Sexuality and Gender

Pro-Gay Theology Advocates Are Repeating the Mistakes of the Past

Author Alan Shlemon Published on 11/14/2023

The push to normalize homosexuality within the church is not letting up. One of the arguments pro-gay theology advocates make is that Christians have made grievous interpretive errors in the past and are making the same mistake with homosexuality today. When you look closer at the details of their claim, it turns out pro-gay theology advocates are the ones who are repeating yesterday’s errors.

At Andy Stanley’s Unconditional Conference, David Gushee pointed to past Christian support of antisemitism and slavery. He argued that Christians built incorrect theology on wrongly interpreted Bible verses, but that once believers recognized how those interpretations hurt people, they revisited those verses and corrected their interpretation.

In the case of antisemitism, pro-gay theology advocates point out that Christians helped spur Jew-hatred during and after the holocaust by citing Jesus’ rebuke of the Jews in John 8:44—“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father”—and Matthew 27:25, where the Jews demand that Jesus be crucified and take ownership of the responsibility for his death by claiming, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!" This Christian antisemitism, commonly justified by these two verses, was later rejected once the verses were properly interpreted.

Regarding the support of slavery, pro-gay theology advocates claim Christian slaveholders used Bible verses to justify pro-slavery theology. The favorite New Testament text was, “Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ” (Eph. 6:5). Gushee claims that after this faulty interpretation caused harm to people, it led Christians to return to the Bible to consider interpreting that passage differently.

Pro-gay theology advocates claim that Christians are making the same mistake today. Just like Christians justified slavery and antisemitism with Bible verses, Christians today are justifying “homophobia” by wrongly interpreting verses like Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26–27, and 1 Corinthians 6:9 to condemn gays and lesbians; and because of the harm this is causing the LBGT community, they should reconsider their interpretation of those verses.

Here’s the irony of this claim. It turns out that pro-gay theology advocates are the ones making the same mistake that pro-slavery and antisemitic Christians made: They’re caving to cultural pressure.

In the United States, antisemitism reached its peak in the early 20th century. Christians were surrounded by anti-Jewish attitudes in the culture, and many of them adopted the same thinking. Then they found ways to justify those beliefs using select Bible verses.

In the case of slavery, it was a legal institution for nearly 100 years after America’s founding. During that time, Christians were influenced by the culture around them. Those who became slaveholders found ways to justify slavery using certain Bible verses.

Pro-gay theology advocates today are guilty of the same mistake. There’s been growing acceptance of homosexuality in the United States since the late 20th century. Today, same-sex marriage is legal, and resistance to its normalization is met with legal action. There’s a massive amount of cultural pressure on everyone to affirm homosexuality. Unfortunately, many Christians have capitulated to the pressure and found ways to justify pro-gay beliefs by misinterpreting Bible verses to suit their view.

Therefore, if anyone needs to learn not to repeat the wrongs of the past, it’s those who are attempting to reinterpret Scripture to accommodate the pro-homosexual culture. If we were living in the 3rd, 10th, or 18th century, we wouldn’t see “progressive Christians,” deconstructing Christians, and other pro-gay theology advocates pushing to reinterpret the Bible to make it “gay affirming” because there would be no outside pressure to do so.

Even though it’s pro-gay theology advocates who are repeating the mistakes of the past, there’s still a lesson for faithful Christians today. Ever since the inception of the church, Christians have faced the temptation to capitulate to culture. We must be mindful of cultural trends and remain vigilant to stave off the temptation to change our theology to accommodate secular culture.

Scripture warns us that “friendship with the world is hostility toward God” and that “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). There’s no point in trying to adjust our theology so the world will like us. Besides, it will never work. No matter how much theology you cede to the world, it will never be enough. Only total surrender to society will make you loved by the world. But what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his soul (Mark 8:36)? He gains nothing and loses everything.

Therefore, don’t be seduced by the lure to be loved by culture. Don’t conform to this world (Rom. 12:1–2). Instead, stand firm on God’s Word, his unchanging and true Word.