Apparently there is some sort of issue currently, to which I had been unaware, involving homosexuals disputing the Christian claim to the Bible on a question of morality. Essentially…
“How can you use a Bible that declares homosexuality to be immoral when that same Bible gives laws that sustain and regulate the immoral practice of human slavery throughout the Old and New Testaments?”
The main issue with the question is that it is intended to undercut the standing and authority of the Bible. As Christians, we either stand by or relinquish this authority. There is no middle ground. Unbelievers have no basis upon which to question scripture simply because they have no foundation of truth.
In this instance, as in most any other issue of the sort, the question itself needs to be dismantled into simpler elements, examined and responded to in a fashion that meets the objection with the same fervor that is extended. Something I’ve learned to do to consistently respond to the arguments against the faith by unbelievers is this…
Elmo’s Rule #20 : Answer questions with a question.
On many occasions Jesus was questioned. He responds differently depending upon his questioner and the audience. Note the occasions when Jesus was confronted by the disbelieving with questions and how He responded. Luke 20:2-4 is a prime example. He responds with a question. Mark 8:11,12 is another example in which He responds to unbelievers with a question, gives a terse answer, then leaves. Jesus’ dialogue with Nicodemus in John 3 is a good example of His having an open, non-combative, honest conversation with someone.
Some people seek to argue for arguments’ sake. They are not the least interested in the answer. They’re already set upon what is good and evil in their own minds. The question at issue is most likely of that sort. One way to tell is by recognizing early in the conversation how people are responding to one’s own statements and questions. To begin with, “How can you use a Bible…” is contentious on its face. Besides that isn’t up for debate with someone sincerely open to the explanation, let alone a contentious unbeliever. It’s just a question of knowing the audience enough not to be casting the proverbial pearls before swine.
This question could be a problem for some Christian somewhere who thinks they might be faced with the prospect of defending biblical morality. I think the issue is quickly settled in a way that undercuts the argument entirely. Essentially respond…
“On what basis do you claim slavery to be immoral?”
Ask the question and say nothing, but wait for an answer and expect one. In the first place, any question puts the opposing party on the defensive. Secondly, it cuts to the real issue which is about that which they believe versus Christian faith. If they choose to ignore it and continue to argue, you always have the option to return to the question maintaining that it hasn’t been answered. Other than that simply end the conversation, take your “pearls” and walk away. It’s important to cut to the heart of the matter and move away from the particulars. None of the particulars, especially homosexuality and slavery, will make any sense to an unbeliever. That issue along with other such issues as why God commanded a people to be wiped out (1 Samuel 15:16-19) isn’t for the unbeliever to dabble. Lead the claimant back to the underlying point of it all, but if they won’t be led then leave.
Don’t let them turn the argument around into, “Isn’t slavery immoral?“, because that makes it a question of a Christian believer’s personal convictions which again aren’t the issue. The typical Christian should have settled the issue of slavery and its biblical treatment for themselves, but with regard to the original question, it has nothing to do with the authority of the scriptures. The real objective in the question posed is tying together the Bible, slavery and homosexuality into a seeming indefensible position. Undercutting the authority of the Bible is where no one has anything upon which to stand.