Dec
25
2010

Debate: Is Homosexuality Compatible with Authentic Christianity?

In response to the recent spate of in-depth pro-gay theology comments, I have been reading and researching, and came across this debate between  Christian exegete James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries and liberal activist Barry Lynn, an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ. Their debate  covers many of the scriptures and contextual  questions discussed, and I thought it pertinent.  However, it does not address all of the arguments at  hand, but merely a good number of them. I have excerpted the arguments  against homosexuality by James White below. White has also penned a book entitled The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message About Homosexuality.

Jesus on Marriage – Male and Female

Authentic Christianity takes the words of the Lord Jesus recorded in Matthew 19:4-6, as final and authoritative. There, Jesus  answered, himself, ‘Have you not read, that He who created them  from the beginning made them ‘male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined  to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.’ So, there are no  longer two but one flesh; what therefore God has joined together,  let no man separate.’ The original creative purpose of God is  plainly stated for us by the Lord Jesus. From the beginning God has  created us male and female; the family is defined as ‘father’ and  ‘mother,’ and this union results in children. The male child, upon  reaching maturity, leaves father and mother and is joined to a  woman and the two become one flesh. This intimate union is  between male and female, never male and male or female and  female. Male with male cannot make one flesh. That is always two  distinct persons. And the same is true of females as well. The union of male and female in marriage is a divine union, according to the Lord Jesus, for He says, ‘what God has joined together.’ Man does not have the power, and man does not have the authority, to affect  such a union; hence, all same-sex marriages, all same-sex unions,  are, by that, unnatural and lacking divine approbation and  approval. We take the words of Jesus, in authentic Christianity, as defining God’s purpose in the creation of man as male and female.

Are Leviticus 18-20 Relevant to Christians?

If this section of Scripture is irrelevant to the moral teachings of  the Bible today, then we must likewise drop all condemnation of  the following activities as well, because they are condemned in this  section: adultery, incest, child sacrifice, and bestiality. Notice well  that Chapter 18 specifically identifies these sins, including  homosexuality, as being the practice of the Canaanites who were  being driven out of the land and punished for doing these very  things. Those who attempt to limit these words solely to the Jews in  Palestine miss this important fact, and the rest of the Old  Testament likewise applies these same moral absolutes to the  nations around Israel and calls their actions an abomination. Given  the context itself, and the reaffirmation of the binding nature of these prohibitions in the New Testament, there is no  reason whatsoever to classify the condemnation of homosexuality as being merely a Jewish law without relevance to Christians.

Leviticus 18:20 says:

You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be  defiled with her; you shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God, I am the LORD.

You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female, it is an abomination. Also, you shall not have intercourse with any animal, to be defiled with it; nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. Do not defile yourselves by any of these things, for by all of these the nations  which I am casting out before you have become defiled.

On Pederasty

Paul speaks of males with males committing indecent acts; he does not say men with boys, a common claim of the revisionists, that this is only about pederasty. This is a mutual, reciprocal relationship, for it speaks of their burning with desire toward one another. Hence, all ideas of mere pederasty, gang rape, or cultural ritual activity are refuted by Paul himself. The men of whom Paul speaks have sexual desires for other men. Thirdly the phrase ‘the natural use’ of the male or female likewise shows that Paul is not limiting his comments to pederasty, as assumed by revisionists; ‘natural use’ can only refer to normal, adult heterosexual behavior which is part of God’s creative purpose.

The Meaning of Arsenokotai – The Septuagint as Paul’s Reference, Not Society

Now of course the key term used by Paul here is so clear that great effort has been put out by revisionist writers to attempt to blunt its testimony and cause people to be confused as to its meaning. Paul draws here two terms from the Greek Septuagint that are found in Leviticus 20:13 in the combination of ‘homosexual’: arsinos, meaning male, and koitos, the term from which we get the word coitus, sexual intercourse. It refers to men laying with men as a man lays with a woman, i.e. homosexuality. Given the Old Testament background of Leviticus 20:13, and the use of those terms, there can surely be no question about this meaning, and interestingly enough, in many of the books that have been written, many of which are right over there on the table, there is no even discussion of the Greek Septuagint background of Paul’s coining of this particular term.

Revisionist attempts by Boswell, Scroggs, Scanzoni, Mollenkott all fail miserably to take into consideration all of the relevant factors and some of the most important writings, such as Boswell, have been shown to be so highly selective in their use of the data as to be simply dishonest. The meaning is clear; the term refers to what men do with men in bed.

The meaning of arsenokoitai is clear, and I think we can all see that Paul didn’t all of a sudden take a massive detour between verses 25 and 28 of Romans chapter 1 to address Jewish purity issues. The  condemnation of the New Testament is clear. The condemnation of the Old Testament is clear.

Why do Christians ignore the dietary laws, but want to enforce homosexual prohibitions?

The Lord Jesus did in the gospel of Mark, specifically declare all  meats to be clean…so he did in regards to the dietary laws, and historically individuals have presented the idea that that which is fulfilled in the person of Christ and in the sacrifice of Christ – the sacrificial laws, the laws in regards to those things accompanying the Tabernacle and Jewish worship are fulfilled in Christ, and the moral laws are continued on because of their continued  use by the apostles and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Never Mentioned Homosexuality Directly

Of course, most of those things in Leviticus 18 and 20 He didn’t address, which includes bestiality, incest; does that they’re unimportant, or does that just simply mean He didn’t need to because it was such an obvious given?

Is calling homosexuality sinful or unchristian judgmental and condemning?

Did Jesus condemn adulterers when He said, ‘Go and sin no more’?  Did Paul condemn thieves when he said ‘Such were some of you’? What does it mean to condemn? When we preach the Word of God that says there is such a thing as sin and that is why Jesus Christ died upon a cross, are we condemning?

Can we define what is an authentic Christian and what is not, or is that hubris?

‘How dare you call someone’s Christianity inauthentic?’ I guess at  least there’s a consistency in saying the apostle Paul was wrong to condemn the Judaizers as inauthentic, and there was something wrong, I guess, in John calling people who called themselves  Christians ‘Anti-Christs’ in First John. I guess Peter was really wrong to call false teachers who claimed to be Christians ‘dogs.’
Jude was wrong too.

But you see, for a lot of folks, the only way we can know authentic Christianity is because we have a revelation from God, called the Word of God, and it just happens to be that Paul and Jude and Peter and John were apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, used by Him to record His revelation; that’s the standard for authentic Christianity and therefore if you don’t follow in their footsteps you have  absolutely no right to call yourself an authentic Christian anything.

Can we continue unapologetically in sin and consider ourselves Christian?

A person who continues to cling to sin is not a person who is ready to hear about a Savior from sin. As long as excuses continue to be made for our sin, ‘whatever it is’ you may say, ‘Well, I’m born with these propensities.’ Well, some of us are born to propensities toward arrogance, pride, insolence, rebellion. We don’t glory in them and turn them into a lifestyle. We’re all born into this world; we’re all imperfect people, we all have propensities, but that  doesn’t change the definition of sin. And a person who continues to  make any argument before the bar of God saying, ‘Well, I think that what I do here is okay. And I’ll admit, well, I’m angry some times, and maybe I stole some stuff and I shouldn’t have, but you know, that one area, I’m not going to agree with you, God, that it’s wrong. I’m gonna hold on to that.’ The Scriptures are clear. The person  who does not, as Paul describes it, becomes accountable before God in totality, stands before God – the Greek term that Paul uses in Romans chapter 3 is so expressive; it’s used of the convicted criminal who stands before the judge with head down, no more excuses, no more defenses, no more wagging of the tongue – that is the person who now understands the need of a perfect Savior.

Well, that’s my selection of James White’s comments.  As I said, White’s comments do
not answer all of those questions, but they do answer many.

38 Comments+ Add Comment

  • If this section of Scripture is irrelevant to the moral teachings of the Bible today, then we must likewise drop all condemnation of the following activities as well, because they are condemned in this section: adultery, incest, child sacrifice, and bestiality.
    Quite possibly the stupidest thing that I have ever read. This is enough to undermine this man’s seriousness. If he is so incapable of any independent thought – if his only reason for opposing incest is because the Bible tells him to – then he’s hardly worth considering as an intelligent source. (To put that another way, if the only thing preventing him from raping his kids is his Bible, then he’s so morally repugnant as to hardly bother considering.)

  • I don't think that he is arguing that it is so because the bible says so – rather, he is arguing merely that the bible says so, as opposed to those who say it does not.

  • THANK YOU, seeker!! You have, once again, proved the absolute and consumate stupidity, irrelevance, and falsity of christianism. In fact, you have also proven my point: that christianism is of, by, and for heterosexuals. I'd also like to see some evidence for the assertions presented above. Oh, yes, your ancient and creaky holy book hates and abominates gays, but is its statements true in any real sense? Can they be proven? Or are they just the musty musings of ancient moralists who hadn't an inking of anything resembling science, psychology, sociology, anthopology, or reason?
    Until you can provide evidence for your myth, you should remain silent. Or is that level of humility too much for your vaunted hubris?

  • Seeker,
    With all due respect, this man seems to be arguing that our morality exists solely because of the Bible, as if we wouldn't know it was wrong to rape kids without it. That is ridiculous. But just as we can independent of the Bible know that child rape is wrong (unless you're a Catholic priest – zing!), we can also assess that the morality of homosexuality in the Bible is murky at best. Even if it is overwhelmingly clear (it isn't), the Bible can still be looked at as nothing more than the ancient stories of people who really, really, really didn't know any better. For that reason alone it should be ignored. There is no reason for people to base their moral decisions on a murky text that is thousands of years old and at this point is so badly manipulated that it hardly resembles whatever it first was.

  • Until you can provide evidence for your myth, you should remain silent.
    The evidence I have cited remains the same – homosexuality is against the design of the body, it is associated with a higher incidence of other pathologies like depression and suicide, and there is evidence that it reversible through therapy (arguably, of course).
    You say that's not good enough. I say it's enough to keep us from rushing in to sanction it as normal and healthy.

  • It is associated with depression and suicide BECAUSE of people like you Seeker, and your rampant, violent intolerance. And no, there isn't evidence that it is reversible through therapy; there is evidence that it can be suppressed through therapy. That is something else altogether.

  • With all due respect, this man seems to be arguing that our morality exists solely because of the Bible, as if we wouldn’t know it was wrong to rape kids without it. That is ridiculous.
    I don’t think so, but perhaps you could provide some detail. I see him as merely arguing that the bible does condemn homosexuality. He did bring in some epidemiologic data which I did not excerpt because I didn’t think it relevant to our discussion of what the scriptures say about hx.
    The discussion of epidemiology and other sciences then broadens his argument beyond the bible. Unfortunately, I don’t think he developed this argument completely or well.
    James White is a bit rough around the edges, but I quoted him because of his mention of the Septuagint as Paul’s framework, not just Roman culture. I think this goes a long way to a proper interpretation of Romans 1, in addition to the fact that boys are not mentioned at all (so pederasty is a stretch, if not a total fabrication).

  • Seeker,
    The man blatantly said that without the Bible, we couldn't criticize offensive sexual behaviors (child rape, animal rape, etc.). He said it in precisely the quote that I used in my first comment. Reread it where he talks about what we can and can't condemn. If he can't condemn child rape without the Bible, then he's in serious moral trouble.

  • Sorry, I missed your quote. But I don't think he is saying what you interpreted.
    What he is saying is that, if you argue that, in the passage cited, homosexuality is not really being cited as a sin because this passage was just about making Israel culturally different from other pagan religions, then you must also say the same about these other listed activities. He is showing that if you follow the gay exception intepretation, you logically must also apply that argument to the other items on this list, and you have no contextual reason for not doing so. He is merely playing out their logic to it's logical end as it applies to this passage, and showing how foolish that would be.
    I *don't* think he is saying that we can't determine any kind of morality without the bible. I think xians would readily admit that other valid methods of ethical and moral reasoning exist, such as the rule of "do no harm to others." No one is saying that without the bible, we could be unable to make such determinations.
    However, xians do make an argument similar, but not identical to that when they say that morality is not subjective, but objective – e.g. lying is wrong whether we believe it or not (with exceptions, of course, like lying to Nazis about the Jews in your basement). If we allow morality to be subjectively determined, then we can end up justifying any type of activity. But that doesn't mean that you can't come up with valid morality and ethics without the bible. We most certainly can learn from "the laws of nature and nature's God."

  • Louis wrote:
    Until you can provide evidence for your myth, you should remain silent.
    ##
    By "myth" I meant your religion.
    seeker wrote:
    "The evidence I have cited remains the same – homosexuality is against the design of the body,"
    "Design"? What "design"? Are there blueprints somewhere and an owner's manual we can consult? If you mean "God," then provide proof; if you mean "Nature," then it's obvious that nature allows for sex between two men – I should know.
    "it is associated with a higher incidence of other pathologies like depression and suicide,"
    Well, duh, I wonder why. Could it be the fact that, in our culture, homosexuality is considered an "abhomination," against nature, and perverted, and that homosexuals are persecuted, ridiculed, discriminated against, and demonized (often by Christians)? Higher depression and suicide rates (if true) are entirely the result of homophobia and people like you.
    "…and there is evidence that it reversible through therapy (arguably, of course)."
    "Arguably," only if one is already convinced and is willing to ignore science.
    "You say that's not good enough. I say it's enough to keep us from rushing in to sanction it as normal and healthy."
    You can say it until the cows come it, but that won't make it true.

  • I make no apologies for the length of this post as you invited the discussion.
    All in all Mr. White provides a remarkably weak argument. First of all his quote of Jesus referencing Genesis 2:24 is misinterpreted. To look at that passage literally would be to prohibit anyone remaining single. This passage read literally would mandate a matriarchal society. This view would seemingly invalidate Jesus life and ministry, especially as He ministered to singles and particularly single women. To conclude that this passage somehow condemns same-sex relationships is to impart a hermeneutical principle to the Scripture that is not stated in the Bible. Additionally in Ephesians 5:32 the author called this passage a great mystery and applied it to Christ and the Church not to relations between men and women. So in fact did the early church writers Augustine and Jerome. So as per usual it is not so simple as to read the text literally
    This is the main problem with Fundamentalists; they take an overly simplistic view of an enormously complicated document. This is borne out in Whites treatment of the Levitical codes. He makes two erroneous assumptions: one that the Bible is a book of rules that we can access like some Biblical Google. Secondly he assumes that the Bible is inerrant and true in every particular. Yet no one really truly believes this. That this is true is shown by the selective enforcement of the LAW. Why is LEV 18:22 accepted but not LEV 20:13 which claims same sex relations are punishable by death. Why is LEV 18:19 ignored regarding approaching women in their menstrual uncleanliness? Why are multiple wives not acceptable as per GEN 4:19 and EX 21:10? Why are the economic texts ignored such as DT 14:22 regarding tithing or DT 15:1 regarding debt forgiveness? The reasons are simple: this is not a law book, or if it is, it is one that no one wants to follow. The so-called proof-texts are just a weapon to use in an argument. They are not an explanation.
    The literal meaning of these texts in Leviticus are not clear in any event. Lev 18:22 taken literally applied only to the Israelites, only to anal intercourse and only to men. Yet the Fundamentalists have moved way beyond this view by interpreting, not by taking literally. It is just that they have interpreted badly. The Bible itself leads us away from this kind of simplistic view. If one counts how many times Moses went up the mountain and how many times he came down then he is still up on that mountain. Really, literally!
    The bottom line is that the specific Levitical codes are not binding upon us. Jesus actions and declarations show this to be true. He healed on the Sabbath. He discarded the food laws and He otherwise trashed the cherished rules of the Pharisees. Unless Jesus brings something forward it is not binding upon us. What He does bring forward is the heart of the Mosaic covenant. This is the Decalogue and the two great commandments upon which they hang: to love God with all our heart mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. There is not even a debate in the New Testament about Old Testament laws. The only real debate was whether to allow Gentiles to become Christians without obeying the many Hebrew rules. Of course Paul argued successfully that these rules need not apply to these new Christians. This should put an end to this notion that the specific regulations are binding upon us. The Bible is a plan for mending a broken relationship with God. It was never meant to exhaustively describe all the dos and donts of human existence. That is the genius of this book and why it still speaks to us after 2000 years.
    Regarding the meaning of the specific words in Pauls letters White is equally unpersuasive. The context of Pauls writings in Romans must be kept in mind. Romans 1:18-3:20 is not a doctrinal discussion. It is a general description of the situation of humanity before God. This he uses to explain Gods wrath against all humanity. Then Paul turns in ROM 3:21 to say but now we have all been justified if we believe in the Gospel. In this context ROM 1:18-32 has to do with the Gentile world and its idolatry. He explains that the consequences of this idolatry are wretched behavior and sin. He calls them all idolaters and sexual deviants. Many same sex activities are criticized-pederasty included. Paul is using this theme to criticize the entire Gentile world. His comments are so sweeping that it should be clear that he is not directing his comments at a segment of homosexuals but at an entire society. This is especially true as the notion of a homosexual orientation was alien to the ancient world. White is comparing apples and oranges by claiming that Paul is condemning loving, committed same sex relationships.
    Passion is the key concept here for Paul as it leads us to treat one another in vile ways. It is this passion that he directs much of his fire. The words themselves are not nearly as clear as White would have us believe. Chresis is a Greek term that means use, or usage. It is translated as relations. This translation implies a reciprocity that was lacking altogether in the Greek world. Physin is another Greek term used by Paul that means natural. Its meaning is very clouded but it is not obvious that it means what White thinks it means. Paul uses paraphysin-which has been thought to mean against nature. However, it is as likely to mean not contrary to nature but beyond nature or in excess of what is natural-the concept of passion again figures large in Pauls thought. All of this is in no way exhaustive but meant only to show that the meaning of the Greek in Paul is not in any way a clear cut condemnation of same sex relations. In any event Pauls logic remains unchallenged: that some people engage in sinful same-sex activity does not mean that all same sex relationships are sinful.
    When one considers the nuance surrounding the language that Paul uses as well as the inapplicability of the Levitical codes one can see that the issue of homosexuality cannot be resolved by referencing a few proof-texts We must place this discussion against the whole of Scripture and the overriding desire of God to have his children love one another the way he loves us. In this light the reasonable conclusion is that there is no Biblical condemnation of homosexuality as a sin in and of itself.

  • Design”? What “design”? Are there blueprints somewhere and an owner’s manual we can consult?
    The common sense manual. You see, the vagina is designed for both output (urine) and input (of semen for pregnancy). The anus is designed as a one way tube for elimination. It is arguably not designed for sex any more than the mouth is.
    Additionally, the fact that gays can’t bear young is another evidence of their unnatural act. And no, that does not mean that if a couple is infertile or past age, that their sex is illegitimate because their cases are (1) a disfunctional proble and (2) something that happens in old age, resp. Old people, if they were healthy, were at one time in their lives able to procreate. Gays never are unless they engage in hetero sex or use technology to use someone else’s genetic material.
    Well, duh, I wonder why. Could it be the fact that, in our culture, homosexuality is considered an “abhomination,
    Well, duh it could be, but evidence that I have previously cited controlled for those factors and showed that they were not enough to explain the difference.
    “Arguably,” only if one is already convinced and is willing to ignore science.
    Or one who admits that all of the data is not yet in or conclusive. Which is the case. Unlike some, I have preliminary conclusions, but need data to confirm.
    You can say it until the cows come it, but that won’t make it true.
    Ahh, so can you, so can you.

  • First of all his quote of Jesus referencing Genesis 2:24 is misinterpreted. To look at that passage literally would be to prohibit anyone remaining single. This passage read literally would mandate a matriarchal society. This view would seemingly invalidate Jesus life and ministry, especially as He ministered to singles and particularly single women.
    You are right, this view might invalidate Jesus’ ministry. That’s one reason why your interpretation is wrong.
    Actually, White was quoting Mark 10:2-12, not Genesis. In Genesis, the context is about the primacy of the man in the marriage relationship. And interpreting Genesis to be recommending a matriarchal society is to understand it completely the opposite of what it is saying. Since woman was created as a helpmeet for man, and from him, he is therefore to leave his family to be the head of a new family unit.
    In Mark, the passage which White quoted, Jesus is teaching about marriage and divorce, and that God instituted marriage between a man and woman, and that they fact that they become one-flesh through intercourse is an action that belongs within marriage becuase it in some spiritual sense joins them. Sure, men can have intercourse, but Jesus gives clear indication here that marriage was instituted as man and woman. That was his point, and I think his application was accurate.
    the author called this passage a great mystery and applied it to Christ and the Church not to relations between men and women.
    The mystery is not what makes up a marriage – the Ephesians passage again notes only man and woman. The mystery is that the relationship of Christ and the church is like a marriage, and that God’s ordinance of mariage (of man and woman) reflects more than just nature, but somehow predicts the gospel.
    “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
    This is the main problem with Fundamentalists; they take an overly simplistic view of an enormously complicated document.
    While some fundies do what you say, liberals have the opposite problem. They often ignore the clear teaching of the scriptures because they don’t like them, and make up some convoluted, illogical appeal to esoteric cultural norms to explain away what the scriptures plainly mean. That is, IMO, what gay apologists are doing with these passages.
    But I agree with you, some of these items look like more ritual uncleanness, like not having sex with a woman during her menstruation. Interesting, though, homosexuality and bestiality get value-laden qualifiers that the ritual items directly before them do not:
    You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. 23 And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it, neither shall any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.
    That alone might be good argument that these are not mere ritual rules. It certainly differentiates these from the others. Nonetheless, White has a point, and so do you. If some of these are ritual, and some of these are moral absolutes (like adultery), how do you tell them apart? Probably by reading them against other scriptures.
    The bottom line is that the specific Levitical codes are not binding upon us. Jesus actions and declarations show this to be true.
    So you would argue that adultery would be allowed if all we had was Lev., but since it is outlawed elsewhere (Exodus), it is immoral? That’s not a bad argument. But not overwhelming either, in light of the other verses in the OT and NT on this subject.
    The only real debate was whether to allow Gentiles to become Christians without obeying the many Hebrew rules. Of course Paul argued successfully that these rules need not apply to these new Christians.
    Yeah, the same Paul who wrote Romans 1. This is not about ritual uncleanness, this is about sexual sin. Bestiality isn’t mentioned outside of Leviticus either, is it? Does that make it ok in your book? In Paul’s book? You better follow your logic to its ends. But don’t let me build a straw man. You tell me.
    He explains that the consequences of this idolatry are wretched behavior and sin. He calls them all idolaters and sexual deviants. Many same sex activities are criticized-pederasty included.
    As I mentioned previously, pederasty is nowhere in this text, it’s about men with men. And White makes a great point in that Paul, while addressing the perversions of idolatry, is using a Greek word that probably means homosexuality, in light of the use of the root words in the Septuagint, which Paul had unquestionably studied. Paul is using homosexuality as the example of extreme sexual deviance, in part, because it is so common as compared to, say, bestiality.
    His comments are so sweeping that it should be clear that he is not directing his comments at a segment of homosexuals but at an entire society.
    That, I agree with. He is using homosexuals as an example of the height of depravity, the peak of the list of sexual sins commonly practiced.
    Chresis is a Greek term that means use, or usage.
    Ok, not to be simplistic here, but what do you think he means by “the normal use of the woman” when he is talking about sex? What kind of sophistry do you need to use to make that mean something else? Pretty incredible (literally) if you ask me.
    In any event Pauls logic remains unchallenged: that some people engage in sinful same-sex activity does not mean that all same sex relationships are sinful.
    There is no indication anywhere in scripture of non-sinful same-sex sexual relationships. There are plenty for male/female. The only mentions we get of it are in the context of sin. How much did Paul need to spell it out? I think it was so obvious as to not have to say it.
    the overriding desire of God to have his children love one another the way he loves us.
    Typical justification for sin – “God loves us so much, we should not care about what is sin and what is not. It just doesn’t matter.”
    In this light the reasonable conclusion is that there is no Biblical condemnation of homosexuality as a sin in and of itself.
    Nor any of sin at all, by this logic, not even bestiality. I disagree. It is a reasonable conclusion to read the Biblical condemnation of sexual perversions, which includes homosexuality. Your interpretations are tortured and strain at logic, imho.

  • You know what else is described as an abombination? Eating shellfish. And yet you do. I guess God was serious about gays, but not about shellfish. The hypocrisy is overwhelming.

  • “The common sense manual.”
    Where can I purchase this manual? And “common sense.” What a concept! Basically, it means the collected prejudices and superstitions of the majority. In fact, it means whatever you want it to mean. It’s “common sense” to observe that the sun revolves around the Earth or that airplanes can’t get off the ground. Or that blacks are inferior, Jews avaricious, women emotional nutjobs, and fags abominations and ‘unnatural.’ Calling upon it to buttress one’s opinions reveals nothing but intellectual bankruptcy because it presumes to bypass reason and evidence.
    “…the vagina is designed…”
    Too which I reply, quoting that master of the public utterance Ronald Reagan, “there you go again.” “Designed” by whom? There is no “design” at all, simply function. Yes, the vagina can accept the penis, but so can the rectum. The prostate is, in fact, quite a senisitive sex organ: stimulate it and – pow! – wondrous things occur. And I know quite a few straights who routinely engage in oral sex. Are they “abominations” too?
    You christers act as if we humans are mere animals, having sex solely to procreate. As usual with the human species, we differ greatly from the animal world: we have sex for numerous reasons other than procreation, something you dour puritans fear and abhor.
    And your “evidence” and “studies” concerning gay depression are depressingly familiar: tainted, as all such studies, by the by-now-familiar religious prejudice which colours all your “evidence.” You are in no position to psychoanalyze us, as all your inquiries are dictated by the necessity to prove us “perverts.” YOU are the reason so many gays suffer; therefore, YOU are evil.
    I am in favor of bringing back the Roman gladitorial contests because we could then reinstitute the Lions vs. Christians games. I’d like to see YOU in that arena, stinker.
    btw – You, as usual, exhibit all the usual earmarks of the heterosexual hegemonist: everything revolves around the heterosexual viewpoint and its absurd assumptions of absolute correctness and superiority. You, sir, are the emperor with no clothes. And we, who until recently were under your thumb, are no longer cowed by your self-righteousness.
    But, again, I must thank you for proving, once more, that your sad devotion to your ancient religion is, in fact, the mask which covers the rotten face of hate and prejudice which infects your psyche. I wouldn’t touch your religion with a billion light-year pole.

  • Of course it’s not about merely lust. It’s about having emotional problems, a developmental gender-identity disorder, and possibly, chemical imbalances. The obviousness of this fact is nearly blinding.
    I am glad to see that it is not merely lust, as love between same-sex couples appears to be the same as its heterosexual counterpart. On the other hand, we deal with separate issues when one moves away from sin, which we cannot detect or measure, and psychiatric issues. I seem to be well within emotional norms, and I am quite aware of my gender. You would have to be specific regarding chemical imbalances, but my blood work has come back normal so far. The obviousness of this fact is obviously lost on the majority of mental health professionals, though I guess the Christian response would be something along the lines of being blinded by secularism like most physicists and geologists. There is a gap between sin and medical mental disorder.

  • Seeker,
    Why does God use the same word to describe eating shellfish? Why the EXACT SAME WORD? Explain the difference. How could both sins be of equal horror to God, but not to you? And don’t give me this, “We got a free pass later in the book” crap. The exact same word is used to describe the crime. Free passes don’t explain away the fact that in Leviticus, shellfish was the same as gay sex.

  • Sam,
    Can you make the converse argument? If you dismiss homosexuality this way, why do you not dismiss adultery and bestiality in Leviticus?

  • Of course. Sam and I (and presumably Cineaste, too) do dismiss adultery and bestiality in Leviticus. I'm surprised that you would even bother to ask that question, actually.

  • What about sabbath-breaking and sassing your parents? Are you dismissing them as well?

  • Wow, so you consider adultery and bestiality as morally acceptable. Well, at least you are consistent with your approach ;)
    Regarding the Sabbath, since Jesus is our sabbath (our rest), I don’t think that we have to observe the day, morally speaking. But it’s still a good principle. Of course, kids should not sass their parents. However, I wonder if the prohibition on this is really talking about a certain degree of sass – like telling them you don’t care what they think, you are gay ;)
    Seriously though, those are good questions that deserve more indepth answers. I’ll look into it.

  • You again try and obfuscate. You keep trying to maintain that my position is that adultery is somehow allowed. You have completely missed the point I am making regarding Leviticus. The specific commands of the Jewish law as found in Leviticus are not binding upon us. Nobody thinks so, not even you Seeker. The rank hypocrisy that exists regarding adherence to these codes is proof of this. That is my point. Large chunks of the moral law as found in Leviticus are routinely ignored. The passages regarding tithing and the remission of debts as well as the land reform contained in the 50 year jubilee found in LEV 25 are proof. These are neither ceremonial nor dietary commands. They are substantive moral demands made upon the nation Israel. These are not just good ideas or suggestions. This has nothing to do with Crown Financial Ministry, of which I am familiar. Crown deals with people who seek to live according to Christian principles, they do not however make the claim that these are obligations under the Levitical code. The bottom line is that if you want to proscribe homosexuality as per the Levitical codes then you had better be prepared to advocate the observance of all those codes. Any attempt to pick and choose among SUBSTANTIVE MORAL LAWS in Leviticus dooms your entire effort.
    So how do we determine when an action is sinful? By the standard I have discussed: is said action consistent with loving God and your neighbor fully. This standard is consistent with all of Scripture as well as with what Jesus gave us during His ministry. While He freed us from the picayune Levitical codes he would not have us turn our back on the Decalogue or the great commandments that underlie the Decalogue. We are held to the core of the Mosaic covenant precisely to fulfill the commandment to love God and our neighbor fully.
    I am truly sorry that you have such a great need for a long list of particular dos and donts but Jesus did not feel compelled to give us one. He obviously felt we are mature enough in our faith to know in our heart what is right and wrong. This is why he spoke of such things as lusting in our hearts as committing adultery. According to your precious Levitical code this would not be a sin. There was no physical contact, no intercourse with someone not our spouse. This would not under the technical specifications of Leviticus be adultery. Neither under this standard would phone sex or internet pornography. Yet Jesus sets the bar higher. In our hearts we have committed a sin by failing to love fully. He was able to do this without giving us a checklist to use. That He sought to impress Gods Will upon our hearts is exactly what the prophet Jeremiah said God would do in JER 31:31-34. The fact that we can look to Jesus not for a checklist but as a model and that we can know right from wrong in our hearts with love as our standard is why after 2000 years the Bible is still relevant. Otherwise the book is reduced to an irrelevant debate about the morality of shellfish.
    You claim that Paul was quite familiar with homosexuality. This is factually ludicrous. The notion of a homosexual orientation was not developed until the late 19th century. The psychology behind this did not exist in Pauls time. You claim that you want to place Scripture in its proper historical, linguistic and cultural context. Yet when that effort yields a result you do not like you turn your back on the principle. Homosexuality as we understand it is a concept that is a little over 100 years old. Therefore we can conclude that Paul could not have been discussing this phenomenon. Prostitution on the other hand did exist then so Paul was familiar with it. The two concepts are quite different. Since this concept was not current in Pauls time he was therefore writing of something else. That something else was a power, status and classed based activity that had little if anything to do with love and commitment. It also had little if anything to do with an innate orientation as we understand it today. It had to do with using others without regard for their God-given humanity. The historical fact is that same-sex relations rarely occurred among those equal in status and when it did it carried a social stigma. Sorry if placing Pauls writings in their proper context causes your argument to crumble but if you will not admit that what we are talking about when we discuss homosexuality was not a term current in Pauls time then you are an intellectual fraud.
    Your sick statement that homosexuality is about about having emotional problems, a developmental gender-identity disorder, and possibly, chemical imbalances. shows the depth of your problem. A problem that had skewered your interpretation of Scripture caused you to promote a false teaching of the Gospel and generally giving Christianity a bad name. Sorry to reprove, rebuke and correct you but as a far better man than I stated I can do no other

  • You again try and obfuscate. You keep trying to maintain that my position is that adultery is somehow allowed.
    I am asking you to confirm or deny such because it seems like that’s where your logic goes. Just answer the question and stop hedging.
    The specific commands of the Jewish law as found in Leviticus are not binding upon us. Nobody thinks so, not even you Seeker.
    That is not so. As I said, the classic protestant view is that:
    1. We are no longer under obligation to follow dietary or ceremonial law because they were intended to point to the future messiah, who has now come. The NT specifically releases us from these laws as well.
    2. The remaining “moral” laws are considered binding in that they it is still immoral to break them. Of course, as xians, we are not under the law as far as righteousness is concerned, but we are supposed to be aware of the moral law in order to avoid sin, especially sexual sin, which Paul warns against in numerous NT passages.
    So I understand that we are not under the law, but the moral law is still valid in deciding what is sin and what is not. So again I ask you, if Leviticus is “no longer binding”, in your view, does that mean that all or just some of the things listed there are no longer considered sinful? Because based on the current explanation you have given, I think that you are saying that adultery is no longer a sin. If it is, by what hermeneutic do you determine this?
    The passages regarding tithing and the remission of debts as well as the land reform contained in the 50 year jubilee found in LEV 25 are proof. These are neither ceremonial nor dietary commands. They are substantive moral demands made upon the nation Israel. These are not just good ideas or suggestions.
    That is an excellent point. Perhaps there needs to be another category besides the three we have already established. I think you have identified a hole in my logic. Now, can you address the one I mentioned in yours?
    So how do we determine when an action is sinful? By the standard I have discussed: is said action consistent with loving God and your neighbor fully… am truly sorry that you have such a great need for a long list of particular dos and donts but Jesus did not feel compelled to give us one.
    I’m sorry, that is not good enough because it is too open to interpretation. You need a more rigorous hermeneutic. I am not searching for a list, I am merely trying to disprove your contention that homosexuality is not condemned in scripture. I believe that I have dismantled your interpretation of the NT passages, though you have partially won me over regarding Sodom, and forced me to rethink my approach to Leviticus (though I am not convinced that adultery, homosexuality, or bestiality are merely condemned because Israel’s neighbors did those things.) But by your conveniently ambiguous approach to scripture, which takes one saying of Jesus as it’s only rule, while ignoring the specifics given in many places by Jesus and Paul, you can conveniently explain away sinful behaviors by your interpretation and application of that one passage. By your rule, if I really loved my sheep and it was horny, we could get it on.
    You claim that Paul was quite familiar with homosexuality. This is factually ludicrous. The notion of a homosexual orientation was not developed until the late 19th century. The psychology behind this did not exist in Pauls time.
    So, Paul didn’t know about the act of adultery until modern pscychology explained it? While the idea of homosexual orientation may not have been articulated, the act of homosexuality has been around as long as all of the other sexual perversions. It was condemned in Leviticus. I’m sure Paul was familiar with that. The fact that marriage is exclusively described by Jesus and Paul as between man and woman shows not only that they didn’t consider homosexual unions, which were most certainly around, as valid, but the lack of extensive mention reflects, not that they were unfamiliar with it, but that it was so outside the pale of morality that it is only mentioned in the context of extreme idolatry and immorality, like bestiality, which has probably just a little less mention in the scriptures.
    Justifications for sin, be they psychological, spiritual, or cultural have always been with us in one form or the other. The only difference is that today, we employ science to not only rightly understand behaviors, but we also abuse it to excuse ourselves. Homosexuality, the act, has been around as long as prostituion and bestiality, and Paul considered it a sin. See Romans 1 ;)
    Sorry if placing Pauls writings in their proper context causes your argument to crumble but if you will not admit that what we are talking about when we discuss homosexuality was not a term current in Pauls time then you are an intellectual fraud.
    Your statements are so outlandish that I must ask for a reference so that I can read the sources from which you developed such an amazing viewpoint.
    Your sick statement that homosexuality is about about having emotional problems, a developmental gender-identity disorder, and possibly, chemical imbalances.
    Funny, your justification of homosexuality seem sick to me – it justifies sin and sickness as normal. That is sick – it is, as Paul says in Romans, “supressing the truth in unrighteousness.”

  • Seeker,
    Yeah, seriously, I don't disagree with beastiality and adultery because of the Bible. I disagree with beastiality and adultery because they're wrong; homosexuality (and eating shellfish) isn't. My point about Leviticus remains – you cannot insist that it matters in some cases but not in others. Either everything in Leviticus matters, or everything doesn't.

  • Of course. Sam and I (and presumably Cineaste, too) do dismiss adultery and bestiality in Leviticus.
    I'm with you and Sam on this Stewart :)

  • What’s most striking about this conversation is that Seeker seemed entirely incapable of understanding my point. In his mind, it seems, raping a sheep is only wrong because the Bible says so. Whereas to most of us, raping a sheep is wrong for reasons that don’t involve any axiomatic religious beliefs.
    Now that we’ve actually confronted him about this failure, I’m sure he’ll fall back on the argument from nature. In other words, he’ll state that he doesn’t need Leviticus, either, because it’s just so obvious. And that’s exactly his contention about homosexuality, too. He believes that same-sex relations are wrong, not just because of the Bible, but also because they go against the design of nature. Of course, the rest of us already reject the idea of “design”, so this is largely meaningless. Either something is ethical or it isn’t; universal intent simply doesn’t enter into it.

  • disagree with beastiality and adultery because they're wrong;
    Well, why are they wrong, esp. if the beast is willing?
    And of course, the question being explored was not whether or not the bible has the authority to declare what is right or wrong, but that it does claim that homosexuality is wrong. Whether you find that authoritative is quite another matter.

  • For the record, Seeker, I don't believe that adultery and bestiality are intrinsically unethical. That is to say, the act of sex between an animal and a person isn't objectionable due to it's nature; it's objectionably due to the fact that it's almost certain to be a forced sex act, and so it brings with it all of the ethical violations therein.
    Adultery isn't objectionable due to it's nature, either. It's not unethical simply because you're having sex with someone that you didn't say your vows with; it's unethical because it almost certainly will result in pain for your partner, your children, and probably for yourself as well.
    If you remove those objections, however, both bestiality and adultery are perfectly acceptable. If you have no children, for example, and your wife legitimately wants you to have sex with another woman, then it ceases to be unethical. And maybe you'd say that it ceases to be adultery at that point, as well, but that's a purely semantic difference. Similarly, if my dog starts humping your leg, and you actually enjoy it, well that's fine too. You could even help him out, if you'd like.

  • And sex outside of marriage? Ok if consensual?

  • I thought I was clear enough about adultery: it is wrong. It is wrong because it violates the Decalogue which Jesus brings forward in the New Testament. It is wrong also because it is clearly a failure to love another fully. I do not happen to think its wrong just because it appears in Leviticus. The moral law as handed down in Leviticus is not why we avoid a sin like adultery. We avoid it because as new creations in Christ we know in our hearts that it is wrong. On many occasions Jesus indicates to his followers that they know the difference between right and wrong. The New Testament is full of examples of good living and righteous behavior given to us by Jesus, Paul and others. The point is that this is not a list and it is not meant to be exhaustive. Those who have died with Christ and risen with Christ do not need such a list. So you see my approach to Scripture is not conveniently ambiguous it is measured against all of Scripture as a plan for healing the rift between God and man.
    I will set aside for the sake of argument whether or not there are 3 categories of law in Leviticus (I seriously doubt the Israelites would think so). Let us focus on the substantive moral laws. You must once and for all answer the question: is the moral law of Leviticus binding upon us or not? Must we tithe? Must we forgive debt every 7years? Must we turn over all the land every 50 years? Most importantly for our discussion: If LEV 18:22 is to be upheld (we all know you think that it is) then must LEV 20:13 be upheld as well. Seeker, plainly state whether or not you feel that the punishment for same-sex activity (death) is appropriate today under LEV 20:13. If the Levitical code is to have any meaning then you must say yes. If you say no then your argument about the applicability of the Levitical laws collapses under the weight of its own hypocrisy.
    As is too typical in this discussion you ignore what you find uncomfortable. The instances of same-sex activity in the Bible do not rise to the level of homosexual activity. Homosexual activity in any event was very rare in the ancient world and was seriously stigmatized. Homosexual activity demands a certain reciprocity that was mostly absent in the ancient world and was altogether absent in the Biblical descriptions of same sex actions. We however know all this already because I laid out what it is that we are talking about. Please pay attention this is important. The dictionary definition for homosexual is as follows: Of, relating to, or having a sexual orientation to persons of the same sex. That is not what was known or practiced in Pauls world therefore reason and logic tell us that this is not what he was describing. I would characterize what Paul describes as fairly sinful, dependent as it was upon power and exploitation. This type of exploitation is not what we are considering when we in the 21st century discuss homosexuality. Despite your contention that homosexual unions have been around Wikipedia offers the following: The practice of same-sex love in antiquity often took the form of formal pairings of men with youths, which had many of the attributes of marriage but were limited in duration. Also offered up is this The Roman use of sexuality as a form of dominance, as well as a means to conquer a male enemy through rape, have been linked with the increasing intolerance of same-sex relations in Rome. As was typical of so many things in antiquity these were relationships of dominance and exploitation. Christianity should have wanted them ended. Today, however we have a deeper understanding of humanity in all its diversity. We understand sexual orientation and the psychology behind it to a much greater degree than we have ever in the past. We have also largely moved beyond the culture of dominance and sexual exploitation that existed in antiquity. So when we today speak of homosexuality we speak of something dramatically different than what Paul spoke of in either ROM 1 or 1COR 6. In the end my point stands. The activities that Paul condemns are not what we mean when we speak of homosexuality today. Therefore he could not possibly be offering you the security blanket of gay bashing into which you think you have wrapped yourself.

  • Seeker,
    Some couples – not you and your wife – actually have “open” relationships, in which sex outside of marriage is not only tolerably, but encouraged. Oh my God, the horror! I take issue with your objection to this, since the people involved are consenting, having a good time, and not hurting anybody. And there we come back to the original issue: you object to consenting adults doing consenting things with one another, and then the examples you give us to prove that we’re wrong in our position involve situations without consent.

  • Seeker, of course I believe that consensual sex, outside marriage, is acceptable. If I believe that it’s okay for you to have sex with my dog (thankfully, I don’t actually have one), how could I object to you having consensual sex with another human?

  • From: "Gays and the Future of Anglicanism: Responses to the Windsor Report" –
    From the Christian emperor Justinian in the sixth century until the eighteenth century, Christian communities around Europe regularly put homosexuals to death by burning, beheading, flaying, drowning or hanging them. The ancient Christian thinkers Tertullian, Eusebius and John Chrysostom all argued that same sex relations deserve the penalty of death…In medieval Europe, secular laws often invoked the authority of the bible to execute homosexuals. Bologna adopted the death penalty for sodomy in 1259. Padua followed suit in 1329; Venice in 1342; Rome in 1363; Cremona in 1387; Milan in 1476; and Genoa in 1556. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain actively sought out sodomites to be burned. In the hundred and twenty five years after Calvin taught in Geneva, there were thirty burnings, beheadings, drownings, and hangings of homosexuals in that city. Scores of men and boys were hanged for homosexual activity in Georgian England. Before the advent of modernity, women in Europe were also vulnerable to execution if convicted of lesbianism. The history of churches' treatment of gay people has for over a thousand years been a history of hatred, persecution and death. To this day, standard Christian textbooks devoted to moral theology and commenting on homosexuality are usually trite treatises because of their complete silence on the long-standing brutality meted out to homosexuals by churches, whether Roman Catholic, Anglican or Protestant. For homosexuals, the history of the Christian church has been a kaleidoscope of harrowing horrors. Their fortunes have now changed. Physical violence has mutated into rhetorical violence, although there are still nine countries today where homosexual behavior is punishable by death.
    The nine countries are identified as Mauritania, Sudan, Afhanistan, Pakistan, the Chechen Republic, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. These are not just laws that are "on the books" but never enforced. As recently as last July, we heard news reports of two Iranian teenage boys who were executed.

  • "Exemplary dualism" is the term originated by [Dick] Anthony and [Thomas] Robbins to identify a form of apocalyptic belief in which "contemporary sociopolitical or socioreligious forces are transmogrified into absolute contrast categories embodying moral, eschatological, and cosmic polarities upon which hinge the millennial destiny of humankind."
    Anthony and Robbins argue that some people who feel their basic identity has been fractured by being buffeted by social and political forces may turn to a "totalist movement" including various "[i]deological and religious groups with highly dualistic worldviews" and "an absolutist apocalyptic outlook", where members are taught to project "negativity and rejected elements of self onto ideologically designated scapegoats."

  • You must once and for all answer the question: is the moral law of Leviticus binding upon us or not? Must we tithe? Must we forgive debt every 7years?
    Depends what you mean by “binding.” As I said, we are made righteous by faith, not by works, so in one sense, no commands are “binding.”
    Is the moral law still binding upon us? While I believe that mature Christians do tithe, since it is still a valid and valuable spiritual practice, and I would require it for anyone desiring to be a leader in the church, I’m not so sure about forgiving debt. Perhaps we should.
    Seeker, plainly state whether or not you feel that the punishment for same-sex activity (death) is appropriate today under LEV 20:13. If the Levitical code is to have any meaning then you must say yes. If you say no then your argument about the applicability of the Levitical laws collapses under the weight of its own hypocrisy.
    No, just because I say no does not mean that I must agree with your logic on the matter. I personally do not think that we are bound to the *punishments* prescribed in the OT, but I do think the morality of such matters is still true and serious. I believe that most all protestants and evangelicals would agree with that statement. As to the theology behind such a decision, I am not sure what that would be. But I will find out.
    The dictionary definition for homosexual is as follows: Of, relating to, or having a sexual orientation to persons of the same sex. That is not what was known or practiced in Pauls world therefore reason and logic tell us that this is not what he was describing.
    I understand what you are saying. Now hear what I am saying. First, homosexual acts are condemned in scripture, clearly. It doesn’t matter what your reasons are.
    Second, in Romans 1, Paul shows how inward unbelief and idolatry lead to sin, and he uses homosexuality as an example of the apex of depravity. This connection between inner perspectives (including orientation) and their link to sin is how sin works. My natural, unregenerate state, is an orientation to sin.
    Third, as per the teachings of Jesus, the motives behind sinful actions are most always considered sinful, because there is no pure motive for sin. As Jesus said, if you lust in your heart after a woman, you are already guilty of adultery.
    I would say that if you have sexual desire for another man, you are already sinning. There is no example of non-sinful homosexuality in the bible, and no example of a healthy motive for same-sex intimacy.
    I understand that homosexual orientation is not discussed in the bible. That doesn’t make it wrong, but neither does it make it acceptable, esp. since the universal and clear teaching of scripture is that homosexual acts are wrong. And since it does not specify merely acts, but talks also about inner lusts, what makes you think that it would condone hx orientation? You’re making an argument from ignorance, as far as the scriptures are concerned.
    We understand sexual orientation and the psychology behind it to a much greater degree than we have ever in the past.
    Yes, and that he pychology behind homosexuality is most likely a PATHOLOGY.
    . So when we today speak of homosexuality we speak of something dramatically different than what Paul spoke of in either ROM 1 or 1COR 6. In the end my point stands. The activities that Paul condemns are not what we mean when we speak of homosexuality today.
    Such elegant and nonsensical sophistry. How much clearer a definition of modern homosexuality could you want than “men leaving the natural use of the woman and burning with lust one for another”? It is the same homosexuality, there is absolutely NO difference between the sinful acts and orientation you are defending and the unenlightened perspectives condemning hx that Paul and the OT espouse. NONE. You are wrapping yourself in pseudoscience to try to explain away the clear teaching of the scriptures.
    Your hermeneutic is one that denies the moral authority of the scriptures, and justifies sin using the rubric that they were less enlightened then.

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