Shearing a Wolf’s Wool

Lots of writers do lots of write-y things with words. Some of them are good, some are bad, and some are just plain evil. The ones that are hard to detect are what the Bible calls “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” These are leaders, thinkers, and wordsmiths who cloak lies in truth-y language. However, once we learn the rules of solid biblical interpretation, the wolves lose their wool.

Once such wolf is Morgan (MA) Guyton. He writes at various places on liberal “Christian” issues, often twisting text after text to suit an agenda. In other pieces, he denounces the importance of a theological faith and decries belief in penal substitution. He also likes to twist the Bible to defend homosexuality.

Tuesday, Guyton posted “Six scriptures I would use to address Kevin DeYoung’s 40 questions for rainbow flag-waving Christians,” a sort of response to the aforementioned first piece by Rev. DeYoung. He first lauds other pro-sodomy responders (leaving out this excellent response by Douglas Wilson) before launching into his torturing of six biblical texts. 

This is the Word of God, let me remind you, that Guyton is handling. Let all the beasts of the field be silent before Him. We’ll take them in Guyton’s ordering, but with a more open Bible and a less “open” mind:

1.  Matthew 9:13: “Go and find out what this means: ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’”

As will become a theme in our examination of these texts, Guyton has conveniently taken this one out of context. In Jesus’ quote of Hosea 6:6, He addresses the Pharisees’ fear of contamination around obvious sinners. True enough, and Guyton is right to call for association with and around sinners:

If Jesus’ interpretation of Hosea 6:6 summarizes God’s basic demand for humanity, which I think it does, then what God most wants from us is our radical hospitality for other people, not our willingness to make sacrifices to show how much we “glorify” him.

But this is what makes wolves so hard to spot: Guyton implies that this “mercy” removes the naming of sin as sin. But Jesus doesn’t shy away from naming these obvious sins; He never does. This is part of His “mercy.” A quick trip back to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) or ahead to His diatribe against divorce (Matthew 19) shows us just how serious sexual immorality is to Jesus, and how seriously He loves us out of those sins.

Homosex is no less than, but is equal to and worse than, other forms of sexual immorality. It is serious enough that Jesus gave His own blood to save us from (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Hosea 6-7 has a more colorful explanation in the near context, one which Guyton conveniently forgets. In 6:5, God says He has already “hewn them [Ephraim and Judah] by the prophets… slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light.” God has already delivered the law to His disobedient Israel, and judged them for it. How did they disobey? He calls their temple a place of “whoredom..defiled” in 6:10, and names them all “adulterers” in 7:4. Clearly, sexual immorality is in view.

What Jesus means then, in desiring mercy to sinners and not sacrifice, is that we are wrong when we think removing ourselves from others’ pain and sin looks good to God. This sinful arrogance is no holiness. What He doesn’t mean is that holiness is of no issue, or that there are no more sins. “Mercy,” Mr. Guyton, does not mean the removal of law or of repentance.

Jesus is the most supremely merciful human being (and God) to ever live, and he both ate with these sinners and called them to repentance from their very real, very present sins (parallel in Luke 5:32). In other words, sodomy is still wrong under this text.

2. Genesis 2:18: “It is not good that the man should be alone.”

Here Guyton begins more subtle appeals to the prima facie position that homosexuality is natural, normal, and allowable. He picks a doozy of a text to work from, the very place where God gives the man a woman for special companionship. After quickly tossing aside the creation account as “allegorical story” rather than “historical event,” Guyton is free to interpret as he pleases. He sees the main point of the text not as God giving himself glory, but rather “to provide the man with companionship.” Conveniently, to Guyton, the gender of said companion matters not. He then clarifies his meaning:

Now it’s true that our culture’s idolatry of marriage and the nuclear family (largely orchestrated by evangelical Christianity) has left us with a very diminished imagination for how companionship and community can occur between people, but if we’re using Genesis 2:18 as a moral guide for us, then it’s not good for gay people to be alone just so that fundamentalists can have an easier time interpreting their Bibles.

Notice the lengthy ad hominem against evangelicals. In other words, it is a bad historical tradition, not this text, that teaches one man-one woman marriage. But to say that this passage even allows for Adam-to-Adam companionship in marriage is to make an argument against the text. 

And talk about out of context! Guyton doesn’t even finish the verse, let alone the rest of the chapter. This is deception of a supreme grade. What the text says next (!!!) is that God “makes” a “helper fit for him [Adam].” None of those words are accidental.

What actually happens in the biblical text is that God gives the man a companion, who is specifically and importantly a woman. God even fits her for him. This is no accidental connection in the text. One man-one woman marriage is the precise application of this text according to verse 24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

“Man, his, his, his wife, one flesh.” These are all words Guyton has excised from his “bible” in lieu of a more palatable interpretation. This is precisely what wolves do.

3. Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath.”

The context of Mark 2 shows that Jesus is discussing what is good and lawful for the Sabbath. The Pharisees (to Guyton, these are often Bible-believing evangelicals, as we will see) charge Jesus with law-breaking. So he jumps to proof-texting:

This is precisely where the fault-line is between Christians like me and the fundamentalists. They need for there to be some Biblical laws that have no other explanation than “because God said so” or “for the sake of God’s glory.” If every law has an explanation in terms of its benefits for humanity, they think it takes away God’s sovereignty and leaves us with nothing more than secular humanism.

This seems like quite a leap. To Gutyon, if Jesus says the Sabbath is for humanity, then all of our understandings of God’s laws are also thrown out the window! 

The problem is that the author again “forgets” the second half of even one thought: “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” The point isn’t that Jesus is a LGBTQ-approving humanist; the point is that He rules and reorients everything to Himself. This has always been the point of marriage (see Genesis 2 in Ephesians 5, for instance), Mosaic law (the “tutor to Christ” in Galatians 3), and our bodies in general (Genesis 1:27f referenced in 1 Corinthains 6:20).

Apparently Guyton is uncomfortable here with translating the word anthropos as “man,” but that’s a separate – though related – line of questioning.

4. Romans 14:14: “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.”

It’s hard to get more ridiculous than #2, but this one sure does try. The text speaks of church members arguing over food (14:2) and day-observance (14:5f). The “nothing in itself is unclean” doesn’t refer to sexual license, because Paul summarizes it as “eating and drinking” in verse 17. 

Guyton doesn’t think so: 

Nothing is unclean in itself, but many things are unclean because of how our mind covets idols instead of God.

In Guyton’s terms, as long as we can maintain “our attentiveness to the presence of God in our lives and our ability to experience the bliss of union with Christ,” anything is permissible. Christian experience (Theme alert!) is the new rule of faith, not Scripture. If you can say you still love and experience God, Guyton teaches, go lay with anyone – man, woman, child, relative, animal – you please.

That might sound overstated, but it’s exactly the outcome of Guyton’s teaching.

5. 1 Corinthians 7:32, 35: “I want you to be free from anxieties… I say this for your own benefit not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.”

The soft wool of a wolf is when he says he follows sheep-flavored rules of interpretation. So Guyton nods along, “The best way to build a sexual ethic from the apostle Paul’s teachings is to look at Paul’s explicit rationale when he is directly offering prescriptive teaching about sexuality (1 Corinthians 7).” The problem is that this text isn’t the chair text; Ephesians 5 is. Ephesians 5 is gives the highest and clearest meaning to marriage: the glory of Jesus Christ in the church, His bride, a whore made a glorious woman. This text is driven by questions from the Corinthian church (7:1), but that still doesn’t allow it to be queerly twisted.

Guyton disagrees: “I believe that any Christian conversation about sexuality should use 1 Corinthians 7 as a foundation.” Thus, the author’s willful inattention to Ephesians 5 is why he can write things like: 

When Paul talks to the Corinthians directly about sex, he doesn’t say that marriage is the way that they will show the world how Christ loves the church or anything like that. He offers marriage as a “concession, not a command” (1 Corinthians 7:6) “because of cases of sexual immorality” (v. 2). In 1 Corinthians 7, marriage is fundamentally a question of social pragmatism.

with a straight face. Paul doesn’t teach that marriage is the paradigm for Christ’s love for the church?!? Have you lost Ezekiel 16, Hosea 1-3, Ephesians 5, and Revelation 19 from your “bible,” Mr. Guyton? What utter nonsense.

In a separate post on the same text, Guyton elaborates: 

So to me, the burden of proof for a Christian who wants to maintain an opposition to homosexuality is to demonstrate why and how monogamous same-gendered sexual intimacy clutters people with anxiety, contradicts good community order, or hinders devotion to God. These are not just proof-texts; they are more than speculative translations of obscure Greek words or mentions in passing of what Paul thinks is “unnatural.” They are reliable ethical principles for a community’s sexuality that Paul presents as such.

There is no “burden of proof for a Christian who wants to maintain an opposition to homosexuality,” and, even if there were one, it certainly isn’t demonstrating how sodomy is bad for our minds, communities, or personal faith experience. The place to look, Mr. Guyton, is in Scripture. Lots of texts, omitted from your false exposition, speak clearly.

Furthermore, say this text, however, even allows homo-practice is to make yet another argument from silence, and a particularly obvious one. Paul covers the gamut of known, lawful situations for marriage and for singleness. He nowhere covers sodomy, because it isn’t in his purview of Christian marital or singleness arrangements. In this text, that might sound like an argument from silence, except that he makes it quite plain in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6. 1 Corinthians, in case he lost his place, is in the chapter immediately before. 

6. Matthew 25:40 “Just as you have done to the least of my brethren, you have done for me.”

Here comes an appeal to pity. Guyton calls this verse an extension of Hosea 6:6 (dealt with in #1 above), summarizing with, “The way that we honor God’s sovereignty insofar as queer people are concerned is by treating the queer people in our lives as though they are Jesus and asking them to pray that Jesus would live in our hearts also.” He again conveniently “forgets” the context.

The context of Matthew 25:31-48, the famed “Sheep and Goats” passage, is the professing church. Note that the kingdom is prepared for the sheep “from the foundation of the world” (25:34) and that the sheep loving, feeding, and housing the poor is done to “My brothers” (25:40). “Queer” people, to use Guyton’s term, are excluded until they repent (1 Cor. 6:9-11). So this text doesn’t work for that purpose.

Secondly, the goats are the ones who refuse to love Christians (25:41-48) and go to “eternal punishment” (25:46). Unrepentant homosexuals hate the Word of God, and, if they do come to a “Christian” “church”, either hate Him actively, or hate Him implicitly by remaking Him in their own image.

It is a lie, a dirty, dirty trick, to use this text to promote loving homosexuals apart from repentance, when their very lack of repentance is the warning for which this passage was written. In other words, unloving, unrepentant LGBTQ men and women, whether they attend “church” or not, are goats. They are not sheep, not brothers; the unrepentant are goats.

Concluding Questions for Mr. Guyton…

  1. What does “call sinners to repentance” mean in Luke 5:32? Did Jesus call sexually immoral sinners, like the prostitute, to turn away from sexual immorality, or not?
  2. What bearing do Genesis 2:18b (which you forgot in your exposition) and the end of the passage (2:24-25) have on your interpretation of Genesis 2:18a?
  3. Does the Sabbath being made for man mean that sodomy was made for man? If so, how does sodomy picture Christ and His church, as taught plainly in Ephesians 5?
  4. Does Romans 14:14 also teach that bestiality is permissible for Christians, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their experience of God and the bliss of union with Christ?
  5. If a believing community were to approve of consensual incest, would this be permissible under your interpretation of Paul’s sexual ethics from 1 Corinthians 7?
  6. What does the phrase “My brothers” mean in Matthew 25:40? What about in places like Matthew 12:50 and Matthew 18:21f? Could it possibly mean “everyone” in any of those passages?
  7. What place does the word “repentance” have in any of these texts? How exactly is sodomy not a sin to be repented of?

…and a Charge

Mr. Guyton, if you can write things like, “When I use these criteria [1 Cor. 7], I find pedophilia, incest, polygamy, bestiality, promiscuity, pornography, and adultery to be out of bounds, while monogamous straight and gay companionship are legitimate,” then you are a wolf without question. I am praying for your very soul as I write this, and these words are surely harsh. I pray the Lord waken you from death in your sins. He is life, He is truth, He is good. Repent of your unbelief in His Word, the person of His Son, and turn to Him.

But if you will not repent, please at least be honest with your family, church, ministry, and writing audience that you do not believe the Bible on its own terms. Resign from whatever posts you have that are associated with Christ, and stop trampling His name to advance your unbelieving interpretations.

You are tearing at the body of Jesus, for whom He gave His life. He will not take it lightly on the last day.

Help for Preaching Christ in the Old Testament

Jesus Christ is all over the Old Testament. He said so Himself many, many times.

But sometimes we have a hard time seeing it. We prefer to preach moralistic, legalistic, or self-help messages out of the Old Testament, leaving the “gospel” messages to come from the New.

The leaders of the Gospel Coalition pray and work for that to change. To that end, they have an entire subheading on their site called “Preaching Christ from the Old Testament,” replete with commentary helps, articles, and sample sermons to help you, your pastor, and your church teach the gospel faithfully from every page of Scripture. Here is a sample from their Leviticus page, with Christ-centered sermons from Leviticus by pastors like Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, and Ligon Duncan.

The Gospel Coalition also recommends BibleMesh for the same purposes, and pastors can sign up for free.

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