Christians: Minus the Sex, is Gay Love OK?

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    You're confusing description with prescription.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    You couldn't be clearer John. Whether you are describing how they need to "fly right" or whether you are prescribing how they can "fly right". The theistic position that they are 'flying wrong' is intrinsically (if inadvertently) hateful.

    Again….wholly unaware.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Jessica: Your cousin is lucky to have you.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (And Mike: I know you will rush to apologize to me, because I know how much it means to you that people who say mean things reverse themselves and do the right thing once, through the application of logic, they've been shown wrong.)

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    I know you will rush to apologize to me, because I know how much it means to you that people who say mean things reverse themselves and do the right thing once, through the application of logic, they’ve been shown wrong

    John:

    I'm so sorry for my joke about crabs.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    Good question–I think these are the kind of tangled distinctions we (Christians? People?) pretend to be able to make, but it can get convoluted so quickly. To me anyway. These days it drives me to a comment I received on my blog once, that regardless of the rightness or wrongness, or where the fine lines are, or whether or not I agree, it doesn't change that God says clearly my response is to be one of love. Doesn't answer the question, I know…I've kind of stopped trying for a solid answer on this topic. :)

  • Adam

    Hey John,

    It seems to me you are blurring the lines between love and lust and equating them as synonyms. While, I do see you trying to make this distinction in your dialogue, you are still calling lust love in that comparison. Making this simple clarification would help your argument, it would seem.

    Further, you have overlooked one other point, in my assessment. That is, that not all love is love. To say it another way, not all love is ordinate. In Greek we find the terms, Philia, Agape, Eros, Stroge, and Thelema. If two men had Agape, Storge, or Philia love that would be very godly and expected. If two men had Thelema, that would be a sign of mental instability because thelema applies toward objects or activities, not relationships. Lastly, if two men had Eros love, this too would be wrong. Wrong because it is an inordinate love violating God's created design and one that is further condemned in Holy Script.

    Valid discussion, but it needs these other elements, I feel, to be a complete well-rounded discussion.

    Thanks for your thoughts,

    Adam

  • Adam

    Further clarification. Lust is outlined as sin in the Bible whether or not it is ever accompanied by sexual intercourse.

    Sorry of the addendum,

    Adam

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    Ah yes, but I guarantee you that most Christian men lust every day, but in general churches don't say much about it, as long as the men don't act on those impulses. Why hold homosexual urgest to a different standard?

    I apologize in advance for any snarkiness that may ensue and then later be shot down with inarguably-solid logic.

    Dang… I put the disclaimer out there but can't think of any good snarkiness. The crabs line was great but is already taken.

    I do find it interesting, though, that the condemnations of homosexuality in the bible are surrounded, in context, by other scriptures usually deemed irrelevant to application in 21st Century life.

  • Adam

    Redlefty,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do not think there is a different standard. I'm sorry if I applied as much. The topic of this blog was "is it ok for men to love men so long as they 'don't touch'. " I was staying on topic.

    Lastly, would you be willing to give me an example of what those items deemed irrelevant in the 21st century?

    Thanks in advance,

    Adam

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    Adam:

    How about that shellfish ban? You really don't see Christians out protesting in front of Red Lobster, do you?

    Brian

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (Mike: Wow. That's just … amazingly weak. But hey, listen, thanks for playing our game … )

  • Aro

    Really good question. I don't happen to think that homosexuality proclivity is often a choice, but I have to suppose that the sexual act is a choice. I suppose it, because it's also a choice for heterosexuals.

    But where to draw the line? You did a really nice job of following the slippery slope. I guess we are all servants of the Master and are bound to follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit on things like this.

  • Sadie Lou

    This is a crazy-intense topic that should be dealt with with kid gloves and spreading out a layer of egg shells to walk upon while discussing it. Christians have always gone about this one in the wrong way.

    We can't deny that homosexuality is classified in the Bible as a sin. It's right there and we have to face it. However, Christians are not in a position to judge the world. That's God's job. So when Christians walk around and condemn homosexuality and gay marriage–we are actually doing people a disservice and we are virtually ineffective in accomplishing our one objective, which is to glorify God.

    The divorce rate among Christians equally match the divorce rate of everyone else, so we are clearly not in a position to speak out about who should and should not being getting married. That's not God's fault–that's our fault. We have ruined our ability to speak righteously about the sanctity of marriage.

    Until we take our marriage vows seriously, we shouldn't pretend to be experts about how God feels about gay couples getting married.

    But can we condemn homosexuality? I say yes, we can–but only in the church among believers. For everyone else–homosexuality is just like any other sin–and we should be busy showing God's love, grace and mercy towards homosexuals–not persecuting them. Nobody can spread the gospel while they are uprooting God's word with their actions at the same time.

    ~Sadie

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    “We’re always encouraging men who want to be in love with and have sex with men to at least choose celibacy before they hopefully start straightening up and flying right. “

    Such sentences, uttered under some contrived pretext as ‘love’, demonstrate the unconscious bigotry that theistic belief systems [seemingly] invariably foment. The clarity of what that sentence embodies is crystalline. Yet the speaker is wholly unaware of the evil and hatred it embodies.

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    As long as they don’t eat shellfish, I don’t see the problem…

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    :-) Can they have SEX with shellfish?

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    > :-) Can they have SEX with shellfish?

    Nah, that causes crabs…

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Mike: Concentrate. What I meant by you’re confusing description with prescription is that the statement of mine you quoted isn’t PRESCRIPTIVE in any way, shape, or form. Not. Prescriptive. It’s not SAYING that gay men should straighten up and fly right. That would be a prescription, see. But the statement you quoted is descriptive. It’s merely saying that Christians DO say that.

    Can you see the difference? One is evaluative; the other isn’t.

    One is subjective; the other objective.

    You’ve taken an objective description, and reacted to it as if it were a subjective prescription.

    And then you call me wholly unaware.

    Insistently illogical, and quick to personally judge and attack. Isn’t that exactly what you’re always complaining Christians are and do?

  • Jessica Bailey

    This is a struggle I have had for a very long time. My cousin is gay and very much in love with another man. They have a deeper and richer love relationship than most heterosexual married people I know. So, on one hand I think it is so wonderful that they have found each other. On the other I am told that these two grown men shouldn’t be able to express that love. It’s something I may never be able to deal with. It’s a good thing that I love a God that knows me inside and out and loves me anyway. I know that he loves my cousin too and that’s enough for me.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    I will say this in the clearest [hence, most offensive] way possible…

    “It’s merely saying that Christians DO say that [homosexuals need to 'fly right'].”

    …then Christians say evil things.

    In regards to homosexuality, Christians (and others) say evil things. Based on ancient dogma, Christians (and others) are willing to demonize a segment of society based on a difference from the norm. Homosexuality is naturally occurring. Homosexuality causes no harm to others or society. It is DEMONIZING a segment of society that causes no harm that is the intrinsic evil here.

    You are a Christian right? You are a Christian apologist right? You do promote Christianity right? If you want to identify as a Christian, then there is some evil baggage that comes along with it…one needs to own up to the good and the bad.

    Of course this conflates ‘Christianity’ with what you, as an individual, actually believe. But you do call yourself a Christian and you to acknowledge the Christian position on homosexuality; so it is not unreasonable to saddle you with unpalatable views on homosexuality.

    Of course innumerable ‘Cafeteria Christians’ embrace the ‘Christian’ moniker but simply discard that stuff they don’t like or doesn’t make sense. But what value is a the system if people can just throw stuff out willy-nilly? …or reinterpret to their own personal preference. I know plenty of ‘Christians’ that have no problem with Gay rights, but are they Christians. I know plenty of ‘Christians’ that believe that human-kind is descended from ape-like ancestors, but are they Christians? My best friend calls himself a Christian but, during long philosophical discussions, he is obviously a deist.

    The simple position that homosexuals are ‘flying wrong’ is evil. That is my entire point.

  • http://minoritythinker.blogspot.com Shannon

    I don't really have anything insightful to add to the discussion…I'm just posting to get the follow-up comments.

    Thanks for the post, John — it's a good question to raise.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    It may be, but that’s not at all what you said. Instead—and based on a category mistake you’d made—you leveled against me a terrible insult.

    See, now? Once you’ve baselessly insulted a person—and especially if you’ve insulted them as harshly and personally as you did me—you can’t then expect them to thoughtfully attend to the NEXT thing (or, in this case, series of things) that you say about them. Unless you first sincerely apologize to them, of course. Then that makes everything friendly again.

    But hey, no pressure or anything.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Yeah, these comments have been really good. I've been too busy today to respond to them, but I'm certainly reading them. Good stuff.

    Not to brag, but I do have the rockinest readers.

  • http://christianranter.wordpress.com Des

    As long as there's no watching musicals together or shopping at Macy's, then I'm ok with it.

  • Jessica Bailey

    Sadie said…"But can we condemn homosexuality? I say yes, we can–but only in the church among believers. For everyone else–homosexuality is just like any other sin–and we should be busy showing God’s love, grace and mercy towards homosexuals–not persecuting them. Nobody can spread the gospel while they are uprooting God’s word with their actions at the same time."

    I disagree. I think one of the biggest problems with Christians is that we spend a whole lot of time doing and saying one thing in Church and either watering it down or amping it up outside of Church. I am no more innocent than a homosexual. I sin every single day. It's no different.

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    Amen…Jessica. Perhaps the biggest tragedy in today's 'evangelical' climate is presenting the Gospel message and leaving out the topic of sin. I would offer that to omit sin is to NOT have the gospel that has the power of God for salvation.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Mr. Battle: I think you can rest assured that there's no shortage of Christians out there who have made it their business to let everyone know that central and inseparable from the Gospel message is the identification and condemnation of sin.

  • http://smi23le.wordpress.com/ Brian Shields

    Hmm…

    Interesting info on the abomination of critters without scales or fins here: http://www.godhatesshrimp.com

    Fascinating post from a Christian blogger on the whole shellfish abomination here: http://slacktivist.typepad.com/slacktivist/2004/0

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    I'm sure there are John, the key is to tell the truth in love. Yes there are those who would not come across with love, either because they might have forgotten the 'love' part or the hearer makes that claim falsely. I certainly would prefer to hear the 'love' when I am taken to task, but the truth with a 'bad attitude' is still the truth. the Holy Spirit seems to do quite well with cutting through those occasional 'bad attitudes' and nail me anyway. :)

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    Is comparing the eating of shrimp to engaging in homosexuality an adventure in missing the point? Are dietary and ceremonial 'laws' in the same ballpark as moral law.

    Please note that I have asked questions and not made judgmental pronouncements.

  • Greta Sheppard

    John, my admiration for you as a writer and blogger is that 'you go where angels fear to tread"! You're not afraid to leap into the murky waters of debate! What amazed me here was the intensity of feedback both ways, and the apology aspects back and forth.

    Good stuff!

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    When I read your post I figured that the issue of 'lust' would come up. Obviously a lustful obsession, whether it be sexual or otherwise, that consumes someone's thoughts and desires to the exclusion of serving others, is a bad thing, and is symptomatic of being out of sync with God. But is all sexual longing sinful?

    The church has turned Matthew 5 on it's head. Rather than an injunction against lustful thoughts Jesus is telling us to reconsider being so quick to condemn those who have only done what we've all thought about doing. The problem here is that many of those who stand in judgment of homosexuals have never been homosexually tempted themselves. Apparently, however, more than a few anti-homosexual evangelicals have been tempted.

    So to answer to your question; on the one hand it might be that to just think about the act is on par with committing the act (as George Carlin so eloquently explained 30 some years ago). But I think the real message of Matthew 5 is that we shouldn't be too preoccupied with judging others who do commit these acts (any act that in our wisdom we might consider as sinful), but should instead be empathetic, realizing that "there but for the grace of God go I". Of course it's tough for heterosexual Christians to understand this when it comes to homosexuals since they have little empathy for those with same sex urges – they cannot see themselves committing this particular 'sin', so they feel like they can righteously condemn , without any sense of personal guilt. Or in some cases they can only too well see themselves in homosexual relationships, and in those cases they tend to really crucify those they see as carrying their own secret 'sins'.

    First stone, anyone?

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    "Of course it's tough for heterosexual Christians to understand this when it comes to homosexuals since they have little empathy for those with same sex urges"

    That's a rather broad brush typr of commetn to make, don't you think? You have just made a judgment concerning hererosexual Christians en masse. Do you know them all?

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    If one is looking for stones to cast, note the 1996 University of Georgia study that strongly correlated homophobia with increased sexual arousal when viewing gay sex films.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=single-angry-straight-male

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772014

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/assault/etc/quiz.html

    Doth some protest too much?? :-)

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    Mike, I’ll bet that there is more of that lurking behind the scenes than we imagine. Every once in a while (Ted Haggard is only the most notorious) you hear of a conservative anti-homosexual preacher suffering from this problem.

    Dan (Born for Battle), I was referring to the differences that exist between the objects of sexual desire between homosexuals and heterosexuals. Discounting bisexuality and latent homosexual tendencies (or perhaps latent heterosexual tendencies among gay people) at some level there is a disconnect between the two groups. I don’t have sexual feelings for men so at some point it is difficult for me to completely relate to how my gay male friends feel about their partners. Perhaps I am wrong, but based upon my experience, this is pretty much the norm.

    Along similar lines, I cannot completely empathize with the way some of my heterosexual friends are attracted to their partners either. ;)

  • Brian Walton

    A lot of Christians quote Matthew when it comes to questions of love vs lust. But what they forget is the main thrust of the entire passage. The laws of the pharisees (you have heard it said) are considered difficult but Christ is calling is to something far higher and far more difficult then any Pharisaical parsing of the law.

    “You therefore must be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.”

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    Right. And so what does Jesus think is “perfect”? The lines from Matthew 5 immediately preceding the one above tells us:

    “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? ”

    This is the real meat of the Gospel, not any prescriptions concerning lust or the correction and punishment of others. It is pretty hard to swallow.

  • http://777denny.wordpress.com/ Denny

    David from the bible and his friend had a love that was better than the love between a man and a woman. It has nothing whatsoever to do with sex, since sex was made for procreation and enjoyment between a man and a woman.

    I have an intersting video series showing a woman who says she has been to Hell and has seen where the homosexuals and lesbians go when they get there. She says Christian hypocrites are in one area, murderers in another, and so forth and so on.

    http://777denny.wordpress.com/2009/04/18/woman-claims-to-have-visited-hell-with-jesus-says-jesus-cried-and-is-warning-people-not-to-go-there/ [THIS LINK IS BROKEN.]

    Thanks for listening,
    777denny

  • Brian Walton

    "Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness?  31For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established."

    The easiest interpretation of the text is that the tension between Saul and Jonathan was in regards to Jonathan' s acknowledgment of David as the more suitable heir to the throne, as we see in v 31. Jonathan giving David his robe and sword would have been an early sign of this, not unlike Saul giving David his armor. The pain between Jonathan and David over his parting is clearly because, while Jonathan is protecting David, he is also sending him to a life of exile. Their actions towards each other are not at all shocking when considered with this proper subtext.

    The two of them clearly had a strong and passionate friendship, but the liberal read of this text precludes the possibility of passion within heterosexual relationships.

    And as to the phrase "passing the love of a woman", well it is not hard and not at all uncommon for men that have had bad experiences with women to prefer the friendship of a man!

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Still interpreting….

    I'm running out of time. I am only giving you another 1000 years before you make up your mind as to what it all means!! And this time I mean it!! :-)

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    Christian, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

    John,

    Perhaps we differ in our definition of explicitly. That aside, the Song of Solomon is explicit to a degree that the relationship between David and Jonathan cannot dream of approaching. Then we have the many comparisons many throughout scripture that compare God and His people as that of the intimate relationship between a man and a woman, not a man and a man.

    Maybe I am missing something here, but you do not seem to view the Song of Solomon as far more explicit concerning a love relationship that David and Jonathan. It's hard for me to come away from the text on the page without seeing that. What did I miss in your question?

  • http://minoritythinker.blogspot.com Shannon

    OK, I've been thinking about this topic off and on for a few days, and I finally have something to add (hopefully something insightful) — sorry to interrupt the topic of David & Jonathan.

    Back to the original question of "So on what possible grounds could we object to two men in love living together in celibacy?":

    I am going to assume that this hypothetical love is an erotic love, not a brotherly love. I am also going to say that homosexuality is a sin because, like any other sin, it is a rebellion against God and what He has revealed about Himself. (I base this statement on Romans 1:18-32.) I know not everyone is ready to make that latter assumption, but that's a debate for a different day.

    Using those assumptions, I would say that living in a loving homosexual relationship, even if you are celibate, is a form of rebellion against God. You might be technically avoiding sexual sin, but your heart is divided between loving God and loving someone who is likely to turn your heart away from God because that person is less than the best God has for you. (And God's best for you may be a godly spouse of the opposite sex, or it may be contentmet in celibacy and the opportunity to serve Him wholeheartedly as a single person.)

    Two men in love who live together celibately would be much like a single heterosexual Christian falling in love with a non-Christian and continuing to date that person, even though he knows he will not marry her because of the command against being unequally yoked. It is also a bit like a couple having an emotional affair while being married to other people. You might not be having sex, but why continue to put yourself in a situation where you will be tempted to have a divided heart?

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    So Christian, I hear you saying that this lack of empathy exists for both sides. You will think I am simplistic, but God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. That (God’s plan) has to count for something.

  • Brian Walton

    Well Mike, when you look at church history you discovery that there is usually an position that has been held by most people for the majority of Christendom. Yes, multiple interpretations arise and fall away. But looking at these new interpretations as proof that Christianity is divided is often done at the ignorance of, as Chesterton called it, the democracy of the dead.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    At 1 Samuel 18:

    “That same day, when Saul had finished speaking with David, he kept him and would not let him return any more to his father’s house, for he saw that Jonathan had given his heart to David and had grown to love him as himself. So Jonathan and David made a solemn compact because they loved the other as dearly as himself. And Jonathan stripped off the cloak he was wearing and his tunic, and gave them to David, together with his sword, his bow, and his belt.”

    From 2 Samuel:

    “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”

    Jonathon’s father, to Jonathon, about David:

    ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?’”

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    And your point John? Pro-homosexual folks use those scriptures to ‘prove’ that they were ‘lovers’, which is not explicit in the text. A serious case for an intense bond between David and Johnathan can however be made from the plain text.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    No point. Just thought I’d take the time to bring to my readers the text of that part of the Bible being referred to in the discussion. I’m helpful that way.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (But now I am curious. Is there any passage in the Bible in which heterosexual love is, as you put it, “explicit in the text”?)

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    I thought that might be the case. :) That just might be the Song of Solomon. It’s not just about Christ and the Church.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Ah. Okay. Well, I’ll leave it up to whomever cares enough to research it to determine if there is anywhere in the Bible love of any sort presented any more explicitly than the love we’re shown in Samuel between Jonathon and David.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Mr. Battle: I just meant that if the Bible's story of Jonathon and David were a story of two men in what we would now call homosexual love, the text as we have it seems to me as explicitly descriptive of that aspect of their relationship as any text in the Bible is explicit about any instance of heterosexual love.

    Just on the face of it, the scene where Jonathon, "because he loved [David] as himself" seems to be silently undressing before David seems almost embarrassingly intimate, and certainly expressive of love both emotional and physical. Long before I was a Christian, I understood the story of David and Jonathon—just from reading it, without having any idea that Christians had any opinion one way or another about homosexuality—as a love story between two men. To me, that was just so exactly how it read. Text is text. We as Christians might be aware of all kinds of different and valid ways to understand the story of J & D, but at the very least I think we'd do well to admit that, to people lacking proper Christian Analytical Tools, it's almost impossible not to read as a story of two men deeply in love.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    Dan, if God didn’t make Adam and Steve, who did?

    The Song of Songs; were the lovers even married? Another can of worms.

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    OK, thanks for being clear. I think you are reading into the text exactly what some would have you read into it. Jus my opinion. And Song of Solomon leaves those few verses about David and Johathan in the dust as far as being explicit goes. What scripture has to say about David and Jonathan can describe a strong bond between two warriors without anything sexual itnended. I served 28 years in Special Forces so I think I can say that with confidence.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Mr. Battle: You said, "I think you are reading into the text exactly what some would have you read into it." I don't know if you're suggesting anything different, but, again, for the record, what I "read" into the text is wholly my own. I'm too lazy–and, frankly, too arrogant—to let anyone else tell me what I'm reading.

      And yes, you're certainly right: Song of Solomon is something nearer to raw erotica than is anything found in Samuel. Still and all ….

      And yes, as you say, two men can be close beyond definition without it being in any way sexual. Trust that I understand the profound (and not even remotely sexual) emotional reality referenced by, say, the term "Band of Brothers."

  • Brian Walton

    Two men deeply in love, but what kind of love? We have no difficulty in understanding the love of a father for a son, or the love of two brothers. I submit that in the context of brothers, the text wouldn't make us flinch, we would not be jumping to accusations of incest because our culture has that still firmly locked away in the icky zone. So why does a loving, deeply loving friendship between men seem so impossible?

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Brian: Who said a deeply loving friendship between men seems so impossible? All I said is I don't think that's what the text in Samuel is describing. That's just not how that story, as presented, actually READS, to me. I've read (as have you, I'm sure) massive amounts of literature, "World," and otherwise. All I'm saying is that this text, as we have it, seems to me to be describing two men experiencing homosexual love. But the story as we have it is not, obviously, in any definitive way objectively explicit. And so–in the way of so much of our most precious literature–it leaves us on our own, to determine its nature according to our lights.

  • Jill

    I think I need to find a way to get your blog on my Crackberry. I don't know if people are born gay or what, and I really don't care. This is how I see it: everyone wants to be loved. Why should I limit my love to those who are heterosexual? I believe everyone has the right to love who they want to love, how they want to love them. And I'm not going to speak against homosexuality, because it's not any of my business. I think that it speaks much more highly to simply accept people as they are, and love them regardless. And there are far worse things out there to worry about than a person's "non-conforming" sexuality. It's just a silly debate to me. What difference does it really make? Are homosexuals less loveable as people? No. Are they less likely to raise emotionally healthy children? No. (Far too many effed up children belonging to hetero couples can prove that one!) I think people need to stop focusing on this whole gay thing. It's really not important. Let God deal with it. We need to pay more attention to ourselves!

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    And with Jill we have what is, to my mind, the only sensible position to take. With the final, nuanced verdict clearly not in yet on the biblical position regarding homosexuality (as evidenced here); should not the believer default to the only moral thing of loving them as a fellow human? …to afford them every advantage that is available to heterosexuals?

    To paraphrase Pascal's Wager; it is infinitely better to accept them and be wrong than to persecute them and be wrong. …and unjustified persecution would be a MONUMENTAL wrong.

    (BTW Jill: It has been pretty conclusively shown that they ARE born gay, thought the mechanism is not understood)

  • Brian Walton

    I believe that we read the homosexuality into the text simply because we have put homosexuals so much into the forefront of our cultural consciousness. Other cultures would not give a second thought to the passionate display of friendship between Jonathan and David.

    The other angle not yet considered in this thread is why would the author of 1 and 2nd Samuel, who is so frank about sexuality elsewhere in the book (see Bathsheba) would give such an obfuscated rendering of a homosexual relationship when it is clearly just as condemned in Judaism as adultery.

  • Brian Walton

    And John, to clarify I think that a liberal reading of the text usually precludes the possibility of a platonic friendship by nature of its claims; not that you were saying that specifically.

    And I think where we differ is that I believe there is a more correct interpretation of this text and I believe it's not very hard to discover. But of course, I say that with the humility of someone with only a bachelors of theology and just the slightest understanding of Jewish culture. So I may be entirely prideful in saying that interpreting this text in a homosexual light is like for most people a lot like grasping at straws.

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    The text on any page of scripture says what it says. These few verses do not tell us whether the love between David and Jonathan was sexual or not. A cardinal rule of interpreting scripture is to interpret what is not clear using that which is clear. Concerning homosexual relationships/practices, what is clear from scripture is that they were explicitly declared sinful in both the OT and the NT. That is what is on the pages. I have yet to see any scriptural evidence anywhere in the Bible that God's moral law changes over time, or because of changes in what 'society' thinks is OK.

    I have yet to find any exegetically explicit scriptural evidence that approves of homosexual love, acted out or not. Approval of homosexuality has to be read into the text while it is condemned very explicity. To say that the explicit condemnation is in itself because translators misinterpreted erroneously isindeed grasping at straws to approve what God calls sinful.

  • Lynn

    God's view on homosexuality…

    He begins with an incident that happened outside the city of Sodom:

    Gen. 19:3-5 NIV

    3 "But he [Lot] insisted so strongly that they [angels] did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. 4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.' "

    Then God tells us how He feels about homosexuality:

    Lev. 18:22 NIV

    " 'Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.'…"

    Lev. 20:13;23 Amplified

    13: "If a man lies with a male as if he were a woman, both men have committed an offense (something perverse, unnatural, abhorrent, and detestable); they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

    23: "You shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they did all these things, and therefore I was wearied and grieved by them."

    Lev. 20:22-23 The Message

    "Do what I tell you, all my decrees and laws; live by them so that the land where I'm bringing you won't vomit you out. You simply must not live like the nations I'm driving out before you. They did all these things and I hated every minute of it."

    Lev. 20:23 NLT

    "Do not live according to the customs of the people I am driving out before you. It is because they do these shameful things that I detest them."

    Finally, God's law/view of sin is elaborated upon in the New Testament:

    1 Tim. 1: 8-11 NAS

    8 "But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,

    9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted."

    Rom. 1:18-32 NIV

    18 "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

    26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

    28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

    My thoughts….if we accept the entirety of God's word to actually be about things that He wants us to know, would He not have ellaborated on/denounced the relationship between Jonathon and David if there were any hint of homosexual sin between them? Because God is the same yesterday, today and forever, His character never changes and His thoughts/views originate from His character.

    John, since this post is rather lengthy, please feel free to edit/shorten it. Thank you for permitting it to be read.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    But Lynn…
    With all that we know of in the OT that is now recognized to be wrong or conflicting or nonsensical; is it appropriate persecute a people based on what very many consider to be fables? At least the NT has some provenance … and the NT is mute on the subject. Lest we forget…the OT also says that only 144,000 that are "not defiled with women" shall be saved. Is that 144,000 celibate heterosexual men?…144,000 gay men? …just men?

    As I said previously, it is infinitely better to accept them and be wrong that to persecute them and be wrong.

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    "With all that we know of in the OT that is now recognized to be wrong or conflicting or nonsensical"

    I'm going to pretend Mike is just kidding here……….trying to get even more detail from scripture or something. The NT is only mute on the subject to those who never read it or read it and ignored Romans 1.

    All sin is sin, of course, and there are some matters of conduct that are not explicit in scripture. Homosexuality is not one of them.

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    And it is far wiser to accept what God has to say about it…about anything, actually. . .

  • http://777denny.wordpress.com/ Denny

    John Shore, I hope that you are not trying to pervert the holy scriptures.

    “That same day, when Saul had finished speaking with David, he kept him and would not let him return any more to his father’s house, for he saw that Jonathan had given his heart to David and had grown to love him as himself. So Jonathan and David made a solemn compact because they loved the other as dearly as himself. And Jonathan stripped off the cloak he was wearing and his tunic, and gave them to David, together with his sword, his bow, and his belt.”

    The above just shows what kind of compact it was and what it involved.

    From 2 Samuel:

    “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.”

    The above just shows that the love they had for each other surpasses what a man and woman have for each other. God is love, and perverts who misuse their bodies with the same sex do NOT love their sex partners, or they wouldn't do lewd acts with them. Love does NOT equal sex. Sex is NOT love.

    1 Samuel 20:16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David's enemies. 17 And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

    Here we see that Jonathan loved David just like he loved his own soul. Love is NOT sex. Sex is temporal and true love is of God, Who is eternal.

    This is what you wrote: {Jonathon’s father, to Jonathon, about David:

    ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?’”}

    You do lie and did not tell the truth in the above verse. Saul was talking about his wife who bore him his son JONATHAN! The following is the true Word of God:

    1 Samuel 20:30 Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother's nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die.

    So now we see that those who do indecent acts with the person of the same sex do not love that person they perferm indecent acts with, but instead, HATE them, for all who do such things are an abomination unto the LORD:

    Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

    Proverbs 11:20 They that are perverse in heart are an abomination to Jehovah; But such as are perfect in their way are his delight.

    Thanks for listening,

    777denny

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    (I wish I were kidding)

    …hence my position on ‘holy’ books.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Denny: The big point of/on your blog is that, as you put it, "Sex is a necessary evil." So … I mean … you might not be the first person I'd turn to for insight into these matters. Yikes, dude.

  • http://777denny.wordpress.com/ Denny

    John Shore,

    Actually, the point of my blog is that the gospel of Jesus Christ can set men free from evil and false doctrines to serve the Living God. The article about "sex is a necessary evil" is AGAINST those who believe this false doctrine, as God blessed sex between a man and his wife. But some Christians and others have perverted this wonderful thing and have come out and said that sex is a "necesssary evil."

    It is much easier to mock another out of ignorance to try to prove a quick point than to find the truth and choose to believe and obey it.

    777denny

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    Just to jump back in very late in the conversation (I was traveling the past couple of days) — I'd like to answer Adam's previous question to me, regarding the context of the bible verses listed so far. Around the verses on homosexuality are others we don't really follow today. Examples:

    Leviticus chapters 18 and 20 — includes condemnation of having sex with women during their period. The punishment was for the guilty couple to be banished. I've never heard this discussed in my 30 years at church, so I have to think most Christians don't think it's very relevant today. Also in this section is more talk of clean/unclean animals, which Christians also have thrown aside. Shellfish have already been mentioned earlier in the comments.

    Romans 1 and 1 Timothy 1 are fascinating for a different reason — our potential misunderstanding of the cultural, religious and linguical setting of the writings. The greek word used (arsenokoitai) was either invented by Paul or he was an early adopter of the word, because we have no record of it before him. So we're not entirely sure what it means, which makes Lynn's specific reference to the NAS translation of 1 Timothy 1 interesting, because many other translations interpret it as "perverts" instead of "homosexuals".

    For one thing, the word is masculine in form. So it still leaves us with nothing concrete in the bible regarding lesbianism.

    Secondly, the social context is of a time when sex slavery and underage prostitution was more visible than today (in the 21st Century Western world, anyway), and many scholars think that this is the practice being denounced. The word translated "immoral men" in Lynn's quoting of 1 Timothy literally means "soft", which is likely a reference to young boys being the recipient of sex from other, older men.

    Thirdly, the religious context is one of idolatry, both in the OT and in Romans. Especially in Romans, where Paul explicitly links idolatry and homosexuality in the first chapter. Again, many scholars think that the "detestable" nature of these acts was the surrounding idolatry and slavery (the young boys in these temples were forced to partake in the ceremonies), not the act itself.

    Finally, all of this is in a social setting that didn't have nearly as much information as we do about homosexuality (the old nature vs. nurture argument, which has already been discussed here). I think the church ignores this at its own peril, and that the youngest generation today thinks this is mostly a non-issue.

    That's all brain stuff, though. My heart says people are people, and we come in all varieties, but from one creator. I trust he knows what he's doing with this whole universe thing.

  • Adam

    Redlefty,

    Thank you for replying, but I feel your assessment if flawed. Paul does differentiate between homosexuality and idolatry. Here's an example:

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10(ESV)

    9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    We need to remember that we should never create a God after our own imge or ideals. We must allow God to define himself and his standards, or we, ourselves, become guilty of idolatry.

    I, myself, am not immune to this tendency. In some areas of my life, I must remind myself from time to time that, no, God is God and His will and standards are sovereign, not my own.

    If I misconstrued the meaning of your post, please correct me.

    Thanks again for replying,

    Adam

  • Adam

    Redlefty,

    Thanks again for your reply. I don't see the problem. Each translation is describing the same essence. They are not describing opposing ideas. Paul, in each translation, is indicating a "perversion" or leaving of the natural order God designed. Period. No contraction is set forth that I can see.

    I would refer you to the following comparing the NET with other modern translations. Note the scholar notes at the bottom.

    http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=1Co&chapt

    Lastly, I don't see the relevance of the this argument in light of:

    Mar 10:6 (NLT)

    But God’s plan was seen from the beginning of creation, for ‘He made them male and female.’

    A point Christ himself points out in Matt 19:5. This was the design of God from the beginning. A definition of marriage, if you will. Sexual activity outside of marriage, is condemned (heterosexual, lesbian, or homosexual). This not to keep us FROM happiness, but to preserve us FOR happiness.

    At this point, I don't think there is anymore either of us can say (meaning, we're not making advancements in the argument, and we're both set in how we are thinking).

    Thank you for your time and your thoughts,

    Adam

    Heb 4:12

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    Well summarized, Adam.

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Burns

    “I think the church ignores [current knowledge on nature/nurture] at their own risk, and that the youngest generation today thinks this is mostly a non-issue.”

    Indeed. With the church not advancing as knowledge advances the younger, tech-savvy, evidence oriented generations are finding religion less and less relevant. While some church attendance numbers are increasing; the net as a percentage of population are declining. “Non-religious” is the fastest growing segment of the ‘religious’ landscape and ‘non-belief’ outnumbers Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and most Christian sects.

    It would seem the only viable course for religion to take for the long term is to embrace all our empirical knowledge and re-interpret doctrine so as not to be in conflict. When youth sees ancient doctrine being clung to despite contrary evidence; it greatly diminishes the appeal. The Catholic church came around on evolution (sorta)…that’s a start.

  • http://megaloi.blogspot.com Redlefty

    1 Cor. 9 is the other instance of that Greek word I mentioned earlier, arsenokoitai. Our translations are truly guesses as to its meaning.

    So here you have the ESV that says “men who practice homosexuality”, the NIV that says “perverts” and the NAS that says “homosexuals”… all from one word of Paul, and a word that we have no other context for interpreting. Which translation is right? We just don’t know.

    And still, even if you use the ESV, what does this mean for lesbians?

    I try not to twist the bible for my own means, but I’m sure I’m as guilty as the rest of us of doing exactly that. My main goal, though, is to retain humility and shrug my shoulders in the knowledge that sometimes we just can’t tell what the original author was trying to say.

    It sounds to me like we share a common goal of understanding the divine will as it plays out in our daily decisions and lifestyles. That common ground is much bigger than our differences of application.

  • http://www.ipandora.net matthew

    I think, for many of those finding it difficult to balance the "passion" of the manly relationship between David and Jonathan, it would be enlightening to learn more about the nature of Manly Relationships.

    The ArtOfManliness blog (highly recommended) ran an article last year delving into the history of manly relationships:

    http://artofmanliness.com/2008/08/24/the-history-

    It has been only a relatively recent occurrence that sexual tones were read into the intimate relationships that have existed, and can still exist between men.

    Humans are relational creatures, we need friendship, acquaintances, marriage, etc, to maintain a healthy life. And studies have shown over and again that the strength of relationships in a persons life strongly correlates to their well-being.

    I'm married. I love my wife. Our relationship is is major part of my life and I rely on her in ways I've never relied on anyone else, nor ever shall.

    However, while I can and strive to share everything with her, and she doesn't judge me for it, she doesn't understand everything about me.

    I'm a guy (Hoorah!) and I live a guy's life. I have guy needs and guy thoughts and guy desires. And there are times that I need a guy, not to cuddle with, or play tonsil hockey with, or to make babies with, but to be a guy with.

    I'm thankful for the male friends I've had throughout my life who I've felt more comfortable with and more accepted among than any others.

    It's not homosexual to have a relationship of depth and passion with a guy. It's manly.

    Just as it's manly to have a relationship of depth and passion with my wife.

    The weakness of the English language hobbles my ability to differentiate between the two (I love Greek and it's many different terms for love). There are many distinctions between my love for my wife, and my love for Ian, and David, and my brother Ryan, and Tim.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Okay, again: I understand the difference between fraternal love, non-sexual love between friends, the love between a man and his dog, the love between warriors in combat, and on and on. Everyone understands all the different kinds of love that exist; we all experience all the same kinds of loves with all the same kinds of people in our lives.

    All I'm saying, again, is that, to me, the story in the Bible of the relationship between Jonathon and David reads like a story of two men in homosexual love. I'm not at all asserting that IS what the story is describing; I'm simply saying that as literature—just as sheer narrative and characterization on the page–that is how it reads to me. It read that way before I was a Christian; those words haven't changed since. It's like Achilles and Patroclus in "The Illiad." Again: reads like two men in … romantic love. Might NOT be what it's describing, but (and, again, just to me, as a READER) that's what it seems to be describing.

    But of course I also understand why any Christian would want to think twice before determining that the male progenitor of Christ was involved in a homosexual love affair. I am in every last way sympathetic with any and all endeavors to, at every moment, better understand all of God's will and ways. I couldn't call myself a Christian if I cared about anything as much as I do discerning God's will.

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    Maybe, if God wanted us to know all the small details (one way or the other) He would have told us. If God's outlook on homosexuality is what we want to get at, other scripture provides that. As a reader, I'm not sure what I thought about through the years about Jonathan and David. Probably that although words were found on the page that could be interpreted a certain way, since that way was one of God's 'no-go' areas, it probably didn't mean that.

    Maybe this is an example of how we, as MM's (mere mortals) like crystal clarity and tend to provide clarity ourselves, using whatever mindset/worldview we bring to the table.

    "I couldn’t call myself a Christian if I cared about anything as much as I do discerning God’s will." Excellent point, John and a valuable lesson? For discerning God's will, find in scripture what is the most clear on it's pages?

  • http://fvthinker.blogspot.com Mike (FVThinker) Bur

    Some (purportedly) pertinent legislation on whether to to include homosexuals under the umbrella of our federal hate-crime laws is moving through Congress. House Resolution 1913 (which would eventually become a bill) would expand coverage of hate-crime laws beyond gender, country of origin, race, disability, color and religion to included "sexual orientation and gender identity". Some religious groups are claiming that it will make promoting the biblical view of homosexuality illegal (I don't think it can/will)

    I discuss it on my blog at http://fvthinker.blogspot.com

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Don, do you actually not understand how irrationally hostile you sound? Homosexuals don't expect "redemption." There's no "rest of us." They don't think of their parents, genes, or lifestyles as "sin."

    Barbarians in the Narthex? They homosexuals are saying the Church should have unregenerate church members? They're standing in judgment of God?

    Dang, dude. Kick in with reality somewhere.

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    theologically speaking, the issue of redemption without repentance applies to everyone living apart from Christ, regardless of what sin is in their lives. When Paul reminded church folks in Ephesus that they were all at one time DEAD in sin, he was speaking everyone in the audience.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I understand what redemption without repentance means. What I said is that it's crazy to assert, as Don did, that that's what gays and lesbians EXPECT. Or want. Or have any interest in whatsoever.

    But let's not you and I hop on this less-than-merry-go-round, okay, Mr. Battle? Thanks very much.

  • Don

    The theological issue I have with homosexuals is that they expect redemption without repentance. They do not see themselves as sinners needing to come to foot of the cross for salvation like the rest of us.

    To them, their sin is a bad mother (or father), a gene, a lifestyle, a civil right, or whatever the rationale d’jour happens to be. However, without repentance, there is no regeneration and no indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and without that we have Barbarians in the Narthex. Historically, the Church has had the problem of an unregenerate church membership, and there is no need to repeat that error just because the homosexuals say so.

    Homosexuals do not let the Word of God stand in judgment over them, but rather try to stand in judgment over God. That’s not going to work. Contrary to the sales talk we hear from them, they do not hold the high moral ground.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    This, again, is the problem with focusing on sin, especially the sin of others, rather than focusing on Jesus' gospel of grace.

    "To be a part of God’s family, people are required to forsake sin. It’s never easy, but we do it as Christians, even though we do it unevenly"

    As Christians we readily identify sinful behavior and call it out, unless it is a 'sin' that is so much a part of our compromised faith we ignore it. When was the last time we've heard a sermon on the 'sinful' practices we engage in to insure our own individual security and prosperity? The 'sin' of collateral damage in wartime, the 'sin' of stereotyping our ethnic neighbors, the 'sin' of taking huge profits, the 'sin' of the charging excessive, albeit quite legal, interest rates, the sin of condoning the adage 'let the buyer beware', the 'sin' of participating every Sunday morning in racially segregated worship services etc etc.

    I would imagine that most of us are still waiting to hear these condemnations of sin from the pulpits of our comfortable and self satisfied churches.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Christian: Sorry, but just before your comment came in, I deleted (and then blacklisted the author) of the snarky little diatribe from which you quoted. (It's so weird, when someone thinks you're going to allow them to personally insulting you on YOUR BLOG.) Great response, though! You do such a wonderful job of articulating so much that lies at the heart of what is, or certainly should me, our common Christian experience. Beautifully said.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    (Oh: here's the sentence that got the guy blackballed off my blog: "You're shallow, John, and it is apparent that you need to take some time off and reflect on the deeper meaning of the Gospel." See? Now, if it hadn't contained that, I'd have let his statement stay, as distasteful as I personally found it. Go after what I've written (or, in that case, what you think I've written)? No problem. Go after me PERSONALLY? You just wasted as much time as it took you to write that comment. What else can I do? What kind of cretin goes into someone else's house and just starts INSULTING them?)

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    Christian you are certainly right about most of what you call sin. the comment regarding collateral damage in wartime I would have issue with, in some cases. Depending on where one attends church, he may or may not hear much about "other sins" I've heard plenty of sermons about the "sins" you mention, either specifically or in the context or sermons about how we are to behave as Christians, actually more than homosexuality. I also offer the possibility that much of what is talked about concerning the sin of homosexuality is brought about by the fact that there a faction out there that is shoving it down our collective throats.

    "This, again, is the problem with focusing on sin, especially the sin of others, rather than focusing on Jesus’ gospel of grace."

    I assume the statement concerning the Christian duty to forsake sin, is some sort of a "problem"? Not sure I follow that – we are called to forsake sin, all sin when it is identified in our lives. If there is sin in my life I want to know about it, and am not about to accuse another believer of NOT focusing on sin in his/her life. How would I know that, anyway.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    Actually, Dan, I think that once we have come to understand the Gospel and accept Christ there is pretty much no need to have someone else point out the 'sin' in our lives – if our relationship with God is honest, dynamic and continues to grow. When we spend an undue amount of time reflecting upon the sins of other individuals then we tend to ignore our own personal challenges. I find that almost every day Jesus points out something in myself that runs counter to his teachings – something that I was, up to that point, all too comfortable with. Something that usually has me willingly sacrificing the well being of others for my own benefit. Like the rich man who Jesus challenged to forsake all his wealth – his wealth in and of itself was not the problem. But was it his love of wealth that caused him to be oblivious to the pain of others, perhaps even causing that pain?

    Maybe some, or even many, homosexual advocates suffer from that same problem as it pertains to their passion to be accepted by others. Perhaps much of it is an over reaction to the lack of grace that others, including Christians, have displayed. Even if, for the sake of argument, we accept that homosexuality is a sin, I don't think this sin is any more heinous than ANY of the examples that I gave. So where is the balance? If the executives of AIG can accept their bonuses (and that is just the extreme example of a pervasive problem with our culture)and still go to church on Sunday, why can't a gay person?

    These 'sins' that I used as examples need not be "rammed down our throats" because we (most of us) are all too comfortable with those 'accepted sins' for that to be necessary.

    As for the example of collateral damage, to some extent I agree ( I think) with where you might be coming from. War is awful, and awful things happen. It should be avoided at all costs but at times it is unavoidable. But as a warrior, who has put his life on the line and (probably) seen his brothers lose their own lives in serving this country, have you never encountered the callousness of the political non-warrior who is all too comfortable with 'collateral damage' ? Or a willingness to sacrifice soldiers for the sake of a callous commander's reputation or glory? You probably are aware that my son is serving in the Marines and I fully appreciate his honorable vocation (something many of my friends do not). But I also understand that most soldiers do not take what they may have to do lightly. Unfortunately too many of us are all too willing to have other lives sacrificed, soldiers and those who never chose to accept this risk, in order to remain safe and comfortable. Isn't that sinful?

  • http://born4battle.wordpress.com/ Born4Battle

    We see the issue of collateral damage in war the same way. this is a good thing.

  • James B

    Sorry for jumping onto this thread a couple weeks after the last post. I just discovered this site today after recently finishing "I'm OK-You're Not" and really enjoying it. Really enjoying this blog as well. Thank you, John.

    Christian stated:

    "Maybe some, or even many, homosexual advocates suffer from that same problem as it pertains to their passion to be accepted by others. Perhaps much of it is an over reaction to the lack of grace that others, including Christians, have displayed. "

    Well-said. Not to excuse name-calling or hate on any level or by any "side" on the issue, but it strikes me that perhaps the reason that, as Mr Battle put it, "there [is] a faction out there that is shoving it down our collective throats" is because for years upon years the church has only shown ridicule and derision towards gay people and as a result the "backlash", if you will, on their part is only natural. Whether or not most people in the church actually hate gay people is not the point; the point is that they FEEL hated. Just a thought.

    Christian

    I agree with with all points in your recent post but wanted to expound upon one particular point if I may. You stated:

    "I think that once we have come to understand the Gospel and accept Christ there is pretty much no need to have someone else point out the ’sin’ in our lives – if our relationship with God is honest, dynamic and continues to grow. When we spend an undue amount of time reflecting upon the sins of other individuals then we tend to ignore our own personal challenges. I find that almost every day Jesus points out something in myself that runs counter to his teachings – something that I was, up to that point, all too comfortable with. Something that usually has me willingly sacrificing the well being of others for my own benefit.."

    Coming from a background where I have had some very bad experiences of people spiritually abusing me under the guise of "spiritually advising" me, I am very sensitive to sin–perceived or actual–being pointed out in my life. That being said, however, in my experience–more often than not–the way that Jesus makes me aware of sin in my life is THROUGH someone pointing it out to me, whether directly or indirectly. Sometimes it's my pastor in a message. Sometimes it's an author, such as John Shore. And sometimes it's a friend who is the only one close enough to me to notice and has enough courage to say something. If the "someone else" you are referring to is someone we don't know or who is simply trying to change us for selfish reasons, then I would agree with you.

  • http://sharpiron.org Christian Beyer

    Hey, James. Nice to meet you.

    “If the “someone else” you are referring to is someone we don’t know or who is simply trying to change us for selfish reasons, then I would agree with you.

    Yes, that was part of my point, but unstated. Friends advising friends, or even pastors advising pastors are a bit different than approaching strangers and ‘ confronting’ them with their sins. Aside from displaying a lack of grace, there is the added danger that our own (often unconscious) ‘sins’ are hanging out there (particularly that lack of grace) for all to see- which tends to make us look like hypocrites. And why should anyone heed a hypocrite?

    That being said, I think that rather than focus on the poor behavior (or sins) of people we might find it more productive to hold up and celebrate their good behavior. In the schools we are moving away from techniques of ‘behavior management’ that tend to shine the light on those students who are falling short and instead are celebrating those moments in which students (any and all students) are deserving of praise. Very innovative, sort of like the ‘gold’ stars my elementary school teacher would give us years ago. People respond better to encouragement.

    So instead of busting homosexual’s chops for what we see as their sin, essentially telling them they have no place in a community of Christians, wouldn’t it make more sense to encourage them in their faith?

  • James B

    Christian, thanks the reply.

    Sadly, not focusing on sin in nonbelievers is counterintuitive to my years of “love the sinner, hate the sin” training. Yet I’m finding out that, ironically, it’s hard to truly love someone when I see them as a “sinner” instead of just a person (the whole point of “I’m OK–You’re Not” of course). It’s funny how that works. I’m trying very hard to overcome that bad thinking.

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  • Julia

    Hello Mr Shore.

    (For reference): From your opening post you say: "Oh, well. I’m no theologian. I’m just a Christian who, like any Christian, seeks only to better understand and more wholly affiliate myself with the glorious love of God. Which of course is a process that sometimes naturally raises a question or two. And what does one do with a question, but ask it?"

    You say in a following comment: "But of course I also understand why any Christian would want to think twice before determining that the male progenitor of Christ was involved in a homosexual love affair. I am in every last way sympathetic with any and all endeavors to, at every moment, better understand all of God’s will and ways. I couldn’t call myself a Christian if I cared about anything as much as I do discerning God’s will."

    What would you believe your Jesus say to those two men from your opening post?

    Whoud he bless them for having a deeply loving relationship?

    Would he damn them for having a deeply loving relationship?

    Would he demand they never spend eternity together as a couple? (If he let them into heaven that is.)

    Would he send them to hell if the dont agree?

    Just what would your Jesus demand of them?

    Just curious…

    Walk in Beauty,

    Julia

  • Joy

    I have dealt with the topic "What the Bible says about homosexuality" quite a bit lately. There are only six passages where we find anything in the Scriptures that relate to that topic, three in the OT and three in the NT. It is interesting to note that in all six passages, homosexual behavior is presented in context that clearly describes the homosexual act (even though the word "homosexual" is not found in the original language), thus, leaving no room for misinterpretation, or the act is listed among other sins. All six passages are clearly referring to same-sex relationships.

    Just as clearly stated in the Bible, we find all references that mention marriage to be between a man and a woman (opposite sexes). There are no exceptions.

    Therefore, it is very simple to conclude that homosexual acts are considered wrong in God's sight but heterosexual relationships have His approval and blessings – in the confines of marriage only. It really does not take a Biblical scholar or any super-intelligent person to see this is the basic truth according to the Bible, whether we want to accept it or not. Just read the verses for yourself. Gen. 19:1-8; Lev. 18:22, 20:13; I Tim. 1:8-11; Rom. 1:14-32; I Cor. 6:9-10. I know people who have studied these passages in the original languages and admit they cannot find any alternative meaning to these passages.

    Just because "times change" and cultures change to accept certain social behaviors and laws, does not mean that God changes His moral laws to accommodate us. He allowed six references in His Word that state homosexuality is sinful. I might add – it is listed among other sins indicating it is no worse than any other sin. However, like the other sins, it needs to be brought to God in repentance and then dealt with daily just like any other temptation. With prayer and hiding the Word of God in our hearts, we can resist and overcome the temptation of any sinful act. It is not easy, but it is definitely possible!

    Again, I truly believe anyone who tries to over-analyze this subject is just trying to put a spin on what is very clearly stated in God's Word. You either believe it or not. That is up to you, but I would not make that decision lightly.

    • Vicky

      It took me four years of going back and forth with this, going over and over the Word, trying to figure out the exact meanings and everything else on the matter, and then trying to figure my own self out, subsequently unintentionally hurting more than a few people in process, to figure out that Yes Joy, you are correct. But, in spite of that, I still love God and I will choose to love whoever I fall in love with… regardless of their gender. And I will love them the way God wants me to love them, treat them the way he expects me to, and cherish them for as long as I have breath. Because that's the kind of love God put in me, and it's the only way I know how to do it.

      Wrong or right, I can't just stop loving someone. Love can't be "overcome". If you're married or if you have a close family member, try to imagine the religion you grew up in, believed in, suddenly telling you, "You're not allowed to love that person anymore. Get on your knees, repent of this sin, and start praying and fasting until it's completely out of your system." Now of course, for someone in a heterosexual relationship, that probably won't ever happen, but imagine for just one moment if the tables were turned and it was your love life under fire. If you were being condemned for being in love with that special person that makes you feel complete and whole, and that you couldn't imagine living life without. How would you feel? I double dog dare you to put yourself in my and countless others positions.

      I understand fully what the Word of God says, but the fact still remains the same; I'm not going to deny the person I love, whether they be a man or a woman. And I'm not going to renounce God either. I'm still going to love him and worship him and praise him for the rest of my life. He's done too much for me not to. He's my God, my Father, and he placed a big Love in me, and I'm gonna share that love with whomever he places in my life.

  • http://www.myspace.com/whitenoisemetalpodcast Brian Shields

    >Just because “times change” and cultures change to accept certain social behaviors and laws, does >not mean that God changes His moral laws to accommodate us.

    So I suppose we should bring back slavery too… since that's explicitly allowed in "God's Law"

    Personally I'm glad that cultures have changed to allow the social behavior of banning slavery. Too bad your God is too much of a curmudgeon to agree.

  • Sikh Chick

    I think you hit the nail on the head with "we judge". Who are we to judge, to decide what is acceptable? Why can't you just live your life to your values and leave the others to their own values?

  • Melanie

    Perhaps what would really throw off a lot of the homophobia in the Christian world is the fact that there are gay couples who indeed can and do stay in their relationships even when sex is taken out of the equation. Often this happens due to health problems or any of the other variety of reasons that heterosexual couples sometimes experience the same thing. People would like to think that somehow gay relationships are only based on sex. If in fact sex is not the basis of the relationship, is the fact that sex still happens within that relationship really such an issue? Are these physical acts that are confined to the privacy of one’s bedroom really so damaging to the rest of civilization? And how can one be sure that these acts really do in fact happen, if one does not see them first hand? Either homophobic people are completely without reason and logic, or they are peeping toms…and are peeping in windows that do not belong to me.

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