If you haven’t kept up with the Jennifer Knapp on Larry King Live ordeal, you can watch the entire exchange and a little bit of commentary here. The purpose of this post is not to develop an entire biblical theology of sexuality or to comprehensively develop the biblical view. Rather, I want to operate under the assumption that the Bible is inspired/inerrant and that both homosexual desire and homosexual acts are both displeasing to God. The purpose, then, is to help us see the “tricks” of those who want to discredit God’s Word and to equip us to navigate our way through such attacks in a manner that speaks to the heart.
In light of that purpose, the past two Sunday’s I’ve preached on John 7:1-24, where we saw that that the world hates Jesus, called him crazy in an attempt to discredit the truth, and even attempted to kill him, simply because he confronted them about their personal sin.
The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. – 7:7, words of Jesus
In this same context, then, Jesus tells these unbelievers that that their problem is a moral one; they do not want to submit to God and His will. He says,
If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
Piper writes this concerning this verse,
Jesus is saying that the basic reason why people do not own up to the truth of what he teaches is not that they lack sufficient evidence, but that their wills—or we could say their hearts—are against God. The fundamental problem is not intellectual but moral. The great obstacle to recognizing the truth of Christ is not deficient resources but deep rebellion against God. People cannot see and recognize the truth of Christ’s teaching because the prevailing tendency of their will is insubordination against the authority of God.
Jesus is not physically present on the earth today; He rose and ascended to heaven. However, the rejection and persecution that He received is now received by the Church, his body upon the earth (cf. Acts 9:4). I think the Jennifer Knapp interview on Larry King Live demonstrates the tactics that the world and its god will try to use against the truth and true believers, just like they tried against Jesus.
These fall under two categories — discrediting both message and messenger.
Ad Hominem with intent to discredit the messenger. How many times did Jennifer resort to sarcasm and questioning the motives of the evangelical pastor?
You do not know me, and don’t have the right to speak to me in the manner which you have publicly.
Notice the irony here? She accuses Botsford of judging her!
Twisting the Truth with intent to discredit the message. Naturally, she goes right after the Bible with a strategy that was first used in the Garden of Eden by Satan himself, “Has God really said?” She tries to explain that because the Bible was originally written in Greek and Hebrew that we can’t be certain about the translation of it, while simultaneously calling the Scripture, “sacred text!”
There are a lot of well-studied academics — both believers and seekers of God and those who are just purely trying to understand what the sacred text means to all of us — that really put question on how we’ve interpreted the words, what is it malikos and arsenokitai. There are two Greek words that we have substituted in our English language as homosexuality, which didn’t actually exist in my understanding of a lot of Greek language experts in the manner in which we use it.
Seemingly drawing upon the work of John Boswell, she tries to argue that the two Greek words in question don’t really refer to homosexuality. She doesn’t really understand the issue; however, the simple presence of the controversy is all she needs in a fast-moving venue like Larry King Live, and her mission of discrediting the authority and clarity of the Word is completed in many hearts and minds of listeners.The problem, though, with this approach is that it ignores the larger context and general thrust of biblical teaching. The biblical case that homosexuality is a sin is not bound up in simply the meaning of these two words; the case is much, much larger. The words in question are not even used in Romans 1, which is the clearest biblical case, and especially not in Leviticus, which is written in Hebrew!
If that weren’t enough, in response to Pastor Botsford’s assertion that the Scriptures are inspired, she attacks the idea of an inspired text of Scripture; she says,
Am I not inspired by God because I am filled with love for you, for my partner, for my family?
Does she really want us to believe that she is inspired in the same sense that the Scriptures are? But she continues and calls the text “mysterious” over and over again. Are mysterious themes developed in the Bible? Absolutely. But what has been plainly revealed is ours to obey, not to discount.
What to do?
The most powerful apologetic in this situation is to speak the Word of God for the glory of God, apart from self-interest.
Jennifer, at one point, tried to make this a game of superior morality. She said,
So, why are we — why am I — why aren’t you in this seat and I’m in the other seat condemning you on national television?
The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. – John 7:18
In situations like these, then, we must insist that we are not speaking on our own authority, but that we are simply reiterating what God has already said. Botsford tried to do this — simply getting back to the Bible and grounding his position upon it.
We must not stop there, though, for the Word of God itself can be communicated by the messenger in such a fashion that it still communicates that we have personal glory to be gained from its acceptance and truthfulness. If we want to be a miserable failure (Botsford wasn’t) in our witness for and defense of Christ and his gospel, then we must talk about how morally exemplary we are and pretend that we are intellectually superior as well. We must allow the gospel to shape our apologetical speech and redeem it from the baseness of the genre called argumentation. May God give us grace in these situations to speak about the badness of our personal sin while simultaneously speaking about how big and costly the perfect sacrifice was.
If I wanted others to think highly of me, I would conceal the fact that a shameful slaughter of the perfect Son of God was required that I might be saved…Indeed, the most humiliating gossip that could ever be whispered about me is blared from Golgotha’s hill; and my self-righteous reputation is left in ruins in the wake of its revelations.
We strip our message of our own glory and self-interest when we focus our message upon Jesus Christ and him crucified for our pathetic, sinful selves.