I have heard that the biblical authors did not understand sexual orientation or the concept of loving, monogamous gay relationships as we do today—making their writings obsolete. My thinking is that even if this were true, the argument bypasses the issue of the inspiration of scripture. Wouldn’t the Holy Spirit of God appreciate these characteristics when he inspired Paul and Moses to write what they wrote? Are we really to believe that God, the architect and designer of us all, was ignorant about biology and psychology, or about our need to give and receive love—to be in a relationship?
I believe you have previously stated that the Holy Spirit anticipated that culture would change, and accounted for that—that the Bible transcends the cultures in which it was written. I do not find that a sufficient answer, because the rest of the Bible does not work like that. If we use cultural settings to explain away scientific and historical discrepancies (there are many examples of this in Scripture), we can't turn around and say the Bible transcends culture to fight the evolution of culture and ethics.
Related to this question, is it not inaccurate to hold that the Bible is "inerrant" if it can be reasonably argued that there are errors? Isn't there another term I should be using?
You are right, the Bible deals with the personal, relational, moral, ethical aspects of human existence. It is not a book about cosmology or grammar or physics. Yet the Holy Spirit has given us a message for all time. In one sense, there was no need to “anticipate,” since human nature wasn’t going to change. And yes, we all need relationships, even those on a celibate path. That’s reality, and that reality is reflected throughout the books of Scripture. Intimate relationships need not necessarily be sexual in nature.
The biblical writers lived in a time when, like now, homosexual practices were common, not only in Canaan (13th century BC), but also in the Roman Empire (1st century AD). In taking a stand as they did, they were not confused, just counter-cultural. It is naïve of us to opine that they were naïve.
In short, we can distinguish issues related to our humanity (like meaning, sexuality, community, identity, and holiness) from matters of little or no importance (like the type of footwear worn by the apostles, the date of creation, or the author of Hebrews).
As for inerrancy, “inerrant” is a slippery word. In Compelling Evidence I approve of the wording of the Lausanne Convention: “We affirm the divine inspiration, truthfulness and authority of both Old and New Testament Scriptures in their entirety as the only written word of God, without error in all that it affirms, and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.” Of course we must ask, what is meant by “all that it affirms?” There are core teachings (Eph 4:3-6; Matt 22:37-40; etc.) but also 100s (1000s?) of incidental matters. Affirmation is connected with emphasis. In the biblical world, the earth is assumed to be roughly flat, not spherical. Yet it would be straining things to cook up a “doctrine” of the flat earth, or geocentricity. Ancients believed many things which the Lord doesn’t bother to correct (same with us!)—and which are simply trivial, in relation to the crucial agenda of Holy Scripture.