Normally, a response is necessary in order to provide a more accurate context of understanding. Nothing is more truer to this principle than the ongoing attack against Christianity and the Bible. Specifically when it comes to the nature of Homosexuality. Recently, an Olympic Gold Medalist had a gender reassignment surgery that flooded social media, the news and conversations within the market place. Some hail the individual as a hero. Others bring about questions. Ultimately, it comes down to who is right?
Craig Biddle wrote up a short piece for the Objective Standard that I read through my Facebook feed. In this article (and his attached youtube video) Craig states that Homosexuality is moral rather than it is immoral. His position? The Bible is not to be trusted in the matters of human life and morality. This article will examine the points Biddle makes (as they are presented) and then responded to from the nature and aspect of what the Bible really says regarding morality and immorality.
In order to do this, we must first define what morality and immorality mean. Second, we are going to consider how one argues from an absolute moral standpoint necessitates an actual moral law giver. Third, we will conclude on what the actual moral stipulations the Bible provides in matters of human existence, faith and reason.
1. What is morality and immorality?
The simple rendering of the idea of morality is that which encompasses a particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society. This may also include the extent in which actions are either right or wrong. Immorality, therefore, is the state or quality of being immoral. It is a state that is going against the established moral conduct and principles individuals or social standards hold to.
This brings us to the very first point in the article Biddle presents.
“The hostility toward homosexuality, and the idea that there is something in this orientation that is wrong, stems primarily from religion—from religious scripture, from the Bible, the Koran, and the like. The Bible, for instance, says that homosexuality is an abomination. But it doesn’t matter what the Bible says. The Bible is just a book written by men who regard faith and revelation as a means of knowledge, and obedience and self-sacrifice as virtuous. And that’s ridiculous.”
From what we deduce here, Biddle claims that (1) It is ridiculous to turn to the Bible for understanding revelation, obtain a means of knowledge and seek to engage in obedience and self-sacrifice as attributes of virtue. (2) Hostility toward homosexuality is based primarily on religion and religious scriptures. (3) It really does not matter what the Bible has to say.
On the contrary, and specific to Biddle’s open claims, the Bible does matter when it is understood in it’s appropriate context. Yes, it is written by “men who regard faith and revelation as a means of knowledge”, however, much of that faith and revelation where knowledge is obtained has provided ongoing responses to many a life’s questions. Obedience and self-sacrifice is not ridiculous in this light and understanding. And, we see the Strawman fallacy playing out here. Let us further break it down to understand a better picture of whether or not the Bible is trusted on moral values and principles.
The Garden and the Fall of Humanity
The first place we go to is understanding the nature of the fall of humanity. The Apostle Paul himself writes about the nature of the Fall as it compares to the nature of human redemption:
“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned – for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.” (Romans 5:12-14, ESV)
Paul is referring to the nature of the Fall of humanity that transpired while Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. Recall there were two specific trees in the Garden of Eden. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were seduced to partake of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Because of partaking of this fruit, Both became aware of their own nakedness, hid themselves from God and ultimately were banished from the Garden in order to not partake of the Tree of Life. From then on, humanity has suffered its ongoing affects. Diseases, war, poverty, oppression and the like.
Psychologists and behavioral scientists concur that humanity is plagued with a natural tendency toward negative thoughts and actions. Thomas Hobbes reflected on the natural condition of humanity in his work Leviathan and postulates that because of this natural condition of humanity (being inherently evil), there needs to be a sovereign source of guiding principles.
In a Psychology today article, we read the following:
‘Good’ means a lack of self-centredness. It means the ability to empathise with other people, to feel compassion for them, and to put their needs before your own. It means, if necessary, sacrificing your own well-being for the sake of others’. It means benevolence, altruism and selflessness, and self-sacrifice towards a greater cause – all qualities which stem from a sense of empathy. It means being able to see beyond the superficial difference of race, gender or nationality and relate to a common human essence beneath them.”
Regarding the meaning of evil, we read the following:
‘Evil’ people are those who are unable to empathize with others. As a result, their own needs and desires are of paramount importance. They are selfish, self-absorbed and narcissistic. In fact, other people only have value for them to the extent that they can help them satisfy their own desires, or to which they can exploit them. This applies to dictators like Stalin and Hitler, and to serial killers and rapists – I would argue that their primary characteristics is an inability to empathize with others. They can’t sense other people’s emotions or their suffering, can’t see the world from other people’s perspective, have no sense of their rights. Other human beings are just objects to them, which is what makes their brutality and cruelty possible.
The article further explains how most individuals fall between the two extreme spectrum’s. This is behind the wisdom from the Cherokee nation:
One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.
He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.
The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: Which one wins?
The old Cherokee simply replied, “the one that you feed.”
This point is very valid and we can find scripture that attests to this very fact about our dual nature as human beings. This brings us to the next point.
2. An established moral objective
When we look at human nature and all that involves who we are, one must come to reason with the idea that there is an established moral objective. Biddle does not argue against this point. However, he argues against the validity of the Bible as a provision of how a moral objective is established. Biddle attempts to redefined an established moral objective in order to fit it in his preconceived notion of the irrelevance of the Bible.
The best response that addresses this topic is from William Lane Craig
We live in a world (and society) where we have established objective moral guidelines. These guidelines safe guard us from potential harm. Allows us to live in a sense of peace and liberty. For instance, we have laws that are based on moral objectives. One of them is murder. Murder stems from the law of a law giver who is God “thou shalt not commit murder”. Christ, talking with the pharisee’s and religious leaders of his day expounded on this more fully when he taught, “I say unto you” any individual who hates his brother has already committed murder in his heart.
Specifically, the Bible mentions the deprivation of our human condition. More specifically, these sins are listed under what is considered the 7 deadly sins. One of these sins is sexual immorality. Whether it is homosexuality, fornication, adultery, or any form of sexual passions and desires.
This does not mean that sex is wrong and abominable. In its appropriate context, sexual experience is a worthy experience with significant meaning and purpose. Where it becomes immoral is abusing, developing an addiction to, and the engagement of self satisfaction. This includes homosexual behaviors and acts. Not only is it immoral, it is devastating to society as well.
For example, the Center for Disease Control did a study where majority of HIV/AIDS cases reside with those who engage in male to male sexual encounters. This is not religious or biblical opinion – it is empirical fact established by research and studies.
However, Biddle dismisses the Bible and holds to the notion it has no relevance in society today.
“Not only should we not turn to the Bible for guidance on sexual orientation; we shouldn’t turn to the Bible for guidance on anything. The Bible is a senseless book. When we want guidance for living, we need to turn to reason and the requirements of human life and the principles that arise from looking at the requirements of human life. We codify those requirements into certain principles, and then we live by those principles.”
Again, where do these reasons and the requirements of human life and the principles inherent in them reside? From researching and studying ancient cultures and their histories through their own records – one of the greatest recorded historical books is that of the Bible. To dismiss this is to dismiss the cultural relevance of its teachings in the past in in our present lives. To dismiss this is to dismiss the reality of our human condition. To dismiss the very teachings of Jesus Christ is to dismiss the reality in how we ought to strive toward how we relate to those who bless and persecute us. When we come to the Bible, we fully solidify how we move toward a more authentic lifestyle that is transforming.
The Apostle Paul made this very clear in Romans 12:1-2 where he states that we are not to be conformed to the ideas and understandings of the world. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind on the revelations and teachings of God through His own word as it is established.
Therefore, when we definitely are in need of guidance, the Bible is the source to turn to for that guidance and advice. It is where we not only learn of God and Christ, we learn to live and move toward the will of God.
Finally, Biddle concludes:
“The standard of morality is not the Bible, and it’s not faith; it’s the factual requirements of human life and happiness. And on that standard, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with homosexuality—anymore than there’s anything wrong with heterosexuality.”
On the contrary, the standard of morality is not only based on the Bible and the values and principles contained within the Bible. It is based on the knowledge and revelation that to have moral absolutes, one has to understand there needs to be a law giver to have bestowed the sense of what is right compared to that which is wrong. Without this, as the Book of Mormon teaches:
And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away. ~ 2 Nephi Chapter 2
Where does this leave the question about morality and immorality as it pertains to homosexuality? We can trust the Bible when it says that sexual immorality is an abomination before God, no matter how the act is committed or defined. Furthermore, it begins within our heart, as Christ stated – when a man looks upon a woman with lust in his heart, he has already committed adultery. To argue this is wrong is to argue with God himself who prescribed moral absolutes as to what constitutes living in liberty or living in captivity.