by Rollin G. Grams and S. Donald Fortson, III
Homosexual practice has been affirmed nowhere in the history of Christianity. An overview of texts [examined in the book] reveals unequivocally that the Fathers, Reformers, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox churches are unanimous in their condemnation of homoerotic behavior among those who profess Christ as Lord.
In contrast, in the West a handful of denominations in recent decades have capitulated to the gay Christian movement, and they are currently losing members en masse. They are losing members because the ordination of gay clergy and the blessing of gay marriages are wholesale departures from what Scripture and Christian tradition have always taught. The homosexual crisis in the church has become a dividing line between orthodox Christianity and those who no longer confess the faith of the church across the centuries.
The historic witness of the church on the topic of homosexual practice could not be more transparent. The church’s constant verdict on homosexuality is completely reasonable given the unambiguous testimony of Scripture. The historic texts explored in this volume are filled with biblical references because the Bible has always been the final authority behind Christian condemnation of homosexual practice. The historical evidence for a consistently negative assessment of homosexual practice is indisputable. In fact, as evidenced in the texts cited, there are no dissenting voices at all. In light of the unanimous historic witness, it is not surprising that 90 percent of the Christian churches in America find the gay Christian arguments unconvincing. In order to jettison traditional Christian teaching about homosexuality, one would need to identify overwhelming exegetical evidence in Scripture. The lack of dissenting voices in church history confirms that there is no such exegetical evidence.
Secular gay scholars have discerned the deception underlying the gay Christian movement and Boswell’s thesis in particular. It is apparent to gay academics that one cannot be a practicing homosexual and claim to be a faithful Christian following the moral demands of that tradition. The duplicity in Boswell’s rereading of Christian history is evident to objective historians, gay and straight. Commenting on Boswell’s book, Homosexuality, Intolerance and Christianity, gay author John Lauritsen writes:
It is not surprising that Professor Boswell has been enthusiastically hailed by the gay Christians, to whom he appears as a new Savior who will rescue them not only from queer-hating religionists, but from gay liberation secularists as well, by demonstrating historically that it’s all right to be a gay Christian. . . . I cannot remember reading a more frustrating book. Undeniably, it is a formidable work of scholarship. . . . On the other hand, Boswell’s arguments, his use of evidence, are fatally awed by his doomed attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable. . . . It is regrettable that one must be harsh on a work with such considerable merit, but willful dishonesty in a scholar must not be condoned. . . . We should invite John Boswell to join gay liberation wholeheartedly; he has skills and knowledge that we need. To join us, Boswell must first extricate himself from the impossible position he’s in: attempting to reconcile Christianity and homosexuality. It would be an act of maturity for Boswell to graduate from Christianity to secular humanism. . . . Comrade lovers of the future will have no need for religion; they will have exchanged the illusory happiness of religion for the happiness of the real world.
Much of the historical record has been ignored, discounted, or obscured by Boswell’s deceptive and dishonest arguments. Ignoring the reality that Boswell’s thesis has been discredited by numerous scholars, gay Christians continue to refer to his work as an authoritative reference. For some, this may be naiveté. For others who know the texts, it may be willful fraudulence. Historians know what the historic texts say, and it is clear what Christians in the past believed about homoerotic behavior. The choice to overlook or explain away these historic testimonies undermines the credibility of “gay Christians.” Closing one’s eyes to this material is to cut oneself off from the communion of the saints and to deny the fundamental importance of catholic (universal) faith and practice.
The great trinitarian battle in the ancient church arose in the fourth century when Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria, began to articulate publicly his views that the Son of God did not share in the divinity of the Father. In 325, more than 200 bishops met in Nicaea, rejecting the views of Arius, but there was considerable debate over the appropriate language that would be incorporated into the creedal testimony to the equal deity of the Father and Son. The ongoing ecclesiastical struggle was as much political as it was theological. The church gradually became Arian or semi-Arian in numerous places, and emperors over the next fifty years usually supported the position that was politically expedient at the moment. In 381, Emperor Theodosius summoned the general Council of Constantinople, which reaffirmed Nicaea and added several statements declaring the deity of the Holy Spirit. This second ecumenical Council of Constantinople is associated with the consensus document popularly known as the Nicene Creed.
Due in large measure to the determination of bishop Athanasius of Alexandria to stay the course over several decades of controversy, the Nicene Creed would set the essential standard for orthodox Christianity. While unorthodox teaching gained traction for a season, truth prevailed in the end. In a similar vein the twenty-first century Western church is facing an Arian-like moment in the ecclesiastical politics of homosexuality. This time it is a matter of orthopraxis—biblically defined sexual ethics affirmed by the unanimous testimony of the saints since the time of Moses. Commitment to scriptural holiness in sexual practice has always been a defining characteristic of Christianity. Heterodox forces are gathered to combat this universal practice of the church, and the battle may be long and difficult. But nothing less than orthodox Christianity is on the line.
Contemporary Christians would do well to heed the advice of Vincent of Lerins, who in 434 counseled believers to cling to the church’s heritage when faced with novel teachings without precedent among God’s people:
What will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud or novelty. (Commonitory 2.7)
Credimus in unam, sanctum, catholicam et apostolicam ecclesiam.
“We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.” (Nicene Creed)
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