Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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John David Clark, Sr.
Over a 16-year period, to various groups and in several community colleges, I have taught the Old Testament. One of the events that consistently makes my students ask questions is Israel’s failure to slaughter the Canaanites as God had told them to do, when they took the land of Canaan. His command, given to Israel by Moses before his death, was both straightforward and stern. “When the Lord thy God shall bring you into the land [of Canaan] . . . thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them. Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them. Neither shalt thou make marriages with them . . . Ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and burn their graven images with fire.” The commandment was clear, and it was repeated often. God even explained to Israel why they were to slaughter every person and animal of the land of Canaan. In the Law of Moses, the Lord provided Israel with a detailed list of acts which God considered immoral and unacceptable. One long list of grossly immoral deeds can be found in Leviticus, chapter eighteen. In that chapter, God forbids acts of homosexuality, incest, infidelity, and bestiality. God spoke plainly to His people. He defined these acts in blunt terms. He wanted His people to understand clearly what He expected of those who were in covenant with Him.
At the end of that chapter in Leviticus, after the long list of gross immoral behavior is given, God spoke through Moses these fatherly words to Israel: “Defile not yourselves in any of these things. For in all these [unclean things] the nations [of Canaan] are defiled. And the land [of Canaan] is defiled. THEREFORE I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations . . . that the land spew not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spewed out the nations that were before you.” So, in order for Israel to escape the same destruction that she was about to inflict upon the Canaanites, she had to avoid the kinds of filthy deeds which the Canaanites routinely performed. Otherwise, she would suffer the same miserable fate as they.
It intrigues thoughtful students of the Scriptures as to why Israel could not bring herself to do the will of God in this matter. True, it was a grisly commandment to perform, but the ancients were accustomed to blood. They lived off the land and regularly slaughtered animals for food. Shedding blood was an ordinary part of life, and it was not something that mothers would have tried to hide from their children’s eyes. Rather, they would have tried to teach them how to shed blood efficiently. So, it is unlikely that an aversion to bloodshed prevented Israel from obeying God’s commandment to annihilate the Canaanites. But, one reason for Israel’s failure to slay the Canaanites is demonstrated daily before our eyes in our own culture.
One evening recently I saw a television program on an educational station which was endorsing acceptance of homosexuality by 1) characterizing homosexuals as sensitive, hardworking, and intelligent people and 2) characterizing opposition to homosexuality as irrational, “homophobic”, and over-religious. Having watched that for a few minutes, I changed the television channel to a major network’s news-magazine program. There, acceptance of homosexuality as a normal lifestyle was being promoted by the same means. A high-school teacher who had admitted his secret lifestyle to his students for “educational” purposes was being pressured to resign by the local school board and some parents. Of course, the emphasis of this news story was that the man was a good school teacher (therefore homosexuality is good?), and that those who opposed him were of substandard judgment and were afflicted with a warped view of life. In both these television programs, the blatant purpose was the same: to vindicate homosexuality 1) by demonstrating that those who participate in this wickedness are ordinary people and 2) by calling into question the wisdom of those who oppose homosexuality.
The justification in our society for the acceptance of homosexuality is that homosexuals are normal people with normal talents. Over and over again, we see them portrayed as gifted artists, or profound thinkers, or hardworking, average citizens. On the other hand, what most people who oppose homosexuality seem to be afraid to admit is that, while homosexuality certainly is not normal, homosexuals are often people of exceptional ability. They are frequently witty and perceptive individuals, who by their examples prove their Christian opponents wrong in their sometimes childish characterizations of homosexuals.
Near the conclusion of the Civil War, when General Sherman’s Yankee army marched through the South, many a southern belle was surprised to see that Yankees were not two-headed monsters. They had hands that bled, hair of various shades, stomachs that grew hungry, and bodies that suffered with the weather as did everyone else. In this century, Adolph Hitler succeeded in numbing the feelings of many otherwise fine German people against the suffering of the Jews by convincing them that the Jews were not normal people, that they were, in fact, a sub-human race.
All men by nature have a tendency to portray those whom they hate in the most repugnant terms possible, thus making it easier to justify malice toward them (consider the Christian myth of an ugly devil with a pitchfork). In a sense, this is what fundamentalist Christians attempt to do to homosexuals; they portray them as bizarre people, or people who are somehow less than human. This ungodly tactic backfires every time a homosexual distinguishes himself or herself in any area of life. Christianity back-handedly promotes homosexuality by wildly and irrationally condemning homosexuals. Homosexuals, and other transgressors, are not monsters. They are just sinners. They are people who need help from God. And God will help them and forgive them, as He forgave us, if they only confess their error and turn from it, as we did.
The malice which many Christians exhibit toward homosexuals, abortionists, etc., is easily as ungodly as the behavior they denounce. But who is surprised? In a myriad of historical instances, Christianity as a whole has misrepresented the mind of Christ. The heretical teachings, the torture and murder of those who would not submit to the Christian religion, the seduction of young women by many in the clergy (including Popes), the plundering of innocent people’s property, and the unbounded hatred of Jews by many Christian leaders through history is abundantly documented. From the time shortly after the death of the apostles when it reared its decorated head, Christianity has thoroughly proved itself to be a false religion. It inspires in men the very disposition which Christ denounced, and it does so because the spirit of Christianity is not the Spirit of God. But back to the story of Israel in Canaan.
Imagining the enemy to be something other than ordinary humans may have been the thing that stunned ancient Israel when they crossed the Jordan River. There were military men among the sexually perverse Canaanites. Some homosexual Canaanites were brilliant artists; others, distinguished engineers, mathematicians, astronomers, comedians, etc. There were beautiful, tender women (liberated from morality) with sweet smiles and wit, and there were cute children (those who had not been offered in the fires to the Canaanite gods) whose laughter echoed in the valleys. Their herds looked like Israel’s herds (but Israel’s livestock were unaccustomed to intimate relations with humans), and their fields looked like fields of other nations. The Canaanites were not monsters; they were humans, frail and susceptible to the pitfalls of lust and pride.
“Child molestation” did not exist in Canaan–not because it didn’t happen, but because they had renamed it. They wanted their children to be freed from unenlightened notions of purity. So, when a child was molested, the adult was more likely honored as an “instructor” of the child than condemned as a molester. “Fornication” and “prostitution” did not exist as such because those filthy deeds had been incorporated into the standard way of life for Canaanites, perhaps even as beautiful expressions of “love” (as it is now glorified by the movie industry in this country) or as expressions of worship to the gods and goddesses of fertility. And how could they have denounced fornication among humans if they believed that the gods they worshiped behaved the same way? The Canaanites were people just like us, but they had completely given themselves over to unclean pleasures and superstitions! In their own words, they probably would have claimed to be liberated from old fashioned ideas of morality.
In the end, Israel was convinced that Moses must have been mistaken; surely God could not have meant that these interesting and talented people should be put to death. Listen, child of God. A man may be a cunning lawyer, astute banker, gifted carpenter, successful politician, or triumphant soldier, and yet be a filthy wretch in his spirit. And if God’s sheep don’t wake up to that reality, and stop judging sinners, such as homosexuals, according to malicious doctrines of Christian ministers, they will be led to the slaughter by the very ones who are screaming the loudest against homosexuality and other forms of immorality. Homosexuality is sin; we need not ever compromise that position, but neither should we hold to that position with slander and malice. The truth about sin is bad enough.
But there is also the possibility of being too shy about the truth. In recent senate hearings related to homosexuals in the military, several timid senators tried to make the case that allowing homosexuals into the military would be harmful to the security of the nation. On what grounds? Their reasons were muddled ramblings which proved nothing and persuaded no one of anything. They avoided the word “God” like the plague. But without referring to the will of God, the senators could not possibly make a valid point against allowing homosexuals in the military. Without having our holy Creator as a part of the discussion, those who are wrong will always seem to have a valid point. During the course of the debate, as homosexuals who served in the military began to openly admit their unfortunate condition, the arguments of the senators who opposed them appeared more and more baseless; and the arguments they made were baseless. It was obvious to any reasonable person that some homosexuals had been good soldiers. Some of them, before they “came out of the closet”, had even been decorated with medals for exceptional military service. What could the cowardly senators say about that?
In decades past, when homosexuality was considered disgraceful in this society, the argument could rightly have been made that a homosexual was a security risk, on the grounds of the possibility of blackmail. The fear of being disgraced could have brought great pressure on a military or government official. But in a time such as this, when there is little or no shame associated with immorality of any type, how can anyone look a homosexual Marine in the eye and say to him, “You are a security risk to the nation because someone might blackmail you”? Blackmail him in what way? Tell his parents that their son is a homosexual? In these “enlightened times”, some parents may well be proud that their son or daughter is a homosexual! And even if they are ashamed of their son, that does not mean that he would be ashamed of himself. So where’s the threat of blackmail? In a depraved society, it cannot exist.
A frequent false accusation by the left-wing media against those who do not want homosexuals in the military or in teaching positions, etc., is that they are “homophobic”; that is, being unenlightened about the subject, such people are afraid of homosexuals. That accusation misses the point altogether, as those who use that term know very well. The point is that “safety is of the Lord.” If this nation, or any nation, hopes to be safely preserved, it must trust God to do it. But the sight of openly immoral men and women in the military, or elsewhere in society, is a sure indication of the coming demise of this republic, through the wrath of God. It is not “homophobia” that prompts discerning people to mourn the rise of immorality in a society. Rather, it is righteous fear of God. The commandments being arrogantly broken are His, not yours or mine.
Another accusation against those who oppose this rise in immorality is that we are mean-spirited and full of hatred. This is certainly true of many Christians, but, it is not true of Christ, nor is it true of those who know and obey him. Homosexuals, abortionists, etc., are just as welcome to enter into the kingdom of Christ, if they repent of their evil conduct, as are any other sinners. There is mercy and compassion in that truth, not cruelty. Some of the believers in Corinth had been sexually perverse (1Cor. 6:9—11), but Jesus had given them a new heart, and Paul gladly called them his brothers and sisters. Jesus hates sin, yes, but he can do something for the sinner that makes him different. Jesus does not despise a repentant heart. He offers pardon. He offers them friendship, a friendship that turns the vilest sinner into a friend of God.