"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS" Introduction To The Epistle (1:1) INTRODUCTION 1. A wonderful hope of the Christian is the promise of the Lord's return... a. A promise given when Jesus ascended into heaven - Ac 1:9-11 b. A promise designed to motivate Christians to live holy and godly lives - 2Pe 3:10-14 2. How then should we live as we anticipate the Lord's return? This question is addressed in Paul's first epistle to the Thessalonians a. In which every chapter has some mention of the Lord's return b. In which we find practical instructions for holy and godly living [That we might be ready for the Lord's return, we begin this series of sermons based on First Thessalonians. In this lesson, we shall consider some background information on this epistle...] I. THE AUTHOR OF THE EPISTLE (1:1a) A. PAUL... 1. Known formerly as Saul of Tarsus, persecutor of the church - Ac 9:1-2 2. Who became known as the "apostle to the Gentiles" - Ac 9:15 3. Author of half of the books of the New Testament B. JOINED BY SILVANUS AND TIMOTHY... 1. Silvanus, also known as Silas a. Originally an emissary from the apostles and elders in Jerusalem - Ac 15:22,27 b. Identified as a prophet, who exhorted the brethren in Antioch - Ac 15:32 c. Who remained in Antioch, later to become Paul's traveling companion - Ac 15:34,40-41 d. Who suffered mistreatment and imprisonment with Paul in Philippi - Ac 16:19-25 e. Who together with Paul established the church in Thessalonica - Ac 17:1-4 2. Timothy, also known as Timotheus a. A young disciple who traveled with Paul - Ac 16:1-3 b. Who is mentioned with Paul in many of his letters - e.g., 2Co 1:1; Php 1:1 c. Recipient of two letters from Paul - 1Ti 1:1; 2Ti 1:1 d. Who suffered imprisonment himself - He 13:23 e. Who had just returned from a trip to Thessalonica - 1Th 3:1-2,6 [These three men had a vested interest in the welfare of the church in Thessalonica. Speaking of that church, let's now focus on...] II. THE RECIPIENTS OF THE EPISTLE (1:1b) A. THE CITY OF THESSALONICA... 1. It was the capital and largest city of the Roman province of Macedonia 2. Located on the Egnatian Way, a major road from Rome to the eastern provinces 3. The city served as a center of trade and commerce -- Today, it is known as Thessaloniki (formerly Salonica) B. THE CHURCH OF THE THESSALONIANS... 1. Its establishment is recorded in Ac 17:1-9 a. On his second journey, Paul and his companions had just left Philippi b. Traveling through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they arrived at Thessalonica c. Paul immediately located the synagogue and used their Sabbath gathering as an opportunity for evangelism d. For three weeks he reasoned with the Jews, converting some and a number of prominent Gentiles e. Unbelieving Jews soon caused a disturbance, forcing Paul to leave 2. Despite such ominous beginnings, a strong church was established a. It quickly gained a good reputation - 1Th 1:8 b. It was mostly Gentiles - 1Th 1:9 c. Members included Jason (Ac 17:9), Aristarchus and Secundus (Ac 20:4) [The reputation of this church is even more remarkable when we consider how young it was. The young age of the church becomes apparent when we consider...] III. THE PLACE AND DATE OF WRITING A. THE PLACE... 1. The letter itself indicates it was not written long after Paul's departure a. Paul had only been gone a short time - 1Th 2:17-18 b. He had sent Timothy from Athens, who had returned - 1Th 3:1-6 2. From Luke's record in Acts, it is evident Paul wrote this epistle soon after arriving in Corinth on his second missionary journey a. For Paul did not stay long in Athens - Ac 17:16-18:1 b. And Timothy came back from Macedonia after Paul arrived in Corinth - Ac 18:5 -- So the place of writing is most likely Corinth B. THE DATE... 1. Writing soon after his arrival in Corinth, this would place the date sometime around 50-52 A.D. 2. This would make First Thessalonians one of Paul's earliest known writings, if not the first [Now let's examine...] IV. THE PURPOSE AND CONTENT OF THE EPISTLE A. THE PURPOSE... 1. Paul had been anxious about the condition of the church a. Occasioned by his abrupt departure - Ac 17:10 b. He wanted to return, but was hindered - 1Th 2:17-18 c. His anxiety prompted him to send Timothy to encouraged them - 1Th 3:1-3 2. Timothy had brought back good news! - 1Th 3:6-8 a. Of their faith and love, and of their desire to see Paul again b. Their steadfastness comforted Paul greatly 3. From the content of the letter (see below), it becomes apparent that Paul had a three-fold purpose in mind as he wrote this letter: a. To praise them for their steadfastness under persecution b. To instruct them concerning holy living c. To correct any misunderstanding, especially regarding the second coming of Christ B. THE CONTENT... 1. The epistle is unique in that every chapter ends with a reference to the second coming of Christ - 1Th 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:23 2. Here is a brief outline of the epistle: a. Personal reflections (1-3) 1) Regarding their condition - 1:1-10 2) Regarding his conduct - 2:1-12 3) Regarding his concern - 2:13-3:13 b. Apostolic instructions (4-5) 1) Walk in holiness - 4:1-8 2) Walk in love - 4:9-10 3) Walk in diligence - 4:11-12 4) Walk in hope - 4:13-18 5) Walk in light - 5:1-11 6) Walk in obedience - 5:12-28 CONCLUSION 1. With such an emphasis on steadfastness and holy living, an appropriate theme for this epistle would be: "Holiness In View Of The Coming Of Christ" 2. In keeping with such a theme, I offer the following passage as the key verses of the epistle: "And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." - 1Th 3: 12-13 As we proceed through this epistle, it will be my prayer and aim that our study will lead to greater faithfulness and holiness in our service to God as we wait for the coming of Jesus! Are you ready for His coming? Even if you should die before He returns, are you ready to face Him in the Judgment? Let the apostles of Christ tell you what you need to do be ready for that day - cf. Ac 2:36-38; 17:30-31 Only then can it truly be said: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1Th 1:1c)
“Christianity Could Not Possibly Be True”
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
What did atheistic author Mike Davis allege was the “smoking gun” that proved to him once and for all that “Christianity could not possibly be true”? What “sealed the issue” and led him to believe “Jesus was wrong...and no more deserving of our belief than any other guy”? When did the case against the Bible and Christianity become “closed”? In chapter one of his book, The Atheist’s Introduction to the New Testament: How the Bible Undermines the Basic Teachings of Christianity, Davis explained that Matthew 24:34 was the deciding factor.
In Matthew 24:34, Jesus stated: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” According to Davis, since “Jesus tells his listeners that the judgment day will come before the generation he’s speaking to passes away,” and since that generation passed away 1,900 years ago, Jesus “could not have been divine” and the Bible is “untrustworthy” (2008, pp. 1-2). In actuality, what Davis confesses ultimately “proved” to him that the Bible and Jesus are unreliable is nothing more than a misinterpretation of Scripture. Jesus was not mistaken in His comments in Matthew 24:34—Jesus’ generation did not pass away prior to witnessing the things Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:4-34. But, Jesus did not foretell in those verses what Davis assumes He foretold. Davis and many others believe that, prior to verse 34, Jesus was describing events that would take place shortly before Judgment Day at the end of time. The fact of the matter is, however, Jesus was prophesying about the coming destruction upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and not the final Judgment.
When the disciples went to show Jesus the temple buildings (Matthew 24:1), Jesus said, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (24:2). Later, when Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, the disciples asked Him three questions, beginning with “when will these things be?” (24:3). In verses 4-34, Jesus revealed several signs that would indicate Rome’s destruction of Jerusalem, including the temple, was near. [NOTE: “The fall of the Hebrew system is set forth in the sort of apocalyptic nomenclature that is characteristic of Old Testament literature, e.g., when the prophets pictorially portray the overthrow of Jehovah’s enemies (cf. Isaiah 13:10-11; 34:2ff; Ezekiel 32:7-8)” (Jackson, n.d.); cf. Matthew 24:29-31; see Miller, 2003.] In verses 35-51 (and all of chapter 25), Jesus answered the disciples’ last two questions: “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3). To summarize, in Matthew 24:4-34 Jesus foretold of the coming destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, while in 24:35-25:46 He commented on His future return and final Judgment of the world.
How sad it is that so many atheists and skeptics believe they have disproven the Bible and Christianity, when, in reality, they have simply twisted the biblical text to mean something God never intended (cf. 2 Peter 3:16). The fact that Mike Davis highlights Matthew 24:34 as the verse that once and for all proved to him the Bible is unreliable should tell us something about the extreme weakness of the skeptic’s case against Christianity.
Jackson, Wayne (no date), “A Study of Matthew 24,” http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/19-a-study-of-matthew-24.
Miller, Dave (2003), “There Will Be No Signs!” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1838.
“Breaking Bread” on the “First Day” of the Week
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
As the apostle Paul was making his way toward Jerusalem near the end of his third missionary journey, he met with several disciples in the coastal city of Troas. Although he was “hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost” (Acts 20:16), he tarried in Troas for seven days with several other disciples (20:4-6). According to Acts 20:7, “[O]n the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” Since Luke indicates that Paul did not break bread until after his lengthy lesson and the resurrection of Eutychus (20:11), many have questioned whether Paul and the disciples ate of the Lord’s Supper on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday? Others have wondered whether “to break bread” in Acts 20 even has anything to do with the Lord’s Supper. What can be said about such matters?
Admittedly, to “break bread” in Bible times often referred to the eating of common meals. God once warned His prophet Jeremiah not to “break bread for the mourner” (Jeremiah 16:7, RSV). Jesus “took bread...and broke it” with the disciples to whom He appeared on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:30,35). The early Christians are said to have continued daily “breaking bread from house to house” eating “food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46). Paul once “took bread and...broke it” and instructed his 275 companions on board a ship to Italy to eat it for their “preservation” (Acts 27:34-35, NASB). In ancient times, to “break bread” was a figure of speech known as synecdoche where a part (to break bread) was put for the whole (to eat a common meal, regardless of the kind of food and drink consumed).
In New Testament times, however, the phrase “to break bread” was also used to describe the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus instituted this special supper while celebrating the Feast of Unleavened Bread with His disciples shortly before His death.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:26-29, emp. added).In 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, Paul addressed the subject of the Lord’s Supper with these words: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread” (emp. added). Paul later reminded the Corinthians of the night in which Jesus first instituted this memorial feast, saying, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24, emp. added). Because part of this memorial supper that Christians are commanded to keep involves the actual breaking of bread, the expression “to break bread” was used in reference to the Lord’s Supper in the early church (cf. Behm, 1965, 3:730). Similar to how this phrase was used as a synecdoche in regard to common meals, it was also used to represent the Lord’s Supper (where consumption of both the bread and the fruit of the vine is referred to as simply “the breaking of bread”).
Because the phrase “to break bread” refers both to common meals and the Lord’s Supper, one must examine the context of passages in order to understand which one is being discussed. For example, since in Acts 2:42 “breaking bread” is listed with other religious activities carried out by the church such as teaching, praying, and fellowshipping (from the Greek koinonia, which may include several aspects of “joint participation,” including free-will offerings on the first day of the week—cf. Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 9:13; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; see Jackson, 2005, p. 31), one may logically conclude that “the breaking of bread” is a reference to the early Christians partaking of the Lord’s Supper. [The use of the article in this verse also leaves the impression that a particular event is under consideration, rather than a common meal where “food” (Greek trophe, a word never used of the Lord’s Supper—Barnes, 1956, p. 59) is served for the purpose of gaining nourishment (e.g., Acts 2:46; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:33-34).]
But what about the use of the phrase “to break bread” in Acts 20:7? What textual indicators are present that warrant the phrase in this passage to be understood as the Lord’s Supper? First, the term “to break bread” is a first aorist active infinitive (Robertson, 1997). Since infinitives in Greek and English denote the objective or purpose of action for the principal verb (cf. Mounce, 1993, p. 298), one can know that Paul, Luke, and the disciples at Troas “gathered together” for the primary purpose of “breaking bread.” When this information is processed in light of the fact that Paul earlier had written to the church at Corinth and implied that the purpose for them coming together was to partake of the Lord’s Supper (in an orderly manner—1 Corinthians 11:20,33), then the passage in Acts 20 makes much better sense: “to break bread” was (or at least included) the eating of the Lord’s Supper. What’s more, Paul remained in Troas for seven days despite being in a hurry to get to Jerusalem before Pentecost (which was about 31 days, 10 stops, and 1,000 miles away—cf. Acts 20:6,13-16; 21:1,3,7,8,15). Why tarry in Troas for seven days? It was not simply to eat a common meal with the saints. Rather, Paul desired to worship with the church in Troas “on the first day of the week,” which included observing “communion” with them (1 Corinthians 10:16).
But did Paul and the church at Troas really observe the Lord’s Supper on Sunday? First, it is possible that the bread Paul broke after spending all night preaching and talking was part of a common meal that he would have gladly received before beginning his extended journey to Jerusalem. Nevertheless, when Luke’s terminology in Acts 20:11 is carefully examined, it appears that Paul ate two separate meals with the disciples: the Lord’s Supper first (“had broken bread”), followed by a common meal (“and eaten”). This latter expression (“and eaten,” Greek geusamenos) “is nowhere used of the celebration of the Supper, whereas in Acts 10:10 it is applied to taking a common meal” (Jamieson, 1997). The former expression (“had broken bread”) has the Greek article before “bread” (lit., “had broken the bread,” ASV, emp. added) and “seems plainly to denote the celebration of the Lord’s Supper; their intention to do so being expressed in Acts 20:7, but their actually doing it nowhere if not here” (Jamieson, 1997; cf. Robertson, 1997; Woods, 1976, pp. 67-70; Wycliffe, 1985).
If Paul, then, waited to “break bread” until after midnight (20:7,11), would this not have been a Monday-morning observance of the Lord’s Supper? Regardless of whether the memorial feast was observed before or after midnight, one can be assured that it took place on Sunday, because it was “on the first day of the week” that the disciples met “to break bread.” The reason that eating the Lord’s Supper after midnight would have been acceptable conduct for many Christians is because the Jewish method of counting time was still widely acknowledged. The Jews and the Romans used different standards for calculating the hours of the day, and although both systems split the day into two periods of twelve hours, a new day for the Romans began at midnight (cf. Pliny, n.d., 2:79), whereas a new day for the Jews began in the evening at sundown and lasted until sundown the following day. Luke, like Matthew and Mark, used the Jewish method of reckoning time in both his gospel account and in the book of Acts (cf. Luke 23:44; Acts 2:15; 23:23; cf. also John 19:14; 20:1,19). Thus, Paul’s pre-midnight preaching corresponded to our Saturday evening, but was the beginning of their “first day.” Regardless of whether they observed the Lord’s Supper on the evening of the first day or the morning of the first day, it was observed on the proper day, the day on which Jesus rose from the grave (Luke 24:1)—the first day of the week.
Christians should count it a privilege and honor to observe the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:22), and commune with the Lord and His people (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Sadly, some in the twenty-first century may attempt to justify observing this sacred supper on some occasion other than the first day by alleging that the early Christians observed it on Saturday night or Monday morning. The important thing to remember in this discussion, however, is that the early disciples came together on the first day of the week to observe this memorial feast. In the first century, when the Jewish method of reckoning time was still widely accepted, the first day began on what we call Saturday evening and ended Sunday evening. In the twenty-first century, most (if not all) people count time from midnight to midnight. Since God did not specify which method of time to use, but did specify the numerical day of the week in which the supper of the Lord is to be kept, Christians should abide by the standards of time wherever they reside.
[For discussion on whether or not Christians should partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, see Miller, 2003]
Behm, Johannes (1965), “klao, klasis, klasma,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Jackson, Wayne (2005), The Acts of the Apostles: From Jerusalem to Rome (Stockton, CA: Christian Courier Publications).
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Sunday and the Lord’s Supper,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2304.
Mounce, William D. (1993), Basics of Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, trans. Bostock and H.T. Riley, [On-line], URL: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=Plin.+Nat.+2.79.
Robertson, A.T. (1997), Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Woods, Guy N. (1976 reprint), Questions and Answers (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).
Wycliffe Bible Commentary (1985), Electronic Database: Biblesoft.
"This is the Way God Made Me"--A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the "Gay Gene" by Dave Miller, Ph.D. Brad Harrub, Ph.D.
"This is the Way God Made Me"--A Scientific Examination of Homosexuality and the "Gay Gene"
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.
Brad Harrub, Ph.D.
The trumpets were left at home and the parades were canceled. The press releases and campaign signs were quietly forgotten. The news was big, but it did not contain what some had hoped for. On April 14, 2003, the International Human Genome Consortium announced the successful completion of the Human Genome Project—two years ahead of schedule. The press report read: “The human genome is complete and the Human Genome Project is over” (see “Human Genome Report...,” 2003, emp. added). Most of the major science journals reported on the progress in the field of genetics, but also speculated on how the information would now be used. The one piece of information that never materialized from the Human Genome Project was the identification of the so-called “gay gene.”
Homosexuality has been practiced for thousands of years. Simply put, homosexuality is defined as sexual relations between like genders (i.e., two males or two females). It was Sigmund Freud who first postulated that parental relationships with a child ultimately determine the youngster’s sexual orientation. But this “nurturing” aspect has effectively given way to the “nature” side of the equation. Can some behaviors (e.g., alcoholism, homosexuality, schizophrenia) be explained by genetics? Are these and other behaviors influenced by nature or by nurture? Are they inborn or learned? Some individuals believed that the answer would be found hiding amidst the chromosomes analyzed in the Human Genome Project.
The human X and Y chromosomes (the two “sex” chromosomes) have been completely sequenced. Thanks to work carried out by labs all across the globe, we know that the X chromosome contains 153 million base pairs, and harbors a total of 1168 genes (see NCBI, 2004). The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that the Y chromosome—which is much smaller—contains “only” 50 million base pairs, and is estimated to contain a mere 251 genes. Educational institutions such as Baylor University, the Max Planck Institute, the Sanger Institute, Washington University in St. Louis, and others have spent countless hours and millions of research dollars analyzing these unique chromosomes. As the data began to pour in, they allowed scientists to construct gene maps—using actual sequences from the Human Genome Project. And yet, neither the map for the X nor the Y chromosome contains any “gay gene.”
What is the truth regarding homosexuality? Too often, speculation, emotions, and politics play a major role in its assessment. The following is a scientific investigation of human homosexuality.
BEHAVIORAL GENETICS AND CIVIL RIGHTS
The argument goes like this: “Just as a person cannot help being black, female, or Asian, I cannot help being homosexual. We were all born this way, and as such we should be treated equally.” However, this argument fails to comprehend the true “civil rights” movements. The law already protects the civil rights of everyone—black, white, male, female, homosexual, or heterosexual. Homosexuals enjoy the same civil rights everyone else does. The contention arises when specific laws deprive all citizens of certain behaviors (e.g., sodomy, etc.). We should keep in mind that these laws are the same for all members of society. Because of certain deprivations, homosexuals feel as though “equal” rights have been taken away (i.e., marriage, tax breaks, etc.).
Skin color and other genetic traits can be traced through inheritance patterns and simple Mendelian genetics. Homosexuals are identified not by a trait or a gene, but rather by their actions. Without the action, they would be indistinguishable from all other people. It is only when they alter their behavior that they become a group that is recognized as being different. If we were to assume momentarily that homosexuality was genetic, then the most one could conclude is that those individuals were not morally responsible for being homosexual. However, that does not mean that they are not morally responsible for homosexual actions! Merely having the gene would not force one to carry out the behavior. For instance, if scientists were able to document that a “rape gene” existed, we certainly would not blame an individual for possessing this gene, but neither would we allow him to act upon that rape disposition. Neil Risch and his coworkers admitted:
There is little disagreement that male homosexual orientation is not a Mendelian trait. In fact, a priori, one would expect the role of a major gene in male homosexual orientation to be limited because of the strong selective pressures against such a gene. It is unlikely that a major gene underlying such a common trait could persist over time without an extraordinary counterbalancing mechanism (1993, 262:2064).Evan S. Balaban, a neurobiologist at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, noted that
the search for the biological underpinnings of complex human traits has a sorry history of late. In recent years, researchers and the media have proclaimed the “discovery” of genes linked to alcoholism and mental illness as well as to homosexuality. None of the claims...has been confirmed (as quoted in Horgan, 1995).Charles Mann agreed, stating: “Time and time again, scientists have claimed that particular genes or chromosomal regions are associated with behavioral traits, only to withdraw their findings when they were not replicated” (1994, 264:1687). It appears that the gay gene will be added to this category of unreplicated claims.
The real issue here is homosexual actions that society has deemed immoral and, in many instances, illegal. Since no study has firmly established an underlying genetic cause for homosexuality, arguments suggesting “equal rights” are both baseless and illogical.
The famous Kinsey Institute report often is cited as evidence that 10% of the population is homosexual. In his book, Is It a Choice?: Answers to 300 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gays and Lesbians, Eric Marcus used the Kinsey studies to demonstrate that one in ten people is homosexual (1993). In truth, Kinsey never reported figures that high. The Kinsey Report clearly stated that: “Only about 4 percent of the men [evaluated] were exclusively homosexual throughout their entire lives.... Only 2 or 3 percent of these women were exclusively homosexual their entire lives” (see Reinisch and Beasley, 1990, p. 140). However, there is good reason to believe that the real percentage is not even this high.
While no one has carried out a door-to-door census, we do have a fairly accurate estimate. Interestingly, these statistics came to light in an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26, 2003, in the Lawrence vs. Texas case (commonly known as the Texas sodomy case). On page 16 of this legal brief, footnote 42 revealed that 31 homosexual and pro-homosexual groups admitted the following:
The most widely accepted study of sexual practices in the United States is the National Health and Social Life Survey (NHSLS). The NHSLS found that 2.8% of the male, and 1.4% of the female population identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual (Laumann, et al., 1994).The study also found that only 0.9% of men and 0.4% of women reported having only same-sex partners since age 18—a figure that would represent a total of only 1.4 million Americans as homosexual (based on the last census report, showing roughly 292 million people living in America). The resulting accurate figures demonstrate that significantly less than one percent of the American population claims to be homosexual. The NHSLS results are similar to a survey conducted by the Minnesota Adolescent Health Survey (1986) of public school students. The survey showed that only 0.6% of the boys and 0.2% of the girls identified themselves as “mostly or 100% homosexual.”
The 2000 census sheds even more light on the subject. The overall statistics from the 2000 Census Bureau revealed:
- The total population of the U.S. is 285,230,516.
- The total number of households in the U.S. is 106,741,426.
- The total number of unmarried same-sex households is 601,209.
But since most people are not mathematicians, we would like to make this point in a way that most individuals will be able to better comprehend. If we were to start a new television sitcom, and wanted to accurately portray homosexual ratios in society, we would need 199 heterosexual actors before we finally introduced one homosexual actor.
And yet modern television casts of three or four often include one or more homosexual actor(s). The statistics from the 2000 census are not figures grabbed from the air and placed on a political sign or Web site to promote a particular agenda. These were census data that were carefully collected from the entire United States population, contrary to the limited scope of studies designed to show a genetic cause for homosexuality.
IS HOMOSEXUALITY GENETIC?
Former democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Governor Howard Dean signed a bill legalizing civil unions for homosexuals in Vermont. In defending his actions, he commented: “The overwhelming evidence is that there is a very significant, substantial genetic component to it. From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people” (as quoted in VandeHei, 2004). Dean is not alone in such thinking.
Most people are familiar with the idea that research has been performed that allegedly supports the existence of a gay gene. However, that idea has been a long time in the making. Almost fifty years ago, the landmark Kinsey report was produced using the sexual histories of thousands of Americans. While that report consisted of a diverse sample, it was not a representative sample of the general population (Kinsey, et al., 1948, 1953). In 1994, Richard Friedman and Jennifer Downey published a review on homosexuality in The New England Journal of Medicine. In reviewing Kinsey’s work, they noted:
Kinsey reported that 8 percent of men and 4 percent of women were exclusively homosexual for a period of at least three years during adulthood. Four percent of men and 2 percent of women were exclusively homosexual after adolescence (1994, 331:923).With this “statistical information” in hand, some sought to change the way homosexuality was viewed by both the public and the medical community. Prior to 1973, homosexuality appeared in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the official reference book used by the American Psychiatric Association for diagnosing mental disorders in America and throughout much of the rest of the world. Homosexuality was considered a sickness that doctors routinely treated. In 1973, however, it was removed as a sexual disorder, based on the claim that it did not fulfill the “distress and social disability” criteria that were used to define a disorder. Today, there is no mention of homosexuality in the DSM-IV (aside from a section describing gender identity disorder), indicating that individuals with this condition are not suitable candidates for therapy (see American Psychiatric Association, 2000).
Physicians treating patients for homosexuality (to bring about a change in sexual orientation) frequently are reported to ethics committees in an attempt to have them cease. Robert Spitzer lamented:
Several authors have argued that clinicians who attempt to help their clients change their homosexual orientation are violating professional ethical codes by providing a “treatment” that is ineffective, often harmful, and reinforces in their clients the false belief that homosexuality is a disorder and needs treatment (2003, 32:403).Thus, the stage was set for the appearance of a “gay gene.”
SIMON LEVAY—BRAIN DIFFERENCES
LeVay’s Reported FindingsLeVay reported that clusters of these neurons (INAH) in homosexual men were the same size as clusters in women, both of which were significantly smaller than clusters in heterosexual men. LeVay reported that the nuclei in INAH 3 were “more than twice as large in the heterosexual men as in the women. It was also, however, more than twice as large in the heterosexual men as in the homosexual men” (1991, 253:1034). This difference was interpreted as strong evidence of a biological link to homosexuality. LeVay’s assumption was that homosexual urges can be biologically based—so long as cluster size is accepted as being genetically determined.
Diagram showing INAH area. LifeART images copyright © 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
When looking at the methodology of the LeVay study, one of the key problems is that the study has never been reproduced. As William Byne noted, LeVay’s work
has not been replicated, and human neuroanatomical studies of this kind have a very poor track record for reproducibility. Indeed, procedures similar to those LeVay used to identify nuclei have previously led researchers astray (1994, 270:53, emp. added).Additionally, of nineteen homosexual subjects used in the study, all had died of complications of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS has been shown to decrease testosterone levels, so it should be expected that those who suffered from that condition would have smaller INAH. Byne continued his comments on LeVay’s work.
His inclusion of a few brains from heterosexual men with AIDS did not adequately address the fact that at the time of death, virtually all men with AIDS have decreased testosterone levels as the result of the disease itself or the side effects of particular treatments. To date, LeVay has examined the brain of only one gay man who did not die of AIDS (270:53).Furthermore, in a scientific environment where controls and standards are a necessity, LeVay did not possess a complete medical history of the individuals included in his study. He therefore was forced to assume the sexual orientation of the non-AIDS victims as being heterosexual, when some may not have been. In addition, bear in mind that he had no evidence regarding the sexual orientation of the women whose brains he examined. LeVay has admitted:
It’s important to stress what I didn’t find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain (as quoted in Byrd, et al., 2001, emp. added).Many have argued that what LeVay discovered in the brains of those he examined was only a result of prior behavior, not the cause of it. Mark Breedlove, a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, has demonstrated that sexual behavior has an effect on the brain. In referring to his own research, Breedlove commented: “These findings give us proof for what we theoretically know to be the case—that sexual experience can alter the structure of the brain, just as genes can alter it.... [I]t is possible that differences in sexual behavior cause (rather than are caused by) differences in the brain” (as quoted in Byrd, et al., parenthetical item in orig.). Considering this type of research, it makes sense that a homosexual lifestyle (and/or the AIDS condition) could alter the size of the nuclei LeVay was measuring.
What exactly did LeVay find? In actuality, not much. He did observe slight differences between the groups—if you accept the method he used for measuring the size of the neuron clusters (and some researchers do not). When each individual was considered by himself, there was not a significant difference; only when the individuals involved in the study were considered in groups of homosexuals vs. heterosexuals did differences result. Hubbard and Wald commented on this lack of difference:
Though, on average, the size of the hypothalamic nucleus LeVay considered significant was indeed smaller in the men he identified as homosexual, his published data show that the range of sizes of the individual samples was virtually the same as for the heterosexual men. That is, the area was larger in some of the homosexuals than in many of the heterosexual men, and smaller in some of the heterosexual men than in many of the homosexuals. This means that, though the groups showed some difference as groups, there was no way to tell anything about an individual’s sexual orientation by looking at his hypothalamus (1997, pp. 95-96, emp. added).Being homosexual himself, it is no surprise that LeVay observed: “...[P]eople who think that gays and lesbians are born that way are more likely to support gay rights.” In a Newsweek article, LeVay was quoted as saying, “I felt if I didn’t find any [difference in the hypothalamuses], I would give up a scientific career altogether” (as quoted in Gelman, et al., 1992, p. 49). Given how (poorly) twisted LeVay’s data are, and his own personal bias, his abandonment of science may have ultimately been of greater service.
Brain Plasticity—A Fact Acknowledged by All NeuroscientistsToday, scientists are keenly aware of the fact that the brain is not as “hard-wired” or permanently fixed as once thought—an important factor that LeVay failed to acknowledge. One of the properties of plastic is flexibility—many containers are made out of plastic so that they will not shatter when dropped. In a similar manner, the brain was once considered to be rigid, like Ball® jars used for canning—but we now know the brain is “plastic” and flexible, and able to reorganize itself. Research has shown that the brain is able to remodel its connections and grow larger, according to the specific areas that are most frequently utilized. Given that we know today that the brain exhibits plasticity, one must ask if the act of living a homosexual lifestyle itself might be responsible for the difference LeVay noted? Commenting on brain plasticity, Shepherd noted:
The inability to generate new neurons might imply that the adult nervous system is a static, “hard-wired” machine. This is far from the truth. Although new neurons cannot be generated, each neuron retains the ability to form new processes and new synaptic connections (1994).Interestingly, since Shepherd’s textbook was published, additional research has even documented the ability of neurons to be generated within certain areas of the brain. This information must be considered when examining comparative anatomical experiments such as LeVay’s. These cortical rearrangements that occur are not as simple as unplugging a lamp and plugging it into another socket. The changes observed by researchers indicate that if the brain were represented by a home electrical system, then many of the wires within the walls would be pulled out, rewired to different connections in different rooms, new outlets would appear, and some would even carry different voltages. Due to the colossal connectivity that takes place within the brain, any “rewiring” is, by its very nature, going to have an effect on several areas—such as INAH3. Scientists understand these things, yet LeVay’s work is still mentioned as alleged support for the so-called gay gene.
BAILEY AND PILLARD—
THE FAMOUS “TWINS” STUDY
Michael Bailey and Richard Pillard, researchers at Northwestern University and the Boston University School of Medicine, carried out a similar experiment, examining 56 pairs of identical twins, 54 pairs of fraternal twins, 142 non-twin brothers of twins, and 57 pairs of adoptive brothers (1991, 48:1089-1096). Bailey and Pillard were looking to see if homosexuality was passed on through familial lines, or if one could point to environmental factors as the cause. Their hypothesis: if homosexuality is an inherited trait, then more twin brothers would be expected to have the same orientation than non-twin or non-biological brothers.
Their Reported Findings
- 52% of identical (monozygotic) twins of homosexual men were homosexual
- 22% of fraternal (dizygotic) twins were likewise homosexual
- 11% of adoptive brothers of homosexual men were homosexual
- 9.2% of non-twin biological siblings reported homosexual orientations (Bailey and Pillard, 1991, “A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation”)
- 48% of identical twins of homosexual women were likewise homosexual
- 16% of fraternal (dizygotic) twins were likewise homosexual
- 6% of adoptive sisters of homosexual women were likewise homosexual (Bailey and Benishay, 1993, “Familial Aggregation of Female Sexual Orientation”)
Problems with Bailey and Pillard’s StudyWhile the authors acknowledged some of the flaws with their research, they still were quoted in Science News as saying: “Our research shows that male sexual orientation is substantially genetic” (as quoted in Bower, 1992, 141:6). However, the most glaring observation is that clearly not 100% of the identical twins “inherited” homosexuality. If there was, in fact, a “gay gene,” then all of the identical twins should have reported a homosexual orientation. And yet, in nearly half of the twins studied, one brother was not homosexual. In a technical-comment letter in Science, Neil Risch and colleagues pointed out: “The biological brothers and adoptive brothers showed approximately the same rates. This latter observation suggests that there is no genetic component, but rather an environmental component shared in families” (1993, 262:2063). In fact, more adoptive brothers shared homosexuality than non-twin biological brothers. If there was a genetic factor, this result would be counter to the expected trend. Byne and Parsons noted:
However, the concordance rate for homosexuality in nontwin biologic brothers was only 9.2—significantly lower than that required by simple genetic hypothesis, which, on the basis of shared genetic material, would predict similar concordance rates for DZ [dizygotic] twins and nontwin biologic brothers. Furthermore, the fact that the concordance rates were similar for nontwin biologic brothers (9.2%) and genetically unrelated adoptive brothers (11.0%) is at odds with a simple genetic hypothesis, which would predict a higher concordance rate for biological siblings (1993, 50:229).A more recently published twin study failed to find similar concordance rates. King and McDonald studied 46 homosexual men and women who were twins. The concordance rates that they reported were 10%, or 25% with monozygotic twins—depending on whether or not the bisexuals were included along with the homosexuals. The rates for dizygotic twins were 8% or 12%, again, depending on whether bisexuals were included (King and McDonald, 1992). Byne and Parsons commented: “These rates are significantly lower than those reported by Bailey and Pillard; in comparison of the MZ [monozygotic] concordance rate, including bisexuals (25%), with the comparable figure from Bailey and Pillard (52%)” (p. 230). They went on to observe: “Furthermore, if the concordance rate is similar for MZ and DZ twins, the importance of genetic factors would be considerably less than that suggested by Bailey and Pillard” (p. 230, emp. added).
Another factor that may have had a drastic affect on the results of this study (and other similar studies) centers on methodology. Bailey and Pillard did not study a random sample of homosexuals. Instead, the subjects were recruited through advertisements placed in homosexual publications. This method can be deemed questionable because it is highly dependent on the readership of those publications and on the motives of those who respond. Thus, it may lead to skewed results—for example, inflated rates of concordance in identical twins owing to preferential participation (see Baron, 1993). Hubbard and Wald observed:
The fact that fraternal twins of gay men were roughly twice as likely to be gay as other biological brothers shows that environmental factors are involved, since fraternal twins are no more similar biologically than are other biological brothers. If being a fraternal twin exerts an environmental influence, it does not seem surprising that this should be even truer for identical twins, who the world thinks of as “the same” and treats accordingly, and who often share those feelings of sameness (1997, p. 97).In summarizing their findings, Byne and Parsons stated: “Critical review shows the evidence favoring a biologic theory to be lacking” (50:228). Commenting on Bailey and Pillard’s report, researchers Billings and Beckwith wrote:
While the authors interpreted their findings as evidence for a genetic basis for homosexuality, we think that the data in fact provide strong evidence for the influence of the environment (1993, p. 60).When evaluated scientifically, twin studies fail to provide any valid support for the longed-for “gay gene.”
DEAN HAMER—THE GAY GENE
ON THE X CHROMOSOME
In many families, gay men had gay relatives through maternal lines. Thus, they concluded that a gene for homosexuality might be found on the X chromosome, which is passed from the mother alone. They then used DNA linkage analysis in an effort to find a correlation between inheritance and homosexual orientation.
Their Reported FindingsBecause many of the families with a prevalence of homosexual relatives had a common set of DNA markers on the X chromosome, Hamer’s group assumed a genetic etiology. Of the 40 pairs of homosexual brothers he analyzed, Hamer found that 33 exhibited a matching DNA region called q28—a gene located at the tip of the long arm of the X chromosome. In summarizing their findings, Hamer and colleagues noted: “Our experiments suggest that a locus (or loci) related to sexual orientation lies within approximately 4 million base pairs of DNA on the tip of the long arm of the X chromosome” (1993, 261:326, parenthetical item in orig.). This discovery prompted Hamer and his colleagues to speculate:
The linkage to markers on Xq28, the subtelomeric region of the long arm of the sex chromosome, had a multipoint lod score of 4.0, indicating a statistical confidence level of more than 99 percent that at least one subtype of male sexual orientation is genetically influenced (261:321, emp. added).It is important to note that Hamer did not claim to have found a “gay gene,” or even the set of genes, that might contribute to a propensity for homosexuality. According to Chicago Tribune staff writer, John Crewdson, what Hamer claimed to have found was “statistical evidence that such genes exist” (1995).
Problems with Hamer’s StudyOne of the most significant problems with Hamer’s approach is that he and his colleagues did not feel that it was necessary to check whether any of the heterosexual men in these families shared the marker in question! Would it not be useful to know whether or not this “gay gene” is found in heterosexuals? Even if only a few of them possess the gene, it calls into question what the gene or the self-identification signifies. Additionally, Hamer never explained why the other seven pairs of brothers did not display the same genetic marker. If this is “the gene” for homosexuality, then one must assume all homosexual individuals would possess that particular marker—and yet that was not the case in Hamer’s study.
In a letter to Science, Anne Fausto-Sterling and Evan Balaban pointed out some of the additional problems with Hamer’s study. They noted:
Despite our praise for aspects of Hamer, et al.’s work, we feel it is also important to recognize some of its weaknesses. The most obvious of these is the lack of an adequate control group. Their study demonstrates cosegregation of a trait (which Hamer, et al. have labeled “homosexuality”) with X chromosome markers and the trait’s concordance in homosexual brothers. This cosegregation is potentially meaningful if the mother is heterozygous for the trait. In this case, segregating chromosomes without the markers should show up in nonhomosexual brothers, but Hamer, et al. present no data to that effect (1993, 261:1257, emp. added).Fausto-Sterling and Balaban continued:
This sensitivity to assumptions about background levels makes Hamer, et al.’s data less robust than the summary in their abstract indicates.... Finally we wish to emphasize a point with which we are sure Hamer, et al. would agree: correlation does not necessarily indicate causation (261:1257).In other words, Hamer’s methodology leaves something to be desired. One also should keep in mind that Hamer’s sampling was not random, and, as a result, his data may not reflect the real population.
George Rice and his colleagues from Canada looked intently at the gene Xq28. They then observed: “Allele and halotype sharing for these markers was not increased over expectation. These results do not support an X-linked gene underlying male homosexuality” (1999, 284:665, emp. added). Rice, et al., included 182 families in their study. They noted:
It is unclear why our results are so discrepant from Hamer’s original study. Because our study was larger than that of Hamer et al., we certainly had adequate power to detect a genetic effect as large as was reported in that study. Nonetheless, our data do not support the presence of a gene of large effect influencing sexual orientation at position Xq28 (284:667).That is a tactful way of saying that any claims of having found a “gay gene” were overblown, if not outright false, and that Hamer’s results are dubious at best. Commenting on the study of Rice and his colleagues, Ingrid Wickelgren remarked: “...the Ontario team found that gay brothers were no more likely to share the Xq28 markers than would be expected by chance.... Ebers interprets all these results to mean that the X linkage is all but dead” (1999, 284:571, emp. added).
In June of 1998, University of Chicago psychiatrist Alan Sanders reported at the meeting of the American Psychiatric Association that he, too, had been unable to verify Hamer’s results. Looking for an increase in Xq28 linkage, Sanders’ team studied 54 pairs of gay brothers. As Wickelgren indicated, Sanders’ team had found “only a weak hint—that wasn’t statistically significant—of an Xq28 linkage among 54 gay brother pairs” (284:571). Commenting on the validity of Hamer’s study, Wickelgren quoted George Rice: “Taken together, Rice says, the results ‘suggest that if there is a linkage it’s so weak it’s not important’” (1999, emp. added). Two independent labs failed to reproduce anything even remotely resembling Hamer’s results.
CHANGEABILITY OF HOMOSEXUALS—
EVIDENCE AGAINST GENETICS
Robert Spitzer conducted a study on 200 self-selected individuals (143 males, 57 females) in an effort to see if participants could change their sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual (2003, 32:403-417). He reported some minimal change from homosexual to heterosexual orientation that lasted at least five years (p. 403). Spitzer observed:
The majority of participants gave reports of change from a predominantly or exclusively homosexual orientation before therapy to a predominantly or exclusively heterosexual orientation in the past year (p. 403).In summarizing his findings, Spitzer declared: “Thus, there is evidence that change in sexual orientation following some form of reparative therapy does occur in some gay men and lesbians.” He thus concluded: “This study provides evidence that some gay men and lesbians are able to also change the core features of sexual orientation” (p. 415).
Six years earlier, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) released the results of a two-year study stating:
Before treatment, 68 percent of the respondents perceived themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual, with another 22 percent stating that they were more homosexual than heterosexual. After treatment, only 13 percent perceived themselves as exclusively or almost entirely homosexual, while 33 percent described themselves as either exclusively or almost entirely heterosexual (see Nicolosi, 2000, 86:1071).The study also reported:
Although 83 percent of respondents indicated that they entered therapy primarily because of homosexuality, 99 percent of those who participated in the survey said they now believe treatment to change homosexuality can be effective and valuable (p. 1071).These data are consistent with the ongoing research project of Rob Goetze, who has identified 84 articles or books that contain some relevance to the possibility of sexual orientation change (2004). Of the data reported, 31 of the 84 studies showed a quantitative outcome of individuals able to change sexual orientation. These are not studies that merely speculate on the ability to change; they actually have the numbers to back it up! All of these data come on the heels of warnings from the Surgeon General, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and all of the major mental health associations, which have issued position statements warning of possible harm from such therapy, and have asserted that there is no evidence that such therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation. For instance, the 1998 American Psychiatric Association Position Statement on Psychiatric Treatment and Sexual Orientation noted:
...there is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation.... The potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior (see American Psychiatric Association, 1999, p. 1131).Thus, physicians are caught in a quandary of a double standard. On the one hand, they are told that it is “unethical” for a clinician to provide reparative therapy because homosexuality is not a diagnosable disorder, and thus one should not seek to change. Yet, they contend that not enough studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of reparative therapy. The message is loud and clear: “Do not do this because it is unethical to ask a homosexual person to change. However, truth be told, we have not collected enough data to know if a person can safely change his or her sexual orientation.”
In situations where sexual orientation is being measured, studies face serious methodological problems (i.e., follow-up assessment, possible bias, no detailed sexual history, random sampling, etc.). But even given these serious shortcomings from behavioral studies such as these, there are sufficient data to indicate that an individual can change his or her sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual—something that would be an impossibility if homosexuality were caused by genetics.
Bailey, Michael J., and Richard C. Pillard (1991), “A Genetic Study of Male Sexual Orientation,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 48:1089-1096, December.
Bailey, Michael J. and D.S. Benishay (1993), “Familial Aggregation of Female Sexual Orientation,” American Journal of Psychiatry, 150:272-277.
Baron M. (1993), “Genetics and Human Sexual Orientation [Editorial],” Biological Psychiatry, 33:759-761.
Billings, P. and J. Beckwith (1993), Technology Review, July, p. 60.
Bower, B. (1992), “Gene Influence Tied to Sexual Orientation,” Science News, 141:6, January 4.
Byne, William (1994), “The Biological Evidence Challenged,” Scientific American, 270:50-55, May.
Byne, William and Bruce Parsons (1993), “Human Sexual Orientation,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 50:228-239, March.
Byrd, A. Dean, Shirley E. Cox, and Jeffrey W. Robinson (2001), “Homosexuality: The Innate-Immutability Argument Finds No Basis in Science,” The Salt Lake Tribune, [On-line] URL: http://www.sltrib.com/2001/may/05272001/commenta/100523.htm.
Crewdson, John (1995), “Dean Hamer’s Argument for the Existence of ‘Gay Genes,’ ” Chicago Tribune, News Section, p. 11, June 25.
Fausto-Sterling, Anne and Evan Balaban (1993), “Genetics and Male Sexual Orientation,” [technical-comment letter to the editor], Science, 261:1257, September 3.
Friedman, Richard C. and Jennifer I. Downey (1994), “Homosexuality,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 331:923-930, October 6.
Gelman, David, with Donna Foote, Todd Barrett, and Mary Talbot (1992), “Born or Bred?,” Newsweek, pp. 46-53, February 24.
Goetze, Rob (2004), “Homosexuality and the Possibility of Change: An Ongoing Research Project,” [On-line], URL: http://www.newdirection.ca/research/index.html.
Hamer, Dean H., Stella Hu, Victoria L. Magnuson, Nan Hu, and Angela M.L. Pattatucci (1993), “A Linkage Between DNA Markers on the X Chromosome and Male Sexual Orientation,” Science, 261:321-327, July 16.
Horgan, John (1995), “Gay Genes, Revisited,” Scientific American, 273:26, November.
Howe, Richard (1994), “Homosexuality in America: Exposing the Myths,” American Family Association, [On-line], URL: http://www.afa.net/homosexual_agenda/homosexuality.pdf.
Hubbard, Ruth and Elijah Wald (1997), Exploding the Gene Myth (Boston: Beacon Press).
“Human Genome Report Press Release” (2003), International Consortium Completes Human Genome Project, [On-line], URL: http://www.ornl.gov/TechResources/Human_Genome/project/50yr.html.
Kallmann, F.J. (1952), “Comparative Twin Study on the Genetic Aspects of Male Homosexuality,” Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 115:283-298.
King, M. and E. McDonald (1992), “Homosexuals Who are Twins: A Study of 46 Probands,” The British Journal of Psychiatry, 160: 407-409.
Kinsey, A.C. W.B. Pomeroy, C.E. Martin (1948), Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders).
Kinsey, A.C. W.B. Pomeroy, C.E. Martin, P. H. Gebhard (1953), Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders).
Laumann, Edward O., John H. Gagnon, Robert T. Michael, and Stuart Michaels (1994), The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
LeVay, Simon (1991), “A Difference in Hypothalamic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men,” Science, 253:1034-1037, August 30.
Mann, Charles (1994), “Behavioral Genetics in Transition,” Science, 264:1686-1689, June 17.
Marcus, Eric (1993), Is It a Choice? (San Francisco, CA: Harper).
NCBI (2004), “Human Genome Resources,” [On-line], URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genome/guide/human/.
Nicolosi, Joseph, A. Dean Byrd, and Richard Potts (2000), “Retrospective Self-reports of Changes in Homosexual Orientation: A Consumer Survey of Conversion Therapy Clients,” Psychological Reports, 86:1071-1088, June.
Rainer, J.D., A. Mesnikoff, LC. Kolb, and A. Carr (1960), “Homosexuality and Heterosexuality in Identical Twins,” Psychosomatic Medicine, 22:251-259.
Reinisch, June M. and Ruth Beasley (1990) The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex (New York: St. Martin’s Press).
Rice, George, Carol Anderson, Neil Risch, and George Ebers (1999), “Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers at Xq28,” Science, 284:665-667, April 23.
Risch, Neil, Elizabeth Squires-Wheeler, and Bronya J.B. Keats (1993), “Male Sexual Orientation and Genetic Evidence,” Science, 262:2063-2064, December 24.
Shepherd, Gordon M. (1994) Neurobiology (Oxford: Oxford University Press), third edition.
Spitzer, Robert L. (2003), “Can Some Gay Men and Lesbians Change Their Sexual Orientation?,” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32:403-417, October 5.
VandeHei, Jim (2004), “Dean Says Faith Swayed Decision on Gay Unions,” The Washington Post, p. A-1, January 8.
Wickelgren, Ingrid (1999), “Discovery of ‘Gay Gene’ Questioned,” Science, 284:571, April 23.
"This Is the Law and the Prophets"
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Most people who are familiar with the Bible would agree that Matthew chapters 5-7, often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount, contain some of the most memorable sayings in the world. Jesus’ list of beatitudes (5:3-12), His instruction to “do to others what you would have them do to you” (7:12, NIV), and His parable of the wise man and the foolish man (7:24-27) often are recalled even by those who rarely (if ever) read the Bible. When people implement these principles and rules that Jesus taught nearly 2,000 years ago, individuals grow stronger, families become more united, and society becomes a better place in which to live.
Sadly, however, the most famous “sermon” in the world also has become one of the most misunderstood and most abused sermons ever delivered. “Judge not, that you be not judged” (7:1) is quoted to “prove” that we never can judge anyone at anytime (cf. John 7:24). The narrow and difficult way to heaven that few will find often is discounted by the idea that nearly everyone will have eternal life (7:13-14). And millions of people have changed Jesus’ statement, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven” (7:21), to “Just accept Jesus into your heart and you will be saved.”
Another misconception of the Sermon on the Mount revolves around some of the contrasts Jesus made. Six times in Matthew 5 it is recorded that Jesus contrasted what “was said” to what “I say.” Many believe that Jesus was contrasting the old law of Moses (what “was said”) with the new law of Christ (what “I say”). Whereas Jesus taught that it was wrong to be angry with a brother without a cause (5:22-26), many contend that the old law taught only murder as being wrong and not the emotions (such as anger) that lead to murder (5:21). Supposedly the law of Christ went a step further than the Law of Moses. According to this line of thinking, the old law taught individuals to take personal retribution on those who wronged them (5:38) and to hate their enemies (5:43), while the new law taught to resist retaliation (5:39-42) and to love your enemies (5:44). In contrasting the Law of Moses and the righteousness of the kingdom that Jesus would require, the point frequently is made that the old law was concerned only with the actions of man, whereas the new law is concerned about the heart of man.
The first problem with this line of thinking is that Jesus never said He was contrasting His teachings with the old law. Instead, Jesus made statements such as: (1) “you have heard that it was said to those of old” (5:21,27); (2) “furthermore it has been said” (5:31); (3) “again you have heard that it was said to those of old” (5:33); and (4) “you have heard that it was said” (5:38,43). If Jesus were referring to what Moses had commanded in the old law itself, likely a different wording would have been used. For example, at other times, when Jesus definitely was referring to what the law actually said, He made such statements as “it is written” (Matthew 4:4,7,10) and “Moses commanded” (Matthew 8:4). [Notice that these phrases occur in the chapters immediately before and after the Sermon on the Mount.] Instead of using phrases like these to show that He was referring to the Law of Moses, Jesus repeatedly spoke about what “was said.” He never mentioned who said it, only that it had been said.
Another dilemma that arises when one teaches that Jesus merely was contrasting the old law with the new law is that Jesus referred to some statements that simply are not to be found in the Old Testament. For instance, in Matthew 5:21 He said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” The phrase “and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment” is found nowhere in the Old Testament. Likewise, when Jesus stated, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ ” He could not have been quoting from the old law because the old law never said to “hate your enemy.”
So what was Jesus doing if He was not contrasting the old law with the new law? The answer to this question is found in the immediate context of this passage where Jesus stated: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets, I did not come to destroy but to fulfill…. I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17,20). The comparisons Jesus made throughout the rest of the chapter were between the traditional/oral interpretation and application of the Law of Moses (not the revealed written Law of Moses) and the righteousness of the kingdom that Jesus would require of His disciples (under the new law). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expounded the real meaning of the original law as it was intended. He applied it correctly, and “the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29). The scribes and Pharisees had failed in their attempts to explain the law correctly, whereas Jesus explained and applied its real meaning and exposed the error of the “learned.” This point is illustrated perfectly by one of Jesus’ statements recorded in chapter 7: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the prophets” (v.12, emp. added). Jesus was not instituting a new commandment; rather He was explaining that doing “to others what you would have them do to you” is a summary expression of all that the Old Testament required (Barnes).
Although many people in the religious world teach that in His oft’-quoted sermon Jesus simply was contrasting the old law with the new law, the context indicates that Jesus actually was reacting, not to the law itself, but to the way the law had been misinterpreted and abused. The Old Testament did not encourage or allow a person to be angry with his brother without a cause or to covet another’s wife (cf. Proverbs 6:18; Exodus 20:17), but, sadly, many of the Jews had interpreted the law in such a way. In His masterful explanation of the law, Jesus exposed the error of the scribes and Pharisees and preached the righteousness demanded of those who wish to enter the kingdom of heaven. Even though we no longer are under the old law today (Hebrews 8:7-13; Colossians 2:14; etc.), what a blessing it is read it (cf. Romans 15:4) and to learn from the Master’s perfect interpretation of it. Like Ezra and others from long ago, Jesus “gave the sense [of the law], and helped them to understand the reading” (cf. Nehemiah 8:8).
In our study of the Book of Acts, we now come its final story after the Apostle Paul arrives in Rome. I sure he gained the respect of the Roman guards who accompanied him on his voyage to Rome, but he is still a prisoner.
Acts 28:17-31 17 Three days later he called together the local Jewish leaders. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans. 18 They examined me and wanted to release me, because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death. 19 The Jews objected, so I was compelled to make an appeal to Caesar. I certainly did not intend to bring any charge against my own people. 20For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”
21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of our people who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. 22But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.”
23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. 24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. 25They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your ancestors when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
26 “‘Go to this people and say,
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
27 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]
“You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.”
27 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’[a]
28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” 
30 For two whole years Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came to see him. 31 He proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!
At this point, Paul is still under house arrest. He is still in chains for a crime he didn’t commit. And he’s awaiting trial before the wicked emperor Nero. And he would be imprisoned for two years. To some it may have seemed as though his life and mission was over.
And Paul could have thrown in the towel. And said, “Lord, I’m done.”
But that’s not what Paul said. Instead, he said, “Lord, your grace is sufficient for me. And I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. And I’m going to take advantage of my situation. And bring as many people to the Lord as I possibly can.”
But that’s not what Paul said. Instead, he said, “Lord, your grace is sufficient for me. And I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. And I’m going to take advantage of my situation. And bring as many people to the Lord as I possibly can.”
While in that Roman jail Paul wrote what we know as this prison Epistles, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Listen to what he writes to those in Philippi; “12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guardand to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.” 1:12-14
We see the Gospel was advanced as a result of Paul’s imprisonment: #1) The palace guard was being evangelized, and #2) It helped boost the confidence of other Christians and caused them to be braver about sharing the Gospel to others.
I believe Paul was a great missionary because he was willing to be one every single day of his life. No matter where he was or what he was going through. In fact, everyone who accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior is accepting a missionary responsibility. How do I know that? Because Acts 1:8 says “you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth!” And that was the very theme of this entire book
Every Christian in this room has a story and is has witnessed things that God has don in your own life. You are witnesses to the power and mercy of God and we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it.
I recently read about a woman by the name of Myrtie Howell. She was a devoted Christian woman. But she had lived a hard life. Her family was very poor. When she was 10, she quit school and went to work in a steel mill for 10 cents a day. She married at age 17. But in early 1940, her husband was killed in an accident. And when that happened, she lost her home. And she had to go back to work to support herself and her three kids.
Years later, her declining health forced her to move into an old, high rise nursing home. A few weeks later, her youngest son died. And that’s when she fell into a depression. She said, “Lord, what more can I do for you? I’ve lost everything that ever meant something to me. And now I’m stuck in this dark, dreary room. I have nothing left to live for! I want to die! I’ve had enough of this prison. Take me home.”
But then God spoke to her as clear as possible. He said, “I’m not through with you yet, Myrtie. I want you write to prisoners.”
So she wrote a letter and sent it to the Atlanta Penitentiary. And this is what the letter said: “Dear inmate. I am a grandmother who loves and cares for you. I am willing to be a friend. If you’d like to hear from me, write me. I will answer every letter you write. A Christian friend, Grandmother Howell.”
The letter was given to the prison chaplain. And he gave her the names of eight prisoners she could write to. Prison Fellowship gave her some more names. Soon, she was corresponding with up to 40 inmates a day. She became a one woman ministry reaching into prisons all over America.
Later she said, “I thought my life was over. But these past few years have been the most fulfilling years of my life! I thank Prison Fellowship! And most of all, I thank Jesus!”
Myrtie Howell became a great missionary for God out of a one room apartment.
No matter where you live. Or what your situation is like. God can still do wonderful things through your life. As long as your heart is still beating, and your blood is still pumping, Jesus Christ is not through with you.
Some of you may be thinking, “I’m still waiting to find God’s will for my life. If he would only tell me! In a dream. Or in a vision. Or in a moment of inspiration.”
Here’s your moment of inspiration: God’s will for your life is right here in Acts 1! Be a witness for Jesus Christ wherever you are and whatever you’re doing!
There are 3 things you should do if you are ready to be a missionary for God.
#1: Be available: In Acts 28, Paul calls together all the Jewish leaders. And basically says, “Guys. I just want you to know that I’m available! I’m a Christian. And I’m able to talk more about it at your convenience.”
Well you may be thinking, “Well I’ve tried but the people I talked to did not respond.” Well are you any different than Paul here? How many time did people reject his teachings. For that matter how many rejected the words of Jesus himself? The simple fact of the matter is, many will not want to hear what you want to say…… but some will.
And #2 We should be hospitable. In Acts 28:30 it says that Paul welcomed all who came to see him.” He wasn’t prejudiced against any race or any religion. He welcomed everyone! We talked a lot about this in the last lesson.
I believe there are a lot of people out there looking for something and many of them don’t know what they are looking for. Our Love and Hospitality will help them find what they are looking for.
1 Thessalonians 2:8 Paul wrote to them saying, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but OUR LIVES AS WELL!”
People’s lives are rarely changed because of a sermon or a visit to church. But they are often changed by Christian people who live out the truth of those sermons every day of their lives. You have a chance to become a neighbor like that! And to become a great missionary for God.
So be available. Be hospitable. #3, you have to be biblical. In Acts 28:23, it says that from morning till evening, Paul tried to convince them about Jesus. from scripture.
It’s good to be nice, and neighborly, and compassionate. But at some point, you have to say something. The name of Jesus has to come up in conversation.
We should not be afraid to use God’s word at the appropriate time. Do you remember that God’s word is sharper than any double edged sword… it can even cut right down into the heart of the strongest man.
Most scholars believe that Paul was set free after this first imprisonment in Rome to continue his mission for Christ. Many believe that this first imprisonment took place between the 60 to 62 AD. After being released he Returned to the Aegean area. And sometime between 62-66 He wrote his Pastorial Epistles of 1 Timothy and Titus. He was again arrested in Rome in the years of 67 where he wrote 2 Timothy and then was Martyred in Rome in the year AD 68.
Do you want to know what Paul was all about? Well he lets us know in his writings .
In Philippians 1:21 Paul writes, “21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!”
In Philippians 3:7-13 he writes, “7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
But then in his final letter to Timothy he writes just before his death, “6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
If the Church is going to grow in our generation, we’ll need more men and women like Paul.
My encouragement this today is than we do not forget our Christian mission, and that is to share the good news about Jesus with those we come in contact with. Like Paul, it will help to be available, to be hospitable, and us the Word of God at the appropriate times.
(Based on a sermon by Dr. Marc Axelrod)