Response to Brad Chilcott at The Guardian

By Vice-President Paul Facey

I · Preface

On December 25th, the birthday of our Lord (maybe), Brad Chilcott of The Guardian used the occasion to promote the cause of progressive “Christianity”. This is typical behaviour from secularist mainstream media sources; attack Christianity more than any other faith, but then use liberal believers to turn around and claim Christianity actually supports all sorts of progressive causes. Here, the author claims the Church must welcome LGBTIQ+ believers just as it does anyone else.

He states that the Church’s historical practice of excluding those deemed sinful and Jesus’s inclusive approach are in conflict. Jesus’ command to “love others the way I have loved you” means that we must include the downtrodden of society; women, racial minorities, homosexuals, divorcees, and more. The Apostle Paul also declares “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female”, meaning that all, including LGBTIQ+ persons, are welcome in the congregation.

Chilcott claims evils such as slavery, the “massacre of people of Muslim faith” (presumably the Crusades), the subjection of women, and more have received theological justification from “various incarnations of the church throughout Christian history across the world.”

His article makes multiple variations of the above claims. Please read it fully for total context.

II · The Authority of Scripture and Sin

An immediate and fatal error in Chilcott’s piece is his ignorance of the fact that homosexuality and transgenderism are sins according to the very scriptures he claims to live by (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26 – 27, 1 Corinthians 6:9 – 10, among others). Of course, people of his view typically respond in one of a few ways:

“These passages are limited to a cultural context and don’t apply everywhere at all times.”
If this is true, then we can discard of almost every Biblical concept as culturally contingent, including the resurrection itself. Furthermore, in the Romans passage especially, Paul is summarising the universal story and condition of humanity, making the reference impossible to restrict to a local, temporary context.

“These passages have been misinterpreted in the following ways.”

  1. “In the Roman context, Romans 1:26 – 27 is condemning the dominating sexual relationships that were common in ancient Rome, not loving same-sex relationships.”
    We have no reason to believe Paul’s condemnation is limited to this. He simply states that men and women have “exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones” with no qualifier on behaviour or domination/submission status.
  2. “Leviticus is specifically condemning the temple prostitution the Canaanites partook in, not loving homosexual relationships.”
    This appeals to the fact that the verse prior to Leviticus 18:22 refers to sacrificing children to the Canaanite god Molech. But there is no reason to assume that this therefore limits 18:22 to that context, as the entire chapter of laws is divided into small sub units, and to predicate them primarily on the previous statement would make the entire section unintelligible.
  3. “In the 1 Corinthians passage, Paul uses the term “arsenokoitai”, which most translate to mean “homosexual”, but actually the meaning is unclear, as “homosexual” was only a recently coined term.”
    That “homosexual” was only defined recently is technically true but the word Paul uses does indeed refer to this understanding. The word is a neologism (new word) coined by Paul that combines “ἄρσενος” (arsenos – man) and “κοίτην” (koiten – bed), and is most likely a reference to the Septuagint (Greek) translation of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. As shown earlier, 18:22 in particular is a clear indictment of homosexuality. Therefore, the most reasonable conclusion is that the word indeed refers to same-sex sexual interaction.

(NOTE: This isn’t an exhaustive list of progressive responses to these passages, but these are among the most common, and are easily refuted. I encourage further research into the greater depths of these arguments, especially the work of Dr. James B. De Young and Dr. Robert A.J. Gagnon).

More significantly, the scriptures reserve sexual conduct to the marital union (1 Cor. 7:2, Hebrew 13:4, Genesis 2:24 – 25), and thus any sexual activity outside of this union is sin. And because marriage is referred to exclusively as between male and female, any homosexual conduct of any nature is thus sin.

III · A Bad Rap for Exclusion

Chilcott makes much of the church’s historical exclusion of women, divorcees, and people of colour from “full inclusion in the life and leadership of Christian community and institutions.” He attempts to equate these historical wrongs with mainstream Christianity’s current rejection of open LGBTIQ+ individuals, as he condemns “exclusion” without qualification.

It is fallacious to equate these evils (assuming they occurred exactly how he claims and were not more nuanced than his account) with the “exclusion” of LGBTIQ+ individuals from communion, as the latter is justified in this and the previous section.

The scriptures

demonstrate that “exclusion” is not some blanket evil, but an unfortunate necessity in some cases. In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul tells the congregation not to even associate with self-proclaimed believers who are otherwise living in an unrepentant state of sin (1 Cor. 5:11), and a few verses earlier he uses the analogy of yeast affecting a whole batch of bread to demonstrate this.

Chilcott might object that he isn’t against all exclusion without exception, but against specific groups who have done no sin to warrant it. But he only circles back to the assumption that LGBTIQ+ individuals are not sinning, an assumption which is refuted by the Biblical evidence in the last section.

IV · A Cherrypicked “Love”

Chilcott makes the typical progressive-Christian assumption that Biblical love is highly tolerant and inclusive, with no room for judgement, as only God has the right to do that. But this understanding of love undergirding the article lacks the nuance displayed in the scriptures.

Biblical love is compassionate and unreserved, but it is also corrective by nature. In his encounter with the adulteress (John 8:1 – 11), Jesus prevented her stoning by pointing out a form of hypocrisy in the Jewish leaders (a major point that affects the overall message of the story is that they failed to provide the male perpetrator, but that is for another article). Jesus told the woman he did not condemn her, and then let her go. Some use this story, especially the “he who has no sin can cast the first stone” line, to declare that we Christians are not allowed to judge. But to the contrary, Jesus right at the end said to the adulteress “Go and sin no more”. He did not leave her to continue sinning, but “judged” her, so to speak, in order to help her.

This concept is succinctly stated in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” We are not to coddle and appease fellow Christians, but to sharpen one another by calling each other to account (Eph. 4:15, 2 Tim. 3:16 – 17). Probably the most explicit attestation to this truth is in Matthew 7:1 – 6, where Jesus warns us that whatever judgement we make of others will be made against us. Thus, we should “take the log” out of our own eye first, and then we will be able to “take the spec” out of our brother’s eye. In other words, we are only in a position to deal with a brother’s problems once we sort out our own. But this therefore means that “judging” one another – in the sense of calling out another’s problems for the purpose of helping him – is a Christian duty.
Biblical love is therefore not a highly accepting concept, but a corrective one, and LGBTIQ+ Christians are to be loved, not by appeasing their lifestyle, but by addressing it and helping them out of it.

V · Conclusion

Contrary to Chilcott’s claims, we are not to tolerate the unrepentant lifestyles of self-proclaimed LGBTIQ+ Christians, but to call them to account and help them come to God’s intended way of living. This was and is the Biblical vision of love; helping one another overcome the grasp of sin and instead enter a life of holiness.

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