Local Church Sports Ministry and Gender Issues
The blogs in this series are excerpts from Dr. Linville’s yet to be released book. They explore the realities occurring in local church Sports Outreach Ministries in relationship to an evolving culture and shifting trends within sport, The Church and society in general. This blog examines Leviticus chapters 18 & 20 as they specifically relate to homosexual activity and same gender marriage. The end goal of this Biblical exegesis is to aide local church Sports & Recreation Ministers comprehend, and proactively structure, their outreaches with theological clarity, relational love and cultural sensitivity to all involved.
The process for this series of blogs consists primarily of reviewing the work of others (scholars, apologists, preachers, thinkers) in reference to the selected passages and articulating the relevant issues with an end goal of encouraging readers to study the resources listed below and draw conclusions that can assist them in conceptualizing and implementing a Christ-honoring sports outreach ministry that is relevant, sensitive and loving.
Leviticus 18 & 20
The difference in opinion continues between the revisionist and traditionalist camps. This time it is focused on the interpretation of Chapters 18 & 20 of the book of Leviticus.
The revisionist view states the Leviticus passages are not relevant to today because they were part of a “holiness code” that only applied to the specific time and culture of ancient Judaism. In addition, this view stresses the overall message communicated in “holiness code” has more to do with perceiving God than sexuality. Those offering this view also downplay the emphasis on the word “abomination” when it is uniquely applied in both of the Leviticus passages to homosexual sin. The revisionist believes abomination is also used to describe an action or activity restricted to a specific time and place, and are, highly offended when it is wrongly (often mean-spiritedly) used to egregiously harm well-meaning homosexuals. One point of divergence from prior points of the revisionist argument has to do with the absence of one of the main planks in the ongoing case to prove the biblical defense of homosexual activity. Prior (and yet to come) passages which deal with homosexual activity have been interpreted by revisionists to state the biblical condemnations only apply to violent homosexual rape, not loving and respectful homosexual activity and relationships. In regards to this, revisionists are demonstrating prudence in their biblical interpretation because neither the Leviticus verses nor their context warrants such a rendering.
The traditional view offers a decidedly different perspective. Traditionalists agree with revisionists that the holiness code found in Leviticus 17.1-27.34 is ultimately more about God than sexuality. However, they strongly disagree with the revisionist view that the holiness code should be thus relegated to an ancient time and summarily dismissed. They believe revisionist’s views are based upon poor biblical interpretation and fallacious logic. Traditionalists argue the holiness code is very much concerned with how God perceives and prescribes many things, including sexuality; and it is both foundational and relevant for Christian ethics for all time, not just ancient Judaism. Furthermore, traditionalist point out the vital significance of the holiness code is affirmed by the harsh punishments (including at points, death) for not following the code. This view also very strongly disagrees with the interpretation of the word abomination, showing how it is uniquely associated with both verses concerning homosexual sin and moreover, how beyond the passages in question, it is used throughout the bible in conjunction with particularly disturbing sin, including homosexual sin. To these and other relevant points, Kevin DeYoung’s discussion of the Leviticus verses is very convincing.
Identifying the Issues
When this section of scripture is added to the two previous passages (The Creation Narratives and Genesis 19) the result is decidedly in the traditionalist’s favor. The revisionist’s “arduous uphill battle” has been dealt a significant blow. A blow that could only be overcome by a decisive counter found in the teachings of Christ and/or the Apostles or a compelling a priori. The overwhelming weakness of the revisionist view is in at least two areas: a) it summarily dismisses the entire holiness code as being irrelevant for any other time and culture than ancient Judaism; and b) the traditionalist view also points out there is nothing in these chapters which could be construed as justifying a loving, consensual homosexual activity as compared to condemning violent homosexual rape which has been a large part of the revisionist argument up to this point. However, there are still a few important passages needing to be interpreted and the consideration of the afore-mentioned a priori before a final assessment can be made. Then, there is the still further journey on how to apply the interpretations and assessments in sensitive and loving ways within a local church Sports Outreach Ministry.
Next week’s blog will begin to explore Romans Chapter 1.
This blog is an excerpt from Dr. Linville's yet to be released book. All rights reserved. For any reproduction right, including copying, computer reproduction, etc. contact:
Dr. Greg Linville at CSRM International C/O The World Outreach Center 5350 Broadmoor Circle N. W. Canton, Ohio – USA 44709 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Other blogs and articles on Local Church Sports, sports theology and ethics written by Dr. Greg Linville are archived at: www.csrm.org
A Plea For Grace
This set of blogs discusses the most socially charged issue of the current day. The author seeks truth; desires to provide both questions and answers to further the discussion; engage in civil discourse; and most importantly provide a haven for love and grace. I encourage all readers to: “know your mind, but not have your mind made up.” As Martin Luther stated, I believe we should be open to being persuaded by Holy Scripture and evident reason (logic). I start by asking for grace when I don’t use the right term to describe something or someone, and I plead for forgiveness when I offend someone due to my own fallen nature which may lead to unintentional insensitivity, ignorance or hurtful language. My intent is not to hurt or injure anyone, but rather, it is to seek Christ’s will for all of us who are attempting to follow Jesus as we travel this path together.
Recommended Books & References consulted for this series of Blogs – A select list…
Dr. Greg Linville was one of the founding members of CSRM and has served as the Executive Director since 2000. He served for 15 years as a local church sports and recreation minister and coached over 30 years at the junior high, high school and collegiate levels as well as 30 years in rec. leagues. Dr. Linville has consulted with churches from Australia, Africa, Asia, Australia, Caribbean, Europe, New Zealand and North America. He was awarded the world's first honorary Doctorate in Sports Ministry and holds an earned Doctorate as well. He is the author of Christmanship: The Theology of Competition & Sport. Dr. Greg has been married for over 35 years, is the father of two married children and the grandfather of a growing number of grandchildren.