When Barack Obama was a candidate, he said that while he did not believe in “gay marriage,” he did believe in same sex civil unions. He said, “If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.”/1
Mr. Obama’s flawed use of Scripture is common and evidences the complete lack of Biblical knowledge existent today (cf. 2 Peter 3:15,16).
Obscure is defined as, “not clear or plain; ambiguous, vague, or uncertain; hard to perceive.”/2 Not one of these definitions fits what Paul wrote in Romans. However, we fear being labeled bigots and homophobes, so we succumb to political pressure to accept a sinful practice as being acceptable. However, we must fear God rather than activists (Acts 5:29).
The Apostle Paul wrote by inspiration that homosexuality is “against nature,” which means that it is contrary to the plan of God (Romans 1:26,27) /3 Scripture says, “God gave them up to ‘vile passions’ (Romans 1:26, NKJV); ‘dishonorable passions’ (RSV); ‘degrading passions’ (NEB, NASB, NRSB, NAB); ‘vile affections’ (KJV, Amplified Bible); ‘shameful lusts’ (NIV); ‘shameful affections’ (Rheims). Thayer defines it as “base lusts, vile passions.”/4 Bauer translates it as “shameful passions.”/5
Paul clearly denounces homosexuality in this passage and others (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; e tal). There is nothing obscure about what the New Testament says about the sinfulness of homosexuality.
Mr. Obama’s reference to the Sermon on the Mount validating homosexual behavior is completely without merit. Jesus is God and therefore the author of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16,17; John 1:1). He did not have to address homosexuality explicitly because whenever the New Testament denounces it, Jesus speaks clearly (John 14:10; John 1:1-3).
Perusing the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7, we find two passages that Mr. Obama might have been alluding to in Jesus’ sermon. Neither one is used properly.
First, Matthew 7:1 reads, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” This is one of the more abused passages in the New Testament. It becomes the favored weapon of the rationalizing and desperate. This verse condemns unrighteous judging. “For what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:2).
Jesus never offered a wholesale denunciation of all judging. “Courts must judge whether a crime has been committed (Romans 13). Churches must judge whether a member has become disorderly and between sound and false teachers (1 Corinthians 15:1-13; 2 Peter 2:1; Titus 3:10,11; 1 John 4:1).”/6
Second, Matthew 7:5 reads, “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Despite the rationalizations of men, this verse does not say that if we have any sin in our lives that we cannot charge others with sin. God says that all have sinned (Romans 3:23). However, Christians are commanded to evangelize those who are lost in sin (Matthew 28:20). We are told to help save brethren who are lost in sin (James 5:19,20). It is clear that man’s interpretation of Matthew 7:5 is erroneous.
Curiously, Mr. Obama overlooks a salient point. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21; cf. Revelation 20:12-15). In short, not everyone who speaks of the Bible, knows what they are talking about.
4/ Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Broadman: Nashville, 1977), 660.
5/ Walter Bauer, William F. Ardnt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 869.