Unchanging Witness: The Consistent Christian Teaching on Homosexuality in Scripture and Tradition by S. Donald Fortson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I am surprised this book has not gotten more publicity. It is a tour de force and exactly the type of academic work needed to help Christians stem the tide of sodomy in our churches. It is the best book I have read on what the church has taught about homosexuality down through the centuries.
Why did this book need to be written? The answer is the gay-Christian movement, which has leaned heavily on twisting Scripture and church history to fit their agenda. The goal of the gay-Christian movement is to get the church to accept practicing homosexuals as full members of Christ’s body. The authors make clear that goal is totally at odds with the teaching of the church since the beginning. At no point in time has the church taught that homosexuality was an acceptable practice for a Christian. This book proves that.
The book is divided into two main sections.
First the authors discuss the historic church’s position on sodomy from the church fathers until the present day. They deal extensively with primary sources, quoting from numerous men to prove that sodomy was never accepted. What is most striking about this are the penitential manuals from the early Middle ages (500 to 900 AD). These were manuals that described what type of penance needed to be paid for specific sins. Homosexuality was condemned by these manuals. The authors end this first section by describing various modern denominations and their capitulation to the homosexual agenda.
The second main section in the book is an extended discussion of specific texts in Scripture and what they teach about homosexuality. This includes Sodom, Leviticus 18, I Corinthians 6:9, and Romans 1:26-28. This also includes a discussion about Jewish views of sodomy, as well as Greco-Roman views of it. The authors take two chapters to discussion I Corinthians 6:9 and what that passage means. It is clear from their writing that the terms in I Corinthians 6:9 describe practicing homosexuals and soft men. They then take two chapters to discuss Romans 1:26-28. They list a lot sources outside of Scripture that show that “against nature” in Romans 1 means homosexuality. It does not mean a sub species of homosexuality, such homosexual temple prostitution or pedophilia. It is clear from both their exposition of Scripture and surrounding culture when the NT was written that homosexuality is exactly what Paul is condemning in Romans 1:26-28 and I Cor. 6:9. Also included in this last main section is a discussion of homosexual orientation in the NT era.
The authors quote a lot of primary sources from the ancient world. But they also interact with those writing for the gay-Christian movement including Jack Rodgers, Justin Lee, Mark Actemeier, David Gushee, John McNeill, and John Boswell. In other words, they have read the opponents.
This book is excellent and should be on every pastor’s shelf. I want to gather a few key points from reading this book.
First, nowhere in the history of God’s people has homosexual practice be acceptable for Christians.
Second, Paul and other writers were not condemning a particular form of homosexuality. This is one of the key arguments of the gay –Christian movement. They will argue that Paul is condemning pederasty, sex with boys. Or that he is condemning homosexual rape. But the sources cited by the authors make it clear that is not the case. Homosexuality in all its forms was condemned by the church.
Third, the ancient world understood that men could be born with orientation towards the same sex. They would often try to attribute it to astrology or mythology. But the world knew that some men and women were born with what we would call same sex orientation. They still condemned it.
Fourth, the teaching of Scripture is that sex in marriage between a man and a woman is the only acceptable form of sexual expression. Therefore everything else is condemned.
Fifth, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah has always been homosexuality. Failure to be hospitable might be part of the problem. But sodomy was always part of the problem.
The authors make this a gospel issue. They basically say that a church that says homosexual practice is fine is apostate and sending its members to Hell.
The final thing is they spend some time discussing Paul’s view of the transforming power of the Gospel in Romans and in other places. Why do they do that? The answer is that the church has come to believe that people cannot change.
There have been many popular books written on homosexuality, such as K. DeYoung’s. But this is an academic work that fills a void. This, along with Robert Gagnon’s The Bible and Homosexual Practice, effectively demolish the idea that Christianity and homosexual practice are compatible.
I have decided to give a reading scale for many of my books. 1 is an easy read, meant for most anyone who is literate. 5 is very difficult. This book is around a 4. It is a difficult read, but well worth your time.