The issue of homosexuality is currently the most heated debate in the so-called "culture war." Homosexual activist groups are pressing for homosexual men and lesbians to be identified as a special class with special protections under civil rights legislation.
Homosexual literature is now commonplace in public libraries and some public schools, and "gay studies" programs are a growth industry in the academic culture. Moreover, the mainstream media now portray homosexuality in a positive light, with openly homosexual characters on prime-time television joined by overt homoerotic images in broad-based advertising. Even most of the historic mainline Protestant denominations are debating homosexuality with the issue currently focused on whether practicing homosexuals ought to be ordained to the ministry.
The History and Origins of the Homosexual Movement
The origins of the homosexual movement as a major cultural force must be traced to the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan. Known within the homosexual community as the "Stonewall Rebellion," the riot took place when New York City police raided a homosexual bar. The patrons fought back in what would become the inaugural symbol of the "gay liberation" movement. As the Village Voice reported on July 3, 1969: "Gay power erected its brazen head and spat out a fairy tale the likes of which the area has never seen...watch out. The liberation is underway."
What followed was a measured and strategic effort to win the legitimization of homosexuality, to promote homosexual themes in the media, and to receive special recognition for homosexuals as a legally protected class. Furthermore, the movement has pushed for specific policy goals, such as the removal of all anti-sodomy laws, the recognition of homosexual partnerships on par with heterosexual marriage, the enactment of anti-discrimination laws, and the removal of all barriers to homosexuals in the military, the academy, businesses, and churches.
In order to pursue these goals, the homosexual movement has organized itself as a liberation movement, based on an ideology of liberation from oppression that finds its roots in Marxist philosophies. Thus, the intention has been to identify with other liberation movements, including the civil rights movement and the feminist agenda. But the goal is not merely the legitimization of homosexual activity or even the recognition of homosexual relationships. It is the creation of a public homosexual culture within the American mainstream.
As is the case with most idealogical campaigns directed against the church's teaching, the homosexual movement has employed a well defined hermeneutic of legitimization that is designed to provide the appearance of biblical sanction. Revisionist scholars approach biblical texts on homosexuality with a hermeneutic of suspicion, laboring to prove that the actions proscribed in biblical passages (notably Genesis 19 and Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) do not refer to consensual homosexual acts, but rather to homosexual rape and prostitution. When that effort fails, they suggest that even if the passages do indeed speak of homosexual acts, they reveal a patriarchal and oppressive bias that must be rejected by the contemporary church.
The critical issue used as a hermeneutical device by the revisionists is the concept of sexual orientation. The modern "discovery" of sexual orientation is used to deny the truth claim clearly and inescapably made within the biblical text. Regarding Romans 1:26-27, the locus classicus on the issue of homosexuality, revisionists argue that the text actually means something quite different from the church's traditional interpretation. Janet Fishburne of Drew University Theological School, for example, argues: "Yet, some biblical scholars point out that this passage can only refer to the homosexual acts of heterosexual persons. This is because the writers of the Bible did not distinguish between homosexual orientation and same-gender sexual acts." Similarly, New Testament professor Victor Paul Furnish argued that since Paul was unaware of the modern concept of homosexual orientation, his rejection of homosexuality must itself be rejected: "Not only the terms, but the concepts of 'homosexual,' and 'homosexuality' were unknown in Paul's day. These terms like 'heterosexual,' 'heterosexuality,' 'bisexual' and 'bisexuality,' presuppose an understanding of human sexuality that was possible only with the advent of modern psychology and sociological analysis. The ancient writers were operating without the vaguest idea of what we have learned to call 'sexual orientation.'"
Few revisionists are as direct in their assault as William M. Kent, a member of the United Methodist Committee to Study Homosexuality. Kent asserted that the "scriptural texts in the Old and New testaments condemning homosexual practice are neither inspired by God nor otherwise of enduring Christian value. Considered in the light of the best biblical, theological, scientific, and social knowledge, the biblical condemnation of homosexual practice is better understood as representing time and place bound by cultural prejudice."
What must be transparently clear by now is that the revisionist methodologies deny the truth status of holy Scripture. The passages are not merely reinterpreted in light of clear historical-grammatical exegesis; they are subverted and denied by implication and direct assault. The net result of this hermeneutic legitimization has been confusion in the churches. It has become the standard and politically correct perspective assumed in most sectors of the academy, and it is increasingly prevalent among members of the mainline Protestant denominations. Disappointingly, a number of evangelicals have been taken in as well.
Part Two Will Appear Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 23.
Excerpted from The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics, Edited by Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner
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