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35. Outside the Camp (Hebrews 13:9-16)

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36. Final Words of Encouragement (Hebrews 13:17-25)

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Second Century Papyri

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February 1, 2009

It is sometimes alleged, even by scholars who know better,1 that we have to wait hundreds of years after the completion of the New Testament before we get any extant manuscripts of it. This is clearly not the case, for we have several manuscripts from within a century of the completion of the NT. To be sure, these manuscripts (all but one of which are papyri) are all fragmentary, but they may not be as fragmentary as some might suppose, and there are more of them than is often realized.

These manuscripts include P52 (100-150), P90, 104 (2nd century), P66 (c. AD 175-225), P46, 64+67 (c. AD 200), P77, P103, 0189 (2nd or 3rd century), P98 (2nd century?). These ten manuscripts are the extent of those that the Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung has identified as possibly or definitely from the second century.

In addition to these, there are a few other candidates. Comfort and Barrett argue for at least half a dozen other manuscripts as possibly from the 2nd century.2 Their method, however, is generally to take the earliest date possible. Nevertheless, the date they suggest for P4 (second century) is probably correct in light of some recent work done by T. C. Skeat of the British Library,3 and the date they offer for P32 (late second century) is quite possible. In addition, renowned papyrologist Herbert Hunger considered P66 to be from no later than the middle of the second century.4 The original editors of P75 also thought this manuscript should be dated late second to early third century.5

This means that there are at least ten and as many as thirteen NT MSS6 that are possibly or definitely from the second century.

But what about their contents? How much of the NT do they actually contain? First, we can quantify this by the books that are attested: three out of four Gospels are attested in the MSS, as well as nine of Paul’s letters, Acts, Hebrews, and Revelation. In other words, most of the NT books (15 of the 27). Another way to look at this is that over 43% of all the verses in the NT are already found in MSS within 100 years of the completion of the NT.7

Although we do not have 100% of the NT attested in manuscripts from the second century, it is remarkable how minimally the manuscripts we do have differ from the great fourth century majuscules of the Alexandrian text, in which the entire NT can be found. The evidence from the earliest Greek manuscripts, therefore, is quite strong that the text of the NT was relatively stable in at least the Alexandrian stream of transmission, a stream that most scholars would regard as the best group of witnesses to the original text of the NT.8


1 E.g., Bart D. Ehrman, in his interview in The Charlotte Observer (Dec 17, 2005]), asked: “If we don’t have the original texts of the New Testament—or even copies of the copies of the copies of the originals—what do we have?” His response is illuminating: “We have copies that were made hundreds of years later—in most cases, many hundreds of years later. And these copies are all different from one another.” The implication seems to be that we don’t have any manuscripts of the New Testament until hundreds of years after the New Testament was completed. He repeated the assertion that we don’t have any MSS for hundreds of years in his lecture at the fourth annual Greer-Heard Forum in New Orleans, April 2008. In November 2008, he repeated this same point: “we don’t know how much the texts got changed in all those decades/[and] centuries before our earliest manuscripts, and we have no way of knowing” (posted on the ‘tc-list,’ an international Internet discussion group of biblical textual critics [Nov 1, 2008]; italics to ‘centuries’ and ‘earliest’ are added; italics to ‘before’ are original).

2 Philip W. Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 2001).

3 T. C. Skeat, “The Oldest Manuscript of the Four Gospels?” NTS 63 [1997] 1-34). Skeat argued that P4, P64, and P67 were from the same MS, and that the MS should be dated to the second century.

4 Herbert Hunger, “Zur Datierung des Papyrus Bodmer II (P66),” Anzeiger der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 4 (1960) 12-33.

5 See Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 4th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005) 58.

6 Thirteen if P4 is not a part of P64+67.

7 But this does not mean that every portion of each of these verses is in these MSS. Thanks are due to Brett Williams for doing the painstaking work of tabulating the number of verses that are found in the second-century manuscripts.

8 Even Ehrman has said as much: ); “Modern scholars have come to recognize that the scribes in Alexandria… were particularly scrupulous, even in these early centuries, and that there, in Alexandria, a very pure form of the text of the early Christian writings was preserved, decade after decade, by dedicated and relatively skilled Christian scribes” (Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why; first paperback edition [New York: HarperOne, 2007] 72). 

Related Topics: Textual Criticism

برديات القرن الثانى

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دانيال ب. والاس

ترجمة: فادى اليكساندر

يزعم البعض، و منهم علماء يعرفون الكثير1، بأننا لا نجد مخطوطات متوفرة للعهد الجديد الآن إلا بعد مئات السنين من كتابته. هذه ليست حالة العهد الجديد، لأنه يوجد لدينا مخطوطات عديدة يفصلها قرن واحد عن كتابة العهد الجديد. حسناً، هذه المخطوطات (و كلها بردية ماعدا واحدة) عبارة شظايا، لكنها ليست مُتشظية كما قد يتخيل البعض، و هناك الكثير منهم أكثر مما قد يدركه البعض.

هذه المخطوطات منها: البردية 52 (100 - 150 م)، البردية 90 و 104 (القرن الثانى)، البردية 66 (175 - 225 م تقريباً)، البردية 46 و البردية 64 و البردية 67 (القرن الثانى تقريباً)، البردية 77، البردية 103، المخطوطة 0189 (القرن الثانى أو الثالث)، البردية 98 (القرن الثانى؟). تلك العشرة مخطوطات هى التى سجلها معهد الدراسات النصية للعهد الجديد، و التى من المُؤكد او المُحتمل أنها تعود الى القرن الثانى.

بالإضافة الى ذلك، فهناك مخطوطات أخرى مُرشحة لأن تكون من القرن الثانى2. كومفورت و باريت يحتجان لصالح نحو نصف دستة مخطوطات أخرى من الممكن ان يعودوا الى القرن الثانى. غير أن طريقتهم بشكل عام هى إعتماد أكثر التواريخ قِدماً. و مع ذلك، فالتاريخ الذى يقترحونه للبردية 4 (القرن الثانى)، من المُحتمل انه صحيح فى ضوء العمل الحديث لـ ت. س. سكيت من المكتبة البريطانية3، و كذلك التاريخ الذى يقترحونه للبردية 32 (أواخر القرن الثانى) مُحتمل بوضوح. بالإضافة الى ذلك، فقد إعتبر هيربرت هنجر المُتخصص فى البرديات الشهير، أن البردية 66 لا يمكن ان تعود الى ما بعد منتصف القرن الثانى4. و المُنقحين الأصليين للبردية 75 إعتبروا أن هذه المخطوطة يجب ان تُؤرخ الى أواخر القرن الثانى او اوائل القرن الثالث5.

هذا يعنى أنه هناك عشرة مخطوطات على الأقل للعهد الجديد، و ثلاثة عشر بالأكثر6، من المؤكد او المحتمل أنهم يرجعون للقرن الثانى.

و لكن ماذا عن محتوياتهم؟ ما هو حجم مُحتواهم من العهد الجديد؟ اولاً، نستطيع ان نُحصى هذا عن طريق الكتب الذين يوثقونهم: ثلاثة أناجيل من الأربعة مُوثقين فى المخطوطات، و بالمثل تسعة من رسائل بولس، أعمال الرسل، الرسالة الى العبرانيين، الرؤيا. بكلمات أخرى، غالبية كتب العهد الجديد (15 كتاب من أصل 27 كتاب). طريقة أخرى للإحصاء، هى أنه أكثر من 43 % من مجموع أعداد العهد الجديد، موجودين بالفعل فى مخطوطات ترجع الى مائة عام بعد كتابة الأصول7.

رغم أن نص العهد الجديد غير مُوثق فى مخطوطات من القرن الثانى بنسبة 100 %، فإنه جدير بالملاحظة كيف ان الإختلافات بين هذه المخطوطات و مخطوطات الحروف الكبيرة فى القرن الرابع حيث نجد العهد الجديد بالكامل، هى خلافات متدنية. البرهان الذى تقدمه أقدم المخطوطات اليونانية، هو برهان واضح بقوة؛ أن نص العهد الجديد كان ثابت نسبياً، فى تيار الإنتقال السكندرى على الأقل، و هو التيار الذى يعتبره غالبية العلماء، بأنه أفضل مجموعة من الشواهد للنص الأصلى للعهد الجديد8.


1 كمثال، بارت د. ايرمان، فى حواره فى The Charlotte Observer (ديسمبر، 17، 2005)، تم سؤاله:"إذا كنا لا نمتلك النصوص الأصلية للعهد الجديد، ولا حتى نمتلك نُسخ عن نُسخ عن نُسخ عن الأصول، فماذا نملك؟"، فكان جوابه مُوضحاً:"لدينا نُسخ تم عملها بعد مئات من السنين لاحقاً، و فى أغلب الأحيان، مئات كثيرة من السنين لاحقاً. و هذه النُسخ تختلف فيما بينها". ما يُفهم منه أنه لا يوجد لدينا أى مخطوطات من العهد الجديد إلا بعد مئات السنين من كتابة العهد الجديد. لقد كرر نفس كلامه بأنه لا يوجد لدينا اى مخطوطات إلا بعد مرور مئات السنين، فى محاضرته فى منتدى Greer-Heard فى مدينة New Orleans، فى ابريل 2008. فى نوفمبر 2008، كرر نفس النقطة ايضاً، قائلاً:"نحن لا نعرف كم النصوص التى تغيرت فى كل هذه العقود و القرون قبل ان تصلنا أقدم المخطوطات، ولا يوجد لدينا وسيلة لنعرف" (نُشر فى مجموعة النقد النصى، مجموعة ناقش عالمية لنُقاد نص الكتاب المقدس، نوفمبر، 1، 2008).

2 فيليب و. كومفورت و ديفيد ب. باريت، نص أقدم مخطوطات العهد الجديد اليونانية، ويتون و تيندل، 2001.

3 ت. س. سكيت، "أقدم مخطوطة للأناجيل الأربعة؟"، مجلة دراسات العهد الجديد (العدد 63، 1997)، ص 1 - 34. يحتج سكيت بأن البرديات 4، 64، و 67، هم اجزاء من مخطوطة واحدة، و أن هذه المخطوطة يجب تأريخها للقرن الثانى.

4 هربرت هنجر: من أجل تأريخ بردية بودمير الثانية (البردية 66)، مجلة الأكاديمية النمساوية للعلوم، (العدد 4، 1960)، ص 12 - 33.

5 انظر بروس م. ميتزجر و بارت د. ايرمان، نص العهد الجديد: إنتقاله، فساده، إعادة تكوينه، الإصدار الرابع (نيويورك: مطبعة جامعة اكسفورد، 2005)، ص 58.

6 ثلاثة عشر مخطوطة اذا كانت البردية 4 ليست من مخطوطة واحدة مع البرديات 64 و 67.

7 لكن هذا لا يعنى أن كل جزء من كل عدد من هذه الأعداد موجود فى هذه المخطوطات. شكراً لبريت ويليامز لإجتهاده فى جدولة عدد الأعداد الموجود فى مخطوطات القرن الثانى.

8 حتى ايرمان قال بوضوح:"العلماء العصريين أدركوا أن النُساخ فى الإسكندرية...كانوا مُدققين بوضوح، حتى فى هذه القرون الأولى، و هناك فى الإسكندرية، قد حُفِظ شكل نقى جداً من نص الكتابات المسيحية الأولى، لعقد بعد عقد، عن طريق نُساخ مسيحيين مُخلصين و مُدربين نسبياً" (بارت د. ايرمان، سوء اقتباس يسوع: القصة وراء من غير الكتاب المقدس و لماذا، الإصدار الأول، نيويورك 2007، ص 72).

Related Topics: Textual Criticism

Sue Bohlin sets a record:(Her article has risen to the 2nd most popular in just 5 days)

(9/24/09) Sue's article on How to Trash Your Marriage in 8 Easy Steps   becomes the second most popular article this month within only 5 days.!!

Keys to Recovery from Same-Sex Attractions

Sue Bohlin (Probe Ministries, Bible.org Women's Leadership Team) also serves on the Board of Directors for Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered discipleship ministry that helps people deal with unwanted homosexuality. The LHM Board consists of ministry professionals who together have over 50 years of experience in helping strugglers find freedom through Christ. This is a tool they wrote to help the thousands of people who come to Living Hope every year, either in person or through the confidential online support groups at www.livehope.org.

For more direction on how to help strugglers in your congregation, please see the Bible.org articles When Someone In Your Congregation Says I'm Gay and Answers to Questions Most Asked by Gay-Identifying Youth.


[Note: while we are confident that the following list is accurate, we are aware that it can be overwhelming. It would be like handing a newborn baby a list of all the things he will have to learn in the next five years: everything from learning to turn over, learning to walk, becoming potty-trained, learning to talk, discovering he’s not a part of his mommy, learning how to obey, getting ready to read, going to school. . . like we said, overwhelming! This is the “big picture” of how to walk out the goal of recovery. Allow us to encourage you to continually ask the Lord, “What one thing do You want me to do next?” and then do it.]

1. Accept that it’s not going to be easy. Change that challenges our known comfort zone is difficult and painful. You are changing not just one isolated habit, but a collection of thoughts and behaviors that have made up your relational pattern for a lifetime. An important component of recovery is changing the wrong belief about your identity, that “this is me.” This will take an incredible amount of effort, but you don’t have to do it in your own strength: the same power that raised Christ from the dead is available to you. If you are to succeed, you must aggressively engage your will, making deliberate choices to honor God, be self-disciplined, and work with God to form new, healthy habits of relating. Your will is like a steering wheel of a car or the rudder on a ship; you decide the direction in which you’ll go. Use the free will God gave you to choose His directions, and He’ll honor those choices.

2. Pursue the right motivation. Making your family happy won’t do it; saving your marriage won’t do it; not hurting anymore won’t do it. The only motivation adequate to see you through recovery from same-sex attraction (SSA) is complete abandonment to that aching need to live continually in an incredibly intimate one-on-one relationship—-with God Himself. That strong and tender relationship with Him—knowing Him and being wholly known by Him without anything coming between the two of you—is the pure and primary relationship you were created for. It’s why you crave deep relationships so badly, and it’s worth every obedient step of pursuit, no matter how painful or difficult that pursuit may become.

3. Accept that you must make sacrifices to be free and healthy. Recovery and healing always involve “crucifying the flesh (Gal. 5:24),” giving up things that are dear to you but which serve to prop open doors to spiritual bondage and repeated failures. God may ask you to give up friends, social contacts, your career, hobbies, dreams, and desires. There is suffering and sacrifice to get to the joy of holiness and purity, but God lavishes grace on His children when we obey. Whatever you surrender, He will provide an even better replacement—according to God’s definition of “better.”

4. Let go of the lie that you’re different from other people, and no one really understands. The key to recovering from same-sex attraction is radical discipleship, the call that all Christians have in common. Jesus’ call to “follow Me” is the same for you as it is for every other believer. It is a lie that “no one really understands” because Jesus Christ fully understands everything about you. When scripture tells us about His compassion, it means He enters into our experiences and feels what we feel.

5. Trust and obey. There are no shortcuts to these two commands. Homosexual and lesbian lifestyles are built around trusting oneself or depending completely on someone else, not the kind of abandonment to God’s heart and intentions for us that characterize trust. In the context of trusting God, obedience to His commands and His individual leading are absolutely essential. People who have been abused or traumatized by authority figures, which includes many who struggle with same-sex attractions, often have misperceptions about God. Before you can trust Him, you need to find out who He really is, that He is good, and loving, and safe. Asking God’s help to see Him accurately is your first step to learning to trust Him.

6. Commit to sexual purity. This means trusting God for the strength to abstain from physically acting out, engaging in sexual fantasy, pornography and masturbation. Many people who want freedom from homosexuality are also addicted to sex and/or masturbation. As with any other addiction, there are withdrawal pains. Let the misery of not medicating yourself with sexual sin drive you to God instead of your past destructive behaviors. As long as you are making compromises, you can’t hear from God clearly.

7. Accept that you will need to separate yourself from the “stuff” of your connection to the gay lifestyle. Every picture, every memento, everything that connects you to your past is a propped-open door to the bondage of emotional and sexual sin. Recovery means jettisoning everything that triggers you or encourages feelings of longing for what you are no longer a part of.

8. Accept the reality that emotionally healthy life can feel boring—in the beginning. After the drama and excitement of the gay lifestyle, making responsible, God-honoring choices feels black and white in comparison to a color life. This is a lie; it takes a while to discover that healthy living is actually richer and more satisfying than a life that indulges the flesh.

9. Get plugged into a church. Worship with other believers and get involved in a small group such as a Bible study or Sunday School class. It is essential to give back to the Lord in service. You don’t have to experience any level of healing or recovery to help set up chairs! Developing healthy same-sex relationships is key to recovery, and the church is the best place to do that.

10. Develop self-discipline. Do something every day you don’t want to do. The homosexual/lesbian emotional mindset is very self-centered and self-indulgent; recovery means learning to be Christ-centered and self-denying.

11. Remember when you stumble that a fall is not the same as a wholesale return to your old life. There is a difference between a single event and an ongoing habit. When babies learn to walk, they fall down. It’s part of learning to walk. Give yourself grace; God does.

12. Have an accountability partner. You need someone who will ask you specific questions about specific problem areas, on a regular (weekly) basis and to whom you will answer openly and honestly. In addition to your accountability partner, you should have at least three people who know of your struggle. They should be willing to receive a call from you at any time should you feel tempted, discouraged, or overwhelmed. We often refer to these people as your “lifeline” or “fire drill folks” because they are there to talk you out of tough situations. You will need three because not everyone is available all the time. If the first one doesn’t answer, call the next until you reach someone.

13. Develop realistic expectations about recovery. You didn’t get here overnight, and there won’t be any overnight recoveries. God’s timetable is usually a lot longer than what we would prefer! His healing involves going to the root causes of issues of same-gender attraction, not dealing with the symptoms. Because He is more thorough, His healing will also be more complete and lasting. It’s worth the patience and perseverance on your part. Unrealistic prayers such as “God, please make me straight right this instant” and “Take away my desires by tomorrow morning” don’t accomplish anything.

14. Seek out a Christian therapist who has a redemptive perspective of homosexuality. An important component to recovering from same-sex attraction is individual counseling. The counselor must have a biblical understanding that homosexuality is changeable through the power of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6:11). Living Hope has a list of people in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area we can refer you to.

15. Avoid being in conversations or locations where you are connecting with just one other person. As you seek to develop healthy same gender relationships it is best to develop these relationships in groups. One on one, exclusive relationships will only lead to emotional dependency. (Emotional dependency is a form of relational idolatry where one person feels a desperate “I-can’t-live-without-you” kind of connection with another.) When you meet for accountability with an accountability partner, it should be done in a public place (i.e. restaurant, Starbucks, etc.)

16. Stop relying on your feelings. Our emotions are largely set up and triggered by our experiences. They aren’t reliable indicators of what is true or even real, and they often skew our perspectives, especially if we’ve suffered emotional trauma by having been wronged physically/emotionally or even emotionally neglected. Relying on your feelings to interpret reality—especially relational reality—and guide you is downright dangerous. God’s Word holds the true perspective. Bounce your perspectives and feelings off of a counselor or accountability partner(s), too.

17. Remember the three “power keys” to recovery. We have found that there are three elements to the most effective recovery from same-sex attraction: first, be plugged into a good, Bible-believing church. This means both receiving the teaching and being a part of the community. Second, get professional counseling. Third, have a support system consisting of both people who do not struggle with homosexual feelings, and those who do. If you don’t have a real-life support group comprised of other strugglers, Living Hope’s online forums are a good place to find it. (www.livehope.org)

Reiterating our first point, please remember that nothing worthwhile is achieved without sacrifice and hard work. On average, we find that if you work at this diligently, you can expect the process to take about five years. This does not mean that you will not experience freedom sooner than that, but generally, real orientation shift usually takes significant time. The important thing to remember is that all change happens one day at a time. (The goal is not orientation shift from homosexual to heterosexual—although that does happen in many people as a result of healing and growth—but a shift from same-sex feelings and desires controlling your life, to becoming minor annoyances that you habitually submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ.)

The Lord bless you and keep you as you pursue Him, healing, and wholeness!

© 2004 Living Hope Ministries
All rights reserved

Related Topics: Homosexuality, Lesbianism, Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Sanctification, Sexual Purity, Women's Articles

When Someone in Your Congregation Says "I'm Gay"

Sue Bohlin (Probe Ministries, Bible.org Women's Leadership Team) also serves on the Board of Directors for Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered discipleship ministry that helps people deal with unwanted homosexuality. The LHM Board consists of ministry professionals who together have over 50 years of experience in helping strugglers find freedom through Christ. This is the text of a brochure they wrote to help pastors understand how best to love and shepherd sexually and emotionally broken souls from a redemptive perspective.

For more direction on how to help strugglers in your congregation, please see Keys to Recovery From Same-Sex Attractions and Answers to Questions Most Asked By Gay-Identifying Youth on Bible.org.


Things to Remember

1. No one is born gay, and no one chooses to be gay. Because of relational brokenness in families and among peers, some people experience emotional needs that they try to meet in ungodly ways. Many of them are uncomfortable with their own gender; later, they discover they are attracted to others of the same sex, but this is not their choice. Acting on it, however, is.

2. Change is possible. Even going back to the first-century church, the apostle Paul wrote to former homosexuals in the Corinthian church, “and such were some of you” (1 Cor. 6:11).

3. Because we live in a fallen world, we are all broken. Many people in our churches are sexually broken-victims of incest, pornography and masturbation addicts, and compulsive sex addiction. Homosexuality is only one form of brokenness.

4. Homosexuality grows out of broken relationships and is healed in healthy relationships, especially same-sex relationships. This is one of the reasons it is essential for recovering homosexuals and lesbians to be actively involved in the church, because this is where they can find healthy, God-honoring friendships. Their homosexuality is not contagious!

5. Treat them with respect like you would anyone else. They are people made in the image of God for whom Christ died-they are not their sexuality. Many people trying to come out of the gay lifestyle expect to find respect and acceptance only in the gay community. Finding it in church is immensely healing to their souls.

6. Accept them where they are, just as Jesus did. Choose to accept the person, but not sinful behavior. People don’t change unless they experience the grace of acceptance first. But once they know they are loved and accepted, many of them are willing to do what it takes to live a life of holiness.

7. Seek to see them with God’s eyes of love and acceptance, with His intention for their wholeness, healing and freedom. This means depending on the Holy Spirit for divine perspective and exercising humility to recognize that first impressions are often incomplete and inaccurate.

8. This is a great opportunity to lead people to an understanding of what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Some homosexual strugglers, especially men, feel that they have committed the unpardonable sin. They’ve heard they are going to hell no matter what they do, so they are permanently separated from God. They need to know this is a lie, because when we confess our sins, the blood of Jesus covers them ALL and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

9. Because of abuse issues, most strugglers seem to have an especially hard time relating to Father God and to receiving His love. Yet it is the masculine voice (first in earthly fathers, and ultimately in our Heavenly Father) that calls gender out from both men and women, and it is the Father’s personal and powerful love that is the most important healing agent in human hearts.

10. Because most pastors are men in authority, most strugglers (men and women) are incredibly intimidated by them. Pastors need to know this and really understand in order to minister to strugglers. This means respecting the fragility of strugglers’ relationships with pastors and choosing to be deliberately tender and gentle. They really need “good shepherds.” Verbalize to them that God can not only change them, but He is very proud of them (as you are) for sharing this with you and desiring to change.

11. Most same-sex strugglers have very weak and broken boundaries. Their deep neediness causes them to lapse into emotionally dependent relationships with everyone who gets close. We encourage you to only counsel these folks at your office during regular business hours where others can be aware of your activities. This gives a sense of security to the struggler and a protection for you as the pastor.

12. The most success in overcoming same-gender attraction has occurred when strugglers experienced God as Healer through heterosexual people who were willing to come alongside them in their journeys-men helping men, and women helping women. It would be helpful for you to find someone willing to befriend and mentor the struggler. This takes a person willing to seriously invest in the life of a very needy person. They will need to be available and accessible. Their presence in the struggler’s life can be powerful and healing.

13. If someone comes in with an agenda of arrogance, demanding acceptance of their sexual sin, don’t let them bully you. There is a difference between welcoming the sinner and allowing him to continue in his rebellion. Homosexuality is sin. Lev. 18:22-23; Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:9-11. Note that these verses condemn homosexual behavior, not feelings.

Five DON’TS:

1. Don’t panic. An excellent resource for understanding the issue of homosexuality is Someone I Love is Gay by Bob Davies and Anita Worthen (published by InterVarsity Press). Any book by Joe Dallas on homosexuality is exceptionally helpful. Living Hope Ministries (www.livehope.org) is a ministry in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area with excellent online forums for parents, spouses, men and women, and youth (ages 13+) who struggle with homosexuality

2. Don’t make false assumptions or accusations. For example, please do not assume he is HIV positive. Many aren’t. And if he is, AIDS is sexually transmitted; the people in your congregation are safer than many fear. Respect the seriousness of HIV with commonsense precautions (such as contact with bodily fluids), but don’t ostracize the person. Handshakes and hugs are perfectly safe.

3. Don’t shut down pastorally or emotionally. The person coming to you has known a lifetime of rejection and desperately needs to know that a representative of Jesus Christ will extend grace to him. Hug them when they leave. It may be the first positive touch they have had in years.

4. Don’t pass judgment. All of us have besetting sins! As Billy Graham said, “Don’t take credit for not falling into a temptation that never tempted you in the first place.”

5. Don’t disclose this person’s secret without permission, even among church staff. There is nothing safe about the gay lifestyle; people struggling with same-sex attraction need to find safety in the church.

© 2003 Living Hope Ministries. All rights reserved.

Related Topics: Homosexuality, Lesbianism, Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Sexual Purity, Women's Articles

Answers to Questions Most Asked by Gay-Identifying Youth

Sue Bohlin (Probe Ministries, Bible.org Women's Leadership Team) also serves on the Board of Directors for Living Hope Ministries, a Christ-centered discipleship ministry that helps people deal with unwanted homosexuality. The LHM Board consists of ministry professionals who together have over 50 years of experience in helping strugglers find freedom through Christ. This is a tool they wrote to help growing numbers of sexually confused youth (and older strugglers) from a compassionate, redemptive perspective.

For more direction on how to help strugglers in your congregation, please see the Bible.org articles When Someone In Your Congregation Says I'm Gay and Keys to Recovery From Same-Sex Attractions.


1. Where does homosexuality come from?

People end up with SSA (same sex attraction) because of a number of contributing factors:

  • parental relationships
  • gender identity confusion
  • sexual and/or emotional abuse
  • peer rejection

God intends for us to go through a series of stages in our emotional development, and those who experience same-sex attractions are stuck at an earlier stage. First, we are supposed to have a close bond with our mothers, then our fathers, then our same-sex peers, then finally opposite-sex peers. Those who are romantically or erotically drawn to their same sex need to grow and mature emotionally.

How do people get derailed from God's intended plan?

We live in a fallen world (as the result of sin), with every person born into a fallen family with fallen parents. God's plan is for every child to be celebrated and cherished by both a loving, affectionate mom and a dad who continually communicates and demonstrates unconditional love and acceptance. Sometimes, however, parents do not love their children wisely or well. Sometimes children do not make a good connection with their parents and are unable to receive the love parents are giving. Sometimes children are wounded by what their parents or other adults in authority do to them; sometimes they sustain a deficit from what their parents or their peers didn't do for them. These factors can compromise a child's "emotional immune system," making him or her more vulnerable to the consequences of living in a fallen world.

There are patterns for guys and for girls who experience same-sex attraction. With guys, there is a family dynamic that occurs so often it has become a stereotype:  a distant father who is absent physically and/or emotionally, leaving what some people have called "a father-shaped hole in one's heart," and an overbearing mother or one who has an unhealthy and extremely close relationship with her son. This results in a boy identifying with the feminine instead of the masculine of his father.

Many guys who feel they are gay report having experienced some kind of sexual abuse, usually at the hand of a man. Abuse warps a child's sense of self, his personal sense of value and worth, his sense of personal boundaries and his understanding of how one connects to another person relationally. Many (if not most) guys who are attracted to other men also experience rejection from other boys when they are young. When peers call you gay, fag, queer, homo, etc., it is easy to believe that you are who they say you are. However, God doesn't make anybody gay, fag, queer, etc. They're not telling the truth. Guys experiencing same-sex attration (SSA) feel like they don't belong in the world of men, and are far more comfortable in the world of females.

With girls, there is often a significant disconnect with their mothers. It could be because their moms actually neglected, abandoned, or abused them, or it could be simply because a girl perceived that her mother didn't love her or connect with her. Another huge element in a later development of same-sex attraction is a history of sexual abuse. Studies say it's between 66-90% of girls who experience SSA.

Girls who are uncomfortable with their femininity usually reject it out of the mistaken belief that femininity is weak, vulnerable, used, and contemptuous. Many girls who hate their femininity do so because this was modeled by their mothers. Additionally, if a girl does not receive affirmation of her femininity from her father, she will not believe she is beautiful or feminine. A girl usually believes she is whoever her father says she is.

Girls experiencing SSA often feel fearful of masculine strength and power as the result of an important man either violating her or not being there for her. Some can over-identify with the feminine, going overboard on the frilly feminine end of the spectrum but still not having healthy relationships with guys; some create a "false masculine" butch image to protect themselves from being hurt. Some girls and women who fear and hate men are the most masculine looking and acting, but it is not because they ARE masculine; it is because they reject the feminine and want to be asexual as a way of protecting themselves.

Homosexuality is not really about sex at all. A better name for it might be "gender identity confusion."

Our culture has an inadequate understanding of gender that results in a lot of guys and girls not accepting God's creation of male and female. Since God made humans "male and female," we are different from each other. There is a "spectrum of masculinity" that is far broader than our culture seems to think. On one end is the macho guy, the typical "man's man" who likes sports, aggression, being tough, and killing things. On the other end of the spectrum is the gentle, sensitive, artistic, creative kind of male. He often lacks the eye-hand coordination that would make him good at sports, but he has strong relational abilities and is highly creative. Both ends of the spectrum, and everything in between, are legitimate; God created the spectrum of masculinity and all expressions of it should be celebrated.

The guys on the creative/sensitive end of the spectrum, if supported in their type of masculinity, can become the best husbands, pastors, counselors, teachers, musicians—and the list goes on. Jesus had the full spectrum of masculinity: He was both a man's man, tough and unafraid, and He was unbelievably sensitive and relational at the same time. He had the physical strength of a carpenter and the artistic mindset of a craftsman. All kinds of people were drawn to Him. Jesus demonstrated the fullness of the true masculine.

There is a corresponding "spectrum of femininity" for girls. On one end are the frilly, girly-girl type who are born loving pink and anxious to play house. (This, of course, is what our narrow-minded culture defines as feminine.) On the other end of the spectrum are the "jockettes," the girls who are naturally physical, tend to be more aggressive and competitive, and hate dresses, doodling their hair, and anything "ladylike." And, of course there are those in between as well. The tomboy end of the spectrum is just as God-created as the girly-girl end. When the jockettes are supported in their femininity, they can learn how to act like a lady without resenting it, and often are natural leaders and the best kind of mothers and teachers of boys.

If someone labels you with something ugly like lez, dyke, queer, fag, or homo, don't accept it as true. Think of these hurtful labels as nametags with the wrong name on them. Take off the label and speak the truth: "This isn't me." If you're an artistic or musical guy, and someone labels you as gay, do not believe it. They do not know that your place on the gender spectrum is perfectly good and perfectly God-created. They simply do not understand that a different kind of masculinity does not equal an inferior kind of masculinity. The same goes for athletic girls without much patience for a traditional understanding of femininity.

In some strugglers, there seems to be some degree of predisposition that "sets them up," so to speak, for gender identity issues. For example, poor eye-hand coordination in boys that makes sports difficult, and higher testosterone levels in some girls that give them more masculine characteristics such as athleticism and aggressiveness. But predispositions do not determine choices or behavior. People may have predispositions to many things that society would not accept as normative or good (i.e. violence, alcoholism or depression). Gender identity problems are no different.

2. Why did God do this to me?

It may feel like God did it, but let us suggest a different framework.

We are born into a fallen world, each of us is born broken; brokenness is manifested in various ways in various people. Everybody experiences a different aspect of our fallen world, and this is your aspect.

We experience two kinds of pressure that can end up as SSA: the external pressures of being sinned against by fallen people (such as neglect, abuse, or a disconnect), and the internal pressures that come from responding in the flesh to anything apart from God to fix ourselves and make us feel better.

Flesh is the part of us that operates apart from God's empowering: self-oriented, self-gratifying, self-determining. All of us are born with nothing but flesh; at the moment you trust Christ, your spirit comes alive and you suddenly have a new source of power and transformation available only by yielding to God on a moment-by-moment basis. It is like being an appliance that gets plugged into a working power outlet at conversion. Operating in the Spirit (instead of the flesh) means you turn the power switch to "on." The moment you rely on yourself instead of God, you flip the switch off. The power is still available, but you are not using it. On a spiritual level, homosexuality is a result of responding to circumstances and pressures in your life in the flesh instead of turning to God in yieldedness and submission in the spirit.

3. What did I do to deserve this punishment?

Your struggle is not punishment; it is the result of sin, and you did not do anything to deserve this. You are part of humanity, and humanity sins. God grieves that these things happened to you, that things have happened for you to draw faulty conclusions and develop misconceptions about Him and yourself.

4. Do any other Christians struggle with this issue?

Yes, many.

Unfortunately, the atmosphere in most churches does not encourage openness and truthfulness in being able to talk about this issue.

Many Christians struggle with sexual brokenness of all kinds. Your struggle just happens to be same-gender brokenness.

5. Is there really hope for healing?

YES! Those pursuing healing from homosexuality have a higher success rate than those in recovery groups dealing with alcoholism, drug abuse, etc. Historically, there were even former homosexuals in the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 6:11). For modern-day stories of hope and healing, see:

Portraits of Freedom by Bob Davies
Living Hope Ministries www.livehope.org ( resources >> testimonies)
Portland Fellowship www.portlandfellowship.com (testimonies)

6. What does healing look like?

Let's define the term "healing." You can't equate healing with never again struggling. That would be the perfection of heaven, and no one on earth is there yet. No one still on earth experiences perfect healing.

Healing is not the absence of temptation. It is better defined as moving to the place where your struggle no longer a life-controlling issue.

We like to use the word "manage." You know where your SSA comes from, you know who you are, so you learn to manage your feelings and temptations. When you manage it long enough, it becomes second nature to you. It's getting in the habit of using your will to choose what is right and good instead of what appeals to your broken flesh. It means we choose to live by our morals and values rather than be driven by our feelings. When the lure of that sin is no stronger than the lure of any other thing that tempts you, you are experiencing healing.

Healing does not mean that you are not tempted, or that you are beyond giving into temptations, but that you now have the freedom to choose to stand and resist them successfully. It also means that the temptations grow less intense and powerful.

The ultimate goal is holy heterosexuality. That means understanding God's design for man and woman as complementary to each other, cooperating with God in emotional and spiritual healing, so that He can uncover your God-created heterosexuality. This may or may not include marriage. Jesus specifically mentioned that some are called to celibacy. (Matt 19:10-12; see also 1 Cor 7:7-9)

An important part of healing is embracing an accurate identity: knowing who you are in relationship to a holy God and His people. Learning who we are in Christ happens in the context of a personal relationship with God and in community. Learning that we are created to be heterosexual is a part of that identity. We choose to see ourselves and live according to how Christ defines us, not according to how we view ourselves or our temptations.

7. Why does it take so long to heal?

First, it took you a long time to get to the point you are. It takes a long time to deal with the things that happened.

Second, we live in a culture of instant, "take a pill and fix it now" mentality. We can get unnecessarily frustrated because of unrealistic expectations.

Deliverance ministries can encourage the unrealistic hope that we can experience instant healing without crucifying the flesh. (We aren't saying instantaneous healing never happens, but it's not the way God usually brings it.) Or that there is demon of homosexuality that can be cast out and POOF! your troubles are over. It doesn't work that way.

We are dealing with strongholds, areas where we have given the enemy a legitimate place in our lives. Total surrender and renouncing those strongholds is a hard blow to our flesh, and it's usually not instantaneous.

8. So do I focus on being "straight?"

No, you focus on Jesus and your relationship with Him, and who you are in Him. Then He will take care of your sexual orientation.

You can't talk yourself into being straight. You don't have that kind of power. Only Jesus does.

9. What does a healthy same sex relationship look like?

  • Mutual respect, not seeking to complete oneself or consume another.
  • Not putting another person in a position to meet needs that only God can fill; not idolatrous. (Relational idolatry is elevating self or others to a position above God)
  • No erotic component
  • The element of desperation is not there
  • Healthy, godly emotional intimacy and friendship (see David and Jonathan)
  • Intimacy: the sharing of one's feelings, heart and passions with another
  • Physical touch is respectful of the other person's boundaries; non-erotic; not initiated out of neediness but out of strength and confidence in who you are. Not given to draw something from the other but to affirm and bless the other.
  • Does not seek exclusivity with the other person but opens up the friendship to allows others in.
  • Look at the description of love in 1 Cor. 13 to see a description of healthy relationships.
  • Complementarity of masculinity and femininity balancing each other
  • Men using their strength to lead and protect and serve
  • Women using their beauty, nurturing capacity and intuition to support others

10. How do I deal with jokes/comments from friends about homosexuality?

You can point out that saying those things can be hurtful to those who struggle with that issue, because you never know when someone in their family has this issue and it really hurts when people make fun. (The person in the family might be you, but you don't have to say so.)

By making those kinds of comments, it often prevents people from being open with their personal struggles with homosexuality. They can feel locked up and unsafe to share. Realize that many times, when people make jokes or comments, it's not a reflection of their real thoughts and feelings but a social construct and/or a way to make them feel like they fit in. Or it could be a reflection of their own discomfort with this issue.

11. Why should I trust you?

You shouldn't. No one should give trust right off the bat. For the wise person, trust is not given, it's earned. Hopefully, in the process of our building a relationship together, you'll be able to.

12. Am I a freak?

If by freak you mean you are unique and different, yes. You are unique and different. We are all unique because we are fashioned by God's hand to be uniquely you.

If by freak you mean you're some kind of mistake or aberration that God created, then no, you're not. He didn't make you a freak.

13. If God has set me free, why do I still struggle?

Because you still live in the flesh. The flesh will always war against the spirit, and the spirit wars against the flesh. The flesh was disabled at the Cross, but we are free to live according to its habits and patterns. At the Cross, Christ dealt with the penalty and the power of sin, but it's up to us to crucify the flesh by saying no to sin and yes to godliness. God does not take away our choice to sin, but He has given us the power to resist that sin, should we choose to. Things are further complicated by the fact that we live in a culture surrounded by temptations and struggles on three fronts: the world, the flesh and the devil.

14. Do you have any idea what it is like to be me?

No, not exactly. However, many of us who are in this ministry have struggled with these same issues, or have spent enormous amounts of time with people who have struggled with these issues. We ALL know what it's like to be lonely, to lust, to feel rejected, to feel longings for intimacy. We all know what it's like to struggle with sin.

15. But I really am gay, right?

No, you're not! God made you male or female, period. However, you may have been deceived into adopting a gay identity. You may have believed that you were gay/lesbian/bi/transgender, but that's not who you really are. You didn't choose to feel the way you do; however, the circumstances and experiences of your life may have caused you to believe that you were something other than male or female. Scripture says, "As a man (or woman) thinks within his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). As you begin to embrace the truth of who God says you are, you will begin to live out your true identity as created by God.

16. Why is this sin so bad in the eyes of God and the church?

Let's distinguish between the eyes of God and the eyes of the church.

To God, all sin separates us from Him. This is sin is not worse than heterosexual promiscuity. But because it is relational in nature, its consequences are often more severe in our personal lives and hearts. Because sin separates us from God, we all need forgiveness and repentance, and it is for that very cause that Christ died.

Most of us find it easy to be repulsed by things which don't tempt us. (For example, how do you feel about eating worms?) Another reason is the unnaturalness of homosexual acts (Rom. 1). It may feel natural to you, but God says that longings for same-sex sexual intimacy are alien to God's intent.

One reason many in the church react so strongly is that they are unconsciously reacting to gay activists. They assume the radical activists speak for all who experience SSA and they react in anger to them.

In the eyes of the church, unfortunately, this sin has often been viewed like some sins of the past (i.e., divorce)—that people who commit these sins are somehow unredeemable or unforgivable. The church has been wrong in that view, and we now see the beginnings of a wave of repentance on the part of the church and its leaders for the alienation they have caused in the lives of many who struggle with homosexuality.

17. Why am I so deeply ashamed and dirty?

The reason you feel shame is because you already know conviction of the Holy Spirit in your life, and you have resisted true repentance, and the devil has come in and made you feel bad about who are you are. You may be experiencing guilt as well as shame. Guilt is feeling bad for what we've done. Shame is feeling bad who for we are. Guilt says, "I acted out with a person of the same sex." Shame says, "I'm a miserable loser and unworthy of love because of what I did."

Satan is a liar. First he entices us by convincing us that something sinful will be so good and fulfilling, and then when we give into temptation, he beats us up with shame and guilt messages.

Secrecy is a part of experiencing same-sex attractions. We don't keep secrets—secrets keep us. As we bring things into the light, we acknowledge what they are (confession), and God is able to bring healing.

The core of your shame is an awareness that something isn't right within. The innate awareness of one's same-sex feelings being so unnatural and out of place is a sense of shame and conviction meant to drive us to God to make things right.

If you feel dirty, it may come from not repenting. Repentance means turning a full 180 degrees away from our sin and to God. Also, 1 John 1:9 tells us that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just not only to forgive us our sins, but to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness. If you are feeling dirty, it may be because God is shining His light on you and making you aware of your sinfulness and brokenness. Part of truly confessing our sin means releasing it into God's hands and allowing Him to cleanse us of our unrighteousness.

If you have fully repented and fully confessed and fully released your sin to God, and you're still feeling dirty, Satan may be lying to you about God's goodness, and telling you you're still dirty because God doesn't fulfill His promises about cleansing you.

An appropriate response to God's conviction is seen is Isaiah 6, where Isaiah became aware of his own sinfulness, confessed it, received cleansing, and then went out to serve God.

18. Why is the GLBT community so loving and accepting and the church so judgmental?

GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual and Transgender) is a community of people with similar wounds who know what it is to feel marginalized and ostracized, and out of that sensitivity they reach out in acceptance and warmth. However, it's not unconditional acceptance. Start talking about change and ex-gay, and see how accepting they are.

When it comes to the church, we must remember that it is composed of sinful people who many times continue to act in their fallenness even though they're in church. However, there are churches that model grace and acceptance because they have a good grasp of their own weaknesses and fallenness, and are quick to extend the same kind of love and acceptance that we all long for. These churches will often point you in hopeful ways toward redemption but not require or coerce you into the unrealistic demand of "instant sanctification."

The answers to these questions are written by the Living Hope board members, and on behalf of the rest of the church of Jesus Christ, please allow us to acknowledge that the church has sinned against homosexual strugglers, and we ask your forgiveness. (Pastor Bob Stith has written an open letter of apology you might want to read: www.justice-respect.org/essays/repentance.html) If a root of bitterness and unforgiveness still has a place in your heart over the way you were treated, this would be a good time to confess it and let it go.

19. Will I ever want a woman/man the same way I want a man/woman now?

No. The reason is because your driving passions now are expressions of your brokenness and woundedness and are attempts to fill something you lacked or missed in your development. Genuine other-gender attraction is the embracing of the complementarity of the opposite sex. Healthy heterosexual relationships are comprised of two people giving the best of themselves to each other rather than sucking the life energies out of each other. Healthy relationships are an expression of a full heart seeking to give and serve the other, rather than a mutual yawning desire to fill an empty place in one's heart or to consume the best of the other person in an attempt to find wholeness.

We will not deny that there is an intensity to same-sex relationships (especially in the beginning) that is almost intoxicating. This also extends to illicit sexual heterosexual relationships as well. However, we would point out that intoxication is another word for poison. The intensity of same-sex relationships is not a healthy intensity and cannot realistically be maintained over a long period of time. Furthermore, while the infatuation stage also happens with heterosexual relationships, they have the created capacity and ability to mature into long-term healthy committed monogamous love and complementarity that same-sex relationships never can because they are intrinsically broken. Same sex relationships can never be right and never be whole because they are broken from the beginning without any hope of developing into whole and healthy relationships.

20. Will a woman/man ever really love (or marry) me if they know about my stuff?

If you're marrying the kind of person you ought to be marrying, they should. People with a good grasp of their own sinfulness are able to extend grace and understanding to other sinners. You are not defined by your past sin. You ARE defined by who you are in Christ. For example, you are a forgiven, beloved child of God. Anyone who can't see you that way isn't seeing you as you really are.

Everyone has something for which they need forgiveness. As we come together in relationships, we learn from our pasts in order to build more secure and stable futures. Through honest and open communication we insure that the sins of the past are not repeated.

Not everyone in your life needs to know your stuff, but anyone you would marry needs to know. It's an important part of the shaping process of how you became who you are today.

21. Why is it so wrong to love someone of the same sex if it feels so right?

If you're asking about the emotional aspect of love, it's not wrong to love someone of the same sex as long as it is contained within the boundaries of healthy same-gender friendships. The problem comes in when our definitions of love get twisted to mean things like "getting my needs met," manipulation, and emotional dependency.

Consider the phrase, "feels so right." We have heard many stories of people who were sexually molested in their childhood; many of them report feeling pleasure when it happened. However, the fact that they felt pleasure didn't make the experience(s) right. In much the same way, same sex relationships "feel" right because in those moments they are meeting genuine emotional needs in your life. But they are meeting those needs in illegitimate, inappropriate ways.

Flesh has no moral standard; it just wants to feel good. Skin against skin feels good. Nerve cells being stimulated feel good. Sometimes "feeling good" is confused with "feeling right."

The Bible says, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof is death" (Prov. 14:12). Many things FEEL right, but they result in destructive outcomes which leave us further wounded, and further alienated from God and others.

The bottom line is, if God says something is wrong, it doesn't matter how "right" it feels to us. Our feelings can lie.

22. I've prayed and prayed; why doesn't God take it away?

The problem isn't your feelings; the real root problem is that you have some messed-up views about your sexual identity, which affect your feelings. Most of the time it goes back to your relationships with your mom and dad, and it helps to look at those for greater self-understanding. You also need to pursue a deeper understanding of the big picture of who God created you to be so you can align your thinking with what God says is true. You need to allow Him to correct a distorted view of your heavenly Father (which is why this whole recovery thing is about discipleship). You also need to allow Him to correct your distorted view of prayer. Many people expect God to take care of the problem instead of showing us the answer to the problem. We get stuck by being passive, when He wants us to work through the problem with Him. We also need to address unrealistic expectations. God never promises a timetable for answering our prayers. And He doesn't wave a magic wand over us and make our problems disappear.

Not to get too theological, but it already has been taken away. (Your same-sex feelings are part of your flesh, and your flesh was disabled at the moment you trusted Christ, although you can continue to live as if that were not true.) It's your responsibility to learn to walk in the truth of your identity as a redeemed heterosexual man or woman. And that's hard work, but you have God's assistance in the journey.

God will do what only God can do, when we have done all that He asks us to do. God invites us to be part of the transformation process. Consider Lazarus' friends and family (rolling the stone out of the way, unwrapping Lazarus), Moses (stretched out his hands during the parting of the Red Sea), and the woman with the hemorrhage (reached out to touch Jesus). Jesus wants us to participate in the miraculous, but He will not do for us that which we need to do for ourselves. God's goal for us is that we be "mature and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:4). But we can't get there without struggle and the hard work of crucifying the flesh and casting down strongholds of lies and misconceptions. It's like working out at a gym to develop muscles and strength. There is no shortcut—but there is a Living Hope for change.

Copyright 2005 Living Hope Ministries, Arlington, Texas www.livehope.org

Related Topics: Homosexuality, Lesbianism, Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Sexual Purity, Women's Articles

What does the Bible say about artificial hair or style?

Thanks for your question.  The first thing I would say is that the Bible was never meant to give a specific answer to every kind of question (such as the wearing of artificial hair).  The Old Testament Law of Moses had ten basic commandments and then the application of these commandments was spelled out in greater detail in Deuteronomy and Exodus.  Even these ten commandments were summarized in two main points:  (1) love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and, (2) love your neighbor as yourself.  Thus, the over arching guiding principle for our relationship with men is that of love.  And so it is that Paul can write,

8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:8-10, NET  Bible).

The Jews of Jesus’ day sought to create a rule for every particular situation, and thus there were (and still are) literally hundreds of rules.  That is simply not the way God intended it to be.

So, having said this, not only is there no text that specifically answers your question, there is no need for such a rule.  The reason is that God’s Word gives us the few commands and prohibitions that are necessary, and then gives us guiding principles by which to deal with other issues.  So, what might some of these guiding principles be?  I’m sure there are a number of them, but allow me to mention a few.

(1)    Whatever we do (or don’t do) should be to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

(2)    Whatever we do should promote/advance the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

(3)    Whatever we do should edify (build up) others, and not cause them to stumble (1 Corinthians 8:7-13; 10:23-24).

(4)    With regard to our hair, Paul taught that it was given for a covering.  He also says that it is shameful for a woman to cut off all her hair (1 Corinthians 11:1-6).  Thus, if a woman had lost her hair because of chemotherapy (or some other malady not within her control) I would think that she would want to purchase a wig, at least until her hair grew in.

(5)    Paul and Peter warn women against seeking the kind of adornment which seeks to gain the attention of others, rather than adorning their husband with the headship God says should be his (1 Corinthians 11:1-16; 1 Peter 3:1-6).

(6)    Matters that are not specifically addressed in the Bible, and for such matters there is no clear governing principle, which either commends or condemns it.   (For example, should a Christian bowl, or play cards?)  Such matters would be issues of personal conviction.  One may do this, or not do so, based upon conscience.  We ought not debate such practices, nor should we condemn others or seek to convert them to our personal convictions (Romans 14:1—15:7).

Personally, I see the issues you have asked about as matters of personal conviction, and thus I am not surprised that the Bible neither condemns nor commands in these matters.  The fact that the Bible does not address these questions directly (by command or prohibition) or indirectly (by inference or by principle) is instructive to me.

Related Topics: Cultural Issues

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