Churches and ministries are coming under increasingly aggressive pressure from militant homosexuality. Some homosexuals are combing websites looking for sermons and statements that they can use in the media to ridicule Christianity and build sympathy for their cause.

When challenged, many Christians and even many pastors, struggle to defend and explain their position in a way that is Scriptural, consistent, and loving. Homosexuals and the media often point to other Old Testament verses that forbid things that Christians now eat or use. How do we explain that? 

Well, here’s a short briefing paper that I hope will answer some of these questions, and also help Christians and pastors to explain the Bible’s teaching in a loving way. Below you will find a bullet point summary of the paper (each point is explained in fuller detail in the paper). For further reading, please see the books referenced in the footnotes. And a huge thank you to my Research Assistant for the huge amount of work he put into this paper. 

Homosexuality, polyester, and shellfish.

What do these three things have in common? Well, they are all mentioned in the Bible as forbidden by God. And the latter two come up in conversations about the first.  The charge is often that Christians are being inconsistent – we allow polyester and enjoy shellfish, but we still condemn homosexuality.

The real question is not why Christians are inconsistent. The real question is why and how Christians do make a distinction between homosexuality, polyester, and shellfish. Because they do, and it matters.

The short answer is because Scripture demands that we must. The long answer is that when we take into account some basic hermeneutical principles and some Scriptural principles, we realize that we must relate differently to homosexuality than to shellfish.

Basic Hermeneutical Principles.  Our interpretation of Scripture is based on the following convictions:

  • Scripture is an authoritative revelation of God.
  • The central unifying theme of Scripture is Jesus Christ.
  • Old Testament law is divided into three main types: civil, ceremonial, and moral:
    • The civil laws were given to a unique nation (Israel) for a unique purpose and time.
    • The ceremonial laws pointed to Christ’s sacrifice and were abolished by His sacrifice.
    • The moral laws define sin and continue in force.
  • Homosexuality falls under the moral law.
  • The punishments for the moral law have changed.
  • The Old Testament needs to be understood in light of the New Testament.
  • The Old Testament law is still relevant today.

So, since the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, and we can distinguish between various Old Testament commands, what does the Bible say about homosexuality?

Relevant Scriptural Principles. Our position on homosexuality is based on Scriptural principles:

  • God created all things, including sexuality.
  • All humans are God’s creation.
  • Sex has a limited role and purpose in life.
  • Sin impacts all of life, including sex.
  • Homosexuality is a consequence of sin.
  • Scripture states that homosexuality is sinful behavior.
  • Homosexuality is not the only sin in society.
  • Sinners, including homosexual sinners, can receive salvation.
  • Believers cannot be characterized as having a homosexual life.
  • Victory over sin, including homosexuality, is possible.

Basic Relational Principles. Our interactions and relationships will be based on Scriptural principles:

  • Remember that salvation is more important than being heterosexual, or outlawing same-sex marriage.
  • Homosexuality is being used as a cultural battleground.
  • Fear and hatred of homosexuals are not proper responses.
  • Christians need to show grace to those who misunderstand.
  • Addressing the issue of homosexuality gives the church a unique opportunity to witness. 
  • All ministry on earth (apart from Christ’s) is from sinners to sinners.
  • Love sometimes demands non-approval.

Therefore the difference between homosexuality, polyester, or shellfish is not a reactionary choice between homophobia or vestiphobia or ichthyophobia. It is not an inconsistent personal preference.

It is a principled decision based on divine revelation.

  • Acidri

    Great post. A big thank you to your nameless research assistant! Very helpful indeed.

    • David Murray

      I’ll pass that on!

  • David Murray (Isle of Lewis)

    Very interesting. I’ll have to give the paper a read and pass it around some (Christian) friends. This is something that is a massive issue in the UK and US but I don’t think the average Christian is at all prepared for discussions on it.

    Do you mind if I ask for your view on civil partnerships? In the UK the argument most often used by Christians is that civil partnerships offer the same rights to gay people as marriage.

    • David Murray

      Homosexual civil partnerships are not acceptable to either Christians or homosexuals. Christian arguments against them are virtually the same as those used against marriage. But homosexuals are also dissatisfied with them because marriage is the only prize that will elevate homosexual relations from merely tolerated to approved. That’s why there is such a push for it.

  • Thomas

    Great post. While many tout that “sin is sin” as stated in the bible. No one gets permission to walk and live in open un-repented sin, and that’s what the homosexual agenda wants to do. Furthermore, most of them would not even call it a sin.

    • David Murray

      Thanks Thomas.

  • Manfred

    Most excellent analysis of the issues often brought to bear by those outside the camp, helping us inside the camp better understand the biblical basis for known good and Godly perspective. May I use your briefing paper as a document in a digital Reformed Baptist Library I am collecting and making available to folks for no charge?

    • David Murray

      Thanks Manfred. Yes, feel free to use the material in helpful ways.

  • Pingback: Homosexuality, Polyester, and Shellfish. | Defending. Contending.

  • Scott Fillmer

    excellent look at these issues… I get really tired of people making the “homosexuality” is ok because we eat shellfish argument. Basic understanding of Scripture will tell any reader why these are the way they are. Well put here!

    • blake

      why deprive people of happiness, everyones entitled to whatever they want. who are you to say?

      • becky411234

        it is only a sin to those who believe in the Christian faith. If they don’t, then it shouldn’t matter who says what is a sin. And if they are believers, then debating what is in their Bible that they believe in, is what I’d think they’d want

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  • hopeinbrazil

    Thank you very much for clarifying each of type of law in the O.T. I’ll be sharing this with my Bible study groups.

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  • Travelman

    As god created homosexuals your logic makes no sense whatever. But, as an atheist, nor does your god.

    Sorry this is a bit trollish, but I do get sick and tired of this homophobic silliness, dressed up in academic clothing.

  • Jack Warner

    Let the brainwashing of the naïve continue

  • wwcoo

    In your article, you stated that as homosexuality is a moral law, it is still applicable today and hence forbidden. What about wearing polyester and eating shellfish? What laws do they fall under (and why) such that they are allowed today?

  • Вища
    I find it funny that an atheist might find “homophobia” to be wrong, considering that’s a moral stance, and atheist morals are derived from no authority, but are said to be subjective, in other words opinion, which is to say, they’re worthless.
    If you’re an atheist and not an egoist, you’re just as much a pretender as you claim the religious to be.
    But anyways, here’s some secular facts about homosexuals, in case that might interest anyone: