Homosexuality and the Bible: 2 Views – Book Review

The following is a very short book review/analysis of a book that I’ve been reading.

The two arguments presented in Homosexuality and the Bible:Two Views could not be further apart in both position and in substance. In this book,  Dan O. Via and Robert A.J. Gagnon present arguments for homosexuality and against homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle for a Christian. While both men claim to represent evangelical viewpoints, Gagnon is the only one to give a thorough and convincing argument for his position against homosexuality. Both men argue from opposite viewpoints but in a puzzling manner both men agree that scripture treats homosexuality as a sinful practice. That said, Via then tries to present an argument to override scripture’s teaching in light of science. As a Christian who professes the authority of scripture, I agree with Gagnon and scripture that homosexuality is not a lifestyle compatible with the Christian walk.

Dan Via begins his argument by claiming to hold to a high view of scripture. He says that he takes “the Bible to be the highest authority for Christians in theological and ethical matters.” He then inserts the troubling statement that “authority does not mean perfection or inerrancy or complete consistency.” His attempt to hold to Biblical authority is undermined right away by this statement. He also sets up another condition on the authority of scripture when he says that “the Bible is authoritative only in those parts that are existentially engaging and compelling – that give grounding and meaning to existence.” These conditions on biblical authority really just serve to undermine it and to allow Via to exercise authority over the Bible. Dan Via does not spend any time trying to argue that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. What is interesting is that Dan Via spends a lot of time actually undermining the many arguments put forth by the homosexual activist who might say that the Bible does not speak against homosexuality. Dan Via basically argues that “yes, the bible says homosexuality is wrong but it is outdated and not authoritative in respect to homosexuality.” Via’s argument might hold water in non-evangelical circles but to anyone who takes the Bible seriously his argument is not convincing.

When it comes time for Robert A.J. Gagnon to lay out his side much of the ground work has already been placed by Dan Via. Even though Gagnon presents a brilliant argument that Scripture does indeed condemn homosexuality as sinful, these facts are not really debated by Via. The issue then rests solely on the authority of Scripture as Gagnon states, “ the debate about same-sex intercourse acutely raises the question of Scripture’s place in the life of the church.” Gagnon also explains the impact that accepting homosexuality will have on the church and society which include the “radical devaluation of the place of Scripture in the life of the church. . . (and) radical devaluation of Scripture’s moral imperative – of the place of holiness, obedience, and repentance.” A reading of Via’s arguments will attest to this devaluation of scripture.

Even though no real debate was made by Via that Scripture does not oppose homosexuality, I still appreciated the depth that Gagnon went into to show that scripture does indeed oppose it. I also was appreciative of his answer to some criticisms that others have made about the bible and homosexuality, in particular the analogy of slavery. Many times those arguing for homosexuality will flaunt the issue of slavery as if it was there trump card in the debate. Gagnon does a very good job showing that this analogy does not work for several reasons including that Scripture does not mandate slavery nor does it condemn those who release slaves.

I also appreciated Gagnon’s defense that one can be loving and still speak in truth. He explains that most people have a definition of love that is not what Jesus held, “If by love Jesus meant a nonjudgmental acceptance of various lifestyles, especially sexual lifestyles, then Jesus’ own stance against divorce/remarriage and adultery of the heart was unloving.”

Both Via and Gagnon agree on Scripture’s view of homosexuality. Neither man disagrees that according to the Bible, homosexuality is sinful. The problem arises when Via takes a view that science and new cultural demands must trump Scripture at times. If one follows this view to its logical conclusion, every biblical truth can be over turned and Christians will be left holding nothing to believe. In conclusion, I stand with Gagnon and Scripture to say that homosexual acts are sinful.