Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.“ – Genesis 3:4
Genesis 3:4 records Satan’s promise to Eve, leading to the fall of man. Obviously, it was a devastatingly effective tactic. So much so that it’s been an ongoing key element in the destructive strategy of “that serpent of old”.
Although I frequently see “the great dragon” raising its ugly head with this weapon in hand, I usually just shake my head and try to ignore it, thinking something like, “Anyone with half a brain, especially fellow-Christians, won’t be deceived by this”. However, when I saw the image shown above being used in this way, as a Facebook post a couple of weeks ago, there were so many disturbing aspects of it that I just had to speak out this time.
The Facebook post mentioned was by George Takei, the gay activist whose claim to fame is having portrayed the role of Mr. Sulu on Star Trek. Although there are disquieting factors beyond those contained within the post itself, I’ll start there.
Takei’s comment, that accompanied this post said, “I’m rather appreciative of this pastor, and his message. Share it if you are as well.” The first couple of things I noticed, that would support my usual “Anyone with half a brain” reaction to this sort of thing is that “this pastor” is never named nor is “the pastor” identified as being associated with any specific church. Since it’s obvious that whoever made the statements shown in the image posted is someone who isn’t actually familiar with the Bible, that may explain the lack of IDs. Perhaps, they don’t exist. If they do, for some reason, they’re not speaking the truth about Scripture. Regardless, let’s get to the truth by looking at what the Bible does say and doesn’t say on the topics addressed by Takei’s post.
As I begin this, since I pointed out how suspect Takei’s “the pastor” source is, let me validate my related sources. First, let me clearly state that I am not a pastor. However, I am a Christian who was first taken to church immediately following my birth in 1947 and who accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior at the age of 12, in 1959. In my nearing-67-years, I’ve invested countless hours in Bible study and I’ve benefited from the teaching of numerous richly anointed Pastor/Teachers. Presently, I am a member of the body of believers at Calvary Downtown (Vancouver, WA) and my pastor is named Daniel Gettemy. He is “the pastor” I turned to, to verify the Biblical-accuracy of what I have to say here.
STONING FOR DIVORCE
With that established, let me begin with the fact that stoning is not a Biblical punishment for divorce. The only indirect connection here is that divorce could lead to adultery. When a couple was caught in adultery (i.e. a man having sexual relations with another man’s wife) then, under the Law, they were both to be put to death by stoning. Some of the best known Scripture on this was from when a group of Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him on whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife. In part, Jesus responded by saying:
“Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” – Matthew 19:8-9
Although this shows that divorce might, subsequently, lead to committing adultery, it is, without question, not lawful. In other words, with the exception for sexual immorality, along with every other “not-so-from-the-beginning” marriage relationship, it is sin.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF DIVORCE
Next, “the pastor” in the post states that “We choose to overlook the consequences of divorce because time has proven that they are inhumane and cruel”. Presumably, “the pastor” is talking about stoning here. But, as we’ve already seen, stoning is not directly connected to divorce in the Bible. And, if it was, it would be as a punishment, not a consequence. Consequences are unavoidable results of an action and there are very significant consequences to divorce today. In an earlier post, entitled The Talent of Marriage, I provided statistics related to several of these consequences. I won’t recount those here but I think you’ll find that these consequences are pretty hard to overlook! One could even say that they are consequences that could easily be labeled as inhumane and cruel.
Divorce, however, is not the primary target issue of Takei’s Facebook post. Homosexuality is. “The pastor” turns attention to that with the comment that says, “The (Bible) doesn’t say anything about the consequences of a homosexual lifestyle”. In fact, it does. Romans 1 speaks pretty clearly to the matter, in saying:
Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. – Romans 1:21-27
Beyond the consequences of a homosexual lifestyle, while the Bible does not prescribe stoning as a punishment for the divorced person, it does so for the homosexual. Some of the clearest Scripture on this says:
You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. – Leviticus 18:22
If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.- Leviticus 20:13
The one place where I’m in agreement with Takei’s post is that nobody should be spearheading a campaign to ruin the lives of individuals. Neither heterosexuals nor homosexuals should be doing that. The comment attributed to “the pastor” that says, “The (Bible) states to love thy neighbor”, is accurate. But, when it says, “There are no other rules or restrictions to that passage”, it’s misleading. Although “the pastor” doesn’t quote Chapter and Verse for this passage, the “love thy neighbor” quote is most commonly associated with Scripture that covers another instance when one of the Pharisee asked Jesus a question, again testing Him, saying:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (and) Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40
Obviously, there is more to this passage than the simple statement “love (thy) neighbor”. You’re to “love your neighbor as yourself“. By that standard, one has to ask, “Is it loving to watch people engage in sexual choices or lifestyles that, just statistically, pose greater health dangers than traditional, monogamous hetero-sexuality, and not speak up about it? Is it loving to ignore or explain away the clear Biblical references that speak of the spiritual destructiveness of non-monogamous hetero-sexuality? We certainly don’t stand by and watch marriages dissolve in divorce without trying to intervene; why would we not try to intervene when someone’s sexual preferences/choices have the potential of doing them and others great harm?” If we didn’t, that wouldn’t seem very loving to me.
MORE THAT’S TROUBLING
Finally, as I said earlier, there are factors beyond those contained within the post itself that I find to be disquieting. For me, a significant aspect of this is the popularity of George Takei, as indicated by the 6.8 M Likes on his Facebook page. As noted at the outset of this article, Takei is a gay activist whose claim to fame is having portrayed the role of Mr. Sulu on Star Trek. To me, it’s both ludicrous and foreboding that our society embraces such a person and affords them such authority because they once portrayed a fictional character on TV.
WHAT’S MOST TROUBLING
The overarching aspect of all this, that I found to be most upsetting, was seeing those who I think of as fellow-Christians buying into this and including themselves in what is presently shown as 373,971 Likes on the Facebook post in question. Although, one has to take into consideration that there is no Dislike button and that there were a significant number of opposing Comments, I still find it quite disturbing. With that in mind, I’ll conclude by pointing my fellow-Christians to one last passage in Scripture:
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14
That is directed at us. We are not among those who “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God”. We do glorify God. We are His people. He calls on us to turn from our wicked ways … our sins, that He might forgive them. In addition to forgiving our sins, He wants to heal our land. Knowing that, doesn’t it make sense that not being OK with the sins of others in our land would be included in turning from our wicked ways? My prayer is that, instead of being OK with the sins of others and thinking of that as loving behavior, we will do what is truly loving … first, to turn from our sins and then, to pray for others to turn from their sins, that He might forgive us all and heal the land we share.