The Pro-LGBTQ faction of the UMC uses two analogies to support their argument in support of the acceptance of homosexual practice. One has to do with women’s role in the church and the other pertains to slavery.
In reference to the analogy to women in the church, the pro-LGBTQ faction argues that acceptance of homosexuality ought to be permissible because, as Rev. Adam Hamilton (Hamilton #2) points out, the contemporary UMC has moved away from what Paul taught about women’s role in the church:
Further if we consistently applied these same assumptions to what Paul teaches about women in the New Testament, the female members of the United Methodist Church would pray with their heads covered; they would remain silent in the church; and they would not be permitted to teach in any church gathering where men were present.
The pro-LGBTQ faction seems to equate condemning homosexual practice to maintaining the above restrictions regarding a woman’s role in the church. In other words, since the church has moved to eliminate these restrictions on women’s roles in the church, the church ought to move to eliminate condemnation of homosexual practice. As shown below, restrictions on women’s roles in the church is not something comparable to homosexual practice in significant respects so that it is a bad analogy. The below four reasons are taken from page 46 of Dr. Gagnon’s (co-authored with Dan Via) book Homosexuality and the Bible (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN 2003).
First, the fact a person is female is a condition she cannot change meaning it is an immutable condition. If a person is born female then she will always be biologically a female. This is not the case with homosexual desires which is a mutable condition, i.e., a condition that can change. Further, Scripture does not link being a woman to sinful behavior. In significant contrast, the Bible consistently calls out homosexual practice as sinful.
Second, while the UMC has gone beyond the boundaries of Scripture through the ordination of women pastors, there are Scriptural precedents for placing women in leadership roles. Deborah is a well-known example per Judges 4:4 (ESV):
4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.
Another example is recorded in Acts 21:8–9 (ESV), which reads:
8 On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 9 He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.
One commentator (Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Gotthard, V. L., Gerok, C., & Schaeffer, C. F. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Acts (p. 384). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software) explains this passage:
The fact that he had four daughters who were virgins, and who had received from the Spirit the gift of pronouncing edifying discourses,
Another commentator (Gangel, K. O. (1998). Acts (Vol. 5, p. 355). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers) writes:
Here we find not only Philip, but his four unmarried daughters who prophesied. Eusebius claims these ladies provided Luke with information about the early days of the Jerusalem church. Luke tells us nothing about their use of this significant gift, but we should not overlook the fact that women in the early church had the gift of prophecy which, at this point in the transition, could have been the foretelling of future events or the explanation of written Scripture. This is not the first female prophetess Luke has mentioned to Theophilus. In his Gospel he described Anna (Luke 2:36–38), and already in Acts has recorded Peter’s words about prophesying daughters (Acts 2:17).
It is apparent that the Bible does not condemn some situations in which women have leadership roles. This is not the case for homosexuality which the Bible does not in any way endorse.
Third, in contrast to the relevant culture, the Bible and especially the New Testament is reasonably affirming of women’s role in society. It is fair to say that the Bible is not condemning of women. However, nowhere does the Bible affirm homosexual practice. In fact, it consistently condemns homosexual practice.
There are no valid relevant correlations between the role of women in church and those who practice homosexual sex. The argument that the role of women in church is analogous to those who practice homosexual sex is a bad analogy to argue that the church should accept or affirm homosexual practice as normative.
According to the pro-LGBTQ faction of the UMC, there should not be any barrier to accepting homosexual practice because the contemporary church as moved away from condoning slavery. This argument appears to equate condoning slavery to condemning homosexual practice:
If Methodist Christians consistently held that everything in the Bible is God’s Word and that it is unchanging — and by this they meant that what the Bible allows we must allow, and that what the Bible forbids we must forbid — we’d still support the practice of slavery today.
Slavery is a very poor analogy because the Bible does not condone slavery while it does condemn homosexual practice.
First, there is no biblical command to enslave others. A person became a slave as a desperate measure to avoid starvation where there was no welfare state. In an article (September 3, 2009) at the desiringGod website, entitled “How Paul Worked to Overcome Slavery,” John Piper wrote:
The upshot of all this is that, without explicitly prohibiting slavery, Paul has pointed the church away from slavery because it is an institution which is incompatible with the way the gospel works in people’s lives. Whether the slavery is economic, racial, sexual, mild, or brutal, Paul’s way of dealing with Philemon works to undermine the institution across its various manifestations. To walk “in step with the truth of the gospel” (Galatians 2:14) is to walk away from slavery.
There were no penalties if one released a slave. In fact, the Old Testament calls for a release of slaves after six years. See Exodus 21:2–11 (ESV) of which verse 2 reads:
2 When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing.
The Bible has never been comfortable with slavery. This is in contrast to Scripture that limits sexual unions to heterosexual ones with severe penalties (temporal and eternal) imposed on those who enter into a homosexual union.
Second, pre-Fall, Scripture viewed heterosexual unions as normative and trans-cultural. This is made clear by Genesis 1:26–28 (ESV), which reads:
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
This is not the case with respect to slavery in that slavery is not a pre-Fall “natural” condition and the Bible does not view slavery as normative.
Third, while the Bible describes slavery, it does not encourage slavery. The Bible does not encourage anyone to remain in slavery. Many times God reminded the Israelites that He brought them out of slavery in Egypt. For example, Exodus 20:2 (ESV) reads:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Deuteronomy 15:15 (ESV) reads:
15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.
In the New Testament, Christians are reminded that redemption through Christ brought them out of their slavery to sin. For example, Romans 6:6 (ESV) reads:
6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.
While Scripture described and tolerated slavery, in no way does the Bible tolerate homosexual practice. In fact, Scripture consistently condemns homosexual practice.
Fourth, while the contemporary church has repudiated slavery, and therefore moved past the Bible on the issue, the Bible was more liberating about slavery than the relevant culture. This is very much different from the Bible actually toughening its stance on homosexual practice as compared to the relevant culture.
Overall, it is apparent that repudiation of slavery is not a good analogy to support affirming homosexual practice.
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