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What Does the Bible Label as an Abomination?

June 13, 2016 | Bill Fowler

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In the last couple days, I have been disturbed by some of the responses of leaders in Christian circles to the tragedy in Orlando. Where love and compassion are needed, a few have chosen to respond with hatred and condemnation of the LGBT community. Fortunately, there have been numerous Christian voices calling us to compassion and to grieve this great tragedy. For those who might feel justified in their callousness toward victims in a gay nightclub, perhaps it is time to examine the “abominations” in their own lives.

Selective Abominations

Current debates among Christian circles about homosexuality and transgender issues echo the word “abomination” quite often. I am bombarded with the observation that it is an “abomination” for a male to lie with a male as with a woman (Leviticus 18:22) and for women and men to wear one another’s clothing (Deuteronomy 22:5). It is a harsh word that makes me feel uncomfortable. My problem is that these are very select choices from a broad list of options on the “abominations to the LORD” menu found in Scripture. If we are going to address the “abominations” in our world perhaps we should be more comprehensive. Following are a few of the other “abominations” listed in the Bible.

False Advertising

We might start with dishonest business dealings (Deut. 25:13-16). Proverbs has lots to say about being devious (3:32), using false balances (11:1), lying (12:22), and using unequal weights and measures (20:10, 23)—practices that prevent people from being fairly treating in the marketplace. Deceptive marketing, false advertising, manipulation of stocks—shouldn’t we be denouncing these as “abominations to the LORD?” If God’s judgment is to come upon our nation due to “abominable” behaviors, why don’t we hear more about these practices being corrected?

Abominations of the Heart

Issues of the heart are also declared “abominations” in the Old Testament text. Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19)—these are common in our world (and some of this stuff happens regularly at church business meetings!) An arrogant heart (Proverbs 16:5), insincere worship (Isaiah 1:13), and offering God a gift that is less than our best (Deut. 17:1) are all labelled “abominations” in the Old Testament. And when we get to the New Testament, Jesus adds “self-justification and exaltation” (Luke 16:15) to the list—which, by the way, was the only thing Jesus ever declared to be an abomination during his earthly ministry.

An Abomination We Never Saw Coming

Of course, the sin of Sodom must be denounced as “abomination,” which Ezekiel (16:49-50) clearly identifies as “pride, excess of food, prosperous ease, without care for the poor and the needy.” Abominable, indeed! Few of us ever saw that one coming (you were expecting something else weren’t you), and yet it is an excellent description of our American culture (and many of our churches).

No Chocolate-Covered Grasshoppers?

A few more abominations that I don’t see Christians in an uproar over include eating bacon, catfish and shellfish, and chocolate-covered grasshoppers (Deut. 14:3-19). Are our men’s prayer breakfasts and catfish fries in jeopardy? What about our desiring the carved images of gold and silver in the world around us (Deut. 7:25)? Shouldn’t we be declaring the Academy Awards to be an abomination? Is it possible that our coveted sports trophy on the mantelpiece is an abomination to the LORD as well? And finally, even my own prayer—when I have turned away from listening to God’s Word—is said to be an abomination to the LORD as well (Proverbs 28:9).

Addressing Our Own Abominations

Perhaps I should be a little more humble about pointing the finger and crying “abomination” over the actions of others in my world. Perhaps the Christian church (of which I am a part) should be a lot more diligent to address the abominations that exist in our own lives and churches before trying to correct the world. After all, haughty eyes and an arrogant heart are an abomination. We dare not attempt to justify ourselves as appropriate judges when self-justification is the number one abomination on Jesus’ list. Jesus said that he did not come into the world to condemn the world. Maybe that is not our place either. And to respond to loss of fifty human beings created in the image of God without compassion—that’s just got to be an abomination if ever there was one!

Bill Fowler

Professor Emeritus

As professor emeritus, Dr. Bill Fowler brings a strong and authentic understanding of the power of theology to YTI students as he helps […]

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