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"Sticky" arguments

Some revisionist theologians’ arguments have sticking power because they resonate with our cultural norms. Put another way, they are persuasive because they draw on modern Western values and assumptions. This brief article considers four “sticky” arguments and how to respond well from a biblical perspective. 

1. “The Bible has very few mentions of homosexuality”

Why it has traction today:

  • If we see the Bible as just a set of “do not's”, then few mentions of same-sex sexual behaviour will make us think that God has little interest in it.
  • Because the Bible doesn’t use the language of orientation, it’s easy to misread the Bible as being homophobic and hence worth ignoring.


Helpful responses:

  • Every mention of homosexual acts in the Bible is clearly negative, whereas the one place for sexual activity is the marriage of one man and one woman.
  • Ephesians 5 shows that sex within marriage between a man and a woman points towards the union between Christ and His church. This is a positive vision we can all get excited about, rather than focusing on mere prohibition.

2. “The Bible doesn’t prohibit stable, faithful same-sex relationships”

Why it has traction today:

  • Modern unfamiliarity with classical culture and with assessing historical documents means that many will accept this argument at face value without properly evaluating the evidence.
  • Our modern media is constantly promoting same-sex relationships as being fundamentally good.


Helpful responses:

  • The Apostle Paul was well travelled throughout the ancient world, and was very aware of Greek and Roman influences on the early church.
  • Greek writings of the time show plenty of awareness of permanent, faithful same-sex relationships.
  • Paul intentionally constructed a new Greek word “arsenokoitai” to describe the broadest form of sexual activity between two men.

3. “It’s not fair for God to prohibit same-sex unions”

Why it has traction today:

  • Even in the modern church, there are assumptions that surely a good God would want us to be happy now and avoid suffering.
  • A person with a close friend or relative wanting a same-sex relationship understandably doesn’t want that person to “miss out”.


Helpful responses:

  • “It’s not fair” starts with me deciding what is and is not fair. In contrast, the Bible starts with God defining fairness, even when we don’t fully understand it.
  • We need to recognise that we live in a broken world and that God wants to mature us through our submission to Him, even in ways that our world deems unfair.

4. “The biblical view is causing harm to LGBT people”

Why it has traction today:

  • Widely circulated anecdotes give the impression that the church’s approach to same-sex relationships is damaging LGBT people’s mental health.
  • The modern emphasis on “safe spaces” means that our society sees the exposure of people to unwelcome viewpoints as being hateful.


Helpful responses:

  • We need to be more precise about what we mean by “causing harm” and not rely on hearsay or sloppy research.
  • Good quality recent research has shown that the mental health of Christians who are considering their sexuality depends more on how well the person integrates their sexual feelings into their religious framework than with the theological teaching of the church.
  • We can do better in our churches to make them places that feel more welcoming, that challenge prejudice and that promote singleness. 

This article was originally published in the Winter 2022 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.

Download the Winter 2022 edition of Ascend

A conversation with the author...

Articles in Ascend often need to be ruthlessly edited down to fit within the required word count. To give space to discuss certain articles in greater depth, the TFT staff team will be recording occasional podcasts under the banner “Ascend Higher”, covering the issues raised in a more conversational style. To hear it for yourself, you can use the audio player below.