The reason for addressing it stems from an argument made by one of our readers, Stephen, regarding a post last week. It was based on Paul’s rhetorical question in Galatians 4:16, “Am I Your Enemy, because I tell you the truth?”
I asked 11 different questions regarding matters of Truth. Two of the questions spoke to the sin of homosexuality.
When I support marriage as being only between one man and one woman, (Matt 19:4-6) am I the enemy of lesbians?
When I affirm that same-sex relations is a sin, (1 Cor. 6:9-11) am I an enemy of homosexuals?
In part, here is Stephen’s response.
“Your teachings on difficult issues continue to frustrate me — issues where Christians sometimes find ourselves ‘between the rock and the hard place.’”
“Paul found himself caught in one of Life’s “Rock and the Hard Place” with Timothy’s circumcision. The Council of Jerusalem settled this issue. Paul could have drawn a clear line in the sand over this — refusing to circumcise Timothy and then taking him on mission efforts — after all, Paul would have been ‘RIGHT’.”
“One can argue that Paul made a mistake (that he was encouraging this) as Paul was told about 10 years after the Jerusalem Council that not much had changed.”
“But Paul didn’t make any mistake with Timothy — there was something “bigger” involved. Paul had to “weed out” what was important and what wasn’t in the overall ‘Big Picture.’”
“One can define this between a ‘Micro” versus “Macro” view.”
Stephen is referring to Acts 16 when Paul met Timothy at Lystra and took him on his second missionary journey. “(Paul) took (Timothy) and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.” (Acts 16:3)
The comparison with Paul’s decision to have Timothy circumcised with “marco view” of marriage is like proverbial comparison of apples and oranges. They are totally different.
The error of Judaizing teachers was demanding that Gentiles be circumcised and as a requisite of salvation (Acts 15:1). It is true that the Jerusalem council determined that was not the will of God. And that “no such commandment” was a part of apostolic teaching regarding salvation.
Circumcision was originally given to Abraham as a sign of God’s covenant with him and later the nation of Israel. It preceded the law of Moses (Galatians 4) and was never intended to be a permanent part of God’s will for the human race. Under the law of Christ it became a matter of individual liberty.
So, why did Paul have Timothy circumcised?
Because Paul desired to eliminate anything that hindered the Jews’ reception of the gospel. He had no desire to flaunt his freedom in Christ. When it came to matters of custom, culture or personal preference, Paul’s attitude is explained in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law….I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake…”
This issue is best summed up by Paul’s observation, “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters”
Circumcision was a matter of Christian liberty. However, Paul also urged not to use liberty as a license to engage in fleshly desires. (Galatians 5:1-15) This would include ungodly attitudes or immoral actions. Understanding the difference keeps us from being “between a rock and a hard place.”
Same-sex marriage is not a matter of Christian liberty. It is taking license where God granted none. It is not a “micro view” of marriage. It is a moral rejection of God’s revelation. Marriage is between a man and a woman. From the beginning it was so, when God made them male and female. (Matt 19:4-6).
All of the “hand wringing” about the violation of civil rights won’t change God’s commandment about marriage. And all the pseudo arguments justifying homosexuality will not sanctify what God has called sinful.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman