For more than 30 years the “Born Again” Jimmy Carter has been an outspoken critic of Christian activism and politics with jabs at the “religious right.” His latest entry into mixing his version of religion, morality, and politics is NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter. It contains the full text of the New International Version of the Bible and the former president’s prayers, reflections, and asides.
Here’s what President Carter told Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, senior religion editor of The Huffington Post about his views on homosexuality and the Bible:
Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things – he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies.
Jimmy Carter has been hanging out with liberals for so long that he is out of touch with his own Baptist roots and the Bible. Murder, war, abortion, pedophilia, slavery, and infanticide were also “well known in the ancient world.”
Carter makes a typical interpretive error by arguing that since Jesus did not condemn homosexuality, neither should we. Let’s follow Carter’s logic and see where it takes us. Jesus did not condemn rape, slavery, incest, or sex with animals. Jesus assumes the marital norm of one man and one woman in His discussion about divorce based on what the Bible already said in what we call the Old Testament:
And [Jesus] answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, and said, ‘FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH’?” (Matt. 19:4–5).
The standard is one man and one woman. Any relationship that deviates from this norm is unbiblical even if a former president of the United States says otherwise. Carter can’t claim that the Old Testament is no longer applicable today since Jesus quotes from it in support of what we know as the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:36): You shall love your neighbor and the stranger as yourself (Lev. 19:18, 34). Leviticus is the same book where homosexuality is condemned (Lev. 18:22; 20:13).
In an earlier article, Carter claimed “that leaders of the early church treated homosexual acts the same as fornication, prostitution, adultery, selfishness, slander, drunkenness and many other transgressions” but “that all these acts had been forgiven.”
Is Carter saying that once a person is “forgiven” that he or she can continue in these sins? Would he apply the same logic to thieves and adulterers? Paul states in 1 Corinthians 6:11 that “such were some of you.” Those at Corinth who practiced these sins had given them up, “implying that behavioral change had taken place.”1 Homosexuality is a lifestyle to be rejected, along with stealing, drunkenness, extortion, fornication, and adultery. Homosexuals should be called on to repent, turn from the sin of same-sex sex, and publicly condemn the practice.
Carter is confused and out of step with biblical Christianity. The Bible clearly condemns homosexuality. In fact, the Bible connects the sin of homosexuality with the disintegration of society (Rom. 1:18–27). Carter wants Christians to tolerate and even accept homosexuality. The Bible calls for its condemnation in the strongest words possible. And so while the culture is slowly drained of its moral vitality by liberal leeches parading as competent physicians, social theorists wonder why America has nearly lost its soul.
- Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 244, note 24. [↩]