In the previous posts we looked at the arguments from Matthew Vines, James Hamilton Jr.’s, and Daniel A. Helminiak, Ph.D. on whether the primary sin assigned to Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexuality. This week we hear the arguments from Michael L. Brown, PH.D.
About Michael L. Brown
Michael L. Brown is the founder and president of FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, North Carolina, Director of the Coalition of Conscience, and host of the daily, nationally, syndicated talk radio show, the Line of Fire, as well as the host of the Jewish-outreach, documentary TV series, Think It Thru, which airs internationally on the INI network. He became a believer in Jesus 1971 as a sixteen year-old, heroin-shooting, LSD-using Jewish rock drummer. Since then, he has preached throughout America and around the world, bringing a message of repentance, revival, reformation, and cultural revolution.
Dr. Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a visiting or adjunct professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Denver Theological Seminary, the King’s Seminary, and Regent University School of Divinity, and he has contributed numerous articles to scholarly publications, including the Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion and the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.
Dr. Brown is the author of 25 books, including, Our Hands Are Stained with Blood: The Tragic Story of the “Church” and the Jewish People, which has been translated into more than twelve languages, the highly-acclaimed five-volume series, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, a commentary on Jeremiah (part of the revised edition of the Expositor’s Bible Commentary), and several books on revival and Jesus revolution. His newest books are Authentic Fire: A Response to John MacArthur’s Strange Fire (2013), Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message (2014), and Can You Be Gay and Christian: Responding With LOVE & TRUTH to Questions About HOMOSEXUALITY (2014). (About info originally appeared on AskDrBrown.org)
Brown’s Foundation (The chapters before the one on Sodom and Gomorrah.)
Much like the previous post on Helminiak’s arguments, it is impossible to jump right in on Brown’s arguments on Sodom and Gomorrah without first giving you an idea of the four preceding chapters where Brown lays a foundation for his thoughts. Thankfully, Brown begins each chapter with two statements:
- The “gay Christian” argument
- The biblical answer
Brown’s chapters are then spent expanding on this two statements. Below are the two statements for each chapter before Brown gets to the Sodom and Gomorrah question.
Chapter One – Love Does No Harm to Its Neighbor
The “gay Christian” argument: Love is the fulfillment of the Law and does no harm to its neighbor. But the church’s teaching that homosexual practice is sin has done tremendous harm to many fine LGBT people and is therefore not loving. If we are to love our neighbor as our self, then we must affirm our LGBT brothers and sisters.
The biblical answer: While it is true that many “gay Christians” have been wounded by the church, and while the church has often failed miserably in reaching out with compassion to LGBT people, the greatest possible expression of love is to tell people God’s truth, knowing that His ways are best. (p. 1)
Chapter Two – To Judge or Not to Judge?
The “gay Christian” argument: The church has become judgmental and homophobic to the point that many LGBT young people have actually killed themselves. Jesus taught us not to judge.
The biblical response: Some Christians may be judgmental and even hateful, which is wrong and inexcusable, but as followers of Jesus we are called to recognize the difference between right and wrong, to make proper moral judgments rather than be judgmental and condemning. As for the message that we preach, the gospel brings life, not death, and kids who commit suicide normally have other emotional problems. If we really love them, we will try to address those problems rather than just affirm their sexual and romantic desires. (p. 12)
Chapter Three – Are We Using the Bible to Sanction Antihomosexual Prejudice?
The “gay Christian” argument: Just as the church misused the Bible to justify and even sanction slavery, segregation, and the oppression of women, it continues to misuse the Bible to justify and sanction antihomosexual prejudice.
The biblical response: The Bible has been misused to justify and even sanction slavery, segregation, and the oppression of women. In stark contrast, the church is rightly using the Bible to reject homosexual practice and to proclaim to LGBT people that God has a better way. It’s also important to remember that it was Christians, rightly using the Bible, who helped put an end to slavery, segregation, and the oppression of women. (p. 46)
Chapter Four – The Bible is a Heterosexual Book
The “gay Christian” argument: Although many Christians put a great emphasis on the sinfulness of homosexuality, there are only a handful of passages in the Bible that touch on the subject at all, which means it was hardly that important to the biblical authors.
The biblical response: Actually, it is because the Bible explicitly states that heterosexuality is God’s intended norm for the human race—and the only form of union acceptable to God in marriage—that the biblical authors didn’t say more about homosexual practice. The little they said was more than enough given the fact that the Bible, from beginning to end, is a heterosexual book. (p. 82)
The Sin of Sodom and Gomorrah
Brown begins to deal with specific passages in chapter five. Below are the two statements for chapter five…
Chapter Five – Levitical Laws and the Meaning of To’Evah (Abomination)
The “gay Christian” argument: The prohibition against homosexual practice in ancient Israel was part of the ceremonial, Levitical law, which also prohibited things such as eating shellfish and pork or wearing a garment made of two kinds of fabrics. Obviously, those laws no longer apply to us today. Plus, the word abomination in the Hebrew simply speaks of ritual defilement, not moral sin.
The biblical response: There were some laws that God gave to Israel to keep them separated from the nations, such as the dietary laws, while other laws were based on universal moral prohibitions that applied to all people, such as laws against murder, adultery, and homosexual practice. These universal moral prohibitions obviously apply to all believers today, while the dietary laws do not. As for the word abomination, it often speaks of that which is morally detestable before God. (p. 106)
As you might can guess from the title of the chapter, Brown deals with the majority of the Old Testament verses that speak of homosexuality within one chapter. Unfortunately, Brown does not give the story of Sodom and Gomorrah any special attention. Instead, Brown focuses on the meaning of the word to’evah (abomination) and whether the law against homosexuality was just for Israel or for all people for all time.
Given the layout of Brown’s book and his focus on the meaning of to’evah in the Leviticus passages we will look at his arguments during the next series of posts.
This post concludes our look at the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. At this point you have a fairly good idea of the arguments surrounding the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. Please comment and let us know what you think.
In the next post we will begin working through the passages in Leviticus in the same manner we looked at the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.