Tag Archives: Truth

Does the Bible Permit Same-Sex Marriage?

With the recent Supreme Court ruling that discovered same-sex marriage hidden as a constitutional right by the founders, the attention has turned from the legality of gay marriage to the real target of the gay lobby: The destruction of Christianity.

While the court claimed it would not abridge the rights of religious institutions to practice their beliefs (which may not include marrying people of the same gender), it has done nothing to protect the rights of everyday citizens to decline participation in a gay marriage. It has forced bakers to bake cakes for, and photographers to take pictures of, same-sex weddings or face significant fines or jail time. The Supreme Court has thrown gasoline on the fires burning under Christians who would dare refuse to give their assent to what they see as a violation of their conscience.

One of the ways gay-rights activists are pressuring Christians is by trying to argue that the Bible does not address “sexual orientation” and does, in fact, approve of loving, committed homosexual relationships. One of the more popular advocates for this position is Matthew Vines, whose five-minute video has made its way into everyone’s Facebook newsfeed in recent weeks.

After writing extensively about the video in Facebook comments, I’ve decided to summarize those comments here so that I don’t have to keep re-typing them.

First, watch the video.

While it would be interesting to discuss the Old Testament verses Vines cites, I agree that Christ fulfills the requirements of the Law for the Christian, and that Bible-believing Christians are not under the Law. So for brevity, we’ll skip showing the flaws in his brief analysis of those verses.

Romans 1:26-27 are frequently cited by Christians to condemn homosexual behavior.

26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and 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.

Romans 1:26-27 (NASB)

When looking at Romans 1:26-27, Vines tries to argue that “unnatural relations” are made right if they’re done in “love”, “faithfulness”, and “commitment”.

But after Paul describes homosexual sins in Romans 1:26-27, he goes on to describe further what sins God gave them (those who rejected him) over to. These include greed, murder, deceit, and slander.

28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:28-32 (NASB)

Again, Vines is arguing that the unnatural act of sex (I will call it unnatural in this article because the Bible does and because Vines admits later in the video that it is “unnatural”) between two men, clearly condemned here, is made right because it is done in love in a committed relationship. The argument he is making needs to be applied to the entire content of Paul’s condemnation though. So if unnatural sex is made right because of love, then if we love the person we are murdering, that makes it right. If we’re faithful to the person we are deceiving, that makes our deceit right, because Paul didn’t consider people in a faithful, deceptive relationship. If we commit to the person we are slandering, then it is OK because Paul isn’t describing a committed slanderer.

There isn’t anything in this list of sins that turns into righteousness if you do it with or to a person you love, are faithful to, and are committed to. So it’s not unreasonable to say that unnatural sex isn’t suddenly made right when done in love.

Vines describes the fact that many homosexual acts in Roman times happened between adult men and adolescent boys. He is trying to say that Paul is not objecting to gay sex per se, but to child abuse. But this is an attempt to gauge the behavior of the ancients by our mores and our legal standards. We would arrest and jail a person for having sex with a 12-year-old boy. While it is true that most male prostitutes in Roman times were, as he says, “adolescent” — ages 12-20 — it has only been in the last 100-150 years that our idea that a person can’t consent to sex until they’re 18 has become commonly held. In earlier eras, the age of sexual activity was tied more to puberty, not chronological age.

So the ancients weren’t pedophiles or pederasts per se. They were having sex with other “of-age” men. They just weren’t “of-age” by our modern standards.

Vines claims that the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual acts was really a prohibition on out-of-control lust. But there are two problems with this. First, verse 26 says God “gave them over to degrading passions”. He didn’t just give them over to their passions (i.e. to their out-of-control lust) but rather he gave them to degrading passions. He goes on to explain that what makes them degrading is that they are unnatural. The women exchanged natural relations with men for degrading, unnatural relations with women. The men similarly abandoned natural relations with women and burned in their desire for degrading, indecent (Greek ἀσχημοσύνη, “obscene”, “shameful”), unnatural relations with other men.

So the text simply does not support the idea that God was only condemning out-of-control lust.

Secondly, if we go back to verses 18-23 we see that people rejected the clear revelation of God and worshiped things God created instead of worshiping God.

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Romans 1:18-23 (NASB)

Therefore, because they rejected God and worshiped people and things instead of God, God gave them over not to out-of-control lust, but to impurity.

24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Romans 1:24-25 (NASB)

They exchanged truth for lies, so in verses 26-27 God exchanges natural for unnatural. The emphasis is not on the lust, but on how the lust is manifested. The acts they perform are a picture of the unseen spiritual truth behind them. That is, they exchanged truth for lies, so God allowed them to exchange natural relations for unnatural ones. Instead of looking wise, they look foolish (verse 22) because they don’t even know how to have sex right.

Again, the thing that makes them look foolish was not their unbridled passion as Vines would have you believe but their rejection of God as manifested in their upside down, unnatural, sexual behavior.

Vines admits that God calls homosexual acts “unnatural” but then cites 1 Corinthians 11 as an example of something the Bible calls “unnatural” but that we don’t have a problem with — long hair on men. It’s difficult to use 1 Corinthians 11 as an analogy because it’s a bit of a confusing passage for most people. The general idea is that a woman should cover her head when she prays (or maybe it’s saying a woman’s long hair is given to her for a covering) and that a man should not cover his head when he prays (or maybe it’s saying he shouldn’t have long hair).

Vines says that in 1 Corinthians 11 God says for men to have long hair goes against nature. That’s not exactly correct.

14Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

1 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NASB)

It doesn’t say that long hair on a man is unnatural, it says that the “nature of things” teaches us that long hair on a man is dishonorable but that long hair on a woman is glorious.

Vines seems to be saying that “unnatural sex” is okay because 1 Corinthians 11 says a man with long hair is doing something “unnatural” and we all know men with long hair and there’s nothing wrong with that. But whatever 1 Corinthians 11 means, it does seem to be saying that long hair (or some kind of head covering) on a man while praying is a bad thing, not a good thing. So Vines is arguing that because we do this wrong thing (long hair on a man), then this other wrong thing (gay sex) is okay. This is a classic case of two wrongs not making a right. Note that it doesn’t matter whether you think 1 Corinthians 11 is to be moderated by cultural considerations or not. The argument here is that because Matthew Vines thinks we don’t have to follow whatever 1 Corinthians 11 says, then it’s OK not to follow what Romans 1 says. This is bad exegesis and bad logic.

Vines says that most people interpret “natural” and “unnatural” in 1 Corinthians 11 as a reference to cultural conventions. But this, too, is not the case. The pertinent passage is this one:

6For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head.

1 Corinthians 11:6 (NASB)

The standard for “disgrace” here isn’t explicitly stated. Paul implies by his Greek grammar that it is disgraceful but there is no explicit reference to Old Testament law to justify this. So many assume this must be a reference to culture. That is, “if it is a disgrace (in our culture) for a woman to have her hair cut off (and it is)… let her be covered”. Those who argue a cultural interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11 say that it is not a disgrace in our culture for a woman to have short hair, so she doesn’t have to be covered.

As you can see, the cultural argument doesn’t have anything to do with whether “nature” teaches us that long hair on a man is dishonorable (verse 14).

Vines asserts that the concept of sexual orientation did not exist in the ancient world. It is true that homosexual sex was rampant in the Roman Empire, and at least according to Wikipedia, freeborn Roman men did not care whether their partners were male or female. But this was considered by the Jews to be a particularly “Gentile” vice. It was universally condemned in Jewish culture. Paul grew up in that culture and clearly distinguished between “normal men” who had sex with women and the malakoi (transgendered/transvestite men) and arsenokoi (homosexual men) who had sex with other men. Yes, they may not have had 5 or 51 or 63 genders or however many liberals claim there are now, but they knew the difference between natural and unnatural, “straight” and “gay” sex.

These are in fact the words Paul would have used to describe men who alter their appearance to look feminine and those who engage in homosexual activity whether he had a “concept of sexual orientation” or not. It’s not intellectually honest to change the meaning of those words two millennia later then claim he’s not talking about what he would’ve been talking about in the context of his time.

Vines goes on to say that while Paul took a dim view of gay sex, he had no knowledge of loving, committed gay relationships. Again, this is the argument that if I love the person I’m sinning with, then it isn’t sin. This just isn’t true and isn’t supported anywhere in the Bible.

He says the Bible doesn’t address the issues of sexual orientation nor same-sex marriage. But it does. He cites six places where the Bible addresses sexual orientation. It consistently condemns homosexual practices. And while we don’t see anything about same-sex marriage, we see a lot about marriage, and it always, always describes it as being between a man and a woman.

Matthew Vines is a sexually dysfunctional person who, as he says at the beginning of the video, went to the Bible to justify his sin. He’s not unlike every other Christian who has tried to twist God’s words to condone his or her own particular sin. His analysis of the text is weak at best; dishonest at worst. While this video is well-produced, it does not change what the Bible calls “sin” into righteousness. Bible-believing Christians are well-advised to look elsewhere for insight into this subject.

About the Picture

The picture with this article is of Sergius and Bacchus, two 4th-century Roman Catholic saints whose friendship has been abducted by gay Christians and turned into the story of the first gay marriage or some such nonsense. This is why real men reject society’s pressure for them to have BFFs with whom they share their true feelings and do yoga together. They don’t want somebody to come along in 1600 years and gay-marry them posthumously.

Braces and Indenting: You’re Doing it Wrong

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 8.33.08 AMJava, C++, Objective-C, and C# all use braces ( { and } ) to delineate the beginning and end of blocks of code. Over the years, several styles have evolved, with the worst of them dominating the literature. Once you see The Light you’ll wonder how we ever let this get out of hand.

Before we begin, let’s remind ourselves what braces are for: They mark the beginning and end of blocks of code. In many contexts a block stands in place of a single statement. It allows us to put two or more statements in a place where a single statement is called for in the grammar. In those contexts a block is functionally equivalent to the single statement it replaces. This will be important in our understanding of the One Right Way to indent.

In other contexts, such as the bodies of functions, surrounding the cases in a switch statement, and surrounding the declarations in a class definition, braces demarcate the contents of the function, switch, and class. For convenience, I’ll refer to any group of lines of code surrounded by braces as a “block”, even though the language definition may not always use that term in every context in which braces are used.

So the the first question is to ask: “To what do the braces belong: the block they surround or the syntactical element (if, for, switch, class etc.) to which the block belongs?”

When braces are used to surround a true block (the else clause of an if statement, for example), it’s clear the braces belong to the block. Together with the lines of code they contain, they replace a single statement.

The implication is that the braces should be indented at the same level as the lines of code in the block they surround, for they are part of that block.

The second question we need to ask is: “Should braces share the line with any other code; either a statement from the block they surround or the statement the block belongs to?”

Clearly we would not format code like this:

    x
    = y
    +
    z
    ;

We might break a very long line into two or more lines, but a short statement should always be on one line. Similarly, we try to avoid code like this:

    x = y + z; if ( x > 10 ) foo(x); bar(z); switch (y) {case 1: x = 2 * y; break; case 2: default: foo(x); break;}

The commonly accepted practice is to put one statement on each line. (There are exceptions but they are rare.) Similarly, I would argue that braces belong on a line by themselves. They are not “inline operators” like + or ==. They do not belong to the statement to their right or left; they surround those statements.

The reason we don’t put two or more statements on one line is that it is more difficult to read. It’s why we break up our thoughts into sentences and paragraphs. It aids in comprehension. The same is true of code. Consider the following:

    if ( x < 10 ) { foo(x);
        bar(y); }

The call to foo(x) belongs to the then-clause because it is inside the brace but it would be easy to glance at the code and assume bar(y) is the only statement executed when the if-condition is true because the call to foo(x) is “hidden” at the end of the if statement.

For this reason I would argue that braces belong on a line by themselves. It is too easy to miss them when they are “hidden” at the end of another line of code. So unless you’re in the habit of writing a dozen statements on one line, it doesn’t make sense to put a brace on the same line as another line of code.

With these two rules (i.e. braces belong to the block they surround and braces belong on a line by themselves), there’s only One Right Way to indent your code:

    if ( x < 10 )
        {
        foo(x);
        bar();
        }
    else
        {
        x += 10;
        foo(x);
        }

Now we can see why the predominant indenting style is so, so wrong:

    if ( x < 10 ) {    // should not be on same line as "if"; should be indented with block
        foo(x);
        bar();
    } else {              // should not be on same line as else (*2); should be indented like block above/below
        x += 10;
        foo(x);
    }                     // should be indented like block above

I realize those of you who grew up doing this wrong and reading all the literature from others who do it wrong will find the One Right Way more difficult to read. But it can be argued that you only find it difficult to read because you’re not accustomed to doing things the One Right Way, while the wrong style as illustrated above is difficult for me to read because it makes no attempt to be logically consistent. This makes it objectively wrong, not just a matter of personal preference.


Postscript
In the spirit of unity and the cause of world peace, practitioners of the One Right Way will accept the following style with the hope that those practicing it will see the one small error in their way and with proper mentoring and encouragement, will correct it:

    if ( x < 10 )
    {
        foo(x);
        bar();
    }
    else
    {
        x += 10;
        foo(x);
    }

Catholics, Protestants, Denominations, and Christianity

Catholics Expressing their Unity

A friend of mine recently commented that one of his Catholic relatives refused to listen to the gospel, saying, “All you Protestants are always fighting with each other and starting a new denomination. How can you claim that any one of them is correct?” While this sounds like a good argument, it’s based on a false understanding of church history.

In the years following Jesus’ death, local churches were formed in the cities to which the gospel message spread. With the exception of their deference to the Apostles in the very early years, these churches had no common leadership, hierarchy, or organizational structure. Each was independent, and each considered its sister churches in other cities to be a part of the larger “body of Christ” on Earth.

Over 200 years after the death of the last of the Apostles, a Roman emperor with Christian and pagan roots brought together hundreds of church leaders from throughout the Roman Empire and began a process that would result in the formation of the Roman Catholic Church.

By adopting a central leadership and placing the opinions of its bishops over the authority of God’s Word, Catholicism separated itself from orthodox Christianity. Catholicism was the first successful “denomination” that split from Christianity in those early years.

In the early 1500’s, a group of Catholics grew dissatisfied with the rituals and doctrines of their church. They split from the Catholic Church, which labeled them “Protestants” because of their protest.

Protestants, argued by my friend’s relative to just be a bunch of disagreeable folks who can’t figure out what they believe, are disgruntled Catholics, not disgruntled Christians. When Protestants (disgruntled Catholics) split from each other, they become yet another group of disgruntled Catholics.

Throughout history — before and during the rise of Catholicism — there have been churches that held to the fundamental doctrines of Jesus and the Apostles. They may have varied on some points, but they retained their independence from hierarchy, their congregational polity, their reliance on the Bible as their sole authority on matters of faith and practice, their commitment to evangelism, and their belief in salvation by faith apart from baptism or other “sacraments”. These churches were severely persecuted by the nascent Catholic Church and continue to be opposed by the Catholic Church and its Protestant brothers and sisters.

So despite my friend’s relative’s claims, it is the Catholic Church that split from Truth, and it is the Catholic Church that is fraught with schisms that manifest themselves as Protestant denominations. Meanwhile Christ’s true church continues undeterred; persecuted but prevailing; united under the umbrella of fundamental doctrines that are unchanged from the first century. It can do this because Christianity isn’t a local church, it isn’t a denomination, it isn’t a bishop, and it isn’t a hierarchy. It is a personal relationship with God through the finished work of Jesus Christ, entirely separate from any organization or ritual. The true church is the universal collection of such people. It is undivided and indivisible, as opposed to Catholicism, which was founded in division and whose history — often incorrectly identified as the “history of Christianity” — is marked by and moves forward through division.