by Chris Beneteau
Some time ago, I had the misfortune of listening to Bill Maher plug his new book while he was a guest on Larry King Live. Mr. Maher is the host of politically incorrect and he has been an outspoken critique of organized religion. On this night he was in rare form. He made a number of completely ignorant statements and, as usual, Larry King did not challenge any of his assertions. Instead he lobbed softball after softball at Mr. Maher who proceeded to hit everything out of the park.
The fact that Bill Maher is considered by some to be an authority on the subject of religion is a joke. For this piece I will focus specifically on two things that Mr. Maher said. First, when asked about the gay marriage controversy, Mr. Maher responded by saying that Jesus didnt say anything about homosexuality. He then attempted to qualify his belief by saying that God couldnt be too concerned about homosexuality because "it isnt even a commandment." Mr. Maher is correct when he says that Jesus didnt explicitly condemn homosexual acts by name, but he is wrong if he thinks that Jesus didnt address the issue at all. Homosexuality and other sexual sins are explicitly condemned in many other books of the New Testament. It is for this reason that I have scoured the New Testament and have compiled a sort of Biblical primer on sexual immorality.
Before I get to the nasty details, I decided to set everything up by highlighting what our Lord says about His plan for marriage. After creating a woman as a companion for Adam our Lord says in Gen. 2:24, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two become one flesh." The term "one flesh" refers to both the procreative and unitive aspects of marriage. In the first story of creation, God blesses the male and female and exhorts Adam and Eve to, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen. 1:28). The creation of children is accomplished by the coming together of the opposite sexes in the marital embrace. Two gay men or two lesbians are biologically incapable of performing this function. Their sexual union is thus a fraud or a mockery in both form and function of what God has designed.
In Matthew 19:3 some Pharisees try to test Jesus and they ask Him, "May a man divorce his wife for any reason whatsoever." In response, Jesus reaffirms what was written in the book of Genesis and He quotes Genesis 2:24. Jesus then adds to this traditional teaching by saying, "Therefore let no man separate what God has joined." (Matt 19:6). This account of Jesus words is reaffirmed in Mark 10:2-12. There is nothing ambiguous in Christs teaching. Marriage is clearly reserved for one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others for life.
In Hebrews 13:4, Paul states, "Let marriage be honored in every way and the marriage bed be kept undefiled, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers." Homosexuals may be tempted to say that Paul does not specifically limit marriage to one man and one woman. This thought is quickly put to rest in Ephesians 5, where Paul addresses Christian wives and husbands. Wives are exhorted to honor their husbands headship and husbands are called to a Christ-like sacrificial love of their wives.
Now lets look at what Christ said about homosexuality. While there are no explicit condemnations of homosexuality emanating directly from the mouth of our Lord, He does say something that clearly exposes his feelings on the matter. In Matthew 10:15, Jesus tells his disciples what will happen to those who do not receive them or listen to what they say. "I assure you, it will go easier for the region of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than it will for that town." (Matt 10:15). Jesus repeats this warning when he addresses the impenitent towns. "If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Sodom it would be standing today. I will assure you, it will go easier for Sodom than for you on the Day of Judgment." (Matt 11:23-24). Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they committed the grave sin of sodomy. In fact the people were so depraved that our Lord could not even find ten innocent people in the city of Sodom. So unbridled was their lust that the men of that region would travel from house to house looking for more men to sodomize. They even refused Lots daughters as he offered them up as an alternative to the angels in disguise who were staying at Lots home.
Notice how our Lord does not say how severe the punishment was for Sodom and Gomorrah, he just says that the towns will be punished more severely. Since these towns were made up of the, "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt 10:6), Jesus would have assumed that most of the citizens would have been well aware of the serious punishment dished out to Sodom and Gomorrah. And just what was that punishment? In Genesis 19:24, we read that, "The Lord rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah." The fact that Jesus cites the ruin of Sodom and Gomorrah to give the rebellious Israelites a taste of what is to come if they do not reform is enough demonstrate what Jesus thought about homosexual behaviour. It only logically follows that he would not approve of homosexual marriage because it would be an endorsement of the behaviour that His Father so seriously punished.
Beyond this however, is it important that Jesus does not mention homosexual behaviour by name? Not really. Jesus does not mention a lot of sins. We can be sure that Jesus would not have approved of pedophilia even though he doesnt mention it specifically. The fact that he cites the ruin of Sodom and Gomorrah on two occasions would suggest that he didnt have to mention the sin of homosexual behaviour. It would have been common knowledge and would not have needed any clarification from the Saviour.
This may be a shock to Bill Maher, but the rest of the New Testament is explicit in its condemnation of homosexual behaviour along with numerous other sexual behaviours that are now considered normal or mainstream.
Listen to what Paul says about homosexuality as he discusses the punishment for idolatry. "God delivered them up in their lusts to unclean practices; they engaged in the mutual degradation of their bodies, these men who exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the creator. God therefore delivered them up to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and the men gave up natural intercourse with women and burned with lust for one another. Men did shameful things with men and thus received in their own persons the penalty for their perversity." (Rom. 1:24-28.) St. Jude brings Christs teaching full circle and says, "Sodom and Gomorrah and the towns thereabouts indulged in lust. They practiced unnatural vice. They are set before us to dissuade (i.e., warn) us, as they undergo a punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 1:7).
Next let us turn our attention to what scripture says about other forms of what Bill Maher would call sexual expression.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines lust as a disordered desire for or an inordinate enjoyment of sexual pleasure (2351). There is not a trace of ambiguity when Jesus says, "You have heard the commandment, you shall not commit adultery. What I say to you is: anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5:27-28). This is then reinforced by St. Paul in his letter to the Romans. Paul writes, "Let us live honorably as in daylight, not in sexual excess and lust. (Rom. 13:13). In Ephesians 5:5 St. Paul is even more forceful and adds that no lustful person will inherit the Kingdom of heaven.
One of the clearest examples of the disordered nature of lust occurs in the story of the death of John the Baptist. Herod was very uncomfortable with the fact that John spoke out forcefully against Herods illegitimate marriage to his brothers wife. Despite Herods illicit arrangement, he still found it in his heart to lust after Heriodias daughter, who performed a dance for him. We all know how the story ends. Herod had John beheaded in fulfillment of a promise he has made to Heriodias daughter before she danced for him. Think about it for a minute. Herods lust led him to commit murder. All sexual sins have their root in the sin of lust. Today the sin of lust leads to murder at a microscopic level (abortificient contraception) and at the level of a fully formed human being (abortion). It is also the root of fornication, adultery, incest, pedophilia and all other sexual perversions.
Fornication is defined in the catechism as the carnal union between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman (CCC, 2352). Jesus calls fornication an "evil design" that "makes a man impure." (Matt. 15: 19-20). In Mark 7:21, Jesus refers to fornication as one of many "wicked designs." Once again, St. Paul reiterates Christs teaching when he says to the Corinthians, "Every other sin a man commits outside his body, but the fornicator sins against his own body. (1 Cor. 6:18). Constantly on the lookout for a woman, theirs is a never-ending search for sin. (Pt. 2:14). And like the sin of lust, "no fornicator has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God." (Ep. 5:5). This sin provokes Gods wrath, so says St. Paul. (Col. 3:6).
Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations, they commit adultery (CCC 2380). As indicated earlier, John the Baptist was murdered because he spoke out against adultery. John told Herod, "It is not right for you to live with your brothers wife." (Mk. 6:18). Jesus reaffirms Johns understanding of the teaching by stating, "I now say to you, whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Matt. 19:9). Adultery, according to our Lord, "Comes from the deep recesses of the heart." (Mk. 7:21).
Liberals such as Mr. Maher are quick to tell Christians that they should not stand in judgment of anything. They love to cite scripture when they think that the citation in question gives their sin of choice some legitimacy. For example, they just love the quote from our Lord, "Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone." (Jn. 8:7). Liberals never however, put this citation in context. If we read a little further, Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery, "Go and sin no more." He doesnt say to her, "Keep right on sinning because no one has judged you." Adultery is obviously a serious sin, otherwise Jesus wouldnt have asked her to reform.
Finally there are a number of other sexual sins outlined in scripture that are not covered in this piece. They include sensuality, carousing, orgies and incest. (2 Pt. 4:3, 1 Tm. 1:10, 1 Cor. 6:9-10).
So there you have it folks. Bill Maher may have the ten-second sound bite on his side but he is sorely short on the facts. He has been so seduced by the spirit of the age that he calls good "evil" and evil "good". Men like Mr. Maher, "Talk empty bombast while baiting their hooks with passion, with the lustful ways of the flesh, to catch those who have just come free of a life of errors." (2 Pt. 2:18).
The Catholic Legate
June 11, 2004