Stuff Fundies Should Hate

Psalm 119:30 says, ‘I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.’ That word laid is a sexual term which literally means the same thing as a man laying with a woman. God was saying that God’s laws should be as intimate as a marriage partner in a sexual liason.

In the next verse, David gets more graphic. ‘I have stuck unto thy testimonies: O LORD, put me not to shame.’ That word stuck means ‘the act of a man entering his wife’; it is sexual intercourse. God says that the Word of God should be the Christian’s lover, and nothing should be closer to him than the Bible. The Words of God are supposed to be the most intimate lover of his life.”

- Dr. Jack Schaap, Marriage: The Divine Intimacy, p. 50.

I was reminded again of this nonsense by a site that likes to skewer fundamentalism by pointing out its strangest birds and their bizarre views and practices. Where does one start when interacting with garbage like this? Let’s start with the bad exegesis and work out from there. First, I have no idea where Jack came up with these definitions (other than his twisted imagination). The words used here don’t mean anything close to what he says. The Hebrew word translated “laid” has absolutely nothing to do with sex. It looks like Schaap is importing English slang into his definition of a biblical term. Frankly, that he sees a reference to sex in the meaning of that word is disturbing.

The word translated “stuck” does not mean what he says either. It can be used to signify close relationships like husband and wife (Gen 2:27), but is also used in this way about Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1:14) and the men of Judah and David (2 Sam 20:2). The word has nothing to do with one thing entering another. It means for two things to be attached to one another. Six verses earlier the psalmist uses the same word when he writes, “My soul cleaveth unto the dust” (Ps 119:25).

Even if Schaap could make the case, which he can’t, that in some places the word has a sexual nuance, he is guilty of a basic exegetical fallacy to conclude that it has that nuance in this verse. Context is always king in determining the precise meaning of a term out of its possible meanings. To have a sexual connotation would demand that there be something about sex in the context, but there is nothing that would even remotely suggest that here. Schaap reads that into the text, not out of the text.

So, there is absolutely no justification lexically for his seeing sexual analogies in these words. It’s possible that, in a moment of charity, we might grant that, since the word translated “stuck” can be used of how closely attached to one another a husband and wife ought to be, it is possible to argue that the relationship between a person and God’s testimonies ought to be like the closeness of a marriage. To say that a husband and wife are inseparable, though, isn’t a reference to sex. To pick that part of the marital relationship and transfer it to a person’s relationship to God’s Word is just plain sick. It is patently unfaithful to the text of Scripture and creates a horribly distorted conception of how we relate to God’s Word.

If this bizarre window into the mind and ministry of Jack Schaap and FBC Hammond were an anomaly, it might be understandable to not make too much of it. It isn’t an anomaly though. God’s Word carries about as much authority there as a book of illustrations—both function as convenient sources from which texts and stories can be sprinkled throughout the pastor’s speeches. Whenever God’s Word is subjected to an egotistic agenda like the one that has ruled Hammond for decades, that same agenda will produce and protect the kind of moral perversions that have plagued that place.

Theological perversion and moral perversion tend to go hand in hand. When Schaap treats God’s Word like this, it is not difficult to see why the two grow side by side. Describing a believer’s commitment to God’s Word in sexual terms is sick and sickening. Only a warped mind would see sex in Psalm 119:30-31.

I am extremely grateful that I grew up and have served Christ in a completely different orbit than the one inhabited by men like Hyles and Schaap. I first heard of Hyles while I was a college student, but it didn’t take more than a few sermon tapes (back in the days of cassettes!) to conclude that I had heard enough. During my senior year (1982-83), when Hyles came to Greenville to preach, I volunteered to work in the dorm in place of the guys who wanted to go hear him. What stands out about that now is that he preached some weird sermon about “giving your all to Jesus” from Isaiah that included an edgy sexual slant to it (at least that was the report from one of the guys who went). And even back then there were moral issues being covered up. I raise this to simply point out that none of this is a new phenomenon. Hammond has been marked by biblical and moral unfaithfulness for decades.

Frankly, I would be very happy to live my life completely ignoring the weirdness found in Hammond and its orbit. It matters to me mainly as a window into the very strange ecclesiastical politics by which too many people operate. Men can go to Hammond or speak along side of Schaap and it doesn’t really seem to matter at all. Schaap trys to recoup some of his losses among his father-in-law’s old guard by cozying up to some new friends and we’re supposed to be hopeful that changes are being made. 

None of this is built on theological agreement. It’s all about pragmatic alliances. This will last about as long as when the Sword crowd and the FBF/World Congress of Fundamentalists forged a temporary alliance against Falwell in the mid 1980s. It will end in the same kind of ugly break up that did, but that’s not the real problem. The real problem is that, just like back then, talk about biblical separation will ring hollow because it is being applied so arbitrarily. Seriously, Schaap is okay, but Dever is not? Complain about both or neither, but don’t bother talking to me if you intend to justify or ignore Schaap while condemning Dever. If you are vocal about “platform fellowship” with others, but ignore it with Schaap, you have no credibility. (If you don’t have a problem with Schaap, you lack a lot more than credibility!)

If people are really concerned about the next generation, then they should get serious about applying the truth in this generation.

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