Homosexuality and Sin Flow Chart

This came my way on Facebook. While some of it is simplistic, I don't expect otherwise from a flow chart on Facebook. The notion of “civilized society” is also extremely problematic. But even so, it does seem to helpfully draw attention to the assumptions many bring to discussions of this topic. And I wanted to share it here because it reflects arguments which are in danger of being perceived as anti-Christian, when in fact they have been pioneered by liberal and progressive Christians.

Thoughts?

 

  • Dustin

    I have a question simply of inquiry: why does everyone say that arsenokoitis in 1 Cor 6:9 refers to male prostitution and not homosexuality, when BDAG, J. Fitzmeyer, R. Hayes, NT Wright, B. Witherington, and B. Winter all state that it does indeed refer to homosexuality? Not looking to start a fight. Just merely asking about the lexical definition.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      It is a really good question! The term may originate with Paul, if I am not mistaken, and so the question is not one that can be settled purely on linguistic grounds by looking at the compound word’s roots. The background is presumably the Levitical prohibition against “lying with a man the lyings of a woman” and while some view that as simply a prohibition of all male-male sexual intercourse, others think it was a prohibition based on some actual religious practice, such as that denoted when the prophets talk about “holy ones” and seem to mean something like “male temple prostitutes” in at least the vie of some interpreters. So that’s why there is a lack of agreement about this – because Paul seems to be coining a term, and the only way to figure out what he might have meant is to reconstruct the background to his usage.

  • http://twitter.com/qstuartquaint Qstuart Quaint

    I’ve been an avid reader of your blog for quite some time now and I’m certainly enthralled by your approach to these particular topics. Being from the UK I have had limited conversation with those who take ‘extreme’ positions on these subjects, so I am not entirely sure what method to use in discourse.

    Although no approach to this discussion is perfect, would there be merit in attempting to start dialogue ‘outside’ of the Bible (i.e., give an account of the harm caused by discrimination and the irreconcilability of Jesus’ teachings with such prejudices, while promoting openness to the possibility that (a) one’s interpretation of the Bible is wrong and/or (b) the Bible itself is wrong)?

    Would such an approach even be conceivable for the same audience targeted by
    the chart?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Hi! Can I call you “Q”? That can be “godlike figure from Star Trek” or “author of lost NT source” as you prefer. :-)

      I do not think that there is any ine “right” way of approaching a topic like this. Some people, in my experience, are not even open to discussing it other than offering quotes from the Bible in English and an insistance that they are just reading the Bible, not interpreting it (I have in mind a conversation that took place recently involving a friend who is a pastor).

      Perhaps one could start as you suggest, not with the Buble, but with a letter like the one in this post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/08/christianity-vs-the-forces-of-darkness.html

      You could ask the person if they think the father was right to do what he did. You could ask if they think the son should have been stoned to death. If the answer to one or both questions is “no” then you can point out that they already depart from some of what the Bible says, even as they themselves understand and interpret it.

      My next step would be to point out that that is in fact OK, that already within the pages of the Bible, we see departures from what earlier parts of the Bible said, in the interest of being truer to fundamental principles enshrined within those texts. And so disagreeing with the Bible because of what the Bible says turns out to be the “Biblical” thing to do.

      • http://twitter.com/qstuartquaint Qstuart Quaint

        Of course, most who know me use ‘Q’ as a nickname (the James Bond character also springs to some minds).

        I would want to be sensitive to each individual when discussing the topic especially since, as you point out, there is no ‘right’ way. I am aware that there are some who are highly scripture-oriented, although I suspect my experiences are substantially different from your own.

        The few people I have engaged in these topics that have come to reconcile their faith with a Queer-affirming attitude point towards, above all else, contact with a person who falls under that category. After that experience they came to read the Bible and explore their faith in a new light. I suspect that exposing an individual to the letter you mention (or other such material) would be a similar witness to the human face of an otherwise anonymised (perhaps even de-humanised) topic.

        Do you think the approach by some (which seems quite popular) to first point to other texts which are not adhered to (e.g., dietary laws, mixed-fabric laws, slavery laws, etc.) is helpful? I am aware of some rebuttals to that argument (most common is “those laws are done away with”, which is achieved by an artificial trichotomy of the laws) but consider that perhaps the original discussion is lost when this argument is brought forward.

        I wholly agree with your statement “disagreeing with the Bible because of what the Bible says turns out to be the “Biblical” thing to do”. Do you
        think that beginning by mapping the evolution of biblical laws/ethics (even within the Pentateuch, let alone throughout the entire corpus) would be helpful? I for one find it testament to the very real nature of the Bible – the struggles of the authors with their contemporary world and how they reconcile that with their new experiences. That to me is much more inspired.

        • arcseconds

          what about charge or heat?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          It is indeed true that often meeting a person who is “the other” changes things. I can’t help but wonder whether Paul had the experience of getting to know someone and assuming the person was Jewish, only to discover that the person was a Gentile and have his assumptions challenged by the experience…

  • Dr. David Tee

    Why should the homosexual have their cake and eat it to when no one else can? They rejected the benefits off the normal heterosexual life, marriage & children, when they adopted their sexual preference, so why should we grant them special rights when they can still get married and still have children the heterosexual way?
    Homosexuality does not produce children and it cannot make 2 people 1 thus we can see that there is something abnormal about that preference, why should we legitimize that abnormality?
    No one legitimizes murder or rape or theft nor call those acts good, so why should we call what God say is an abominiation and sin–good or legitimize it? The Bible warns against doing that so why risk God’s anger and judgement to appease a minute amount of homosexuals? They have chosen that lifestyle, and eventually God gives them over to their desires, so why should we side with what God has rejected?
    I do not agree with the gay gene philosophy nor do i agree with gay bashing BUT most importantly I do not agree with giving homosexualsl rights that they rejected in the first place.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      It is not clear that the Bible calls same-sex relations unconnected with cultic practices “sin” and since eating shellfish was also an abomination I really do not see why you are so troubled by “abominations” unless you are kosher-observant. But what troubles me most is that you can see no difference between two people loving one another faithfully on the one hand, and rape or theft on the other. It suggests to me that there are core teachings in the New Testament about love, among other things, that you seem not to have grasped.

      • andom

        ” But what troubles me most is that you can see no difference between two people loving one another faithfully”…

        there is a father who loves so much his daughter that he wants marry her and she agree.
        The authentic Christianity what should say to them?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Are you suggesting that heterosexual child molestation is the slippery slope one reaches by allowing heterrosexual marriage?

          • Kaz

            James, what line of argument would you offer to justify rejecting the practice of incest among consenting adults? Do you believe that laws should be passed allowing adult siblings to marry?

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              I’m not inclined to start a discussion thread on that here, since I do not see how it is relevant. Presumably you are referring to siblings who are of opposite genders, and I do not see that heterosexual marriage between non-siblings has been a slippery slope leading to marriage between siblings. And so unless you can explain the relevance of your question to the current thread, I am afraid I view it as an attempt to distract from the issue, or perhaps to maliciously oppose the right of gays and lesbians to marry by lumping that question together with another unrelated one and the feelings people have about that topic.

              • Kaz

                James, it sounds like you be trying to avoid answering a difficult
                question, not because it’s irrelevant to the issue, but because it’s
                relevance is potentially troublesome. Is it not true that the same
                arguments that could be offered to reject the biblical perspective vis a
                vis gay relationships and marriage could also be offered to reject the
                biblical perspective vis a vis incestuous relationships and marriage?
                Conversely, could not the same biblical arguments that have been offered
                in favor of gay relationships and marriage also be offered in favor of
                incestuous relationships and marriage? If there is a difference, what
                is it, and how would you justify denying siblings the right to marry
                while simultaneously arguing that gays should have the right to marry?

                BTW, I didn’t say that the siblings are or have to be of opposite
                genders.

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  One could certainly point to the creation story, just as Jesus did to argue against divorce, and suggest that since God created Adam and Eve and thus their children had to marry their siblings, God cannot regard incest as immoral in principle. Is that the sort of case you have in mind?

              • Kaz

                James, since you are apparently prone to perpetually question my intentions — or perhaps you’re simply prone to infer what you consider the “worst” from people in general when you suspect that they don’t share your view — I guess I should point out that I’m not attempting to support or oppose anything. You have criticized others on your blog for neglecting to interact with the biblical considerations you’ve offered in support of gay marriage, and I’m merely attempting to determine whether you apply those arguments consistently.

          • andom

            I wonder why reading ‘father’ and ‘daughter’ you thought that the daughet was a child…
            If I write ‘she agrees’ I assume that she has a consent age according the laws of the country where they live.
            Anyway if you do not like (I do not why) the image of a father married with his daughter or son, think about two brothers (the sex is irrilevant).

            So the authenitic Christian what should say to them?

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              What do you think the Christian answer should be, and why? Does it have anything to do with the two people being related? If so, why even bring this up in relation to a discussion of marriage between unrelated people of the same gender, in the same manner that unrelated people of different gender may currently marry?

              • Kaz

                James, you regularly submit posts calling those who favor traditional marriage over against gay marriage “bigots”, and so I think that you have some obligation here to offer something other than a series of questions in response to a question asked of you. Do you support or oppose incestuous relationships and marriage? If you do not support them then what is your basis for deciding that such relationships do not deserve the same support that you offer in favor of gay marriage? If it is merely because you consider incestuous relationships “icky” then why couldn’t a person who supports incest say “A group of people shouldn’t be discriminated against because you find incestuous relationships ‘icky’”?

                If you oppose incestuous relationships then you either have substantive reasons for doing so, or your response is visceral, right?

                • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                  The main reason that I can think of for prohibiting incestuous relationships is the genetic similarity of the two people, which can lead to deleterious genetic abnormalities being passed on to children. But as you are surely aware, the precise limits of incest differ from culture to culture. In some societies, marriage between first cousins is considered acceptable, in others not even second cousins are allowed to marry.

                  And of course, according to Biblical literalists, God is not opposed to incest on principle, since apparently it was OK for the children of Adam and Eve to intermarry.
                  But I still do not understand the relevance of this to discussions of same-sex marriage, since the reason for prohibiting incest has to do with certain convictions about the appropriateness of marriage and/or procreation between people who are closely related, which is a clearly distinct issue.

                  • Kaz

                    Its seems to me that the correspondence between the two issues is of obvious relevance. Both situations involve relationships that are sexual in nature. Both involve practices that large segments of society consider unnatural. Both situations involve a category of marriage that is illegal in most states. In both situations there are biblical commands that can be appealed to in an effort to resolve the question vis a vis whether they should be accepted or rejected. In both situations there are biblical principles that could be offered — the same biblical principles, in fact — by those who would argue that society should accept such relationships.

                    Arguing that the question of incest is “clearly distinct” seems a bit artificial, unless you offer substantive reasons why opposition to incest is appropriate. Determining the appropriate response to both issues involves the same questions, it seems, and I’m not sure that one can accept the one but reject the other without being arbitrary. Yes, children of incestuous relationships can have physical problems, but what if the couple determines not to have children? What if the incestuous love is shared by two brothers or two sisters? Should they be denied the right to marry because others find their relationship “icky”?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Well, unless you think that, if we legalize one thing that some people find icky, then we have to legalize all of them, then I think the point I have already made, that whatever decision is made about incest is made because of the biological relationship of the two people, indicates that that is a distinct matter.

                      But you still have not answered my Biblical case for it. Shouldn’t Christians argue along the same lines as Jesus, that the way God made things in the beginning, with incest part of the plan for at least the first generation, suggests that there is a Biblical case to be made for it?

                    • Kaz

                      Jesus wasn’t referring to incest when he spoke of marriage as it was in the beginning.

                      As for incest as a “distinct matter”, you seem to have missed my point. That distinction is arbitrary unless it is accompanied by substantive reasons to consider it appropriate or applicable. In other words, it could be argued that focusing on the distinction of relation without foundation makes that focus itself a product of bigotry, which could be said to increase rather than decrease the parallel between the two situations.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      But the same argument could work, could it not?

                      Are you saying that people who are related marrying simply blends into any other discussion of marriage? Since people often do not know how they may or may not be related to other people whom they meet – nowadays even first cousins might not know each other, living in different parts of the world, to say nothing of second cousins – perhaps we should require family tree research prior to marriage.

                      But I still do not see how any of this would impact whether people of the same gender who are unrelated are allowed to marry.

                    • Kaz

                      I don’t think so, personally, as Jesus’ comments had nothing to do with incest.

                      My objective wasn’t about determining whether gays should be allowed to marry; it was about trying to figure out how consistent you are in your reasoning and argumentation vis a vis such controversial questions, and whether you are always willing to go where such reasoning could take you. Since I still don’t know I’ll have to conclude that I’m either inept in the art of prosecution or you are a master in the art of evasion.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Since you’re not willing to follow my logic about Genesis, you’re doing a pretty good job of evading yourself – and/or I’m inept at the art of prosecution too. :-)

                    • Kaz

                      I was really just trying to keep things focused on that which pertained to my objective. Whether or not one could formulate an argument to support the contention that incest is acceptable doesn’t answer the questions:

                      1) Do you you consider incest acceptable? If so, why? If not, why not?

                      2) Would you publicly support pro-incest activists who petition the government for the right to marry? If so, why? If not, why not?

                      3) Would you label those who favor traditional relationships over against incestuous ones as “bigots”? If so, why? If not, why not?

                      4) Do your preferred answers to these questions depend upon (a) your feelings, or (b) what is fashionable in liberal circles, or (c) on some valid chain of reasoning?

                      5) If your answers depend on a valid chain of reasoning, what is that chain of reasoning?

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Well, I’ll confess that it is a topic to which I have not given a lot of thought, and that is the main reason for not having a quick and ready answer. Would you care to share your own views and reasoning about it, to help me begin to think the matter through?

                    • Kaz

                      You won’t consider my views on the question useful in formulating your own as they are more traditional in character. However, in brief, I take the position that God allowed marriage among relations at one time because that was necessary for the propagation of the human race. Later this was no longer acceptable in God’s plan, which, whatever the reason, is to our benefit physically, for the sake of procreation, and perhaps for other reasons as well. Whether we now consider such relationships as “icky” because of social conditioning or whether there are some additional etiological factors behind it is a question beyond my pay grade.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      I think that could lead quite naturally to an argument that God once mandated that all marriages be between people of opposite genders, so as to propagate the human race, but now that we have established ourselves sufficiently, such a requirement may no longer be necessary. :-)

                    • Kaz

                      Well, there is an important difference: We have biblical evidence that God once condoned or planned inter-family marriage. On the other hand, we have (i) no biblical evidence that he ever condoned or planned gay marriage coupled with (ii) some biblical evidence that he condemns it.

                      This is why I’m troubled when I see you and others refer to those who favor traditional marriage over against gay marriage as “bigots”, because many of them are merely attempting to be true to their calling as Christians. I don’t recall ever meeting a Christian who hated gay people, or whose opposition to gay marriage was due to a hateful disposition.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Well, I don’t think that I myself have used the term “bigots” but it may well have been in something that I shared, and expressed a favorable view of, at some point.

                      I don’t personally have any problem at all with Christians not wanting to extend Christian marriage to same-sex couples if that is how they view things. I consider the right to take that stance and to practice one’s religious belief to be safeguarded by the Constitution.

                      But I do think that there is a good case to be made for civil marriage for same sex couples, and for allowing those who draw the conclusion that it is appropriate to offer religious ceremonies for such couples to be free to do so, by the same principle of freedom of religion.

                      Are you opposed to that, or just to your own faith community extending marriage to include people of the same gender?

                    • Kaz

                      I apologize for the misunderstanding, James, as I had the impression that you considered those who favor traditional marriage over against gay marriage to be bigots. Has anyone ever told you that your presentations can be very subtle? ;-)

                      I have no position one way or the other regarding whether the government should or shouldn’t allow gay marriage. I support Christians who take a sympathetic approach to gay people and their concerns, but also believe that a Christian church has to remain faithful to what is revealed in Scripture, as far as we are able to discern it. That means that a Christian church has to counsel against my own sinful shortcomings as much as it does against those of others.

                    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

                      Subtle nuancing is what scholars aim for, and so I take that as a compliment, however frustrating my subtlety may also be at times! :-)

      • Dr. David Tee

        ‘Love’ is not an escape route to justify practicing sin. Love is not just a feeling, it sets rules and it punishes disobedience. It also says who can enter and who cannot.
        It is not that opponents of same sex/homosexuals misunderstand, it is the latter that doesn’t know what love is and misapply it in order to continue to practice their sinful desires.
        I am not responding to enigma because he went to the absurd to make some extreme wierd point.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Are you saying that love within a marriage involves husbands and wives punishing each other? Please say more.

          • Dr, David Tee

            ever hear a husband or wife say ‘i am in trouble now…?’ Seems that spouses do get their mate sinto trouble when they do something they shouldn’t. but why go to an apple when we are talking about oranges. parents love their children, so they set rules and punish them when the child is disobedient.
            God set the rules are you saying He is not allowed to punish or say who can or cannot come into His kingdom?
            Are you saying God must follow fallible, subjective, sinful human viewpoints?
            Man was given dominion over the earth NOT God’s word or His rules.

            • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

              Where does the table of contents of the Bible you use come from? I assume that it is the contents of that volume that you are referring to as “God’s word” even though the Bible by definition cannot refer to itself in that way, since the writings were obviously composed before they were collected into the collection you refer to as the Bible. So it seems that human beings were given dominion where you say they were not. Perhaps if you familiarize yourself more with the Bible – not only its contents but its origins and history – you will be less dogmatic about some things.

      • Robert Holmstedt

        James,
        I’m not really interested in all the off-shoots of this issue (as illustrated by the thread below), but as an OT scholar to a NT scholar, I’d like to nudge you on the “shellfish” counter when someone brings up the issue of “abomination”. I’ll skip all the typical caveats about reading the OT informedly since I can assume (1) you understand and (2) you do (read it informedly). So here’s my nudge: why are shellfish an abomination (Deut 14.9)?

        Because they don’t clearly fall into the clear categories of land, water, and air animals described in Gen 1. Though God created them, Israel as the people of God living as a nation of priests (Exod 19) was asked to live exemplary lives to be a light to the nations. So, anything that represented a blurring of the boundaries of creation as described in Gen 1 was off limits. Shellfish is just an illustration of the principle. And perhaps it was singled out as an abomination precisely because the Canaanite neighbors, from whom Israel was supposed to differ, liked it so much. And perhaps homosexual intercourse is singled out for a similar reason.

        My point here is that an informed discussion about the Christian use of these texts should focus on 1) discerning the message behind the details (rather than stopping with the illustrative details and using them as baseball bats on each other, since most of the details were specific to living in Iron Age Canaan), and 2) even if we can discern that underlying message, how it informs Christian behavior.

        You know all this and I usually stay out of these blog threads, but for some reason tonight, as I was lurking around the biblioblogosphere, I got stuck on your smelly shelly response. ;-)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          I agree that ideally it is better to give a longer and more nuanced response that “so was shellfish.” It is interesting that for many texts that are puzzling, the answer given is often “that was to differentiate Israelites from Canaanites.” It would also be interesting to explore the origin of such differentiating customs, if recent studies suggesting that at least a substantial part of those who made up later Israel had their origins within the land of Canaan.

          • Robert Holmstedt

            I knew we’d agree. But your explanation is also why I’ve not become enamored with blogging like some (I guess our blog is the vertical type!) — the best answers are rarely short.

    • J_Enigma32

      “Homosexuality does not produce children and it cannot make 2 people 1
      thus we can see that there is something abnormal about that preference,
      why should we legitimize that abnormality”

      Hmm… so I suppose you’re not okay with post-menopausal women getting married to men, then, since they can’t reproduce, either. And if marriage should only be for purposes of reproduction, then people who can’t reproduce shouldn’t be allowed to get married. Furthermore, all marriages should be dissolved once the woman becomes post-menopausal because she can no longer bear children. Thus, nullifying the marriage.

      “No one legitimizes murder or rape or theft nor call those acts good”

      Because these are nothing like being gay? Furthermore, rape is a-okay in the Bible because that’s what God commands the Hebrews to do against the Canaanites. So rape is fine.

      “so why should we call what God say is an abominiation and sin–good or legitimize it”

      “Abominations” also include eating pork, working on Saturday, practicing crop rotation, and wearing mixed fabric clothing. God also set some heavy duty regulations on how you can treat mold and remove mold from your home and clothing, including the necessity of a rabbi; neither Jesus nor Paul said anything about this, so unless you’re going to call a rabbi next time you’re cleaning out black mold from your basement, you’re a hypocrite for making this argument.

      And guess what hypocrites are?

      “I do not agree with the gay gene philosophy nor do i agree with gay
      bashing BUT most importantly I do not agree with giving homosexualsl
      rights that they rejected in the first place.”

      You seem to not understand what “gay bashing” means. Because you’re doing it right now. Why don’t you go back and replace everything you said with another underprivileged minority – say, African-Americans – and tell me you’re not being racist.

      FWIW, there’s no consensus on a “gay gene” and I don’t think it’s entirely genetic. I’m sure there’s an environmental component involved, and that it’s different for every person. But that doesn’t change the fact that at the end of the day, it’s none of my business who is sleeping with who.

    • Claude

      when they adopted their sexual preference

      This is callous propaganda. Gay people don’t “adopt” a sexual orientation, however righteous it may make you feel to believe so. Do you get this agitated over divorce? Jesus is said to have had a big problem with it.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    This flow chart is only a mildly clever regurgitation of the monolithic view of homosexuality held by, and incessantly promulgated by, our sex-saturated media culture. That viewpoint assumes that anyone who disagrees is on the wrong side of history and is a bigot – and thus a worthy recipient of social stigma from the enlightened. It’s a tiresome argument, and all the more so when someone introduces it as “helpful.”


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