However, there is one point in which I strongly disagree with him. In this book, on page 79 of the first edition (2007), on page 87 of the second edition (2009), and on page 87 of the third edition (2012), there is a paragraph:
In many cults, it is typical for the leader to have illicit sexual relations. Many cult masters, through their charismatic personality, cunning arguments, and purported “messages from God,” often convince the subordinates that having these sexual relations is right. But scriptures against this are plain: Have only one wife (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6), “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14; Deut. 5:18), and other kinds of sexual perversion and promiscuity (Lev. 18:22; Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21; Acts 15:20; Rom. 13:13; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:19; Heb. 13:4). Even if the subordinates know it is wrong, they often are too afraid or even ashamed to tell anyone that this is happening. The cult leader might even encourage such promiscuous sexual behavior among the members. Here too, the members may become convinced that this is right, or else they are afraid to resist or speak out against it because of potential punishment by the chief, or because they think no one else disapproves since everyone else is doing it.Apparently, here, Stephen Martin writes about cult leaders. However, there is one serious problem with this paragraph. He writes "... and other kinds of sexual perversion and promiscuity" and then he puts a number of verses, including Lev. 18:22 and 1 Cor. 6:9-11. Many homophobic Christians use these verses to condemn homosexuality. Thus, Stephen Martin makes it quite clear that he considers homosexuality as "sexual perversion and promiscuity." Does the Bible say that homosexuality is sexual perversion and promiscuity? No.
Stephen Martin received his Master of Divinity degree from Nazarene Theological Seminary. The Church of Nazarene still holds very negative attitude to homosexuality which obviously affected him. In an official document of this church entitled Manual of the Church of the Nazarene: History, Constitution, Government, Ritual / 2009-2013 Edition, p. 57, it is written:
Homosexuality is one means by which human sexuality is perverted. We recognize the depth of the perversion that leads to homosexual acts but affirm the biblical position that such acts are sinful and subject to the wrath of God. We believe the grace of God sufficient to overcome the practice of homosexuality (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). We deplore any action or statement that would seem to imply compatibility between Christian morality and the practice of homosexuality. We urge clear preaching and teaching concerning Bible standards of sexual morality.
(Genesis 1:27; 19:1-25; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Timothy 1:8-10)
So, I do believe that Stephen Martin views homosexuality as perversion as his church teaches and that this is his thought when he quotes Lev. 18:22 and 1 Cor. 6:9-11 in his book.
Most gay-bashing Christians do not know the context of Lev. 18:22 and will not be able to explain why this verse does not say anything about lesbians. Lev. 18:21-24 (NKJV):
21 And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD. 22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. 23 Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion. 24 ‘Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you.In Lev. 18:21, it is said about "letting children pass through the fire of Molech." In v. 23, it is said about bestiality. V. 24 says that the nations that lived in Palestine before Joshua led Israelites there practiced these things and that Israelites should not do the same. What do these verses have to do with v. 22?
Moloch was a pagan Ammonite and Canaanite god. Child sacrifices were one of the forms of worshiping him. Other forms of Canaanite pagan rituals included temple prostitution (both male and female) and bestiality. Canaanites believed that all these rituals would increase fertility of their land.
Deut. 23:17 (NASB) forbids cult prostitution:
None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute.In this verse, there are two similar Hebrew words: qedeshah (female temple prostitute) and qadesh (male temple prostitute). In fact, they are two forms (masculine and feminine) of the same Hebrew word.
Since Lev. 18:22 directly follows the verse that forbids child sacrifice as a part of worship to Molech, there is a great probability that it actually forbids participation in male temple prostitution as a part of pagan rituals. Lev. 20:13 apparently speaks about the same and it is remarkable that chapter 20 of Leviticus begins with worshiping Moloch. V. 2-5 (NKJV):
2 “Again, you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘Whoever of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who gives any of his descendants to Molech, he shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. 3 I will set My face against that man, and will cut him off from his people, because he has given some of his descendants to Molech, to defile My sanctuary and profane My holy name. 4 And if the people of the land should in any way hide their eyes from the man, when he gives some of his descendants to Molech, and they do not kill him, 5 then I will set My face against that man and against his family; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech.What do Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 say about homosexuality per se? Nothing.
Romans 1:26-27, the verses that are also often used to condemn homosexuality, also are put in a clearly idol-worship context (v. 23, 25). V. 20-27 (NKJV):
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.In addition, v. 26-27 speak about what is unnatural. Homosexual relationships are definitely unnatural for heterosexual people, but not for homosexuals. So, Paul was writing here rather about heterosexuals than homosexuals.
24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
Now, let us look at 1 Cor. 6:9-11, the verses that also were mentioned by Stephen Martin. There are various translations of these verses. In NKJV, they are translated this way:
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.Apparently, v. 9 forbids homosexuality. However, who are sodomites? Does this word means the same as "homosexuals"? If so, what is the need of putting these words together?
In the Greek text of 1 Cor. 6:9, the words for the people who will not inherit the kingdom of God are: "pornoi," "eidolatrai," "moichoi," "malakoi," "arsenokoitai." "Pornoi" means "fornicators." "Eidolatroi" means "idolaters." "Moichoi" means "adulterers." However, Bible scholars and Bible translators are not sure what the words "malakoi" (translated as "homosexuals" in NKJV) and "arsenokoitai" (translated as "sodomites" in NKJV) exactly mean. The singular forms of these words are "malakos" and "arsenokoites." The word "malakos" is used several times in the New Testament as an adjective, meaning "soft," but it is used as a noun only in 1 Cor. 6:9. The word "arsenokoites" is used two times in the New Testament: in 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10. In both verses, its meaning is not clear. These two words were used in writings of Greek Christian authors only when they quoted 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10. These words were used in few non-Christian Greek writings, but their meanings are not clear there either. According to one of hypotheses, Paul invented the word "arsenokoites," composing it from "arsen" (male) and "koite" (bed). Both words were used in Septuagint in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13. So, according to this hypothesis, Paul was referring to these verses. However, this is just a hypothesis. Nobody knows what these words really mean. Some Bible scholars say that they refer to male prostitution or to male pedophilia. Both were widely practiced in the ancient world. However, there is no indication that 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 condemn homosexuality per se.
One more biblical passage I would like to mention is Gen. 19, the story of destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Many people believe that these cities were destroyed because of homosexuality, but the Bible never says about it. In v. 4 (NKJV) it is said:
But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter.Have you seen a city where all the inhabitants are gays? They have been minority in every society. Thus, most of the men of Sodom were heterosexual. What happened then was a gang rape. In Judges 19, there is a similar story of a gang rape, but the victim was a woman. The story in Genesis 19 tells not more about homosexuality per se than the story in Judges 19 about heterosexuality per se.
Jude 7 is sometimes used to "prove" that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of homosexuality. However, the context of this verse does not support this idea. Jude 6-7 (NASB):
6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.What is "strange flesh" in v. 7? If it has to do with homosexuality, why the previous verse says about angels who did not keep their own domain? The most popular interpretation of Gen. 6:1-4 is that these verses speak about angels who had sexual contacts with humans. This is what Jude 6 is referring to. In v. 7, the situation in Sodom and Gomorrah is comparing to it. Sexual contacts between angels and human females took place before the flood. Could they take place after the flood? Gen. 6:4 says that as a result of sexual contacts with angels, women gave birth to Nephilim. When Moses sent twelve spies, they reported that they saw Nephilim in Palestine (Num. 13:33). Since Nephilim existed after the flood, it is possible that angels had sexual contacts with humans after the flood and that it took place in Sodom and Gomorrah. This is a hypothesis, but the fact is that there is no indication that "strange flesh" has anything to do with homosexuality.
Thus, the Bible never condemns homosexuality per se. It condemns some homosexual actions. In the same way, the Bible never condemns heterosexuality per se, but condemns some heterosexual actions.
Of course, Stephen Martin may have any view on homosexuality whatever he likes. However, the problem is that he is a staff member of Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center. Since one of the editors-in-chief of his book was his brother Paul, the founder of Wellspring, I believe that the anti-gay position is the official position of Wellspring.
According to statistics, 5-10% of people are homosexual. There are LGBT Jehovah's Witnesses and ex-Jehovah's Witnesses: http://www.gayxjw.org/ and LGBT Mormons and ex-Mormons: http://www.affirmation.org/. Obviously, there are LGBT ex-members of other cults. Gay and lesbian Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons report that they experience a strong conflict between their religion and their sexual orientation. This conflict leads many of them to depression, self-abhorrence. Some of them even attempt or commit suicides. If these people go to Wellspring, will it be helpful for them? I do not think so. I believe that their stay in Wellspring may only increase their conflict which they already have. This is why I do not recommend Wellspring for LGBT ex-members of cults.
In my opinion, LGBT ex-members of Bible-based cults should learn that not all the Christians condemn LGBT people. There are LGBT-affirmative interpretations of the Bible. To name just a few of them:
- A Letter to Louise: A Biblical Affirmation of Homosexuality by Bruce W. Lowe
- Challenging Conventional Wisdom by Steve Schuh
- What the Bible Says - And Doesn't Say - About Homosexuality by Rev. Mel White
- Homosexuality and the Bible by Walter Wink
- Christianity and Homosexuality Reconciled by Dr. Joseph Adam Pearson
- I'm Gay and It's OK by Rev. John W. Brown
- Would Jesus Discriminate?
In conclusion, two videos from "It Gets Better" project by Gene Robinson and Mel White. Both are Christian ministers and open gays.