On Rev. Purdue’s post, Part 6: Our relationship to the Old Testament

June 18, 2015

This is the sixth part of my discussion of fellow United Methodist pastor Paul Purdue’s recent post, “The Bible and Homosexuality.” Read Part 5 and previous posts by clicking here.

In previous posts, I challenged several points that Rev. Purdue raised in his blog post: Jesus’ alleged “silence” on homosexual practice, the meaning of Jesus’ words about marriage and eunuchs in Matthew 19, the reliability of Bible translations, Paul’s words about homosexual practice, and the false analogy between slavery and women in ministry and homosexual practice.

In the next part of his article, while Purdue concedes that the Old Testament Law condemns homosexual practice, he says we Christians are no longer bound to obey it. He writes:

The OT Holiness code condemns homosexual practice. We must not leave the conversation there, for the OT also prescribes death for those who commit homosexual acts. Can we cling to the OT condemnation while rejecting the prescribed prescription that lies alongside it? (Leviticus 20:13) Are we theologically consistent if we assert that the OT is literally right about homosexuality but wrong about the penalty for it? Are we hoping to be literal and figurative inside the same passage?

“Are we theologically consistent if we assert that the OT is literally right about homosexuality but wrong about the penalty for it?”

Two points: We’re not asserting that the Old Testament is “literally” right about one thing and wrong about the other. As he did in his discussion of slavery and women in ministry, he’s once again asserting that the Bible is wrong. I don’t say that. The church doesn’t say that. Both aspects of the Law—the ethical mandate and its penalty for breaking it—were right in the time before Christ, during that period when Israel was a theocracy and then a monarchy. Jesus fulfills the ceremonial and civil aspects of the Law. These no longer apply today.

Besides, Purdue practically answers his own question about theological consistency by referring to Jesus and the woman caught in adultery in John 7:53-8:11.

We already unite in a grace-filled interpretation of any punishment for adulterers, blasphemers, parent cursers, Sabbath breakers, parent cursers, idol worshippers, and others the OT commands us to stone to death! (Leviticus 20:9-16) Why do we reject stoning? We reject the law on stoning, because Jesus proclaimed “you without sin cast the first stone”! (John 8)

Do we still consider adultery, blaspheming, parent-cursing, Sabbath-breaking, and idolatry sins? Does Jesus still consider adultery a sin even as he rejects the penalty for it? Of course! As he tells the woman, “Go and sin no more.”

In fact, Purdue makes the same mistake that good old Horus makes in the following video, “Horus Reads the Internet”:

Purdue concludes this section on the Old Testament by saying,

In 100 years will we Christians come to see today’s hotly contested issue in the same way we see stoning, slavery, kosher foods, or women’s rights?

This is, as I’ve shown, the wrong question. Given his own logic, he should instead ask,

In 100 years, will we Christians come to see today’s hotly contested issue in the same way we see adultery, idolatry, blasphemy, parent-cursing, and Sabbath-breaking?

I hope so!

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