Monday, February 27, 2006

"Letting Scripture Speak" - Veteran New Testament Scholar Summarizes Biblical Teaching About Homosexuality - Posted on ABCPSW Website

Veteran New Testament Scholar Dr. Robert P. Meye, Member, First Baptist Church of Pasadena (CA), Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of New Testament Interpretation, School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary (2/21/06), recently lifted his pen to write about the biblical record regarding homosexuality. Dr. Meye not only enjoys a richly deserved reputation for erudition and probity, but also for his commitment to personal Godliness.

The timing and title he gave to his statement, "Letting Scripture Speak Regarding Homosexual Practice: Seriatim Notes for the Churches' Consideration," suggest that Meye offered his observations to assist the churches of the PSW in their discernment process preparatory to the April 29 advisory vote whether or not to withdraw from the ABCUSA Covenant of Relationships. The use of the adverb "seriatim" refers to a one after another series. For purposes of greater clarity, we have highlighted in color the linguistic cue, "it won't do."

His complete article can be found on the ABCPSW web site ( Readers of "His Barking Dog" are encouraged to read the entire piece. Since his work was published in such a public forum, I have elected to offer up some "teases" from Dr. Meye's statement. What follows here are some selected paragraphs excerpted for our readers.

[In the Bible] There is no instance of homosexual practice presented in a positive light.

Homosexual practice is consistently judged in the very harshest manner, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament . . .

. . . Paul declares that there is no place in the Church or the kingdom of God for those whose lifestyle (practice) is in violation of the biblical code regarding sexual intimacy But he also makes it abundantly clear that the church has welcomed and incorporated into its life those who have believed in the Gospel and have embraced a new lifestyle.

It won't do [emphasis and colorization by the editor throughout] to speak of the paucity of references to homosexual practice in the Bible. One does not have to post a lot of signs against that which everyone in the world of the Bible understands is a forbidden practice. Note: there are no signs in our world, which say, "Murder is not allowed. Nor, for that matter, any signs saying, “Lying is not allowed.”

It won't do to speak about the absence of reference to homosexual practice among Jesus' words. In respect to sexual relations Jesus held to the Old Testament pattern, so that there was nothing new that he needed to say in this matter.

It won't do to place a wedge between Jesus and Paul. Paul is first, last and always a servant of Jesus; if Paul cannot be trusted then we have a can of mush for our authority. Jesus and his servant Paul point us in the same direction in the case of sexual practice.

It won't do to pit the biblical imperative of love against the judgment that homosexual practice is contrary to the will of God: Both the mandate to love and the mandate against homosexual practice are essential factors in the one biblical revelation. Is it intrinsically a lack of love that leads a parent to admonish or discipline a child for disallowed behavior?

It won't do to call on the biblical words to accept one another as an open door to welcoming and affirming a homosexual lifestyle in the church. The apostle Paul, whose stirring words at the end of Romans regarding acceptance of one another are perhaps the most well known and most used of all biblical words in this regard, begins the Roman letter with the strongest possible declaration that homosexual praxis is contrary to the Gospel, to the good will of God.

It won't do to issue a call to unity as a value trumping obedience to the command of God. God commands obedience, not sacrifice (of your values to my values, or my values to your values). In any case, it is not my values, or your values, but God's values that are primary.

It won't do to call upon "science" as a power that turns upside down the biblical pattern of revelation, which narrative has determined the Christian tradition with respect to homosexual practice. Neither biology, nor physiology, nor sociology, nor psychology, have offered a reason to turn aside from the traditional Christian position regarding homosexual practice. Indeed, they have offered plentiful wisdom that supports the traditional position . . .

. . . The arguments that "new light' has come to the Church with respect to homosexual practice are unenlightening. It will not do to call upon the instance of slavery as a compelling paradigm for the Church to now reverse its position with respect to homosexual practice. Those who crusaded against slavery typically drew their inspiration from the Biblical narrative, whether primarily or secondarily so. The Bible knows the difference between slave and free, emphatically so. Even though it does not issue a blanket imperative against slavery, it points to freedom as the better way. But it does not allow homosexual practice at all; it points in the contrary direction . . .

. . . Finally, one can only regret the very strong, derogatory language used against those who hold the same traditional position that the churches have held for two thousand years, right up to the present time. In the newspapers we commonly read such words as “ultra right” (!), 'don't get it,' 'straight jacketed', used pejoratively by those who affirm the place of homosexual practice in the church, to describe the large mass of Christians with whom the speaker happens to differ. Those espousing the traditional pattern are even accused of being “homophobic.” Such language amounts to a denial that the Holy Spirit has illumined the mass of Christians in the world throughout the history of the Church. Has the whole Church been “ultra right” for two thousand years? Were Jesus and Paul “ultra right”? Did Jesus and Paul “get it”? Were they “homophobic”? Descriptive labels have their place in discourse, but indiscriminate name-calling does not a church build or a position justify. The whole body of Christ needs to take care in respect to dealing with differences, even as real differences are taken seriously.

When he decides to summarize the biblical witness in a short compass, Dr. Meye says simply, yet eloquently:

The biblical word of revelation upon which the Church bases its life in Christ provides an overwhelming pattern declaring the will of God with respect to sexual intimacy: sexual intimacy belongs within the marital, covenant relationship of a man and a woman. Any consideration of or teaching about homosexual practice will do well to begin with the divine pattern in creation, God's creation of man as male and female, to live together in the intimacy of that relationship.

Dr. Meye captures quite well the exegetical conclusions based upon solid scholarly study of the original text in its linguistic, cultural, historical, and theological context. Evangelicals do not believe this because they are bigoted, specifically homophobic. Most evangelical leaders have had heart breaking experiences ministering pastorally to homosexuals in crisis in their congregations.

The evangelical complaint has to do with the rejecting nearly two millennia of Christian tradition and teaching in favor of a revisionistic contemporary reading. In the final analysis, conservative Christians are simply pleading with their friends on the left: "let the Scripture speak!"

[His Barking Dog professes no exegetical prowess, nor authority to speak on behalf of any entity within the PSW]

1 comment:

revdrron said...

Excellent post! I’m afraid, however, that our friends-on-the-left (so called) have little interest in listening to Dr. Meye or his appeal to Sola Scriptura.

Worship & enjoy, ron