Billboards and Exegetical Back Flips

September 10, 2010 — Leave a comment

I don’t usually check Google Reader in the afternoons, but since it’s Friday, and I’m procrastinating on finishing a thesis syllabus, I thought I would check it out.

Much to my surprise, Denny Burk has an article on a billboard campaign that is happening right here in Dallas.

As you can see, this one is sure to stir some controversy, especially here in Dallas (you can read the local news on it here).

What is interesting though, and Denny does a superb job of pointing out, is that if this passage actually is affirming a gay couple, the couple in question is a Roman soldier and a little boy.

In other words, the billboard is slanting this to appear to mean “gay couple” in the way we take the phrase to mean today (two consenting adults) when the passage is referring to a grown man and his underage sex slave boy.

However, that is not what this passage is referring to, as consulting any major commentary on the book of Matthew will tell you (here is the church’s explanation of why they used the passage). It would be one thing if there were ambiguity in the passage itself that could lead one to think of Jesus affirming a homosexual relationship, but this particular understanding hinges on a specific reading (and a discredited one at that) of a single Greek word and leads to Jesus affirming non-consesual pedophilia.

That is quite a high price to pay for Jesus’ endorsement on your lifestyle.

I’ll let you read Denny’s arguments that detail how this reading of Matthew 8:5-13 even arose, and how it couldn’t withstand scholarly scrutiny and so is no longer taken seriously by anyone in the know. What is disturbing to me though is that even if the supposed reading of Matthew 8:5-13 were correct, we have a Jesus who congratulates pedophiles.

Certainly Jesus welcomes pedophiles to come to him in faith in repentance. But that involves abandoning pedophilia, not an affirmation of it. This is the stance I would take as well with homosexuality in general. I have no problem with non-believers who practice homosexuality (in that I can’t hold them to Christian standards), but I do have a problem with believers who do so. It is almost as if you can sense they are trying to justify something they know is incompatible with the Christian faith. Exegetical back flips are not usually accomplished with Scriptures passages for mere fun and games. They usually only arise when a passage must reach a certain conclusion.

When we let Scripture speak for itself and use sound exegetical principles though, readings that supposedly support a homosexual lifestyle vanish. Homosexuality is certainly consistent with unbelieving thought, which is why I don’t view it as a primary problem with a non-Christian. I think the Bible categorizes it as a sin, but unbelief is always the primary sin of a non-Christian. The point should never be to “scare them straight” and then present the gospel. It should be to present the gospel, and then model Christian love so that they might find their unbelief less and less satisfying and may be drawn to Christ both in our words and deeds.

Sadly though, we fail to do that more often than not. May God grant us the grace to be more loving to our fellow image bearers that practice homosexuality and grant them the grace that leads to faith and repentance.


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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

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