Questions People Ask
About the Guest
When it comes to homosexuality, can't we just agree to disagree? That's what many believers would like to do. According to today's guest, Pastor Kevin DeYoung, that sounds good, but it won't work on this particular issue because the warning against homosexuality is so strong in the Scripture. Kevin opens the Bible and dismantles the most often used arguments supporting homosexuality.
Christ Covenant Kevin served as pastor of ...more
When it comes to homosexuality, can’t we just agree to disagree? According to Kevin DeYoung, that sounds good, but it won’t work on this issue. Kevin gives compassionate, but biblical answers.
Questions People Ask
Bob: Have you ever had anyone suggest to you that the Bible really doesn’t have much to say about homosexuality?—that Jesus never talked about it? Pastor Kevin DeYoung says that’s just not accurate.
Kevin: The Bible actually says more about homosexuality than we might think. If you add up all the verses about marriage—from Song of Solomon to Genesis to Ephesians and elsewhere—but you have quite a long list of passages that the theme of marriage is woven into all the Scripture. When the Bible speaks on this, it speaks very clearly.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, May 29th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’re going to consider some of the main arguments today that are being advanced, insisting that same-sex marriage is a good idea. Our guest is Kevin DeYoung. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, what we’re talking about this week is maybe the most polarizing issue that is in the evangelical church today. It’s certainly a polarizing issue in our culture. The issue of: “How are we to understand same-gender attraction? How are we to understand marriage and what it’s defined as being?” There are a lot of folks, who are saying, “Can’t we just kind of agree to disagree and move on?”
Dennis: Yes, and we’ve got somebody here who’s not going to let us just—
Bob: —just move on?
Dennis: —just move on. [Laughter] I’ve got somebody here who’s going to plead with you—hopefully, with the love of Christ and also the truth of Christ. Kevin DeYoung joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Kevin, glad you’ve joined us this week.
Kevin: Thanks. You know, it’s great to be here.
Dennis: Kevin is a pastor in East Lansing, Michigan. He blogs at the Gospel Coalition—if you haven’t read his blogs, you need to.
He’s written a book called What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? We’ve been working our way through some questions that people ask today.
Bob: Like the question of: “Can’t we just agree to disagree?” You know, there are books written by people, who profess faith in Christ—smart people / people who have degrees behind their names—who are saying: “I’ve read the Scriptures. Here’s my interpretation. I know other people have other interpretations.”
Well, isn’t that the case with Calvinism and Arminianism? And isn’t that the case with baptism for believers and kids? Can’t this just be another one of those areas where some people think it’s wrong / some people don’t?
Kevin: It sounds very attractive. It sounds a way out of the madness—to just set it aside and punt on the issue—but it just won’t work on this particular issue. For one thing, the Scriptural warnings are so strong.
We have disagreements around this table about baptism, I imagine.
The history of the church has shown the first two centuries are kind of murky on the issue. Since the Reformation, there’s been 500 years of disagreement on this.
Where on this issue—until a generation—there was unanimous opinion. Even outside the West, there is still unanimous conviction on this issue. So—
Dennis: You’re speaking about homosexuality.
Kevin: Homosexuality—yes; yes—homosexuality. It threatens the—to use a big word, the catholicity—small “c”—the universality of the church—and then to go to Scripture itself. There’s nothing around baptism, for example, that threatens that, if you baptize a baby or if you don’t baptize a baby, that you will not inherit the kingdom of heaven; but there is that language about the sin of homosexuality. To be fair, there’s that language about any number of other sins; but we are talking about this one—not because it’s the only sin we have to talk about—but because this is the sin our culture keeps talking about and celebrating.
Dennis: Kevin, I want you to correct me if this is a wrong statement—you’ve done a lot of study on this. When I look back over church history, I don’t see a time when the church has ever, as a majority, embraced that homosexuality was okay / that it wasn’t a sin. Is that correct?
Kevin: I would go even farther than that. I don’t think you see anywhere, until the last 50 years, where even a small minority would dare to assert that homosexuality was anything other than sin. It was the unanimous conviction of the church.
Dennis: Yes. You know, you can only lean so far on history but, if the interpretation of Scripture, over the last two thousand years roughly, has been that homosexuality is wrong—it is a sin / it offends God—then we, as those who are students of the Bible and followers of Jesus Christ, I think we need to be careful to think that we, all of a sudden in this age, are suddenly enlightened more so than the church fathers.
Bob: You wrote a great blog post to that effect—I remember it. But you know what comes next, as soon as you do that, and that is: “What about slavery?!”
Kevin: This is where we need to be more careful with our history because that’s not really the case. With slavery, for example, you can look at a whole series of Popes in the Middle Ages, who were against slavery / ordered for the freedom of slaves. We see in Philemon, already, Paul sowing these seeds for the slaves’ release there with Onesimus. It’s not at all as if two thousand years of unbroken church history in which the church was celebrating slavery.
Bob: Well it’s also not true that the feudal system in Europe with serfs and with lords is the same as the African slave trade was in American history. It’s a very different social construct and makeup.
Kevin: Yes; and there are Bible verses that should have forbade the African slave trade—that deal specifically in the Old Testament and in 1 Timothy against man stealing—against everything that was so heinous about the African slave trade. And the same goes with—“Well, did Christians believe in a flat earth?” There’re so many myths about that. Galileo and “Does the sun revolve around the earth?” Yes, Christians have been mistaken about things; and we will continue to be mistaken about things. But you don’t see an example, where there’s an unbroken history and unanimous consent of the church, and then, when the cultural pressure gets turned up: “Now we see the Bible saying something it never said before.”
Dennis: What I want moms and dads / single people to hear—those who are in the marketplace, who feel like they can’t say anything—the Bible is the inspired Word of God [2 Timothy 3:16]. It is inerrant—it doesn’t have mistakes—and you can trust it as being true. You can raise your children with convictions, based upon the Book.
I want to give you the courage to go back to it—read it and let it speak. Don’t let the culture redefine your convictions and your belief system, as you raise your family. There is a generation at stake here.
Kevin: This is the issue above all issues in this debate: “What did God say? What do the Scriptures teach?” We have to relentlessly tell ourselves, tell our children, tell our people: “Come back to the Book and believe that God means to communicate to us. He doesn’t want this to be shrouded in mystery—something as important and central as marriage—He wants us to know what the truth is.”
Dennis: I watched John MacArthur give a message at a conference he had out on the west coast, back earlier this spring. It was about inerrancy of Scripture. I thought, “You know, that’s an interesting theme for a conference these days because, a couple of decades ago, the attack on Scripture of being the inerrant Word of God was really full-blown. I mean, there was an assault trying to undermine the authority of Scripture.”
And I thought, “It’s happening again,” except it’s not quite as frontal as it was back then. It’s coming in side doors.
Bob: You [Kevin] spoke at that same conference. You’ve written a book on this issue. Before you wrote about homosexuality, you wrote a book about the authority of Scripture. This may be the watershed issue in our day; do you think?
Kevin: Yes. Taking God At His Word is what I called the book because that is what the issue is: “Are we going to take God at His Word? Is His Word sufficient? Is it clear? Is it authoritative? Is it necessary? Can we trust it through and through, from top to bottom; or do we need to correct it when it seems to be at odds with our culture?”
Bob: Okay; so somebody who says, “I believe it through and through; but I want to know how come you haven’t written the book, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Gluttony?”
Kevin: Well one—I haven’t written a book because I don’t see the church celebrating and passing resolutions to celebrate the inherent goodness of gluttony.
Second—when we actually look at what the Bible teaches about gluttony—and I won’t get into all the verses, and Proverbs, and elsewhere—but the sin of gluttony is not just eating too much—that may be part of it. It’s really a loose-kind of living—it’s a sort of party-style profligate / drunkard—they’re often put together—a drunkard and a glutton. It’s the person who’s just living for the weekend—the kind of wastrel. If you understand that to be gluttony—well, most people out there would say: “I already know what the church thinks about that. I’ve already heard that plenty.”
So, yes, we want to be absolutely up-front and say: “We need to look at our own sins before we look at other people’s sins. If this is one of them, we don’t want to give a free pass; but look, if we’ve missed the boat here, let’s not miss the boat twice. Let’s be faithful where we need to be faithful.”
Dennis: Okay what about the person who says, “But the Bible doesn’t speak that much about homosexuality; and when it does, it’s a different kind of homosexuality.” How would you answer those arguments?
Kevin: The Bible actually says more about homosexuality than we might think. If you add up all the verses about marriage—from Song of Solomon to Genesis to Ephesians and elsewhere—and you look at the specific texts with homosexuality—if it’s in
Genesis 19, or Leviticus, and Romans, and 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy, and then some of the other passages that might have to do with male prostitution—you have really quite a long list of passages.
Famously, the word, “Trinity,” is not in the Bible; but we still believe it because it’s taught there. We don’t want to form our theology just based on a chart and a list of “How many verses does this appear?” The theme of marriage is woven into all the Scripture—and when the Bible speaks on this, it speaks very clearly.
Bob: But it does say that David and Jonathan had love deeper for one another than they had for women. Weren’t they gay?
Kevin: They weren’t!
Bob: Okay; good! [Laughing]
Kevin: Actually—I read maybe 30 books on this subject in preparing to write this book. I am not the world’s expert on it, but I’ve tried to get up-to-speed on it. Even when you read the progressive or liberal scholars, very few of them will try to argue that David and Jonathan were gay because they just know there are no legs to that argument. It just never would have any cultural traction in the Jewish context—it just wouldn’t.
I want to go back to something else you said. You were asking about: “Well, is this a different kind of—
Kevin: —homosexuality.” That’s one of the very popular arguments. Anybody could do this—I don’t recommend that you do—but you could get this big huge source book—it’s like 500 pages—that has all the Greco-Roman instances of homosexuality in literature / in pottery. It doesn’t make for good bedtime reading, but you can read it—it is all translated into English.
What you find in there is—they knew the full range of homosexual experiences, just like we have in our culture. Yes, the most prevalent were often these man/boy relationships; and yes, there were victims of exploitation. But that was not the only kind of homosexual experience or relationship.
There were many instances, in the ancient world, of older men—there were instances of people talking about professing love for one another. There are even some kinds of latent ideas of maybe some kind of orientation, even, that people were trying to understand. So, that just won’t do to say that, when Paul was talking about this, he had absolutely no concept of two people that might really love each other in a same-sex relationship.
You can look at half a dozen different liberal scholars, who will say, quite plainly, that the New Testament and the Bible has nothing positive to say about homosexuality. They, at least, have the courage to say, “We need to correct the Bible in this way.”
What’s frustrating—and what we’re talking about—are those Christians, who want to try to have it both ways and say, “The Bible maybe doesn’t say what we thought it said.”
Bob: Kevin, 20 years ago, if a Christian said something about homosexuality, what we were saying was part of what the cultural majority believed.
Bob: Today, it’s not. Today, we are a prophetic minority that is being actively marginalized, and actively pressed into a corner, and told to shut up. How do we respond to the culture we are living in today, as ambassadors for Christ? How do we represent the Bible in this culture in a way that Jesus would be pleased with?
Kevin: With courage and with joy—both of those things. We’re actually going to experience—it looks like—more of what Jesus expected us to experience: “If the world hates Me,” He said, “it’s going to hate you also [John 15:18].”
Paul said to Timothy that “…anyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted [2 Timothy 3:12]. Will it be persecution, in this county, like brothers and sisters around the world are facing from ISIS? I don’t think so, but it will be a kind of pressing on us / a difficulty. It’s difficult to be a cognitive minority, especially when you might lose your status, your prestige—you might lose your job. You might lose your church—you might lose worse in the years ahead—you might lose rights and privileges.
But we need to be prepared to count it all joy when you face trials of any kind—to say, as the first Apostles did, “What a joy that we would be counted worthy to suffer for the Name [Acts 5:41],”—even if it’s a small bit of suffering / maybe a large bit of suffering—but really prepare ourselves and prepare our children, in particular.
Bob: Yes, you’re raising kids. As you raise your children for 20 years into the future—where this kind of persecution / this active persecution may be more real than anything we’re experiencing today—
“How do you raise kids to be ready for that?”
Kevin: And of course, it’s even bigger than just this issue—talking to parents out there—because I face this. It’s really hard because, already, we’re having our kids—they want to go see this movie because their friends have invited them to go see this movie. They want to go watch this show. It’s hard, as parents, because you want your kids to be able to do the things they want to do. We’ve had to have those hard conversations—sometimes with tears—to say, “You’re not going to go.” “But all my friends are going to watch this movie!”
Dennis: And: “Dad, if you don’t let me go see it, I won’t be able to be in on the conversation.”
Kevin: That’s right. It’s so hard / it breaks my heart; but I know that I have to follow Christ, and I want my kids to follow Christ. If we don’t do it on those little things that come up— when they are ten, or twelve, or thirteen—how can we ask them to stand strong on these big huge cultural things?
It’s all of those little things.
I’ve had to have the conversation with my oldest son to say: “Part of being a Christian means that we will do some things differently than other people. That is going to be hard for you, and I’m sorry that it has to be hard for you. It’s probably harder for you than it was for me, when I was growing up; but that’s part of what it means to follow Christ.”
Bob: How do you do that without turning your kids into moralists, or into Pharisees, or self-righteous—where they define their faith around “What I do,” or “…don’t do”?—“Because Dad said, ‘Because we’re Christians, I can’t go see this movie.’”
Kevin: Well, check back with me in ten years [Laughter] and see how I did with all that; but that’s where we need to be continually reminding them of the gospel and our identity in Christ. This isn’t just about the Bible giving some rules—he Bible does have rules, unashamedly—but this is about our identity in Christ. We call ourselves Christians, which means “little Christ.” So, if we belong to Him—if we love Him / if we worship Him—then how can we not be like the God that we worship?
We need to put it in that deeper, richer context—not just a list of rules that seem kind of arbitrary.
Dennis: I think we need to remind ourselves—that we are the parents, and they are the children—and that they do slip out, at night, and go join a boot camp that trains them in how to speak to us and make us feel like we’re the only parents in the entire universe—
Bob: They don’t have to slip out—it’s on the internet now! [Laughter]
Dennis: But, as parents, take heart—don’t lose courage in well-doing / stand firm! If you don’t set the rules and the boundaries in your family, the world will completely erase them—there will be no fences out there.
Kevin: What we have in our day is not patriarchy or matriarchy but, as one author puts it, “kindergarchy.” We have the “rule by children.” So often, parents parent, based on what their kids want and ease of comfort for their kids. We all want to love our kids / we all want them to grow up and be happy, but that means following Christ.
Dennis: You’re raising six kids that are heading into the teenage years. Your teenage years—that your six are going to go through—are dramatically different than the ones Bob’s kids went through and our children did as well. What are you going to major on? What are the big ideas that you want to build into their lives to prepare them for what you know they are going to face?
Kevin: I think the basics of Christian discipleship. That means the local church has got to be a huge part of it. We need to have an alternate community—not a bunch of just weird people who dress weird—but a local church, where they see people of all ages—they see people of different ethnic backgrounds / education backgrounds—and they say: “All these people are doing the same thing. These people are worshipping the same God. These people believe what I believe.” Unless they have that community, in addition to their family community, it may not stick.
Then, we want our kids to be well versed in prayer and in the Word so that they’re, from an early age, getting these things / hiding them in their heart. And then some of what we have been talking about—that to be a Christian means we have to be counter-cultural. We need to prepare our people. We can’t expect our kids to just pick that up because what they are going to pick up is everything that the world is trying to do to press them into their mold.
People sometimes ask me: “What was the secret? How did you grow up? You went to public school,” or “…did this or that. [You] were in a more liberal denomination.” And here’s the one thing that I’d say—and I think it’s an encouragement to parents—I’d say: “I always believed, even when I didn’t quite agree with my parents—I always believed that they loved me more than these other people, and I didn’t want to disappoint them.”
How you get that, as a parent? I don’t know what the secret sauce is other than a lot of prayer and a lot of love. But parents—don’t be discouraged, even if your kids, right now, are saying you’re the worst thing since Myspace. [Laughter]
They are probably listening more than you realize. They probably love you more than they would dare to admit. All that you’ve been shaping is still there somewhere, and pray that they stick with it.
Dennis: I am done raising our children—both Barbara and I are done. I can tell you—it’s love, it’s prayer, and it’s the rabbinical method of teaching—which is repetition—over, and over, and over again. About the time you get too exhausted to teach it again is about the time when it’s beginning to make sense to them, even when their eyes roll back in their heads and they act like they aren’t listening, you need to keep bringing it. Don’t shove it down their throats. Make sure it’s bathed in a relationship, where they know they are loved and affirmed, but keep on teaching what the Bible says because this generation is going to need it! It is really, really going to need it!
Kevin: And keep asking all those questions / keep talking to them. I remember—I’d come home from something. The next morning, my mom would be there at breakfast and she’d ask: “How was the game last night?” “How was the party?” The last thing I wanted was to talk to my mom about any of this stuff; and yet, I knew in my heart, “She’s asking because she cares.”
Parents—just keep asking, keep talking, and keep repeating, even when you get into those non-verbal years—like ten of them. [Laughter] Just keep at it. I appreciate that—as a younger father, I will stick to that.
Dennis: Yes, you know, they just kind of grunt. The boys just—“How was it?” “Okay.” If you get two words, that’s a bonus.
Kevin: “O” and “kay” together. [Laughter]
Dennis: You know, Kevin, I want to thank you for your work on this. Thanks for your gifts. I’m glad God has given you the gift of thinking, and writing, and looking into complex issues, and helping parents, singles, marrieds—all of us.
Bob: You and me!
Dennis: Yes, all of us. Yes—all of us better navigate some challenging days. Thanks for being with us on the broadcast.
Kevin: Thanks for doing what you do. Pray that people stick their noses right in the Book and see what God has to say.
Bob: And along with the Book you want them to stick their noses in, they ought to get a copy of your book, which is called, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? It’s a book that we’ve got in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Our listeners can go to our website, which is FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” You’ll see information about Kevin’s book available right there. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” and order Kevin DeYoung’s book from us, online. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life and then, the word, “TODAY.” Ask for the book by Kevin DeYoung, What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?
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We hope you have a great weekend this weekend. We hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend. I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to talk about the challenges of being a stepmom or a stepdad. Laura Petherbridge and Gordon Taylor are going to join us. They have both experienced, firsthand, these challenges. They’ll talk about how stepmoms and stepdads can be their most effective. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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