<

Objective Truth: Does the Bible Speak Plainly About Homosexuality?

Say you’ve got Christians on two sides of an issue. Maybe some say that abortion is okay and others say that it is not. Some say that capital punishment is okay and others that it’s not. Some say that gay marriage is okay and others that it’s not.

What do we make of this? Both sides use the same Bible. Is the Bible then ambiguous?

Before you conclude that it is, consider this exchange during an interview with Greg Koukl (Unbelievable podcast for 7/13/13). A caller asked about ambiguity in the Bible and gave as an example the recent debate about gay Anglican clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops. (In the beginning of 2013, the church decided to allow it as long as they remained celibate, though celibacy isn’t demanded of straight priests.) There were honest, well-intentioned Christians in the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches arguing both sides of the debate using the same Bible.

Koukl’s answer

Koukl used arithmetic as a counterexample. Suppose one person argued that 2 + 2 = 4, while another said that 2 + 2 = 9. The honesty and decency of the participants is irrelevant—there are objective truths here, and these two antagonists can’t both be right.

I agree. But are there also objective truths in the gay bishop case? I see none, and I see no evidence that the Bible’s position on this matter is clear.

Koukl says that, like checking which sum is correct, we must look to the Bible to see what it says.

In this regard, there is very little ambiguity as to what the bible teaches … between the Genesis passage, the Leviticus passage, and the Romans passage, there is a very, very clear statement about homosexuality.

That so? Let’s check the Bible to see what this “clear statement” is.

Old Testament passages against homosexuality?

The Genesis passage is Gen. 19:4–9, the Sodom and Gomorrah story. But remove the presupposition that the lesson is “homosexuality is bad” and see what crime actually is: rape. For the details, see my posts here and here. This informs us about the topic at hand—which, let’s remember, is a committed gay couple—not at all.

Strike one.

There are two Leviticus passages.

You must not have sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman; it is an abomination (Leviticus 18:22).

If a man has sexual intercourse with a male as one has sexual intercourse with a woman, the two of them have committed an abomination. They must be put to death; their blood guilt is on themselves (Lev. 20:13).

“Abomination”? Ouch—that sounds pretty harsh. But look at the other things that are labeled in Leviticus as abominations—eating forbidden food, sacrificing blemished animals, performing divination, women wearing men’s clothes, and so on. Clearly, these are ritual abominations, out of date tribal customs. These are bad by definition, not because they actually hurt anyone.

Christians don’t care about these ancient customs today. The logic is that the sacrifice of Jesus got rid of them (see, for example, Heb. 7:11–12). Fair enough—then get rid of them. Don’t sift through them to keep a few that you’re nostalgic for.

I’ve also written in detail about this here.

Notice also something else that we dismiss today: the punishment for homosexuality, which is death. How can you dismiss the punishment but cling to the crime? Without a punishment there is no crime.

Strike two.

New Testament passages against homosexuality?

Finally, here is the Romans passage.

Because of [mankind’s sinful desires], God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Rom. 1:26–7)

Notice the verbs here: God “gave them over,” women “exchanged,” men “abandoned.” Paul imagines going from the natural (men with women) to the unnatural. That is, he imagines straight people engaging in homosexual sex. Yes, that is weird. And, strike three, that has no bearing on what we’re talking about: homosexuals doing what comes naturally.

Koukl’s conclusion

After referring to these passages, which do not address the question at hand, Koukl wraps up:

The evidence is there to come to a clear conclusion about what the spiritual sums are with regard to homosexuality. That people who are dedicated, who pray, who are honest, who have a relationship with God don’t agree on that, does not mean that the text is unclear, and what one needs to do in those kinds of things is go back to the text. This is not a case where God has been hidden in the information.

I’m a little surprised to say this, but I agree with Koukl here. There is no ambiguity. It’s clear both what is said in the Bible and what is not said. These passages say nothing about the case of gay Anglican clergy that is the topic.

This is a case where a lot of people have changed their mind under public pressure.

Social improvement comes from society. We used to chop off hands for stealing, we used to burn witches, and we used to enslave people. It’s not thanks to the Bible (which doesn’t change) but to society (which does), that we’ve put that behind us. “Public pressure” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but we must weigh the consensus of our community to see if it’s going in the right direction or not.

The problem is as Koukl identifies it: people reading into the Bible what they want it to say. And Koukl is a great example. He takes the passages from Genesis (that argues that rape is bad), Leviticus (made irrelevant thanks to his savior’s sacrifice), and Romans (which talks about some irrelevant orgy in which straight people dabble with homosexual sex) and concludes that the Bible makes plain that loving gay relationships can’t be embraced by the church.

For people like Koukl, the Bible is a sock puppet that they can make say whatever they want.

If you are depressed after being exposed to the cosmic perspective,
you started your day with an unjustifiably large ego.
— Neil DeGrasse Tyson

(I recommend a resource that has been helpful with this post: “Homosexuality and the Bible” by Rev. Walter Wink.)

Photo credit: Chick tracts

About Bob Seidensticker
  • RichardSRussell

    Speaking of simple arithmetic, I sometimes use it to illustrate the nature of ecumenism. It’s when one church says 2 + 2 = 5484 and another says no, 2 + 2 = 9762, and they get together on the happy medium that 2 + 2 = 7623 and think they’ve found perfection.

    Elsewhere in math, once you allow division by zero to enter a calculation, you can “prove” anything you want. That’s essentially what religiots do when they say that inspiration is just as good as actual evidence.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Proof that 2 = 1: let a and b be equal nonzero quantities
      a = b
      Multiply both sides by a
      a^2 = ab
      Subtract b^2 from both sides
      a^2 – b^2 = ab – b^2
      Factor
      (a – b)(a + b) = b(a – b)
      Divide by (a – b)
      a + b = b
      And since a = b,
      b + b = b
      2b = b
      Divide by b (which is nonzero)
      2 = 1
      QED

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        You’re still doing shenanigans with 0. You are dividing by (a – b), which is equal to 0 if a = b, so of course it’s going to lead to wonky shenanigans because what you actually have is a divide-by-zero error.

        Took me a bit to find it, but I knew it had to be there!

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Dang! You got me.

          And as Richard noted, once you divide by zero, all things are possible.

        • Machintelligence

          Wandering a bit off topic here, I like the statement that 2 + 2 = 5 ( for large values of 2).
          Using numbers expressed to the nearest integer, 2.4 + 2.3 = 4.7 or 2 + 2 = 5
          or you could use 2 + 2 = 11 (base 3) if you are short a few fingers.

    • MNb

      Bad analogy. You see, in projective math dividing by zero is allowed indeed.

    • Alex

      But you can claim that 2 + 2 = 11 (in base 3), or that 2 + 2 = 22 (if you define ‘+’ as concatenation), and you’ll be right. So in the end, even in arithmetics, it is a question of interpretation.

      • RichardSRussell

        Thanks for pointing out yet another cheat that religious people use to weasel out of the obvious errors of the Bible, prayer, inspiration, etc. — context shifting. It often shows up in Christian apologetics when they haul out perfectly normal, ordinary words like “know” and use them with their special Christian-flavored sauce to mean something special, understood only by them, like a dog whistle, such as “I know that my redeemer liveth.” Even they wouldn’t use the word that way in any other context (such as “I know that I’m going to win the lottery today.”), but all cheating is permissible in the name of their god.

        Same deal here. What normal, sane person would look at “2 + 2″ and think that it meant anything other than addition in base 10 (absent any overt statement to the contrary)? Yet Christian fundies would try desperately to find some mathematical context in which they could at least argue that “2 + 2 = 5484″ made sense if that’s what their holy books told them was true. They have neither shame nor integrity.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I continue to be amazed when (seemingly) smart Christian apologists argue, “Well, here’s how we could arrange things so that my worldview is right.”

          Uh, sure, I can see that, but who cares? Do we not care for the most plausible explanation, not the most pleasing?

        • Machintelligence

          It often shows up in Christian apologetics when they haul out perfectly normal, ordinary words like “know” and use them with their special Christian-flavored sauce to mean something special, understood only by them, like a dog whistle

          Like “know thyself” in the biblical sense?

  • Y. A. Warren

    Animals often sleep together simply for safety and a sense of belonging, not sex. Roman Catholic clergy have been encouraged in these relationships for years.

    Human relationships and commitments, in my opinion, have been minimized by putting so much emphasis on sex as the strongest and most relevant reason to bond to another human being. Humans are, after all, animals with the ability to choose our actions.

    To call homosexuality admissible as long it doesn’t include sex is like the sound of one hand clapping. Sexuality should be a private matter, whether it is homo, hetero, mono, or multi. I miss the days when we had spinster women and bachelors who could live together without anyone peeking into their bedroom windows.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      “To call homosexuality admissible as long it doesn’t include sex is like the sound of one hand clapping.”

      Brilliant!

    • Jason Wexler

      I think those spinsters and bachelors miss it more, damn peeping toms!

    • Nate Frein

      Sexuality should be a private matter, whether it is homo, hetero, mono, or multi.

      Nonsense. For this to be true, any form of PDA should be disallowed.

      The fact is, straight couples broadcast their sexuality every time they show affection for each other in public, but no one blinks an eye. Only non-hetero relationships have any real stigma attached with PDA.

      • Y. A. Warren

        There is a difference between physical affection and sexuality. I love seeing signs of affection, but I really don’t want to watch people exhibiting their sexual prowess in public. I’ve never been sure why it is considered acceptable for two women in the U.S., but not two men, to hug and kiss each other as signs of non-sexual affection.

        I am tired of putting sexual connotations on all physical affection.

        • Nate Frein

          And I’m tired of busybody prudes telling me I can’t give my S.O. a deep kiss when I’m getting dropped off at the train station.

          Jeezum crowe…do you realize how many ways you can express your sexuality without being ambiguous?

          Seriously. You seem to be advocating no “Just Married!” signs. No public weddings. No couples invites to parties. No pride parades.

          Did you think about what you’re saying?

  • wtfwjtd

    Another factor to consider is that many, many religious people insist that homosexuality is a choice, that gays “choose” their “alternate lifestyle” just to make religious people mad. I am NOT making this up! I grew up in a mega-religious household and I can attest to this insane insistence first-hand. I guess if the uber-religious had to actually face the fact that sexuality is something one is (more or less) born with, and NOT a “choice”, they would not be able to justify their homophobic bigotry so staunchly. This adds to the “sock puppet” mentality, and drives them deeper into the nonsense.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Kinda makes it hard to have a substantive conversation with them.

    • RichardSRussell

      OK, let’s say (contrary to all evidence) that homosexuality is a choice. So what?

      It’s entirely likely that pederasty, alcoholism, and sociopathy are innate, built-in proclivities. The mere fact that people don’t voluntarily choose to behave accordingly, but rather are driven to do so by their biological inheritance, still doesn’t make them good ideas.

      And the fact that somebody does voluntarily choose to, say, give generously to the poor or be kind to abandoned animals doesn’t, in and of itself, taint the whole concept of altruism with the vile stain of having been freely chosen.

      So what’s the hang-up with whether gays choose to be that way or not? Why does the question of choice enter into it at all?

      This isn’t just a rhetorical question. I’m hoping that somebody here has actually asked one of these bigots to explain what difference it makes and can pass along whatever their supposed reasons are.

      • wtfwjtd

        In my experience, insisting that sexuality is a choice does at least two things for the highly religious: 1) It makes them feel less like an unreasonable bully–for example, most of these same people would consider it unethical to abuse a mentally handicapped person, as this is something that one cannot change or help; and 2) It reinforces the “us vs. them” mentality.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I like to lord my right-handedness over lefties. Makes me feel superior.

        • Jason Wexler

          You know that we lefties are actually more prone to brilliance and success though?

        • smrnda

          Our only weakness is our need for lefty scissors…

        • Jason Wexler

          Lefty scissors are easy to come by… I am a baker I need a good lefty bread knife. That’s hard to get.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Really? Knives have a polarity (chirality I suppose would be the more appropriate word)?

        • Jason Wexler

          Yes, and it surprised me too when I first discovered it, I thought it was just some shukster trying to make a buck of gullible people. But left handed kitchen and carving knives actually do work and cut better for me, and I know longer mangle everything.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I’ve heard that lefties excel in artistic pursuits, but whatever. My boast was empty.

        • Jason Wexler

          I know.

          While there is some evidence to suggest that left handedness is associated more strongly with certain benefits of intellect and temperament I was actually playing along with your boast.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Good point. I haven’t heard this before. Next time I stumble across this gaiety-is-a-choice argument, I’ll respond this way.

        • Scott_In_OH

          I’ll be interested to hear the replies you get.

          The underlying answer, though, is that God doesn’t like it. Casting it as a choice then makes it possible to chastise the chooser for having chosen the wrong path. (Actually, I may simply be repeating wtfwjtd here.)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If I understand RR’s point, we say, “OK, let’s say it’s a choice. So what? What does that have to do with anything?”

        • Scott_In_OH

          Right. That’s how I understood it, too. I wonder what theists will tell you when you ask.

          Whatever they say, I think the bedrock issue for them is that they think God doesn’t like it, so choosing to be gay is an affront to God. Conversely, as OverlappingMagesteria says below, that they want it to be a choice so that they can get God off the hook.

          Of course, none of that matters at all to an atheist, but it matters a lot to a theist.

        • MNb

          Too bad for god.

      • MNb

        If homosexuality is a choice it becomes a matter of ethics. Well, already at the young age of 13 I couldn’t see anything wrong with two men or two women making each other happy. I never wanted some religious or other bigot deciding for me with whom I can have sex based on mutual agreement (assumed that only two partners are involved) and with whom not.

      • Jason Wexler

        For what it is worth, this has long been my position. Even if it is a choice it is an innocuous one. If homosexuality were bad it would be bad even if it were a natural innate part of our being, just like psychopathy. Which is why I have long claimed that I chose to be gay, because while there probably is some underlying psychological or physiological mechanism, there were choices to be made and I made them in such a way which leaves me identified as being gay.

        • MNb

          Excellent choice. I sometimes regret I choose to be straight (I have experimented) and at my age it’s too late to change it. But in the good old times when I used to be young, strong and attractive I found it easier to deal with gays than with straight women.
          OK, this is to a certain extent tongue in cheek, but the underlying point stands.

      • OverlappingMagistera

        I think it has more to do with getting God off the hook. If being gay is a sin and gay people are born that way, then that would mean that God created the sin. On the other hand, if you tell yourself that they chose to be gay, than that means God made them normal and that the person rebelled against God’s will.

        This idea can also be used to argue for gay rights, if your moral system is based on God’s desires. An argument from gay theists is “God made me this way, therefore it cannot be a sin since God doesn’t create sin.” The only way to respond to this from a theist perspective is to either deny that God made you that way, or say that God creates sin. Not many are willing to choose the latter option.

  • http://avoiceinthewilderness-mcc1789.blogspot.com/ Michael

    You’re right, there’s hypocrisy. That does not meant the Bible is accepting of homosexuality. It clearly does not. Of course, many people in those days (and today) had a very different view of homosexuality. The idea that a homosexual orientation could be innate and natural either was unknown to them or was/is not accepted, which explains the passage speaking about “giving up” natural sexual relations. Now this does not matter to me, an atheist humanist who has nothing against GLBT people. I’m all for Christians abandoning these parts of the Bible, regardless of the hypocrisy it entrails. That said, the conservative Christians such as Koukl are clearly right on what the Bible says. Of course, his sort are hypocrites to necessarily, because no one could really live by all of the Bible’s rules in my view, particularly because there’s so many contradictory ones.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      List precisely what about homosexuality is bad. For example: homosexual rape is bad (we get this from the Sodom and Gomorrah story). Temple prostitution homosexuality might be proscribed. And so on.

      Tell me where Koukl is right about the Bible’s rejection of homosexuality.

      • Jason Wexler

        Isn’t it a myth that Jesus did away with the old Levitican laws? Right after the passage where he abolishes them, is a passage in which he states “think not that I have abolished the law”.

        Regardless of whether or not Jesus did abolish Levitican law, I think you are arguing on a technicality in all of the examples. The bible contains admonishments which are widely even if incorrectly understood to apply to homosexuality or certain homosexual acts, but it doesn’t contain any passages which could contradict those passages. Aren’t you in a way giving Christians an out on this issue? Shouldn’t Christians be forced to grapple with the fact that their Bible contains reprehensible moral claims and was unequivocally used to hurt people for decades or centuries because of those claims? Christianity was the villain in the Civil Rights movement citing biblical xenophobia and racism to promote segregation, but no one chooses to remember that because the face of the Civil Rights movement was a preacher. We don’t have that problem this time with the gay rights movement, there is no significant religious organization pushing for gay rights, and there is no doubt that the opposition is clearly religious. We owe it I think to generations of victims of religious based bigotry to finally let the bible stand bare as a source of bad moral wisdom. So even if your arguments are right and I think it is unlikely they are, let this one go, let the bible stand trial for its crimes.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I agree that Jesus says that he didn’t come to abolish the laws, but I don’t think that’s near where he says the opposite. But show me if you know where that is. Hebrews is where (to me) the clearest statement is made that the sacrifice of Jesus eliminates the old laws, but of course that’s not Jesus saying that.

          That’s the fun part about the Bible—it says about anything you want.

          The bible contains admonishments which are widely even if incorrectly understood to apply to homosexuality or certain homosexual acts

          It’s the incorrect part that I’m focused on. I’d like to remind Christians of what the Bible is actually talking about.

          But I’m not dogmatic here. Were the Bible to contain clearly anti-gay passages, that works for my evil plan as well. In that case, I just highlight what the Bible says and contrast that with the changing public opinion.

          Shouldn’t Christians be forced to grapple with the fact that their Bible contains reprehensible moral claims and was unequivocally used to hurt people for decades or centuries because of those claims?

          If the church misinterpreted the Bible, that’s one thing. And you’re right, we should hold their feet to the fire on that one. But if the Bible, correctly interpreted, can’t even be the foundation for their arguments, I’ll point that out as well.

          I’ve written quite a bit about slavery and genocide in the OT.

          So—where are we on this issue?

        • Jason Wexler

          This isn’t so much a response to the points you made in this previous post, which I am still digesting, but perhaps an explanation of where I am coming from… I once attended a conference on queer spirituality, where a gay Christian chose to address Leviticus through redaction as opposed to the Jesus abolished the old laws meme. He claims that Leviticus was a response to a peculiar form of prostitution that was common in the ancient world, where a man would buy his way up in society by allowing richer more powerful men to anally penetrate him (ancient Roman gays didn’t have anal sex under normal circumstances or at least admit to it), and then publicly acknowledge he was basically the other guys “bitch”.

          This is a plausible hypothesis, but I think also irrelevant. I was aghast as many atheists are that an LGBT person could actively be defending Christianity, and whats more I recognized that, the claim he was making whether true or not was akin to the type of sophistry that many preachers have to use to explain away the Bible being used for and in many cases genuinely saying things that promote slavery, misogyny, xenophobia, war and other moral atrocities. I hate the idea that future Christians may have a way of dismissing the actions of “modern” Christians as not being fully aware of revelation, that they were misinterpreting scripture. How exactly does it benefit anyone if it turns out that Christians interpretation has been wrong all this time, shouldn’t the goal be to convince people that the foundational principles are wrong, how is that achieved if we allow them to play at sophistry and pretend the Bible says things it doesn’t?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I heard an interview with Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Shit: a brief history of swearing. It was interesting in its own right, but the relevant point here is the discussion of the power dynamic in sex. Gay sex wasn’t a problem in Roman times, unless you were on the receiving end.

          In the Seattle Pride parade, there are always lots of church groups. Like you, perhaps, my reaction is: Hey, don’t you know when you’re not wanted? But I guess the hold of religion can be pretty strong, even when it’s an abusive relationship.

          My focus is first to try to figure out what the Bible is actually saying (not always an easy thing for an amateur, given the many factors involved). Where it says that slavery is A-OK with God, I highlight that as an outrage. Where it doesn’t say that modern homosexuality is wrong, I highlight that to show Christians that they need to reread their Bibles instead of listening to fire ’n brimstone preachers.

      • wtfwjtd

        Well Bob, there’s always I Cor 6:9. The problem here is, it opens up another whole can of worms. Just how greedy can one be, and still “inherit the kingdom of God” ? How about being drunk? Public or private? Is one disqualified after one incident, two, eight, or a hundred incidents? Just how much slander can we get away with?What exactly is a “homosexual offender” in today’s language?
        Or, do we discreetly discard this as irrelavant today, like Luke 16:18, where Jesus calls divorce and re-marriage adultery? I guess modern churches pretty much have to discard that one, else they would offend and lose maybe half of their congregations–and paid staff too.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Is one disqualified after one incident, two, eight, or a hundred incidents?

          The Good Book®™ is always a reliable source for situations like this.

          Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

          490 second chances? Sounds like most repeat offenders are good.

        • Norm Donnan

          I think this is where protestants had an issue with catholics where they could live life however and just go to confession and start again.It doesnt work that way,its a change of the heart.If its a change of the heart Christianity then you consciously work at being a better person,often against your natural self.If on the otherhand your a religious or cultural Christian where it hasnt been a personal decission,then you do what you do because its been taught thats what Christians do,the “no true Scotsman” applies.

  • Carol

    The Bible speaks plainly about homosexuality as it was practiced at the time the Bible was written ["Text without context is pretext"].
    Throughout history, the primary understanding of human sexuality was founded on what our species has in common with other biological life, procreation. The uniquely human unitive function of sexuality was a second thought or even ignored when natural disasters such as famines and plagues posed a threat to human existence and human disasters such as war, where superior numbers determined the advantage made procreation a necessity.
    Our advanced technology has changed uncontrolled fecundity from an asset to a socioeconomic, environmental liability.
    For the first time the unitive function of human sexuality is beginning to be recognized. Only about 5% of the population is uncompromisingly homosexual. I believe what we will begin to see is in increase in bisexuality as human sexuality becomes more of an expression of human love than mere biological function which, oddly enough, is rarely acknowledged much less discussed by either pro- or anti-same sex spousal relationship activists.

    • Paul D.

      “Throughout history, the primary understanding of human sexuality was founded on what our species has in common with other biological life, procreation.”

      Indeed, this is partly why the Bible is accepting of polygamy, live-in mistresses (concubines), the capture of sex slaves in war, and even prostitution. These activities all promote biological procreation without threatening the patriarchal social order of the day. The main sexual activity that was condemned was adultery, since it made patrilineal inheritance difficult to determine and violated the cuckolded husband’s property rights.

    • Norm Donnan

      A very well put explanation as you see it Carol,I dont know if its true and ignores the spiritual aspect but interesting none the less.

      • Carol

        I believing that being “fully human” if we ignore either the spiritual, psychological or the physical reality of our humanity.

        I really don’t understand the compartmentalization, often oppositional, of the “sacred” from the “secular” aspects of our humanity.

        Perhaps the Latin/Western Church’s Augustinian tradition of defining our humanity by the Original Sin (redemption theology) instead of the Original Blessing (creation theology) has something to do with an exaggerated pessimistic view of our humanity.

        If one believes that Jesus is truly human and also without sin, then sin cannot be intrinsic to our humanity, but is a disordered aberration. Man(kind) is an image-bearer of the Divine, with the potential for godlikeness

        I accept rather than question the mystery of suffering why “bad things happen to good people.” Shit happens, deal with it and, to the degree it is possible, help other people deal with it.

        To me the most challenging question is why good people do bad things. Since we tend to live up to [or down to] the expectations of others, perhaps it has something to do with how we are taught to perceive ourselves.

        “The [Western] Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

        In [Eastern] Orthodox theology, the two words “image” and “likeness” are not used interchangeably as they are for Roman Catholics and Protestants. For Orthodox Christians, “image” denotes the powers and faculties with which every human being is
        endowed by God from the first moment of his existence. “Likeness” is the assimilation, the growth process to God through virtue* and grace. We call this growth process “theosis.”
        For Western theology, man was created perfect in the absolute sense and therefore, when he fell, he fell completely away from God. For Orthodox theology, man was created perfect in the potential sense.–Fr. George Nicozisin

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Great Nietzsche quote.

        • Norm Donnan

          What a ridiculous quote,sorry

    • smrnda

      Thanks for bringing up bisexuality – bi-erasure is a real problem in discussions of sexuality.

      One thing though is that at the same time we’ve decided to make the unitive aspect of sexuality most important is that we’ve become more accepting of sex just for fun. I’m kind of wondering if we’re going to see sex become less and less the defining feature of partnerships – I know several polyamorous peple, and people with open relationships who are together even though most of the time they’re having sex with other people instead of each other.

    • Nate Frein

      Since when is humanity unique in pursuing sex as a solely pleasurable act?

      • Carol

        Humanity is not unique in pursuing sex as a solely pleasurable act, that is what we have in common with other species.
        We are unique for having the potential to experience coital acts as unitive, a means to and an expression of a deep personal commitment to a meaningful/loving relationship.
        Of course, what sets us apart from the purely survivalist hedonism of instinctively seeking pleasure and avoiding pain is only a uniquely human potentiality and realizing our human potential is often more costly than simply settling for a “lowest common denominator” existence. That is especially the case in an increasingly predatory Hobbesian social environment such as we are experiencing in the current decline of Western society.

        • Nate Frein

          You have yet to cite any justification for this anthrocentrism. What evidence do you have that, say, the bonobos or dolphins derive no “unitive” (what does that even mean?) function from coitus?

          Decline of Western Society? What decline? Define this decline for me, please.

        • Carol

          Anthropocentricism is unavoidable since, as a human, I can only experience life from the human perspective.
          “Unitive” means relational personal bonding.
          Although some species “mate for life” the primary function seems to be procreational, serving the physical survival of the species. They don’t waste time golfing together, going to the movies and sports events together, etc. which meets a social need that is independent of the procreational function.
          There may be a unitive function to sex in other species, but it seems to differ from that in humans by being oriented to procreative rather than personal social function.
          That being said, there are individual members of a generally lesser socially evolved species that are more socially evolved than the “norm” for that species. I had a long-haired golden hamster that was every bit as much of a companion animal as the dogs, cats and ferrets that I have shared my life with. My neighbors were “blown away by his *personality.* Profiling on the basis of group traits is often of minimal use on the practical personal level.
          The unitive potential of human sexuality is less likely to be realized under conditions of poverty where procreation often means “one more mouth to feed” rather than “one more person to love.” So perhaps I should have said that the unitive factor in human sexuality is POTENTIALLY greater in humans than in other species. When used to exercise personal power rather than express love, human sexuality is disordered and alienating rather than unitive.
          To say that the human species has unique potentiality is not a denial of that which we have in common with other species, especially the more highly-evolved sentient animals.

        • Nate Frein

          Anthropocentricism is unavoidable since, as a human, I can only experience life from the human perspective.

          Absolute rubbish.

          Experiential evidence is often the worst evidence. All of science is about improving the tools by which we measure and understand reality. By your logic, quantum mechanics is worthless because you cannot “experience” it.

          “Unitive” means relational personal bonding.
          Although some species “mate for life” the primary function seems to be procreational, serving the physical survival of the species. They don’t waste time golfing together, going to the movies and sports events together, etc. which meets a social need that is independent of the procreational function.

          More nonsense. Social behaviors are common in plenty of animals, not just “individual members that have ‘evolved’ (in fact, individuals cannot “evolve”) beyond their species ‘norm’”

          And of course, all of this is assertions without any accompanying evidence to support it. Without citations to support it, this is nothing more than pseudo-intellectual woo.

        • Carol

          Of course, you are as entitled to your subjective opinions as much as I am, but there is often as much speculation behind scientific theories [the subjective interpretation of evidence] as there is in theological dogmatic formulations:

          http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-monogamy-mammals-20130729,0,2391523.story

          Even atheists can exhibit the same “evangelistic” zeal as theists, which makes me speculate that even when we are different, we are not all that different:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nakedpastor/2013/07/door-to-door-atheist-evangelists/

        • Nate Frein

          That’s handwaving, not evidence. Either you have concrete evidence for your assertions (at which point we can discuss interpretations) or you do not. I dismiss your assertions until you decide to bring concrete evidence.

          And no, the plural of “anecdote” is not “data”. Thanks for playing.

          When you wish to continue this discussion honestly, I’ll be here.

        • Nate Frein

          Even atheists can exhibit the same “evangelistic” zeal as theists, which makes me speculate that even when we are different, we are not all that different:

          Complete non-sequitor, which is why I’m responding in another post.

          That some atheists advocate skepticism has nothing to do with the unsupported woo you’re spouting here.

          That some atheists seek a replacement for the community they had in their churches does not mean the truth claims advanced by their former churches are based in reality.

          That entire paragraph is a dishonest red herring.

        • Carol

          Where did I claim that the truth claims advanced by their former churches are based in reality?

          Straw Man

          The Straw Man technique is a stunt where you prop up an
          easy-to-defeat opponent, like a Straw Man, and then attack him and knock him down, to make yourself look big, strong, and victorious.
          For example, . . . you can attack a caricature of what the other person said, rather than arguing against what he actually said.

        • Nate Frein

          Where did I claim that the truth claims advanced by their former churches are based in reality?

          Then what was the point of the text I quoted from this post? I was demonstrating that it was not germane to the discussion at hand.

          That some atheists borrow some aspects of church communities does not in any way advance the truth claims you made in your post. This whole thing is a red herring. Your straw-man objection is a red herring.

          My only conclusion can be that you have no interest in an honest discussion.

        • Carol

          I have concluded that our subjective presuppositions prevent us from reaching any meaningful common ground.

          The options left to us are to “agree to disagree” or to engage In a polemical pissing contest. Polemics do not appeal to me, since they always seem to shed more heat than light.

          I opt for the first option and make no speculations on your motive for engaging in our previous exchange of speculative opinion.

        • Nate Frein

          I have no need to caricature you. You caricature yourself.

  • RichardSRussell

    2 questions are relevant here:
    (1) What does the Bible really say about homosexuality?
    (2) WGAS?

  • swbarnes2

    In the context of a country where so many millions of people genuinely think that the Bible is and ought to be the last word in morality, posts like this tacitly support that premise. The point of the argument is “See, if the Bible doesn’t say it’s bad, you can’t conclude it’s bad!”. The premise is lousy, and should be resisted, not accepted, even when you think the text of the Bible supports your desired moral position.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      I’m happy to make the argument that, regardless of what the Bible says, it has no authority to trump what we think makes a good society.

      However, if I can also undercut fundamentalist Christians own source for biblical authority, all the better, don’t you think?

      • MNb

        Coincidence or not, Adam Lee argues the opposite. While I tend to agree with you I still think he has a point. Anyhow I would mostly welcome your answer to his post.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Interesting. Do you have a link that I could look at?

      • swbarnes2

        No, I don’t think that. I thought I was clear. When you tacitly agree with fundamentalists that the bible is a good authority for morality, it makes it harder for other people to argue that no, we really should not take that as a given.

        I also don’t think it’s actually going to work. Anti-gay animosity come from a need for sharp gender roles, and the benefits that men get from living like that (which they occasionally share with women who enthusiastically toe the line). You can’t make people want to give that up by pointing out that the Bible is kind of vague in a few key places.

        I find that the whole premise of your argument rests on assuming that the fundamentalist is treating the Bible like rational people treat an experiment; if the experiment doesn’t show what you want, you have to throw out the hypothesis. But you already know that fundamentalists don’t act this way. You can get a cheap sense of sumgness at how this proves that fundamentalists are irrational, but so what? We already knew that.

        Let me put this another way. This conversation is fine to have in the context of a bunch of secular academics, who understand the difference between what a text says, and what good morality actually is. But in the rest of the country, and the rest of the world, lots and lots of people are hurt everyday, because people take that silly text as the definitive moral truth. When you make your argument, you are agreeing to that given, reinforcing it as the proper basis for argumentation. It’s a premise that hurts people, and it’s a premise you don’t even believe, and even if you are technically correct in your argument, I don’t think you will change anyone’s mind, because the people you are talking to aren’t rational anyway.

        So is supporting the moral authority of the Bible really worth it?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          When you tacitly agree with fundamentalists that the bible is a good authority for morality, it makes it harder for other people to argue that no, we really should not take that as a given.

          I don’t tacitly agree. I assume the Bible’s authority just for argument’s sake (and then undercut their own argument from the inside). Are you saying that they can’t tell the difference?

          I also don’t think it’s actually going to work.

          If your point is that someone arguing from within a Christian mindset is unlikely to change his mind, regardless of the evidence, I agree!

          You can’t make people want to give that up by pointing out that the Bible is kind of vague in a few key places.

          My goal is to show them that their “The Bible makes clear that homosexuality is wrong” is an empty argument.

          Now, if you’re saying that no argument, no matter how complete and accurate, will make them let go of an emotional conviction they didn’t arrive at through evidence, I agree.

          I find that the whole premise of your argument rests on assuming that the fundamentalist is treating the Bible like rational people treat an experiment; if the experiment doesn’t show what you want, you have to throw out the hypothesis.

          Correct. Some people, like Koukl, makes exactly that claim. That’s why I wanted to confront it squarely.

          lots and lots of people are hurt everyday, because people take that silly text as the definitive moral truth.

          Which is why I push two arguments simultaneously: (1) that taking an Iron Age blog and pretending it to be a perfect source of morality is crazy and (2) even if you did take the Bible at face value, it doesn’t say what you’d like it to say.

          So is supporting the moral authority of the Bible really worth it?

          Are you saying that Christians are so stupid that they can’t understand a hypothetical? Every one? That to a man they assume that “Let’s suppose, just for argument’s sake, that the Bible is authoritative” = “I agree that the Bible is authoritative”?

        • swbarnes2

          >I don’t tacitly agree. I assume the Bible’s authority just for argument’s sake (and then undercut their own argument from the inside). Are you saying that they can’t tell the difference?

          When you argue with people who take that as an inviolable premise, and you say nothing against it, then yes, you are tacitly supporting it. We don’t live in a world where the bible’s moral authority is a purely academic hypothesis. We live in a world where everyday, people are hurt by other people wielding that premise as a weapon.

          >My goal is to show them that their “The Bible makes clear that homosexuality is wrong” is an empty argument.

          What you are tacitly arguing is “Yes, you can get good morals from the Bible, you just aren’t reading carefully enough”. If the topic was slavery, I don’t think you would be arguing like this at all, and I don’t think it would be unfair to call the difference inconsistent.

          >Which is why I push two arguments simultaneously: (1) that taking an Iron Age blog and pretending it to be a perfect source of morality is crazy and (2) even if you did take the Bible at face value, it doesn’t say what you’d like it to say.

          Arguing that what the text says matters has to undermine the argument that what the text says does not matter. And no, you didn’t simultaneously argue point #1 at all in your original post. And arguing point #2 is disastrous when the Bible really, truly says terrible things, because if you have accepted the premise that the text matters, you have to stick with that premise. Or be inconsistent, and I doubt you want that.

          >Are you saying that Christians are so stupid that they can’t understand a hypothetical?

          I’m saying that this topic is not hypothetical for millions of people. I’m guessing it is hypothetical for you. This isn’t about what those Christians think. This is about what it’s like for the victims when you reinforce “Correct Biblical interpretation is the right guide to behavior” by accepting that premise, even as a hypothetical.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          We’re not making progress here. I’ve made my point as clearly as I can make it. But I will make one correction.

          And no, you didn’t simultaneously argue point #1 at all in your original post.

          Never said that I did. In the entire blog, however, you’ll find quite a bit more. I can’t squeeze everything into one blog post.

  • Frank

    Yes.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Not a very convincing argument, I’m afraid. Is there something wrong in the post? Point it out.

      • Frank

        I just answered the question you posed and the justification of my answer probably wont be anything you haven’t heard already.

        Nowhere in scripture does God condone or bless homosexual behavior. Just the opposite.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          If your argument won’t be new to me, then there’s no point in pursuing it. Thanks for being considerate of our time.

          I never said that God blesses homosexual behavior, but I do make clear that he doesn’t condemn loving homosexual relationships. Did I miss something in my analysis in the post?

        • Frank

          You can’t have a homosexual relationship without homosexual behavior unless they are celebrate which means are just good friends.

          God created them male and female be fruitful and multiply (affirmed by Jesus )trumps everything you or anyone else may say about the issue.

        • Frank

          Should read celibate. Auto spell check fail.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          (You can edit a comment after it’s posted.)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          The point of the post is that the Bible can’t be used to argue against homosexuality. If my analysis of those 4 verses is incorrect, point that out.

          Further, we understand today (I doubt they did in biblical times) that people can just come out of the box homosexual. Loving homosexual relationships are simply not discussed in the Bible, either to celebrate them or to condemn them.

          God created them male and female be fruitful and multiply

          And that’s the last word on everything? On commerce? On slavery? On genocide? On relationships?

          Looks to me that that’s just about sex. Sure, sex is important, but I think there are other things that are important in life.

          I don’t see the Bible as especially helpful, since the Bible makes clear that God is A-OK with polygamy. Assuming you’re not, then you agree with me that “the Bible says it!” is hardly the last word on the subject.

        • Frank

          Of course it can. Only someone practicing eisegesis would ever come to the conclusion that the bible doesn’t speak against homosexual behavior.

          In S&G Homosexual behavior was a symptom of not being hospitable as its an abomination.

          You don’t understand the Levitical laws and their different purposes. They are not all the same.

          Your “proof” falls flat.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Your “proof” falls flat.

          Doesn’t help me. I’ve made an argument. You’ve made a declaration.

          Did I make mistakes in the argument? If so, point them out explicitly. I’m too stupid to figure out your argument from this.

        • Frank

          Do more study about the purposes of Levitical Law. A comment section is not robust enough to write a thesis on.

          I propose it doesn’t help you because you have already overlayed your ias on the text and therefore are not seeing it the way it was meant to be seen and understood.

          You have got more study to do and that’s something I cannot do for you.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Do more study about the purposes of Levitical Law.

          Sounds like: “You’re wrong. I win.”

          I may well be wrong, but you must show me why, not simply declare victory.

          you have already overlayed your [bias] on the text and therefore are not seeing it the way it was meant to be seen and understood.

          How fortunate then for us that you’re here and can show us the proper, unbiased reading.

        • Nox

          “In S&G Homosexual behavior was a symptom of not being hospitable as its an abomination.”

          Where in Genesis or anywhere else in the bible does it actually say anything about homosexual behavior in Sodom or Gomorrah?

          There is an important difference between the text itself and the doctrines that later churches use the text to justify.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”
          (Ezekiel 16:49–50)

          If God is trying to state that homosexuality is bad, he’s a pretty poor communicator for being the omniscient creator of the universe.

        • Frank

          The word detestable is the same word from Leviticus in calling homosexual behavior an abomination.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          And we know how underwhelming “abomination” is. These are ritual abominations (like wearing two fabrics), not things that are bad in and of themselves.

        • Frank

          Bob I have said this before: There are different kinds of Levitical Laws with different purposes. You would do well to actually study some more about them and which are no longer binding and which are. You insistence in saying the same thing over and over does not serve you well

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Gotta disagree with you there. I’m the one with the arguments. I haven’t gotten much from you except “You’re wrong.”

          Here’s an exercise to see if you’re consistent: go through Leviticus 18 and 20, the chapters with the verses listed above. Write down every abomination and the penalty, if any. Now go through your list and cross off those things that are irrelevant today, thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus.

          Items like “don’t wear two different fabrics” or “no shellfish” will be gone, and “no homosexuality” will still be there. But why? Why (aside from “well, it’s just obvious, right?”) cross off some and not others.

        • Frank

          Sigh. Bob you can continue to run in circles is some sad attempt to prove your are right but the facts are against you.

          If you are really interested in learning something:

          http://www.redeemer.com/news_and_events/newsletter/%3Faid%3D363&sa=U&ei=1Of7UeGbNKjfiALwvYHQCQ&ved=0CBoQFjAA&usg=AFQjCNEVtXgoarYbBfEI5DNc7U03hDR-2w

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Sigh. This comment amounts to, “Nuh uh!” It’s content free. As, I suspect, your “argument” is.

          If you have actually found an error in my analysis or have arguments and evidence behind your difference of opinion, I welcome (nay, encourage) that. Otherwise, your comments are just taking up space.

          And the link doesn’t work.

        • Frank

          Try this:

          http://www.redeemer.com/news_and_events/newsletter/?aid=363

          I find it funny that what you accuse me of your are very good at. You can make the choice to learn something or not. The truth is not dependent on you understanding it or agreeing with it.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I find it funny that what you accuse me of your are very good at.

          I’m very good at saying “Nuh uh. You’re wrong.”? I actually wrote a whole post on the subject. If you want to actually point out what is wrong with it, that’d be fine. Saying little beyond “you’re wrong” is not so helpful.

          Get it now?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I read it. Didn’t learn much.

          No, I don’t think your big brother did beat me up. Indeed, I think he supports my position.

          It is not that I expect everyone to have the capability of understanding that the whole Bible is about Jesus

          Wrong.

          “I reserve the right to reinterpret a text any way I want!” Whatever.

          Imagine this if you want, but don’t pretend that this is what the original audience of the Bible would have gotten from it.

          Even Jesus says, in his discussion of divorce in Matthew 19:3-12 that the original design of God was for one man and one woman to be united as one flesh

          This is Jesus “not one jot or tittle” Christ we’re talking about? That guy? Any Jew at the time would’ve understood that God is A-OK with polygamy. (We could go into the other unsavory man/woman things he’s OK with, but let’s leave it at that.)

          persons should abstain from marriage and from sex.

          Paul made clear that marriage is second best. Celibacy is best.

          Here’s a short course on the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament

          Golly, I feel bad for taking up the great man’s time with my stupid misunderstandings.

          When he died on the cross the veil in the temple was ripped through, showing that the need for the entire sacrificial system with all its clean laws had been done away with. Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice for sin, and now Jesus makes us “clean.”

          Got it. The ritual abominations are no more.

          It would, therefore, be deeply inconsistent with the teaching of the Bible as a whole if we were to continue to follow the ceremonial laws.

          Well, that’s one view. The Ebionite Christian (James, Peter) had a rather different view. But the Ebionites lost, so I guess that proves that Christianity as it exists today is correct. Or something.

          all the Old Testament says about loving our neighbor …

          You do know that “neighbor” meant “fellow Jew,” right? This is a very inwardly focused generosity. The Old Testament is tribal—each tribe had its own god, and your loyalty was to your fellow tribesmen, not your fellow man.

          The New Testament continues to forbid killing or committing adultery, and all the sex ethic of the Old Testament is re-stated throughout the New Testament (Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; 1 Timothy 1:8-11.) If the New Testament has reaffirmed a commandment, then it is still in force for us today.

          So then we discard all of the Levitical laws and see if they’re reaffirmed in the New Testament. OK, let’s do that. (But tell your fanboy Frank about this, Tim. He’s still hanging on to Leviticus. C’mon, Frank! Join the first century already!)

          In the Old Testament things like adultery or incest were punishable with civil sanctions like execution. This is because at that time God’s people existed in the form of a nation-state and so all sins had civil penalties.

          Nice save! (I would’ve said that the penalties in the Old Testament are barbaric because the god they imagine is a barbarian.)

          The church is not a civil government, and so sins are dealt with by exhortation and, at worst, exclusion from membership. This is how a case of incest in the Corinthian church is dealt with by Paul (1 Corinthians 5:1ff. and 2 Corinthians 2:7-11.) Why this change?

          So I guess we just ignore that “neither a jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law” crap then.

          Once you grant the main premise of the Bible—about the surpassing significance of Christ and his salvation—then all the various parts of the Bible make sense.

          Translation: “Just reinterpret things my way and everything is fine.” But why? Does the Old Testament make clear that it is tentative and that it’s OK to reinterpret it later?

          “If I believe Jesus is the the resurrected Son of God, I can’t follow all the ‘clean laws’ of diet and practice, and I can’t offer animal sacrifices. All that would be to deny the power of Christ’s death on the cross.

          That’s a new concept. The Ebionites rejected it.

          See, this is the problem with imagining that some article will settle things for you. Much better is if you make a point or two and we can discuss it. Hiding behind “My big brother could beat you up!” doesn’t fly.

        • Frank

          Bob I really don’t know wast to say. You are welcome to your opinion, even if its uniformed or biased.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Bam! Another content-free drive-by.

        • Frank

          If the shoe fits….

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Yeah, I wrote an entire post on the subject and …

          (Why bother?)

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          *Snort* I grew up Jewish. The Levitical laws are totally not with different purposes. They’re all ritual things, what you can and cannot do because God said so. The mixed fibers, sexual behavior, and food laws are all in the same section and use the same wording (yes, I did learn that lesson from someone who can read it in the original Hebrew, and I can sound out enough to see that it is the same wording).

          To Jews, they’re pretty much all binding except the ones on sacrifice, because there isn’t a Temple at which to perform sacrifices anymore. Of course, following all those laws and commandments requires studying Talmud to understand the practical application of them, which is a long and tedious process.

          Christians get stuck with one of two options; either they’re all valid, or none of them are. Picking and choosing, on the other hand … there is absolutely nothing in the Levitical text or how it’s written to suggest that some laws are different from other laws. I’ve read from the Torah (through rote memorization, not actual understanding); I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. They’re the same. Your Christian scholars are lying to you if they claim there’s any difference.

        • Frank

          If you would like to learn something do a search for Tim Keller and Old Testament Law and The Charge of Inconsistency. Bob this is for you too.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Good, then I’ll reply. If you have an argument, make it here. Yes, you can say, “My big brother can beat you up!” That may well be true, but your big brother isn’t here. You are. Much more useful would be if you’d do the beating up yourself. Provide the argument.

          Based on tracking down other arguments like this, I almost always find no there there. But perhaps I’m wrong and you can show me. That would be welcome.

        • Frank

          I have. All levitical laws are not the same and some are binding and some are not. I could rehash what Keller said but he says it much better than I ever could. If you want to read it and respond great. If not, your loss.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Translation: “Keller pwned you!”

          That’s nice. You could do the same and bring more than bluster to your argument, or not. You could take the challenge I posed to you above (listing the Levitical laws and justifying why the anti-homosexual laws remain while the others don’t), or not.

          I guess not.

        • Frank

          Your cognitive dissonance is quite astounding. Oh well your choice. The truth si out there if you desire to find ti.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I accept your challenge and read the article, and that’s all you have to say? You don’t try to defend your claim that this article actually supports your position?

          If not that, then how about, “Y’know I think you were right.” Or maybe even, “Y’know, I should think about this a bit more. Thanks for the food for thought.”

          No, it’s just “You’re closed minded!” and then you’re off to go spread more content-free love somewhere else.

          Here’s a tip (yeah, I know I’m getting repetitious here): give arguments with evidence, not evaluations. Those are a lot more useful.

        • Frank

          Bob when you take your own advice I will do the same. Ironic that what you accuse me of doing is exactly what you did in this blog post.

          Anyway I am tired of going around in circles with you.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          There is a god.

        • Frank

          Genesis 19:4-13

          Ezekiel 16:49-50

          Jude 7

        • Nox

          Did you even read any of those verses you listed there? None of them make the claim I was asking you to source.

          The reason I asked that specific question (“Where in Genesis or anywhere else in the bible does it actually say anything about homosexual behavior in Sodom or Gomorrah?”) is because I was already aware of the passages in Jude and Ezekiel. Being already aware of these passages, I already knew they do not support the most common christian reading of the story.

          You seem to have just looked up which verses mention S&G, assumed they would support your claim, and listed them here without looking to see what they said.

          Genesis 19 makes no explicit mention of homosexuality. It just isn’t there. You have to read it into the story to see it there. Where it is usually seen is in verse 5, which has been interpreted by some as saying the men of Sodom wanted to rape the angels, and could just as easily be saying the men of Sodom wanted to know who these guys coming into their city were.

          If you have grown up in or around the christian church and heard hundreds of times that this is the intended point of the story, it would be easy enough to see Genesis 19 as saying that. You might simply not notice the absence of this claim, or assume it is clarified elsewhere in the book. The story might seem so obviously about gayness that it wouldn’t even seem weird that it’s never mentioned. But this is not an impression you would get by just reading the text.

          Ezekiel 16 makes a clearer statement. It says the sin of Sodom was pride, fulness of bread, abundance of idleness, and not helping the poor and needy.

          Not only no explicit mention of homosexuality. No possible mention at all. In a verse where Ezekiel is saying “this is what the sins of Sodom were”.

          A very strange omission.

          Jude 1:7 (written hundreds of years after the Torah, by someone who was definitely not at Sodom and would have no business adding details that aren’t in the Torah) is the closest match you could find anywhere in the bible.

          And it also does not say anyone in Sodom was gay.

          It says the sin of Sodom was fornication and going after strange flesh. If you’re not familiar with the law of Moses, I could see how someone could mistakenly read “strange flesh” as “cock”, but if you have read those laws you mentioned earlier, you should already know that “strange flesh” means sacrificing to gods besides yhvh.

          Here, Jude was referencing an interpretation that was already popular among the jews by the end of the 1st Century. But mishnah is not torah. Also note that this is seven verses before the author of Jude incorrectly quotes the Genesis character Enoch as saying something he doesn’t ever say in Genesis (something which Enoch does say in the apocryphal Book Of Enoch, which was definitely not written by Enoch). So if he was advocating the anti-gay reading of Genesis, which is not something that can be derived from the text of Jude alone, we would still have to consider him an unreliable narrator.

          I certainly wouldn’t disagree that there are homophobic statements in the bible. Every statement in the bible that does reference gay activity speaks negatively of it. And I’m pretty sure gay rights, as well as humanity in general will be advanced more by displaying what a barbaric book the bible is than by saying there aren’t parts of the bible which attack homosexuality.

          This just isn’t one of those parts.

          The story we’re talking about here only developed its anti-gay overtones because later christian readers wanted the story to be about god punishing gay people. These fairly recent christians wanted the bible to be more explicitly anti-gay than it was. And so they imposed this reading on the text.

          This didn’t even become the orthodox reading among a majority of christians until around the 1800s, and the most orthodox reading among jews still has the sin of Sodom as lack of hospitality.

          But let’s ignore that for a second and pretend the story of Sodom and Gomorrah does clearly say the sin these people were being punished for was gayness.

          Do you think that paints god in any kind of positive light?

          Do you think that points to the bible being a good moral guide?

          That would just turn this story about god committing mass murder to punish unspecified wickedness into a story about god committing mass murder to punish people’s innate sexual preferences. This reading makes yhvh look even more evil than a straightforward reading of the text.

          We now know that being gay is not exactly something someone chooses. This wouldn’t have been known by the humans who wrote the bible, but it should be known by any god who goes around calling himself all knowing. What this would imply is that in a universe where there definitely is a god controlling everything, anyone who experiences homosexual attractions will have that experience because god made it so.

          Being entirely of the elohist thread, this story is not quite about an all knowing god anyway (remember, he has to send scouts to Sodom to see how many righteous men there are), but an all knowing god is the one modern readers insert into the story, so let’s mention one more thing an all knowing god should know.

          An entirely gay human population, something which could never exist in the first place, would reproduce at a standstill. The city would be cleared out fairly quickly with no indiscriminate mass murder required. Odd that this solution never occurred to god.

          Saying the sin of Sodom was sodomy (and it would totally make sense for an ancient middle eastern city to name itself after a later English slang term for anal sex that was itself named after english christians’ complete misunderstanding of this same story in Genesis). Since god couldn’t find ten righteous men in both cities combined, that would mean god couldn’t find ten heterosexual men (since the story mentions at least three, Lot and the men who were married to his two daughters, they only needed seven more).

          In real history, the highest ratio of homosexuality that any city has ever had occurred in ancient Athens. There was the opposite of stigma attached to a man taking a male lover. Your neighbors wouldn’t judge you and they might even join in. And under these conditions (the most ideal conditions imaginable for the spread of homosexuality if that were a possible thing), nof*ckingwhere near all the men were gay.

          So if yhvh had gone to Athens to see if there were ten straight men in the whole city, he easily would have found them.

          When yhvh sends his angels to Sodom to find out if there are ten righteous men there (remember, in the context of this reading, “righteous” means “straight”) they apparently can’t find even ten heterosexual men in the combined population of two cities?

          How is that even remotely possible? I could go to the Castro district right now and find you ten straight guys. The idea of an entire city, not the population of one gay bar, but an actual f*cking city being entirely gay is something which could only be taken seriously in the absence of a basic understanding of human sexuality.

          But let’s pretend that part does make any sense. Surely the designer of the human reproductive system would realize that an entirely gay population would not produce many offspring, and would go away within a few generations without needing god to wipe them out.

          And what would have happened if god’s scouts had found nine straight people in the whole city. Would those have been killed with the others just because there weren’t enough of them. The fate of Lot’s sons suggests so.

          I certainly don’t want to seem like I’m saying it’s right for god to kill people for being gay. It obviously isn’t. But there are logic problems in this story as well as ethical problems. Lot’s sons in law were straight. According to the story they were married to Lot’s daughters. So if being gay was a sin, and the sin that they were punished for was being gay, this would be one more biblical example of god punishing the innocent and the guilty interchangeably.

          Of course the more important point than any of this is that there is absolutely no reason to say that consensual gay sex causes any harm to anyone, so it is a broken moral system that would call it a sin at all.

          On the other hand, there are a few reasons to say that the mass murder of people does cause harm to people. So any working moral system should categorize what god does here as, if not a sin, still a hugely immoral act.

          If that hugely immoral act were motivated by god holding an incorrect understanding of human sexuality, it would not excuse his behavior.

          Within the reading you’re advocating here, god (who is supposed to be the author of morality, and thus should have a better understanding of morality) thinks the natural and harmless expression of human sexuality is enough of a sin to deem all the people of two cities completely worthy of being burned to death, an act which he carries out while unironically calling himself righteous.

          In god’s judgment, the one righteous man in the whole town is the one who offers his daughters to the mob, then later f*cks both his own daughters (but at least he was straight). Because god considers Lot’s behavior so righteous, he and his family are spared. Except for his wife, who commits the grave sin of looking at her home town one time as she is being forced to flee, a sin which god murders her for committing.

          So just to recap, in the moral judgment of god, as portrayed in the anti-gay reading of the S&G story, being created gay according to the intention of god is a sin worthy of being burned to death, thinking your crazy father in law is joking when he comes up out of nowhere and tells you angels are about to destroy the city is a sin worthy of being burned to death, looking back at all your friends and family as god is burning them to death is a sin worthy of being instantly turned into an inanimate object, but ripping off your uncle in a land deal (how Lot wound up there in the first place), lying to your neighbors, and throwing your daughters to an angry mob makes you the good guy in the story.

          If the reading you suggest is correct, it paints god as completely unqualified to judge morality. To just a slightly lesser degree, any reading of this story paints god as completely unqualified to judge morality.

          By any reading of Genesis 19 god comes off as both not knowing some fairly basic things, and an indiscriminately violent monster. But the anti-gay reading keeps everything from the actual text that makes god an unfit deity, and adds an additional layer of completely unnecessary bigotry.

  • Nox

    The problem is not so much that the bible is ambiguous as that the bible was written by several people in opposition to each other. Some parts of the bible were written specifically to refute other parts of the bible. Call it all one book, and call it infallible, and there’s bound to be some internal disagreements about which parts to follow and which parts to ignore.

  • Greg E

    Come on Bob. A fair
    reading of the Romans is that homosexual behavior is unnatural, shameful and
    dishonorable. In the NKJV homosexuality
    is characterized as “vile passion” and “against nature.” You also err in confusing Old Testament
    ceremonial laws that were applicable before Christ and the moral law which
    remains binding (such as the Ten Commandments).
    See Matthew 5:17-19 where Jesus validates the Old Testament. So to be accurate, the Bible says 2 + 2 = 4;
    and the fact that others say its 5 or 8 or whatever does not make the Bible
    ambiguous. Greg E

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      You’ve got to respond directly to my arguments, not dismiss them and then tell me why homosexuality is bad. Let’s start with the post, then you tell me what’s wrong with it.

      Paul is talking about a crazy situation: straight people like yourself engaging in homosexual acts. Yeah, I get it. That’s crazy.

      Now: what does that have to do with the interesting situation today, a loving gay couple?

      Read those Leviticus passages in context. You’re telling me that all the surrounding prohibitions are still in force? And if not, why pull out homosexuality as a prohibition you’re nostalgic for?
      I’m not talking about Matthew because Koukl didn’t.

      • Greg E

        Bob,

        I did respond to your argument.

        1. Romans says nothing about straight people engaging in homosexual sex or endorsing “loving gay couples.” You just made that up. My post started by asking you to be fair in reading what the passage says.
        2. Leviticus. I didn’t say all of Leviticus remains in force. I said the moral law remains in force, including the prohibition against homosexuality. Jesus endorsed that. The essential argument is that Jesus affirmed marriage is one man and one woman. Sex outside of that marital relationship is sin, whether homosexual or heterosexual. All fornication is sin. All homosexual sex is fornication. That is not an ambiguous Biblical concept.
        ELLIS, LI & McKINSTRY PLLC
        Gregory Esau
        2025 First Avenue, Penthouse A
        Seattle, WA 98121-3125
        Tel: 206.682.0565

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          1. Romans says nothing about straight people engaging in homosexual sex …

          “Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.” Sounds like ordinary straight women engaging in something unnatural.

          “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.” Ditto.

          And notice that homosexuality is quite natural. It’s been observed in 500 species. My conclusion: Paul is not an especially reliable authority on homosexuality.

          … or endorsing “loving gay couples.”

          No it doesn’t. Indeed, nowhere does the Bible talk about loving gay couples.

          Hmm … I’m beginning to think that the Bible’s comments about homosexuality are unhelpful to the actual issues in society today.

          I didn’t say all of Leviticus remains in force. I said the moral law remains in force, including the prohibition against homosexuality.

          Take the challenge that I gave you. Go back to the 2 passages in Leviticus and read the chapters from which they come. List all the rules that it says is mandatory. Now strike off every item that you think is no longer mandatory. Is homosexuality still on the list? If so, your challenge is to show why you’re not being biased.

          Jesus affirmed marriage is one man and one woman

          Jesus was a Torah-thumping Jew. In the Old Testament, God is hunky-dory with polygamy. “One man, one woman” is not the consistent biblical message about marriage from page 1.

        • Greg E

          Bob,

          You are committing the fallacy of equivocation in using “unnatural” to mean two different things. Romans 1, and the Bible as a whole, condemns homosexuality as unnatural because man was created to naturally have sex with women and women with men. “Unnatural” in this passage means “contrary to God’s created order and purpose for mankind.” You use “unnatural” to refer to a an individual to which the Biblical definition of “unnatural” does not apply and then use that false definition of unnatural to support your argument. You are using one word to mean two different things. That is a logical fallacy and thus an invalid argument, i.e., it does not support your conclusion.

          Your argument commits another fallacy by redefining “man” and “woman” in Romans 1 to mean “all men and women except those that are in loving homosexual relationships.” You are also assuming that “being in a loving relationship” somehow exempts one from Biblical proscriptions against particular sexual behavior.

          You may disagree with the Bible in defining homosexual activity as unnatural but you cannot validly argue that the Bible does not say what it says.

          If you disagree with Christianity that is your choice. Christianity is a propositional in asserting that man is separated from God by sin; Jesus in God become man to pay sin’s penalty; and then offers reconciliation with God by faith in the person and work of Jesus. Make your argument against that – Jesus is God or He is not. Make your decision.

          Calling Jesus a “Torah-thumping Jew…hunky dory with polygamy…” is just an ad hominum argument, also a logical fallacy that does nothing to support your argument or weaken mine.

          But to make up silly interpretations of Biblical statements and then sarcastically “refute” what you made up is just childish.

          With all due respect. God bless.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          “Unnatural” in this passage means “contrary to God’s created order and purpose for mankind.”

          Right. “Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones” (Rom. 1:26). We’re talking about typical straight women here, right? “Natural sexual relations” here means sexual desire for a man. And now (for a reason I’m not clear about) they’re having sex with other women.

          I get it. Weird.

          How does that apply to women who self-identify as homosexuality? Not at all, it seems to me.

          Your argument commits another fallacy by redefining “man” and “woman” in Romans 1 to mean “all men and women except those that are in loving homosexual relationships.”

          Does it? I don’t see that. Seems to me that it’s talking about heterosexual men and women. That’s what the word “natural” here tells us, right?

          You are also assuming that “being in a loving relationship” somehow exempts one from Biblical proscriptions against particular sexual behavior.

          Not at all. I’m simply waiting for a Bible verse relevant to homosexuals in a loving relationship.

          Calling Jesus a “Torah-thumping Jew…hunky dory with polygamy…” is just an ad hominum argument

          I’m familiar with this type of argument and I don’t think it applies here. An ad hominem argument would be something like: “You’re a vegetarian? Hitler was a vegetarian! That guy was a mass murderer; you can’t buy into anything that he stood for.”

          I’m saying nothing derogatory about Jesus. If that statement is in error, let me know.

          that does nothing to support your argument or weaken mine.

          Huh? You say that “Jesus affirmed marriage is one man and one woman.” Jesus supported the Torah, and God in the Torah has no problem with polygamy. Conclusion: don’t try to find today’s one-man-one-woman marriage supported in the Bible to the exclusion of other types of marriage.

        • Greg E

          Bob,

          You continue to define “homosexual” and “unnatural” to mean something completely different than what Romans says. Paul is clearly saying that homosexuality is unnatural. Period. You cannot be argued with when you take what the writer says, assign a different meaning to his words, and then argue against your own definition. So just have one more comment: “Who’s on first?”

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Greg:

          Paul is clearly saying that homosexuality is unnatural. Period.

          Then he’s mistaken. It’s widespread among other animals. Science trumps the book of Romans in this case. (But it’s not surprising that someone 2000 years ago isn’t aware of recent scientific developments.)

          But what I read is that we’re talking about heterosexual men and women. Am I mistaken here? Besides telling me that I’m wrong somehow, you haven’t told me why this reading is incorrect.

          For them to engage in homosexuality, Paul tells us, is bad. And (I think I repeat myself) if they’re acting against their natural proclivities, I agree.

        • Frank

          You do like to dance don’t you?

        • Greg E

          Bob:

          You cannot be argued with if you (a) won’t acknowledge basic rules of logic and (b) make up bizarre definitions of simple English words and then argue about your own definition.

          I pointed out above that Paul “is clearly saying that homosexuality is unnatural” – instead of arguing with my proposition you say “Then he is mistaken.” OK, then argue that he is mistaken, but the whole point of your article and blog here is that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. It does; Paul does. You just disagree.

          You invalidly assume the truth of your position (homosexuality is natural) and then argue that if someone disagrees (by saying homosexuality is not natural) then they surely cannot mean to say something you disagree with and therefore what they actually mean is the opposite of what they actually say. And since nobody, even Paul or the Bible is that ignorant, if they say it is unnatural for men to have sex with men then they must mean that “men” means “non-homosexual men.”

          So in your twisted logic “A = non-A.” And if that is true, communication itself becomes impossible.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          I pointed out above that Paul “is clearly saying that homosexuality is unnatural” – instead of arguing with my proposition you say “Then he is mistaken.” OK, then argue that he is mistaken, but the whole point of your article and blog here is that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality. It does; Paul does. You just disagree.

          You tell me what you think Paul says. Two responses come from that. (1) This statement is false. Science shows that homosexuality is not unnatural. If you’re right about your summary of Paul’s position, then Paul made an error.

          (2) But you’re not right about Paul’s statement, as I’ve made clear before. (But there’s a sense in which you’re right—more on this below.)

          Are you trying to portray this as evasion on my part? I don’t do much of that.

          And since nobody, even Paul or the Bible is that ignorant, if they say it is unnatural for men to have sex with men then they must mean that “men” means “non-homosexual men.”

          It’s hard to imagine that my argument is that hard to follow, and yet I think I’ve said this 3 times in the comments and you’ve not responded directly to it once.

          I agree that it is unnatural for non-homosexual men to have sex with other men. Sounds like you do, too. And it sounds like Paul does too. So we’re in agreement, right?

          OK then, what does this tell us about homosexuals? Nothing, as far as I can see. Conclusion: Romans is not helpful if we’re trying to figure out whether the Bible says that homosexuality is wrong.

          The problem is that we’re defining “homosexuality” in two different ways. There’s the useless way, the way Paul does it: straight men engaging in homosexuality. (And this is the sense in which your point above is correct.) And then there’s the interesting way: homosexual men engaging in homosexuality. This is actually relevant to the real world, but Paul says nothing about it.

          You’re right that bizarre definitions are part of the problem, but it’s not my definitions that are bizarre.

        • Frank

          Gay marriage exited in ancient Rome, Asia among other places. The idea of committed gay people was known. Paul knew exactly what he was talking about.

          And yes animals engage in homosexual acts for power plays but they also eat their young and throw their feces. I don’t think that’s a “proof” you want to use in support of homosexual behavior.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

          Paul knew exactly what he was talking about.

          Then show me where Paul was talking about gay marriage or loving homosexual relationships, ’cause Romans ain’t it.

          And yes animals engage in homosexual acts for power plays but they also eat their young and throw their feces.

          Then we agree that homosexuality is natural.

        • Frank

          Yes natural for animals who have no souls and natural for humans with souls controlled by sin.

          Glad we agree!

        • Nox

          The verse christians always point to as Jesus affirming marriage as between one man and one woman does no such thing. Jesus merely affirms that people who get married shouldn’t get divorced.

        • Frank

          Its not possible to speak of divorce, which is a dissolution of a marriage without knowing what a marriage is. In case there was any doubt Jesus clears that up.

  • Rick

    I don’t know why you brilliant thinkers are messing around in the sandbox with us amateurs. Take your complaints to Koukl and see how he responds. Debating him in absentia is cowardly. He has a live call in show on Tuesdays.

    Tuesdays 4-7 p.m. PT

    On the STR App Or online at http://www.str.org.

    Call to ask Greg a question: (855) 243-9975

    There’s your homework. Report back with your research findings.

    Stop wasting time with mental pipsqueaks.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

      Not a crazy idea, though Greg has the upper hand when he can say, “It’s clear that we’re not making any progress here, but I appreciate your call” and then hang up.

      I’d rather do it through text. I was notified a week ago or so that I’ve been banned at their site because promotional links in comments are forbidden. (My comment encouraged anyone, especially Greg, to read this post and comment, and that was considered such a link.)

      I would indeed rather discuss this with Greg than with you–not because I don’t want to discuss things with you but because it was his argument. Got any ideas for how to engage him? If you have any friends there, give them a nudge.

  • Pingback: hefalimp cardijon

  • Pingback: air duct cleaning 77018

  • Pingback: cialis journalier

  • Pingback: acheter du cialis en espagne

  • Pingback: best online slots

  • Pingback: chicken coop ideas

  • Pingback: cialis mГ©dicament prix

  • Pingback: resource,

  • Pingback: linkdin

  • Pingback: free background checks

  • Pingback: liposuction chicago

  • Pingback: vente cialis generique

  • Pingback: iphone 5 unlock

  • Pingback: how to stay longer during intercourse videos

  • Pingback: macarons bestellen nederland

  • Pingback: cialis 20mg prix en pharmacie

  • Pingback: payday loans online

  • Pingback: cialis gravidanza

  • Pingback: automotive

  • Pingback: Dating

  • Pingback: goat porn

  • Pingback: cialis pour qui

  • Pingback: related

  • Pingback: tannreiser.info

  • Pingback: siestabeach.info

  • Pingback: jetskitrailers.info

  • Pingback: holdeverything.info

  • Pingback: thehubsouthampton.info

  • Pingback: cialis 5 mg posologia

  • Pingback: buy vine promotion

  • Pingback: viagra

  • Pingback: gasde.info

  • Pingback: rxslimclinic.info

  • Pingback: netpsychologist.info

  • Pingback: youngleadersacademy.info

  • Pingback: cfks.info

  • Pingback: lawyer directory

  • Pingback: estrategiasmarketingonline.info

  • Pingback: elegantbeansandbeyond.info

  • Pingback: zhenrendoudizhu0004.info

  • Pingback: xlovecam generateur de code gratuit

  • Pingback: nutribullet 900 series blender

  • Pingback: how to make it last longer

  • Pingback: education

  • Pingback: tracksign.info

  • Pingback: try searching here

  • Pingback: radiostudiox.info

  • Pingback: Robert Shumake

  • Pingback: advice nujet

  • Pingback: New Songs

  • Pingback: Ultralase Reviews

  • Pingback: Evidence tracker

  • Pingback: healthy snacks

  • Pingback: nature's comfort reviews

  • Pingback: Orlando vacation rentals

  • Pingback: Viagra

  • Pingback: Bitcoin casino

  • Pingback: Sydney escorts

  • Pingback: small business

  • Pingback: cialis 50

  • Pingback: หมอสมหมาย

  • Pingback: cupboards

  • Pingback: เช่าชุดราตรี ปิ่นเกล้า

  • Pingback: cupboards

  • Pingback: cupboards

  • Pingback: hills home market complaints

  • Pingback: entertainment

  • Pingback: www.floridasupremecourt.org

  • Pingback: document management software

  • Pingback: protectninow.info

  • Pingback: wnchumanists.info

  • Pingback: kathydarlenehunt.info

  • Pingback: how to delay your period with pills

  • Pingback: Flight Tickets

  • Pingback: best wireless speakers

  • Pingback: Richard McArthur Real Estate

  • Pingback: Richard McArthur Belfair


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X