This letter comes from a reader, and it’s a good framing of a vital way of approaching the homosexual debate in the church. The essence of it is this: if polygamy was wrong and polygamists both remained within the people of God and were even seen as super saints (like Abraham or David), why not the same with homosexuality? I’d be interested in what you have to say so I’ll hold back for now.

Dear Scot,

I have been thinking about the homosexual issue since Jennifer Knapp came out, and yesterday I had some interesting thoughts that I wish someone would address. It seems to me that most evangelicals would say that homosexual acts are sinful and that living a lifestyle in which you continually repeat sinful acts without conviction by the holy spirit or repentance is inconsistent with the Christian walk, they would therefore struggle with how someone living a lifestyle without repentance could be a Christian.
It occurred to me that, at least in modern day evangelicalism, we would hold the same for polygamy. I am not equating the two, I am just saying that modern evangelicalism holds both polygamous and homosexual acts to be sinful. I think most evangelicals would say that God’s design for marriage was always one man and woman and that even Old Testament deviation from heterosexual monogamy was sinful, even if the forefathers didn’t recognize it as such due to cultural acceptance. However, even if one accepts that polygamy might have been permissible under an OT dispensation or is presently permissible you still have the practice of concubinage in the OT by men hat scripture testifies were men of great faith.
So, if you accept the standard modern evangelical framing…homosexual acts sinful…believers shouldn’t be openly engaged in sinful lifestyles without some repentance…is it possible for people thus engaged (for long periods of time, without any sign of repentance) to be believers, you really only have to turn to Abraham and Jacob to see people we readily acknowledge as believers engaged in unrepentant sexual sin, possibly for decades in Jacob’s case, while being treated as believers despite their long term lack of repentance.
Do you have any thoughts on this or resources you would recommend?


The best book I’ve read on the historical context of the Bible’s statements on homosexuality is D.J. Wold, Out of Order: Homosexuality in the Bible and the Ancient Near East
. Surely the most intense study of the texts is by Robert Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics
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