just weren’t very good with money, and they didn’t really want to take that responsibility, they would rather be a servant and let somebody else take care of them, and then they can voluntarily enter into that position. That would be signified by piercing their ear. That would indicate that they voluntarily entered into this state of servitude. It was not the kind of racial life-long servitude which we experienced in this country. You are not comparing apples with apples. It was a regulation of the Law in order to protect those who were in financial ruin, as well as to protect women who were the second or third wives, so that they could not be abused or taken advantage of.
2. The next major attack against marriage occurs in Genesis 6:2–4 (slide 18), “the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.”
This is a really weird event in the Old Testament to modern ears. The phrase “sons of God” is bene ha elohim. There are a few theologians that will come along and tell you the phrase “sons of God” doesn’t always refer to angels. But if you look at the text, it says the “sons of Yahweh” or “the sons of the Most High God” or some other phrase, but that strict phrase, bene ha elohim, always refers to angels. This involves an angelic assault on the human race. I’ve got a whole series on this you can go back and listen to, but this is where these fallen angels, the demons, enter into human history. Somehow they take on human bodies, so that they can procreate. It is an attack on the genetic purity of the human race, because God promised that He would send a Savior who would be the Seed of the woman. He would be true humanity. [The sons of God] were seeking to destroy the genetic purity, just screw up the DNA of the human race, so that God could not complete His plan of salvation through the Seed of the woman.
In Genesis 6:4 we read, “There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterwards, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” I think that this is the historical reality on which a lot of the legends of the gods of Olympus and the gods of the various ancient pantheons would come down and they would rape women or they would do various other things. Recently, I pointed out that with regard to mythology, that in ancient mythology you didn’t have same-sex sex. But there were a few examples. I got corrected on this. There were a few cases where Zeus did have a couple of little affairs with men, but these were not normative. These were very rare in ancient mythology. Generally, it was a male god on a female. So this is the second attack on marriage, this genetic attack by fallen angels on man before the flood.
3. The next is the one everybody always talks about, so I want you to turn there in Genesis 19:4–5 (slide 19). This is what happens in the civilization along the Dead Sea, the civilization of these five cities along the Jordan River valley which was considered just a beautiful location. In fact, back in Genesis 13 we are told that a conflict occurred between Abraham and his nephew Lot. Abraham had been given all of this land that was between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. This was the land God promised to him. Lot’s servants, the guys who ran his cattle and Abraham’s would get into an argument. Finally, Abraham decided he needed to do something about this, so very graciously he gave Lot the option— you decide where you want to live and we’ll go live in the other part of the land.
In Genesis 13:10, “Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere.” How many of y’all have been to Israel? We’ve been through that. Is it well watered? That’s the last thing you would think. It is dry as a bone. Obviously, there has been climate change. It’s been a lot warmer now than it used to be. There was a lot more water back then. This was a very wonderful place to live, and the cities of the plain included two cities that are well known, Sodom and Gomorrah. But they were places where there was a tremendous amount of prosperity. Where you have prosperity and ease there is also great opportunity for the sins of pleasure. This is described in Genesis 19.
In Genesis 19:4–5 we read, “Now before they lay down.” These two angels that God sent, that appear as men, go to Lot, who is living now in Sodom. God is about to destroy Sodom. Abraham reasoned with God to rescue Lot before He judged Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis 19:1 we are told the two angels came to Sodom in the evening. Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them he rose to meet them and he bowed down toward the ground. He then invited them to come into his house. He insisted. At the end of Genesis 19:2 they said no, we’ll spend the night in the open square. But Lot insisted strongly, so they turned into him and entered his house.
Then we found out why. After they went to sleep, or when they were about to go to sleep, before they laid down, the men of the city, the males, both old and young, told the people from every quarter and surrounded the house. This is like a siege, and there is violence here. That often goes with this kind of group homosexuality where they want to impose themselves on somebody new and fresh. We see the same kind of thing happening in Judges 19. Genesis 19:4–5, “… all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and they said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.’ ” They wanted to basically rape them all night long. This was prevented by Lot and he was able to escape. There were some other things that happened that I won’t go into to, but this is that for which they are judged. It is homosexuality.
What you will hear from a lot of the gay activists, because they have their battalions of theologians as well as battalions of lawyers who seek to take away any negative hint of homosexuality of the Bible. They try to argue that homosexuality is never considered a sin in the Bible. That is not the problem at Sodom at all. They will go to these verses. We talked about this previously. Ezekiel 16:49–50 (slide 20), where you read, if you just go there, cut these two verses out of the context and you just look at them without looking at the surrounding context you’ll read, “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.”
What you will hear is that the punishment there had nothing to do with homosexuality, it had to do with the fact that they were proud. They were arrogant, they had abundance and they would not share, they would not take care of the poor, there was no social justice, and they were idle, they did not do anything for the poor and the needy; that is why God judged them. It did not have anything to do with homosexuality. Well, every other passage you go to in Scripture does emphasize that that was what the problem was. It was the problem of homosexuality. But we need to pay attention to context. You can’t just look here and think you understand the terms.
If you go back to the beginning of the Ezekiel 16 you discover that God is telling Ezekiel to bring an oracle of judgment at Jerusalem in Ezekiel 16:2 (slide 21) “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations.” So he is pronouncing a judgment and he is talking to Jerusalem. Those of you who have been to Israel before know this, that when you are in Jerusalem you’re between the Northern Kingdom of Samaria, Shomron, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Yehuda. To the north you have Samaria; to the south you have Judah; in between you’ve got Jerusalem.
In Ezekiel 16:46 (slide 22) who is Ezekiel talking to? Jerusalem. Put yourself in the place of Jerusalem. In front of you you are going to look north. In front of you is the Northern Kingdom of Samaria; to the south, behind you, is going to be Judah. It says, “Your elder sister is Samaria, who dwells with her daughters to the north of you;” we are taking about Samaria, the literal Northern Kingdom. At this time they have already gone out into judgment and discipline with the destruction of the Assyrians. “… who dwells with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who dwells to the south of you, is Sodom and her daughters.” This is written in around 596 BC, just roughly, give or take five years. Sodom has been gone since when? Since about 2000–2100 BC—quite a few years. Sodom no longer exists. It has been buried under fire and brimstone. He can’t be talking about literal Sodom can he?
Ezekiel is using the term “Sodom” metaphorically, just as we do today. We might refer to San Francisco as Sodom on the Bay. We do not mean it is literal Sodom. We mean there are certain features of modern San Francisco that are similar to the features of Sodom. We just have to figure out what that point of comparison is. It is what is called an unstated comparison or a metaphor. But the point of comparison is not the sin, because we see that the sins listed in Genesis 19 aren’t the sins that are listed here. Are they? What is the point of comparison? God judges unrighteousness. The point of comparison is just as God judged Sodom; God is going to judge you.
You are going to be judged because your sins are different, but all sin violates the righteousness of God. Arrogance violates the righteousness of God. Gossip violates the righteousness of God. Slander violates the righteousness of God. Jealousy, envy, all these things violate the righteousness of God. Murder violates the righteousness of God. Injustice violates the righteousness of God; not just homosexuality. If they dominate a culture and they become characterized by these sins God is going to judge that culture. He’s going to judge that civilization. He’s going to destroy that nation. The point of comparison here is not homosexuality. It is not the sin. The point of comparison is the unrighteousness that will bring about divine judgment. The term Sodom in Ezekiel 16:49–50 is not talking about literal Sodom. Remember that, because every time you talk to somebody knowledgeable defending homosexuality, they will go and abuse this passage.
When you get into the New Testament we understand something else about Sodom and Gomorrah. In Jude 6–7 (slide 23) we read, in reference to that attack on marriage in Genesis 6, “the angels who did not keep their proper domain,” their original place. “But left their own abode” that is a group of angels that left Heaven. That was their original domain. These angels have been judged. That is the argument in Jude. It is that God judges sin. “He (God) has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of that great day.” That is talking about His judgment on those fallen angels in Genesis 6; “as Sodom and Gomorrah.” There is a comparison. Something about Sodom and Gomorrah is now being compared to the events related to the “sons of God” in Genesis 6.
Jude 7, “as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these,” these what? These is a plural pronoun. To what could it refer? It has to refer to something plural, a plural noun. In the Greek it refers back to a masculine plural noun, which means the only thing that is a masculine plural noun preceding it is “angels” in the previous verse. So what is it saying? Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them in a similar manner to Sodom and Gomorrah. So the sin of the angels is imitated in a certain way by Sodom and Gomorrah. It says, “Having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh.” See what Jude is saying here is that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is a sexual sin, and it is a sin where they went to strange flesh, and they violated the moral standard of having sex with the right kind of people. That is heterosexuality.
In 2 Peter 2:4–5 (slide 24) there is a reference to this as well. Peter says, “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly.” 2 Peter 2:6–9 (slide 25), “and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly.” He links these same events together. What do the have in common? Sexual sin.
Let’s go back and look at the Mosaic Law (slide 26) because everybody wants to jump on poor old Moses and this horrible, horrible Mosaic Law. Unfortunately, I think a lot of Christians play into their hands, because rather than making a steady case for marriage, they just want to cart out Leviticus 18:22 and just shoot it like a canon at somebody who is pro-homosexual without laying any foundation for the discussion. This just creates a lot of heat in the light. Is it true? Yes, it is true. But that is not how you are going to win friends and influence people. That is not how you are going to convince somebody of the veracity of your position by bludgeoning them with the Bible. Jesus did not do that. When he dealt with the women at the well, he did not give permission for her sin. He said go and sin no more, but He did not bludgeon her with the Bible and say, you terrible woman, you committed adultery. Don’t you know what you’ve done? He doesn’t make an issue out of her sin.
What we see in Deuteronomy 4:5–8 is that the Mosaic Law was given to make Israel a great nation. Moses says, “I’ve taught you statues and judgments just as the LORD my God commanded me; that you should do thus in the land where you are entering to possess it. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding.” This is wise. This is legal wisdom, and it will be such “in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes.” He does not say all these statutes except those horrible ones about homosexuality. He said they “will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?”
When we look at this, yes, the Mosaic Law does proscribe, prohibit, as a sin homosexuality, as a crime. Homosexuality (slide 27) in Leviticus 18:22 the Law identifies it as a crime, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” Then the penalty is given in Leviticus 20:13, “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death.” It was the death penalty. It was a capital crime. What we see as we go through Leviticus 18:26 (slide 28) is that you have homosexuality condemned along with a number of other sins that are criminal offenses. It is not singled out as a particularly heinous sin. But they are sins that affect the stability of the family and the structure in the nation. That is the problem. It is a sin against the nation because it promotes instability in the home, and God is protecting the home for future generations.
As we look at these chapters we see that there is a condemnation of adultery in Leviticus 18:20; there is a condemnation of child sacrifice, burning, immolating their children. Immolation means to burn alive as a sacrifice, their children, on the arms of Molech in Genesis 18:21. Bestiality is condemned in Genesis 18:22 and Genesis 20:15–16. Each of these, including adultery is identified as an abomination in Leviticus 18:27. Abomination in Leviticus 18:26, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you.” The word there for “abomination” is to’evah, which means something that is abominable, something detestable, something that is abhorrent.
Some people want to single this out. These are particularly abhorrent sins. This is an abomination. Some people just seem to get all self-righteously bent out of shape because you are dealing with a homosexual. You have got to correct that if that is your area of weakness in your sin nature, because that is not what the Bible is saying. The Bible identifies a number of things as abominations, including idolatry, incest, witchcraft, and in Leviticus 20:9, disrespect for parental authority. In both of these chapters we should note that God states that these detestable practices among the Canaanites were the reason God is removing them from the land.
Guess what? This word “abomination” shows up in some other places. Proverbs 6:16–19 (slide 29). Some of you have this memorized: “There are six things the LORD hates, Yes; seven are an abomination to Him.” That’s just a poetic way of saying there are five things that are bad and six are horrible. It is a way of emphasizing all six of them. It is just a stylistic device. What are these seven things the LORD hates?
These are all called “abominations” to God. They are classified just like homosexuality and adultery and witchcraft. Anything that violates the righteousness of God is an abomination to Him. They are not distinguished as some special kind of sin. There are differences in how these sins may manifest in the culture. Certainly adultery and homosexuality, if they are allowed permissively in a culture, will cause great damage to marriage, to family, and we have had a great breakdown in our culture. Education, poverty, as we have gone through the increase of permissiveness in the United States, since the end of WWII, we have seen an increase in poverty. We have seen an increase in a lack of education. We have seen an increase in single-parent households. We have seen an increase in abuse, sexual abuse, and physical abuse. We have seen all these problems and they all come with permissiveness in the breakdown of marriage.
Other passages (slides 30–31):
Proverbs 8:7, “Wickedness is an abomination to my lips.”
Proverbs 11:1, “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is His delight.”
Proverbs 11:20, “Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomination to the LORD.”
Proverbs 12:22, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD.”
Proverbs 15:8, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD.”
Proverbs 15:9, “The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD.”
Proverbs 15:26, “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD.”
You can’t just take homosexuality and say this is the most perverse thing. You can’t do that. It is a sin like any other sin, and God’s love has dealt with all sin equally by sending Jesus Christ to go to the Cross. Another attack in the Old Testament was the immolation of their children, Jeremiah 32:35 (slide 32), “And they built the high places of Baal … in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire of Molech.” They burned their babies alive. These idols were basically a furnace with an open fire and they would put their infants in the arms of Molech and the fire would burn them alive, then they would have sexual orgies in front of those idols while their children are burning alive. This is why God brought judgment on the Southern Kingdom of Israel and destroyed them and the first temple in 586 BC.
When we get to the New Testament it isn’t silent about this either. In the New Testament they are not dealing with the law code for a nation. The capital nature of the offense of adultery, homosexuality, and some of these other crimes is removed. Jesus doesn’t insist that the woman taken in adultery be executed. Never in the New Testament epistles is execution stated as a penalty for homosexuality, adultery, or fornication. In Romans 1:26–27 (slide 33) we are told, “For this reason God gave them”, that is, those who have rejected God, a nation, a culture that rejects God. God says you don’t want Me; Great! I’m just going to let you run with that for a while. So where they go is to degrading passions. “For their women exchange the natural function for that which is unnatural.”
The founding fathers would say when you take virtue out of the picture what is left is unbridled passion. That is what is happening. “… and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.” You have both lesbianism and homosexual sex prohibited.
In 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 (slide 342) we read, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? This is not talking about getting in to Heaven, as I’ve said before. It is talking about inheritance and rewards. It is not saying that if you commit any of these sins you can’t get to Heaven. That is another problem a lot of Christians have. They think these are unforgivable sins. No. God is saying if you continue in your sin, then you will not have any rewards in Heaven. You will still be there, but you will lose rewards. He says, “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers,” and this is not an exhaustive list. We see that there are other lists, for example, in Galatians 5:18–20 there is a similar list.
1 Timothy 1:9–10 (slide 35) lumps homosexuality in with many other sins “realizing the fact that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching.” That pretty much covers it all when you get to that last phrase. It is like the King of Siam, “etc., etc., etc.” Fill in the blank.
Marriage is held at a high level in the Bible. Many of us do not have as high a view of marriage as the Bible does. Jesus has such a high view of marriage that that is where He did His first miracle, John 2:11 (slide 36), “This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” Marriage is significant, and if you expand it where it should not go, adult male to children, underage marriage, then you dilute marriage. Marriage won’t mean anything anymore. It will become irrelevant. If marriage means everything it means nothing, nothing.
Let’s close out with what a couple of founding fathers said. Zephaniah Swift (slide 37) was the author of America’s first legal text in 1794, as well as A Digest of the Laws of Connecticut. He was the first judge in the Supreme Court of Errors in Connecticut. He said, “It [in reference to sodomy], though repugnant to every sentiment of decency and delicacy, is very prevalent in corrupt and debauched countries where the low pleasures of sensuality and luxury have depraved the mind and degraded the appetite below the brutal creation.” They recognize that when you no longer control the passions of your sin nature, then you destroy the significance of your humanity as being in the image and likeness of God.
Charles Carroll (slide 38), one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence said, “Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time.” We have to have morality. And James Otis (slide 39), who was a founding father, and his writings included works that argued that natural rights should be extended to all races, blacks, everybody, should have the same rights. He said, “When a man’s will and pleasure is his only rule and guide, what safety can there be either for him or against him but in the point of a sword.” If pleasure is your ultimate value, then the culture is imploding.
But God provided a solution (slide 40), John 3:16–19, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Why? “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,” and yet a lot of Christians just sound like that is all they can do is condemn sinners. They are wrong, yes. They are not biblical, yes. But we do not need to be marked as those who are always condemning someone else. We need to treat them with love and grace and give them the gospel. John 3:18, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because” he’s a homosexual perverted deviant? Is that what it says? No. It says because he doesn’t believe. That is the issue, not the sin.
John 3:19, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light.” The condemnation isn’t their sins. The condemnation is their rejection of the grace of God and the rejection of the free offer of salvation. So it doesn’t matter what sins a person has committed, whether they are sins of arrogance, or sins of the flesh, sins of sexual immorality, or sins of avarice. Christ died for all. The solution is the same for all, and it is whosoever will can believe and have eternal salvation and all sins are forgiven.
“Father, thank You for this time we’ve had to study this evening Your Word. May it encourage us as we think about how to interact with a new reality in our culture that we may stand firm for the truth of Your Word, and yet deal with those who disagree, those who are mired in their sin, that we deal with them in grace and manifesting the character of Christ, as well as Your love in offering the gospel, the salvation solution. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”