What If We’re Misinterpreting The Bible? – Rethinking Homosexuality (Part 1)

Roman SlavesIt’s clear that the writers of the New Testament saw nothing contradictory whatsoever between following Jesus and upholding the culture’s position on slavery.

There is no command, no teaching, not even a hint among the New Testament writers that slavery was an evil institution to be abolished.

Quite the contrary…

Slaves were encouraged to accept their lot in life…

1 Corinthians 7:20-23:
20 Each of you should remain in the situation you were in when God called you. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For those who were slaves when called to faith in the Lord are the Lord’s freed people; similarly, those who were free when called are Christ’s slaves. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, all of you, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation in which God called you.

Slaves were taught to obey their masters in everything…

Titus 2:9-10
9 Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, 10 and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

Slaves were taught to endure beatings joyfully…

1 Peter 2:18-21
18 Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. 19 For it is commendable if you bear up under the pain of unjust suffering because you are conscious of God. 20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21 To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

The entire witness of the New Testament leads us to one inescapable conclusion: God doesn’t have that big of a problem with slavery; otherwise the early church leaders would have gone ballistic over it.

150 years ago pastors used these very verses to justify slavery.

What if 150 years from now people look back on modern-day evangelicals and think the same thing about the way we view homosexuality?

Does the Bible give us unambiguous direction on the issue? Certainly. Homosexuality is a sin. No issue is any more clear in scripture.

But 150 years ago people used the unambiguous teaching of the Bible to justify their belief that slavery was okay.

150 years later we think, Who cares what the Bible teaches on slavery? It’s wrong. Not because of what the Bible teaches, but because of everything we know to be true about life as Christians.

Abolitionists fought against the evils of slavery in spite of what the Bible taught.

And they were right.

No Christian today denies that.

What if it’s the same situation with homosexuality?

I have unashamedly upheld the Bible’s teaching that homosexuality is a sin for 25 years of ministry. But what if 150 years from now Christians look back on me and think the same thing that we think about pastors who 150 years ago taught slavery was okay?

I haven’t changed my position in the least. I’m just asking the question.

What do you think?

Series Posts
Rethinking Homosexuality
What If We’re Misinterpreting The Bible? (Part 1)
What Would You Tell A Gay Couple With Kids? (Part 2)
Should An Openly Homosexual Person Be Baptized? (Part 3)
Do Gays Feel Welcome At Your Church? (Part 4)
Are Homosexuals Born That Way? (Part 5)
The Radical Gay Agenda (Part 6)

Brian loves helping Christians live thoughtful, courageous lives. He's a popular blogger, author, and pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

  • S.R.H.

    WOW! Did we read the same article? You seem to indicate Mr. Jones has decided Homosexual behavior isn’t a sin. Did you read a few sentences before he indicated he hadn’t “changed his position in the least?” He said: “I have unashamedly upheld the Bible’s teaching that homosexuality is a sin for 25 years of ministry…I haven’t changed my position in the least.” Mr. Parcells, I’m praying for you and your negative, condemning attitude.

  • Sarah

    I know this posting is rather old, but as I am reading it I noticed one thing about many of those who are saying Slavery back then was not the same as slavery 150 years ago. People have pointed out that slavery 150 years ago is not the same as it was centuries ago. That is true. Maybe I missed it but I don’t remember seeing one comment that noted how Homosexuality was not the same centuries ago as it is now. Homosexual and Gay are not words that you will find. These words are the product of what we have deemed to be equivalent to Sodomites. Sodomites were like sex slaves. The would perform same sex acts at the wishes of their master. So, for every word that the Bibles now used “Homosexual” or “Gay” in, that original word was Sodomites which had a different meaning completely. Hope this helps!

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    We certainly need more Christians like your friend. Thanks for sharing.

  • Royce

    Once sin was introduced into the world its consequences blossomed like weeds and its painful thorns pierced mankind to unmeasurable depths.

    Slavery is only one of the results – man (mankind) sold themselves into slavery AND was taken captive by Satan’s bonds of that slavery – both aspects…

    Indentured and captive servitude/slavery.

    (Two halves make a whole…) Genesis 1:27
    So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

    1 Timothy 2:14
    And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

    Romans 5:12
    Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

    Genesis 6:5
    And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

    Jeremiah 17:9
    The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

    2 Peter 2:19b
    for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

    My Comments:

    Homosexuality is one of the many results of being a slave to sin (see: 1 Timothy 1:9-11 & 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) and only Christ can deliver a person.
    Just as alcoholism, anger issues, fear, etc., have their holds on mankind’s members, there is a Savior who can help free, or at least help one to resist, being enslaved by those lifestyles.

    Years ago I had a friend in California who ministered to ex-homosexual Christians; they could contact him 24/7. Very few other Christians would ‘be there’ for them during their hour of temptation. The individuals who called him, mostly at night, just needed to be encouraged and diffused enough to make it through another tough time – just like that alcoholic who desires a drink all of a sudden. Some/many/most of us cannot fathom the one but can understand the other temptation due to our cultural upbringing and, of course, age groups.

    Proverbs 24:16
    For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
    James 3:2a
    For we all stumble in many ways.

    The point is to GET UP if you stumble in any sin, like Samson, in faith… and continue walking with our Lord.
    What one ‘practices’ is a pivotal point for the enslaved and a focal point for other Christians to consider – 1 Corinthians 5:11
    Each person (and God) knows if they are simply stumbling or are whole-heartedly practicing a lifestyle contradictory to God’s will for their life and humankind in general.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ed-Taylor/1540509434 Ed Taylor

    Satanic Bibles. :)

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    Wait, the King James Version?

  • April Carter

    Herein lies the problem: those passages come from satanic bibles. The KJV clearly shows the opposite, ie that slavery is NEVER condoned in the bible. Of course, God punished the Israelites by allowing them to become slaves. But, that is different. In the KJV, bond servant means slave, and servant means servant. People are allowing foolish people and Satan to deceive them into believing that slavery is condoned by the bible. Please listen to God over everyone else, including yourself. That way, you will not fall for the ecumenical, post modern, etc, apostasy and heresies.

  • Anna

    I think we’re missing 2 things here,

    1. Everyone is arguing about slavery then vs. “now” (150 yrs ago), forgetting that it is still the same thing. Slavery is about owning another human being and they can be traded or treated like property. This is bad in any century.

    2. I feel the people are tripping over themselves about homosexuals so much, we’re missing what’s happening more often, which is sexual abuse. Instead of fighting about this one, why not direct those efforts into stopping child sex trafficking or sexual abuse in general. People are becoming so organized about eradicating one, they don’t care about the other.

    Whether its sin or not, we’re more concerned about two grown having relations then 6 year old children being raped. I have yet to see people standing on street corners waving signs about that. Why?

  • Jason Thomas

    Do we think slavery looked different in biblical times as apposed to what we seen 150 years ago in America?

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    Again, Brett, I’m not so sure slavery was the “Wow this is kinda like an awesome cushy internship at Apple, except I don’t get to go home at the end of the day” awesome state of life Scott and others make it out to be.

  • Brett

    Brian, the logic problem with your analogy is that it compares something that is sometimes wrong (slavery) with something that is always taught to be wrong (homosexual activity). In the first century, many workers for the government were considered slaves of the state. Scott Bartchy argues that Erastus, the city treasurer (Romans 16) was probably the best educated, richest and most urbane members of the church; and, he was likely considered a slave. It would be as absurd to condemn that kind of slavery as it would be to condemn the slavery of my ancestor who came to the US as an indentured servant.

    However, there is no place in Scripture where one can find homosexual activity described as anything but sin.

    My concern is that Christians will lose their zeal for loving people because they allow the current culture to define what love is, abandoning how God has defined love throughout time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=714771884 Rob Petersen

    At the least, the specific content Philemon either strengthens or weakens the pro- or anti-slavery argument, depending upon our interpretation and application of it. You and I may disagree on those points, but I still maintain that to ignore it in this particular conversation, as well as to ignore the Old Testament perspective on slavery, is to make one’s argument less than biblical. Just my two cents.

  • Jeff

    Slavery was a very efficient way to deal with life’s difficulties in the Old Testament. What does our society deal with people who steal? We throw them in jail. In that society, they sold you into slavery. The thief paid for his sin, society benefited and the government didn’t have to pay to house and feed him.
    What does our society do with people who commit acts of war. In that society, they sold them into slavery. In our society, we send them to Gitmo and feed them and house them at government expense.
    The reason slavery was justifiably called evil was that those who engaged in it (and claimed to be Christians as during the Civil War) was that those so-called Christians wanted the benefit of slavery without the restrictions God imposed on His people in the Old Testament.
    The Old Testament would never have allowed people to raid another society just for slaves. Lifetime slavery (as was practiced under the Law) was not a given. That was reserved for those captured in war, or who chose to be enslaved for life.
    As for Brian’s comment about taking beatings “joyfully”, I think he has missed the point. The slaves being addressed were being advised on how to reflect their savior in very difficult situations. Their situation was not one from which they were likely to be liberated (unless God chose to intervene), therefore this was the way for them to witness about a Savior who died for them.

  • Diane Karchner

    Brian – Totally agree. Never know what will happen in the future. Maybe even Hawaiian pineapple shirts will be frowned on as blatant sin (insider CCV joke!)

    If we actually talk of being driven by the love of Christ, to love others as he loved us, then no matter the sin, we should be talking the same talk. It just seems that sometimes in the Christian community we pick a sin and just slaughter it, as if it is the only sin that exists in this world. I work in the corporate world, where I have friends of mine who are openly gay. But I have also traveled around the world over the last three years where I see alot of ‘on the road’ sin by non-gay friends. I would really want to make sure before one of these married friends get baptized that they would stop getting drunk and cheating on their spouse when they travel!! And if they don’t…what do we do? Put up a wall between them and the only hope they might have of getting through it!!!

    Homosexuality is a hot issue, I get it. But stop the madness! Sin is sin. But, no matter, we need to love them right to God so they get some help with the sins they don’t want to repent of before they get into the baptistry – and you know we ALL had some before we took the dunk!!

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    Carl, I’m not so sure. Read Paul’s letters. Particularly Colossians 3. Here’s a perfect chance to address the issues head on. To call slavery what it is. Instead, what does he do at the end of the chapter?

  • carl kuhl

    i do think it’s a unfair to say the bible doesn’t condemn slavery. there were so many different types of slavery.

    for example, the bible says slave trading is evil (1 tim 1:10) and any israelite who participated in slave trading got the death penalty (deut 24.7). in amos 1.6-7 god promises to destroy philistine villages because they participate in the slave trade.

    so brian, while your point is provocative, i don’t think it holds water because comparing something to slavery in the bible is like comparing something to women’s role in u.s. history–it’s just too varied to have any concrete meaning.

    the bottom line is there was socially-accepted and god-approved slavery and there was evil, god-condemned slavery.

    (as a sidenote, last summer i preached on one of the slavery passages in the NT and called the message “is the bible racist and outdated?” i’d love to hear you preach on this topic brian!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=622370741 Tina Kachmar

    wow! agree. agree. agree. well said.

  • Eric partin

    I think the issue on whether homosexuality is a sin is irrelevant to this conversation and that slavery might be the wrong comparison. When I look at Jesus’s ministry and the role of homosexuality and the church, the best comparison would be tax collectors. In the gospels, tax collectors had a category of sin all their own. Tax collecting was a sin and from what I gather, it was the worse one of the day. Homosexuality is the tax collecting of the modern church. The modern church has given homosexuality a category of sin all its own. But yet Jesus was accused of socializing with tax collectors. And even when Jesus taught that when you have a brother in sin and you handle that, the last step when that brother didn’t receive you was to treat them as tax collectors. How did he treat them, he ate with them and went to their parties and their homes. In essence He loved them unconditionally irregardless of whether they changed. Some did; Matthew and Zacheus. I am sure some didn’t. But I don’t think that stopped Jesus from loving them. And I think that is where the church has missed it. Because the church has expected the change before they were willing to love them. And for that reason, gay people are not attracted to the church like the tax collectors were attracted to Jesus. Is homosexuality a sin? Yes. Should that change our interaction with them? No.

  • eric stangland

    Almost a year ago I was talking about this issue with some friends who saw the connection between the church’s approach to slavery back in the day and our approach to homosexuality today. So, I put together some thoughts about slavery in particular that I shared with them. Hope it’s helpful for this discussion.

    for the slavery issue, I regret that many Christians in America used
    the Bible to defend slavery in the South. But I will say that many
    Christians supported emancipation and believed that slaves should be
    freed. Some churches went so far as to deny membership to Christians who
    supported slavery. Fredrick Douglass, a former slave, once said that
    anyone who uses the Bible to support American slavery has “disregarded
    and trampled upon” the Bible and the constitution.

    So, here’s what I have to say about the Bible and slavery…

    can’t compare American slavery with the slavery in Biblical times.
    Slavery back then was much different than what happened in America.
    Slavery in ancient times had little to do with ethnicity and more to do
    with debt or wartime conquest.

    was something that existed at the time, and God allowed it to continue
    without condoning it. He gave his people strict boundaries as to the
    treatment of slaves. If you compared the treatment of slaves in the
    Bible with slavery in neighboring nations at that time, you will see
    that slaves in Israel were treated with MUCH more kindness and dignity
    than in other countries, even though it may still offend our 21st
    century American sensibilities.

    Below I’ve included some of the protections God gave slaves in Israel:
    Runaway slaves are protected. If a slave ran away from cruel master, he couldn’t be returned. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16)

    Abraham had great relationships with his slaves (Gen 15)

    Kidnapping people and selling them as slaves was forbidden (Exodus 21:16, 1 Timothy 1:10)

    Slaves are of equal human value and dignity as freemen (Job 31:15, Galatians 3:28)

    Slaves were given a day off every week (Exodus 20:10)

    Slaves were allowed to celebrate in national feasts (Deuteronomy 16:9-17)

    All slaves freed on the year of Jubilee (every 50 years) (Leviticus 25:10)

    Many people sold themselves into slavery to pay off debts (Leviticus 25:47-49)

    Jewish debt-slaves were to be freed every 7 years and given provisions for their survival (Deuteronomy 15:12-14)

    Slaves are to be treated with respect (Colossians 4:1, Ephesians 6:9)

    Slaves are to seek freedom if they can swing it (1 Corinthians 7:20-22)

    slave owner encouraged to receive a runaway slave back as a brother
    (note this slave was returning willingly, not under legal obligation)
    (Philemon 16)

    The following verses in the Bible guide Christians in our relationships with everyone:

    3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free,
    there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

    Galatians 5:14 – For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

  • Grant MacDonald

    Brian: an interesting question for sure. A couple of thoughts come to mind. 1) Gal 3:28 neither slave nor free… Paul may not be attacking the institution directly but he is making a clear statement about equality. He is saying all have equal value in Christ. I see that as a huge paradigm shift. 2) If we agree that Scripture doesn’t condemn slavery (and I not sure I do, after all Christian faith led to the end of slavery. We could argue culture and economics had more influence in the justification of slavery than Biblical teaching since other Christian did see a contradiction with slavery). Still there is a difference in talking about what Scripture might be silent about and, in the case of homosexuality which is clearly taught against and connect to an idolatrous lifestyle (Rom 1).
    One last thought: many today use Scripture to justify white supremacy. We clearly understand that there approach to Scripture is one of manipulating it into their agenda. I wonder if there is a bit of that going on in the same sex debate as well (perhaps on both sides).
    I do believe that homosexual is declared sinful im Scripture and also going against God’s intention in creation. That argument speaks against both slavery and same sex relationships.
    Sorry if this is choppy writing. I am on my phone.

  • Jennifer

    There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history. Slaves are forced to work to create bricks, make rugs, make your clothes. Sex slavery is surpassing drug trafficking as the largest sector in crime. Even in the United States there are 100,000 minors trafficked every year and the average age of a prostitute is 13. Those are not kids who stood up in middle school and volunteered for the job.

    I understand that in the time of the Bible many times slavery looked different. People would sell themselves into slavery to redeem a debt. There are plenty of examples of Israelites sold into slavery rebuilding temples, or rescuing the brothers that sold them into slavery during famines. However, there were different types of slavery in Rome that were brutal as well. I think it is our duty to clarify this and not leave someone with the impression God is okay with slavery. He simply is not. Examples of leading the Jews out of Israel, the concept of Jubilee and redeeming debts, the fact that our God loves justice…and most importantly, that we are to love or neighbors as ourselves. As ourselves. Would you be okay with your child being a slave? If not, then if you are loving your neighbor as yourself are you okay with them being one?

    As far as homosexuality, I don’t wonder if people will look back on us 150 years from now and think our views antiquated and ridiculous. I think it reflects something about our culture that we define so much of ourselves based on who we are or are not having sex with. We equate sex with happiness, which is why we have so much trouble with Biblical commands about homosexuality, divorce, and sex outside of marriage.We should be thankful not all of our sins (like cheating, lying, stealing, completely ignoring all posted traffic speed signs…) are as visible. Let he who is without cast the first stone.

    I think the very nature of the conversation is that of a wealthy country – I can’t think of any 3rd world countries wrapped around the tree about gay marriage. I can’t help the feeling that 150 years from now the real question people will look back and ask is why we were so caught up on who was having sex with who while slavery was running rampant, while the largest genocide ever was occurring in the Congo (remember the phrase “never again”?), and while people were starving to death in astronomical numbers while our country fought issues caused by having too much food available. I wonder if people will look at all this and ask “Where were the Christians”?

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones


  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    That’s what Elton Trueblood thought.

  • Brian Sturtz

    Read over the blog post and most all of the comments. I think I am grasping where you (Brian) are coming from. I would say that your observation could already be true. I wonder if we Christians would even be having this conversation about homosexuality if the church (American) would have responded differently to the AIDS epidemic? I can remember when I first heard about AIDS. I can remember how freaked out everyone was. Where did it come from? Why was there no instant or known cure? How could you get it? Did God casue AIDS to punish sin? I think as a middle school and high school
    student I sat though countless assemblies, classes and so froth about AIDS.
    Yet, I can’t remember hearing much, if anything, about AIDS in the church I grew up in. Maybe there was a sermon about homosexuality or ADIS but – hey – I’ve slept since then. Looking back on church history I recall how Christians responded to the black plague back. From 1348-1350 onethird of the population of Demark to India was wipedout due to the plague. Most folks locked themselves up in their homes and stayed away from large gatherings. Yet many Christians like Catherine of Siena of whom the respected nineteenth-century historian Philip Schaff wrote that during the plague Catherine “was indefatigable by day and night, healed those of whom the physicians despaired, and she even raised the dead.” Catherine, following the example of Franciscan and Dominican mocks, did not lock herself up in her home.She dared to visit the sick and helped them in their time of suffering. Many other Christians followed her courageous example and died along with those they were helping. I would like to think that I am that daring. But I would have probably stayed in my home and away from people. There were many wonderful Christians at the church I grew up in but I think many of them stayed away from the AIDS issue. Not sure what to do, scared of what might happen and a desire to make some stand for Christian values. My deepest fear in life is that I’m going to end up on the wrong side of God’s history. Would I have made some stand for Christ in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s? Would I have walked with Dr. King during the Civil Rights struggle? Like so many Christians before me I fear I
    would have said something like – this has nothing to do with me or the church.
    My fear is that a moment will come when I am asked to stand up for those who
    deserve God’s grace as much as I and I’ll respond with “That has nothing
    to do with me. That has nothing to do with the church.” Could it be that “Christianity” has essentially become a mechanism for allowing millions of people to replace being a decent human being with something else, an endorsed “spiritual” substitute. So I can’t help but wonder aloud if we
    Christians would even be debating same-sex marriage or what to do or not to do with homosexuality if we would but consider – what if we are wrong. Not wrong about what God calls sin. Just wrong about how we have treated the sinner.

  • http://www.facebook.com/diane.stortz Diane Stortz

    Maybe God wasn’t as concerned with turning the greater culture upside down immediately as he was with aligning hearts with his own first. Don’t know. Will think on this.

  • Phil


    “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:28

    We are called to test that which we are confused about, that which we might be spectical of, and discuss them amoungst our fellow Christians to asertain the true meaning of the scriptures and try to understand and practice what God truely wants, to avoid what Jesus died to save us from. I think him asking this question gets us thinking. It’s true, slavery has been both fought for and against using verses from The Bible. Could homosexuality be as well?

    That being said, I agree with you that it is a clear “no”. Homosexuality is clearly a sin, Paul discusses it in Romans as sexual immorality. Yet the point of asking the question is to raise discussions to dispell any doubt of the scriptures. He is asking the question to strengthen our faith through discussion, by testing the scriptures and finding/ holding onto what is good.

  • RR

    Isn’t there a way to let homosexuals have their rights and still stand firm that its a sin? I think the problem sometimes is more how we treat the sinner then how we view the sin. And what about the God given right of free will? People have the right to live the way they want even if that means it is in rebellion to Gods word. Just some random thoughts….

  • Steve parcells

    What If We’re Misinterpreting The Bible? – Rethinking
    Homosexuality (Part 1)- Brian Jones

    “The entire witness of the New Testament leads us to one
    inescapable conclusion: God doesn’t have that big of a problem with slavery;
    otherwise the early church leaders would have gone ballistic over it.” Brian

    “I haven’t changed my position in the least. I’m just asking
    the question.

    What do you think?” Brian Jones

    Rethinking Homosexuality? Why would you even entertain such a stupid
    topic and pose such an idiotic question? By posing it from the pulpit and exploring
    the possibility you are essentially giving merit. What do I think? I think I am
    amazed that you lead such a large congregation and that they have not removed
    you from the pulpit as of yet. Is that judgmental? Well I will utilize your
    sound reasoning and logic Mr. Jones to formulate my answer. Possible next
    sermon titles: “What if We’re Misinterpreting the Bible- Rethinking Judgment
    and Sin” or maybe “Twisting the Word from the Pulpit”….. I simply pray that you
    wake up and stop preaching the Word of God as if you were an atheist. Come back
    to your first love sir and stand on the foundation that was established by
    Jesus instead of lobbying for every sin that the world wants to embrace. I am
    praying for you Mr. Jones, your congregation, and those that read your
    material. What if you entitle your next sermon “I am rewording the Bible!- Leading
    you astray”. God has a big problem with sin and you are adamantly supporting its
    practice. So to answer your question of what do I think; I think you need to
    cease and desist! By writing “I haven’t
    changed my position in the least. I’m just asking the question.” you are effectively
    following in Pontius Pilate’s footsteps as you wash your hands of the sin and
    quagmire you have placed yourself in. Rewording and falsely applying the Word
    of God inappropriately and for personal gain is a very dangerous road to
    traverse and unfortunately you are taking many others with you! I suggest
    returning to your first love (Jesus) and avoid further exposing yourself to the
    dangers of following the world. What do I think Mr. Jones? I think you need to
    let go of the world and return to the Word! That is what I think Mr. Jones.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    I think it’ll depend upon how much we let the world’s views affect the church’s. Sadly, there’s quite a few churches who are already caving into this line of thinking.

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    Joe I don’t disagree in the least. I believe its a sin. What I’m saying is that the Bible clearly DOES NOT condemn slavery, an institution that ANY Christian today would condemn as horrific, even if the Bible doesn’t. And first century slavery, albeit different in some respects than the Atlantic slave trade, was still horrible. So will believers look back on us years later and wonder how we could be so dince?

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    Diane, great question. One quick example is Colossians chapter 3. The whole chapter paul exhorts the believers to “put to death whatever belongs to their earthly nature” then gives a long list. Then continues “As God’s chosen people…” and then addresses ways we are to treat each other. Then addresses wives, husbands, kids. Then concludes the chapter by telling slaves to obey their earthly masters. Really? Couldn’t have slipped in a “Masters, release your fellow Christians for this is an damnable practice for believers.”? That’s what I’m referring to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/diane.stortz Diane Stortz

    Brian, where in the NT do we see believers “condemning social evils”–making those a cause? Within the church, believers are called to account for continued sin, but to the larger culture, wasn’t it the gospel and “the hope that is in you” that they talked about? Sincere question here.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Brian, I think the Bible clearly states that this is a sin. Take a look at Romans 1:27. To me, it’s clear.

    There’s also the issue of Sodom and Gomorrah. The men wanting to have relations with male visitors to the city.

    The struggle is society wants us to change our views on what is right and wrong. The pull is strong to waffle on our convictions.

    In the end, there will be churches who hold true and fast to the word of God and others who will take extreme liberties with the faith. And those that hold true will be condemned as hate-mongers, evil, etc as they have for many years.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Michelle, I’m wondering how you would personally interpret Romans 1:27?

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    Dave, I would say that arguing for a slave’s freedom so that he can join you as an evangelistic partner (Philemon), not only doesn’t help the conversation, it makes it worse. “I won’t rail against the evils of slavery (like a Wilberforce), but I will when its in my best interest.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=714771884 Rob Petersen

    To ignore the letter of Philemon when dealing with New Testament perspectives on slavery seems a little misguided to me, and to ignore what the Old Testament says in regard to how slaves were to be treated by their masters makes the argument posted above something I would not classify as Biblical. What abolitionists fought against here, in Great Britain, and elsewhere, was not so much a biblical perspective on slavery, but rather against the dehumanizing institution that colonial slavery had become.

    Now if you are going to argue that homosexuality today is different from the homosexuality that the Biblical authors spoke out against in their times, your argument would have a little more merit. (I suspect this is where you’re going.) However, it would still avoid the most problematic issue, which is Romans 1:24-32, where Paul points out that homosexual desire (among other things) is not the real problem, but a symptom of the real problem–God’s “giving over” of a culture that has turned its back on Him.

    This may sound horrible to some, but I don’t have a problem with the concept of slavery as it is presented in the Bible. When masters serve as protectors and caretakers, and love those whom serve them, and who seek to honor God in every relationship they have, slavery is not a problem. No matter how we try to slice it on the issue of homosexual behavior from a hermeneutical perspective, it’s very hard to say that endorsing the behavior is God-honoring.

    All this being said, the church has done a terrible job of presenting the good news to the community of those who practice homosexuality. It is so difficult to speak the truth in love that we often swing the pendulum from one extreme (or beyond) to the other. I look forward to what you offer as a solution to that problem. Blessings!

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    Yeah, I know that’s a hard thing to hear for many.

  • Michelle

    Not only will folks look back 150 years from now, but even NOW many Christians are looking towards pastors/churches who interpret the Bible as saying that homosexuality is a sin and think that you are like the pastors of 150 years ago with slavery (and this is one of the reasons the “Mosaics” age bracket is falling away from the church). Personally, while I can respect your personal interpretation of the Bible, it makes me cringe every time someone suggests that homosexuality is a sin.

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones


  • Steve

    The contextual picture I get is that of Paul advising how to make the best of the situation. Agreed, 150 years ago some in the south justified slavery on such passages, but verse 21b does note that “if you can gain your freedom, do so.”

    I’d say that the homosexual deal was then and is now a propensity toward a behavior of which the Bible speaks about. I wouldn’t deny that people feel a bent
    toward this behavior anymore than I’d deny a guy may feel a bent toward
    adultery, but the key is not giving into that temptation. I’d also say that we don’t have to wait 150 years as I know post-modern thinking Christians who think I’m just as bad as those slave owners because the LGBT agenda today is working feverishly to connect homosexuality desire with race.

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    Dave that’s a very good point. Two very different kinds of slavery.

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    No they didn’t have social and political power, but they certainly had no problem condemning social evils, which they certainly did not view slavery as one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daverichmond77 Dave Richmond

    The problem with slavery is that slavery under the colonial system is vastly different than slavery in the first century, and the word slavery conjures up different things for 21st century Americans than it did for first century Greeks. I’m not trying to justify it, but I do think the context makes a world of difference. Philemon is also a must read for the slavery issue in which Paul pleads to the conscience of Philemon to accept the run-away Onesimus back, not as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. In essence Paul was asking Philemon to set his brother in Christ free, which sets a precedence for the Christian attitude toward slavery.

    As for comparing it to homosexuality, you have rightly pointed out there is no scripture directly condemning slavery. But we do have scriptures that directly condemn homosexual behavior.

    You ask some valid questions Brian, questions I have wrestled with myself. These questions force us to think not only in the here and now, but in the future. How we treat and reach out to the homosexual community now will dictate how history portrays us 150 years from today. I look forward to part 2.

  • Timothy Burns

    Pastor Brian:

    I think you missed the point. The early church didn’t have any political or social power to change the issue of slavery, that doesn’t mean that the bible teaches that it’s OK. Jesus said that all men and women are equal. All are to be treated with respect, love, grace, and kindness. The OT says that if we don’t fight for the helpless, we are accountable for the injustice that we allow to continue. Additionally, in the OT, slaves were to be allowed to buy they way to freedom, and their indentured position to be erased every 50 years, during the year of Jubilee.

    It seems like the Bible has a lot to say about treating, and keeping people as slaves. A Christ-like character is incompatible with a social order that approves of slavery.

    For the early church Christ-follower, they didn’t have power to change the Roman govt or slavery which was a part of their culture. Additionally, Jesus said that a Christ-like character was not to rebel against authority and demand one’s own rights. Like Jesus, we are called to suffer injustice when it happens as a way, again, of displaying a Christ-like character. Then we are in a place where the Holy Spirit could work through us to change hearts, and ultimately affect the culture toward Christ one life at a time.

    As for those in a homosexual lifestyle,(by personal choice, by genetic abnormality, by events forced upon them, or by spiritual darkness working to destroy God’s creation) these men and women are loved by God. They are no different than other sinners held in the bonds of adultery, drunkenness, stealing, lying, pride, murderous rage, etc. The same social, cultural or spiritual forces drive all sin as a way of separating us from the healing love of our Savior, and God.

    Homosexuality has deeper roots, and broader social, emotionally developmental and psychological consequences. It is a complicated lifestyle. But sin is sin, and throughout the Bible, God is consistent in the message that all men and women who serve themselves rather than serve Christ have to hear, and want to avoid. God’s solution to sin is repentance which initiates healing, freedom and brings forgiveness and results in personal transformation. His solution to sin isn’t changing the standards to make the church appear more accepting of moral decay, regardless how popular or politically correct.

    If we look across the culture, many things that we were opposed to on a religious basis only 50 years ago are now accepted, including single parent homes, divorce and remarriage w/o consequences, social drunkenness and recreational drug use, to name a few.

    The question isn’t what will we think 150 years from now. The question is will we let the culture define Christ-centered living, or will we allow Christ to transform us so we can communicate the life changing, healing, redemptive message of grace to those lost in sin, regardless of their choices, or how they allow sin to dominate their lives? I choose the latter, do you?

  • http://www.BrianJones.com/ Brian Jones

    Maybe. But maybe not.

  • Nathanriedy

    Thank you. I struggle with this question all the time, and my sneaking suspicion is that this will indeed be another black spot on our record in the future. If not simply the sin part, then definitely the way we treat their pursuit of some kind of secular equality.