When former President Jimmy Carter was asked about same-sex marriage, he replied, “It’s no problem with me. I think everybody should have a right to get married regardless of their sex.” Of course, everyone should have the right to marry “regardless of their sex.” What’s at issue is if it’s right for people of the same sex to marry each other. He went on to add that he believes “Jesus would approve of gay marriage” even though he could not point to “any verse in Scripture” to support his view. “I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else,” he said.
I guess he would approve of polygamous marriages, marriages between sons and daughters, daughters and fathers, someone who “has his father’s wife” (1 Cor. 5:1-2), and other incongruous marriage relationships based on “any love affair” that “was honest and sincere.”
Carter’s recent comments on same-sex marriage are not new. Carter told Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, senior religion editor of The Huffington Post, the following about 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.
immy 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 (past tense) 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 [Gen. 1:27; 5:2] 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; Gen. 2:24).
The standard “from the beginning” has always been 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. There is no need for a prohibition of any other relationship once the standard has been established. Even so, we know there are specific prohibitions of same-sex relationships found in the Bible (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). You won’t find “unless people of the same sex get married” or as long as the “love affair … was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else.”
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. 22:36-40): “You shall love your neighbor and the stranger as yourself” (Lev. 19:18, 34). Notice that Leviticus 19 precedes and follows the chapters in Leviticus where homosexuality is condemned (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?