On The Tonight Show, starring Jay Leno for Wednesday, November 3, 2010, the host made a comment about homosexual marriage. These may not be the precise words he said, but they capture the substance of his thinking: “I’ve been married for thirty years. If two guys want to get married, how does that threaten my marriage?”
This comment is nothing but a “straw man” argument. It assumes that the main objection against homosexual marriage is that it poses a threat to marriage between a male and a female. Possibly this perspective may have been advanced by someone, but whether or not that argument is valid, it is not the rationale that most people would set forth regarding the subject.
The main reason for opposing homosexual marriage is that God created both the male and the female, and He designed marriage to be between a man and a woman. God designed this union between a man and a woman before sin had ever entered into and marred the perfect world God had created. Notice that Genesis 2:24 says that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
The way that God created the first pair is significant. He did not begin with two men or two women as a pattern. He did not give Adam four women and institute polygamy. Neither did He give Eve four men. He did not create five men and five women to form a “hippie” commune. Furthermore, he did not create a backup for Eve in case Adam wanted to divorce her.
The pattern is very simple: one woman for one man for life. And that was the way Adam and Eve lived out their lives. This was—and is—God’s Divine plan today although man has frequently departed from it. But they do so without His authority or blessing, which makes all such variations sin.
One challenge to marriage occurred in the days of Malachi—more than 400 years before Jesus was born. The Israelites, whom God had brought back from captivity, decided to act out of selfish motives. They divorced their wives and married foreign women. God called their actions profaning “the Lord’s holy institution” (Mal. 2:11). A few verses later, Malachi records God as saying that “He hates divorce” (Mal. 2:16).
Jesus would be asked about divorce during His ministry. To show that it was wrong, He appealed to Genesis 2:24 as the pattern which God had established, adding: “Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6). Since marriage is God’s holy institution, only He can authorize two individuals to be married. Under the covenant of Christianity, which all men today live under, Jesus will judge us according to His words (John 12:48). The Father and Jesus only authorize marriage between a qualified man and a qualified woman.
Polygamy is not authorized, nor is group marriage. Neither can a divorced individual marry another (unless the reason for the divorce was fornication on the part of the mate) (Matt. 19:9). Likewise, homosexuals have no authority to marry, either, since they do not fit the Divine pattern established from the beginning of the world. Homosexuality is a choice, or there would not have been young men in Sodom. Men and women still married there and raised families, but the men also desired other men—even visiting strangers (Gen. 19).
From the creation, God put the pleasures of sex within marriage; fornicators and adulterers He will judge (Heb. 13:4). The reason that homosexuals cannot be “married” is that it is a clear denial and rejection of God, who created mankind and destroyed it once because of its excessive wickedness in the Flood. To allow or promote such an atrocity is to openly rebel against God and to profane His holy institution of marriage.
Having left off (previous article—Drinking Wine) with a brief discussion of gleukos, a word which appears only in Acts 2:13, it would be appropriate to point out that there is a similar passage in the Old Testament—namely Isaiah 49:26:
“I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine. All flesh shall know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
This verse, which Ricky referenced, is comparable to Acts 2:13 in that both of them describe something that is not possible—getting drunk on new wine. As already pointed out, sweet or new wine is fresh from the grapes. It is not intoxicating, however, as most lexicons will declare (except ones who are trying to explain the passage rather than define the word).
So, once again, how are we to understand these two verses? Most commentaries do not comment on “Sweet wine” from Isaiah 49:26, but Barnes provides the explanation, and it also works in Acts 2:13. Commenting on the phrase, as with new wine, he wrote:
The Hebrew word…means must, or new wine…. The must, or new wine, was the pure juice which ran after the grapes had been laid in a heap preparatory to pressure…. This had the intoxicating property very slightly, if at all…. It is possible, I think, that there may be an allusion to the fact that it required a large quantity of the must or new wine to produce intoxication. And that the idea here is that a large quantity of blood would be shed (Barnes Notes, Isaiah, 2:216).
This writer’s best friend in high school once made a startling statement. His father worked for Bubble Up, a soft drink company which at that time was a competitor of 7Up. He informed us that it was possible to get drunk on it. “Of course, you would probably have to drink 60 gallons.” Each bottle contained a drop or two of alcohol. This is precisely the case with new or sweet wine. The most it would have in it would be a drop or two of alcohol—so slight that no one would actually be able to tell. Therefore, one would need to quaff great amounts of it in order to get drunk.
This is what the mockers on the Day of Pentecost were saying when they insisted that the apostles were drunk on new wine—that they had consumed copious amounts of it (gallons), which would have been necessary to ever achieve any level of intoxication. Peter’s answer, in light of this evidence, makes complete sense. He denied that they could be drunk on new wine since it was only 9:00 A.M. in the morning. Much more time would have been required to literally have imbibed such a great quantity.
Ricky cited several verses and then attempted to make a logical argument concerning them. One of those was Jeremiah 35:1-2:
The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying, “Go to the house of the Rechabites, speak to them, and bring them into the house of the LORD, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink.”
Ricky’s comment on the verse was this: (Is God Himself causing the Rechabites to stumble?) This is one of those instances where he should have read the rest of the text instead of simply trying to gather verses that he thinks support drinking alcoholic beverages. Had Ricky continued reading, he would have seen that Jeremiah brought bowls of wine and set them before them, encouraging them to drink. They answered, “We will drink no wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father, commanded us, saying, “You shall drink no wine, you and your sons, forever” (v. 6).
God was not tempting the Rechabites to sin; He knew that they faithfully had kept this charge throughout the generations. The point that He made to Israel was that the Rechabites had kept the word of a man, but they did not keep the Word of God, their Creator (v. 14). Only someone who is desperate to prove that God sanctions drinking alcohol would so abuse this passage.
When Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the Lord, they were devoured by fire. God then forbade the priests from drinking wine or intoxicating drink when they went into the tabernacle of meeting. Ricky concluded: (Notice, do not drink STRONG DRINK IN THE TEMPLE. If it was always wrong (in God’s eyes) to drink alcohol (especially strong drink) this is a redundant statement.)
The fact that God offers an extra caution does not mean that it is right to do it otherwise. Paul told Timothy to focus on reading, exhortation, and doctrine until he came (1 Tim. 4:13). Did that imply that Timothy could stop those things after Paul’s visit? When Solomon wrote, “Do not be overly wicked” (Ecc. 7:17), did he mean that wickedness in moderation was all right?
Everyone needs to be careful in his use of the Scriptures and only draw such conclusions as are warranted by the evidence. Earlier in the same passage (Lev. 10: 3), God had said that those who came near Him must regard Him as holy. Does that mean that those who did not come near to Him could display an irreverent attitude toward Him? Such a conclusion is false.
When Abram returned from rescuing Lot, Melchizedek met him with bread and wine . While this word for wine usually refers to a fermented drink, in Numbers 6:4 it does not. Since the Old Testament provides exceptions to the intoxicating version, then why should it be assumed that in this text the wine is definitely fermented? Yet Ricky absolutely insists on it—and in a rather vulgar manner:
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. (Imagine that! The future ‘Jesus’ shows up with maybe a six-pack of beer or a quart of booze.)
Because Melchizedek is a priest of God Most High (who also is holy), we would assume that the wine was unfermented. If the priest had fresh bread for this meal, then it is also likely that he had fresh fruit of the vine. In other words, he could not have traveled far without the bread getting stale or the wine becoming fermented (cf. Joshua 9). Ricky would turn Melchizedek into a “whiskey priest,” as described by Graham Greene in his 1940 novel, The Power and the Glory.
Can it be proven that the wine was non-alcoholic? It cannot be done linguistically, but consider the following rationale. Melchizedek is type of Christ; Jesus is part of the Godhead, Who is eternal. Another member of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, inspired Solomon to write: “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly” (Pr. 23:31). The word translated “wine” in both verses is yayin . If God does not contradict Himself, then Melchizedek, as a forerunner of Christ, brought the non-intoxicating version of wine to Abram. Now it may be that some are yet not convinced that the wine was non-alcoholic. But then where is the proof that it was? No one can establish that point.
Ricky calls attention to Ecclesiastes 9:7, which includes the words, “And drink your wine with a merry heart.” He makes no further comments, but a look at the text is instructive. Solomon has classed all individuals as among the living or the dead (Ecc. 9:5). Once a person has departed from this world, they do not have a share in anything that is done under the sun (Ecc. 9:6). Therefore, while under the sun, all should go ahead and eat and drink (Ecc. 9:7), live joyfully with his wife (Ecc. 9:9), and labor with his might (Ecc. 9:10), for none of these things will be done when we depart this world.
Certainly, nothing in the text encourages losing one’s sobriety; if anything, it is just the opposite. Be alive and enjoy life! “Go, eat your bread with joy” is a parallelism with “and drink your wine with a merry heart.” All that is intended is enjoying food and drink—not heading toward inebriation. Further, “Let your garments always be white” may symbolize more than having clean clothes; it could, in a broader sense, refer to being pure, period. But even if not, nothing in the text suggests a drinking party.
This verse says: “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.” If this refers to intoxicating wine (and in this case it seems to be doing so), it certainly makes sense. Just because God forbids succumbing to the temptation (23:31) does not mean that all people do. We know, in fact, that people did engage in drink so as to become drunk.
King Lemuel wrote: “Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to those who are bitter of heart.” So, which one is Ricky—perishing or bitter? Obviously, if he thought he was not entitled to drink alcoholic beverages, he would be bitter indeed. So, maybe…. Seriously, however, this is a text which highlights a contrast. Proverbs 31:4-5 explains why kings and princes are not to drink wine or intoxicating drink. Doing so might cause them to forget the law and pervert justice. They need to be sober to dispense righteous judgment.
If anyone is to be given wine, it should be the one who is perishing—about to die. In this case it might have a medicinal value, such as dulling pain. It was given to those who were about to be crucified for just that reason; Jesus refused it even then (Matt. 27:34). Since this verse is also clearly a parallelism, those who are bitter in heart are probably those in agony over their forthcoming death. Verse 7 adds: “Let him drink and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.” This is simply a continuation of the same idea and still contrasted to the need for kings to be sober.
Considered out of its context, it would be easy for anyone who wants to get drunk to justify himself. “I’m drinking because my life is bitter. My wife left me, I lost my job, and I don’t have any friends. Give me another bottle.” “I’m just a poor man, I can barely afford to pay my rent; I need a little nip or two.” “I’m in misery. My health is bad, and nobody really cares about me. I’m drinking to forget about my lousy life.” If those are the teachings of these verses, few besides the king will ever be sober! So, then, wine is appropriate as a painkiller for those who are near death and suffering. They can forget their suffering, their poverty, their misery, their pain. But others need to be sober and alert.
The passages cited by Ricky do not prove his case even a little bit. The Bible does not teach, “Drink moderately.” Perhaps the reason is that alcohol first goes to the brain and removes the ability to make thoughtful, rational decisions. It does, however, even in the Old Testament, teach not to look on wine at all. Why do people fight so hard to legitimize drinking alcoholic beverages? Is the reason that they are addicted? They will even pervert the Scriptures to legitimize their habit, yet millions live normal and healthy lives without it.