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An argument is sometimes made which attempts to disallow the Biblical injunctions against slavery on the basis that Christians no longer allow slavery, which the Bible sanctions. However, this argument, which is dealt with more extensively here and here, is one that is based upon misapprehension of the nature of these class of laws, as well as of slavery itself.
1. Unlike laws regarding sexual partners and homosex in particular, legislation regarding slavery is not part of the basic laws on moral behavior, but deals with civil issues and jurisprudence, regulating behavior within an established institution.
2. Unlike basic laws regarding male and female sexual partners, slavery does not find its basis in creational distinctions. Nor is slavery commanded from the beginning, nor presented as a transcendent mandate, but is regulated as an established economic means of dealing with debt, and for service, as well for subjection of enemies. And under the full requirements of the New Testament, that form of servitude could yet again be tolerated, if culturally required.
3. Unlike laws regarding unlawful sexual partners, laws regarding slavery were only counter-cultural in being more humane than was culturally typical (owners could even be put to death for murder of a servant). Slavery was not an monolithic institution, and included different types (permanent, temporary, etc.) and in Biblical slavery even foreigners could even own Hebrew slaves, and such was critically different in other ways than it is commonly remembered as today (see here).
4. Unlike laws regarding unlawful sexual partners, slavery was further ameliorated in the New Testament, in which the same heart attitude was required of masters as servants, and in which just and equal pay and treatment was mandated, and abuse was forbidden by masters, as they also had a master in Heaven, who will reward or punish justly. ( Eph. 4:5-9; Col. 4:1) Slavery is further seen as being transformed with the requirement that an escaped slave be received back by his owner, "Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved," even as the apostle Paul himself. (Philemon 1:16,17) In addition, while the priority in the New Testament is upon maintaining a Christian heart no matter what the difficulties of life are, the counsel given to slaves is that they obtain freedom if lawfully possible. (1Cor. 7:21) In contrast, laws regarding illicit sexual partners became progressively more restrictive in both breadth and scope, and are not abrogated under the New Covenant.
5. The primitive New Testament church was birthed in a slave state (Rome), and had no slavery as an organic community, (Acts 2-4) while the full requirements of the New Testament not only required radical change in the treatment and status of slaves (who made up much of the church) but worked toward the abolition of the basic institution of slavery (due to the effects of 2 Great Awakenings, and political conditions that allowed the evangelical church to effect such change). In contrast, the full requirements of the New Testament do not allow for the abrogation of laws regarding illicit sexual partners, which are abundantly upheld as a class (with homosex being explicitly condemned), and obedience to them required.
6. While the New Testament works toward an end of involuntary subjection (except in certain cases (such as criminal punishment by the State, or child rearing), it upholds "bond service" (as in commitment to Christ, and in marriage or in the military, etc.) and positional submission, which in the case of marriage is based upon creational, not societal, distinctions, (1Cor. 11:3-16; 1Tim. 2:11-15) and which transcendent purposeful and complementary distinctions are the primary basis upon which homosex is forbidden and condemned.
7. The significance of these distinctions are such that if they were reversed, prohomosex proponents would and could use them, as they would be viable for their argument. However, the reality is that just opposite is the case. TOC^
An argument presented by many pro-homosex writers contends that the absence of any specific censure of homosexual relations by Jesus, with his emphasis upon love, works to disallow any Biblical prohibitions against homosex and to sanction such as long as it is consistent with love, though that itself is left to be defined rather subjectively. (Wink, Homosexuality and Bible; Troy Perry, Don’t Be Afraid Anymore; John J. McNeil, The Church and the Homosexual; Roger Shinn, “Homosexuality: Christian Conviction and Inquiry,” in Homosexuality) Walter Wink is one whose emphasis upon this is most pronounced, and who much depends upon the upon the hermeneutics (rules of interpretation) behind it, especially as he rather uniquely concurs with traditionalists, in that, "Simply put, the Bible is negative toward same-sex behavior, and there is no getting around it." and that "Paul wouldn't accept a loving homosexual relationship for a minute." But he advocates that while sexual conventions are necessary, we are, "in the name of love, to "choose for ourselves what is right," which he states Jesus meant in Luke 12:57. ("To hell with gays," by Walter Wink)
Besides the fact that pro-homosexual apologists such as Daniel Helminiak hold to a historical-critical position which understands the Gospels "not as factual reports on the historical Jesus himself but rather as evocative expressions of normative Christian faith about Jesus", (Derrick K. Olliff and Dewey H. Hodges, "A Further Look at Pro-Homosexual Theology") the spurious nature of the hermeneutics involved with this polemic is readily apparent.
First, determining what is moral based upon whether Jesus explicitly condemned it would also allow one to sanction the practice of wife beating, drug pushing, consensual incest, pedophilia, bestiality, or even cannibalism. Gagnon asks, "shall we claim that Jesus had weaker convictions about bestiality and incest than marriage on the grounds that he said not a word about these subjects?" (Notes to Gagnon’s Essay in the Gagnon-Via Two Views Book) Consistent with the principal of Galatians 3:19, Jesus silence is also understood as being expected due to the extreme unlikelihood that homosexual relations would have been a prevalent problem among the Jews who Jesus came to first minister to, (Stanley J. Grenz, Welcoming But Not Affirming, p. 61) nor would incest have been, and that Jesus clearly upheld Old Testament moral laws, (http://www.robgagnon.net/homoAuthorityScripture.htm) and highly esteemed John the Baptist who rebuked Herod for an incestuous marriage. (Mk. 6:18; cf. Lv. 18:16; 20:21)
It is also seen that while Jesus did not specify every expression of sin, He dealt with the foundational issue behind them, and their primary expressions. Sin is stated to begin in the heart, and the iniquities that come out of the heart including fornications, (Mk. 7:20-23) which being plural, includes all sexual relations outside marriage, as well as adultery. .(http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/homosexuality_and_the_bible.html ; "Are There Universally Valid Sex Precepts? A Critique of Walter Wink's Views on the Bible and Homosexuality"; Gagnon, why the disagreement over the Biblical witness on homosexual practice? A Response to Myers and Scanzoni, What God Has Joined Together?) In dealing with the latter, Jesus is shown to have instituted stricter requirements for marriage, based upon its original establishment, and in invoking such the man and the women are specified as what constitutes the "what" of "what God hath joined together (Mt. 19:4-6; cf. Gn. 1:26,27; 2:18-24)
Hilborn states that Jesus "condemnations of porneia or 'sexual immorality' in Matt 15:19 and Mark 7:21 would almost definitely have been meant, and been taken, to include homoerotic sexual activity. Certainly, as Michael Saltlow has shown, such activity was typically condemned by the rabbis of the time whenever they considered it. Having said this, at least following the exile, there is very little evidence of, or extant comment on, such activity among Jewish men - so Jesus' not mentioning it in specific terms is hardly surprising. (Hilborn vs. Rowan Williams and Homosexuality)
It is not mere coincidence that when Jesus dealt with an issue of sexual behavior in Mark 10:2-12 he cited the same two texts from Genesis, 1:27 and 2:24, that lie behind Paul’s critique of homosexual practice. Jesus adopted a “back-to-creation” model of sexuality. He treated Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as normative and prescriptive for the church (Mark 10:6-9). In contending for the indissolubility of marriage, Jesus clearly presupposed the one explicit prerequisite in Gen 1:27 and 2:24; namely, that there be a male and female, man and woman, to effect the “one flesh” reunion. (Why “Gay Marriage” Is Wrong by Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.)
In addition, Jesus also promised further inspired revelation, under which laws against sexual sins (in particular) are clearly upheld. (Rm. 1:29; 2:22; 13:9, 1Co. 5:1; 6:13, 8; 7:2, 2Co. 12:21, Gal. 5:19, Eph. 5:3, Col. 3:5, 1Th. 4:3, Jam. 2:11; Rev. 2:22 21:25; 9:21; 14:8; 17:2,4; 18:3; 19:2)
Furthermore, while love must be the motive, motive by itself does not determine the validity of an action, and by using the "love justifies" hermeneutic, one could easily justify consensual premarital fornication, polyamory, wife swapping and prostitution, and any practice which an individual can perceive as permissible. The commandment sometimes invoked to support homosexual relations, "thou shalt shall love thy neighbor as thyself", (Lv. 19:18) is placed after the command to love God, with the other laws providing the details of how. And among which laws are those which universally condemn homosex. It is because the heart of man is (demonstrably) untrustworthy, that God commanded, "remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring". (Num. 15:39; Dt. 12:8) And it is by treasuring the law of God and having it dwell within us that we are to make moral judgments in issues not directly dealt with in the Bible, rather than a rather subjective idea of what love would do being the basis, which is the effective end of Wink's premise.
The proof text (Lk. 12:57) which Wink invokes as advocating subjective judgment, which needs not be bound by the letter of Biblical injunctions against illicit sexual partners, actually manifests the corrupt nature of Wink's judgment, as the text is not about making moral judgment, but about discerning the Messianic time, in which repentance and salvific decisions must be made. (Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible) (Gays and the Bible: A Response to Walter Wink by Robert A. J. Gagnon) And which words were a rebuke of souls who, like Wink, suffered from a lack judgment by not taking the Scriptures as literally as they were written, (Is. 53) which Jesus exampled by upholding the moral law. (http://peacebyjesus.witnesstoday.org/Homosexuality_and_the_Bible_Wink.html) TOC^
Despite such abundant testimony, some contend that Jesus (and Paul) categorized sexual sin to be merely ceremonially unclean, based upon Mark 7:23. However, it is clearly manifest there and under elsewhere the New Covenant that such refers to moral uncleanness. (1Cor. 3:17; 1Tim. 1:10; Jude 1:8; Ja. 3:6; Rv. 21:27)
It is thus evident that Jesus upheld the moral law which also forbids homosexual relations, and that contrasting the laws of God on such things as sexual partners with love is a false dichotomy. D. J. Atkinson argues that such manifest "a misconception of the relationship between love and law in the Bible. The Biblical understanding of the nature of love is always related to the description or expression of God's character in Himself on the one hand, and the character of life appropriate to the people of God, on the other hand. (D. J. Atkinson, Homosexuals in the Church (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 69-70.)
Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13
Sexual morality in the Bible
Sex Laws versus Slavery
Silence of Jesus Argument and Love Hermeneutic
Genesis: the Unique Union of Man and Women
1 Corinthians 11
Celibacy, Polygamy, and Procreation
Eunuchs and Exegesis
Proclivity and Permission Polemic (Social Justice) Summary
1Corinthians 6:9 and
1 Timothy 1:10
False postulations or assertions of approved homosex:
Ruth and Naomi
David and Jonathan
Daniel and Ashpenaz
1 and 2 Kings
Jesus, the centurion and his servant
Jesus and John
Was Paul gay?
Ezekiel 16:49 and Inhospitality Texts
Extra Biblical historical sources