Apologetics

Does Christianity Offer a Higher or Lower View of the Body?

Hank Hanegraaff: Paradigms allow us to see only what our paradigms allow us to see. We don’t think so much about our paradigms as we think with our paradigms. As Christians, we have unwittingly adopted bad paradigms. It is not just the culture that needs to be liberated; it is Christianity that needs to be liberated from its own cultural captivity.

Nancy Pearcey: That’s right. When we talk about these issues that I address in Love Thy Body, we’re looking at moral issues like abortion, assisted suicide, homosexuality, and transgenderism. In the book, I am very concerned to help people understand the secular paradigms because so many Christians are adopting or absorbing those paradigms without even knowing it. In particular, I talk about the view of the body, as you might guess from the title. I show that the secular view of the body is a very low view of the dignity, value, and purpose of the body; that Christians have absorbed that as well; and that it is not biblical.

The response I am getting from a lot of readers is, “I picked up this book because I thought I’d get some handy arguments against the secular view, and instead it’s transforming me and my understanding of the body and how it relates to these moral issues?” You’re right. It really hits both sides. It helps people be equipped to understand our secular culture and respond more effectively, but to do that it requires also a transformation of our own thinking.

HH: It is critical for Christians to learn to think Christianly and to develop a Christian worldview. Oftentimes, we embrace other worldviews without recognizing that we have embraced the very water in which we swim. The culture in which we love. Expand on that.

NP: Yes. Let’s take maybe the most hot button issue for Christians — homosexuality. Even conservative churches are dividing over this issue. Young people are having a hard time saying what’s wrong with it.

What I help people to see is that homosexuality assumes a very low view of the body. People say, “We should accept homosexuals because we want to be loving.” If you want to be loving, you want to help them to see that the view itself is very dehumanizing and very negative. For example, here is how I would unpack that: no one really denies that biologically, physiologically, anatomically, males and females are counterparts to one another. That’s just how the human sexual and reproductive system is designed. What happens when you embrace a same-sex identity, then? Well, implicitly you’re contradicting that design. Implicitly you are saying, “Why should the structure of my body inform my identity? Why should my sexed body have any say in my moral choices?” Well, that’s a profoundly disrespectful view of the body. The implication is, what counts is, not whether I’m biologically male or female but just my feelings, my desires, my mind, that nonphysical part of me. As a result, it has a very fragmenting impact on a human personality. It’s self-alienating. It’s alienating people from their own bodies.

Those who defend a biblical view of sexuality are not relying on a few scattered Bible verses. What we are promoting is a teleological worldview. Teleology means it has a purpose. We are saying that the structure of your body has a purpose and that it reflects a divine purpose. As a result, it encourages people to live in harmony with their biological sex and leads to a holistic integration of personality.

This gives us a chance to prove the biblical ethic not simply in negative terms — “it’s a sin,” “don’t do it,” “thou shalt not” — which is true, but it is not complete. It gives us a chance to communicate in a positive way. We have a higher view of the body. We have a high view of the dignity and value of the body. We are encouraging people to have a much more positive view of their body instead of the negative one implied by the homosexual narrative.

HH: What is interesting about what you said is that, in reality, so many people in the secular culture presuppose Christianity itself has a low view of the body.

NP: Yes. In fact, I’m getting that pushback from some of my critics. They say, “Wait a minute, it’s Christianity that has a low view of the body that focuses on the next world.”

The problem is that many Christians are out of touch with their own heritage. If you look back to when Christianity started, the early church was surrounded by world-denying philosophies, like Platonism and Gnosticism. They treated the material world as a place of death, decay, and destruction. In fact, in Gnosticism, which taught that there were many levels of deities, the world was created by a very low-level deity, even an evil deity, because, after all, no self-respecting god would get his hands dirty mucking about with matter.

In this context, Christianity was revolutionary. It taught that, no, it was the highest God, the supreme deity, who created this material world, and — what’s more — He pronounced it “very good” (Gen. 1:31). An even greater scandal was the Incarnation. The very idea that God Himself would enter the material world and take on a human body that was totally rejected by Gnosticism. The incarnation is the ultimate affirmation of the dignity of the human body.

Finally, at the end of time, is God going to scrap the material world as if He made a mistake the first time? No! The Bible teaches He is going to renew and restore this world. He is going to create a new heaven and a new earth, which is why the Apostles’ Creed affirms the resurrection of the body. This is an astonishingly high view of the physical world. There’s nothing else like it in any other philosophy or religion.

Love Thy Body, my book, gives people the tools to go beyond the negative message and to deploy positive arguments, showing that a biblical ethic is more appealing, more attractive, and more compelling than any secular ethic.

This blog is adapted from the February 10, 2018, Bible Answer Man broadcast in which Hank Hanegraaff interviewed Nancy Pearcey. Listen to the entire interview on the Hank Unplugged podcast (scroll through the list of episodes to the title “Love Thy Body with Nancy Pearcey”).

Apologetics

Does the Bible Permit Homosexual Activities?

Hanegraaff, Hank-Homosexuality Parameters

Q: Can you be a practicing homosexual in good standing with God? Was Leviticus 18 really condemning the ritualistic sex done by Baal worshippers? Was not this prohibition really against pagan idolatry as opposed to modern homosexuality?

A: I think the whole passage, Leviticus 18, has to do with unlawful sexual relations and not only talks about homosexual relationships, but also it says “Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it” (Lev. 18:23).* Leviticus 18 is then talking about all kinds of sexual improprieties.

Leviticus 18 is not an isolated passage. If it were, maybe you could try to make the case that you can’t have homosexual relationships in the sense of worshiping at the altar of Baal or something like this; however, the Bible in general warns against these kinds of practices.

If you look at Romans, Romans aptly describes not only the perversion of these kinds of relationships but the penalties that are associated with them. When Paul says, “their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion” (Rom. 1:26-27).

So I think the point is God has set parameters around our lives so that our lives would indeed be full. I don’t think that it takes someone with an advanced degree in physiology to appreciate the fact the human body is not designed for homosexual relationships.

Homosexuality is not an identity it’s a behavior. It’s a behavior that has associated with it all kinds of attendant problems. But, you know, you have to ask yourself the question: How could God have made this point any clearer? There’s not a single unambiguous passage in Scripture that affirms homosexuality, but what you find is the Bible universally condemns it. So the Bible is as clear as it can be on this particular subject.

—Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following equip.org resources:

Does Homosexuality Demonstrate that the Bible is Antiquated and Irrelevant? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Speaking of Homosexuality: A Christian Response to the Arguments of the Gay Rights Movement (Joe Dallas)

Answering the Gay Christian Position (Joe Dallas)

Is Arsenokoitai Really that Mysterious? Homosexual Sin in 1 Corinthians 6:9 (C. Wayne Mayhall)

Is There a Gay Gene? (Donald F. Calbreath)

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Robert A. J. Gagnon)

The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread The Bible (Joe Dallas)

* All Scripture cited from The Holy Bible: New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), unless noted.

Blog adapted from “Can you be a Christian and actively practice homosexuality?

Journal Topics

Gay Teens, Bullying, and Suicide

One of the most emotionally draining aspects of modern Christian living has to do with truth. Because the more our culture drifts away from being guided by Biblical truths, the harder it becomes to speak those truths without being viewed as judgmental, mean spirited, or just plain dumb. Talk about Jesus being the only way to God, and you’ll hear howls of “intolerant and “narrow minded.” Talk about the reality of hell, and you’ll be made out to be a sadistic fanatic. And if you dare talk about God’s created intention for sex and family life, then buckle up, because you’re in for one very bumpy ride.

Nowhere does this ride become more bumpy than when the talk turns to homosexuality. To a point, that’s probably a good thing, because it at least means people are far more caring of homosexual people then they were forty years ago, when it seemed perfectly kosher to call them names and insult their very humanity. But the growing respect for homosexual people has been accompanied by less and less tolerance for anyone who simply holds to the traditional view that marriage is for one man and one woman; sex for complimentary, not similar, genders.

Recently, that intolerance was given a boost when a number of young homosexuals committed suicide after they’d been repeatedly bullied for schoolmates and peers. The grief we all felt somehow morphed into finger pointed, with many cultural elites indicting traditional Christians as the villains. Their reasoning? If you preach homosexuality is a sin, you encourage violence against gays and lesbians.

So those of us still believing the traditional view have a choice: Cower in submission, or love enough (and boldly enough) to give the full counsel of God. Of course, it’s a counsel that’s often unwanted, and the price can be high. But in the eternal sense, can it be higher than the price of unfaithfulness to truth, and poor stewardship of the Word? Think not; I hope you agree. God grant us the love to stand firm when our stance is un popular, and the gentleness to always consider the needs and sensitivities of our hearers.

  1. If gay teenagers are being bullied, what can Christian students and friends do to help?
  2. If we say we love homosexuals, is that love evident in the way we speak about them when they’re not present?
  3. Where can we find common ground with those who genuinely want to protect homosexuals from mistreatment, yet feel that our position as Christians is harmful to homosexuals?

Joe Dallas is the program director of Genesis Counseling in Tustin, California, a Christian counseling service to men dealing with sexual addiction, homosexuality, and other sexual/relational problems. He is a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors and is the author of three books on human sexuality, including Desires in Conflict (Harvest House, 1991) and A Strong Delusion (Harvest House, 1996). Joe Dallas will appear on the Bible Answer Man Broadcast on May 24, 2011 (to listen to the show live at 6PM ET please go to www.equip.org) to discuss his cover article on the topic above in the new issue of the Christian Research Journal. To read the full article by Dallas, please subscribe to the Journal (6 issues for $39.50).

Apologetics, In the News, Journal Topics

Gay Groups and Evangelical Colleges

A recent online article from Christian Century reports that at some Evangelical Colleges, acceptance of gay groups is growing perhaps due to the efforts of the gay activist group Soulforce. In 2009, the Christian Research Journal published an in-depth article on Soulforce by Joe Dallas. As Dallas writes, “But an error Christians often make when dealing with homosexual activists is to overindulge their desire for us to hear their concerns, while offering none of our own.”

Do you think acceptance of gay groups on Evangelical college campuses is inevitable? How can Christians dialog with groups and maintain fidelity to biblical truth? Should we be in dialog with these groups?

—Melanie M. Cogdill, Managing Editor

Recommended Resources on Homosexuality:

Desires in Conflict
The Gay Gospel?: How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread The Bible
The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message About Homosexuality