Month: July 2014

The Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Some Christian denominations claim that the New Testament (NT) salvation, baptism of water, and baptism of the Holy Spirit (HS) are concurrent acts, while others believe the acts are separate

Concurrent = happen at the same time, simultaneous. Acts 2:38 is often mentioned to support the claim that salvation, water baptism, and Spirit reception is a single act with three different aspects to it

Acts 2:38
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

How can this verse be used to indicate that salvation, water baptism, and the baptism of the HS are concurrent acts? This verse can be read two ways.

Firstly, when you repent and be baptized, you will receive the HS (supports concurrence). Secondly, after you repent and be baptized, you will receive the HS (contradicts concurrence).

So this verse does NOT clearly indicate that salvation, water baptism, and baptism of the Holy Spirit are concurrent acts.

Acts 8:13
13 Simon (the Sorcerer) himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Phillip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw

My Point (MP): Acts 8:13 tells us that Simon the sorcerer was baptised. Was it of water or of the HS? Or both, as some claim it’s concurrent? The verse on its own doesn’t tell us much

Acts 8:18-19
18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money
19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

MP: It is now clear that Simon’s baptism was of water because he wanted the baptism of the HS. So Simon believed, underwent water baptism but had not received the baptism of the HS

How then can salvation, water baptism, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit be concurrent? Of course one verse isnt sufficient evidence to refute the concurrence claim. Let us now look at Acts 10:44-48

Acts 10:44-48
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message
45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out
46 For they heard them speaking in tongues (or other languages) and praising God. Then Peter said,
47 “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have”
48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days

MP: Here we see that after Peter spoke to the crowd at Cornelius’ house [made up of his relatives and close friends (Acts 10:24)], they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.

Did they believe? Most likely. Were they baptised of water? No, according to Acts 10:47-48. Here we see again that salvation, baptism of water, and baptism of the HS are not concurrent and/or in that specific order.

If Peter were to disallow the gentiles at Cornelius’ house to be baptised of water, they would only be saved, and be baptised of the HS. Thus, it is perfectly possible to have received salvation, undergo the baptism of the Holy Spirit yet not be baptized of water

Acts 19:1-6
1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples
2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when (or after) you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”
5 On hearing this, they were baptized into (or in) the name of the Lord Jesus.
6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues (or other languages) and prophesied

MP: The disciples at Ephesus believed and received John’s baptism (i.e. water baptism) but have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Again we see the incoherence of the concurrence claim with Scriptures

Conclusion
The verses above show us that salvation, water baptism, and baptism of the Holy Spirit are different acts. Therefore, the concurrence claim is greatly flawed.

Similarly in today’s context, the baptism of the HS does not come automatically with salvation. It can come by the laying of the apostles’ hands (Acts 8:18, Acts 19:6), by hearing the message (Acts 10:44) or any way God wants because His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9) and He’s capable of doing anything!

The Product of Racial Indoctrination

This article is in response to the recent viral video about an accident which turned into road rage and eventually evolved into racial discrimination

Incase you did not watch the video, it started off with a young woman yelling at an elderly man for knocking into her brand new Peugeot 208. She demanded that he pay her right away for the damage caused as a result of the accident

She then snatches away the keys to his car (presumably to prevent him from escaping) and then proceeds to release the fury welled up within her by hitting the bonnet of the elderly man’s car using a steering lock

It probably didn’t occur to her that by doing so, she might face criminal and civil charges. What was important at the time was to teach the old man a lesson!

The elderly man then tries to explain that it was unintentional but the young woman was extremely convinced that he intended to knock her car from behind (refer to 00:00:15)

The man then tries to defuse the situation by volunteering to pay for the damage done to the woman’s car. At this point, most drivers would exchange information and be on their merry way or head down to the police station to file an official report (in which the money for repairs will be forked out by the insurance company)

The elderly man’s efforts are in vain as the girl is still unsatisfied and demands RM2,000 from him. You may be wondering, ‘RM2,000 for a slight bump?’ Maybe the sum included compensation for the ’emotional distress’ she sufferer. It’s not everyday your car gets hit by another person. One might as well capitalise on the opportunity

After it becomes apparent that his efforts are unfruitful, the elderly man takes a more firm stance and tells the woman not to be rude. What does the young woman do next? She adopted the role of a racist on top of her then role of a a road bully

From 00:00:52 onwards, the woman said something along the lines of “you think you are Chinese that you are bigger and better than us!” This, ladies and gentleman, is the product of racial indoctrination!

After years and years of hearing that the Chinese are economically better than the Malays (it is true to some extent but it is NOT true in all circumstances) as well as other half-truths and/or lies, one develops the under-siege mentality and starts being paranoid

Is it then a surprise that the young woman thinks the elderly man did it (knock her car) on purpose? In actual fact, there is nothing racial about the original incident! It was a minor accident in which the elderly man was in a wrong. What does his race have anything to do with it?

The young woman then openly declared again that the old man had the intention to knock into her car (this was probably caused by her delusional state of mind)

At 00:02:12, the young woman roughly said “tak, dia cina, saya tahu dia punya intention” (no, he’s Chinese, I know his intention). So because he’s a Chinese, he had an intention to knock the girl’s car? Wow! Talk about stereotyping Malaysian Chineses!

Isn’t there a pepatah Melayu (Malay proverb) that says ‘malang tidak berbau’? It basically means that unfortunate things/events are unforeseeable. The accident mentioned above definitely falls within the ambit of an unfortunate event which could not have been foreseen by either party

The bright side to such an appalling event is that the majority of Malaysians are uniting against racism. Many (except for the driver of CDM 25 and a few others) refuse to turn it into a ‘Malay vs Chinese’ thing

Still, racial indoctrination has to stop in order that detestable events (such as the one mentioned above) remains a one-off thing!

*Read it also at The Malay Mail Online and The Malaysian Insider

The Bible and Its Translations

There is a grave misconception amongst non-christians that the Bible is no longer accurate as its meaning has been lost due to translation

First of all, let us understand why the Bible is translated. The Old Testament (OT) was originally in Aramic and Hebrew while the New Testament (NT) was in Koine (common) Greek.

How many of us are able to read in those languages? That is exactly why the Bible needs to be translated! It is basically so that people all over the world may be able to read the Bible in their native language

For example, in Malaysia, we have the bible in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mandarin, Tamil, and in the Iban language (a.k.a Bup Kudus). Without a Bible in a language understood by the reader, one may not be able to practice & profess his religion properly

After you have understood that, you may be wondering why then are there so many English translations? Wouldn’t it be easier if everyone used the same first ever English translation?

The explanation is quite simple. Over the years, certain English words like “jangling”, “subtil”, “privily”, and “holpen” are no longer used and need to be replaced by words of the same meaning that are understood by the reader

Although there are various versions of the English Bible, the different translations always use the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts and texts as their textual basis.

For the NT, the New International Version (NIV) relied on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament while for the OT, the NIV looked into the Biblia Hebraica Masoretic Hebrew Text, Dead Sea Scrolls, Samaritan Pentateuch, Aquila, Symmachus and Theodotion, Latin Vulgate, Syriac Peshitta, Aramaic Targums, Juxta Hebraica of Jerome

Meanwhile, the New Living Translation (NLT) used the Greek New Testament (UBS 4th revised edition) and Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 27th edition in translating the NT, as well as the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, with some Septuagint influence for the OT

If you are still unconvinced as to the accuracy and consistency of the Bible after translation, let us look into the popular verse of John 3:16 in different translations

1. New International Version
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2. New Living Translation
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

3. English Standard Version
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life

4. Holman Christian Standard Bible
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

5. NET Bible
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

6. Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For God loved the world in this way: so much that he would give up his Son, The Only One, so that everyone who trusts in him shall not be lost, but he shall have eternal life.

7. GOD’S WORD® Translation
God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life

8. World English Bible
For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

So is the Bible inaccurate due to translation? Absolutely not! Although the Bible has been translated into many languages, the translation is done without altering the meaning of the original word used. No one who translates the Bible dares to change anything because of what is said in the Word of God

Proverbs 30:6
6 Do not add to his (God’s) words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar

Deuteronomy 4:2
2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you

Revelation 22:18-19
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll
19 And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll

In actual fact, the Bible is very much like the Al-Quran in the sense that has been translated into various languages. Everyone knows that the Al-Quran is originally in Arabic but did you know that English and Bahasa Malaysia translations exist?

On top of that, the different sources (e.g. Sahih International, Muhsin Khan, Pickthall, Yusuf Ali, Shakir, Dr. Ghali) have come up with transliteration of the Al-Quran. What is all this for if not for the convenience of the readers? 

Similar to the Bible, I believe no scholar/organisation in charge of translating would dare to alter the meaning of the original word for fear of divine repercussions

*Featured at The Malay Mail Online

What Effective Leadership?

Our very dear Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak drew a very interesting analogy today (9th July 2014). He said, “When I watched Brazil (play against Germany in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup), their defence was all over the place. I put it down to lack of leadership. There was no proper leadership.”

He then added, “If that could happen to a football team, imagine what would happen to a country that does not have effective leadership… the answer is, we will end up like Brazil.” DS Najib likend Malaysia without an effective leadership to Brazil who lost 1-7 to Germany  

In theory what our PM said is absolutely correct! A ship without a captain is in danger of heading in the wrong direction. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that DS Najib was referring to BN leaders when he brought up “effective leadership”

John Maxwell once said, “a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” So does our Prime Minister and his ministers know the way?

In April last year, a survey conducted by UMcedel showed that the people favoured DS Anwar Ibrahim over DS Najib . “43% of the Malaysians asked in the poll conducted between April 3-20 believe in Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s capabilities to be prime minister, which forms almost half the country, compared to the 39% rating for caretaker Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak”

Subsequently, Barisan Nasional (BN) lost the popular vote in the 13th General Election. Oops. Looks like the rakyat doubts BN knows the way. However, by virtue of the ‘first past the post’ system used in Malaysia, BN successfully formed the federal government

Let’s put that aside. After all, “effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.” (as per Peter Drucker)

So what are some of the results of DS Najib’s illustrious tenure as premier of Malaysia? Firstly, we have the unforgettable “Apa Lagi Cina Mahu?” and Tsunami Cina rant by Utusan Malaysia (which is owned by UMNO).

That was all because a large number of Malaysian Chinese decided not to vote for BN. The Chinese are so ungrateful! After all BN has done for them over the years, how could they exercise their right to vote for a non-BN candidate?! This is totally unacceptable!

Next, we have the never-ending mismanagement of funds and lack of action. The 2012 Auditor General report contained surprisingly unnecessary overspending. Items were overpayed by thousands of times beyond its actual cost

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the 2013 Auditor General’s report pointed out more malfeasances. The report showed that Malaysia was ‘bleeding itself to death.’ I honestly wonder what the 2014 Auditor General report has in store for us!

The year 2014 began with a bang when DS Najib questioned why the government gets blamed every time prices of goods increase, but was never praised when prices came down. He specifically used the example of kangkung and it has stuck to him ever since

Malaysians came up with parodies, t-shirts, etc. DS Najib pretty much made kangkung Malaysia’s most talked about vegetable! However, I’m not sure if that’s something to be proud about

In the month of March, DS Najib found himself yet again in the spotlight when he allegedly purchased chicken for RM1. He then went on to say that Malaysians should look for bargains instead of complaining.

This further tarnished DS Najib’s image in the eyes of the common folk as it paints him as someone who lives in an ivory tower and is unable to empathise with the plight of the people. I honestly thought effective leadership was supposed to garner the support of the people. Instead, all we’re seeing is loss of confidence in the Executive 

DS Najib’s cause wasn’t helped when MH370 disappeared and gained international furore. The whole debacle was made worse by the contradictory statements by Malaysian authorities

The Inspector General of Police (IGP)contradicted the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) regarding the number of passengers that did not board the plane. DS Najib’s response to everything was that MH370 is an unprecedented event, thus everyone should cut him some slack

Fair enough, DS Najib deserves some time to regroup with his wisemen and come up with a proper strategy to deal with the loss of the plane. After all, it is not something he has dealt with before. Out of the blue, DS Najib decides to announce that MH370 ended in the Indian Ocean

Notice that the word “ended” was used instead of “crashed” because at the time of announcement, there was no evidence to support the theory that the plane crashed. No debris whatsoever was detected despite many countries chipping in to search

Would an effective leader decide to make such a baseless announcement? A month later, DS Najib contradicts himself when he said he was not ready to declare MH370 as lost.

Although the flight supposedly “ended in the Indian Ocean”, he is still clinging on to the hope that the plane and its passengers are not lost? How does one crush the hope of others yet cling on to that very same hope? The only rational explanation is that the statement about the plane having ended in the southern Indian Ocean was hogwash

‘Unprecedented incident’ aside, the UiTM anti-Christian seminar happened during DS Najib reign. Adding insult to injury, DS Najib’s right hand man, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin labelled the seminar a mere brainstorming session which should be viewed positively

Again we see a complete lack of leadership. Which leader would allow his/her members to receive such a beating and still be able to remain silent, or worse still, try to justify it? Unless of course Christians aren’t considered citizens of Malaysia which fall under the purview of the Executive

Let’s give DS Najib and his administration the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they were unaware about what really went down at UiTM and merely spoke too soon (or in DS Najib’s case, remained silent)

What about when the minorities were shooting targets for certain questionable NGOs and individuals? Let’s do a slight recap. ISMA labelled the Chinese as “penceroboh” (invader, intruder) and in response to the public uproar, they questioned the contribution of non-muslims

PERKASA has had its fair share of controversies. In 2012, it conducted a mock funeral outside Lim Guan Eng’s house because LGE ignored their demands and never responded to any of the issues brought up by them over the past two years . In 2013, Ibrahim Ali (PERKASA chief) called on Muslims to seize & burn Malay bibles which contained the word “Allah”

Not wanting to be outdone, Ridhuan Tee Abdullah questioned the loyalty of Malaysian Chinese when he asked who they would support in the event Lin Dan (of China) faces Misbun Sidek (a Malaysian badminton legend) 

Ridhuan Tee also played down the contributions of non-malays and openly declared that there are 5 million foreigners waiting to replace them.

Wouldn’t an effective leadership have nipped such racial & religious insensitivity in the bud before it leads to undesirable outcomes? Most certainly so! When everyone looked to DS Najib to condemn the extremists, it seems like the cat got his tongue

Moving on, what does DS Najib’s attendance in parliamentary sittings reflect? Apparently as of April 2014, DS Najib “only attended 26 days of Parliament sittings since he took office in 2009.” That’s a mere 7% of the total 358 days Parliament had met

It is understandable that as head of the Executive, DS Najib is a very busy man. However, one would expect him to do better than 7%. DS Najib should be there when issues are debated by the Legislature in order that he may contribute his input. That is what an effective leader would do!

During DS Najib’s time at the helm, Malaysia was downgraded to Tier 3 in the United States’ annual Trafficking of Persons (TIP) report. It is important to note that Tier 3 is the lowest ranking and it puts us on par with countries like Algeria, Central African Republic, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Yemen

Worst still, DS Najib told UMNO to be brave like ISIL fighters. He said Umno must emulate the bravery of a Middle Eastern militant group that defeated an Iraqi force outnumbering it nearly 30 to one if the Malay nationalist party is to survive

Of all the examples DS Najib could have chosen, he chose ISIL which uses violence to achieve its objectives. Why not emulate the bravery of Malala Yousafzai? Despite an assassination attempt by the Taliban, she continued to fight for rights to education for women

Last but not least, under DS Najib, many have threatened to spark racial riots. Ibrahim Ali and Zulkifli Noordin are amongst the main contributors

Although DS Najib labels himself a moderate, racial & religious tension are worsening by the day as a result of his deafening silence and utter inaction toward the extremists 

So what effective leadership was DS Najib talking about?

*Featured at The Malaysian Insider

The Unbearable Stench Of Hypocrisy

Former Perkasa deputy president Datuk Zulkifli Noordin (henceforth DZN) labelled those who commented against the recent Federal Court ruling on the Allah issue as “rude and insolent” and questioned whether these people wanted another May 13-like riots.

Apparently when the High Court rules in favour of the Catholic church, it is alright to question the decision, and thus appeal to a higher court

In response to the decision of the High Court allowing the Herald to use “Allah” in its publication, DZN stated “I can’t understand how any Muslim can support this judgment”.

When it comes to the Federal Court’s refusal to grant The Herald leave for appeal, it is NOT alright to question the decision (eventhough the Catholic church can legally file for a judicial review)

DZN urged the religious extremists to respect the court decision, the Federal Constitution and the sensitivity of other religions including Islam and Christianity

Respect the sensitivity of other religions? That is rich coming from the guy who gave a religious sermon belittling Hinduism in March 2013!

Anyone smell the hypocrisy here? Basically the principle applied is ‘anything not in my favour is questionable while anything in my favour should not be questioned’

In all his wisdom (or lack of it), DZN labelled those who opposed his principle as “rude,” “insolent” and even went to the extent of questioning whether those people wanted a 13th May 2.0

He is annoyed by the speck of sawdust in his brother’s eye but is oblivious to the plank in his own eye!

DZN went on to say that the religious extremists challenged the Muslim community by threating to continue using the word Allah in churches and in their worship

Apparently DZN was not aware (at the time of blogging) that Putrajaya issued a statement clarifying that the Federal Court’s ruling on the Allah issue applied only to the Catholic weekly, Herald.

The statement added that Malaysian Christians can still use the word Allah in church and that the government remains committed to the 10-point solution

Whoops, looks like DZN jumped the gun when he blamed the “religious extremists.” So who is next in line to be blamed? The government for coming up with the 10-point solution? The courts for not making this decision binding upon all future use of “Allah” by non-muslims?

Although Selangor has the 1988 Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment banning the use of the word “Allah” by non-muslims, it is important to note that Sabah & Sarawak does not have such an enactment, hence the use of the word “Allah” by Christians there is perfectly fine and cannot be construed to be provocation as it is not illegal

*Read it also at The Malay Mail Online

Remove The Strings Attached

Recently, Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor announced that churches currently operating out of shop lots in the Federal Territories may soon see their commercial land titles converted to religious land.

Such an announcement is greatly welcomed by the Christian community due to the ever-present dispute over the location of houses of worship.

Furthermore, this is a progressive step as it has been very difficult for Christians to purchase land and build churches due to the cumbersome process and red tape associated with it

All is not a bed of roses as The Malaysian Insider reported that Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said “If a church were to relocate its premises, the new owners will not be able to use the premises for anything else but worship,”

Now we can clearly see the strings attached to such a sweet deal. Basically, if the commercial land titles are converted to religious land, it would be extremely difficult for churches to sell the land if they intend to move someplace else

Why is it necessary to have such strings attached? Why can’t the status of the land be changeable depending on the intended use?

If a church decides to sell their land (with the status of a religious land), and a company decides to purchase it for commercial use, it is only reasonable that the land title should be able to be converted back to commercial

It is of utmost importance that the law is flexible enough in order that it does not cause hardship to the people!

If the Federal Territories is truly sincere about helping the churches, it would be wise to have consultations with the umbrella body of churches in Malaysia [i.e. The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM)] before finalising any changes

The Bible’s Stance On Homosexuality

Homosexuality by far is one of the most controversial issue that plagues today’s churches. Some denominations have openly declared their support for same sex marriage & relationships while some have maintained their stance that it is a sin in the eyes of God

There is no point debating this issue from a human rights point of view as it is a religious point of contention (for Christians at least). Therefore, it would only be correct to look to what Scriptures have to say about it 

Point 1: God’s plan

It is a fait accompli that in the beginning, God created Adam and Eve. Eve was created as a companion/helper for Adam (Genesis 2:18)

The Bible then goes on to say in Genesis 2 that a man will be united to his wife and they will become one flesh. This is reaffirmed in Mark 10

Genesis 2:22-24
22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, ‘ for she was taken out of man.”
24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh

Mark 10:6-9
6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one.
9 Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

If Jesus approved of homosexuality, why would He mention the exact opposite? Jesus (in Mark 10) reiterated God’s stance that homosexuality is NOT a part of His plan. God intended for the unity of flesh to be between a man and a woman  

It is important to note that thousands of years existed between Genesis and Mark yet Jesus articulated heterosexuality, thus reaffirming what was said in the Old Testament

Point 2: The example of Sodom and Gomorrah

Genesis 19:1-7
1 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them,
he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.
2 “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”
3 But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate.
4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom–both young and old- surrounded the house.
5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him
7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is one often used to illustrate that God is against homosexuality. As a result of all the grievous sins committed, God “rained down burning sulfur” (Genesis 19:24) on Sodom and Gomorrah.  

The fact it is stated that “all the men from every part of the city of Sodom–both young and old” surrounded Lot’s house and wanted to have sex with Lot’s guests shows us that homosexuality was prevalent then

There is an interesting argument I came across recently. Matthew Vines brought up Ezekiel 16:49 in his video to support his claim that God did not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality

Ezekiel 16:49-50
49 ” ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.
50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I
did away with them as you have seen

From Ezekiel 16:49, it looks as if God rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah for reasons other than homosexuality. Verse 50 goes on to say that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah did things that were detestable before God

Just looking at Genesis 19 and Ezekiel 16, it is very subjective as to whether homosexuality amounts to a thing detestable before God. However, Matthew Vines failed to look at Judges 19:22-23 (another biblical example about homosexuality) and Jude 1:7 (which is also about Sodom and Gomorrah)

Judges 19:22-23
22 While they were enjoying themselves, some of the wicked men of the city surrounded the house. Pounding on the door, they shouted to the old man who owned the house, “Bring out the man who came to your house so we can have sex with him.”
23 The owner of the house went outside and said to them, “No, my friends, don’t be so vile. Since this man is my guest, don’t do this disgraceful thing”

“Disgraceful thing” is also translated as “outrageous thing,” “godless thing,” “folly,” and “horrible thing” in other versions while “evil” and “wickedly” is used to replace “vile”

It seems now that homosexuality is something God detests. If God was fine with it, why would it be regarded as evil, wicked, or vile?

Jude 1:7
7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire

The King James Version uses “going after strange flesh” to replace “perversion” while the International Standard Version and God’s Word Translation replaces “perversion” with “homosexual activities”

Romans 1:26-27 tells us that unnatural relations, indecent acts with those of the same gender = perversion

Matthew Vines’ point about “love,” “commitment,” and “faithfulness” is irrelevant as the Bible regards unnatural relations & indecent acts with those of the same gender as perversion. The motive does not render the detestable act acceptable!

After analysing Judges 19:22-23, Jude 1:7, Romans 1:26-27 and its various translations, we can conclude that homosexuality was one of the reasons why Sodom and Gomorrah was wiped out.

Point 3: Jesus did not abolish the Law

Matthew Vines used Hebrews 8:13 and Romans 10:4 to show that the Law (including that in Leviticus 18:22 about homosexuality being detestable) has been fulfilled by Jesus, thus making it completely acceptable now

Hebrews 8:13
13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear

Jesus in Matthew 5:17 explicitly tells us that He did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them. Does it mean now that the Law has been fulfilled, it is no longer applicable and relevant?

If Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law renders it inapplicable, does it mean we can now misuse the name of the Lord, commit murder, commit adultery, steal, worship idols, curse our parents, and have sexual relations with our close relatives?

Of course not! What Matthew Vines failed to do is read Hebrews 8:13 in its context. Just a few verses before, we see that even in the New Covenant, the law has a role to play

Hebrews 8:10
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people

Romans 10:3-4
3 Since they (the Israelites) did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.
4 Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes

Reading verse 3 as well gives “the end of the law” a completely different meaning. In the Old Testament, the Israelites strictly obeyed the law in order to get right with God and be righteous (Deuteronomy 6:20)

Christ came and brought that specific law to an end in order that God’s righteousness may be available to all who believe (Jews and Gentiles alike) 

However, the Ten Commandments, the law on homosexuality being an abomination (Leviticus 18:22, 20:13), etc are still required to be followed although we are now saved by grace!

Romans 3:20
20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Obedience of the law does not guarantee our salvation or gain us God’s righteousness. What is does is help us identify what is sinful and what needs to be avoided!

Point 4: Homosexuality = sexual immorality

Oxford Dictionary defines ‘sexual’ as
(1) relating to the instincts, physiological processes, and activities connected with physical attraction or intimate physical contact between individuals;
(2) relating to the two sexes or to gender;
(3) (of reproduction) involving the fusion of gametes

“Immorality” is defined as
(1) the state or quality of being immoral;
(2) wickedness

From the definition of the two words, it is very apparent that homosexuality falls within the ambit of sexual immorality. What is intriguing is that the Bible has plenty to say about sexual immorality.

(i) Hebrews 13:4
4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral

(ii) 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders
10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God

* The phrase ‘men who have sex with men’ translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts
* Arsenokoitēs is a portmanteau of arsen, the Greek word for man, and koite, the Greek word for bed (active homosexual act)
* Malakoi literally means “squishy.” Linguists generally understand this word to be a form of showy effeminism (passive homosexual act)

(iii) 1 Timothy 1:9-10
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine

Conclusion

The Bible’s stance on homosexuality is very clear cut. God regards it as a sin/an abomination/something detestable and He definitely did NOT create humans to be homosexuals

However, what is also important is that Christians are called not to judge others(Matthew 7:1). The duty of Christians is to lead the lost (all those who are living a life of sin) back to the right path and Christians have to do so with love!

1 John 1:9 tells us that “if we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 Corinthians 6:11 adds on that although we were once ‘sexually immoral, isolators, adulterous, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers, swindlers’, we are washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God

It’s not too late to turn back to God regardless of what sin(s) we have committed!