The legacy of John Boswell’s brilliant lie

Yesterday, we explored the life, impact and tragic legacy of gay historian and intellectual John Boswell as well as the impact of his most controversial book Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality. Today we continue by further exploring Boswell’s impact on gay christianity.

Regardless of the stated purpose for writing the book, it was received by the heretofore voiceless gay christian movement as somewhat of a holy relic. We’ll call it CSTH worship because unlike any of his other books, this one catapulted him into savior status in the eyes of the gay christian movement. Without ever reading the book, one could sense the apotropaic essense it held for religious homosexuals.  

Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality floated the far-fetched hypothesis that homosexuality had never been condemned by the church doctrinally, it was all just a matter of the church being influenced by social rejection of same gender relationships. Boswell seemed to know, since this was his last book, that no matter how completely absurd the suppositions, it would be received as a formidable opponent to the Bible. Of course, there was no bypassing what the scripture said about homosexuality, therefore Boswell (and others of the scholarly pedigree) set about to circumvent what it said with what they decided it meant. And predictably,  through their scholarly discoveries, what it said was inconsequential compared to what history said and more importantly what history  acknowledged. In that respect, Boswell accomplished his goal. The arguments presented in CSTH are now esteemed as gay theology’s magna carta with cum laude.

Speaking of contradiction in Boswell’s research and thus reasoning, in a 1979 speech, he told a convention of gay christians, “The real point I want to make is that there is absolutely no conscious effort on anyone’s part in the Roman world, the world in which Christianity was born, to claim that homosexuality was abnormal or undesirable.”

He did not make the connection that this is precisely what the Apostles Paul, Peter, Jude and others fought against. If Boswell is right, this was not homosexual rape and man-boy relationships gays try to distance themselves from. In Boswell’s view homosexual relationships under the Pax Romana in which Christianity was born and raised, were “loving, monogamus, consensual.” They were normal. And yet the Holy Spirit prompted the apostles to condemn such “normal” relationships in the strongest possible terms. The apostles observed the sexually permissive culture around them, and under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, condemned it as antithetical to a life of devotion to Christ. Believers were therefore forbidden to accept it and participate in it. Quite frankly, it explains the intensity of Paul’s Romans 1 homily portraying homosexuality as the paradigm of rebellion against God.

Red letter love and war

Its no wonder that any attempts to discuss homosexuality with gay christians using the Bible as a compass in near impossible. Their belief system is primarily inlfuenced by CSTH and secondarily influenced by scripture. Although the secondary sphere of influence is scripture, it is strikingly minimal, opting only to “red letter” their positions and even further limiting scripture to “red letter love” texts.

Many of the gay christians I have engaged in debate about this issue immediately deploy “red letter love” points as a shield against any condemnation of homosexuality. Considering CSTH’s massive influence on gay christian thought, its necessary to address this weak and erroneous position. Consider two conversations with Jesus about what is important to a servant of God.

Luke 10:25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

Jesus let the man answer his own question. It a restatement of the shema, the most important Jewish recitation of all. Jesus affirmed its correctness. Conversely, the shema also includes a warning that failing to heed the commandments would incur God’s wrath.
In another place it records he was asked the same question, but with different wording:

Matt 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Jesus places emphasis on loving God with the totality of heart, soul and strength. Everything (including our bodies). But the question is how? How do we love God like this?
Without fanfare and without any exemptions, Jesus answered that question in John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Incidentally, the same greek word for love “agape”, is used in both instances. Additionally, red letter theorists seem to miss that Jesus said loving God and neighbor was the greatest commandment, not the only commandment.

How then, could John Boswell as a gay christian, love God like this and yet at the same time gut the commandment of God with CSTH? And how, by extension does the gay christian movement proclaim to love God, but follow the words of John Boswell?

Boswell could not even tell the truth to his closest gay friends. He consistently lied to them about his illness, telling them he had “lyme’s disease”. Are we to believe he was acting with the utmost of integrity and honesty in dealing with this eternal issue of souls? Hardly.

Boswell intentionally used CSTH as an alluring pipe in his pied piper experiement. And because they were so desperate for a reason not to obey God’s commandments, the gay christian movement followed him and continues to follow Boswell’s brilliant lie down a path to certain perdition.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. Romans 1:21,22 KJV

2 thoughts on “The legacy of John Boswell’s brilliant lie

  1. What is happening within the UCC church and followers of John Boswell’s CSTH views, can be compared to the warnings given to the Church at Pergamum (see Revelation 2:12 – 17).

    Rev 2:14
    “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. (bold mine)
    Rev 2:15
    “Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.[fn1] (bold mine)
    Rev 2:16
    “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.

    Believers at the Pergamum church experienced great pressure to compromise or leave the faith. There were some faithful believers there (Antipas, who did not compromise but died for his faith), but many “held to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” The Nicolaitans were believers who compromised their faith in order to enjoy some of the sinful practices of Ephesian society. According to my NIV Bible notes:

    The name Nicolaitans is held by some to be roughly the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word for “Balaamites.” Balaam was a prophet who induced the Israelites to carry out their lustful desires (See Revelation 2:14 and Numbers 31:16). When we want to take part in an activity that we know is wrong, we may make excuses to justify our behavior, saying that it isn’t as bad as it seems or that it won’t hurt our faith. Christ has strong words for those who look for excuses to sin.

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