Est. May 2008

22 October, 2014

Taffy-pulling

It never ceases to amaze me the stretching, twisting, pulling, kneading, folding, bending, spindling, and mutilating Scripture goes through in the hands of some folks who desperately want to justify their wrong-headed ideas concerning God’s word.

Today’s example: Gerald W. Schlabach, writing for The Christian Century, pulls a single verse of Scripture – 1 Corinthians 7:9 – and spends four-and-one-half pages (single-spaced, narrow-margined, Times New Roman 12-point font) trying to get it to justify the author’s notion that conservatives and Christians (and, I’ll assume, Christian conservatives) ought to fully embrace homosexual marriage, ‘For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.’ 

The author, though, either accidentally or deliberately, skips the most important thing when it comes to reading and interpreting Scripture: context.

So let’s look at the context of that verse.


Looking at 1 Corinthians 7:1-16, we see Paul writing what my Bible calls ‘Principles of Marriage’.  He’s obviously discussing the traditional idea of marriage – one man, one woman – because throughout the passage he repeatedly calls the members of the union ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. 

The immediate context of verse 9 is found in verse 8:
To the unmarried and to the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.’  Again, based on everything else in the ‘Principles of Marriage’ passage, it’s obvious Paul is talking about men not married to women and women not married to men – not to men not married to men and women not married to women.

Let’s back up a little farther in 1 Corinthians.  In Chapter 6, beginning with verse 12, Paul talks about things which are lawful for Christians, but not helpful to Christians.  Twice between verse 12 and the last verse of the chapter Paul writes about sexual immorality (verses 13b and 18a) and how ‘the body was not meant for it’ and that one is to ‘[f]lee’ it.

Let’s back up even further in 1 Corinthians 6 – to verses 9 and 10:
 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (emphases mine)
Does that sound as if Paul thinks homosexual marriage is A-OK?

And that’s from the same book as the verse the author of the article is trying to use to justify the acceptance of homosexual marriage.

And no discussion of Paul’s outlook on sexual immorality in general and homosexual practice in particular would be complete without referring to Romans 1:26-32, or Galatians 5:19-21, or Ephesians 5:3-6, or 1 Timothy 1:8-11.

But guess what?  Paul also offers a great deal of hope.  He tells us that the body can be disciplined (1 Corinthians 6:12; 9:27) and that the indwelling Holy Spirit will turn one from sin (1 Corinthians 6:11).  So rather than manipulating Scripture to ‘give approval to those who practice’ sinful behavior – including sexual sins – why not give them the hope Scripture provides that these urges can be successfully fought?


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