Note: This post brings to completion the series titled Push Back. Some readers have asked whether this series will be posted in a single document in order to read, download, print, and share with others. You will find that the series is now available as a book in PDF format on the Heart4God website.
I will be relocating my motorhome tomorrow. While I am traveling and getting settled at a new location I will be unable to attend to e-mail. I appreciate your understanding.
Push Back - Addendum
Joseph Herrin (09-13-2013)
There are many questions and related issues that come to mind as people consider the Biblical view of homosexuality. Some of these questions are raised with a sincere desire to understand the truth. One of the sincere questions that a number of readers have sent to me asks whether it is equally immoral for a husband and wife to engage in oral sex as it is for homosexuals. This question will be addressed in this addendum.
There are also many insincere questions/objections raised in opposition to the Biblical teaching on homosexuality. They are insincere because the people raising the questions are not searching for truth, nor are they desiring to arrive at the mind of Christ. Rather, they are biased, having an agenda that they are defending. This was observed when, during the recent elections in Australia, the Prime Minister seeking re-election stated that the Bible could not serve as a guide for social issues since it also endorsed slavery.
In the video below, taken from a broadcast on Australian television, you will see twitter messages appearing on the screen. One mentions that the Bible also forbids the eating of shellfish. The intent of such statements is to cast the Bible into disrepute so that it will appear ridiculous for anyone to suggest that the Holy Scriptures have relevance to today’s social issues.
This is a form of argument that many have embraced in an attempt to discredit the Biblical teaching on homosexuality. Some individuals point to issues in the Bible that are regarded as cruel, unjust, or socially unacceptable, and use these examples to call into question the Bible’s teachings on homosexuality. Some point to the prohibition in the Law of Moses against eating shellfish, or wearing clothes made out of two types of material, or eating pork, or stoning to death a rebellious son, etc., to declare that Christians are not following these laws today. They follow this up by asking why the prohibition against homosexual relationships should be any different. They would accuse Christians of arbitrarily choosing which Old Testament laws they want to adhere unto.
A common aspect of these questions/objections is that they demonstrate a failure to “rightly divide the word of God.” Those who use such arguments are not seeking truth, nor do they care whether they are accurately representing the views of Yahweh, or the teachings of the Bible.
These objections become a problem when the Christians who are confronted with them do not know the Scriptures well enough to give a defense of the truth. Christians are easily tripped up by these objections. In the case of Kevin Rudd, the former Prime Minister of Australia (who lost the recent election), this man professes to be a Christian. His profession of faith is akin to Barack Obama’s statement that he is a Christian and a man of faith. Yahshua said you would know men by their fruit. Promoting homosexuality, a lifestyle that leads to sickness, death, depression, and rebellion against God, is rotten fruit.
None of the objections raised by those advocating on behalf of homosexual normalization are unanswerable. Some issues take considerable reflection to understand aright, and may require revelation from the Father, but He has promised to give liberally to all who ask Him for wisdom (James 1:5).
How would you answer the objection that the Bible treats slavery as a normal social condition? Do you understand why God does not forbid slavery in His word? Several years ago I wrote an article titled Why the Bible Does NOT Condemn Slavery. I recommend it to those who are unable to answer the question.
For those who cannot answer other objections, such as why Christians condemn homosexuality, but may choose to eat shellfish which the Law forbids, I refer you to the book titled Laying Down the Law.
Because the Bible is very clear in its condemnation of homosexuality, those who are promoting, or engaged in, this sinful lifestyle must find a way to discredit the Scriptures. A wide array of arguments have been set forth. Can you give a defense of the Scriptures, or a defense of God? Some may suggest that God can defend Himself, and that a Christian need not do so. Certainly He can do so. Nevertheless, God has appointed believers to be Christ’s ambassadors, representing the kingdom of God to a dark and sinful world. It behooves the saints to gain a mastery of the Scriptures, and to arrive at a mature understanding of the doctrines of the faith.
The apostle Paul stated that a man cannot be appointed as an overseer in the church unless he is able to refute those who oppose the truth.
For the overseer must... be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced...
The Bible provides numerous examples of Christians who argued skillfully from the Scriptures. Among them were men like Stephen, and Apollos.
And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. And yet they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking.
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Yahshua... and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he helped greatly those who had believed through grace; for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Yahshua was the Christ.
It is not just church leaders who are called to give a defense of the truths of God’s kingdom. All Christians should apply themselves to growing in the knowledge of God’s word, using it skillfully to give a defense of the kingdom of God.
I Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you...
If you encounter an argument from those who oppose God and His word, what do you do? Do you shrug off the matter and forget about it? Do you glibly reply that some things simply have to be taken on faith? Do you concede with the enemies of righteousness that the Bible is a deeply flawed book? Or do you follow the advice that the apostle Paul spoke to Timothy?
II Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Could your study of God’s word be described as “diligent”? Or are you a slacker? People of God, in this hour of great apostasy and growing darkness in the world, there is no room for complacency. If you do not push back against the darkness, you will be overcome by it. The weapons of a Christian’s warfare are not carnal. The apostle Paul describes “the word of God” and “prayer” as being the chief offensive weapons of a believer.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit.
A man cannot be handed a sword and expect that he will automatically be a master of its use. The same is true when it comes to developing skill in one’s use of the Scriptures. People are not born skillful in the scriptures. They become that way as they exercise discipline, patience, and a zealous pursuit of the truth. Gaining a mastery of God’s word is no different than gaining mastery in some natural endeavor, such as sport. Some people may have a greater inherent ability, but without discipline, training, and focus upon a goal, all the ability in the world will prove vain.
The Christian has the distinct advantage of having God, the all-wise, all-powerful Creator of the universe, on their side. Those who come to God, earnestly entreating Him to instruct them in truth and to help them gain skill in their mastery of His word, will not be turned away. James scolded the church, saying, “You have not because you ask not.” When was the last time you asked Yahweh to help you gain a mastery of His word? If you ask, He will answer. The Scriptures state:
“It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught of God.'”
I John 2:27
And as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.
I Corinthians 2:12-13
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”
If you lack understanding; if you are unable to give a defense of God’s truths, you need not remain ignorant and unskilled. You are constrained only by your own desires. Those who love the truth, and pursue it, will find it.
Turning to other issues, I did not write about oral sex among a husband and wife in this present series because the topic was that of homosexuality. The subject was quite large enough without expanding into topics related to heterosexual unions. Another reason I have not addressed this subject (in this book, or anywhere else) is that the Bible does not specifically address it. Some would argue this point, for they conflate sodomy and oral sex, treating them as if they are the same thing.
I would not address this subject now, except that a significant number of readers have written regarding it. If you are troubled by the discussion of sexual practices, I encourage you to not read any further.
Let me begin by differentiating between the topic of sodomy, and that of oral sex between a husband and wife. Some have wrongly concluded that oral sex among a husband and wife is the same as homosexual intercourse because the English word “sodomy” is commonly used today to refer to oral or anal sex between homosexuals or heterosexuals. It is not uncommon to come across a news report stating that a male rapist has sodomized a woman. In most instances, the writer is indicating that the male transgressor forced a woman to perform oral sex (fellatio) on him.
Words frequently acquire different meanings over time. You will not find the word “sodomy” in most English Bibles, including the KJV Bible. Yet many English translations do employ the word “sodomites.” The following passages are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.
I Kings 14:24
And there were also sodomites in the land...
I Kings 15:12
And he took away the sodomites out of the land...
I Kings 22:46
And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land.
II Kings 23:7
And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the Lord...
The Hebrew word translated as “sodomites” in each of these passages is more accurately, and literally translated as “male cult prostitute.” It is the Hebrew word “qadesh.” This word means “a consecrated person.” It is related to the Hebrew word for holy, that is often rendered as kadosh today. Unger’s Bible Handbook provides some insight into this matter.
Sodomite (Heb. qadesh, consecrated, devoted). The sodomites were not inhabitants of Sodom, nor their descendents, but men consecrated to the unnatural vice of Sodom ( Gen. 19:5; compare with Romans 1:27) as a religious rite. This dreadful 'consecration,' or, rather, desecration, was spread in different forms over Phoenicia, Syria, Phrygia, Assyria, and Babylonia. Ashtaroth, the Greek Astarte, was its chief object. The term was especially applied to the emasculated priests of Cybele, called Galli, perhaps from the river Gallus in Bithynia, which was said to make those who drank it mad.
The people of Canaan prior to the conquest of Joshua, were followers of fertility religions that had their origin in Babylon. The Israelites never fully conquered the inhabitants of Canaan, and their unclean practices and idolatrous religions remained in the land as a stumblingblock for the people. Many unclean practices were associated with these fertility religions. The pagan temples became centers for moral vice including prostitution, drunkenness, and orgies.
The pagan temples employed both male and female prostitutes. The deceit behind this was that the fertility goddess (Isis, Astarte, Ashtoreth, etc.) was offered the seed of the male worshiper as an offering. This offering was to invoke the blessing of the gods upon the man’s crops, livestock, and his own family, granting them fertility. The man could deposit his seed (sperm) by having sexual intercourse with a female prostitute, or a male prostitute. If a male prostitute was chosen, then anal sex was normally engaged in.
The temple priests or priestesses promoted the thought that a greater blessing could be obtained by having sexual intercourse with a male prostitute since the male prostitute had made a greater sacrifice than the woman by surrendering their manhood to the goddess. These male prostitutes were called in the local tongue “dogs.” Some historians believe this was due to their high holy days being observed during the time of year when Sirius, the Dog Star, was ascendant in the heavens.
The Old Testament has one word for a common prostitute (zonah), and another for a temple prostitute. The female temple prostitutes were called “kedeshah” and the male temple prostitutes were called “qadesh,” or “kadesh.” None of these words had any relationship to the name of the city Sodom. It is only in our English Bibles that this connection is made. You will see why I stress this in a moment.
Unger mentions that the river Gallus was associated with these sodomite prostitutes, and was also regarded to cause people to go mad. I would speculate that the madness was actually caused by a pandemic of syphilis that was spread by these unclean sexual practices.
In all four of the passages from I and II Kings cited above, the KJV translators have rendered the word for male temple prostitute as “sodomite.” It would be more accurate to use the expression “male cult prostitute” as some translations do. The actual Hebrew word bears no relationship to the name of the city called Sodom. The ancient Hebrews did not call these temple prostitutes by a name that evoked thoughts of Sodom. This is a practice of the translators of English Bibles.
The Hebrews had one word for a common prostitute (zonah), and another for a temple prostitute. If the temple prostitute was female, she was called a kedeshah. If the temple prostitute was male, they were a kadesh. With the information provided, we can now understand the parallelism found in the following passage of Scripture.
There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the Lord thy God.
I often wondered what was meant by the price (hire) of a dog? Who rents out dogs? This did not seem to be a common practice in the Middle East. We can understand this passage when we consider that these two sentences employ parallelism. The second sentence is a restating of the first. This is an aspect of Hebrew poetry. Let us look at this passage again, inserting the Hebrew words, and a more literal interpretation of them.
None of the daughters of Israel shall be a temple prostitute (kedeshah), nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a male temple prostitute (kadesh). You shall not bring the hire of a prostitute (zonah) or the wages of a dog (kelev) into the house of Yahweh your God to pay a vow, for both of these are an abomination to Yahweh your God.
The KJV Bible, and numerous other English translations, substitute the word “sodomite” for “kadesh.” Although this is in a sense correct, for the male temple prostitutes were engaging in homosexual intercourse with the male temple patrons, usage of the word “sodomite” has led to some confusion. Christians have come to associate the words “sodomy” and “sodomite” with the sin of Sodom. This sin was anal or oral sex between men. However, as the meaning of the English word “sodomy” has evolved, it has come to include any anal or oral sex between individuals, whether homosexuals or heterosexuals.
This confusion has led some Christians to equate the word “sodomy” with the act of oral sex, and to suggest that a husband and wife are committing sodomy. This is a wholly inaccurate conclusion. Biblical sodomy ALWAYS involved sexual intercourse between two men. Whether the reference was to the evil actions of the male citizens of Sodom, or a reference to the sexual practices of the male temple prostitutes, the term “sodomite” always refers to a man who has sex with another man.
The men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.”
I have spent some time laying forth this understanding so that one fact might be established when attempting to answer the question of whether it is permissible for a husband and wife to engage in oral sex with one another. The fact is that oral sex between a husband and wife is NOT sodomy, not according to a Biblical understanding of sodomy.
This is not a trivial distinction. If the Bible had informed us that the sin of Sodom was that heterosexual couples were engaging in oral sex, then we could define oral sex as sodomy. However, this is NOT what the Bible reveals. The sin of Sodom was homosexuality; males having sexual relations with other males. A husband and wife cannot commit sodomy with one another, for they are different sexes.
Some may argue that sodomites engage in anal or oral sex, therefore it is evil for a husband and wife to do the same. This is a flawed argument. Sodomites also engage in kissing, caressing, and other types of sexual activities that are quite common among male/female lovers. These actions are not rendered unclean for heterosexuals, simply because homosexuals participate in them.
Some condemn oral sex between a husband and wife on the basis that it cannot produce offspring. This is certainly true, but there are many things that a husband and wife may do in an intimate and private setting that stimulate and excite sexually, while not producing offspring. Kissing and caressing are two of the most common sexual behaviors. The Bible mentions both kissing and caressing as actions participated in by a husband and wife, and there is no censorship, or criticism of the behavior.
The book of the Bible that focuses most on the romantic relationship between a man and woman is The Song of Songs by Solomon. You will find in the book that he speaks much of the pleasures of a woman's flesh. Solomon does not limit his descriptions of the pleasures of women to mere sexual intercourse. He describes many parts of the woman’s body including her breasts, her stomach, her navel, her thighs, and her feet. Following are some Bible passages that speak of sexual intimacy between a man and his wife.
Rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.
Song of Solomon 4:5-7
"Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, which feed among the lilies. Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, I will go my way to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense. You are altogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you."
Song of Solomon 7:1-3
“How beautiful are your feet in sandals, O prince's daughter! The curves of your thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a skillful workman. Your navel is a rounded goblet; It lacks no blended beverage. Your waist is a heap of wheat set about with lilies. Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle.”
Song of Solomon 7:7-9
"Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I said, 'I will climb the palm tree, I will take hold of its fruit stalks.' Oh, may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the fragrance of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine!"
Yahweh created the man and woman so that they would find pleasure in one another's bodies. The pleasure is not simply in the act of sexual intercourse, but in delighting in all aspects of a spouse's body. Solomon described his pleasure with the body of his wife, from her head and mouth, to her thighs and feet.
Within the confines of marriage, I believe it is appropriate for a man and wife to enjoy all parts of each others bodies. A man and woman can certainly take pleasure in viewing, or caressing, any part of each others bodies. Does this pleasure also extend to kissing any part of a spouse’s body, and to oral copulation? The Bible remains silent on this subject. I, therefore, am unwilling to give a judgment in this matter.
Some readers may have concluded from my earlier statements that I believe oral sex among a husband and wife is supported Biblically. This is NOT my position at all. I simply have sought to clarify that oral sex among married couples is not sodomy. Yahweh certainly approves of a husband and wife enjoying sexual relations with one another. He has so designed men and women so that they would find pleasure in one another’s bodies, and enjoy sexual union with one another. As we have observed in the preceding Scriptures, it is perfectly acceptable for a husband and wife to find pleasure in viewing, touching, and kissing one another’s bodies.
The Bible provides us this broad overview of sexual relations between male and female, but it does not answer every question. Some have attempted to interject their own opinions, claiming that they are the thoughts of God, but I am not willing to do so in this matter. I will stick with that which I am certain of. What I can say with confidence is that if a person believes a thing is wrong, then it is sin for them to participate in it. In Romans chapter 14 the apostle Paul addresses what many have described as “disputable matters.” He concludes this section by saying:
The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned... and whatever is not from faith is sin.
If you believe it is immoral to engage in oral sex with your spouse, or if you have doubts, then the only righteous choice before you is to not participate in this behavior. If on the other hand, your heart does not condemn you, and you have no consciousness of the action being evil, I commend you to God. Before Yahweh you will have to give an account of the deeds done in the flesh. Before God each man and woman will stand or fall. Let us be careful therefore in what we approve, or disapprove.
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