EFCA Theology Conference Session 3 – Robert Gagnon

Jesus and Marriage – Robert Gagnon

Key Jesus Sex Text: Mark 10:2-12 (parallel is Matthew 19:3-9)

Learning from Jesus: A Back-to-Creation Model

  • Jesus declared Gen 1:27 and 2:24 to be the model for marriage
  • For Jesus, marriage isn’t something for humans to tinker with
  • Jesus emphasizes the “twoness” of a sexual bond
  • Prohibits both a revolving door of divorce/remarriage, implicitly polygamy
  • Where does Jesus get this number “two”
  • Gen 1:27, Gen 2:24, what do these 2 verses share in common: the union consists of a man and a women. Two sexes designed by God for a sexual union.
  • Twoness of the sexes is the foundation for the twoness of the sexual bond
  • Confirmation: Qumran’s basis for rejecting polygamy
  • S the twoness of the sexes is the basis for the twoness of the sexual bond

Three Corollaries to Jesus’ Back to Creation Model

  1. OT Law does not always reflect God’s perfect will
  • Many people think Jesus is increasing the permissions of marriage, Jesus is doing the opposite and actually making it more rigid
  • Jesus unilaterally amended the constitution of Israel
  • Moses made a concession to male “hardness of heart”
  • Jesus worked toward a more rigorous sexual ethic, closing off remaining loopholes
  1. Jesus repudiated inequities toward women, but in which direction?
  • In early Judaism, a man could commit adultery only against another woman’s husband
  • What Jesus did not do is give women the same sexual license that men had
  • Instead, he bound men to the same high standard as women
  1. A homosexual relationship is worse than a polygamous one
  • Jesus regarded a male-female prerequisite as foundational for sexual ethics
  • That obviously precludes a homosexual relationship

Further evidence of Jesus’ rejection of Homosexual Practice

  1. Nine other arguments
  • Jesus’ retention of the Law of Moses (Scripture) generally
  • Jesus’ intensification of the Law’s sex ethic (adultery of the heart, divorce)
  • John the Baptist’s strong stance on sex laws
  • Early Judaism united opposition
  • The early church’s united opposition
  • Jesus saying about the defiling effect of desires for porneia (Mark 7:21-23)
  • Jesus on the Decalogue adultery prohibition (Mark 10:17-22)
  • Jesus’ saying about Sodom (Matt 10:14-15; Luke 10:10-12)
  • The “born eunuchs” statement (Matt 19:10-12)
  1. Why then did Jesus not speak directly against homosexual practice?
  • No need to, the Hebrew Scriptures already clearly established man-male intercourse as a grave offense
  • No Jew is known to have engaged in homosexual practice in the period, it wasn’t happening. It would have been a waste of Jesus’ time
  • What then is the meaning of Jesus’ silence on homosexual practice? Same thing as his silence on bestiality

Jesus on Divorce and Remarriage

  1. Prohibiting remarriage after divorce
  • Matt 5:32, Luke 16:18, Mark 10:11-12, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
  • If a man divorces his wife on invalid grounds would mean that the marriage is still intact in God’s eyes, so if the man remarries he is committing adultery by having sex with a woman other than his wife
  1. The hardest case: A woman invalidly divorced
  • She’s the victim of a divorce, yet if she remarries she is committing adultery, again the main part is if the marriage is still intact

Learning from Jesus: Other Principles

  1. Sex ethic distinct from love command
  • If these are the same, if we truly loved everyone we should be having sex with everyone. Jesus said to love everyone, but have sex with only 1 person
  1. A strong interior component to sexual ethics
  • He wants not only external but internal obedience
  1. Sexual ethics as a life-and-death matter (Matt 5:29-30, John 8:3-11)
  2. A heightened ethical demand coupled with a loving outreach to violators
  • Jesus is asking us to do both
  • The parallel of tax collectors and sexual sinners – Jesus reached out to both of these groups – outreach to those in greatest danger
  1. Jesus on the love commandment, rebuke and forgiveness, the Good Samaritan
  • Love your neighbor as yourself, a true understanding of love is not about you, it’s about correcting a friend who is straying
  • Rebuking and forgiveness Luke 17:3-4
  1. The ends of marriage
  • Procreation (Gen 1:27-28)
  • Companionship and sexual enjoyment (Gen 2:18_
  • The highest objective of marriage is not even companionship, but Jesus’ insistence on marital indissolubility, based on the 2 becoming 1, is the key
  • Marriage is God’s instrument for reuniting male and female into an integrated sexual whole
  • God designed marriage for shaping two into one
  • Sexual activity sets in motion a reality beyond the individual’s control

EFCA Theology Conference 2013

Just so those who are reading are aware, I’m simply posting the notes I’ve taken from the various sessions. I’ll do my best to keep it succinct and edited, but I’m sure there will be typos and errors. I’m doing my best to keep up with the speakers and track the main content. I hope you find it helpful!

EFCA Theology Conference Session 2 – Stanton Jones

Science and the Morality of Homosexual Conduct – Stanton L. Jones

Major challenges to traditional view

  • Call to love and acceptance
  • Supposed silence of Scripture
  • “New ethical truth” (e.g. Gentiles, divorce)
  • Spirituality among gays
  • New truth from Science

Why engage science? Two divergent Christian Motivations

  • As an exercise in Natural Theology or Natural Ethics

Presumes: Reason can lead to a consensus ethic apart from Revelation

Method: Inductive

Goal: Establish homosexual conduct as wrong (or right) via reason

  • As an Apologetic Defense of Revealed Ethic.

Presumes: Science and Ethics are not disconnected but relationship is complex

Method: Review science on science’s terms; examine logic of application of science to moral question

  • Does science prove (or validate) natural ethics?
  • Does science disprove (or invalidate) natural ethics?

Challenging “Scientific” Assertions

  • Being gay is as healthy as being straight
  • Sexual orientations is a biological determined variable, no moral issue
  • Sexual orientation cannot be changes
  • Homosexual relationships are equivalent to heterosexual
  • Identity is properly rounded in sexual orientation

To respond to claims of “Science says…” we must

  • Ascertain the real finding of science and critique with great care
  • Examine carefully the logic by which the findings of science are applied to the moral question.

Quote from “Gay Fruit Flies” 6/05

  • “Science is closing the door on right-wing distortions” they go from fruit flies to social policy.
  • Critique: well, humans aren’t fruit fly, their reproductive pattern is very influenced by their genetics, but has no application to human sexual reproduction. When the gay fruit flies were placed with heterosexual fruit flies they all started basically a conga line of gay fruit fly sex, showing it is more environmental than genetic

Great Weakness of Homosexuality Research

  • Inability to identify a representative sample of GLB persons
  • Statistical infrequency contributes to this problem
  • Further compounded by definitional issues “who counts?”
  • Leads to severe problems with “volunteer bias”

Etiology of Homosexuality: Biologically-Determined, right?!?

  • Newsweek article: Is This Child Gay? Focused on 2 studies: A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men: compared the brain structures of gay and straight men.

Background on Brain Studies:

  • There ahs been a pattern of publicized findings that have never been replicated
  • Brain differences may or may not be genetic
  • Brain differences may be either cause or effect of behavioral/psychological differences
  • Hypothalamus regulates some sexual behavior
  • LeVay reported that the INAH3 of heterosexual females was significantly smaller


  • Classification: subjects presumed heterosexual unless explicitly noted in medical files
  • Many subjects, heterosexual, and homosexual died of AIDS
  • Many had been treated with adrenergic drugs: influence on brains? (testosterone like drugs)
  • Reports circulated for years of failures to replicate.

William Byne (2000, 2001)

  • Careful sampling
  • Replicated that the INHA3 of heterosexual females is smaller than heterosexual males
  • Homosexual males to be intermediate between heterosexual males in INAH3, not significantly different than either
  • Found homosexual and heterosexual males to have the same number of neurons in INAH3
  • “Sexual orientation cannot be reliably predicted by size of INAH3 alone

Behavioral Genetics

  • The closer genetic relationship the closer psychologically they will be

Bailey and Pillard (1991) found males

  • Identical Twins – 52% concordance (29/56)
  • Fraternal twins – 22% concordance
  • Nontwin brothers – 9% concordance
  • Adopted brothers – 11 % concordance
  • Bailey actually found 56 gay individuals
  • He got a volunteer bias sample
  • Refuted study in 2000 in Australian twin registry
  • Of 27 twin pairs total, 3 pairs of twins were gay
  • His subsequent study got not public media

Direct hormonal effect on gender characteristics model

XY -> SRY -> testes -> Hi T -> Masculinization

XX -> no SRY -> ovaries -> Lo T -> Feminization

Been argued that this idea is too simplistic

/ epi-marks = T hypersens \

XY -> SRY -> testes -> Hi T -> Masculinization

/ epi-marks = T hypersens \

XX -> no SRY -> ovaries -> Lo T -> Feminization


  • No direct evidence for it
  • Directly reliant on assumption that male homosexuality is transmitted through mother and female homosexuality transmitted through the male, neither solidly proven
  • Counts on corroboration from data showing greater fecundity of relatives of Gays & Lesbians actual data quite mixed
  • Assumes pure biological programming of sexual preference

Etiology of Homosexuality: no evidence of non-biological causes, right?!?

  • Bearman & Bruckner (2002)
    • Group with highest rate of homosexual boys is one who was born with a twin sister. Condition that wiped this effect out was when there was an older brother in the family.
    • Frisch & Hviid (October 2006)
    • “Childhood family correlates of heterosexual and homosexual marriages: A national cohort study of two million Danes”

You find in conservative Christian circles that biology does not contribute: it does, everything contributes to this.

We always have to ask moral questions about the human condition

The Question of Change: Unchangeable, right?!?

  • “Change of behavior is always possible. God holds people responsible for their actions (which they choose) not their proclivities (many of which they do not choose)”
  • Dozens of studies have been published that change is possible.
  • Jones and Yarhouse (2007, 2011) Ex-Gays?

Two Key Issues:

  • Is change possible?
  • Is it harmful?

So: some people can change and the change is not intrinsically harmful

What are we do to?

  • Manifest Love
  • Live the truth

EFCA Theology Conference 2013

Today I will be traveling down to Denver for the 2013 EFCA Theology Conference on the topic of Human Sexuality. The denomination always tries to do hot topic issues that are going on in the culture and this year is sexuality. I’ll be doing my best to live blog the speakers as they finish for those who are not able to go to the conference themselves. I’m very much looking forward to hearing all these issues and as always, I love being able to connect with other pastors in the free church. Be praying as it begins today at 1:10 Mountain Time – a couple of the speakers have already had to cancel their trip out to Denver with health issues, thankfully they’ll be able to Skype in.