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Christian Union
March 1, 2016

Theologian: Male-Female Relationship Is Foundational

by Catherine Elvy, Staff Writer

Dr.-GagnonTheologian Robert Gagnon has been the subject of both praise and contempt for his stance equating homosexual acts with sin.

The notoriety followed his appearances and prolific writings across myriad media, where the Dartmouth College alumnus of 1981 unabashedly declared that God designed men and women to complement one another and join together to form a whole.

"The twoness of the sexes is the foundation for the twoness of the sexual bond," said Gagnon during a recent lecture.

At its core, a male-female relationship is a prerequisite for a godly sexual union.

"Some [principles] are more foundational. Not everything is equal in Scripture," said Gagnon, an associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

As he takes to the airwaves and print arenas, Gagnon remains unswervingly committed to being an advocate for traditional marriage in the culture's debate over the morality of same-sex unions. Such efforts have generated attention from gay activists including the People For The American Way, which tracks and highlights opposition efforts.

As Gagnon explained in a 2015 article that merited a mention in a blog hosted by People For The American Way, heterosexuality is at the foundation of the sacred institute of marriage.

Likewise, Gagnon, who earned a master of theological studies at Harvard University in 1987 and completed a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1993, is quick to assert Christ was not silent on the subject of homosexuality.

In Mark 10, Jesus offered insight on the matter when the Pharisees questioned Him about the lawfulness of a man to divorce his wife.

Jesus explained that Moses merely permitted a husband to write a divorce certificate because of mankind's characteristically "hard" heart. However, Christ pointed to higher standards and paused to clarify God's basic structure for marriage: "But, at the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate."

"But, at the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate." - —Mark 10:6-9

Likewise, in related passages in Luke, Mark, and Matthew, Jesus offered a stricter interpretation of divorce than the one found in the Old Testament.
In further elaboration, Christ told his disciples, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."

gagnonbookAs for the Torah's reluctant allowance for divorce, Christ "closed the loopholes. Jesus modified it as more rigorous," said Gagnon, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics and Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views.

Given such standards, plus the framework for marriage outlined in Genesis, the scholar is sure that Christ would not take a permissive view of same-sex unions.

God established matrimony as "between one man and one woman in lifelong union."

Along those lines, neither the Old Testament nor New Testament make accommodations for homosexual acts, said Gagnon. Rather, such practices were treated as severe infractions of the Jewish code of conduct.

While Gagnon acknowledged that some individuals battle powerful same-sex attractions, he also noted Scripture does not condone same-sex practices.
"Even if biologically wired, it still doesn't matter," Gagnon said. "Most of what God tells you not to do, you are wired to do."

God established limits and restrictions on behaviors, even on some involving basic human desires, to protect individuals from physical and psychological harm, something Gagnon says is associated with homosexual acts. Such requirements also reflect God's ultimate love for mankind's welfare.

Though it runs counter to popular culture, Christianity involves submission to Jesus' lordship, which includes a call to sexual purity.

"It's all about who is going to be lord of your life," Gagnon said. "No innate desire we experience is lord. All innate desires must come into submission. Commands exist because of desires."

More importantly, God's plan for marital intimacy reflects sacred architecture.

Specifically, Genesis 1:27 explains, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."

As such, "you are made in God's image. What you do sexually matters," Gagnon said. For believers, "your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit."

Through marriage, a husband and wife become one flesh, reflecting a God-ordained union. "Out of one flesh, more emerge," Gagnon said.

On a related note, Gagnon published an article in early 2015 highlighting the pastoral love and care that should be displayed to individuals dealing with same-sex attractions.

"The greater the severity of sin, the greater the outreach of love," Gagnon wrote. "This is the lesson that we learn from Jesus' outreach to tax collectors and sexual sinners."

Both Christ and the Apostle Paul "taught us to uphold love and an intensified sexual ethic at the same time," Gagnon wrote.

Ultimately, believers are called to point this generation to Christ, who satisfies all desires. "Jesus is worth everything, the gratification of every valid yearning," Gagnon said.
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