Friday, August 08, 2008

Time for a little heresy...

I was listening to a sermon on this passage yesterday on the way home from work:
Mark 2v23-28
One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"

He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."

Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

The principle here is that the Law (regarding the sabbath) was created as a benefit for mankind (we need a day off every week!) but the legalists had taken that to the nth degree such that it wasn't a benefit anymore, in fact it became a burden. By sticking to the letter of the law, the pharisees had entirely missed the spirit of the law.

Its worth pointing out here that the Law in question is one of the big 10. This wasn't some minor disagreement, this goes right to the very core of the Law itself. And the message is 'these things were given to be a benefit to you, not to be a burden'.

And then I found myself considering the current debate in the Anglican communion, that of homosexuality. And I found myself wondering if the same principle should apply. Surely sex was made as a benefit for man, not man made to serve the rules of sex? And the Son of Man (not the Law) is Lord over sex. And of course, this isn't one of the big 10. The only sex-related command in the big 10 relates to infidelity, and as far as I know nobody is debating that one these days.

I know most orthodox, conservative and evangelical believers will automatically claim that the principle doesn't apply. That sabbath observance is one thing, but sex is entirely another. But I just want to ask "Why?"

Can someone please explain to me why this principle doesn't work here?

If Jesus (not the written law) is Lord over sex, if someone has their relationship with Him right, then everything else should fall into place. If it happens to fall into the place of a loving, committed, faithful, homosexual relationship, where is the problem?


David Meldrum said...

I would say that any sex outside of a committed marriage between one man and one woman (the only Biblical understanding of marriage) is ruled out - technically, it is in some sense adultery.


Ricky Carvel said...

Yes, but that's a very old testament mentality. Under the old covenenant there are hard and fast lines drawn in the sand. Don't work on the sabbath, don't have tattoos, don't mix two different types of fabric, etc.

As the pharisees demonstrated it was possible to stick rigidly to the rules and miss the entire point.

Under the new covenant, there are no rules: 'Everything is permissable'. Sure, Paul goes on to say that 'not everything is beneficial', but its not a matter of law and rules, its a matter of love and service to each other. The guiding principle is not 'what do the rules say?' (which, more often than not, turns into 'what can I get away with?') but rather 'how can I live to be a blessing to everyone in this situation?'

Adultery is wrong on this count because it is never loving to be unfaithful to someone. But you can't necessarily hang the same tag on a monogamous homosexual relationship.

David Meldrum said...

....I would agree, but there's nothing in the NT interpretation of the law to say that marriage is not solely between one man and one woman. So Jesus may forgive the woman caught in the act, but He was still clear that it was sin. So it seems to remain clear that sex outside that context is wrong -the burden of proof is to show that it isn't. Paul interprets marriage as a picture of Jesus and the church; that doesn't seem to work of homosexual relationship (don't forget Paul seems clear on homosexuality) - the lack of inherent difference seems to make it impossible.

Ricky Carvel said...

I'll admit that I'm deliberately playing 'devil's advocate' here a bit, but only because I actually do want to work through this issue.

Yes, heterosexual marriage is a picture used of the relationship between Christ and the church. But nowhere does it say that because of this, everyone must be married in a heterosexual marriage. We would never condemn someone for remaining single because that doesn't demonstrate the 'ideal' relationship between Christ and the church. So 'alternative lifestyles' can't be thrown out just because they're not conventional marriage - neither is singleness.

And I've got more to say in a mo, but have to run now...

David Meldrum said...

Not sure I get where you're heading with his; was talking about marriage...singleness isn't the issue here. I would refer you to a sermon I've preached on singleness but I can't...!

Ricky Carvel said...

Sorry, I was just countering what I thought was the 'because its not conventional marriage, it must be wrong' reasoning you seemed to be using.

As I see it, most forms of sexual sin are 'technically adultery' because they are all fundamentally unfaithfulness. Even if, in some cases, the unfaithfulness in question is towards the future partner you haven't even met yet...

Why are there laws about sabbath observance? Because we need to take time off every week.

Why are there laws about sexual morality? Because we need to understand the value of faithfulness.

But. If this line of reasoning is correct and faithfulness is the key issue, this isn't a factor in the committed, monogamous, homosexual relationship.

And I'll comment on Paul's opinions on homosexuality later.

Ricky Carvel said...

Rather than responding in comments, I've written another blog posting which more or less continues this stream of thought. This deals with the general principles of new covenant living and I'll address (homo)sexuality specifically in a subsequent posting. Please carry on the discussion there...


Dandré said...

Hi there
I know this is an old post but I thought I'd just leave my opnion on the table of the matter.
You specified that because the Pharisees abused the law they missed the point about Jesus. So in your conclusion homosexuality should be ok now because the law id abolished. Firstly the law was brought for a very specific purpose. It was to bring forth sin so that people realise their need for a saviour. Not that the law is sinful but that sin actually thrives on the law. Secondly, the whole grace movement is not without truth. You can read all of this in Romans. Should sin increase that grace may abound? Ofcourse not. Homosexuality is still a sin. The thing is that God no longer looks at you with anger over your sin but is glad in you because of the full price that Jesus paid. To take your argument lets say: oh its so old testament to accuse anyone of murder, because its so under the law. We can murder people for other people's benefit I mean who wants rapists, etc? See where this is going? Its just taking a sin and using not only the cross of Jesus to justify the sin (which is obsurd anyway) but reason that it can benefit others and besides nobody is perfect, right? Truth is to show the way and Grace (which you are referring to as not having to keep the law) cannot be separated from it. Homosexuality is not true although its fact that it exists. Its not true that it is part of God's design otherwise why do so many homosexuals suffer from medical problems due to their practice?
There are many angles but all Im saying is that grace will never justify sin but Jesus justifies you from sin so that you can sin no more.

Dandré said...

O and my statement on rapists was only to give an example for the argument. I know that rapists need to receive Jesus as well. It just shows as well that when we abuse grace it just takes us back to the law and we start judging others (again found in book of Romans).
The law is only to show the truth. It cannot make us holy.