Christians: When It Comes to Homosexuality, Man Up

The firmly established default Christian proclamation on the “question” of homosexuality is that being inclined toward it is no different than being inclined toward any other kind of sinful behavior.

“We’re all sinners,” runs the refrain. “We all struggle to overcome our sinful ways. Homosexuality is a sin. Just like all of us must strive to control our sinful behavior, so the homosexual must strive to overcome his or her sexual predilection. Even if a person is born gay or lesbian — even if homosexuality is genetic — a homosexual must still strive to overcome the ungodly behaviors toward which he or she is inclined, the same as we all must overcome our lower nature in order to realize our highest.”

That proposition is so logically flawed it should embarrass any Christian who hears it, much less says it. It completely ignores the crucial, absolute difference between homosexuality and the other sins people typically struggle against committing, which is that committing virtually every kind of sin except homosexuality objectively and tangibly hurts someone. If you lie, steal, cheat, rob, have an extramarital affair, be too greedy, be too selfish, waste your family’s money, and/or do any other kind of sin you can think of, someone, in no uncertain or abstract terms, gets hurt.

But you take the Bible out of the equation, and what grounds is there for determining that homosexuality is wrong? Whom does such love hurt? When two men are affectionately holding hands, who is getting hurt? When two women are snuggling together on their couch, who is getting hurt?

Virtually all other behaviors Christians typically consider sinful can be readily understood as objectively and clearly wrong without any reference to the Bible. But you take the Bible out of a Christian’s hands, and he has no arrow left to shoot at the gay man or lesbian. He’s without recourse, justification, argument. Without his Bible to quote from, he has virtually nothing upon which to base his claim that homosexuality is wrong.

A dim-witted child could see that homosexuality simply does not belong in the category of “sin.” It’s distinctly, absolutely, categorically different than sinning. It’s like placing a robot in a pen with a bunch of farm animals, and then claiming that what makes the robot a farm animal is that a book you believe in says that robots are farm animals. That’s cool for you. But it doesn’t change the objective, empirical fact that robots aren’t farm animals. You’ve made the mistake of claiming that a subjective truth of yours is equal to an objective truth of everyone else’s in the world. It’s not. A robot shouldn’t be classified as a farm animal, because it doesn’t meet the first, most important criterion of being a farm animal, which is being an animal. Similarly, homosexuality shouldn’t be classified as a sin, because it doesn’t meet the first, most important criterion of being a sin, which is manifestly causing harm.

I’m a Christian, and no two ways about it. But I can’t be a Christian so severely lacking in logical powers that I don’t notice the difference between homosexuality and the kinds of sin people pretty much do all the time. The latter hurts people; the former doesn’t. I can’t help that; and I’d certainly rather not shame myself by attempting to argue it.

Also, it’s high time Christians were honest about the fact that asserting that homosexuals should stop acting homosexual necessarily means asserting that they should spend their lives never knowing the loving intimacy with another that straight people enjoy and know to be the best and richest experience in life. Asking a homosexual to give up homosexual love isn’t at all like asking him to give up booze, or greed, or any other such negative thing. It’s asking him to give up love.

If I were gay, and I lived as most Christians would prescribe for me as ideal, I would live alone. I’d wake up every morning next to no one. I’d never hold hands with anyone. I’d never kiss or be kissed by anyone. I’d never cuddle up with anyone. I would not know the profound pleasure of every day growing older with anyone. For me, remaining as sinless as possible would mean never knowing love of the sort that all straight people, Christian or not, understand as pretty much the best thing life has to offer.

I hear a lot of Christians asserting that gays and lesbians should stop acting like gays and lesbians. But I never hear any of them saying the unavoidable follow-up to that — saying what that actually means — which is that gay and lesbian men and women should spend their lives never experiencing what people most commonly mean when they use the word “love.”

When, all along, the Bible repeatedly, emphatically, and explicitly tells us that God is love.

Something is seriously wrong somewhere in the mix between Christians and Christianity. (And it’s spelled Paul — whom I love, but about whom we really should be more clear. But that’s for another post.)

I want to be the very best Christian I can. And that means being as scrupulously honest as I can. And on the topic of homosexuality, that means admitting that being gay is not like any other sin, and that the Christian proscription of homosexuality is nothing less than a call for anyone who is gay to live their entire life never experiencing the physical expressions of love that all of we straight people happily accept as one of the very best things about being alive. Those two things are true, no matter how many logic-challenged pastors daring to call themselves compassionate Bible lovers claim they’re not.

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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://imaginezz.wordpress.com imaginezz

    I'm very glad to see a Christian with common sense regarding homosexuals. Very well-said. (okay, well-written, actually :)) Love is love and as long as it doesn't hurt anybody, you cold consider it a sin trying to prevent it.

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

      Thanks, Imag.

    • Michael

      As usual you are so wrong. Homosexuality is wrong. It is wrong against nature, and it is wrong in the Bible. It is wrong in both the old testament and new. Man and woman was created to be together. 98.5% of the homosexuals in this country chose to be that way. Only 1.5% have genetic or hormone problems. It is morally wrong. That does mean that homosexuals should be mistreated in this country. The problem is 90% of the homosexuals in this country could be changed by psychiatric treatment. They do not want to be changed. Putting them on T.V. will not make the public think their belief is right.

      • Timaree

        michael- your made-up stats completely ignore all the points made in this genuine, well-conceived column.

      • nagarjunary

        No, my friend, you are wrong. Very wrong.

        Why?

        I could try to convince you, through rational argument. But you have ceded rational thought by letting the literal word of the Bible be your answer to everything.

        Nevermind that the Bible has been written by man and reinterpreted over the millenia, edited and re-edited to suit different society's mores and values. That would not convince you, as you have made up your mind that your values are the values of the true Bible, the bible as you have grown up to believe (although that Bible is different from many other versions of the Bible over the centuries…. how can the Word of God be changed, if it's the one true word?)

        Perhaps this will convince you: you are wrong because there are more people who think differently than are those who think as you do. More people are tolerant than are intolerant. The younger generation has grown up with people of all races, creeds, lifestyles, sexual orientations, and has found that we are one people, and not the divisive rhetoric of your interpretation of the Bible.

        Your type cannot be convinced. Just know that the world is different now, and simply because some people have louder voices does not mean that we will return to a time of intolerance.

        And know this: for every pulpit from which you and your type preach hellfire to the sinner, there are more who preach peace and tolerance of those whose hearts and minds are like ours, willing to seek harmony and peace together, despite our apparent differences. Just because you say something is so, doesn't make it so. Your way of thinking is the thinking of the past, when the Bible was written. Those times are over; if these modern times are not to your liking, you can try to stay in the Middle Ages, or you can grow up.

        • Clara

          98.5% – just saying it doesn't make it so

      • Freeyourmind

        I guess you never heard of the Bonobo monkeys which are bisexual. Ignorance is bliss.

        • Sam

          Psstt…. Bonobos are apes, not monkeys! ;)

      • Reid Jackson

        Interesting Michael the Jewish Mitzvot don't mention homosexuality, nor do the 10 commandments. I went through a Straight Camp years ago and it did nothing for me except help me except that I was created in God's image and that I need to believe that G-d is my father. Would a father abandon his son or love him unconditionally? I chose unconditional love. As a G-d fearing Jew, I refuse to believe in some man made law or the poor interpretation by many that Sodom and Gamorrah was about homosexuality when it was really about the lack of hospitality by this group of people.

      • http://jeanakouri.wordpress.com jeanakouri

        How in the world do some of the people responding to this totally miss the point YET AGAIN!!! CHRISTIANITY AND ORGANIZED RELIGION IS WRONG FULL F$#$# STOP. And religious belief should stop being allowed to dehumanize to this extent already. UNBELIEVABLE.

        • Steve D

          I likewise believe that people, feeling completely justified by their beliefs, do horrible things to each other and to our shared reality that they exculpate themselves of by attributing them instead to God, or rather "the will of God," things that they would never do, never be able to justify or live with as simple human beings.

          People are often made callous, insensitive and inhumane by their religious beliefs. It is one of the uglier aspects of religion, made worse when religion focuses on becoming a social institution instead of remaining a primarily private and personal spirituality.

          • Tcoffin

            Though It will seem hypocritical of me to say so, you Steve D, are doing EXACTLY what Micheal is doing. You’re generalizing an entire group with stereotypical Liberal Dogma. You are no more in the right for saying “People are often made callous, insensitive and inhumane by their religious beliefs” because you have no way to prove that hypothesis, and because you can’t complain when someone says “Homosexuality is bad” and reply that “Being Religious is being Bigoted” and expect to have anyone care about your opinion more than Mike’s, you sound just as ignorant.

            As long as someone’s morality and value system doesn’t hurt anyone, and it stays within the realm of a PERSONAL beleif system, than by all means please say/do/feel/be as you wish, but don’t DARE attempt to teach my children you have THE answer and THE ONE TRUE WAY.

          • Steve D

            The fact that people are made callous, insensitive and inhumane by their religious beliefs is evident everywhere and throughout history. The "Holy Inquisition" and modern Muslim terrorists are just two quick examples.

            When people believe that their terrible deeds are justified by the will of God (or Allah, or any deity or in more general terms anyone outside themselves) then it absolves them in a way, in their own mind, from any personal responsibility for their own actions. This is reprehensible and in my mind, evil.

            Contrary to your assertion about me, I don't believe that I have "The Answer" or "The One True Way." In fact, I share your disdain for anyone who says they do. This is one of my biggest criticisms of Christianity, Islam and other religions and some (not all) of their adherents.

          • Lawrence

            People are made callous, insensitive and inhumane by the mob mentality. It's amazing what a charismatic individual or group in power can achieve by whipping the mob into a frenzy. The focal point could be, and has often been, religion. However, it could just as easily be, and has also often been, race, nationality, economics or any other commonality shared by a large group of people. Once the mob is formed, logic flies out the door and people forget to look at the true reason behind their actions. A group of people who no longer feel they are accountable for their actions is dangerous indeed.

          • Steve D

            Very good points and true. I didn't say that religion was the only cause of insensitive cruelty, but it is one of the major ones. Nor did I say that all Christians or other religious people are made callous and inhuman (in a way) by their religion, although many are.

            The real culprit is a rigid belief in something, or against something, often mixed with a way to divest oneself of personal culpability or responsibility. In your example, a "mob-consciousness" would substitute for any particular person's feeling of responsibility, but God or Allah or even the voices in one's head would serve as well. Any of them allow the person to act with callousness or cruelty and not feel personally accountable.

            Religion is often to blame, but it is not the only thing to blame.

          • Mindy

            Steve, I just read this post and some of the responses, including yours, because John linked back to it in comment today. Just wanted to say that your response here is spot-on.

            It is that absolution of personal responsibility that I absolutely despise, and it is the acceptance of such that I find so refreshing about John's willingness to share his thoughts in his blog.

            Thank you.

          • JayW

            Where is the line between personal and public, though? Because someone may hold a personal belief that homosexuality is wrong, which doesn't affect me much, but then that does affect me, a bisexual in a same-sex relationship, when that person steps into the voting booth and makes their personal belief a law against my relationship then it becomes public. I am not saying people don't deserve to hold personal beliefs, I am just saying that the line between personal and public is quite blurry.

      • Mother of three sons

        Okay lets think about what has just been read in this post. Love is love and God is love. IF we believe that God is our maker and our guide then we need to put this all into a better perspective and understand that genetics or hormones does not completely make a person. How God had made each of us as individuals cannot sometimes be described by us at our level of being only those whom God has made therefore there is no way we can judge or call SIN at any point. That is not our purpose and that is not how God has made things to be. He has in the stories of the Bible given us many things to consider and he has always been the original source of love period. There is not one of us not even the Pope who can call judgment on another no matter what we think we have read in the Bible or understand to be true within those pages. Judge not because we do not have that power and when we do we are violating God's will so stand back and think. Do you want to follow God's teachings or do you want to make up your own? Which one will most probably get you into Heaven? I think I am going to choose God and then I will see when I leave this live where I am at.

        • Gege

          Are you an total idiot?

          Don't you see that things which are written in the bible are lies? They changed the past to make a book that manipulates you. Take your time and lean about history – the TRUE history… and not what's written in that peace of shit called 'bible'.

          I like people who are religious. Don't mind. But I hate those fools who are controled by church and cannot realize they are just some stupid puppets, controled by the biggest sect.

          We are human, right? No animals! (besides that eevn animals are homo or bi).

          As humans we are able to love. LOVE: Just love, as your *** god wants us to have. We can LOVE the characters, the SOULS, the TRUE persons around us. Would we all just love the bodies of another person… what would we be? Some fools, right. Because this would just be sexual instinkts, but no love.

          If you say, you are agains bisexual or homosexual people, you are against love, dude.

          I won't follow god's teaching! Because I can follow love!

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Mother of three sons, I am confident that you are on your way to the Kingdom!!

          "I won’t follow god’s teaching! Because I can follow love!" @Gege

          As far as my understanding of reason goes (and in light of the definitions I've been given), that totally reduces to a null set, devoid of meaning, internally incoherent.

          Plus, starting off with "Are you an [sic] total idiot?" doesn't exactly attest to your capacity at following love, Gege. And you say basically nothing actually relating to Mother's point, unless you have completely misconstrued it.

          I won't address your irreverent misconceptions, but you yourself can clearly see deeper than the surface of things, in order to distinguish a soul from a body. How very right you are! You show yourself capable of great insight when you note that we love characters, persons, not bodies. So I hope you would understand how, in creating the Bible, nobody changed history (well at least not *their* history, although the Bible certainly has changed *our* history). You can't change the past. Of course, as seems rather clear in the text itself, the Bible wasn't written as a history book anyway.

      • mark

        Apparently our dear friend Mike doesn't know how to read an article for content.

        idiot.

        just really depressing, ut oh, mikey says homosexuality is wrong, better quit bein' a homo.

        frickin' idiot.

      • Tcoffin

        Wow Michael, you're ignorant.

        1. 97.8% of statistics are created on the spot and have absolutely NO bearing on reality. I'd say site your sources for that, but I know you don't have any.

        2. It's people like you that chase intelligent, compassionate, and emphatic people away screaming from any kind of right wing, conservative, fundamentalist, birther BS because your ignorance litterally OOZES out of your words.

        3. You and your ilk are fading fast, and I hope you completely understand by the time you pass on to your "heaven" that you're a dying breed, and that NO ONE will carry your tourch of bigotry on into future generations. You will die the last of your kind, and once your generation all passes I really do hope you understand that everything you thought was "wrong" with the world will in the future be respected, and even LAUDED.

      • Rachel

        Michael, if you want to throw stats around how about some real ones? The fact is that the more older brothers one has, the more likely they are to be gay – which makes homosexuality a natural evolutionary development towards population control.

        Oh, but then you’d have to accept evolution…

        • http://www.narth.org Narth.org

          Regarding the brother implication, that wouldn't suggest it was some biological development towards population control. Why not more miscarriages, infertility, anything else? Why would something as slow as evolution attempt population control anyway? Limited population really is NOT the aim of evolution..silly.

          "Identical twins have identical genes. If homosexuality was a biological condition produced inescapably by the genes (e.g. eye color), then if one identical twin was homosexual, in 100% of the cases his brother would be too. But we know that only about 38% of the time is the identical twin brother homosexual. Genes are responsible for an indirect influence, but on average, they do not force people into homosexuality… " Apr. 20, 2006 – Neil E. Whitehead, PhD

          "Bailey and Pillard found that the incidence of homosexuality in the adopted brothers of homosexuals (11%) was much higher than recent estimates for the rate of homosexuality in the population (1 to 5%). In fact, it was equal to the rate for non-twin biological brothers. This study clearly challenges a simple genetic hypothesis and strongly suggests that environment contributes significantly to sexual orientation… May 1994 – William M. Byne, MD, PhD

          The larger of the two registry studies is the Australian one, done by Bailey, Martin and others at the University of Queensland. Using the 14,000+ Australian twin collection, they found that if one twin was homosexual, 38% of the time his identical brother was too. For lesbianism the concordance was 30%. Whether 30% or 50% concordance (snowball samples), all the studies agree it is clearly not 100%.The critical factor is that if one identical twin is homosexual, only sometimes is the co-twin homosexual. There is no argument about this in the scientific community. N. E. Whitehead, Ph.D.

          • Steve D

            Whether homosexuality is genetic or not, or partially genetic, doesn't matter.

            Whether a person has red or blond hair, or prefers chocolate to vanilla ice cream, should in no way be considered as proscriptive of marriage or serving in the military, for example. Genetic or choice, it makes no difference regarding human rights.

          • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

            bingo. someone on here: why should we care if someone is gay or not?

      • scott

        Man and woman WERE created to be together. 98.5% of the homosexuals in this country chose to be that way.

        • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

          Scott,

          0% of the homosexuals I know chose to be that way. The closest your statement comes to truth is that when confronted with the option of changing to be something one doesn't recognize as one's self, one will generally chose to remain as one has been.

          During the late 1980s I participated both in counselling to overcome my homosexuality and in a group called Homosexuals Annonymous, which aimed to help gays become straight. Interestingly, I was one of the very few in the Homosexuals Annonymous meetings who had a number of straight (heterosexual) friends. I probably was the only person there who had NO close gay friends.

          While the therapy might have worked for others, it didn't work for me. My sexuality, to my distress at the time, remained as it had been before.

          I am one of those gay Christians who tries to live a celibate life. I have gay friends, I have no boyfriend or lover, and I have no desire for sexual relations with a woman (though I have several women-friends). I have a gay apartment-mate, but we aren't lovers, and we don't share rooms.

          I have a straight conservative Christian friend who in his pre-Christian days was governed by a perhaps uncontrollable lust for women. He likens his sexuality to mine, and thus his celibacy to mine (though my lust is not uncontrollable), and I see no good reason to disagree.

          Be Well,

          Bob G

          (still in the closet, so sticking to an initial)

          • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

            why are you doing this Bog G? Do you feel that this is a righteousness God is demanding of you?

            Here is an alternative Lutheran view for you to think about dear brother:

            http://www.newreformationpress.com/blog/nrp-freeb

          • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

            Why am I doing what?

            My righteousness is hid with God in Christ, through Christ's self-giving ultimately seen in his crucifixion.

            My celibacy is partially rooted in the desire to avoid creating controversy, to avoid bringing shame into any congregation with which I am involved. It is practically rooted in the fact that I haven't met someone whom I would want as a life partner [or spouse] (as opposed to a friend).

            As to why I was in counselling during the late 1980s, the answers are complex and personal. Contact me via my blog if you want answers to that.

            Thanks for the link.

            Be Well,

            Bob G

          • Diana

            "My celibacy is partially rooted in the desire to avoid creating controversy, to avoid bringing shame into any congregation with which I am involved."

            Hi Bob! Aren't there any congregations near where you live in which you would not feel that you were bringing shame into the congregation by being in a committed relationship rather than being celibate? I'm not saying to stop being celibate. That's your decision and it's clear that at least part of the reason you're celibate is because you've not found anyone to whom you wish to commit. I just think it's a shame that you feel that you would be bringing shame into your congregation by falling in love and finding someone with whom to partner. Is there a Metropolitan Community Church near you? I've never been to one, but my understanding is they're pretty accepting of gay people, even non-celibate, partnered, committed ones. Of course, there may be other issues as well to consider–so feel free to disregard me if I'm failing to understand you at all. I just thought I'd ask.

            Take care of yourself.

          • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

            Hi Diana,

            I was involved in an Evangelical LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender) congregation, but found I was too often in the closet as a Christian intellectual.

            The Presbyterian church where I currently worship would probably be split in their opinions, but more than that, they would be subjected to attacks from anti-gays.

            Shame is a communal/cultural affair. Our culture has viewed homosexuality as shameful, and many conservative Christians have viewed gay-friendly congregations as shameful. It is that attitude targetting my home congregation which I wish to avoid.

            The MCC is indeed very gay friendly, but often seems to me to present either a hyper-liberalized gospel or a Gerber/Pablum gospel. I want to be in a congregation where I can both serve and be served, and thus I wouldn't fit in the MCC.

            Thanks for your concern,

            Be Well,

            Bob G

          • Diana

            @ Bob G:

            Okay, I figured it was something like that, but I wanted to make sure. Thank you for your gracious response to my suggestions. I hope the Church Universal will soon change enough so that LGBT people will feel welcome and respected even in the most conservative Christian communities. In the meantime, my hat is off to you. Keep up the good fight!

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            You seem like a really lovely person who knows the choices that are best to create peace with Christ in your being. Those are sacred choices one makes alone, we all do, I wouldn't suggest doing anything else is right for you as a result.

            I write that meaning it, but also with a very deep and lingering sadness that you'll not know romantic love and intimacy in your life and that there are a lot of really wonderful (and conservative churches) that would consider you – all of you – a very beautiful, important part of their community. I certainly would. We are so much more than our sexuality, we really are.

        • Steve D

          scott writes: "98.5% of the homosexuals in this country chose to be that way."

          No one chooses to which person or which gender one is attracted. The attraction comes first, from somewhere in the psyche that is removed from conscious choice. This phenomenon alone, which is evident in everyone heterosexual or homosexual, refutes your "gay is a choice" argument.

        • http://thefakejohnshore.wordpress.com/ thefakejohnshore

          Finally some common sense in this thread!

          It's refreshing when someone uses Science as it was meant to be used – no credit, no source documentation and no reference point. Just throw out some numbers and call it data, then run for the anecdotal hills!

          Blessings,

          FJS

        • Ace

          Nobody with half a brain cell is going to actively choose to be something that pretty much entails an entire lifetime of either living a lie or living with persecution, discrimination and general maltreatment by others.

          That's like saying somebody with extra fingers "chose* to be born with extra fingers, or something else equally asinine. None of the gay people I know "chose" anything, they simply are what they are.

          I'm sorry, but made-up-on-the-spot statistics doesn't convince me of anything.

        • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

          ok scott. let me get this right…. you chose to be heterosexual. meaning that you are attracted to naked men in the shower is what you are confessing to us, but you chose not to act out on that?

      • Andrew

        Stay strong Michael.

      • Jill

        I could accept this position that the Bible literally says men having sex with men is wrong–the word "homosexuality" is nowhere in the bible if it is translated accurately–if the same people who vehemently condemn homosexuals were also equally condemning anal sex, oral sex, masturbation, and any other type of sex that prevents the seed of a man–seen in the worldview of the levitical purity code as the whole of the seed of life–from being implanted in the soil-like body of a woman for procreation. You see, this primitive understanding of human biology is at the root of all of those prohibitions. Regarding the levitical purity code they should also condemn wearing cloth of mixed fibers and divorce, especially remarriage after divorce. But I don't see any of these folks with sandwich placards at funerals declaring that "God hates masturbaters."

        I believe this is a case of people using the bible to reinforce and justify their own prejudices. We can judge them by their fruit. If we could just get these people to read the bible literally on the issue of usury, we would see where their true allegiance lies.

      • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

        Michael,

        I've done a thorough analysis on your comments and have unfortunate news for you. 99.989 percent of what's been offered is wrong. Your name "Michael" is accurate (as far as I know).

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=662363732 Jude-Laure Parisien

        So Michael, explain to me if homosexuality is against nature, how it is that there are gay penguins living in a zoo right now http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2009/06/gay-penguin-dads-in-german-zoo-hatch-chick.html
        –how is it that Secratariat, one of the most faces winners of the Kentucky Derby, refused to stud females and instead selected males as his companions. Science has documented many instances of animals presenting themselves to be homosexual. But then given your made up statistics, I’m sure you’ll just discount the science and say that global warming doesnt exist either.

    • Sonnys

      The communication about this topic is inherently flawed. First I have no fixation on homosexuality as there are many things that are equally as bad left unmolested (no pun intended) by the Christian community at large.

      The real issue on all sin is not whether you or I think it is right or wrong. The real issue is the union with Christ. all sin alienates man from his Master and for us to quibble over how we view different acts of rebellion against Him is immaterial.

      If all humanity says my acts of adultery, lies, pride or prejudice or any other act that causes me to live in a way that displeases Christ is ok it is irrelavent because "…though all agree that my sins are ok, the wicked will not be unpunished."

      It's not whether we or John or anyone else announces their view about any sin, the only thing that will hold up in the Great Court of Christ is what He has mandated. I agree that Christians spend too muchtime on one issue, while they harbor their own skeletons in their closets

      If you are without fault cast a stone … If you are a true brother to all, look on one another in love andencourage all to seek right standing with Christ.

      Well intended….

      • JustMe

        Well Put! Why do we even argue about this stuff – I can only make sure I am right with God. Shoot I couldnt even save myself let alone someone else – Thats God's job. I love how God says he doesnt judge us by the outside – he judges the heart. I take that as God knows all the pain we have been through, how things in our lifes have effected us. We as humans judge by the outside not knowing or even caring really about a persons heart (thanks goodness God isnt so shallow). When I see someone's "sin" – let it remind me of my own before I point a finger and may it humble me and remind me that I get better day by day by asking God to help me – So the next time I ask God for mercy and grace I will also ask it for my fellow "sinner" too. So that we may all understand the sacrifice made for us and that, that sacrifice may make me the person I ask God to be – a believer who trust, cleaves & holds on to God for dear life knowing He alone is my righteousness…..& may I do all things in love.

      • Matthew

        Sonnys

        You'll have to forgive me, but the "sureness" with which some in the Christian community claim to know the meaning of God is offensive, mostly because it claims a par with God.

        The esoteric nature of the text of the Bible aside, the book itself is thousands of years old, making it esoteric simply on account of age.

        God must be able to withstand the advances of Human understanding, or the whole thing is a fiction. What John writes towards is this concept: that the greatness of God cannot be paper-thin concepts that buckle upon the weight of overwhelming natural evidence. In a way, you limit God, and an understanding of God, by limiting God to the understandings of civilizations long since eclipsed in education, understanding, and advancement.

        Who is to say that as we grow in our communion with the world, we don't also grow in communion with our creator in ways unknown to our forefathers? You must logically engage the texts to see where wisdom is being abandoned needlessly and where imperfect ideas are being pruned rightly in light of new understandings.

        We can listen to mental health professionals on every topic about the non-diabolical origin of mental illnesses (i.e. they aren't witches, don't burn them), but when they remove the "pathological" label from what was once thought a disorder, and say "We've actually come to understand we were wrong about this," we're as selective as we are with passages of the Bible.

        Part of being an Adult in your religious experience is taking not simply philosophical direction from your sacred texts, but grappling with the areas of your history that are not well founded, not well conceived, and frankly, not very Godly in their logic. Man should not be able to "out logic" God; if that's the case, it probably wasn't of Divine origin to begin with.

        So is the case with Gay and Lesbian people. They're not more disordered than the left handed or the red haired. God does not wilt in light of new information; on the contrary, God only becomes greater in the maturation of Humanity. In doing so, we only glorify God's handiwork.

        You can think that I'm "conveniently rationalizing" to support "homosexuals," and if that's all you've come away with after reading this, you didn't read it at all for content. That, in itself, is pride, ego, arrogance, and a touch of blasphemy in assuming the will of God.

        Matthew

    • frank sonnek

      Indeed. loaf-of-bread-to-starving-man is a good regardless of who does it or for whatever motivation. Some christians try to make the difference between christian vs non christian in our outward acts.

      The real difference is alone in faith in christ.

      Our Old Adam flesh can and does do ALL the good things a pagan can do. And these are the same identical things a Christian can and should do. Loaf of bread is the same whoever does it.

      The difference is in the heart of the doer not in the done. Alone.

  • Christine

    I have one disagreement with this post:

    "Similarly, homosexuality shouldn’t be classified as a sin, because it doesn’t meet the first, most important criterion of being a sin, which is manifestly causing harm"

    I would like to rephrase this to say that the first, most important criterion of sin is that it is against God not that is causes harm. I fail everyday to understand God but I do understand that if He says "no" it means just that, harm causing or not.

    this is a sticky issue but I agree that Christians need more of an understanding of God to argue anything but I don't believe that just because you can't argue an issue without referring to the Bible does not mean we have a flawed argument. Without the Bible we couldn't argue…I dunno…Christ? Does this mean that we are wrong on His divinity too then? Or the salvation from sin?

    I hear often the argument that I should look at the homosexuality debate without the Bible but then that would be asking me to look at a situation without the knowledge, relationship and understanding I have of God which would be…..dangerous? unlike me? unchristian? And why should we take the Bible out of the mix just because it goes against what we think is right or not? Isn't that the point of the bible, to point out the way God thinks, not the way we think?

    Do I think it is hugely unfair that a gay Christian will never experience love? YES!! Do I think God is unfair? NO!! Do I think the Bible lies? NO!! So therefore I have to settle on the "His ways are not ours, His thought are not of our understanding" (there goes that damned Bible again) and when in doubt fall back on what God has said as the truth not what may or may not agree with me.

    But granted most Christians suck at debating well, but then those of us that do sometimes have to say things people (even ourselves) don't like particularly. The joy and annoyance of the Bible is that it continues to challenge and to ask us to change to be in accordance with God….not with our feelings

    • Robert

      As far as I know, Jesus Christ never said one single word about homosexuality… there is not one quote… homosexuality is only mentioned in the old test… and by paul… that's it… my problem with most "christians" is that (1) they don't know how their bible was formed (2) they barely know their bible at all (3) they are too ready to condemn homo and do absolutely nothing about the greed and corruption of wall street, bankers and big business – the BP and the recent oil spill… and (4) they are "Paul-ians" not "Christians"… I am gay and have worked with the poor most of my adult life… I don't crave every new fade and fashion, I don't have a tv nor want what most people want… I am a good, simple and decent person and I live a most "christ-like" life than most christians… the only thing I want is to love the person I love… and that's it…. and in truth… I believe that when a "christian" condemns me… and thinks of me less than human… they are really condemning themselves… and acting like brats.

      btw thanks for you insightful posting…. I am not a follow of Jesus… but I believe in love, life and the progress of the human spirit… your post was welcoming… and sane.

    • nagarjunary

      As a non-Christian, I thank you for your candor in regards to the legitimacy of the Bible as first cause in the logic of your argumentation.

      The question for a society, with both secular and religious elements, is to define those aspects of religious and traditional doctrines and practices that generalize to a larger audience, and why that should be the case.

      Thus, the basis for an ethical and moral foundation for a society is partly built upon the religious and traditional norms of its constituents, but this is balanced, and often superseded by the pragmatic necessities of living in interdependence, especially in this globally-connected world.

      Thus, we make compromises in our value systems, just so that we don't kill each other off simply because we disagree with other people. It's called tolerance.

      The reason we push against Christianity's supposed dictate against homosexuality isn't because, as you say, we know more than God (although what you know of God is written down, and interpreted, by man), but rather that you cannot have everything you want without necessitating the extermination of others, if you follow your belief system blindly. That is to say, it advocates intolerance… the very thing that a complex and globally interconnected species can do without.

      You cannot have your way without infringing on the wellbeing of others. Either you must have some tolerance for those with beliefs and actions different to yours, or you must insist on conflict to resolve this.

      A true Christian would choose the former.

    • Steve D

      God never said "no" to homosexuality. Some people just _believe_ He did. The rules, regulations and behavioral proscriptions of the ancient Levites and Paul's anxious chiding aside, God never said anything about homosexuality. Just because something is in the Bible doesn't mean that God said it.

    • Tcoffin

      If you honestly think the Bible "Points out how God Thinks" than I have a bridge I would just LOVE to sell you.

      Read some history, be knowledgeable about the things you defend!

      Learn that your King James Bible is basically a mash up of Hundreds of different people's opinions on what should become what is basically a huge anthology of Christ's followers. VERY LITTLE is even "directly taken" from Jesus himself. Most are the musings and folk tales of his disciples, not to mention that there are whole BOOKS missing (notice you don't read about Thomas, or Mary, or James)

      You have holidays (Holy-days) based on when the Romans decided would be the most useful and most easily adapted times of the year because they wanted to set the new Christian holy days on days that coincided with the Pagan holidays of Yore (The Equinoxes, Beltane, etc.)

      Read up on these:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus#Constanhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Invictus#Sol%20Ihttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Council_of_Con

      • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

        While the choice of December 25th may have had some socio-political aspects in the Roman empire, it had no such importance to the church in Persia.

        There is no Christian holiday corresponding with Beltane. Easter is too early, and the date of Pentacost is governed by the lunar calendar, so it can only occasionally coincide with Beltane.

        (I'm a member of a Celtic group which celebrates Beltane, Lughnasa, Samhain, and Imbolc)

        None of the Christian holy days are on the equinoxes or on the summer solstice, and December 25th follows the winter solstice.

        Easter, by the way, should be thought of more properly as Pascha, since that has been the generic name outside Anglo-Germanic cultures.

        The various gospels of Thomas, Philip, James, etc., which were cherished by various (usually Gnostic) Christian sects, were not cherished by all of them, and so lacked the general popularity of the four gospels. By the late 2nd century, Tatian, an Assyrian, had made a compilation of the four gospels, which is/was called the Diatesseron (Through Four). This was well before Christianity had any political power.

        The study of manuscript evidence for the text of the New Testament can be fascinating (chiefly though for those who are extremely detail oriented), even if only taken as the study of an aspect of a complex anthropological/cultural phenomenon.

        Be Well,

        Bob G

    • frank sonnek

      "I would like to rephrase this to say that the first, most important criterion of sin is that it is against God not that is causes harm. I fail everyday to understand God but I do understand that if He says “no” it means just that, harm causing or not. "

      Dear sister. Please consider that you are not merely "rephrasing" here, but you are rather arguing the exact opposite proposition.

      John is saying, and I (and Lutherans) agree that what defines a good work that pleases God here on earth is completely and only it´s effect upon others: does it make the life of others better without causing harm to them or others. Period.

      Any idea that turns visible works vertically and makes them about pleasing God says clearly that what makes one a christian as opposed to "christian" is not just faith in Jesus but rather faith + making our actions conform to God´s rules. faith + works.

      It is not only Roman Catholics who believe this. ;)

  • internet elias

    To be Christian is to deliberately insert the Word into the equation. All sin comes from our carnal nature…and it is the enemy of God. The Bible is loaded from Genesis through Revelations with clear instruction concerning sin and righteousness and where both are rooted. I don't mean to offend you. I'm not judging you. I'm not the judge. But there is one who judges us all.

    We are very near the end of the age of Grace. God is preparing the world for His Second Coming. We all need to be SURE we have made the right choices. When He appears in the clouds…the time for choice has ended.

    We ALL find some justification for the wrong things we do. Our churches are full of adulters, theives, liars, gluttons, self-rightous hypocrites…and so forth. And all of it does hurt. And it hurts many…for a long, long time. You say your love for one of the same sex doesn't hurt anyone. Oh…my. It hurts me…terribly. I'm not being hateful…not in the least. I'm sharing with you how deeply my heart HURTS when I see it, hear it, or consider it. Why? Because I KNOW the cost of such partnering.

    The human species is proficient with most everything. But the thing we are most proficient at is adaptation. We adjust and adapt to anything that comes our way. In the very beginning…when you began to consider that you might be gay…I believe you knew 'in your heart' that it was not natural. But time and practice erases those thoughts and reservations. I taught severely disabled students. We used a teaching method called satiation. When there was a thing the child resisted….we presented him with the thing until it became familiar and his resistance faded. Same with wrong behaviors we practice. But, I've said way too much. I honestly do not intent to offend. It's not my place to judge nor offend. But I do care so very much about what the homosexual relationship is costing you. And, at this point is seems to be costing you the one thing we all need to get us through it all…direct fellowship with the person of Christ…starting in the Word. He meets us there and when we take one step towards Him…He takes ten towards us.

    My prayer to God for you is 'thy will be done.'

    Carolyn / internetelias.wordpress.com

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

      I'm not gay.

      • http://www.aelc.edu.au/the-naked-ape-blog/index.html Nathan

        Dude, you sure? I've seen your art collection…

      • Tcoffin

        That's gay

        Just kiddin!

        I really enjoyed your Article BTW John!

    • Robert

      carolyn…

      the problem with your argument is… "not being natural"… what I am about to write maybe to complex… I find that most people… not just christians… have a problem with complexity… I will try to make it as simple as possible…

      1. there is a different between not being in the "norm" and not being "natural".

      2. homosexuality is not in the "norm" but it is a "naturally" occurring event, similar to comet.

      3. Comet don't "normally" fill the night sky, but they are "natural" events.

      4. Homosexuality is found in every single human population… therefor Natural

      5. Homosexuality is found in hundreds of other animal populations (chimps, apes, geese, swans, etc)… therefor Natural

      6. And it is not a disability… like IQs over a 130 are not disabilities… Like musical, artistic, mathematical gifts is not a disability.

      7. Most gay people have a problem not with ourselves… but with your hatred… your hatred of me effects me… hetro hatred is found in our homes, on our tvs, in our movies, in our schools… hetro hatred of homos is everywhere… hetro hatred is encourage by parents… it is in your jokes about us… in your rap music… in your late night comedy shows… that is what make us believe we are not ok…. your hatred… the cultures hatred and fear of homos…

      8. Once we get over your hatred and narrow mindedness… and realize what you use to support your hate is a book that was written 3000-1000 yrs ago by a tribe of wandering nomads to keep their tribe distinct from other tribes in the area… so they condemn homos, tattoo and groves of trees…and we realize that you christians are really just scared silly little children that are actually afraid of us… are afraid that the world may end if people actually are able to be something other than what it says in the bible… then we have only pity for you… pity for the small, fearful little lives that you live… pathetic…

      9. And then we realize… you don't even bother to follow your own teaching… you lives filled with lots of credit card debt (greed), secrete internet porn addiction (lust), thinking how much better you are than other (pride), huge wight gain (have you seen people in the south and mid west… they are huge or filled with sloth)… how much you envy the rich and famous (envy)…. and we realize most of you are complete hypocrites… fat lazy slob not wanting to DO anything to improve yourselves… not out their changing the world for good… no most of you talk the talk… but are too lazy to walk the walk… and it dawns on us… who are you to judge us… seriously… most christians are kind of pathetic…

      10. So in the end… you actions define and judge you… and I believe that if there is a god in heaven.. and a god that made the beauty, the complexity, the diversity, the brilliance of this world… then he/she will judge you… for being so closed minded and shallow… and might find me… kind of interesting… lets face it… if god had a dinner party… I would be much more lively and fun and likely better read…

      lastly… homophobia is very often linked to deeming women…

      • Reilly

        Can't agree more, Robert! This makes total sense, you took my thoughts right out of my head :)

        "They" can't argue with this!

      • Oli

        I have to say points 1-6 are so insightful and inspiring. Unfortunately I can not agree with your other points. I am a gay man and I FIRMLY believe in my “primitive” feeling that I AM meant to be. I hold on to my belief that I live my life truthfully, on the same token if I demand for equality, then I can not judge others for holding on to their primal believes. I can only hope to teach and show them the reality about homosexuality. Remember no lesson worth learning is ever taught through insult.

        A book hasn’t taught me how to feel, live, or think and I suspect it hasn’t taught the “other crowd” how to feel, live or think either. It is my experiences and life that has formed my way of thinking. Some of the hate filled comments posted fill me with anger and disappointment. I mean they insult me for something that comes to me as naturally as breathing. If we were submerged under water, we’d all like to control our breathing, but few, straight or gay are able to do so.

        Like a poster commented earlier, sometimes the loudest voice isn’t always the most truthful one. We can not deny that our community tries so hard to fight back and show how little we care about the homophobic beliefs that we parade down city blocks half naked or dressed in fairy costumes. For the life of me, I don’t understand what positive outcome this can achieve, or what we expect to teach the new generation with this behavior. It’s the voices of us on this website seeking meaning and truth through our faith or even an intellectual alternative to the bible vs homosexuality debate that can teach homophobes that there is no fixing a homosexual, because there is simply nothing wrong with us.

        I am a 24 year old man (not sista, girl, or any other derogatory term we call our selves) who has been in a committed relationship with another committed man for most of his adult life. I am an artist, humanitarian, hard worker, bleeding and believing human being just like Carolyn and Michael (even if they are incapable of admitting it). I believe what makes the concept of Jesus/Christ so beautiful and relative especially to the gay community is that he was a person who lived his life for he knew he was regardless of the doubters around him or the hardships that followed him. This is the true lesson we all equally need to learn.

        • Diana

          "Sista" and "girl" are derogatory terms? Gee, thanks. Insult half the population, why don't you?

          I know–you didn't intend it that way. It's just sad that implying that a man is effeminate is still considered one of the best ways to insult him.

          Sexism–alive and well and living–pretty much everywhere!

          • Oli

            It was not my intention to insult anyone based on masculinity or lack of there of. Perhaps I could've used better wording.

          • Diana

            I may have been a little quick to jump on you about that. I know you weren't intending to insult anyone. Thanks for your response.

      • Jimbo

        Robert…

        By your analogy, because murder happens in every human society, that makes it natural. Same for abortion. Never mind these things hurt others, if things happen in every society then it is natural and therefore OK according to you.

        The Bible tells us in Lev 20:13 that it is an abomination for a man to have sex with another man. God also indicates He doesn't change (Mal 3:6). If it was wrong once, then it is always wrong.

        I agree with another statement I read which indicates people judge others. Love the sinner hate the sin. One thing is for certain, when you die, you will be judged by the one and only impartial judge. The item used to judge all will be His Word, not your preacher, your mother, your grandpa, or the Pope.

        Another thing for certain is we are all people of faith. You have faith in God and Jesus and what Jesus did for us at the cross, or you have faith in some other deity or no god at all. Jesus told us the person tries to get to God through any other means than Jesus, he is a thief and a robber. (John 10:1)

        Your reference to "groves of trees" is actually an idol to the Phoenician moon goddess and is associated with Baal. This flies in direct opposition to "Thou shalt have no other gods before me"

        You're right about how wrong it is to be a hypocrite. But I will promise you this, that one day very soon, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

        Don't take my word for it. Ask Him with a sincere heart to show you the truth, to come into your heart and be the Lord of your life. He will.

        Remember whomever or what ever you were following prior to having Jesus in your life, will always take you back, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

        • monte

          You make a good point – murder does happen in every society. I think it is a ntaural human response to anger, fighting, etc. No one takes that extra step though and says that it's OK because its natural. Anyone with a brain realizes its wrong because of the harm it causes.

          I agree that God's word is forever and ever. For your sake I hope you are not eating shrimp, crabs or bacon (Leviticus Chapter 11). I also hope that your church does not allow handicapped people into it (Chapter 21). Whenever I have a sore on my skin I am careful to break all of the pots in my house and then I offer pigeon sacrifices (chapter 15) . I hope you are careful about that too.

          • Diana

            Thanks, Monte!

        • Jack

          Leviticus also states that I may sell my daughter into slavery, She's about 9 years old. Do you know how much I could probably get for her in todays market?

          Since the word of god does not change and is absolute, this must still hold up in todays society. I trust you'll provide me with the best rate I can get for her.

          Thanks for your help ;)

          • Steve D

            I'll take your daughter for $10.00! God says it's OK.

            So–OK?

            Do you know any other young girls I can buy, in a strictly legitimate Biblical arrangement? :-)

      • JustMe

        I am a christian and I don't hate you.

    • soulmentor

      ********Because I KNOW the cost of such partnering. *********

      Please list the costs of such partnering. Since your so certain of them, you know. Religious rhetoric is not acceptable. I want REAL human costs.

      • Sid Galloway

        Homosexual Harm? If any of you would like to see the research that demonstrates the medical, biological, and psychosocial harm that results from homosexual activity, then please read Dr. Jeffery Satinover's book, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth. Available on Amazon. Dr. Satinover is an internationally recognized scientist, an MD psychiatrist, who also in retirement just for the joy of learning went back to earn another doctoral degree – this one in Physics from the University of Nice, France. As for what the Bible says and means, Dr. Al Mohler's writings on the exegesis of passages relating to homosexuality are helpful. His writings on this and other subjects can be search through Google.

        • Timaree

          most of Santinover's arguments are specious reasoning, at best. he considers the existence of AIDS as proof homosexuality is bad. the same reasoning would conclude that driving is bad because sometimes, unfortunately, people have died from it.

          he sees the high rates of drug use among gay men as proof homosexuality is wrong, rather than evidence that marginalized groups turn to substance use in order to deal with the effects of being stigmatized in culture, excluded by their families and discriminated against legally.

          he's the kind of "scientist" who holds an opinion and looks for "evidence" to back up his own bias.

          • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

            Well, actually, I kind of agree about the driving thing …

            I think that we’d be better off in a more-agrarian, less-technologically-dependent way of life.

            But then I’m a hypocrite, since I’m obviously using a computer.

            I first read Santinover looking to have my prejudices reinforced. Even from that perspective, his argument was clearly weak. I walked away from hearing him convinced that I had to rethink my position.

          • Sam

            HIV/AIDS has higher numbers among heterosexual people at this point and has at least since the mid to late 90′s, and in Asia/Africa, has ALWAYS had higher numbers among heterosexuals.

            I find it hilarious that there are still some people who see AIDS as a “gay-only disease” when all evidence is to the contrary. In fact at this point I think the most highly affected population in the United States is among heterosexual African Americans (probably related to being disadvantaged in terms of education and quality of health care). AIDS may have entered the USA in the homosexual population but it sure as sugar didn’t stay there long.

            And I also love how any treatment of the gay population seems to totally ignore gay women, who actually have lower rates of HIV infection than the general population.

            But apparently lesbians don’t really exist (at least outside of porn designed to titillate heterosexual men), or something. (that was sarcasm BTW)

        • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

          satinovers son is gay. they are of course very very estranged from one another. tell me what good that is? where is the love? why did satinover chose to react to the news of his son being gay the way he did?

          things to ponder…

    • Rex

      Wow. Just reading the replies I begin to understand the message of the post.

      Most Christians are nuttier than a fruitcake. This notion "because the bible tells me so" overlooks the painfully obvious: the bible tells you so on so many topics, quite a few which are conveniently overlooked or just plain ignored out of embarrassment of their sheer stupidity.

      Think about it.

      When was the last time you sent your wife out to sleep in a tent when she was having her period?

      • Tcoffin

        Not JUST that either my friend

        Think on this statement for a minute; "Though shalt NOT worship me in a place of wood or stone, thou shalt find me in pasture and upon plain, in forest and upon mountain, in field and on water, for God needs not structure nor stone buildings to be loved and worshipped"

        The Bible SPECIFICALLY states that you should not create these monstrosities of indulgence that are Catherdrels and Basillicas, yet Christianity has become a BUSINESS. Your righteousness has been superceded by greed and now you SELL morality and forgiveness. You advertise and you have PR firms. You allow the rich to buy their ways into heaven and expect the poor to tithe money they don't have, but feel obligated to give regardless. You have these Churches that sit empty for 4 out of 7 days a week, and are easily big enough to sleep hundreds of homeless easily, yet I've NEVER seen a church open it's doors to the cold and indigent.

        The God I love would never expect me to give money I don't have and starve, while some pastor gets a new $10,000 PA system because he can't speak loudly enough. My God doesn't want me to worship in a Multi-million dollar church, while the poor and hungry sit outside cold and miserable. My God knows my thoughts and feels my love without having to look through stained glass, and drink from Golden Cups, and see a Minister in pure Silk robes.

        • Sam

          My church participates in http://www.roomintheinn.org/ here, FWIW. There are many churches that DO provide help for people in need. Not all churches worship the Almighty Dollar though plenty do, sadly.

          Though I agree, it upsets me to see churches spending thousands of dollars on new grand pianos and garbage like that when they have a perfectly good piano already, etc.

      • Mike

        "Most" Christians….that's funny.

        Hey, Rex, how many Christians in the world? Do you personally know all of them? How many posted replies to this thread?

        John makes excellent points; but he's over-simplifying things. And both he and many folks replying to this thread are doing the same thing that Christians get accused of – taking the Bible literally.

        John, you made this point in another article…the Bible is complex. Stop taking single phrases and reading too much into them. Learn the whole message, then see what you think of it.

    • BOB

      I have a great old friend who told me about a year ago he was gay. I had the same message for him, who also grew up Catholic like me. I am not your judge and still love you like a brother, but if you believe in the God of our bible you are sinning, like ALL OF US, no matter what another Christian may say. We ALL fall short of God's perfection everyday, sometimes knowingly, but continuing to live a sinful, daily life means you are NOT seeking God's forgiveness and not giving Him a chance to work in your life, your not trusting Him to raise up the true heterosexual mate that He may have created for you. I told him I would like to run around with other woman, do drugs and rob gas stations, but I KNOW IT IS A SINFUL LIFE just like homosexuality. That being said I will never stop being his friend unless he says so, I pray for him and try to be an example. Very simply you either believe you are going to face God's judgement or not. If you don't think so, live it up.

      • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

        There is no doubt in my mind that those who are both the most judgmental and who speak about being gay as a "choice" are actually repressed gays who are envious of those who have followed their true nature. They are bitter and resentful of the choices they have made to live in a dry, loveless marriage that they have accepted because they believed it to be God's will.

      • Reilly

        I think the problem with most Christians today lies in their very concept or idea of God. If God is truly All Love, and Love being everything we know it to be, then how can the word "judgment" come into the same sentence? It's inherently paradoxical. If God is truly All-That-Is, He/She who create all the universes and everything in existence, then how is it possible that such ineffable, unimaginable vastness and infinity could possibly be affected or "angered" by the actions of a tiny little carbon unit called the human? It's absolute arrogance on the part of humanity.

        And Bob, you equate homosexuality with drugs, promiscuity and robbery in the same sentence, that's where you betray your ignorance. It's like saying being Chinese is equivalent to being a sex offender or a alcoholic. You're equating something that's genetic and inherent to behavioural tendencies. They are NOT the same.

        And the Bible is a bunch of books and letters that were put together by a bunch of men living in a specific moment in history. It's not the direct command of God. God speaks to you in a million ways. To limit God's expression to a book goes against His/Her infinite nature.

      • RMA

        “That being said I will never stop being his friend”

        Actually, based on what you said, it seems you never were his friend in the first place. Your comments are EXACTLY what this blog was written to combat.

      • liberaltarian

        Wow. Just Wow.

        BOB said: "I told him I would like to run around with other woman, do drugs and rob gas stations, but I KNOW IT IS A SINFUL LIFE just like homosexuality."

        I am astounded that a christian would equate homosexuality with infidelity, substance abuse and armed robbery. I am a no longer practicing ex-christian… and hateful diatribes such as this, wrapped in the cloak of false compassion is exactly why I do not practice organized religion anymore.

        Seriously. Wow. Rob a gas station huh? [scratches head]

      • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

        BOB,

        I am gay, but am not sexually active save in my fantasies. Being gay does not necessitate being sexually active any more than being straight means being sexually active.

        Be Well,

        Bob G

      • daniel

        can i get real here? if its one thing jesus did when he was alive was watch his tongue, he knew the value of keeping your foot out of your mouth. he was slow to speak quick to hear. in many words there lies evil, so i’ll make this short. plain and simple, god the father, jesus, god manifested in the flesh and the holy spirit, the light within us, they love us sooooo much! and im gonna be real gooey about it, lalalalaloves us all! the answer to everything, is love. when in doubt love, when unsure, love. and when despised, judged, ridiculed, outcasted, controlled, put to death, love. god said it, jesus did it the holy spirit guides comorts and convicts us to do it. resarching human behavior, animals, social history, the epistles, the old testament, your own psyche, all those things are subject to change or subject to diverse interpretation. jesus said i you love god and your neighbor you’ve fulfilled the entire law. love people, i know its hard when we’ve been taught different but as christians, yes christians, it is up to us to lay down our lives, and all that comes with it, and unconditionally love. and if you find it hard, go back to the gospels for some loving inspiration, ok i’ve said too much, but one last thing, i love you all, muah!

    • Matthew

      So only Gay people can defend those who are gay? Wow, that's some kind of twisted logic you've got going on in your head. Good luck, African Americans. You're under 10% of the population, with her logic, you might as well pack it in… :-/

      Matthew

  • Karen

    Hey John, it seems that you have presented just half of what you're thinking here. I look forward to reading the other half. There is no sin without God and the Bible. Sin is first and foremost against God. I agree that telling homosexuals to give up relationships is telling them to give up a certain type of human love, but that doesn't have to mean they give up all love. God gives amazing blessings to those who believe and obey.

    • Robert

      hey karen…

      when you decide to give up that “certain kind of love’ is when I will give it up… what “certain kind of love” are you talking about… the kind you have been hoping for for you entire life… the kind that makes you giggle and blush… the kind that adds wonder and life and specialness to your life… so when you decide that you are going to be good and christian and are willing to be a saint… I will too…

      or maybe you have never had that special kind of love… maybe you are lonely and scared and the only special kind of love you have ever had is alone at night counting the amazing blessing of someone who obeys… kind of sad… or holy… I get confused…

      so there is no wedding dress for you… no prince charming has come into your life….

      and if he has… are you willing to give it up for god…

      is that a choice you have to make… ????

      are you willing to divorce your husband….

      never have a boyfriend….

      for god…

      if you are… let me know…

      and then I just believe…

      and you might have saved a soul….

      yahoo.

      • Tcoffin

        Wow man, that literally moved me, and I haven't felt "moved" in a LONG frickin time!

        Extremely well said, emphatic, heart-felt, and beautiful man, WOW

        The one thing too, is when you all get to the bottom of all this, you Christians expect Homosexual people to give up love on the GAMBLE of ever-lasting life in Heaven and I truly beleive they expect everyone else to because THEY gave something they would love to do up, for God, because it was deemed Sinful, so they feel, "If I had to give up X, to be godly, then SO DO YOU" and that is WEAK my friends!

        The way I see it, Logically I should beleive in God and live righteously, because if Christianity has it right and I do, I get into Heaven which is sweet, but if they are wrong well, you just die and don't know any better anyway right? Yet if I live as I want to, and I am wrong, I run the risk of spending Eternity DAMNED, or at BEST being just dead.

        I'd rather run the risk of Hell, and enjoy life, then spend an eternity in a place where I'm surrounded by people who I couldn't stand to be near in life ANYWAY.

        • JustMe

          Its funny how its christians HATING gays – After some of these comments I think its the other way around.

          • Steve D

            Don't expect even tolerant people to be tolerant of intolerance including Christian intolerance. The two concepts are antithetical and there is no good reason to be tolerant of intolerance itself.

    • William

      Karen,

      The interesting thing is, I’ve learned from Jews that many of them firmly believe this certain kind of human love, that between two people, is one of the greatest gifts God gave to mankind. One that he wishes for all of his children to experience and share within their earthly lifetimes.

  • Greta Sheppard

    John, your points are good…but something sticks in my craw, in that God created a man and a woman to procreate the earth…how can two men or two women do that without the help of the opposite sex? Will you suggest 'scientific advancement' as in test-tube babies, surrogate mothers? Still unnatural, isn't it? Didn't God say He would not be mocked? I sometimes hate my puny reasonings…but methinks there is more to this issue than meets the eye. I have a lesbian granddaughter and I love and accept her partner..but please, don't call it marriage…why not a 'deep and caring friendship'?

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

      I don't think we need to worry that the world will run out of straight people to continue populating it.

    • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

      By that "argument," then we should also ban sexual relationships when one partner is infertile? Or how about too old?

      What about people who just don't want to have kids and take steps to prevent it?

      The procreation argument is really, really tired …

    • soulmentor

      How do you define unnatural. If you're gonna use the word, define it. It's very much like "normal". Define it or don't use it. Really. I want to know how you define unnatural. Until you do, you have no cred to use the word.

      • http://www.liveyourreallife.com Marilyn in Houston

        So- since you're grasping at straws, here's the definition of unnatural and of an Unnatural Act from the Apple dictionary. Notice That Unnatural Act refers to "once common" legal language for certain sexual acts. I dare to imagine there are a lot of "Christian" heterosexuals who have indulged in some of these, and that a huge number of homosexuals (me included) have not indulged in most if them. You draw your own conclusions about the definitions. From my point of view, it doesn't seem to have any relevance to this topic. Homosexuality is a natural occurance in nature and has always been. Hetersexuals have been the main perveyors of unnatural and brutal, sexual and non-sexual acts against humanity for all history. Many in the name of Christianity or some other religious sect.

        Unnatural Act: Unnatural act is the term, once common in legal parlance, for certain sex acts, including anal sex, oral sex, other non-procreative sexual practices, incest, or procreative sexual acts in the wrong position or without procreative intent. Unnatural acts in this sense are related to the concept of sodomy but also includes "crimes against nature" like bestiality and necrophilia.

        unnatural: The usage of the term "unnatural" in this context doesn't carry the same meaning as "the opposite of natural", and says nothing about whether an act actually is or is not a product of nature (though that may be what's implied in a pejorative sense).

        • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

          What I think is absurd is what you occasionally see – a believer railing against something that they claim is "against the laws of nature". This would be like a stone falling up, which truly is against the law of gravity. Homosexuality happens, not only in humans but in the animal world. Therefore it is not against natural law.

    • Robert

      hey greta…

      ever heard of “OVER POPULATION” we don’t really need every hetro coupling leading to more children…. the planet is getting full.

      as to your second point

      One day, a few years ago. I was talking with my mother and my two sisters. My sisters were competing, like they always do. This time it was the “whose marriages we better” or something. One sister was saying hers was 5 years and the other said hers was 3 but they had lived together for 4 years. Then I mentioned our brother had been with his partner for 9 years. And they all agreed his didn’t count because it was gay…

      It didn’t matter that he had gone through the same emotional problems that they went through, buying a house, support each other through sickness and job loss, struggling to make ends meet, having huge holiday parties, thinking about adopting, being turned down for being gay (this was yrs ago)…

      None of their joys, sorrows, hurts and happiness were considered the same…

      why

      bigotry… lack of imagination… stupidity… laziness…. ???????

      gay and lesbian couples are human couples… we feel all the same feeling as hetro couple… we are not from outer space… we are human….

      and as humans we deserve to be treated as equals…

      oh and by the way… both were my sisters’ second marriages… neither one was planning on having children… I know lots of straight couples who do not have children (or want to procreate)… and their marriages are not voided…

      in the end… they both agreed my brother had won…

      stop thinking of us as being “different’ we aren’t… we are humans…we are your sons and daughter, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles… we are a part of your families… we feel everything you do…

      I never understand why straight people are so… un imaginative … it is sooooooooo frustrating…

      • Callie

        It’s not all straight people, Robert. It’s fewer every year and they are rapidly becoming irrelevant to the extent that they can’t keep banging away at your civil rights year after year.

        I have noticed a great deal of lack of imagination (and compassion, and logic) on the part of some of these “BUT IT’S SIN” folks. But there are plenty of imaginative, compassionate and intelligent straights out there. Some of us even identify as christian (small c for me).

    • Natasha

      Greta,

      The fact that you are calling your Granddaughters relationship a "deep and caring friendship" shows that you still do not accept her. How would you feel if someone referred to your partner as your "special friend"? One may include this in how you think of them, amongst a myriad of other ways to describe your relationship/marriage. But to refer to your granddaughters relationship as only this denigrates and devalues the life they have together. They are deserving of recognition and respect for their life together as much as anyone else does. Everytime you call her partner a "friend", can you imagine the sadness and feeling of isolation she must feel because of this?

      Think about it….and imagine what life is like for those who aren't lucky enough to fall into the majority of society.

    • Ross

      What about all those poor kids who have been given up for adoption? I would rather have a strong, rational and loving gay couple raising one of those children than some ignorant or incapable parent who didn't want them in the first place. I keep hearing people here (I am particularly talking about the Christian crowd… or the strong christian crowd) talk about god and love and perfect love. What is the definition of love? What is considered love? Is it a feeling? If it is a feeling, then how does this feeling impact reality? Answer: through our actions. And since it is our actions (or inaction) that tends to define us as a person, take a look at your actions and how they have come to define what love means to you or what you show as love to others.

  • Diana

    Christine: "Do I think it is hugely unfair that a gay Christian will never experience love? YES!! Do I think God is unfair? NO!! Do I think the Bible lies? NO!! So therefore I have to settle on the 'His ways are not ours, His thought are not of our understanding' (there goes that damned Bible again) and when in doubt fall back on what God has said as the truth not what may or may not agree with me."

    And this is fine for you, Christine. But it is up to the people struggling with this issue to make the decision as how to take those biblical passages. When Christians (or other people) impose their view of morality on another, we are disregarding that person's right to make his/her own choice–and even God doesn't do that.

    Also, if we're going to impose this law (originally from Leviticus) on gays, then we need to stop with the eating of shellfish, wearing of mixed fiber clothing and the like–because those laws are also in Leviticus.

    By the way, Carolyn @ internetelias–John isn't gay. If you had read some of his other posts, you would realize that he is happily married to a woman whom he adores.

    Cliff: Amusing post. So, AIDS is not harmful. Interesting. Sloshing your dick around in some other guys butt-hole most certainly is harmful.

    AID's is very harmful indeed. AID's, however, is transmitted by any kind of contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected other. In other words, merely having sex with a member of one's own gender does not cause AID's. And one can just as easily get AID's from an infected partner of the opposite sex as an infected partner of the same sex.

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

      Thank you for this. (And I deleted Cliff's bile.)

      • Diana

        Good for you!

  • http://jmjacob.blogspot.com jmj

    First of all, I find your blog post to be very thought provoking for its emphasis on how much we are asking the homosexual to give up. I don't pretend to understand the mind of someone who may have attractions to someone of the same gender, but your post has given me pause. Am I compassionate enough?

    That being said, I will now wonder even more why God calls homosexuality a sin. God does seem "mean" by disallowing it. But it is inescapable that the Bible does disallow homosexual sex. After all, sex is clearly confined to a marriage union, and no where in the Bible is marriage ever referred to be in a context other than man and woman. From Genesis 3 to Jesus, the teaching is clear: The man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to the woman. (my paraphrase).

    It does warrant mentioning that loving and fulfilling relationships don't necessarily involve sexual intimacy. Paul (we'll get to him in a moment) even mentions that singleness can be a fulfilling life in (I believe) 1 Cor 7.

    Regarding Paul? I am eagerly awaiting your comments on Paul. I think (I may be mistaken) that this is not hte first time you have alluded to your struggles with Paul's teachings. I hope I am not presumptuous, but I probably am: I certainly hope you don't dismiss paul because you are uncomfortable with his teachings.

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

      I don't struggle in the least with Paul's teachings, nor am I uncomfortable with them. I'm not thrilled with the way a certain strain of Christians choose to interpret some of what he says, but I personally love Paul.

    • Robert

      I have a problem with “God calls” and “the Bible does disallow”

      Did god write the bible or did men write the bible???? Did god sit down with pen and paper and actually write the bible… if I am a literalist… then I would have to literally believe that if you say… “god wrote the bible” that he actually sat down and wrote it…

      Who says that the bible is the perfect instrument of god mind???? God… and it is in the bible that he sat down and wrote… because god wrote the bible… without any human middle man…

      but if there was a human middle man… a scribe…. a person or persons… maybe lots of people… being inspired… by god to write the bible… then they would perfectly record exactly what god wanted them to write…

      and we know that there was no corruption back then because now every minister and priest is perfect… holy examples of god on earth…

      and when the bible was translated from org. aramaic or hebrew into greek into latin into english… there god made sure there were no mistakes or errors…

      hmmmmmm

      sorry but to me there seems to be lots of room of error in this equation… and I am not even taking into account all of the cultural influences around the org. text…

      this is why non-believers have a problem with believers… the bible is a book that gone through too many hands and lots of people have had their own agendas… I understand god works in mysterious ways… but it all seems too nonsensical.

      • Timaree

        kudos to robert on all your points.

        and jmj- the bible "disallows" a ton of stuff i'm sure you don't consider to be wrong: wearing clothes of mixed fabrics, eating pork, and a litany of other nonsense that was helpful to maintaining the cultural identity of the ancient Hebrews but has no place in any other society. unless you're going to argue for following the book to the last letter, you don't have a leg to stand on.

      • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

        As someone who reads Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic (all with the serious help of dictionaries), I think we can know far more than most are aware. That being said however, I believe the sections in the Torah about homosexual behavior are rooted in the rejection of the Canaanite religion, which incorporated homosexual temple prostitution into its practices, and that the ongoing rejection by New Testament times is partially rooted in the threat of Hellenism, which was especially potent under Antiochus Epiphanes (sp?). So a rejection of homosexuality was a rejection of encroaching Greek culture.

        Shaul Paulos diBeth Benyamin, as a Pharisee, was bound to honor Torah and reject hard-core Greek values. Why should he suddenly accept behavior which would scandalize most synagogue members of his day?

        Be Well,

        Bob G

        • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

          bob g

          there is no such category in the bible as "homosexual behavior" whatever that is. I guess you mean an+l s+x or what by that term.

          it is an anachronism to insert the modern concept of homosexuality into sacred scripture. this is like translating the scriptural command "be joyful always". yes that IS a divine commandment…. as "never be clinically depressed".

          it is a stupid way to look at things. especially for one who knows greek latin aramaic and hebrew like the two of us do.

          the word homosexual is a clinical diagnostic technical term. it means something different than it did medically even 30 years ago. this is not postmodernism at work. this is scientifically based discovery. God and his word are in no way threatened by this process.

          sincerely,

          frank

        • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

          bob g

          obviously you know from personal experience that being homosexual is way more than what you do or dont do sexual. even in thought and word let alone deed. so it would be helpful for you to challenge people to define what they mean by the terms homosexual homosexual behavior homosexual lifestyle etc etc. and then ask what the basis is for their definition. and words CAN have more than one definition cant they? and words can be hijacked like christians have done with a medical term that is clinical and technical in meaning.

  • http://facesoflions.wordpress.com Dave Wilson

    "I want to be the very best Christian I can … But you take the Bible out of the equation." Not sure how you can reconcile these two phrases. Don't we want the Bible to inform our worldview … even in regards to sexuality?

    Also, I don't believe Paul originated the Bible's teaching regarding homosexuality. Would you agree that chances are that Leviticus 18 was in mind when he addressed the topic in Romans 1?

    • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

      Of course, there's a lot of stuff in Leviticus that most of us don't observe anymore.

      Had any bacon lately?

      • William

        For that matter, Leviticus allows you to kill your son for disobedience (since he’s a person), or sell your daughter for the same sin (because she’s property). As such, consuming shellfish is listed as an abomination with the same punishment as homosexuality. I believe there is a point in the statement that if you don’t follow all of it, you shouldn’t be cherry picking things that you do follow.

        • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

          Exactly my point.

          I’m an Evangelical Christian myself, but I have no use for people who hide their intellectual laziness and cowardice behind cherry-picked Bible verses.

          I guess the one thing I could say in their defense is that they probably don’t read their Bibles themselves, they get their information from blogs, radio shows, and the TV.

          Of course, that’s a pretty back-handed defense, so I don’t expect much thanks for it. ; -)

    • Robert

      do you follow everything in leviticus… I only got through the part about preparing to ritualistically kill a bull… I believe there is stuff about shell fish and blended cloth and charging interest on loans…

      • soulmentor

        And executing adulterers. There's a LOT of christians would have some trouble with that.

        • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

          And the part where you have to have a fence around your roof so people won't fall off.

  • newposter

    The main thing I have to add at this point is something I'm surprised John left out of the post: Jesus himself was quite clear that all sins could be reduced to either idolatry or harm. (at least, that's how I read those "two commandments"). So its not a matter of dismissing Bible teachings that one "isn't comfortable with." Its a matter of dismissing Bible teachings that one is convinced contradict the teachings of Jesus.

    Also, @Greta, do you hold what I understand to be the catholic view on sex, that it is for procreation and if one is not interested in procreating one should not have sex (which, as i understand it, means if Joe Sixpack and his wife have two kids by age 30 and decide thats enough, they are not supposed to ever have sex again for the rest of their lives)? If so, okay. At least you're consistent. If not, though, I don't see how this particular critique of homosexuality can hold up. And how does being a practicing homosexual do more harm, in this respect, than being celibate??

    • soulmentor

      It's also a matter of dismissing "Bible teachings" that don't exist.

  • Christine

    @newsposter: Loving God means putting him above all other things whether other gods or above your own wants and desires. Sometimes we make idols out of things we want, or people, or sin….

    It is anti idolatry but I don't see Jesus' teachings and these two commandments saying that homosexuality is then ok. It is saying place God above all things, even if that means walking away from things that we don't want to, even when it doesn't make sense to us. If we aren't willing to do that we are placing that thing above God = idolatry.

    And Jesus came to FULFILL the law, not abolish it so therefore I think that he never implies that some can be dismissed, I think it means that we need to have a greater understanding of what he did and what he was saying in context of his life and ministry, death and resurrection. Remember Jesus wasn't all love and peace, there were times when he was furious against those who were teaching things in opposition to God….I wouldn't want to be one of those people when I meet him.

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

      You surprise me, Christine.

      • Christine

        In what way John? Always glad when I surprise someone but not sure if this time is in a good way

        • soulmentor

          Why is that, Christine? Is your conscience alerting you to something?

          • Christine

            not at all soulmentor, just merely reflecting on the way John usually replies to my comments and contrasting it with this one. My conscience has very little to do with this issue, I don't believe that if I decide that one or the other side was correct that that would affect my relationship with God or my salvation and therefore would have no conscience qualms about it :) What I do know is that God loves all people and I think that Christians spend far too much time on this issue

          • Timaree

            christine, i am not speaking for john at all, but am guessing at his reaction. but your post was one that could be interpreted to mean, "even if it seems contradictory to the idea of Jesus as love, I will buy into this idea simply out of fear that there will be repercussions. i'd rather play it safe than have to think about this very hard and risk being wrong."

          • Christine

            Timaree

            It was in no way meant to come across as that, I am thinking about this very long and hard and reading every post that comes through on this. But that said, when I do not know the answer I do return to the Bible for my compass. Not out of fear of repercussions but out of a deep faith that God knows what he is talking about even when I don't. Jesus is love, sometimes love can lead to being told we are wrong on all sorts of issues in order to help us see what is right. I do see the issue of homosexuality as any different, whatever the answer is it is one that is full of love from God and should be showed by everyone in this discussion.

          • David

            Christine,

            You are right that God knows what he is talking about even when you don't.

            Therefore, please stop saying I THINK as in "so therefore I THINK that he never implies that some can be dismissed."

            Please also stop saying "I DONT SEE Jesus’ teachings and these two commandments saying that homosexuality is then ok".

            Your own views are tainted by the sins you have committed in life. So please stop trying to interpret God's intentions through your own colored lens. Despite your haughty superior tone, you are no closer to interpreting God's will than John himself or anyone else, on the issue of what "God really means".

            God works in mysterious ways. Even if you don't think about it or see it or understand it. It's what makes this world so great.

            -David

          • Kara

            Dude, I’m gay and pro-gay and anti-anti-gay… But you’re out of line here. We don’t know anything about her life or her sins or whatever, and you’re the one who’s coming across as “haughty”. She’s not being a jerk about her opinion or calling gay folk names, unlike some who’ve posted here. And she’s not stating that her word is law or her opinion fact.

            “I think” language is the only way I ever want to hear someone talk about gay relationships as bad things. Her opinion is hers, even though I think it’s incorrect and only-partially-informed. But she, who I disagree with vehemently, has always been kind in her comments here. There’s absolutely no need for the kind of judgment you’re passing here.

          • Christine

            Thank you Kara for your kind words.

            I am sorry if I have offended anyone, that has never been my intention, I am someone wrestling with this issue as much as anyone else. However, because of the personal nature of the replies I think I am going to bow gracefully out of this discussion. I think that an argument for the sake of words that is not going to convince anyone of anything is foolishness and ultimately leads to insults and further miscommunication

    • newposter

      Is this "reply" feature new?

      Anyway, @Christine, I actually agree with almost everything you wrote. But I don't think it follows from any of it that homosexuality is sinful. Because we are not the final authority, it hardly follows that something that makes sense to us is, by definition, wrong. And I think you have it a little backwards. Given how clear Jesus was about the one (harm) and how silent He was about the other (homosexuality), at least as far as its recorded (which, face it, is all we have to go on), I think one needs to make some attempt to justify the prohibition on homosexuality in light of what He actually said, rather than simply sweeping it under the rug as you seem to. Your arguments sound like those long used to justify prohibitions on…well…lets avoid the obvious ones today and go with a couple darkhorses: fishing on Sunday and getting tattoos.

      The anti-idolatry commandment is a topic for another post if John wants to go there. But I would tentatively suggest 2 things about it: (1) We all violate it every day, and (2) There is absolutely nothing unique about homosexuality or any other topic that is implicated by it. Its an attitude thing. Trying to tease another substantive commandment out of it seems to go directly against what Jesus was saying: if you obey these, you are obeying all the others.

      As a final note, setting aside this particular disagreement, I really like your last sentence in general and it is often overlooked, but I'm more interested in it from the standpoint of its interaction with the turn the other cheek type instruction.

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

        It is new. I mean, it's been around for awhile, but I just now decided to enable it on this blog. This is how they have their comments structured on Huffington Post, and watching it work there I've come to see its advantages. So I turned it on here. It allows people to respond to specific comments—and to those comments, up to six deep each (though that's expandable).

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

          See? By hitting the "Reply" button beneath this reply, I've replied specifically to this reply. And now I need another cup of coffee…

          • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

            Hey, cool!

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

    And everyone: just to be clear, I didn't say anything beyond exactly what I said: homosexuality isn't like any other sin at all, and that saying homosexuals should stop acting homosexual is saying they should live without the greatest kind of love people can know. That's all.

    • Christine

      John, this is an issue that I have been trying to get my head around for years and am challenged by it a lot as I have been brought up with one way of thinking and am now trying to figure it out for myself…I really appreciate your posts on this and I am sorry if I came across as a little ranty before….guess I am more arguning with myself than anyone else lol.

      Lots of love my friend

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

        No, no worries. It's a question every Christian has to come to terms with. At least you're thinking about it. Most don't even make it that far.

    • Callie

      A lot of Christians would say the greatest love of all is God’s love, and the love of a spouse is secondary to that, so if you are gay and you deny yourself a life companion but have God to love you, you’re all good.

      I don’t agree at all with that. But it’s interesting to see someone who identifies as Christian would say that the spousal relationship is the primary relationship.

      • frank sonnek

        Calie,

        I sincerely doubt that John is saying that the love of God in Jesus is not THE greatest love of all. Really now.

        What I am hearing him say is that of all the earthly gifts God gives humans to make their lives feel happy and good, the greatest thing is love.

        St Paul says celebacy is a gift. It is not something that one can chose, and that it is a rare gift. He also says that the sex drive is such a force of nature, that even within marriage ( which is is prescription for controlling the sex drive, not celebacy) that even in marriage the couple should never refrain from sex except by mutual consent and then for only brief periods. Wow. that is some force of nature eh?

        So if st paul says that celebacy is impossible for anyone without an extraordinary act of God (the gift of celebacy which here fits the category of miracle following St Paul´s presentation of facts), then how can the church insist on enforced celebacy for homosexuals?

        Now if you are roman catholic, then this is easy, but for me as a Lutheran, this would be hard, because the official teaching of my church says the following following exactly what St Paul says:

        Some thoughts on having to live a celibate life from the augsburg confession of the Lutheran Church:

        For it is clear, as many have confessed, that no good, honest, chaste life, no Christian, sincere, upright conduct has resulted from the attempt to lead a single life [i.e. enforced celibacy]. Instead, a horrible, fearful unrest and torment of conscience has been felt by many until the end. …

        Therefore, just as by human laws the nature of the earth cannot be changed, so, without a special work of God, the nature of a human being can be changed neither by vows nor by human law. …

        And we are speaking, as it has been said above, not of concupiscence, which is sin, but of that desire which they call physical love, which concupiscence has not removed from nature, but inflames, so that now it has greater need of a remedy, and marriage is necessary not only for the sake of procreation, but also as a remedy [to guard against sins] …

        Yes, it’s the Lutheran confessions (specifically the Augsburg Confession and its Apology) on priestly celibacy.

        I’m not saying it’s an exact comparison. What I am saying is: don’t trivialise the enforcing of celibacy upon people. The Reformers knew (often from personal experience) what an impossible burden – physical, spiritual, moral – it was on people who were forced to it without an “extraordinary work of God”.

        (This does make me wonder what the difference is between being [enforced] celibate and “merely” unmarried – though clearly the Lutheran confessors thought there was a difference. My best guess: hope. At least if you have the possibility of marriage, however theoretical it may feel at times for those experiencing prolonged singleness, that is a different situation from being told, “Even if you meet ‘the right person’, the answer is NO.”)

        Finally: I think this is an issue on which we urgently need to “go and learn what this means: I want mercy, not sacrifice”; and to consider what it means in this context to say that “the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath”.

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

    To Clark Bunch (whose comment, which I just deleted, ended with the charming, "No wonder Cross Walk [sic] won't publish your stuff."): Crosswalk is publishing my stuff, dipshit:

    http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/johnshore/11627396

    • Christine

      HAHAHAAHAHAHA classic..you tell him Johnny

      • Melissa

        Christine,

        You have articulated my issue with this very well. I know many gay and lesbian people. Most of whom I know have very loving and commited relationships and the majority are raising families together. I am an evangelical christian now for almost 30 years, and in that 30 years have NEVER been embarassed to have a gay friend in front of God, but I have been embarrased to admit that I am a Christian to a gay person…mostly because by admitting that, I am, in essence, telling them that I think what they are living is a sin…which I have never, ever believed. So, I sit feeling hypocritical, because to my Christian friends, I am being selective to what I call sin. Ugh. I just want more gay people to come out and get in the faces of Christians in a good loving way, and get into relationship with the church so we, as christians, can get the fear out of this issue and see it for what it really is…LOVE.

  • Matt

    I believe sin is doing something against the will of God. God commanded the Israelites not to eat certain foods, and to keep the Sabbath. These laws were not necessarily hurting others, but God out of love gave these commands to his people. Could I give logically consistent reasoning for why these laws are important or necessary? Not at all, but that's not the point.

    The point is that God has shown us what true love is, through his son Jesus who served us and even died for us. Now the least we can do is to do the best we can to serve him, by obey what he commands to the best of our abilities, even if that doesn't make the most sense to us.

    In a fallen world lots of ideas might appeal to others that would pass your test of not hurting others, but would be considered sins. Torturing animals for example.

    I sympathize with gay Christians attempting to determine how best to live in accordence with the will of God, but also want to experience love in this life by a fellow human being. I am sure anyone in this situation is facing a struggle, especially if they believe, like myself, that homosexuality is wrong. I can't imagine the depths of their pain, and I've had many struggles of my own. I would however, direct them to the lives of Joseph and Job. God could have made their lives easy, but he did not. Why God chose to put immense obstacles in their way, and made them face continual challenges I am not altogether sure. In the end, their lives were blessed, because trust in God trumped all.

    Finally, I think it's a good idea to be humble when considering the will of God. This is the God, after all, that decided to show his love by sending his one and only son to die in the most gruesome way possible. If this is not a clear statement that God doesn't always think in the way that we feel is logical, I don't know what is. Is it possible that my view of homosexuality as a sin is wrong? Sure. I also firmly believe my view is best. I love the picture the Bible gives of Jesus telling the disciples that their faith needs to like that of a little child. Maybe both sides in this debate should show quite a bit more humility and love when dealing with people in general, not just hetero or homosexuals.

    • newposter

      Why do you consider "torturing animals" to be a clear sin? That would potentially answer the next poster's bestiality point.

      Perhaps it is something that we think is wrong, just like some believe that ANY harm to animals is wrong (i.e. eating them for food). After all, its not as if we have to eat meat in order to live anymore. The distinction between torturing for food and torturing for fun may be finer than you think. (One might suggest that one who enjoys seeing anything in pain is not very loving, but one might also easily suggest that one who is willing to kill unnecessarily is not very loving either).

      Personally, I eat meat. Unashamedly. But I don't think I could bring myself to kill the animals myself. If I had to do that, I'd probably become a vegetarian.

      • Matt

        I believe torturing animals is a sin. However, it's not as clearly stated as something like coveting your neighbor's possessions, which is clearly a sin and while it might lead to harmful actions against someone, it doesn't necessarily lead there. So I'll admit that would have worked better for my example.

      • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

        @newposter—You bring up a point worth considering. Paul taught that if we eat meat meat offered to idols in front of someone whose faith is stumbled by our actions, we have sinned against that weaker person in faith, and therefore sinned against God. Even though God sees nothing wrong with that meat, in and of itself. Without opening my Bible I can't remember if this is the passage in 1 or 2 Corinthians that says that while all things may be legal, all things are not expedient…or beneficial from God's perspective. In brief, we are not omniscient. We can't possibly always know when or why something is wrong. Gluttony is a sin that doesn't seemingly harm anyone else, either. So why is it listed as a sin? Maybe because it is an attitude of the heart that basically says, "I don't care what anybody else thinks". In other words, "F–k 'em!" Our indulgences whether we see them as harmless, can cost (or harm) others. Whether that expense is offense, worry, heartbreak, or simply compounding the costs of medical, psychiatric and social services, we are not really capable of sinless judgment…even in regards to what is or isn't sin. That is a 2-way road we all travel and yield upon far too little.

        Respects to all

        @John—Not so I agree that human sexuality is the be-all-end-all prize of life. While it has its importance, chronic depression has robbed me of so much of that capacity, I'd hardly say that living without has robbed me of "the best thing life has to offer".

        I love your writing, and your gifts. It sparks some fairly spirited debate here and challenges us to think deeply on these things. For that, I thank you.

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

          I absolutely didn't say sex is the best thing life has to offer.

          • http://living3dfaith.blogspot.com/ Tim

            Sorry for that assumption. Waking up next to, cuddling, kissing, etc. with that special someone, implied a love relationship (in my mind) that was sexual. Making the correlation between those intimacies and sex as being "the best thing life has to offer", was totally my assumption.

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

            Obviously, sharing physically expressed intimacy with a "special someone" with whom you also have sexual relations is one of the very greatest things life has to offer. It's just that "sex" hardly covers it–which is why I was careful to never reduce it to just that. But you know what I mean: all the cuddly, hand-holding, arm-around-the-other type mushy stuff really is the essence of that sort of loving relationship.

    • Christine

      @ Matt: well said, was trying to make same point but you did it much better….I love the comment that you could be wrong but it doesn't change things for you.

      Anyway, well done :)

    • frank sonnek

      “I believe sin is doing something against the will of God.”

      God´s will is that we love God and love our neighbor as we would love our own self. and more than that God´s Will is that we be saved by a dead Jew hanging on a cross.

      ” God commanded the Israelites not to eat certain foods, and to keep the Sabbath. These laws were not necessarily hurting others, but God out of love gave these commands to his people. Could I give logically consistent reasoning for why these laws are important or necessary? Not at all, but that’s not the point. ”

      Well , Paul says that these rules were a “type of christ” or a shadow or reminder of him, that he would come. so yes we know why those rules existed. Those were the shaddow, and now we have the reality in christ. sabbath rest now is christ who is our perfect rest. Paul says all this in just so many words!

      as for the rules about shellfish etc. most were to have the israelites be set apart and different from the nations around them since they were to bear the lineage of the messiah. We DO know why they were all abolished : they are a shadow or type of christ. now that we have the reality, we no longer need the type.

  • onemansbeliefs

    Now I am beginning to wonder if bestiality is a sin…

    Based on the logic presented in this post, I can find no argument against bestiality. If a person is born with their sexual preference or it's in their genes how can I tell them it's wrong. Bestiality hurts no one. The only way we can state it's wrong is by what's written in the Bible, but I just tossed it and can't bring it into the discussion.

    Often, the argument for homosexuality is presented with the question, "What did Jesus say about it?"

    Okay, I went and got my Bible, but I'll only pay attention to what Jesus says about bestiality. He never even mentions it. Not surprising, He didn't mention a lot of things written in the Old Testament. But, since Jesus doesn't comdemn the act, I must not either.

    This post assumes that one is born with their sexual orientation or it's a genetic trait. I believe if this were true, it would be advertised on every available media by every gay and lesbian organization throughout the world. It is not, because there is no scientific evidence to support this assumption. If sexual preference is genetic, then what do we say about people who are bisexual? people who are married and later engage in a same-sex relationship? people who like obese people? people who like children? people who like animals?

    It seems to me that all these would be decisions made by each individual and this is what can be said about a sin.

    It is a choice…

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

      Of all the arguments against homosexuality, this bestiality one is by far the stupidest.

      Think: animals can't consent. Okay? Don't rush it; just let it sink in for a moment. Or two.

      And all the latest scientific evidence and research on the subject does point to homosexuality being a generic trait. Good lord. Read much?

      • newposter

        Actually, John, I think his point was that you said that all those other sins harm another person, and that made them wrong. Persons are not animals, so he was picking at that. Bestiality might harm the animal, but so what? So does eating it.

        When Jesus said "neighbor," did he mean animals as well? If so, what makes you think that?

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

          God, this is just too inane. I'm out.

          • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

            So, I cannot resist laughing at the ahh… arguments (?).

      • onemansbeliefs

        It appears you missed the point of my response… I was not, in fact, arguing against homosexuality. I was pointing out the way you determine sin is flawed.

        Your words, “It completely ignores the crucial, absolute difference between homosexuality and the other sins people typically struggle against committing, which is that committing virtually every kind of sin except homosexuality objectively and tangibly hurts someone. If you lie, steal, cheat, rob, have an extramarital affair, are too greedy, are too selfish, waste your family’s money, and/or do any other kind of sin you can think of, someone, in no uncertain or abstract terms, gets hurt.”

        Who gets hurt when a man has sex with a goat?

        Your words, “And all the latest scientific evidence and research on the subject does point to homosexuality being a generic trait.”

        And the gay and lesbian community is not using this to their advantage in their quest to prove they are normal everyday people not living a sinful lifestyle?

        I am not expecting you to answer for these groups, but as outspoken as some of them are it would be incomprehensible for them to not use this information, if it were indeed true.

        Hopefully my stupidity level has decreased some.

        • Diana

          "Your words, 'And all the latest scientific evidence and research on the subject does point to homosexuality being a generic trait.'

          And the gay and lesbian community is not using this to their advantage in their quest to prove they are normal everyday people not living a sinful lifestyle?"

          I think some of them do use it. I could be wrong, but I think I have heard just that argument.

          I'm not sure all of them use it–for one thing, the research is still incomplete. Also, genes may be only one component of what makes one person gay and another straight. Finally, it's a dangerous argument, given that the day is coming when, if being gay is solely a genetic issue, science will probably figure out a way to isolate the gene/s involved. Then, if society is still anti-gay, people may well be under pressure to manipulate their own genes and/or the genes of their children to prevent homosexuality–thus bringing gay people back to square one. Better to just flat out argue that homosexuality has its place in "the natural order" and that gay people are just as deserving of respect as straight people.

          • Kara

            Actually, from what I've seen and understand, there is strong evidence that sexual orientation has a genetic basis, but more in the same manner that height or hand-dominance are genetic than in the way thateye color or hair color are genetic. That is, they've discovered a link in practice, but have no reason to believe that one specific gene is "the gay gene". My understanding is that current science says that it's a combination of myriad genetic and pre-natal factors that determine orientation.

          • onemansbeliefs

            @Kara & @Diana: Thanks for your kind replies…

          • Diana

            You're welcome! :-)

          • soulmentor

            Including hormones. It's not just genetic. It's also hormonal. Example: fetuses start out as all female but hormones kick in and begin to develop the male characteristics, and that doesn't mean just genitals. It includes influences on the brain and hormonal and neural systems, the whole body. Scientists have been able to manipulate those hormones in lab rats causing male rats to try to act like females and females to try to act like males. Some actually went crazy as a result. Now apply those possibilities to humans before birth and we begin to understand that there is much more to this matter than religious prompted morality.

        • http://blasphemouth.com Angela Quattrano

          "Who gets hurt when a man has sex with a goat?"

          The goat. It is cruelty to animals.

          • betsy

            “Who gets hurt when a man has sex with a goat?”

            that would all depend on who's on top— what if the goat was the "top"?

            And are we talking about traditional sex or one of the variants, such as oral sex? That could also change the outcome, as well.

        • Liz

          Onemansbeliefs: Actually, no your stupidity level grows infinitely higher. Why should my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters have to, in your words, "prove they are normal everyday people". They have proven that….by being normal everyday people. You, on the other hand, are the one obsessed with goat sex.

          • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

            Frankly, I think that most homosexual believers are better-adjusted than anyone who spends a lot of time worried about other people’s (or goats’) sex lives.

        • NirvanaState

          @onemansbeliefs: The fact that you would even TRY to categorize human-animal sex with human relationships is….just….aaahhuuuuugh!! *here is where I would squeeze a stressball* The biggest gap in that theory is that WE'RE TALKING ABOUT SAME-SPECIES relationships. Not inter-species anything.

          As far as the whole 'genetics' debate goes, trying to fit millions of LGBT people into either the 'gay gene' pile or the 'they just choose to be that way' pile is just as absurd. Every single person is different. Stereotypes and categories are just setups for judgment. Why do you need to know what category I fit into? Does your not being able to label me properly bother you? Why? Would you like to understand me better?

          I'm thinking people in general don't care enough about strangers to get involved on that kind of level with them; gay or straight.

          Defining why we are the way we are is an endless search for answers that don't really need to be answered.

    • Liz

      This is one of the reasons non-Christians often do not have the patience to logically debate with Christians. Anyone who equates the perversion that is raping an animal to loving, deep same-sex relationships shares no common ground with us sane people. You are so ignorant it’s actually painful.

  • Raycol

    I agree totally with your argument. In fact, I have put forward a similar argument on the “Gay and Christian” website (www.gaysandslaves.com), which sets out the no-harm test to determine whether things or actions are okay. Same-sex activity passes the no-harm test if done lovingly and with care. Conversely, incest and slavery fail the no-harm test (despite slavery being accepted by the Bible).

    • ash

      How about consensual adult incest? If a brother and a sister are the only members of the family on earth and they determine not to have any children, it passes the no-harm test. Don't get me wrong. I'm not challenging you. I'm a lesbian and a Christian. I had been struggling to reconcile my faith with my sexual orientation for years until few months ago I came to embrace my sexuality. I totally agree with the no harm principle but just can't get through that consensual adult incest question.

      Please excuse my poor English. English is not my first language.

      • Kara

        It'd skeeve me out, but I'd be against criminalizing it. (I also support the legalization of polyamorous marriage, the like. Consenting adults are consenting adults are consenting adults.)

      • Raycol

        In general, incest causes harm and so fails the no-harm test. In Old Testament times, a woman (mother, daughter, etc) was considered to be the property of a man (father, uncle, etc). Therefore a man having incestuous sex with her would be defiling someone else’s property. While these “property” views are not held today, harm would still be caused by sexualizing the relationships of the family members (emotional or physical abuse) or if inbreeding leading to birth defects results.

        There may be special cases, such as consensual adult incest, where obvious harm is not caused but incest does generally cause harm.

        • mark

          Oh, really?

          Apparently, you’ve never read (or heard of) the story of Sodom and Gomorrah…..

          in particular, the story of how Lot’s daughters got themselves pregnant after the destruction of their city, and the eligible young men available to them!

          The Bible, and presumptively the God who wrote it, does NOT condemn incest.

          • Christine

            Actually if you read the rest of that story, the fact that Lot's daughters got him drunk and got pregnant off their father is seen as a deplorable act and Lot goes mad on account of it. It is a story of the depravity of humans, not a condoning of incest. Read the whole story before claiming to understand it. God definately condemns incest, there are a hang of a lot of laws written against it (things about stoning to death anyone who sleeps their parent etc)….it just takes reading the whole bible to find this stuff

  • Kara

    Sin is that within our hearts which departs from the heart and nature of God. Departs from love, truth, mercy, justice… We apply these principles to determine the sin/not-sin status of activities that didn't exist at the time of the Bible.

    Monogamous, egalitarian, committed, loving gay relationships did not exist in any way, shape, or form in the time of the Bible. There is no historical record indicating otherwise. So it makes no sense to apply prohibitions against the idolatrous and abusive practices of the day to a gay Christian couple today. Outside of five verses (some poorly translated or given without the historical context the readers would have had), there is nothing in the Bible that would indicate gay relationships are sinful.

    Biblical texts can only be understood if we try to understand them in historical context. We're more that willing to admit the importance of context regarding head coverings for women, or Paul's explicit statement about women braiding their hair or wearing gold jewelry being sinful. Understanding the cultural phenomena being addressed is important. And in that context, especially when you consider (as John has) that being gay instead of straight doesn't harm people, it makes no sense to classify it as a sin.

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

    I’m now moderating comments. (Be nice!)

  • Colleen

    Hi John and Others,

    I am so sad about some of the things I have read. Not just here but other postings as I have searched. I was looking for scripture on being friends with someone who is gay and still keeping my beliefs up front..Mind you I have two uncles that are gay. One has actually passed. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. But still a total looser and am thankful of everything and worthy of none of it…I recently started communicating with a friend who is gay..I want to be true to the Lord and with that said. I do not want to hurt my friends feelings at all. I know the Lord would not want me to either. I love him. The Lord and my friend….I will be seeing him soon and he will be excited to tell me about a relationship he is in (long time) with a man..I have come to a the understanding after reading some of the posts. That there are some things I will never understand until I see the Lord. I am okay with this. No Im really not okay with this..Because the one thing. I don't want to do is make the Lord mad. So I believe, that the Lord knows my heart and knows that up until this point in my life at 44 years old. I still don't have understanding of many things. I do know and believe all things "In Love" Thats what Jesus stands for and thats what he taught but make no mistake. His wrath is nothing we can comprehend. So not pissing him off is number one on my list. I believe our time is near. As we know the wages of Sin are Death..And Jesus paid our Sin debt in Full on the cross. But that doesn't mean I go willy nilly…While I believe homosexuality is a sin (Leviticus 18) pretty much sums it up. Adultry, murder, fornication, stealing…and anything else that is against the teachings and the word of God..It isn't for me to say or to judge…I just want to be a friend to my friend an I am wondering if the two are possible. (being a follower of Christ and having a friend who is gay) Maybe this isn't the form for my question. Maybe I can't have the two. Maybe I will just have to continue to pray about it. I would like to know your opinion John. I was very interested in the article you wrote on your friends gay weddings…Thanks for time…With love and respect..Colleen

    • Diana

      "I want to be true to the Lord."

      "I do not want to hurt my friends feelings at all. I know the Lord would not want me to either. I love him. The Lord and my friend…."

      "Because the one thing I don’t want to do is make the Lord mad. "

      "So I believe, that the Lord knows my heart and knows that up until this point in my life at 44 years old I still don’t have understanding of many things."

      The wrath of Jesus "is nothing we can comprehend. So not pissing him off is number one on my list."

      It's hard to love someone of whom you are desperately afraid. It's not your fault that you are afraid, never-the-less, the fear needs to be overcome.

      Yes, pray, absolutely. Pour out your heart to God as you have done to us. Lay these concerns on his altar. You might even want to write them down in your journal (if you keep one–if not, maybe you could keep one temporarily on this issue–it will help you to be aware when God has answered one of your questions.)

      God knows of your desire to be true to him.

      God also knows of the fear in your heart and loves you anyway.

      And God knows how much you love your friend and how you feel that your love for your friend conflicts with your love for God.

      Moreover, God knows and loves your friend just as much as he knows and loves you.

      So do the thing that love tells you to do with your friend. Pray continually for yourself, your friend and for the Holy Spirit to provide the right words and the right actions at the right time. And when in doubt, wait for the fear to dissipate so that you can hear clearly what God is telling you to do next.

      One moment at a time until the way is clear.

      I hope this helps.

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

      I'm confident that God won't hate or be angry with you for completely and without reservation loving and accepting your friend. He'll be pleased that you're fulfilling his Great Commandment.

  • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

    Side note to the people who think that if you let homosexuals around that they'll start hitting on you:

    You're not really that irresistible.

    John, as usual, you've got a great, thought-provoking post.

    As usual, there are people for whom it takes more than a little provocation to get them thinking.

    For my own part, I guess I don't care whether homosexuality is a sin. If it is, then (whoo-hoo!) there's one with which I don't struggle. But there are plenty more with which I do. I'll work on that plank in my own eye before I go after the speck in someone else's. I read that somewhere …

    If it's not, then I certainly don't need to worry about it. Whoo-hoo! There's something not to put on my to-do list.

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

      Nice.

    • Christine

      Definately like this reply the best wken, thanks

  • Bill

    I'll be 66 end of the month. I have two successful military officer sons. I am gay. During and after the latter years of my marriage, divorce and gay life, I often prayed in agonizing tears to have the cup removed from me, but it never happened and after several years of that, I finally gave up emotionally exhausted and said, “OK. I’m gonna be what I am and if it’s not right, I trust you to make a different way for me cause this is killing me and I can’t do it anymore.” During that time and to this day, I devoured dozens of books on the issues, learned that I wasn’t alone and that I was not a bad person and that what I felt was loving and good. Lust? Of course. Who made that a four letter word? What hetero Christian would honestly deny lust for his/her lover or spouse? Mine is no less wrong because it is homosexual. I am peace with myself, an assertion that elicits perplexed and concerned expressions on the faces of my evangelical type siblings (sis and two bros) . Sadly, my parents died thinking their son is going to hell. Thankfully, my sons are on my side of the issue and we have very loving relationships.

    In another of John's blogs, "Steve" wrote about his pain upon his wife's death and said that, in that struggle, he found that God speaks to us in many ways. On this matter of homosexuality, I believe He/She/It spoke to me too thru those terrible lonely hours of lost wanderings, hard prayers and the writings of others. I was literally flat on my face several times. Sometimes I had to make myself stop in fear of a heart attack, it was that agonizing. I was also raising two sons at the time. You cannot imagine the pain.

    There are those who will not comprehend that I can say this, but Jesus or some higher power that he represents, held me together and gave me the courage to give it up to that power, and I have had that terrible weight lifted from me for more than 20 years now. What a lightness of being that was and remains. I am gay. Once reconciled to it, it is no less difficult a life that str8 life. The difficulty, the unrelenting stress lies in the struggling against it.

    Some will say I am deceived, but I dismiss that because I know as only I can….and they cannot. God does speak in different ways that may not necessarily be their ways and I firmly believe He is speaking to His Church today in this homosexual dialogue all over the world, just as He spoke and speaks about racial and women’s issues. Some suggest, never in words, but implicitly, that God quit talking to us at the end of Revelations….or somewhere……wherever, they can’t really say of course. (Oh, he still speaks to Pat Robertson, James Dobson and others of course, but certainly not to unworthy sinner me!!!) I submit He is still talking….thru godsends like John and his blog, and all of us who truly listen past our own self-righteousness. Thank you, John, for all those who, unlike me in that time, have real people to reach out to these days. My struggle was during a very different time. God, I wish I'd had someone like you around then. I'm still tempted to say I did it all alone, but I think not.

    I survived and truly believe that what doesn't kill us makes us strong. I hope Steve knows that too. And John, I've seen references about your wife I'm yet unfamiliar with but I gather it's very painful. God be with you and you will be strong.

    • Tracey

      To all the gays on this post…. you are PERFECT just as you are!!!! And as someone posted earlier, you're normal just like the rest of us. So much drama over that three letter word s-e-x. It's really pretty goofy no matter who's doing it! We are ALL so much more than just sex. I've just never understood why homosexuality is so threatening to some. Blessings and love to you all. Continue to live the truth you were meant to live!!!

  • Dennis

    I have known I was gay since I was a child. Being gay is not an act. It is not something you do. It is not something you commit. It is who you ARE.

    Knowing this to be true has been the key to peace of mind for me. It means I am free from the supposed “sin” of homosexuality. There simply is no such thing. My truth trumps the Bible’s in this case – something Christians would have burned me alive for saying a scant few hundred years ago.

    I pray that you someday see the truth that God is with me as with you. Always has been. Always will be.

  • mytwocents

    As a non-Christian, I can see how this topic can be confusing and cause heated debate among your members.

    Your religion has taught you that homosexuality is wrong, but perhaps you know some very kind and loving gay people. What is a 'good' Christian to do?

    • Do you damn them to hell?

    • Do you love them?

    • Do you hate them?

    • Do you invite them over for dinner?

    • Do you ignore them?

    • Do you fear that if you love or like them, you'll go to hell too?

    What dissonance this must cause! (Not to mention that your holy book could be (and has been) used to justify each of the above statements.)

    I ask that you see beyond your religion and acknowledge that there are many people in this world (and in your country) who do not believe as you do. As long as the debate stays as that – a debate, you are not hurting anyone. But when you begin to push these beliefs upon others in the form of laws, hate crimes, discrimination, etc., harm and destruction of people will result.

    The point that the author of this post made is an important one and should be pondered: who commanded you to take away love?

  • K.W.

    I’m all for logical deductions, but you should note that the argument you make really isn’t logical itself. You’re using love as the foundation for your argument – claiming that homosexuals are deprived of the love that heterosexuals freely enjoy, should they live in celibacy. But, consider your own use of the language. You’re quoting 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 in defense of your argument in which you state: “I hear a lot of Christians asserting that gays and lesbians should stop acting like gays and lesbians. But I never hear any of them saying the unavoidable follow-up to that — saying what that actually means — which is that gay and lesbian men and women should spend their lives never experiencing what people most commonly mean when they use the word ‘love.’”

    Indeed, “people most commonly” use the word “love” in reference to romantic and/or sexual affection, along with deep feelings of appreciation, beauty, and some level of commitment. However, if “people” today were using the language with which these passages were written, they’d be saying “éros,” which is the Greek word used to express such a kind of love. The thing is, though, that these scriptures in 1 John use the word “agápe,” which (as I’m sure you already know) refers to another nature of what English speaking people today call “love.” This is an affection that is characterized by steadfastness, depth, benevolence, good will, and truth. Above all else agápe is characterized as a sacrificial type of love. Agápe is the kind of love of which 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 speak. “Whoever does not agápe does not know God, because God is agápe… God is agápe. Whoever lives in agápe lives in God, and God in him.”

    Your argument is not logical, since you are basing it upon your own subjective experience and those of other people, rather than the inerrant message of God. There is a reason why agápe was used in these passages and so many others throughout the New Testament. It is not éros, nor philia (friendship), nor storge (familial love). It is more, if you will, general; for everyone. No one is excluded from receiving agápe from his or her brother or sister or from God. And agápe is what Christians are instructed and commanded by Jesus to walk in.

    Perhaps your error lies in your thinking; as you stated: “…it’s high time Christians were honest about the fact that asserting that homosexuals should stop acting homosexual necessarily means asserting that they should spend their lives never knowing the loving intimacy with another that straight people enjoy and know to be the best and richest experience in life. Asking a homosexual to give up homosexual love isn’t at all like asking him to give up booze, or greed, or any other such negative thing. It’s asking him to give up love.”

    First, if a homosexual does “stop acting homosexual” does that mean that they will end up, “never knowing the loving intimacy with another that straight people enjoy and know to be the best and richest experience in life?” Not necessarily. There have been innumerable “straight people” throughout the centuries, married and unmarried, who have counted some other thing, “to be the best and richest experience in life” – namely, their relationship with God, among other things. And there are many straight people who, ultimately, could care less about their sexual or marital experiences, apart from their meeting the status quo, who long to experience something richer. So, using the argument that, essentially, straight people are allowed something that homosexuals are utterly excluded from in bias injustice (or the “double standard”) and, because of this, homosexuals are missing out on “the best and richest experience in life” is really a little like a boat with a hole in it. Isn’t “the best and richest experience in life” a subjective matter of personal opinion?

    Second, is it really asking a homosexual to give up love – particularly, the love of which you point out Christians are to give and receive among one another and among their fellow men and women that 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 speak of, which you use in support of your point? Not at all! It is asking a homosexual to give up some of the aspects of éros. But, the homosexual is every bit as unlimited to experience agápe as the straight individual – and agápe is the love that every man and woman is assured of through Christ’s promises, commands, and example. …Christ, who Himself was fully man and yet never woke up next to anyone, never held hands with a special someone, never kissed or was kissed, never cuddled up with someone who meant more to Him than anyone else in the world. Because we meant more to Him than anyone else in the world. He never knew the profound pleasure of every day growing older with the only person in the world with whom He shared the deepest aspects of His life. He gave up His live in its prime for us and for His Father’s will (which didn’t seem to make much logical sense), with whom He shared the deepest aspects of His life.

    Again, your argument is based on emotional appeal rather than facts, in both the general realm of humankind and the accurate interpretation of Scripture. Your logic is a bit more than off-center in this case. Logic is important. But, Christians should never give themselves so over to thinking “logically” that they forget that, ultimately, they do not call the shots – God does; and He’s given His Word (in completion) as the standard by which we are to judge or deliberate all matters. There is nothing wrong with that. The Christian is not, “severely lacking in logical powers,” but instead relating to God in thoughtful, deliberate obedience, rather than in reconsideration and reinterpretation of what God said… which was the original sin and, therefore, the actual definition of sin (not something that objectively and tangibly hurts someone; which to that, I ask you, does it hurt anyone if a man looks at a woman and lusts in his heart, as Jesus deemed to be a sin?).

    Homosexuality, indeed, “isn’t the same as other kinds of sins.” It is much more complex than lying or cheating or robbing or even adultery. Yet it is still sin. But, sin that the person can be freed from. And if one struggles throughout life with the sin of homosexuality and chooses to walk in obedience to God by refraining from a romantic/sexual relationship he or she never must be without love. In fact, in that personal, sacrificial choice to obey God’s standards, in that sharing in the sufferings and comfort of Christ (2 Corinthians 1:5), this individual is, in no small way at all, walking in agápe in one of the deepest meanings of the word.

    You have a big audience. Be careful to, “Watch your life and doctrine closely…because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1Timothy 4:16)

    • that one

      TL;DR.

    • Diana

      "Second, is it really asking a homosexual to give up love – particularly, the love of which you point out Christians are to give and receive among one another and among their fellow men and women that 1 John 4:8 and 4:16 speak of, which you use in support of your point? Not at all! It is asking a homosexual to give up some of the aspects of éros."

      And how easy it is for those of us who are straight to demand that homosexuals give up these "aspects of eros" when we, ourselves would never do so in a million years. Is this perhaps why Jesus said "Judge not that ye not be judged."?

    • monte

      K.W., clearly you have put a lot of thought into this but when it comes right down to it, you have no idea what you are talking about. Theorizing can be worlds apart from the lived experience. If you are gay, say so. If not, you should speak less and listen more. The truth is where the rubber hits the road, not in the vacuous space of ideas and suppositions between out ears.

      • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

        Wonder what K.W. feels about folks born intersexed…

    • mark

      K.W.—beautiful, well-reasoned, expressively presented argument…..totally flawed, of course, even from its beginning, but still…….

      The vast majority of gays/lesbians live in celibacy, since there are so very few places where they can legally marry. The word, despite what you may think, means being unmarried!

      You say that Christ was fully a man, yet never woke up next to someone He loved nor enjoyed the expressions of intimacy that lovers normally enjoy. Oh, really! Can you prove it?

      If your ‘proof’ is that no such behaviors are recorded in the New Testament, then by that logic, Christ was NEVER fully a man. He never bathed, groomed himself, had to eliminate waste, solid or liquid, from his body, ate only 3 or 4 times, slept a fewer number than that, never laughed or cried, and was never injured in any manner. Definitely NOT a man!

      • mark

        Never injured prior to his execution, that is!

  • Brad Clark

    Wow John,

    What a wonderful and intellectual thought-provoking response. By the way you spelled my name I can almost assume there is animosity in your soul. Perhaps not. Like I said, I am a fool. And a stupid, worthless sinner. Perhaps not an intellectual like you. Please forgive me and my lack of refinery. I am simply a poor white trash person.

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

      You can assume I don't like being called, "Johnny," for sure.

    • Kara

      I loved the part in your post where you, an anti-gay person, started pontificating about "the queers". That was awesome. As is your use of the racist expression "white trash". The bits where you reduced the entire LGBT community to "sodomy" were fun too. But the very best part was where you taught us all about the real origins of teh ghey. You sure learned me!

      You see, I thought that I spent night after night as a teenager crying myself to sleep, praying that God would make me straight. But actually, I chose to be gay! That does make more sense, since being gay is so convenient in today's society.

      I also, don't ask me how, had missed just how similar my loving, monogamous, committed relationship is to alcoholism! Since nobody has ever made that comparison before, it was super enlightening. I'd better head off to Loving, Monogamous, Committed relationships Anonymous.

      The part where you snap at John for doing to your name what you did to his throughout your post was really logical. That made a ton of sense.

      Thank you, oh wise straight dude, for enlightening me about the realities of the life I've lived for years! It's a good thing God has you to speak for him, otherwise I might have continued… Loving?

      • Brad Clark

        Dear John,

        And dear Kara, too. Let me address John, first.

        John, I failed to mention I am a serious fiction writer and I can see in your own style some of the Hemingway/ Ray Carver influences (could be wrong), but I love your writing. I LOVE the way your style is! Hey. I'm sorry. I should not have referred to you as "Johnny." I only meant it as an affectionate thing, not a disrespectful one. Please accept my apologies. I was only trying to have a heated debate, because I enjoy those kinds of conversations. My attempt to call you Johnny was a compliment: it's like calling my brother Brian, Bri-Bri.

        Next subject. Kara. Kara: I am very sorry if I offended you. That was the last thing I wanted to do. Kara: you act like when I said "queers" it was a bad thing. I never said it was, did I? Look. As a straight person I was very surprised to learn that my best friend in high school was gay. Did that change my affection for him? Hell no! I loved him! More than ever! He was my damn best friend. I'm so sorry if I offended you by using certain words which could be deemed as not flattering. I LOVE you!

        When I said I was white trash I only meant that as a way to humble myself before you. So you know of all my sins. For you to say I am an anti GAY person is beyond me! I said very plainly that I love all people, including gays, and that I am not any better than them or anyone else. I am a goddam drunkard! What the hell else can I say to convince you? I use certain words because my aim is to get a reaction out of people. I must say I have succeeded!

        Anyway, I'm not trying to beat you up with my words, but to beat up the Christian Right, if anyone. Believe it or not. Oh well. To hell with it all.

        Truly,

        Brad Neal Clark

        • Kara

          Brad-

          I don’t really get offended, I just get tired. I’m happily gay and trying to love Jesus and to not embarrass him.

          Just to be informative, those who think that “being gay is a sin” probably shouldn’t use the word “queer” to talk about gay folks. It’s less about… The history and loadedness of the word are the problem, you see. You didn’t say anything especially hateful. But I’ve heard pastors talk about “queers” from the pulpit in ways that were extremely spiritually damaging to me. So the word calls back the memories, and it… I just has almost unlimited potential for badness, individual intentions aside.

          The other thing is… I mean, it’s just that I’ve been hearing these same handful of arguments for years and years. The frustration stems from exhaustion. I’m sick of explaining that I didn’t choose to be gay. Sick of explaining a lot of this. That’s all.

          I appreciate your heart and your intentions, and I am sorry for speaking from frustration and not from a place of love. We’re siblings in Christ, after all. While I don’t “struggle” with my being gay, I do struggle with many sins, and so we are, as you say, on equal footing as sinners.

          • Brad Clark

            Hey Kara,

            You are a very classy lady. I think you should never get tired of any arguments because you don’t ever need any. You are a VERY WONDERFUL PERSON. I can tell just by talking to you. I will know in the future not to use some offensive words. I don’t want you to hear any old arguments. There is no point in that. You are an awesome lady!

            I love you!

            Brad Neal Clark (Mr. Imperfect)

        • Elvira

          Brad:

          Although you never explicitly stated that there is 'anything wrong with' using the term 'queer,' this is a societally derogatory term for the LGBT community. The nature of the word asserts that homosexual individuals are unnatural, and the societal connotations attached to it come from demeaning jokes and uneducated bigot quacks.

          'Queer' IS an offensive term, whether you realize it (which I suspect you do) or not. Just like the antiquated use of n*****. Just because I don't categorize a horse as an animal when I talk about them doesn't mean they're not inherently so.

        • daniel

          dude, how old are you? the alcohol has definitely stunted your maturity level like my queerness has my morality level, but dude, its not what goes in the mouth that defiles me but what comes out of the mouth that deiles you, put a lid on it, really for your own sake

      • Tracey

        LMAO!!!!!!! excellent!

        • Tracey

          my LMAO was to Kara’s post

      • NirvanaState

        @ Kara: The best reply yet! lolol

  • Lyndsay Lehner

    I was born and raised a pastor's daughter and reached this article via Huffington Post. I want to stand up and clap my hands off for you, but I'm in my living room and you can't see me. Bravo, bravo, bravo again. It takes godly bravery to point out that just because Paul condemned queers, God didn't subsequently order us all to shut off our brains. God hates gays just as much as He hates shrimp, and I am sick and tired of Christians (like the fellow from this Family Research Institute debacle) defending views that are not only outmoded but harmful and unloving. UNloving. The opposite of godly, in my book. Thank you again.

  • Jen

    I'm an atheist raised Jewish (by gay parents) and I must say I really enjoyed reading this post. All the comments have brought up some questions for me:

    -If God put man on earth to procreate, does that mean that adoption should only be pursued when a couple cannot have biological children? There are a lot of unwanted and unloved kids out there. Do they just suck it up in the name of creating more people?

    -I was taught in Hebrew school that the difference between Jews & Christians is that Christians follow the teachings of Jesus. The "no-gay" thing is never mentioned by Jesus. Was my morah wrong? And how do you get to pick and choose what Old Testament teachings you follow? All the people saying, well, God DOES say it's wrong even though that is unfair, oh well, be celibate you gay people!- have you truly never eaten shrimp? It's mentioned in Leviticus AND Deuteronomy, twice as much as homosexuality is mentioned. I mean, it's unfair to never get to eat a bacon cheeseburger again, but God DOES say it's wrong.

    -Bestiality? Are you really, truly seriously comparing two adult human beings in love with somebody raping a goat? I always hated that argument. It makes the rest of the debate completely moronic and meaningless.

    -To assume that being gay is a conscious choice is absurd. Think of the gays killed in the Middle East, the lesbians raped to "cure them" in Uganda, , the enormous crowd of people throughout history who were persecuted for their homosexuality. There aren't that many suicidal people out there- and even if there were, I doubt homosexuality would be the first suicide method of choice.

    -The exhortations to give up logical thinking, give up examining the Bible's teachings, and "just do it", are abhorrent to me. This may be the raised-Jewish thing, where we would read the Bible, trying to figure out what it means, putting forth theories and talking into the night. Have a reason behind what you say. *Why* is doing this wrong? *Why* is it a sin? (I'm not just talking about homosexuality.) It seems to me not doing so would be disrespectful to a God that (in your view) gave us brains that can reason- not that we'll always come to the right answers, but just avoiding it altogether and saying, "Oh, God does things for his own reasons" is a copout. If you weren't Christian, would you still help people and support charities? (As my non-God-fearing self does.) If so, why would you do it? Would you refrain from adultery, murder, and stealing? Why? Etc.

    -Don't open your mouth (or pick up your keyboard) if you're rich, don't give to charities or volunteer, shun people of a certain race, or with a certain disease, etc. You can't even follow the teachings of Jesus and you're claiming something based on the Old Testament?? What would Jesus do? Well, he'd go work a shift at the soup kitchen, for a start.

    And because I know you're wondering, yes, my brother and I both turned out heterosexual. But either of us would be fine having a gay child.

  • http://www.progressivepuppy.com Max

    Like Lyndsay, I also reached this article via HuffPo. I appreciate the author's enlightened views of same-sex orientation. If more Christians were like Mr Shore, I might find religion appealing. But I've lived in Texas my entire life and I've been subjected to the hateful sermons (when I was a youth), been beaten up verbally and physically, estranged from my family because they believe the Bible tells them I'm "an abomination." And yet, for 29 years I've shared my life with only one man, the person I adore above all others. While the rest of you discuss what sin is, and what it is not, I'm just hoping to see the day when I can legally marry the person I've been with for almost three decades. I know it won't happen, I won't live that long. We can't afford to move to another state and my health isn't good. And of course Texas will be the very last state to allow equal rights. But hey, I'm not complaining. I've been blessed more than most people. I've been blessed with love. If there is an afterlife, and if I find myself standing before God, I will tell him, "I was happy on Earth. I tried to be a good person. Now do your worst."

  • Brad Clark

    Hey John,

    I have a couple of points to tell you. A few disagreements. A few agreements, too.

    First of all I’d like to say I do appreciate your attitude toward gays. Yes, I said gays. But gays are not anything special. I wonder why you defend gays so avidly: perhaps because they are the most openly persecuted, it seems? If so, this is a noble cause. But a sin is a sin is a sin, just as a horse is a horse. You seem to be implying that gay people have no choice in the matter of their sexual preference.

    I am not God so I cannot claim to be omniscient on that topic. But I believe gay people, while they didn’t ever say “I wanna be a queer when I grow up!” as opposed to wanting to be a cop or a fireman, have made a choice in the matter. The thing is, I think their choice was influenced by something beyond their control, like their childhood environment, etc. And so now they feel that it wasn’t their choice since they had no control of whatever influenced their choice.

    It is the same with all sin, Johnny. I know from intimate experience. I have been a raging alcoholic for my entire life I can remember. And a chainsmoker, lately. And a chain-cusser. And a chain-luster. And this is no different than being gay. I am a sinner. Participating in homosexual acts is a sin. Same as getting drunk is a sin. I like the spirit of your argument, I just feel the letter of it is flawed.

    Me lusting after a beautiful woman is no different than a gay person lusting after a man or woman he or she deems nice looking and lustable. A sin is a sin. The so-called Christians would surely tell me I’m going to hell for being a drunk. That’s why I never talk to the fools. They seem to think repentance means quitting sin. It does not. I live a mile or so from the Hypocrite John Hagee’s church. I can’t stand that fat, gluttonous bastard. He’s a pig. And a fat one, at that, as is stereotypical of most swine. But he believes his lust of food is more innocent than my lust of beer or a queer’s lust of a person of the same sex. He is divorced, too, though most of his church doesn’t know it. I know because my father was one of his assistant pastors. This was long ago.

    Anyway, the fact is I deserve to toast to a nice medium to medium-well done in the devil’s pits. So do the queers. If any person is honest with their selves they’ll readily admit they do, too. It is the grace of God through his son Jesus that exempts me from this through my faith. Nothing else. My faith alone.

    Paul the apostle his self said “Among sinners I am chief.” Or something like that. He didn’t say “Among sinners, I was chief . . . until I became a Christian and became perfect.”

    John, you claim to be a Christian, which I believe you are. But to defend the gay lifestyle is wrong. Being gay is a sin. If you’re a Christian, it seems you would believe the things that the Bible says. Things like, gay acts are a sin. Quit trying to act like lying with another man is okay. God said it isn’t. Does it mean you can’t find salvation if you do? No. Hell no. I am still a practicing alcoholic. George Jones once sang in a song, “The only difference ‘tween sinners and saints, one is forgiven and the other one ain’t. ” I tend to agree. I love straight people, gay people, prostitutes, heroin addicts, dope dealers, and even politicians. Well maybe not politicians. But I do have much pity on lawyers.

    The main problem I see with your opinion, John, is that you say homo-ism differs from other sins, in that homo-ism doesn’t hurt anyone, but makes the homo-ism practitioner feel good and happy. And gay. And they aren’t hurting anyone but themselves.

    The definition of sin (to my knowledge) and according to the original Greek translation (I think) means: to miss the mark. Sodomy with another man is missing the mark that God set for us. It is not about whether or not we perceive we are hurting someone else. That would be like saying all sin is relative to our opinions. Wrong. Sin is sin and sin is that which violates what God has set before us as His law and His ideals for us (if you believe in the Bible, that is). Sin is what separates us from our Creator. Just my opinion.

    My point is that being a practicing homosexual separates people from God by their sinful acts and they are missing the mark that God has set for us all in the Scriptures. Yes. I choose to capitalize those kind of words, words I try to revere. You may think a certain sin doesn’t hurt some one, but perhaps it does so in ways we can’t see. God does not want us to hurt ourselves, either. To increase the gap between us and Him. It is all a great sin.

    Anyway, Johnny, I love these types of discussions. I especially loved your article about the poor (Whoa is him) Baldwin boy. I pray now, Dearest Lord, please send him a million dollars now so he can be made whole again. Amen. And so he can make his Lexus payment.

    I love you, everybody. Yes, even you God damned sinners. Especially you.

    Brad Neal Clark

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

      Okay, Braddy.

  • David

    We can argue the theology of this for ever and a day but the bottom line is this. In the United States, a free country where everyone has the right NOT to believe in a Christian worldview, ones religion should frame their worldview, yes, but it CAN NOT and SHALL NOT be foisted upon others who do not hold that world view. That is why, for me, as a gay christian (yes, that’s possible) I think in order to preserve the dignity of everyone, gay and straight, religion should be left to the churches and matters of state should be free from religous intrusion. Invariably when religion is brought into politics it excludes and degrades the “non-believers”positions, no matter what they may be. Believe what you will but don’t tread on me with your antiquated views of homosexuals. We are here, we are not going away and we deserve to not be fired from our jobs, we deserve to have our families protected in law and we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

    • Brad Clark

      Dearest David,

      You are so very, very right. I love you very much. Hey! I need you to love me, too! My sins are much worse than yours (according to the Christian right). And according to me, too. I love you!

      BNC

  • Logan

    Isn’t it fascinating how most of these Bible thumpers don’t come back to their little bits of PC-hate rhetoric? (The worst kind, in my opinion, because they can easily pass it off as love both to themselves and others. At least when a bigot is spewing pure hate, it can easily be identified and ignored) It’s almost like they have no comeback for the people asking them to clarify their points or if they follow ALL the laws in Leviticus if they’re going to follow one. Curious, no?

    • Christine

      @Logan: lumping every Christian together and calling them Bible-thumpers who are spewing PC-hate rhetoric and are bigots is as hurtful and as insulting to us who are trying to hear and discuss as it would be for me to call you a faggot who will burn in hell (which I would never do, just making a point). If you expect loving responses from Christians it would do good to not stoop to the level of the people who do insult you. I am a Christian but I would never insult or spew hate speech toward someone I didn't agree with, I would appreciate it if you did the same.

    • daniel

      you sound like a bigot

  • Todd Erickson

    Hey John, tracked to this off of Huffington, orginally stemming from the post on the number of pastors looking vs. churches needing, off of Naznet. Funny how these things run.

    On Sunday evenings, I’m part of new church startup (from the emergent end of things, though not officially wearing that label) that was running a series called “point/counterpoint” where people would bring up opposing views on things in a biblical and loving manner.

    We couldn’t get anybody to volunteer to present the “against homosexuality”, so I agreed to do it, and went and researched.

    Now, I was already kind of iffy on the whole thing, but actually looking into the verses on it kind of changed a lot of my thinking.

    First off, Ezekiel makes it clear that the reason for Sodom and Gomorrah was that God felt that He has sufficiently blessed them, but they refused to offer hospitality or charity to any of the needy around them, and thus pronounced judgement on them. So using that as a basis for “homosexuality is wrong” is kind of out the window, especially when you consider that the barbarian practice of raping strangers to show local cultural superiority is still practiced in some third world countries precisely as it is in the account we see in Genesis.

    Leviticus is problematic because we ignore all of the other surrounding laws. we don’t stone our kids if they curse their parents. We don’t sell people into slavery. We don’t declare women unclean when they’re on their periods. We don’t ban eating shelfish, or touching pigskin, or wearing mixed fiber clothing. This puts us on very shakey ground for using the verses on homosexuality from Leviticus.

    This brings us to the New Testament.

    In Romans, Paul makes a statement about God giving people over to a false knowledge of things, and engaging in perverse acts of the same gender. Contextually, he’s almost certainly talking about the temple worship of the various greek gods, which involved bestiality, any kind of sex they could get their hands on, and self castrations as measures of worship of the gods. Certainly, people who worship gods other than God are going to have odd ideas about what is loving. If they even believe in love.

    That leaves the two verses in Timothy and Corinthians. Both of them use a greek word which is translated as “homosexual”, but which we haven’t found any other usage of in other documents from at the time. The suspicion is that they’re something close to either pedastry (you know, Nambla) or boy prostitution, either of which is in violation of being created in the image of christ and actually practicing agape toward each other.

    There is no mention of homosexual orientation in the bible. Good or bad.

    There is no mention of homosexuals being married, or dedicated to each other for life. Good or bad.

    We do have lists of things which are generally bad and selfish, and involve treating people as objects and destroying relationships, and which we could all agree are in fact not agape.

    But two homosexual males or females in a committed, long lasting relationship? it’s not in the bible. There’s no mention of it. It doesn’t come up.

    And like John says, there is nothing innately relationship destroying or unloving about committed homosexual sex between two partners who are committed to each other for life.

    Beyond your statement about living without love, John, I’ll also say this.

    Churches want homosexuals to live as single people.

    But single people are second class citizens. They might be able to lead a bible study, but they can’t be a pastor or lead sunday school or be a deacon. In fact, most churches have immense pressure for people to get married, they teach a theology where people are not complete until they are married. Most singles ministries are actually just a Christian meat market. People can say “oh, our church has a terrific singles ministry!” do you integrate them into activities with the married people outside of sitting in sunday church? No? Then they’re their own separate congregation, aren’t they? They aren’t actually a member of your ecclesia.

    So, we want gay people to live without love and relationship. We also want them to live as second, or even third class citizens within the church. And to be satisfied with this.

    And that is simply not Agape, or being Jesus.

  • Grant

    Thanks John- how did I find you today? No clue. Some link from somewhere else, but sure glad I did. This makes a lot of sense to me. I’m one of them…one who has known the love of Jesus and who can’t share that experience with much of the church any longer because they can’t see past their beliefs or convictions. I ‘came out’ finally because I so desired truth in the inner parts and knew it required honesty to find integrity again. It took me soooo long…a long marriage and life in missions and ministry to get worn down enough to exchange ashes for beauty..

    So sad. I have a family who can’t see my life past the ‘sin’ label on homosexuality. It produces pain for us all. All of us. Anyway ~ thank you for speaking on this. Maybe we will all be more comfortable with living and loving with more mystery and less fear.

  • Rachel in California

    John,

    I have not had an experience like the one you describe, but I am so glad that you had it and are willing to write about it. I hope that you are living with Jesus and "what Jesus is for" every day.

    I am especially interested in your take on atonement (how Jesus makes humans at one with God): "God, desiring above all else to show the people he’d created that he loved them, became a human, and came to earth, and sacrificed himself, and in every way did every thing he possibly could to show people exactly how deeply and terribly he loves them."

    And I wonder how that came to you. Was it part of the experience? Was it something you already were aware of? Did you think about it or read about it later, reflecting on the experience?

  • jhs

    my two cents: the greatest sexual sin humanity is currently engaged in is the careless overpopulation of our globe (and all the other problems that come with that). i know we are commanded to be fruitful and multiply, but (to my knowledge) it doesn’t say all procreation is good, in any proportion, to infinity. if we don’t learn to reproduce responsibly, we will destroy beautiful creation on earth, and/or ourselves.

  • Brad Clark

    It is very difficult to have a meaningful conversation on any topic with you ultra-sensitive people, gay or not. Speaking to you is to tip toe through the English language like it is a minefield, waiting to blow at any time (no pun intended). Anyway, all I am saying is God loves you in spite of your fag-ism, just as he loves me in spite of my white trash-ism. But don’t fool yourself into thinking God’s endorsement is upon your sinful ways. You ought to be ashamed of your sins, just as I am of mine. I must leave this worthless, meaningless blog now, for it really seems to be giving me a headache. Goodbye shiny happy sensitive people. You can speak more ill of me when I am gone. I care not. And you call yourselves open-minded. Ain’t that a hoot.

    • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

      Brad, maybe you could start understanding gays as soon as you abandon your belief they choose to be gay. To many that IS being anti-gay. Why? Because you havent heard a single word they've said.

      Until then, well, telling gays they choose to be gay and do so is just a slap in the face to god you simply will never understand, no matter how nice you try to be about it how insulting you are (intentional or not) to gays.

      Just saying.

      • daniel

        im gay and i was not born that way, im offended that you think choosing to be gay is antigay. when i was younger up till the end of high school, i was influenced by my surroundings and i had crushes and puppy love for girls, as i grew older i was influenced by individuals who swayed me to the gay lifestyle, and i may get a wild hair someday and return to the former. you may have been formed in the womb gay but that doesn’t mean we all were, k

  • http://neilmcgarry.com TrackerNeil

    John, I think your words are wise and clear-headed, and I thank you for them.

    Honestly, I appreciate the candor of those conservative Christians who can show at least some level of honesty and admit they just don't like gays. Those who try to justify their position by citing questionable statistics or citing phony studies "proving" homosexuality is unnatural…well, they annoy me. If they truly think they've got God on their side they needn't be shy of saying, "I don't like gays and God thinks that OK."

  • Tim

    Interesting post. A couple of points:

    You substitute the 'objective' logical premise of the inerrancy of the Bible with the 'subjective' logical premise of your own opinion. I fail to see how this is superior. I recognize that for the non-Christian, using the Bible as a logic base is meaningless. Even Paul says that the unbeliever is free from the law of righteousness. But, if one believes, doesn't it follow that the seat of your belief, which in this case is the Bible, must become your foundation? I respect the arguments in favor of legalizing homosexual relationships, and even agree with many of them, but that is a far cry from approving or proselytizing for such relationships. Which brings me to my second point.

    You state that most sin hurts others, and use this as your basis for defining what sin is. The Bible speaks of your sin being the thing that separates you from God, not what separates anyone else from God. You are saved in order that your sin is removed so you can approach God. Your sins greatest victim is you, the other are just consequences. Your cheatin' stealin' heart may deprive me of goods and chattel, but it deprives you of a relationship with God. Therefore, if the Bible does call homosexuality a sin, it is because the danger of homosexuality is in its depriving you of something much greater than a physical relationship.

    Thanx for the debate.

  • fritz

    I'm a male, when I was 7 years old I knew that I was absolutely fascinated with girls, I still am to this day, ie. completely attracted to women, no ifs ands or buts. I was born heterosexual. I was born in a small town and because of that I went through both grade school and high school with the same people. I had a friend, his name was Donny. When I was7 years old my classmates all called Donny a "sissy", kids can be cruel no doubt. Donny was a complete and utter sissy at age 7, he was also that way at age 6, Donny was born that way, Donny was created that way. I learned in high school that Donny was gay, did Donny actually choose to be gay? Saying that Donny chose to be gay at age 6 would be like saying that I chose to be hetero at age 7, it's just not true. My nature is to be hetero, Donny's nature was to be homo? Anyone who thinks that people choose to be gay really need to take a good hard look at how much crap and criticism that gays receive, do you really think they would choose that? God creates both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Please set your Bibles aside when judging someone who is gay, instead choose love, God chooses to love both heteros and homos, why can't you?

    Fritz

  • Aaron

    Your appeals to human logic and compassion are spot on. Unfortunately, this has all the earmarks of humanistic Christianity. Defining sin by what harms humans. Defining love according to the various human sex acts and related effects. Limiting faith to what can be delved by human logic. I'm all for applying human experience and intellect to the Christian faith, but look at it like this: On the one hand you've got the Bible, 2000 years of Christian tradition, and the opinions of the bulk of practicing Christian theologians. On the other you've got… a tweaked human sense of what is "fair"? I agree Christians are generally clumsy when approaching issues such as this, but with all due respect, you aren't the first person to realize the Bible doesn't exactly mesh with human understanding. You're not even the first to be tempted to re-interpret it to fit your own sense of right and wrong. Ultimately, I think this is a great discussion to have, but be careful. Logic and compassion are wonderful, God-given gifts to human kind. I'm just not sure faith is supposed to be subservient to them…

    • Raycol

      @ Aaron

      You may be interested that it is Paul who defines sin by what harms humans. He does it in Romans 13:9-10, summarized as “If you love (act for the welfare of) your neighbor, including not harming your neighbor, you then fulfill (meet all the requirements of) the Old Testament commandments”.

  • connie reagan

    All I know is that the Bible teaches that any kind of sexual sin (to include homosexuality) is a sin against one's own body. One could say that premarital sex between a man and a woman doesn't hurt anyone either but the Bible forbids that as well.

    God made it perfectly clear that to choose Him means to give up ALL of our own rights, our own plans, our own desires, and to pick up our cross and follow Him. He may choose to give a repentant homosexual heterosexual desires, or He may choose to allow that person to lay down their desire for a sexual relationship -and I have known people in both categories, btw. For that matter some straight people have what is known as "the gift of celibacy" and they too, give up their rights to have a spouse and family. Because God has the right to demand anything of us that He chooses. And whether it is popular or not, the fact is that sin is sin, and each of us has a Godgiven conscience that we can choose to either follow or ignore-and that, if ignored long enough, will die.

    For those who struggle and feel helpless, I will say that God does not mock your struggle, He sees your pain and has compassion on it. But sin is so awful that Jesus had to die an excruciating death to rescue us from it-how dare we make light of it.

    • elizabeth

      This issue is an issue that breaks my heart. I was raised to believe that homosexuality was wrong but as I matured into adulthood, I couldn't see it as such. I live in a city with a huge gay population and most of the gay couples I come into contact with are happy and loving and frankly it's beautiful. I have been tempted to ignore this issue because it is not my personal struggle, but I cannot. I have too many friends who have wrestled with this to be callous. I do not see, however, how a Christian can accept homosexuality based on the New Testament verses. It is easier to reason away the Old Testament prohibitions but what about Romans 1? It clearly states as a sin when man gave up natural relations for unnatural. It calls these acts "indecent" and "perverted." As much as I long to, I can't find loopholes. Homosexuality was listed in many lists as a sin worthy of condemnation throughout the N.T. If God meant something different, why didn't He make it clearer? Why sentence millions of people to misunderstanding and alienation in the church? Why allow people to struggle with this identity issue and the only "Christian" option be celibacy or worse being "saved" by this struggle in attempt to convince gays that they are secretly straight if they just choose? More compassionate Christians are eager to advocate loving gays, but not truly accepting them. This seems like a truly impoverished view of love to me. Am I one of the "lucky" ones because I am straight and can still have love and follow Christ? I want to be a supporter of homosexuality and gay marriage and encourage others to do so but I don't know if I can still call myself a Christian. I feel that I must choose between my faith and my conscience; ironically between Christianity and my morals.

      • Sonnys

        It is important to clearly reconcile your love for humanity and your allegiance to Christ. There is absolutely nothing wrong with loving and being supportive of friends that are in gay relationships. To know your values doesn't mean you are to hate, despise or look down a gay person no more than you would look down on an alchoholic. Love is always right and knowing your Master's expectation and living them are right too.

        You don't have to jump in bed to prove that you love people. You don't judge them, don'tact condescending and if they seek your advise share your values.Love covers a multitude of sins.

      • Raycol

        @ Elizabeth

        In Romans 1, Paul calls sex between men “shameful lusts” and “indecent acts” but NEVER calls them “sins”. The NIV translation of “perversion” is wrong. It should be “error” (see TNIV, NASB, King James, etc)

        • Steve D

          That is Paul, not God nor Jesus, speaking. There is no indication anywhere that God Himself proscribes (prohibits) homosexuality.

          The Bible was written and compiled and translated by humans. It is interpreted variously and very contentiously by humans. Although a tremendous amount can be gained from the Bible, the idea that it represents any absolute "word of God" is next to absurd, and the idea that any one of us can say for certain exactly what is God's will–depite the many people who presume to do exactly that–is likewise absurd.

      • Ken Spreitzer

        Hi, Elizabeth. Just take a look at the rest of Romans 1, and you’ll see that it doesn’t apply. You’re certainly referring to Romans 1:24-27. But look at the context: Romans 1:21-23 says:

        (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.

        That sounds like a condemnation of idol worship, and God punished them by having them do “unnatural” things.

        None of this is relevant to gay Christians. We were raised praising God, not “mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” God didn’t suddenly convert me to being gay because I was engaged in idol worship. It’s just a completely different scenario that is irrelevant to modern gay rights discussions.

  • http://www.brucecatcommunications.com Bruce

    I'd actually planned on being in bed by now (it's very early Monday morning and I sang a Compline service this evening), but John's topic sucked me into the morass and here I am, feeling slightly battered and fried because of all the "Christian" love being batted back and forth. Regardless, I wish my entire family would read this, but they won't.

    I am a Christian. Grew up in a fine Baptist home. My parents taught me about integrity and loving each other. I've also been HIV positive for 20 years, gay since as far back as I can remember, have some fairly major ink (and want more). When I came out I left organized religion – I was basically ejected from my church, and I was glad to be gone. But try being a choral singer and not singing liturgical music. It's not really possibly, particularly if you're paid to sing what is put in front of me. I'm convinced that God kept in touch with me through that means. It certainly wasn't through all those fine upstanding Christians I'd grown up with.

    Grudgingly I came to accept that maybe I was OK, and God was OK, and maybe God was OK with me. But what I'm not OK with are right-wingnut Christians quoting Leviticus and Paul at me (show me what Jesus said. You can't. So there!) and telling me AIDS is God's damnation. I don't believe that. I also don't believe in the literal interpretation of a book written, mangled, and massaged by various councils of old white men throughout history as being the "be all and end all" of divine revelation.

    Did you ever think that just possibly, gay people are the salt of the earth? Hmmmm? Without us the Sistine chapel would have been done in hideous wallpaper.

    Peace

    Bruce

  • Ally

    Max, that your post made me cry. I'm inspired by the strength with which you've endured the intolerance of your neighbors, and I wish for you nothing but another 30 years of love and happiness with your man.

    I'm an atheist, and I really would like to commend you, John, for authoring such a refreshingly tolerant and open-minded blog. You are perhaps the most relatable–and certainly one of the most articulate–Christian writers I have ever encountered. It's been my experience that when I discuss religious topics with Christian friends, I either sense their agenda to convert me–or else (and even worse) I can feel them grow increasingly defensive and distant, as if they feel that by discussing the Bible in open terms and attempting to question its application to their lives, they are challenging God and somehow offending Him. You have avoided both of these uncomfortable conversational poisons. We might disagree about God's role in our lives, but I agree entirely with your defense of love, and your belief that it is a basic human right.

    I believe that the path to a full life, that inherent good and a sense of morality are human virtues–not divine ones–and that living well is its own reward. I do not fear the wrath of God; I fear a world that lacks love. Let us do right by one another, and accept (and always discuss!) our differences. Let us live a life of love.

    Cheers to everyone here for such an enlivening discussion

  • Torsten

    John,

    I happened on some of your other writings which then linked here, and I was moved to write.

    The fallacy of your argument is mult-fold.

    First, you are arguing the primacy of sex over God’s word and intention. Even if you exclude Bible references to homosexuality (or assume they are translated with bias), you cannot deny that God asks even straight people to not have sex outside of marriage. In addition, Paul writes that it is in fact better to remain single (during these difficult times), i.e. never have sex. I understand the powerful meaning of sex to a man, and can only assume this extends to homosexual men. It breaks my heart to tell someone else they may no longer experience sex, having someone to wake up to, etc., and whether they are straight or homosexual doesn’t matter. In my 20′s, I experienced pre-marital sex. In my early 30′s, I, too, came to realize what an a-hole I was and how that is all I would ever be, and became a Christian. I am a now Christian man who gave up sex because of what I believe the Bible says God wants for me, and I thought at first my heart would break and I would die. Literally! Turns out, living without sex for four years now is part of the sanctifying process and not really all that bad, not that my flesh still does not yearn for the touch and intimacy that I had with those women from my 20′s (and presumably with my wife-to-be, should I ever be blessed with one). I understand that you were married when you became a Christian, and haven’t had to do without sex, which may means you are still imagining how horrible it must be and feel to do without sex, rather than knowing how great it can be. If we define sin as that which breaks the heart of God, then I have come to believe that all sex outside of marriage is sin.

    Second, if you can buy that sex outside of a marital union is sin and God’s intention is for us not to have sex outside marriage, and Jesus himself clearly states that a man shall leave his father and be joined to his WIFE (i.e. not man and not multiple wives), then there is little room to Biblically justify a homosexual marriage. Question is, though, as “civil unions” or legalizing homosexual marriage becomes more prevalent in out society, then will sex inside such a marriage be sanctified as it is for heterosexuals? Did we misinterpret, misunderstand, or somehow mis-translate Jesus’ words? See next point…

    Third, even if an anti-homosexuality stance is not Biblically justifiable, it is likely still sin. Let me continue on your trend of leaving out Biblical references to homosexuality and make the argument that it is still sin. Much of what is identified as sin, for example gluttony, is an attempt to use the world to fill that hold inside our hearts of the world, rather than turning to Jesus (who is the bread of life) and fulfilling ourselves of the Christ. Another way to put this is that addiction (in this example to food) is not Biblically justifiable and is sinful, it breaks the heart of God, as it would break a father’s heart to watch his son (or daughter) try and fulfill himself with food and turn himself into a whale. The next step of this argument is that just because it is not in the Bible, doesn’t mean is isn’t sin. For example, video games and/or online porn. Homosexuality bears the hallmarks of addiction. Homosexual men tend to be highly promiscuous, always elevating their sexual experimentation to higher and higher sexual levels, do not seem to pair-bond for life as God intends for a straight couple, and do not seem to establish a life-long sexually satisfying relationship as a monogomous couple (Hollywood, of course, often depicts that they indeed do, but this does not reflect the reality of the Gay Lifestyle). Finally, homosexual men who are practicing homosexual sex (largely outside of marriage) do not seem to undergo the sanctifying process through time that straight men in monogomous marriages do. I would be hard-pressed to believe, as “civil unions” or marriage for homosexuals becomes prevalent, that this will somehow change for them. For these reasons, it is very difficult to believe that homosexual sex is a God-given act of love, and rather I fall down on the side of seeing it as just another sex addiction, with homosexual-orientation individuals trying to fulfill that empty hole inside them using sex, quite unsuccessfully. If this is the case, then homosexual sex is just another sexual sin, falling under Jesus’ comments about “porneia.”

    Fourth, google “Ezer Kenegdo.” A woman plays a special and incredible role in relationship with a man, one that cannot be fulfilled by another man.

    Fifth, ask some Christian women for their thoughts. I think your gender might be getting in the way. It is easy for us Christian men to get all wrapped around the axle about some seemingly great idea or argument, and largely we cannot think clearly when it comes to one of our most powerful emotional issues – sex. Women, on the other hand, can think much more clearly about sex, because their many emotions include but are not limited to sex. Also, men and women are created equal, but we see God’s world with a very different set of eyes, and come to very different set of conclusions. Neither of us is wrong, but we must work together (build relationships) to develop a concise view of what God wants for us. Do well-studied godly Christian women believe homosexuality is not some kind of sin? I’d wager they see clearly that it is indeed sinful behavior. There is one more thing you will find when you study about sex and men and women (see books For Men Only and For Women Only, both Feldhahn). That is that for men, that powerful feeling of being overwhelmingly accepted and vulnerable and loved primarily (only!) comes through having sex with a women who desires us immensely. Women, on the other hand, can experience a similar powerful feeling of being loved and accepted entirely without sex (read the book the Five Love Languages, Chapman). Equating God’s love and sex is a typically male activity, and atypically female activity.

    Sixth, there is something respectful, nee magical, nee spiritual, about a women who reserves her body for her husband and he for her, for their marriage. But there is no such spiritual feeling surrounding two virginal homosexual men who have saved themselves for each other (marriage or no) – it’s kind of a weird/gross/disgusting thought and definitely doesn’t play out in the Bible. Sex between men just doesn’t seem to contain that powerful spiritual bond as between man & woman.

    All that said…

    I rebuke you for writing this article. Like it or not, your public writing establishes you as a Christian leader/teacher and you will be held to a higher standard, and you must undergo a higher standard of scrutiny. By failing to do your research and understand why homosexuality is a sin, you are opening the door to letting weak-minded people think that homosexuality may be acceptable to God. You may very well be causing others to sin. We must be very careful what we preach.

    I rebuke you for valuing your own “scrupulously honest” words above the desire to faithfully preach God’s word. By doing so, you are an attention-seeker and not heeding your tongue and the damage it may do to others. Anything less than scrupulous honesty would be a sin, but you need to choose your words carefully and wisely and out of love for others. This doesn’t mean we don’t say the hard stuff, but you need to be more careful.

    I rebuke you for failing to write that sex at the wrong time is a sin, and that sex is a powerful spiritual force that binds two people.

    I rebuke you for indirectly suggesting that homosexual marriage may be acceptable in any way.

    Finally, I rebuke you for valuing “logic” somehow above the incredible spiritual connection and joy that comes from knowing the Lord. There is no logic in knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.

    Good luck!

    Torsten

    • Christine

      @Torsten

      To say that there is no logic in following Jesus makes me blush to be called a Christian. God doesn't tell us to shut off our minds. There is logic, to say otherwise makes Christians look foolish.

    • Liber

      @ Torsten

      Wow….stunning. Where do I begin? Never mind that.

      I don't suppposed I can have a logical discussion with you since you've voluntarily given up your logic and God-given mind for "the incredible spiritual connection and joy that comes from knowing the Lord". I didn't know that Jesus intended for his followers to become dumb-asses….

      This much I will say….

      I rebuke you for being a self-righteous, ignorant, intolerant and un-christian bigot.

      May God have mercy upon you

    • bassboneman

      @Torsten

      I think that I have never, in my entire life, seen such a load of pure rubbish.

    • Raycol

      @ Torsten

      Nowhere does the Bible say that God asks even straight people to not have sex outside of marriage. Also, I think one will find that homosexuality no more bears the hallmarks of addiction than does heterosexuality.

    • Timaree

      torsten, i admire your ability to read information, check it against the databank of beliefs you hold and what you consider to be knowledge and then synthesize a detailed response. you did an excellent job of applying the system of conservative christianity you have been taught. but, that said, not one bit of it was inherently valid.

      what you said makes perfect sense to you and to others who hold the exact same set of beliefs about jesus, gender, sexuality, politics, love and christianity as you do. but none of it has any face value and your method of arguing will never make any strides with anyone who does not already agree with you.

      your message comes from a place of wanting to shepherd John, a fellow sheep in the fold, back into the flock. i get it. but we're talking reason, logic and evidence here. don't bring a nail file to a gun fight.

      • Torsten

        Timaree,

        Your words are wise.

        My world view has obviously been permanently altered by my particular understanding of Christian theology (shared, of course, by those in my surroundings) developed since my choice to follow Jesus.

        If I think from a purely secular point of view, i.e. throw out the Bible altogether, then is there anything really wrong with homosexual sex? My answer is that I have no idea, nor any evidence to support one way or another. Homosexual sex seems to me to be a distractor issue from the core “Love God, Love your neighbor” and “go and make disciples” doctrine.

        Torsten

  • Steve

    I’ve listed what I see as the main fallacies of this blog below, with my main refutation as the last part of this article. It is lengthy, but only because the author’s blog merited such a response.

    Assertions of this article, and their refutations:

    Assertion #1) Sin is defined as doing something that harms others.

    A) To suppose this would mean that God is sinful, which a Christian cannot assume. For on the day of judgment God will act as a terror to the unbeliever (as the author allows), inflicting severe harm upon them.

    B) The Bible is full of instances in which violence is either permitted by God, or even perpetrated by God. For instance, when God’s wrath was poured out upon Jesus on the cross, or when the Angel of Death killed the firstborn sons of Egypt.

    C) The very /first/ sin recorded in the Bible is eating the fruit of a tree. Whether you take this passage allegorically or not, the fact is that God took this act very seriously, even though it did no “harm” to anyone. The author’s assertion that a sin is only that which harms another is categorically incompatible with the record of several sins in the Bible.

    D) If sin can be simply reduced to “doing harm to another”, then the Bible is far longer than necessary. It need only say to be nice to others, and that would be sufficient. If that were the case, we wouldn’t need a Bible.

    E) The Bible speaks of the greatest commandment as first and foremost being the love of God. The author here asserts that sin (the opposite of loving God) is instead manifested in doing harm to humans. Notice that the focus of our attention is not on God, but on fellow man. Yet God frequently references sin as being against Him alone (reference David’s repentance after adultery with Bathsheba). Thus the author’s definition of sin lacks congruence with the Biblical treatment of the matter.

    F) A person may harm another by accident, and few would hold this as sin. However, it fits the author’s definition, since man is harming fellow man.

    G) Our government ‘harms’ members of our society by imprisoning them, or even executing them. Yet in most instances this is not considered ‘sinful’, as we know from Romans that God sanctions the use of ‘the sword’ by governments.

    H) Were sin simply the act of harming another, then my efforts to defend myself or my family when confronted by a burglar/murderer would be sinful. Some hold this to be true, but I do not see sufficient evidence from Scripture. The implications of the call to ‘turn the other cheek’ are too long to be discussed here.

    Assertion #2) “A dim-witted child could see that homosexuality isn’t the same as other kinds of sins”

    Refutations based from Scripture:

    A) Homosexuality is lumped together with other sins in several instances in the Bible. The author has apparently decided that the words of Paul and the words of the Old Testament are not sufficiently inspired by God in this matter, which leaves roughly 13/66 books in which the Bible can speak convincingly on the subject. But the Bible should only need to declare something as sinful once in order for God’s people to submit to God’s instruction. Should anyone assert that there are many sins recorded in the Old Testament which are not binding on Christians, they should remember that the only sinful actions which were repealed by the New Testament were the ceremonial laws having to do with the sacrificial system, and the condemnations of homosexuality are in no way related to the sacrificial system.

    B) The author is supposing that if something does not seem sinful, it is not sin. But Christ declared several actions as sinful which are not readily apparent to man. For example, Christ said that to speak ill of one’s neighbor is the same as /murdering/ him. It might be easy to see why speaking ill of someone is mean, but to say that it is /murder/ is not readily discernible except through the light of Scripture.

    C) Building on the previous point, the author is putting too much faith in the ability of humans to recognize their sinfulness. If humans were naturally cognizant of such a thing, there would be no need of Scripture, Christ, evangelism, salvation, etc… But Scripture speak of man’s inherent blindness countless times, so the fact that a sin may not seem intuitively sinful is no argument against the sinfulness of the action.

    D) The argument assumes that if there is a difference between two actions, then only one can be sinful. Just because a ‘dim-witted child’ can discern a difference between homosexuality and murder does not mean that only one is a sin, any more than the differences between adultery and suicide do not indicate that that only one is a sin. If anything, it just indicates that the author’s suppositions about the qualitative requisites of sinfulness may be suspect.

    E) Debating from personal experience is never a strong way to argue. However, I must recount the first time that I witnessed two men kissing on television (I was in my early teens) and the ensuing gag reflex that I had to suppress. The fact is that, without having any education on the subject one way or the other, the action was naturally and inherently hideous to me, /in and of itself/. This is personal experience and I am fully cognizant that it cannot be applied to everyone, but I am using it as a refutation to the idea that a child cannot see why homosexuality is sinful. There has been at least /one/ dim-witted child who was instinctively repulsed by it.

    Assertion #3: “Also, it’s high time Christians were honest about the fact that asserting that homosexuals should stop acting homosexual necessarily means asserting that they should spend their lives never knowing the loving intimacy with another that straight people enjoy and know to be the best and richest experience in life.”

    A) The author is arguing in principle that Christians should never ask others to modify their behavior in ways that bring about earthly unhappiness in others. But Christ did just that when He asked the rich young ruler to give up all of His riches (in a passage which the author is fond of quoting). Certainly the young ruler would have had a ‘richer’ experience in life if He had been able to keep His wealth. But God is not ultimately interested in our earthly happiness, since we’re gonna spend a /lot/ more time in eternity than on earth.

    B) In Old Testament society, God ordained that a man caught in a homosexual act with another should be put to death. This is a much more direct way of depriving that individual of the chance to live a romantic life with another, and yet I presume that the author will not accuse God of wrongdoing when He ordained this.

    C) In numerous places throughout the Bible, the believer is told not to intermarry with the nonbeliever. It would be naive to assert that a believer will always fall in love with other believers, and yet God prohibits such marriages categorically. Thus God in no way binds Himself to always letting humans marry whomever they wish. God has plans and restrictions in place for our marital behavior.

    D) It is not wise for a Christian to assert that the romantic love between humans is the ‘best and richest experience in life’. Perhaps the author is just not speaking precisely, because I presume he knows that humans are called to far richer and better things that just loving another human romantically. If that were the best and highest aspect of our existence, then humans would have no need of God, since people fall in love all the time without any saving knowledge of the Creator.

    E) Ask any pastor/counselor, and they will probably be able to recount counseling sessions in which an adulterous spouse gave the same reasoning as a justification for their reprobate sexual actions. It is perfectly ‘natural’ for a married man or woman to be physically and romantically attracted to others, which makes it nonetheless damnable for them to act on those lustful actions. Thus the Bible may utterly prohibit a person from having a ‘rich’, loving, and romantic experience with another, which I presume that the author will still allow as sinful.

    F) The author presumes that because homosexuality comes naturally to some people, that they will be happier if allowed to engage in homosexual behavior. But all sin comes naturally to humans (or else we wouldn’t need a Savior), and yet God still requires that we deny many of our natural impulses. There are many actions which may seem reasonable to a young child, which no loving parent would ever permit their child to do (like touching a hot stove, for instance). And all human wisdom is like that of a child when compared to God’s wisdom. Thus if we trust God, then we will trust that when He declares an action to be wrong (as occurs so often in the Bible with regard to homosexual actions) that it is better and richer for us to not engage in it.

    G) In like manner to God’s prohibition of homosexuality in Old Testament society, God also prohibited incest. Yet I do not believe it to be impossible for two relatives to “fall in love”, yet I presume the author will have no problem’s with God’s declaration that such people should not exercise their passion with each other. Some may assert that this prohibition is different since incest can produce deformed children, but in principle the prohibition still remains; that God cares enough about your behavior that He is perfectly willing to deny you the “best and richest experience in life” if it comes about through sinful behavior.

    Assertion #4) “If I were gay and lived as most Christians would prescribe for me as ideal, I would live alone. ”

    - The author asserts often that he is a Christian, which to take at his word would mean that he remembers when his will was completely and categorically changed. He remembers when he lived at enmity with God and delighted in that which displeased God, and he remembers when God changed his will such that he started loving the things of God. In light of this presumed recognition in the author, it is very surprising for him to make such a fatalistic statement as this. He presumes that, since homosexuals like having sex with same-gender people, that God would/could never change that fact about them. If God didn’t change us when we were converted, what would be the use of our conversion?

    Final Thoughts:

    The author’s main problem is the belief that sin is doing that which harms others, which has been shown to be fallacious in my first refutation. A better definition of sin would be doing that which is displeasing to God, or doing that which God has forbidden. This fits much better with the Biblical treatment of sin, and easily reconciles the commands of God which have little or nothing to do with harming others.

    God made man (and indeed all things) with purpose. None of creation is an accident. And for all creation, the first and utmost purpose is the glory of God. All of our other purposes and actions flow from this main heading.

    For His own glory, God made man into a moral, relational, intelligent, physical, and spiritual being (ie, in His own image) such that we can use these qualities for God’s glory. And God saw that it was very good.

    Sin occurs when we take those qualities of ours and use them for means apart from what God desires or intends. God delights in our intelligence, but hates it when we use it for evil, or our own selfish ambitions. God delights in our endemic morality (our inborn knowledge that there is such a thing as right and wrong) but hates it when we use that as a basis for governing our lives apart from Him.

    And God delights in our physical nature as well. He loves it when we exercise our physical body (through exercise, through hard work, through sports, through physical love, etc…) in a way that brings glory to Him. And He has created men and women such that we should have this thing called love (unique among creation), which we are to share with God and one another.

    This love sets us apart from the animals. For where animals engage in sexual acts to the sole end of procreation, humans procreate through a passionate expression of love with one another. According to the Bible, any other type of sexual activity is sin except that which flows out of love.

    Thus God’s intended means for the continuation of humanity, distinct from the animals, is nothing other than love. The most valued treasure of Scripture is also that which God has designated as the appropriate means through which the human species is to be propagated. Were it not for man’s fall in the garden, then every human would be able to say that their existence is due to the expression of love between two people.

    What a beautiful and wonderful thing God has given to us, so unique among creation and so unnecessary from an evolutionary standpoint. And yet what has man done with the beautiful and wonderful thing that God has given to us? We have turned sex into an idol, worshiped through our televisions. We have turned it into our masters, consuming the undue devotion of so many millions of people each day. What was given to us as an expression of love has turned into a base means of self-worship, in which we serve none other than our own pleasures.

    God did not intend for our sexuality to be used as such. Our sexuality is God’s chosen means for the propagation of the species, performed as an expression of love. We have turned it into a purely self-serving exercise when we perform it outside of that realm.

    Here is where God condemns homosexuality; in the same manner that He condemns all misuses of His design (such as masturbation, bestiality, incest, polygamy, rape, genital mutilation, etc…). God hates homosexuality because it takes His intended design for sex and turns it into a means for our own self-serving.

    These are not easy words for anyone struggling with sexual sin to hear. But we must remember that a Christian submits to the Word of God. We understand that He has a very explicit purpose for His creation, and especially for humans. A Christian will always look for ways to renounce Himself for the glory of the Creator, and so a person who experiences homosexual longings will always struggle against them if that person is indeed consumed by a love for Christ. We Christians are imperfect, but God is not and He has promised to restore us if we draw near to Him. Amen.

    So, if you long to serve Christ but desire some sexual activity outside of God’s ordained means, this is nothing new or special. All humans are born with an endemic inability to do exactly what God desires and requires. The question is whether you are willing to give up those sexual, sinful passions, in the same way that the rich young ruler had to give up his treasures. This is the measure of our love for God; our willingness to give up ourselves for His sake.

    • bassboneman

      I can not understand why Christians are so convinced that God is good, rather than evil

      • Steve D

        Good point. A lot of people of virtually all religions do and have done evil, callous and inhumane things in the name of their religion and their god.

        • Steve

          @Steve D

          The fact that people have done bad things in the name of some other thing in no way imputes guilt to that thing. Examples:

          - A person who, out of love for the President, murders the opponents of that President. Assuming the President ordered no such thing, the President is completely free of guilt in the matter.

          - An eco-terrorist, who destroys human buildings out of vigorous affection for nature, in no way implies that "nature" is guilty of the murder.

          So the fact that humans, in the name of religion, have done atrocities in no way imputes guilt to their god, unless that god has specifically ordained that those humans should act in such a manner. So whatever presumed atrocities are in your mind when you say that people do 'evil' things in the name of their god, your job is to show how these people are acting in complete consistency with the religion to which they adhere. Then you have to prove why the commands of that religion are 'good' or 'evil', which leads to the next section:

          @bassboneman

          You contention is presumably that God is not good, but evil. This is an interesting phrasing, as to call something 'good' or 'evil' implies that you have some standard of what is good and evil. Absent a God, how did your definition come about?

          People talk about good and evil based on a common understanding of what constitutes them, but on reflection it is clear that we have no absolute basis for declaring something good or evil if no God exists. Without a God, who creates some standard of goodness /external/ to humans, then all value systems are just made-up human inventions. And if such standards are just made up, on what basis can they be applied to anything? Who cares if you consider God evil, when your definition of evil is a human invention?

          A more precise way of speaking would be to say "If that is how God communicates Himself, then I don't like Him". And I guess that is fair enough, although its pretty selfish to say that you don't like someone who died for you and offered you a free chance to:

          1) Never die (in the eternal sense of the word)

          2) Free yourself from your passions

          3) Enjoy a relationship like none other in existence

          -all for the price of just loving Him and ceasing to act in self-destructive ways.

          • Steve D

            Steve says: "The fact that people have done bad things in the name of some other thing in no way imputes guilt to that thing."

            The guilt is squarely upon the shoulders of those who commit the deeds. However, religion (like some other things) often provides both an impetus and an excuse for such behavior, in the minds of the people doing the–in this case–inhuman or cruel actions.

            This highlights a flaw in your examples. While the president may not urge specific people to kill on his behalf, or "nature" incline people to violence, the Bible and Christianity (and Islam) often do at least _seem_ to urge people to harbor ill will of various types toward others of their kind, and sometimes seems to sanction actions that cause harm to others.

            Regarding "good" and "evil," your argument that we have "no absolute basis for declaring something good or evil if no God exists" is also flawed. There is not necessarily a connection between "good" and "evil" and God, and both good and evil as designations are merely value judgments. An atheist for example can regard some things as good and others as evil independently of any religion all while denying the existence of a god.

          • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

            While good and evil do not have absolute definitions even in the Bible, there is a sufficient human understanding of the terms that such a definition is not entirely necessary.

            The Bible uses "Tov", "Ra'", "Rasha'", Kalos, Agathos, Poneros, all of which had meanings before they were used in the Bible.

            Be Well,

            Bob G

          • Steve D

            BobG says: "While good and evil do not have absolute definitions even in the Bible, there is a sufficient human understanding of the terms that such a definition is not entirely necessary."

            Regarding good and evil, not merely the definitions but the concepts themselves are not absolute and not necessary. They are value judgments, concepts of convenience, that's all.

          • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

            Steve D,

            I have found the concepts most useful, especially in contexts where people are upset about a political or economica situation or by the behavior of individuals or groups. There is a certain correspondence between the terms and species survival, but that correspondence is complex, unclear, and has been misused by racists and proponents of eugenics.

            My earlier response was actually to Steve, who, like many Christians, seems to require some absolute standard of good or evil. I submit that the Bible was certainly not intended to be such a standard, though sections were indeed intended as correctives to then-current understandings.

            I submit that the ideas of good and bad, while varying enormously over time and cross-culturally, are rooted in common human experience, and have as much reality at some level as ‘north’, ‘south’, ‘east’, and ‘west’. (Note that some of the languages of Solomon Islands use ‘seawards’ and ‘landwards’ rather than ‘north’ and ‘south’.) The value judgements are part of human experience. The concepts are abstractions, some better some worse, from such experience.

            Be Well/Suki Hotu,

            Bob G

            PS Just as parts of the brain are used in navigation or in correct spelling and syntax so parts of the brain are used in ethical or proto-ethical thought by common individuals, usually uninterested in formulating grand ethical theories.

            PPS Hypothesis:Syntax is to morality as navigation is to ethical thought.

    • Raycol

      @ Steve

      You may be interested that it is Paul who defines sin by what harms humans. He does it in Romans 13:9-10, summarized as “If you love (act for the welfare of) your neighbor, including not harming your neighbor, you then fulfill (meet all the requirements of) the Old Testament commandments”.

      • Steve

        @Raycol

        It is interesting that Paul chooses to obfuscate Christ's summary of the commandments, which He asserted as twofold:

        - Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

        - Love your neighbor as yourself.

        Paul chose only to discuss the latter half of Christ's summary in the book of Romans. Which raises the question: "Why he did he choose to do so?" Did Paul believe that loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is not necessary or commanded in the Old Testament? Paul, being a scholar in the law would certainly have known Deuteronomy 6:5, which is what Christ quoted when He summarized the law.

        I contend that Paul is not speaking here of every single commandment in Scripture (which is why he lists only a few of the 10 commandments) but is instead speaking of relational laws – those laws which are set up regarding our relationship to one another. These are summarized in showing love for one another. This makes sense, since his context in Romans 13 is speaking about how humans should behave with regard to one another. He first says that we should submit to the governing authorities, pay our taxes, and later in the chapter discusses sexual immorality and modesty. These are commandments regarding our actions toward one another. Do we really think that Paul would argue that love for God is not a necessary characteristic of morality, and that all humans really need to do is be nice to one another? A cursory glance at his other writings in Scripture is more than sufficient to dispel such a notion. Thus in the context of this chapter, I think it more than likely Paul is speaking about the subset of commandments which are geared toward our behavior toward one another.

        To assert otherwise would be to say that Paul contradicts Christ and other teachers of the Bible, and that Paul isn't aware of some portions of the Old Testament law. Some in the comments (particularly Steve D) do indeed make this assertion, which renders the Bible as nothing more than a somewhat-helpful advice book. To fully refute that assertion is a job for another post, but I will be content to say that God loves His people enough to communicate Himself through the written Word. If he doesn't do that, then we are no better off than the first century pagans, having no light other than our often-misguided reason with which to attain to God. What a dreadful thought.

        • Diana

          "It is interesting that Paul chooses to obfuscate Christ’s summary of the commandments, which He asserted as twofold:

          - Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

          - Love your neighbor as yourself.

          Paul chose only to discuss the latter half of Christ’s summary in the book of Romans. Which raises the question: 'Why he did he choose to do so?' Did Paul believe that loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is not necessary or commanded in the Old Testament?"

          This is what I think: I think Paul chose only to discuss the latter half of Jesus's summary in the book of Romans because Jesus so often said "that which you do unto another, you also do unto me." And since Jesus is God (is, was, always will be) what we do unto others is what we are doing unto God.

          Of course, I could be wrong.

        • nagarjunary

          I am what you might consider a “recovering Catholic.” So believe me when I say I believed the very essence of the Word, as a young child to a very recent age (in my mid 30′s).

          It is assertions such as yours that made me question my faith, and ultimately, to seek elsewhere for guidance.

          To suggest that, without the Word, we are nothing, is to give us too little credit.

          Yes, the rational mind is imperfect, but, given sufficient time and resources, it can do amazing things. That, combined with a deep empathy for one’s neighbors and a willing to collaborate, leads us to understand that, contrary to your assertion, a world without the Word is not dreadful. It is liberating, to be authentic in your caring for your neighbor, without the strictures of eternal condemnation or eternal salvation posing their heavy shadow.

          It is said that the origins of the word “sin” are “to miss the mark” or the point. I found that, as a practicing Christian, I was forever embroiled in a battle for my soul, pontificating on the mundane peccadillos hanging over my salvation, rather than living an authentic life of good deeds and good intentions. I was missing the mark.

          Yes, I may go to hell, but you know what? I’ll risk it. Because I’ll reckon there is no heaven or hell, only the deeds we create and the lives we’ve touched while we’re here.

          There is light beyond the Word. It is all light. You just won’t allow yourself to see it.

          • Steve

            @nagarjunary

            I have a few problems with your post:

            1) In your argument in favor of the sufficiency of reason alone, you didn't present a single argument from 'reason' to back up your assertions.

            2) You call yourself a 'recovering Catholic', but then say that my assertions like mine about the insufficiency of reason caused you to give up your faith. That can't be true, since the Catholic church holds that reason alone ("natural revelation") is sufficient unto salvation (in the tradition of Aquinas). So statements like mine could not have caused you to give up Catholicism, unless you misunderstood the teachings of your church.

            3) Without citing any examples, you speak of the amazing things that the mind can do, given sufficient time and resources, without any positive inducement to morality. Yet there have been dozens of human societies, completely free of any written Word or Christian influence for thousands of years, who have progressed to little more than barbarism in terms of their morality. Think of the myriad of civilizations encountered once Europeans made their advancements in sea navigation (Pacific Islanders, native Americans, aboriginals of various lands). All of these, completely unencumbered by the written Scripture and equipped with nothing but their reasoning abilities, progressed very little in the realm of morality for thousands of years before Scripture met them. Is it not odd that of all of the tribes found, not a one of them had achieved any real accomplishments to make European civilization envious? Probably the highest examples of cultural progression absent the light of Scripture are the Greeks, Romans, and possibly some far eastern cultures. But in all of these, the grossest of actions were practiced and indeed honored, in their orgiastic ceremonies, their human sacrifices/crucifixions, their constant warfare, and their esteem of pedophilia. Our society is by no means perfect (I would argue largely due to the decline of Scriptural interest in general), but I would never trade places with anyone from those from societies untouched by the light of Scripture.

            What I'm getting at here is the Christian doctrine of Original Sin and total depravity. In general, this is seen as follows; that our capacities of logic and reasoning are unaffected by the fall, but that our wills (the ability to choose good and evil) are corrupted. Thus we can, given infinite resources and time, accomplish marvelous things, but only when our wills are changed such that we are not inherently self-centered and self-serving. The most obvious evidence of what I'm discussing here is the young child, who (apart from instruction/discipline from others) is utterly uninterested in the notions of right and wrong, but only in his/her own pleasure.

            4) Lastly, you cite the 'liberating' feeling of authenticity (borrowing from the existentialists) as the highest (and presumably sole) justification for moral behavior. If I may be permitted to rephrase this:

            "Do good to other people, cuz it will feel really liberating and authentic".

            If this is all the inducement necessary to get others to adhere to some moral code, then of what use are our laws, traditions, etc…? Why would governments have to punish others? And why parents their children? No, there is something about us humans which prevents us from naturally choosing virtue over vice. The simple fact is that humans are inherently incapable of making good, virtuous decisions without some external influence upon them. Its not a pleasant truth, but it is honest and authentic.

          • Steve D

            Steve writes: "there is something about us humans which prevents us from naturally choosing virtue over vice. The simple fact is that humans are inherently incapable of making good, virtuous decisions without some external influence upon them."

            Absolutely false. Yours is a pessimistic and unrealistic view, and not true at all. We learn from our mistakes as well as our successes, and sometimes the mistakes make the deeper impression and stronger lesson, so both are beneficial to ourselves and those we interact with. Whatever harm we may to to ourselves and others we must face until we resolve it in some way, or we must expend some substantial amount of energy distancing ourselves from it or trying to make ourselves insensitive to it in order to avoid facing it.

            Either way, in the long run we must live with ourselves and our actions, and that in itself teaches us: none of your "external influence" is necessary for humans to learn to become better people for their own sake as well as the sake of those with whom they come into contact. Our own experience teaches us.

          • Steve

            @Steve D

            For the record, you are asserting that human morality would be in no way affected were we to remove the institutions of government, family, marriage, etc…? These things are, according to your scheme, utterly unnecessary for the morality of a populace? If thats true, why on earth do we have a government at all? Why have parents, when we could just give our children a machine to feed them and a television to educate them?

            Your assertion is that experience teaches us. But this whole idea utterly depends upon the presupposition that ‘good’ behavior is always rewarded, and ‘bad’ behavior is always punished in some way. But how can you say this, absent a God who ordered reality to act as such? If there is no God, then there is no reason we should assume negative consequences for our ‘wrong’ actions, and happy consequences for our ‘good’ actions. There are countless historical examples of men and women who have benefited immensely from their evil behavior. Does experience not apply to them? Are they guiltless, since their experience did not teach them to do good?

            No, we humans recognize that existence doesn’t always punish wrong actions, and that is why humans form governments to punish criminals and create laws. That is why we have families to imprint morality in the young. And that is why /every/ culture has developed some form of religion, no matter how rudimentary.

            We all see examples where experience does not teach us. The drunkard often continues in his drinking. There are many who go to jail multiple times. Repeat sex offenders are far more typical than one-time sex offenders. The list goes on.

            Lastly, my view /would/ be pessimistic, were it not for Christ and the forgiveness He imparts to humans. Our goodness is shaky at best, but He gave us a way to escape God’s righteous anger at our downright stupidity and immorality.

          • Steve

            Also Steve D, I presented several justifications for my assertion that the human will needs a positive inducement to morality. You refuted none (didn't even reference them…), but instead just offered your own opinion of how morality develops in a human. A more productive form of argumentation would be providing your refutations for my reasoning and then showing why yours is a better conclusion, rather than just asserting your own.

          • Steve D

            I agree that humans can benefit from “a positive inducement,” but that positive inducement comes from themselves, as the result of experiencing the effects of their own actions, and not from your “external influence.”

            I would concede that a mutually-engaged interaction between oneself and one or more other persons gives us the feedback to gauge whether what we are doing is beneficial (to ourselves or others or both) or not.

          • Steve D

            I am asserting that morality is nothing more than a collection of values, and these values can and often do come from institutions initially, in a young person's life, but then often are exchanged for a more personal, chosen set of values as well as beliefs as one begins to learn from life experience and question one's early "programming."

            Values often exist independently of religion or other social institutions.

            People learn how to be "good" by being "bad," learning from our own mistakes. Mistakes are therefore valuable. This all happens independently of whether or not there is a god.

            There are many sets of values and "morals," not only between religions and among those who reject religion, but also within any particular religion.

            Beliefs and values, while they may be gathered at an early age from one's parents, surroundings and the social institutions and the circumstances into which a person is born, are usually tailored, worked through to form a highly personal set of beliefs and values over time as a person matures. These beliefs about reality and values (ideals that one attempts to realize in their person or as an extension of oneself) may have little or nothing to do with God nor religion.

            Your example of the drunkard not learning from his experience and continuing to drink is not the final chapter of that particular story. Countless people have personally experienced or known someone who has experienced "hitting bottom" and changing in such a fundamental way that they are never the same again. A crisis demands change of some kind, and whether it is improvement or a sudden end, the situation does not remain the same. The drunk gets better, or he may die; continuing his same behavior is no longer an option.

            People are basically cooperative. We could not persist in practical physical reality if this were not so. But that is a long argument not appropriate for a comments section of this article.

          • Steve

            I’m content with where this argument has gone, as you have conceded that a human, apart from any inducements to good behavior outside of himself, will act in ways generally considered ‘wrong’. As long as you are willing to concede that humans need institutions to force upon them a set of moral values, you have conceded by and large to the Christian doctrine of Original Sin, namely that humans on their own are entirely self-centered. It takes something external to the individual to get the individual to act virtuously.

            But you still have not refuted one of my points from an earlier comment. Namely, if trial-and-error is enough to get humans to act virtuously, then why in the myriad of civilizations encountered by Europeans in the age of Navigation, was not a single one what we would today consider virtuous? These peoples had nothing but their reasons to guide them, being completely free of any Scriptural influence. I won’t go into all the detail for brevity’s sake, but several points from my earlier posts have gone completely unchallenged.

            Your scheme of trial-and-error actually goes hand in hand with the experience of the aforementioned Europeans and the civilizations they encountered. For if humans are doomed to only recognize good after committing evil, then it is no surprise that those civilizations were barbarous. After all, they could only recognize cannibalism as wrong after having eaten another human! Murder in general is only seen as murder once negative effects flow from that action (which probably didn’t happen too often, at least in the context of war, since the victor gets the spoils).

            Nobody will argue that people make mistakes and learn from them. But this is not sufficient to give society any true progression in morality, since we must be forever murdering one another to learn that murder is wrong, etc…

            Lastly, your scheme leads to relativism in the worst kind of way. Lets assume that Steve D has found, through his trial and error, that molesting children is in general not a beneficial thing to do. On what basis should someone else be forced to accept Steve’s morality? Why does Steve D get to dictate what someone else should or should not do? His only argument is from his own personal experience, and from some perceived ‘greater good’ of the benefit of society.

            But why should anyone listen to him? If the action is not inherently wrong in and of itself, but only wrong because of the negative effects that flow from it (based on Steve’s imaginary personal experience), why on earth should anyone have to listen to him? Who is Steve D to be able to dictate what is right and wrong? What right does Steve have to expect others to conform to his understanding of the negative effects of his actions?

            No, humans are in desperate need of an absolute morality extrinsic to ourselves, or else we cannot apply our values in any relevant sense. That is why Scripture is necessary.

          • Steve D

            I have conceded only that a human will do things that some people may consider wrong or right, even aside from any outside inducement, and that we learn from all our experiences whether those experiences may be considered positive or negative, and that "wrong" and "right" are mere value judgments.

            That's not much of a concession. So don't take more than I offered, or presume or assert that I offered more. :-)

          • nagarjunary

            @Steve

            I will address each point individually:

            1. My first post was of intent, much as a preamble. I can (and will) cite several examples, as requested.

            Reason alone perhaps may not give you the God you seek, but it can demonstrate that any god sought, as such, is an incomplete understanding of possibility.

            Per Godel’s Incompleteness theorem, we find that any formal system of sufficient complexity has truths that cannot be described within said system. As to whether the Universe is a formal system is still debatable, but the rigors of interpretation of Christian theology and philosophy, in many forms (if not essentially) are definitely a formal system, in their attempts for soundness and consistency (within the reason-based apologists’ theology, with many examples cited by Alister McGrath).

            This tells us that, via pure reasoning, God, that than which nothing greater can be conceived, cannot be captured via your logic.

            All this says is that, yes, there may be a god; that is not a logically incoherent proposition; however, it also demonstrates that any attempts to capture said god’s essence are likely to fail.

            It is in this respect that I have come to see the Christian God as perhaps another instantiation of the Hebrew Yahweh, or the Roman gods Jupiter et al, or the Greek or Nordic or any other number of gods posited throughout the history of mankind: attempts to contain something perhaps ineffable, perhaps nonexistent.

            Fair enough. There may be a god, they may not be a god, who knows. However, I take offense at the proposition that this thing, whatever it may be (or even if it is at all), is YOUR GOD, the one you claim privilege to.

            Besides its audacity, it’s logically incoherent. Why your privilege? Because you feel it true? Because it’s all you’ve ever believed all your life?

            I take solace from the words of physicist Richard Feynman, when addressing the impositions of religious people when addressing the mysteries of the universe:

            “And so, altogether, I can’t believe the special stories that have been made up about our relationship to the universe at large, because… they seem to be… too simple, too connected… too local, too provincial… the earth, he came to the earth, one of the aspects of God came to the earth, mind you, and look at what’s out there, how can you, it isn’t in proportion.”

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6sFVkNmSgs

            Christians (and other religions) tend to elaborate on a false dichotomy: that either you have nothingness, or you have the God of the Bible. It has been said by many non-believers that any arguments proposing the existence of the Biblical God may apply to Zeus, Thor, Brahman, and perhaps even the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Thus, the onus becomes on demonstrating conclusively that the Biblical God is *necessarily* the only logically-consistent and logically-coherent God possible. This hasn’t been done.

            2. It was a factor, but not the only factor.

            I hear this from Christians all the time, and in fact is a substantial argument against Dawkins in Alister McGrath’s book, “Dawkin’s God.” That is to say, *their* Christianity isn’t the *real* Christianity, meaning to state that popular interpretations aren’t legitimate, only theologically sound (and approved) interpretations.

            I can address this issue on both the positive and negative positions on this point (with the point being whether Christianity only stands as the theologically-sound and approved versions, or whether popular versions are also legitimate forms of Christianity). In any case, there still exists the problem of arbitration: who is to say that *your* version of Christianity is authentic, and *theirs* isn’t? And why? Because of sheer numbers? Because of one’s willingness to total adherence to the literal word? Or perhaps to the theological traditions of the Old Church?

            Following Aquinas and Anselm, we find that arguments for God’s existence, such as the Ontological Argument, do not necessitate the God of the Bible.

            For example, per Anselm, God is that than which nothing greater can be conceived. However, besides the philosophical problem of asserting that “to exist” is necessarily greater than to not exist (it can be posited that it is greater for a plague not to exist than to exist, thus such an assertion is contingent on its subject), such a thing would be a much greater thing than anything described in the Bible; indeed, it relates to my first point, of any such thing’s inherent ineffability. If such a thing were to exist, its pettiness and abhorrent behavior make it too provincially small-minded to be the God of the Bible.

            The more you push the rationally-bound theological aspects of Christianity, the more abstract God becomes, and the less personal God is; Alister McGrath posits that any such God would likely be the God of deism, who sets the universe into action but does not intervene — and thus NOT the interventionist and personal God of many people’s interpretations of Christianity.

            However, let’s say you push on this strong version of a rationally-sound understanding of God. Does it then follow that such a great God would care about the minutiae of several small infestations of life on some far-off planet?

            You may claim that God is welcome to his own plan — enough said, but that is so arbitrary as to be laughable. And you may claim reason upon reason as justifications for God’s apparent arbitrariness, but at the end of the day, it seems so Ptolemic… epicycles upon epicycles, attempting to shoehorn an outdated metaphor onto something far more elegant, something far less personal and more abstract.

            3. You seem to follow William Golding’s belief, expressed in “Lord of the Flies”, that, like civilization, religion is necessary to tame the inherent darkness and savageness within the human heart.

            One need only posit several counterpoints:

            a) religion does not necessarily abate these savageries, and in fact, may serve to amplify pre-existing tribal, ethnic, and imperialistic tendencies; e.g., the Spanish conquistadores, claiming their butchering of an entire civilization in the name of God and glory, whereas it was mostly an imperialistic exercise seeking national wealth, power, and increased sovereignty over other nations.

            You may claim the tribals were wicked sinners who practiced human sacrifices, and here we disagree fundamentally on morality; for whereas I agree that human sacrifice is not justified, I do not believe it is my moral imperative, as part of a sound belief system, to necessarily convert such practitioners; much the same has been made of removing Saddam Hussein from power (that it was an honorable duty, since he gassed his own people); I am willing to bite the bullet, philosophically, to claim that the correction of such atrocities should be based not on some dogmatic morality ascribed to religious dictate, but pragmatic and reasoned arguments for and against intervention. My take is that you would defer such reasoning to the morality of your Christian beliefs, despite any counter-evidence that perhaps your beliefs may actually be doing any good to the people themselves (e.g., the attempts to condemn condom use in Africa to attenuate the spread of AIDS), and in fact, in many cases, the people of Iraq were better off under Saddam than they are now, under US occupation. Still, even if they actually benefitted from US occupation (which they don’t), the dictate for assistance should not be one of religiously-dictated morality, but rather commonly-shared ethical and moral standards determined by the contemporary social norms of our civilizations.

            Were you to take the Bible literally, you would sanction the owning of another human being, the treatment of women as property, the burning and stoning of heathens, adulterers, and all sorts of miscreants, and other abominable actions that we have deemed unworthy of practice in a modern civilization. However, such actions are not deemed offensive due to Biblical morality, but rather because, as a civilization becomes more interdependent and informed, it tends to value stability and cooperation over conquest, which leads to the emancipation of previously-subjugated classes of people.

            b) you seem fixated on the “orgiastic ceremonies” and other aspects of other cultures you find distasteful, while nonetheless ignoring the very same distasteful actions performed in the very name of religion. One can look at recent events with the Catholic church’s abuse of children and young adolescents, or one can go back farther to the Spanish Inquisition, to the Crusades, to the silent complicity of the Catholic Church during Nazi occupations, etc…

            That is to say, this argument holds no weight, since powerful and corrupt people will use whatever tools they can to impose their will, be it religion, the state, fear, etc. It does not necessarily follow that these events were caused either by religious or a-religious belief systems, ON THEIR OWN. There are plenty of peaceful Christians and peaceful atheists. It is the proselytizing and missionary aspects of religious dogma that, like imperialism and other systems that promote dominance and power over people, are to be condemned. And yes, certain atheists were culpable of atrocities in the past, but these are not of the atheism alone, but of other aspects of power/dominance which utilized atheism as a tool for further ends (e.g., Stalin).

            b). The mind can allow the understanding the greatness of the Universe; as the old story goes, when Napoleon asked LaPlace why he didn’t attribute to God his calculations regarding his celestial findings, LaPlace responded: “I have no need of that hypothesis.” Indeed, astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, in a talk regarding the interaction between science and religion, posited that certain aspects of religious thought may actually be detrimental to the scientific endeavor for knowledge and truth:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZwNCvC5OL8#t=1m53s

            He specifically demonstrates what occurred to Islam in the 10th century, but his assertions are that this is what is currently occurring now, with virulent strands of Christianity that seek to oppose open inquiry regarding authentic scientific exploration.

            You may claim *those* versions are not authentic Christianity, but tell that to any adherent, for they will claim *your* version is not authentic. Who can arbitrate such distinctions? On what basis does one claim superior authority of interpretation of such texts?

            The search for truth is a never-ending journey, and truth comes in many forms; perhaps there are truths that may not be captured by the scientific method, but it behooves the assertive to demonstrate why their particular version of truth is necessarily the only version. Reason is a powerful tool for assessing the value of truths, and whereas it may be imperfect, it is the best tool we have.

            And the most powerful tool of the rational mind is the criterion for falsifiability: posit an assertion in such a manner that it can be empirically validated or falsified.

            The God Hypothesis cannot be done so, in its ultimate form. But the corollaries of lesser forms of this hypothesis, such as the hypothesis of a Personal God, the God of vengeance and hellfire and adherence to petty Biblical stricture, *can* and has been shown to be both philosophically incoherent and empirically insignificant; our ever-increasing understanding of the universe, through science and reason, has illuminated the dark reaches of our previous magical thinking, understanding previously mysterious phenomena to be of natural, and not supernatural origins. The question of Ultimate origins may possibly not be accessible to science, but if any such cause may be considered “god”, it has nothing to do with the God of the Bible.

            4) Morality is inherent in our actions, irrelevant of religious beliefs; or rather, it was the inherent moral nature of man that led to the creation of laws and traditions that became our earthly religions.

            Much scholarly work has been done by people like Robin Dunbar, Martin Nowak, Karl Sigmund, and others that demonstrate that cooperation and societal rules and norms of evolutionarily advantageous, particularly in the complex social interactions that form daily life amongst the higher primates (including humans). I myself have done research into aspects of cooperation and reciprocity, using computer models and empirical research along with several colleagues in the UK and the States, following the well-established findings of anthropologists, primatologists, social researchers, and others, that morality is not bound to any particular set of linguistic mechanisms, but rather is more primordial and essential to the collective wellbeing of social animals. We seek to reward collaborators and punish free-riders (and in fact, the free-rider problem is still a very difficult one in economics, social psychology, and evolutionary psychology and evolutionary game-theory). These foundations demonstrate that systems of interaction which we would consider precursors to systems of morality and ethics have been in existence far before Christianity, and likely far before speech was ever perfected.

            Your last statement is a plain falsehood. Plenty of research backs up the inherent necessity for cooperation and altruism in social situations, outside of religious impositions. Cooperation within social groups develops into an evolutionary stable equilibrium based on the task demands of foraging for resources, necessities for survival, distribution of tasks amongst group members, and division of roles; social norms are built up organically amongst such groups, as it would not be evolutionarily advantageous to do so beyond a certain aggregation of group size. There are other animals that exhibit less cooperative behavior, but these animals tend to be limited in group size and often are loners, rather than pack animals; it is true in the animal kingdom as it is with us: survival for social species necessarily requires cooperation, and such cooperation is selected for at the genomic level. Our morality and ethics, quite simply, are a part of who we are, and our religious systems are ways of passing this information on in story form in our societies.

            The liberating feeling I claim comes from my particular strand of belief (i.e., Catholicism, which imposes a high order of guilt and oversight over the specifics adherence to dogma), but once the door was open to a different understanding, other sacrosanct aspects of my belief system could be rigorously inspected, rather than simply taken on faith. And the claims of my previous beliefs, and many beliefs of religious doctrines (including Christianity) simply didn’t hold up to inspection.

            And one reason I left was because that which you claim an essential part of Christian doctrine, that of Original Sin, is not coherent, nor is it necessary. Indeed, it’s just plain false. It’s a made-up story, to address insecurities in our understanding of the universe, to contain the vast complexities of existence, to give us a story to tell our children so they can rest peacefully at night; things like theodicy become illuminated as just-so stories within a literary framework, rather than an authentic system upon which to base one’s morality and ethics.

            There may be a God, but any such thing, were it to exist, is of such amazing majesty that, to believe as you do, is simply provincially farcical, to think that any such god *cares*, about whether two male chimps get it on, or whether humans are morally born into sin. It’s trite, and this dogma of sin is harmful at its core.

            However, the the main reason I left simply remains that, well, it’s your word against mine, and life is too short to be a dick to other people by imposing my beliefs on them. And Christianity, for all its virtues, claimed privilege on beliefs to which it has no other privilege other than the privilege of getting to you while you are too young to know any better, and most strands imposed this belief as part of its essence, to proselyte, sometimes by force, but almost always through the privilege of ignorance to alternatives.

            As such, I do not claim you should believe what I believe; I offer my perspective as an alternative way of seeing the world, but I claim no righteousness beyond the fact that its a reasoned, principled, and peaceful perspective that works for me and many people like me. Can you say the same of yours (primarily that you are ok with me believing something that you don’t)?.

            Tolerance, my friend.

          • Steve

            @nagarjunary,

            You kind of got off topic with this last post, but I'll try and respond sometime today or tomorrow to the notions you've raised.

          • nagarjunary

            I think my post speaks for itself, in responding to your questions while giving some context regarding my assertions.

            I'm not interested in debating theology with you; to me, it's as with literature — interesting, perhaps enlightening, but ultimately fictitious. I'm interested in understanding why you think others should believe as you do.

          • Steve

            @nagarjunary,

            We’re coming at this from two very disparate worldviews, so I won’t try and we won’t be able to explore this fully on this forum. You believe in a world in which every human action is determined by our genetic makeup interacting with our environment, whereas I believe that humans have qualitative differences with the animal kingdom.

            First I’d like to examine some of your points:

            1) “I’m not interested in debating theology with you; to me, it’s as with literature — interesting, perhaps enlightening, but ultimately fictitious.”

            You hold theology as fictitious after posting a comment containing several theological assertions, such as:

            “There may be a God, but any such thing, were it to exist, is of such amazing majesty that, to believe as you do, is simply provincially farcical, to think that any such god *cares*, about whether two male chimps get it on, or whether humans are morally born into sin. It’s trite, and this dogma of sin is harmful at its core.”

            - These are theological determinations about the character of God (should He exist), which you assert with confidence while also maintaining that God is fictitious.

            2) “b) you seem fixated on the “orgiastic ceremonies” and other aspects of other cultures you find distasteful, while nonetheless ignoring the very same distasteful actions performed in the very name of religion.”

            - I believe I mention those ceremonies once, which I’m not sure counts as a fixation..

            - I in no way ignore the fact that wicked things have been done in the name of religion. My whole point is that /humans/ are naturally inclined to vice, needing a positive inducement to behave morally. Thus your assertion that humans have behaved immorally in the name of various things only helps further the doctrine of Original Sin, namely that humans do bad things wherever and whenever they are found. This in no way imputes guilt to God (unless God specifically and clearly commanded such actions, which we can talk about if you’d like).

            3) “You may claim the tribals were wicked sinners who practiced human sacrifices, and here we disagree fundamentally on morality; for whereas I agree that human sacrifice is not justified, I do not believe it is my moral imperative, as part of a sound belief system, to necessarily convert such practitioners”

            - I claimed no such thing about them being ‘wicked sinners’ (in contradistinction to ‘regular’ sinners). Again, the whole argument was to prove that humans in general are equally self-interested, and in need of positive inducements to virtue.

            - From what I can tell, you are positing that Christians try to stop immorality on the sole basis of the displeasure it brings to God, whereas others try and stop immorality because it will be beneficial to those who practice said immorality.

            This is a false dichotomy. Christians can and do promote virtue on the basis of their love for God /and/ for fellow man. This is why Christ summed up the law as such, to love God with all you have and to love your neighbor as yourself. It adds no virtue to an action for it to be done without any reverence for God. Rather, if we agree that true virtue is a love for all beings, then it is /more/ virtuous to act out of a love for both God and fellow man, since God (if He exists) is a being.

            4) “the dictate for assistance should not be one of religiously-dictated morality, but rather commonly-shared ethical and moral standards determined by the contemporary social norms of our civilizations.”

            - This reasoning is circuitous in asserting that our “shared ethical and moral standards” should determine our actions. In other words, our shared morals should determine our morality. Thus morals are both the cause and effects of themselves. There must be something apart from our supposedly intrinsic morality to determine our morals, or else we just spin around in circles ad infinitum.

            5) If I may, I think your argument for the development of morality in a society can be summarized as follows:

            - Humans are naturally social beings.

            - Our social nature both genetically predisposes us to work for the survival of our species, and also foments cooperation based on demands for food, etc…

            - That common desire to benefit the species, emanating from our social instincts, is all the morality there is.

            To the first assertion, I don’t think there are any arguments from any well-defined camp.

            - However, I contend that morality cannot just be our instinctual desire for the propagation of the species:

            + Wars occur wherever humans exist, and they are never beneficial to the numerousness of the species. Yet humans constantly, continually, and mercilessly engage in wars in every generation. Not all of these wars are forced upon humanity, but in a great many men and women have /willingly/ given up their lives for abstract concepts. The giving up of one’s life for something like ‘land’ is hard to reconcile with a supposed natural inclination to human propagation as a species.

            + If a species wishes to perpetuate, its best asset is numbers (increasing the genetic pool). So if humans have this instinctual, unrestrained drive to perpetuate their species, why do so many choose not to have children, or intentionally limit the number of children that they have? Should not man be utterly consumed with reproduction from puberty onward? Why are humans so unique among animals in our often casual attitude toward reproduction? Why the declining populations in Europe?

            + If morality is truly (and utterly) instinctual, having only relative value, then a person can never be justifiably blamed by other humans for any of their actions, since they are only acting in complete congruence with their instincts. You own up to this in several regards, but concede that societies (which are formed out of our social instincts) can rightfully punish those who do not adhere to some perceived good of the society. But upon what basis? If morality is utterly intrinsic, then one has no right to enforce any values upon any other, regardless of context. Thus the person raping another should not necessarily be stopped, since they may be acting out of some sincere instinctual desire to further the number of their species on the planet.

            + And this is where the argument really breaks down. For if morality is utterly based in man’s intrinsic and instinctual desire for the perpetuation of homo sapiens, then the highest moral values can be things which I presume you to find repugnant. The extermination of the sick and weak, the institution of forced servitude, the coercion of women into child-rearing capacities alone, could all easily be argued as ways in which humankind can flourish on earth with unparalleled success. Imagine the numbers of babies that could be born each year if women were coerced into motherhood (and I mean /really/ coerced, even more so than in ancient times). Imagine how cheap and inexpensive food could become if slavery were re-instituted. And if the sick and weak were exterminated by society for the good of the species, then the gene pool would become enriched by the infusion of ‘strong’ genes and the lack of ‘weak’ ones.

            + Building on the previous point, the sociological scheme of morality obliterates any useful notions of virtue and vice. If propagation of the species is the highest end of man, then I am acting with the highest virtue when I feed myself. My act of feeding myself is every bit as virtuous as anything else man can do. Thus my own preservation becomes a highest virtue, and justifies all sorts of actions I make take in order to make sure that my genes are passed on. I can lie, cheat, and steal so long as it doesn’t diminish the gene pool and cause harm to myself. Actually, I /should/ lie and cheat if it increases my ability to reproduce, so long as it doesn’t harm the species as a whole.

            6) “Following Aquinas and Anselm, we find that arguments for God’s existence, such as the Ontological Argument, do not necessitate the God of the Bible.”

            - In this you agree with assertions long held by the Christian tradition, namely that reason alone is not sufficient unto salvation. What I suppose you to be arguing against is the opposite belief – that by reason alone one can come to a full, complete, and saving knowledge of the Christian God. Such a doctrine has been asserted by your former Church, but since you and I already agree on this matter (in accordance with doctrines long held by Christians), I don’t think this topic merits further consideration.

            7) You also assert that God, if such a being exists, is necessarily so great and majestic that man should never be able to know Him fully.

            - In this you are in agreement with the Christian tradition. Christians have long asserted that God is higher than man, such that man cannot even begin to know Him fully. So by reason, you have come to the conclusion that the Bible has asserted for thousands of years (Paul calls God’s judgments ‘unsearchable’, meaning we can’t even really begin to find them out to their fullest extent. There are countless references to God’s “highness” over man in the Old Testament as well).

            + In positing this, you have shown by reason the necessity of divine revelation as a means unto fully knowing God. For it is true that God is far higher than man, as you indeed assert. So how can man possibly contend to know Him, and to speak confidently about Him? It is only possible to do so when one speaks in accordance with what God has revealed to man.

            So in closing, I’ll go try to posit:

            1) Some reasons why Theism is reasonable.

            2) Why, if we accept Theism, we should not be content to just say that “He’s too big to know” in the tradition of the Stoics.

            3) Why reasonable inquiry into divine revelation should lead us to some notion of the Christian God.

            1) All humans accept causation to an extent, namely that we believe that things occur as a result of causes. No rational human, on stumbling upon a laptop while walking in the forest, assumes that the laptop must have just appeared out of nowhere. We assume that someone or something /caused/ this laptop to be there, and that the origins of that laptop can be traced and identified.

            In other words, all effects have a cause. In general we do not believe in a universe in which random things just appear out of nowhere (ex nihilo), but that there is a cause for all things.

            This reasoning was used heavily by the Greek philosophers in coming to a grasp that there is a God. I assert that it has never been well refuted.

            Everything in our existence has a history and a point of origin. This has been long argued by evolutionary theorists, who believe that all beings originate from single representative beings, who came out of mud, which came out of a big bang, etc…

            I don’t know your thoughts on the origin of existence, but I will for my purposes presume you to adhere to the Big Bang theory, namely that all matter was infinitely compressed and then exploded into our orderly universe at the beginning of time. But such a theory in no way solves the problem of causation.

            What caused all things to explode into order? Explosions in our existence are always treated as /effects/, not causes. If the explosion were some proper proportion of matter, what induced this proportion? Where did the matter come from?

            The most common refutation, that of infinite time plus chance, basically assumes that anything can occur with infinity at its disposal. If this is so, it demolishes cause and effect, and means that we live in a universe in which anything can happen at any instant, since all existence occurs within infinite time plus chance. Thus at the very next moment, an completely assembled airplane could materialize instantaneously right outside my window, and I should in no way be surprised. After all, it had all infinity to do so.

            A similar argument has been used before by other theists, and to my knowledge has never been adequately refuted. The assumption that an explosion of nothing could cause the orderly universe is far /less/ likely than other things which we consider impossible. If I took all the parts which make up a car, piled them in a heap, and watched for eternity, those inanimate objects would never (/never/) assemble themselves into a completely shaped, organized, and /running/ car. The Big Bang theory requires faith to the extreme.

            Thus to what can we attribute all existence? If every ball that is set in motion does so as the effect of an exerted force, from whence does exertion originate? This is the reasonableness of a Creator, some being who is not bound by physical laws, but who created a universe separate from Himself and exerted the prime motion. He must not be bound by physical laws, or else He would be subject to every causational argument asserted above. Therefore through reason we can reasonably assert that some sort of Creator must exist, who is separate and distinct from everything else.

            2) From here we get into the question of how we can know this Creator. Humans have identified two means in which a God could communicate Himself:

            - Natural revelation, in which we can make some reasonable deductions about His character from the universe He created, much as you can identify get to know any artist through their painting or a musician through their music.

            - Divine (direct) revelation, in which the Creator speaks or acts directly to sentient beings in order to make Himself known.

            I would hereby assert that from natural revelation (the orderliness of the world in which we live), we can deduce God to be a God of order, who does not act haphazardly. Through gravity we see that every single particle in this universe acts upon every other, such that the removal of one particle from the universe would alter existence). Thus this Creator seems to have qualities of orderliness. Thus if He has left any divine revelations into His character, they will more than likely be reasonable, non-contradictory, and not haphazard.

            The divine revelations held by Christians take many forms, but I will posit only one for our purposes – the resurrection of Christ.

            3) It is reasonable that a man called Joshua (Jesus) of Nazareth once existed.

            - At some point around 30-50 AD, humans in the Palestinian territory began making assertions about this man. This is attested to in Scripture as well as historical works (Suetonias and Josephus, among others). There are no records of any controversy related to His existence, though a great many denied the deistic claims about Him.

            - In particular, there were a vocal minority of men and women from that area (such as the apostles and their followers) making all sorts of commotion about how this man was crucified (which is never disputed in ancient texts) and resurrected.

            - Not only was this asserted, but asserted with the utmost confidence. We read in Acts several references to /witnesses/, who the apostles claimed to have seen the risen Savior. These are held to be at least ~500 people.

            - /Nobody/ liked these Christians. History is full of records about the Jews of the day seeing Christians as blasphemers and apostates. In their law, such men deserved to be stoned. And pagans, such as the ruling Romans, resented the Christian claims to exclusive truths and monotheism (the same claim which got Socrates killed back in his day). So the great, vast majority of humans during this era had every incentive to disprove the existence of Christ.

            - So why didn’t they? Why couldn’t they just get Jesus body and show that He was dead? Obviously they had no access to it. Absent a miracle, this would indicate that someone stole it.

            - Jesus’ rotten corpse would be of no value to the everyday thief, and Scripture records the presence of a large stone to deter burglary (which is not disputed in any historical texts). So this would point the finger to the only people with a vested interest in Jesus’ body, which would be His followers.

            So the most reasonable assumption we have (absent a resurrection, and apart from the idea that Jesus didn’t actually die on the cross, which is quite a statement given Roman efficiency in this area) is that the apostles stole His body in order to play some trick on mankind.

            I won’t assert that people have never acted in such a way, but it stretches reason to assert that men would be willing to undergo imprisonment, torture, and gruesome deaths (for all except one apostle) to the sole of end some joke. These men, by all reasonable accounts, believed exactly what they preached – that Christ rose from the dead.

            Again, the Jews and Romans had /every/ incentive to disprove this startup religion. From all reasonable historical inquiries they were unable to do anything of the sort. The sorts of claims by the apostles could be easily disproven with minimal inquiry if they were really false. For instance, the apostles claimed a resurrection of the dead of a certain man named Lazarus too. Heck, all anyone had to do was find this guy and his family and ask them if Lazarus had really been dead. But there is no extant record of anyone showing the resurrection of Lazarus or Jesus to have been discounted in the least.

            Such an aberration from normality as resurrection would imply the work of a Creator, a Being not subject to the laws of natural as we. Most refutations of the historicity of Jesus are based on skepticism and conspiracy theories about how the Catholic church probably burned all the records discounting the apostles’ testimony. But absent any proof there is no reason to hold this assertion except out of sheer presuppositional animosity to the assertions of Christianity.

            So we through reason, we can attain to some notions of God, and through divine revelation on the part of God we can arrive at some concept of His character. There’s much more to be written on these subjects than time permits.

            Also, please forgive me for not responding directly to your challenge about why I believe others should think as I. I’ve gotta go to work, so I’ll just say that anyone who stumbles onto something of great worth will want to share it with others, assuming they love those others. There’s more to it than that, but time does not permit further exploration at the moment.

  • David

    When you take the Bible out of the equation, you are basically trying to justify sin by the world's standards. You say there is no harm – but any sin is a willful transgression against God, choosing to ignore what He has to say. Yes, we are to love everyone and homosexuality is a complex issue but we are treading on dangerous ground when we say that abortion or homosexuality or greed are not sins when God's own word clearly speaks on each of these and more sins. The Old Testament gives us the law, the New Testament gives us a new covenant and salvation from our sins, if we are truly trusting Jesus for our salvation and not our own works. Jesus did not come to change the law, he came to free us from our sins but we have to do our part and repent. We are not repentant when we choose to believe sin is not sin. As to harm – what about aids and a host of other issues that often comes with a homosexual relationship? Just playing devil's advocate here because I believe the homosexual community has the right to live the way they want to live, and they have to answer to God not you or I. And I agree the church spends waaaay too much time on homosexuality and not on other sins. No sin will enter into the kingdom of heaven and that includes judging others. Besides, deep down we all know the truth when it comes to sin…

    • Steve D

      I think that one of the flaws in your arguments is the notion that the Bible represents the literal, absolute and infallible "word of God," when the Bible is in fact a man-made creation, written, compiled, translated and interpreted all by man, not God. To make matters worse, there are many versions of the Bible, so if one argues that the Bible is infallible and the absolute word of God, to which Bible exactly are they referring? Even if one particular version of the Bible is chosen, and an argument is made that it represents an absolute or absolutes of some kind, that argument had better consist of inarguable absolutes itself to be persuasive–rather than any wishy-washy, wiggle-room-creating "we can _reasonably_ know (guess) the mind of God" type of argument.

  • deb

    I think I've read most every post, and as someone who is honestly trying to make peace in my soul on this topic, one point I've not seen made is simply this: What about the design of the human body? Whether or not you believe in God as Creator, and putting the Bible, homosexual animals, procreation, and "natural" desires, aside for the moment, the human body was simply not designed for homosexual sex. Not to be graphic, but, men and women's bodies are designed to "fit" together in a way that two men or two women cannot. That, to me, speaks most clearly to the issue of God's original design and intent for humanity.

    I'm not a homophobe or a hater, and I'm w/John when it comes to believing that most Christians are doing a supremely sucky job of reflecting the heart of Christ to the world, but, I can't escape the fact that God made man and woman, each w/unique abilities, gifts, emotions, physical attributes, strengths, weaknesses, etc., etc., to compliment and complete each other. Can two women love each other and have a mutually fulfilling and healthy relationship? I'm certain that many can and do, even moreso than some heterosexual couples. But in the bigger picture of God's plan for the universe, how can we be so sure that continually going against His ORIGINAL design won't bring with it some very real and unintended consequences? I'm not so arrogant as to claim that I have a clue as to God's overall plan, but, I can see clearly that our bodies were made a certain way, and He most likely had a very good reason for making man and woman differently. "We are fearfully and wonderfully made."

    Whenever I can't make sense of what the Bible says, or what humans have done across history, I try and go back to God's original design and the evidence I see all around me that points to our purpose in life as a man or a woman in the world. I have no interest in converting homosexuals or athiests, etc., but, when I'm being labled intolerant or a hate-monger for teaching my children that they were created by God to be male and female for a reason, then I have a problem.

    Anxious to read your thoughts…

    • Kara

      Whether or not you believe in God as Creator, and putting the Bible, homosexual animals, procreation, and “natural” desires, aside for the moment, the human body was simply not designed for homosexual sex.

      Why do you think that? I hear this argument frequently, and it makes little sense to me.

      More straight couples are having oral sex than all gay couple combined, I would wager. Oral sex is not a gay phenomenon, and to say that the human body "was simply not designed for" just simply doesn't follow.

      Straight couples do the things you're thinking about. Only having missionary position, P-in-V sex is actually what's abnormal. Just because gay couples don't have that one particular way of having sex doesn't mean that all the other ways are invalid or wrong or unnatural. "Gay sex" is really something of a misnomer. Oral sex and anal sex are widely practiced and enjoyed by heterosexual couples too. So… I don't quite get where you're getting this.

    • Timaree

      ditto everything kara said.

      the “bodies are made for” argument is bizarre, phallocentric and really morbidly focused on sex acts that heterosexuals engage in all the time. it’s also just an off-shoot of the “but if you can’t have babies, it must be wrong” fallacy.

      additionally, it makes logical leaps. human bodies are not designed for air flight. yet we go on planes every day. and when we start talking design it’s hard for me to separate “design” versus evolution of the species. which becomes an entire differently bag of hammers.

      these are all grasping at straws to justify fear and hatred towards people who are different. give it up. or just admit you don’t like LGBT people openly. at least be brave about it.

  • Michael

    To persecute gays would not help them, but their affections for each other is not a love

    sanctioned by Jesus. In fact he makes it very clear that marriage is only between a man

    and a woman. No mentioning of, whatsoever, that it is ok to be gay, and then still call yourself a Christian. Wanting to remain the former just becomes like an idol to you. Yes, homosexuality is surely a sin. Then if not, why would he say to the woman, who was caught in adultery that while he did not condemn her, he also requested her to stop sinning? What she did, did not hurt others right? Jesus came to save all sinners, not just gays. This is why he does not spend much time on discussing homosexuality, because it is on the same level as all the other sins by which we humans like to destroy ourselves.

    • Timaree

      michael,

      jesus also does not mention that being gay and christian are NOT ok, either. you can't presume to know the thoughts of others, much less the person you consider to be god.

      and adultery is not actually the same as having a homosexual orientation, not matter how much easier it is for you to lump them together. one is deceitful- and it causes harm to the committed partnership from which the adulterer strays. the other may, in fact, BE a committed partnership.

  • Kara

    Okay, time to jump in here on a claim a lot of people are making but not really supporting. (I don't blame you, it'd be a pain in the ass to support it.)

    "The Bible is clear" that it's a sin to be gay/act gay/whatever? Really? Let's look and see about the places where the Bible talks about loving, consensual, equal, committed, monogamous gay relationships.

    Sodom: Story about gang rape. Clearly not about consensual gay relationships.

    Leviticus/Deuteronomy: Old Testament legal code. The code was intended to distinguish the Israelites from their new neighbors. Their new neighbors had lots of male temple prostitutes for the worship of idols. Also, at the time, it was important that Israel increase in population, and all men were expected to have a wife and contribute to that cause. Therefore, gay sex would have been adultery.

    Timothy/Corinthians: These verses are just a nightmarish translation failure. There is absolutely no way that any word Paul wrote should ever be translated "homosexuals" or "sodomites". Those words and concepts did not exist at all in the time of Paul. They're editorial assumptions made by translators with agendas. The most appropriate translation is "male prostitute" and "the one who hires a male prostitute".

    Romans: Paul is not writing in a vacuum. Here he writes about the specific actions that were occurring at a specific time in history. In Greece and Rome, heterosexuals were engaging in relationship-less gay sex as part of idol worship. (Greco-Roman idol worship, is in fact, the focus of the whole chapter.) Based on historical knowledge of the time period, there is absolutely no way that Paul was referring to loving, consensual, equal, committed, monogamous gay relationships, because they didn't exist at the time.

    To use Biblical condemnation of specific things that were occurring in Biblical times as a tool to condemn something that did not exist at the time makes no sense.

    You're just wrong. The Bible is absolutely not "clear" that two people of the same gender being in a loving, consensual, equal, committed, monogamous relationship is sinful. You are throwing all historical context out the window if you say it is.

    • Kaoru

      I love your post. I love how eloquent you are.

      I have, however, one issue, on a statement that you made not only here but in an earlier post as well, which is:

      Based on historical knowledge of the time period, there is absolutely no way that Paul was referring to loving, consensual, equal, committed, monogamous gay relationships, because they didn’t exist at the time.

      How do you know they didn't exist at that time?

      I concede there is on official record of them, but, as you can't prove a negative, how can you, simply from the fact that there is no prove positive jump to the conclusion that such relationships didn't exist then?

      As for "sin," frankly, I believe that's not something that originated with whatever deity one chooses to believe in, but the "servants" of said deities who were quick to realize that profit could be had from manipulating believers.

      It's certainly worked for building the most splendid religious structures worldwide, while the poor still suffer.

      Any deity I could imagine as a compassionate one would be crying.

      • Kara

        You are, of course, technically correct. It is exceedingly possible that somehow, somewhere, there were extremely rare occasions of such partnerships at the time. But Paul speaks to trends, and to publicly accepted trends, at that. And the societal structures of Greece and Rome did not allow for equal gay partnerships, period.

        Perhaps there were a few flukes, although they would have almost certainly had to be very "closeted," (to use an anachronistic term) about it. But historically speaking, there was no social concept of a committed, marriage-like same-sex relationship. There were major trends of prostitution and the rape of slaves; major trends of gay sex as part of idol worship. Those would have been well known, and they were widely understood as being possible. Those were things back then. A loving, equal, marriage-like relationship? Was not a thing back then.

        I mean, there is evidence that gay relationships even trying to approach equality was viewed as shameful at the time. So to me, if a relationship approaching equality is shameful, that seems to strongly indicate that equal relationships were not something that would have even been on Paul's radar. There was no concept of "homosexuality" until the last century.

        The gay sex as idol worship fits extremely well, historically. On the other hand, it requires massive speculation and glossing over of reality to say that Romans 1 refers to something that there is no evidence existed at all at the time, or for centuries afterward. There's just no logical reason to assume that's the case. It's a wild guess; a complete non sequitur.

  • Asinner

    I agree with David above. The Bible is very clear on this subject. God hates, yes hates the act of homosexuality. In fact he hates all forms of lust and sexual immorality. Read it and weep. Having sex outside of marriage is breaking one of the commandants – homosexual or not.

    Why all this hatred? Well for starters, lust-homosexuality was one of the very first sins in the Garden of Eden brought to you by who? The evil one. Adam and Eve both participated with the serpent in a sexual act. Study the Bible and this will become crystal clear to you.

    Lucifer is a very clever and reverend supernatural being who simply isn’t getting the respect that he truly deserves here. He’s got you guys believing that it’s perfectly OK to participate in homosexual acts and even has ‘Christians’ feeling guilty about speaking out against it or has them being one of it’s vehement proponents.

    Just remember there are only two teams in this world. God wants everyone on his team (including folks who were born homosexual), but you have to follow his commandments – period – no exceptions. You get to choose which team, and there are only TWO CHOICES. If you do not choose God’s team, you AUTOMATICALLY get placed on Lucifer’s team. These supernatural beings are quite serious and are fighting over each one of us to the death(ours). Time is short and the temptations will become harder(excuse the pun) to turn away from. I pray that these words will wake you up!

    Peace be with you all.

    • Steve D

      Asinner writes: "The Bible is very clear on this subject."

      On the contrary, the Bible is not very clear at all. If it were, there might not be so many different Christian denominations and bitter disagreements about specific interpretations of the Bible and points of doctrine and dogma. In my mind, the Bible itself is suspect.

      • Asinner

        Some verses to lookup yourself:

        In the Old Testament, men lying with men is mentioned in Leviticus, and the story of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by God in chapter 19 of Genesis is often interpreted as referring to this kind of practice (all quotes from RSV):

        Gen.19,5 and they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them."

        Lev.18,22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination (תועבה) (וְאֶת זָכָר לֹא תִשְׁכַּב מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה תּוֹעֵבָה הִוא to'evah").

        Lev.20,13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination (to'evah); they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them (וְאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכַּב אֶת זָכָר מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה תּוֹעֵבָה עָשׂוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם מוֹת יוּמָתוּ דְּמֵיהֶם בָּם).

        In the New Testament St. Paul mentions similar behaviour in his letters to the communities in Rome, Corinth and to Timothy:

        Rom.1,26 …Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,

        Rom.1,27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men…

        1Cor.6,9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts

        1Tim.1,9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners… (list of sinners follows)

        1Tim.1,10 immoral persons, sodomites… (other types of sinner) and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

        Bottom line – You cannot serve two masters!

        The Bible is NOT just another book, it's a supernatural HOLY book, God's word – not for public consumation. It'll always seem to contradict itself and/or have different interpretations unless you properly prepare your mind and soul before reading or studying it. Remember Lucifer? He reads your thoughts and will constantly throw diversions in your path to confuse and distort the truth. Amazing and sad to see so much of the clergy not doing their homework and misleading the masses. Once your eyes are opened, they are forever opened to the truth. Then you'll see how merciful and loving God actually is to us and always has been and how insidious the Evil one has held us all captive at one time or another.

        • Kara

          I'm genuinely curious: did you not see my post, directly above yours? All of these verses are addressed.

          You're abusing these texts by clinging to your own human biases in spite of evidence that these verses have nothing to do with committed, equal gay partnerships.

          “Those who read the Bible in a way it was not intended by its author do more violence to the spirit and intent of the Scriptures.” – David Kerr

          • Asinner

            Kara wrote: “Those who read the Bible in a way it was not intended by its author do more violence to the spirit and intent of the Scriptures.” – David Kerr

            I agree with the statement above and I’ve said what I needed to say. God loves you all and wants you to be on his team. I realize also that it hurts emotionally to wake to all of this truth. We fight against like someone flipping on a light switch while we cuddled up in a warm bed sleeping.

            I challenge each and everyone reading this to follow the 10 Commandments for just one week Study the 10 Commandments so that you know exactly what each one means. For example: Taking the Lord’s name in vain also relates to foul, ugly language, cussing(as seen on this comment board), Adultery is any kind of lust or sex outside of marriage including thoughts, etc. Seems hard at first, but it can done.

            Admit that you’re a sinner(because we all are!) and confess those sins with your mouth. Pray for forgiveness to all mighty God for your eyes and ears to be opened to the truth once you’ve worthy of knowing the truth about homosexuality or any other subject. He will answer you!

            Now that you’ve read this, you ARE fully responsible with what you do with the information given to you. God bless

          • Kara

            You’re trying my patience, dude, and you’re making stuff up. (Well, actually, I assume you’re just repeating stuff that other people made up. But it’s not true, is the gist.)

            Taking the Lord’s name in vain has absolutely nothing to do with “cussing”. It was, like the other verses under discussion, a very specific mandate. I believe you, in fact, are breaking it right now by trying to use God’s name to validate your bigotry.

            http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2007/06/what-does-it-really-mean-to-take-the-lords-name-in-vein/

            It’s very strange to me that you’re preaching at me like you think I need to go off and pray for salvation, or something. I’ve been a Christian for years. I am a sinner. BUT MY GAYNESS IS NOT A PART OF THAT. So don’t pretend that you’ve been enlightened and I haven’t, and stop being a patronizing jerk. I’ve studied this, prayed about this, and wrestled with these arguments for years. “Pray for the truth, then God will make you believe exactly like I do!” is insulting to those of us who just don’t agree with you. We don’t love God less.

            You are not God. You haven’t (to my knowledge) been given some divine personal revelation that’s unavailable to everyone else, including me. We’ve read the same verses. So don’t treat me like a four year old in Vacation Bible School.

            It seems to me that you have not the slightest interest in the truth of what the Bible meant to the people who wrote it, if what it really meant has the temerity to conflict with your own societal worldview.

        • Steve D

          Asinner writes: "The Bible is NOT just another book, it’s a supernatural HOLY book, God’s word – not for public consumation."

          I don't think you meant consumation there, but aside from that, your belief that the Bible is "a supernatural holy book" is just a belief, and like a belief in bigfoot or flying saucers or ghosts, or for that matter a belief that the Koran is the one and only true holy scripture, not the Bible, your beliefs are subject to scrutiny and question and may in fact be wrong.

          "But what if I'm right?!" I imagine you might say. I personally have little doubt that you're wrong, and that your faith in your interpretation of the Bible, and perhaps in the Bible itself, is misplaced. Unlike you, however, I don't care if others' beliefs vary from mine; I see no problem with that.

          • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

            Dont ya know? The bible is god’s tarot deck.

            No one can communicate with god without it. God only speaks biblese.

            God speaking via the bible is a form of divination. Take the bible away and way too many people will never have a clue what god is trying to say to them.

            For it would require then to actually LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGEMENT.

            And since they cannot listen without the tarot deck called the bible, they will never listen or understand.

            Very sad, really…

  • Devon

    Actually if you look up some articles on the topic of homosexuality in th bible you will find that it was mostly focused on Child Molestation, not the love between them. We also have to remember that in Rome and Greece it was common practice for men to have a male partner until they wed, many times it was their own teacher (Yes people this is true). Another fact to consider is that maybe, just maybe, the books were translated incorrectly! In Medival times it was plain out wrong to not get married and have children so you could live comfortably in your old age. The books were first written in Hebrew, then in Latin, then in German, then English! The meaning of words can change drasticly over ONE translation now try to think about HUNDREDS. Prove me wrong if you wish but remember, one person translates & they apply what they think is right in that text, not what was ment.

  • Jason

    Very well spoken. For those of you that insist on pushing your own warped version of the truth, read this http://www.johnshore.com/2010/05/04/ten-ways-chri… The lack of reasonability and abundance of judgement (from those who aren't supposed to be judging) are things that drove me far away from religion. If you want to spread your word (as you should), I advise making sense of it first =)

  • Charmaine Carter

    First I must clarify that I do not consider homosexuality a sin. My response is not to insist it is a sin or to condemn homosexuals. Personally , I think the scripture mainstream Christianity loves to flaunt in anyone's face who supports gay marriage was meant for polygamy. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman. The emphasis has been put on the gender when I think it was meant to be on the number of spouses a man could have.

    My response is that sin harms the sinner. God didn't give us commandments to protect our neighbor. He gave them to protect ourselves. Jesus said hang the law on the 1st 2 commandments. Love God and love thy neighbor as thyself. You can not love your neighbor as thyself until you love thyself. So it begins with loving ourselves.

    This , IMNSHO , is the biggest problem with Christianity . Christianity is busy applying the Bible to everyone else's lives but not their own. Apply it to your life and the rest will follow.Being concerned with your neighbor's well being is a fine goal. But one's own well being must come first. Charity begins at home. And minding our own business is biblical. 1 Thess 4:11.

    You can lie , cheat, steal etc and never get caught. But it will affect your opinion of yourself and THAT is why God gave us commandments. To teach us how to love ourselves and when we do we will know how to love others.

    Lying is a sin so we must be honest with ourselves first.This is important. Many so called Christians are lying to themselves about where they stand with God. This hurts everyone , but it hurts them most. Because if we are not honest with ourselves and have determined we are in good standing with God we will never be able to overcome the sin that is keeping us from being in good standing with God. It delays our own spiritual growth. We must 1st admit there is a problem before we can overcome it. Alcoholics Anonymous's 12 step program is right on track. Admit to sin then it can be overcome. This is why lying is a sin. Lying hurts the liar. And why sin is sin . It hurts the sinner.

    I don' t see where being gay hurts the gay person , and so , can not see where there is sin in it. I agree that love can't be bad. Impossible. But your reasoning that sin is sin because it hurts others is slightly flawed. It is sin because it hurts the sinner.

  • Shane

    I like how in the beginning it is about logic and putting aside the Bible, but then concludes with an emphasis on love and how it is key in the Bible. You can't selectively put aside God's word. Additionally, it is not all about what we shall NOT do, but often about what we SHOULD do (more about the New Testament then the Old – The New Law). Of course a Christian should love, respect, not judge, and accept gays for who they are, but if you are a Christian you also must not selectively accept some of Christ's teachings and not others. You often refer to using logic. From a logical and broad view, it is clear God's word and story provides that man and woman should be together (cleave unto the other), that they should procreate and replenish the earth – not getting into the argument that not all men and women can procreate), etc. You are right homosexuality may not be like alcoholism, or other addictions, but so what. No making a comparison, you cannot logically say God would endorse homosexuality. He may love them, he may bless them, he may accept them, but I doubt he would accept the behavior, logically. I don't get in other people's business, and if it is harming no one else, then do as you will, but I cannot logically see how the behavior of homosexuals is in line with the word of God.

    Further, often people say how gay marriage is not like polygamy, but I don't see how it isn't, so long as it is between consenting adults. Surely, if there are issues such as forced marriage and under age marriage it is wrong, but what if consenting adults want to enter into a polygamous relationship? No difference.

  • Steve D

    Shane says: "You can’t selectively put aside God’s word."

    But you should question whether you know–with absolute certainty–what "God's word" is, and whether the Bible as it stands can be considered an absolute, infallible source of truth. In addition, many people who do consider the Bible as the infallible, absolute "word of God" disagree with each other because of human interpretation of that supposed infallible absoluteness.

    So once again, anyone should question whether they know, with absolute certainty, the mind and will of God. And if one does not presume to speak for God, either directly or by proxy using the Bible, and despite the fact that many people boldly DO presume to speak for God, then all of your arguments and everyone else's regarding homosexuality and Christianity are also subject to question and error.

    • Shane

      Certainly, everyone's arguments are subject to question and error, such is religion. Religion cannot be proved by evidence or facts, but is based on one's faith, thus it is by its nature an individual thing. This is why I believe no matter which way someone believes we must respect that, even if it is absolution contradiction to our own beliefs (assuming of course that the individual isn't blindly accepting doctrine, but is seeking out truth and understanding on their own terms). I also agree, in the same line of reasoning, that the Bible is only true so far as it is interpreted correctly, and that again, must ultimately come down to the individual interpretation. I certainly don't preach the Bible is infallible, because it was written/interpreted/translated by man and man is not infallible. Nonetheless, if you are going to preach one thing in the Bible and not other things, you should at least support or provide reasoning for one's doing so.

  • D

    "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

    Let me remind you all that in Matthew, it is clearly stated :

    "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 -For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

  • Gary

    "Similarly, homosexuality shouldn’t be classified as a sin, because it doesn’t meet the first, most important criterion of being a sin, which is manifestly causing harm."

    Really? That's the criterion for what makes a sin a sin? Whether or not it causes harm? Hmmm…interesting. Then, I'm thinking that beastiality isn't a sin. Nobody really gets manifestly harmed now do they? What about gossip? Does anyone get manifestly harmed? Well, not unless it gets back around to the person whom it's about. I think it's fairly common for gossip not to harm people. There might be a danger of causing harm, but as long as the person never finds out that you're gossiping, well, everything is a-ok with God. What about lust? Who really gets manifestly harmed when we lust? We can imagine one another's wives, sisters, and mothers (if that's your thing) in all kinds of compromising situations and nobody gets harmed, right? What about pornography? Pornography must not be a sin. I mean who does it manifestly harm? Woot! Let's look at some porn! What about swinging and orgies? Everyone at orgies is consenting and just out for a little fun. Nobody gets manifestly harmed! Dude, I love your definition of sin! You rock!

    In all seriousness, Mr. Shore. You seriously need to rethink this position. A sin is a sin if God thinks it's a sin. It doesn't have a thing in the world to do with who loves whom or whom a thing hurts. Think about it. Adam and Eve took a bite of a stupid fruit. Who did that hurt, really? God said, don't do it. He had his reasons, and those reasons didn't have anything at all to do with whom the act of biting into a fruit might hurt. Sin has twisted and perverted us all, and we should never forget that. We've twisted the concepts of love, justice, sin, righteousness and everything else. That's why the situation was so desperate that God himself had to hang on a cross in order to rectify the situation.

    • monte

      umm very silly

      In my opinion pornography harms lots of people. I have family members who were the subjects of pornography, prostitution, coerced into swinging situations by domineering husbands, etc. I can safely say they suffered great harm in those situations because they have told me so. Gossip is very damaging to many people. If only you could ask the teenagers who have committed suicide after being hounded on Facebook and other social networking sites about that.

      You clearly don’t have too much experience of the real world – just sitting behind your computer and reacting from your own preconceptions and untested beliefs. Shut up and listen a while.

      • Gary

        I didn't argue that pornography has never harmed anyone. I didn't argue that gossip has never harmed anyone. I argued that looking at pornography/gossiping doesn't necessarily harm anyone. You added an extra dimension, coercion (i.e. using force or intimidation to obtain compliance against one's will). There are plenty of people who work in the porn industry who are there completely voluntarily. They see nothing wrong with porn, and it provides them with a solid living, even an extravagant living in some cases. So, if consenting adults make a porn film, and consenting adults view the porn film, then no harm no foul, correct? Shore never argued that it was a sin if it had the "potential' to cause "manifest harm." So, we have to look at the situation case-by-case to see if "manifest harm" was a result. If not, then we're in good shape.

        I noticed that you didn't address the lust argument at all. Jesus said that if you look upon a woman with lust in your heart, then you have committed adultery, which the last time I checked was a sin. By Shore's argument, I can just sit around imagining having sex with your spouse and nobody comes to any harm, so it's ok. That doesn't jive with Scripture at all. What about sins of omission? What about the beatiality thing? If I choose to involve myself in sexual intercourse with my pet and call it love then everything must be ok.

        I wish you would stop and think about all of the implications of this statement, "Similarly, X shouldn’t be classified as a sin, because it doesn’t meet the first, most important criterion of being a sin, which is manifestly causing harm." Notice that in none of my arguments thus far have I said anything at all about homosexuality specifically? Notice the X? I'm not addressing the question of whether or not homosexuality is a sin. I'm attacking Shore's criteria for defining sin, which is manifestly incorrect according to Scripture. I don't see how you can deny the fact that if you use his definition above then you can justify a bazillion different acts as acceptable in the eyes of God as long as nobody comes to harm.

        Oh yeah, and lay off the ad hominem arguments. I'm not personally attacking you or him. I'm attacking your arguments. Don't personally attack me. Besides, it's a logical fallacy and often a last resort for those who arguments have been defeated as the result of legitimate argumentation.

        • monte

          So you’re willing to consume pornography without taking responsibility for the harm that goes along with its production? The extra dimension – coersion – is already there. Do you really think that ALL of those women who lay out their privates for hire would do so if they could make a living doing something else. Again – I know about this from family members and I knew their situation. You can’t look at porn without being involved in those cycles of poverty, coersion, shame and pain.

          I wonder how many of those “completely consensual” porn stars you know personally. I’ll bet the number is ZERO.

          Oh and by the way. I have not attacked you. I did call your argument silly and you have demonstrated your ignorance of the real world once again. An attack is when someone punches you in the face. Disagreeing with someone on an internet post is called debating or having a conversation on a topic – not an attack. Stop the whining, get out from behind your computer and have a life.

          • Gary

            I am the victor!

            Now I'm going to go order some delivery chinese food (because I never leave the house) and then return to my basement and play WoW for hours on end…that is, after I write a few hundred lines of assembly language code and update my Twitter and Facebook accounts to alert all of my virtual friends (as I have no actual friends) to my landslide victory over the colossal intellect known only as "monte".

            Win-Loss Record: Gary: 1-0; monte: 0-1;

          • Diana

            Oh grow up, Gary!

          • Gary

            hehe…sorry Diana. I was just ribbing "monte" a bit. He was prodding me pretty hard, not to mention the fact that he was totally ignoring my point with that red-herring masquerading as an argument. He seemed to be having all the fun, so I thought I'd have a little myself. :-)

  • Dino

    John, you write that homosexual behavior causes no harm, and ask anyone to refute that.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control released a report of recent research related directly to this question in March. See:

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/msmpressrelease.html

    The “CDC’s 2010 National STD Prevention Conference, finds that the rate of new HIV diagnoses among men who have sex with men (MSM) is more than 44 times that of other men and more than 40 times that of women . . . The rate of primary and secondary syphilis among MSM is more than 46 times that of other men and more than 71 times that of women, the analysis says. The range was 91-173 cases per 100,000 MSM vs. 2 per 100,000 other men and 1 per 100,000 women.”

    It is not pleasant to admit that homosexual behavior is indeed harmful. Are there heterosexuals who spread HIV and STD’s? Yes. Are there heterosexuals who lie, cheat, steal, etc? Yes. Are there Christians who lie, cheat, steal, etc? yes. Is homosexual behavior quantitatively different than heterosexual sex? The statistics say yes.

    • Kara

      You're greatly misrepresenting your statistics, then misinterpreting them on top of it.

      The high AIDS rate among gay men is not because they're two men. It's because unprotected anal sex, homosexual or heterosexual, is a significant method of HIV transmission.

      If AIDS really had anything to do with being gay, why do lesbians have the lowest infection rates of almost any demographic group?

      The very same study you're sourcing says that the high HIV infection rate among MSM is partially attributable to "homophobia and stigma".

      AIDS is a crisis, but more heterosexuals are afflicted by it worldwide than gay people. So painting it as a "gay disease" and using it to prove that being not-heterosexual is dangerous just doesn't follow logically. (I speak all this as a lesbian who is blessed to be in a very low-risk group for HIV, and who fights for fair treatment of those who are not.)

      • Dino

        back to the stats for a moments . . .

        Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, offered his own view of statistics on the outcome of sexual activity, February 08, 2008:

        "Folks, with 70 percent of the people in this country living with HIV being gay or bi, we cannot deny that HIV is a gay disease. We have to own that and face up to that."

        we read in a previous post: "The high AIDS rate among gay men is not because they’re two men. It’s because unprotected anal sex, homosexual or heterosexual, is a significant method of HIV transmission."

        If we talk about unprotected anal sex among men, that would pretty much define what defines homosexual.

        But in the bigger picture, the problem is NOT gay vs straight, but rather what kind of a world do we live in? Where there is an exclusive monogamous relationship, there will not be STD's. A disease free partner marries a disease free partner, and both stay faithful. That is a good thing. When there is promiscuity, STD's spread. the more promiscuity, the higher rate of STD's in a population.

        Why would God create a world where people could get an STD at all?

        It is the nature of our universe. There are natural laws. It is not healthy to break the law of gravity. I wish I could fly, but it is better to not try to fly. I wish I could stay underwater for an hour like a whale, but that would not be good for my health either.

        promiscuity is not a word people like to use or hear, but promiscuity does not apply to gay vs. straight. gay or straight with multiple partners put themselves at high risk for STD's.

        so, yes, let's get off the gay-bashing. if you are straight and are promiscuous, you will be at risk as well.

  • brad

    Okay, I've returned to this damn blog even though I swore to myself I would not. Hello, everyone. Look, I don't have any problem with gay people. Period. I care about every person for who they are. I just don't understand how people can say and convince themselves that being gay is not sinful! I just don't get the logic! I don't see how the Bible supports this anywhere. But even if it IS sinful, it does not mean you cannot be a Christian and you are going to hell. Our deeds and our actions are not what save or condemn us! It is only our faith in Jesus Christ! I don't care if you're a fucking serial killer! If you ask our Heavenly Father for forgiveness through His son's name, he is faithful to forgive us. God loves us. He wants to forgive us.

    I'm also not saying gay people should walk around like they are the outcasts of the Earth, either. I am a practicing alcoholic. I am always ashamed of this and always asking God to forgive me of this. But please can somebody explain to me in a logical way why it seems that many, many gay people seem to define their whole character by their sexuality? I mean, if you're gay, you're gay. But that does not mean you have to run around shouting it out in the streets like it's something to be so proud of (I know not all gay people do this, either). I don't define myself by my heterosexuality.

    I guess I never really have believed people are BORN gay. The human race would cease to reproduce and exist if we were all gay. It just doesn't make any sense to me. I'm not saying they necessarily "chose" to be gay. I just think it always has to stem back to their past somehow. I just always thought that if a man desires intimacy with another man, it is because his father never gave him that intimacy when growing up, nor did he find proper affection from another man. I've always thought the same when it comes to a woman. I don't claim to know it all, however. I just don't get it is all.

    I've never had any problems with gay people. In fact, my best friend in high school was gay, though I never knew it until years later when he told me. My problem is with the religious hypocrites. They are the sorry bastards who are full of hate!

    But someone just tell me how, as a Christian, a gay person can say that it is not wrong. I want to know. Hey! I'm saying God loves us no matter what our sins. All sins are equal. We ALL deserve to burn in hell for our sins! We are saved by God's love and grace–if we ask forgiveness. But to say a certain sin is not even a sin at all, why that is another story altogether!

    I have often said that by being a drunk I am only hurting myself, so it's not so bad. Well, hurting ourselves is bad. And maybe we hurt others in ways only God knows. Hell, I'm confused. Please somebody explain to me so I'll understand. But be nice or else you might just drive me to drink!

    I don't care who or what the hell you are, I love you all, goddamit! I don't judge others because I don't wish to BE judged. Anyway, good discussion here. Peace out, John Shore.

    • Steve D

      Brad asks: “… can somebody explain to me in a logical way why it seems that many, many gay people seem to define their whole character by their sexuality?”

      They don’t. That is a common misconception. Instead, _other_ people tend to define gays by their sexuality, when in truth gays are whole people to whom sex is merely an aspect of life, like it is to everyone else.

      • monte

        aint it the truth

    • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

      @ Brad: “I guess I never really have believed people are BORN gay.’

      And therein lies your problem. Put the book of fables down and try to LISTEN for once.

      Can you do that?

      ” The human race would cease to reproduce and exist if we were all gay. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.”

      Oh for pity’s sake. GROW UP. Human reproduction does not require one to heterosexual. Gays can and do reproduce like all creatures do: via sex. So, drop the whole ridiculous ‘there would be no people if everyone were gay ‘ silliness.

      “I’m not saying they necessarily “chose” to be gay. ”

      Yes. You are. Deal with it.

      “I just think it always has to stem back to their past somehow.”

      Again, you refuse to listen.

      ” I just always thought that if a man desires intimacy with another man, it is because his father never gave him that intimacy when growing up, nor did he find proper affection from another man. I’ve always thought the same when it comes to a woman. I don’t claim to know it all, however. I just don’t get it is all.”

      Try broadening your mind and LISTEN.

      There are millions of folks screaming at you and every Christian like you. You never hear them.

      Why? For you have the bible shoved so deeply in you ears that you cant hear anything else.

      And sadly, many like you DONT want to hear.

      And that is the real sin: the sin of callousness.

      Put the book down, sit down with these people and be willing to LISTEN.

      Can you do that? At least try to do that?

      What do you have to lose?

      • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

        For starters, Brad, read both Chloe's and Monte's posts above.

        Listen to them. REALLY listen to them.

        You can do it, Brad.

        I have faith in you.

  • sophie

    oooh, now here is a long read. And a very interesting one. To make my position plain, I'm not a Christian. I can find very little to disagree with in the Gospels, but I was not raised a Christian and am unlikely to become one.

    As an interested outsider – I am fascinated by the idea that sin seems to be utterly separate from what is wrong, or even what is moral. I have a fairly strong moral code of my own (and yes, it's based on love) and I am constantly amazed by the fact that many people can categorically state that something is "wrong" without ever applying anything that amounts to critical thinking to their belief. I'm aware that faith is as much as anything else a renouncement of critical thinking, but the God of the New Testament is a God of love. He, it's said. loved us so much that he sent his only begotten son (um. begotten. we know what that means? oh yes…) to die for us. I cannot accept or understand how someone, an omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent someone, would instruct his children to suffer for him. And not suffer just a little, but a lot. To make a person one way, and then insist that they be thrown into outer darkness for it; purged in the fires of hell (I thinking I'm mangling the imagery here, but you get my drift.) It makes no sense to me.

    There is no coherent moral argument for homosexuality being "wrong", except to say that God says it is, which is a pretty final argument for a believer, and probably unanswerable except by someone with a significantly better knowledge of the texts than me (Kara's analysis sounds sensible, though.) Everything else defined as sin makes sense, on an emotional and logical basis. This is just strange. But for me – the final argument against it being sin is that a God who loves humanity would not take people, cause them to be the way that they are, and then disown them for being that way. God is not cruel. And please, no quoting Job again, or even the sacrifice of Isaac. The Old Testament is not part of the teachings of Jesus (and off-topic? If God told me to sacrifice my eldest child to him, even if I were a believer there would be no question that I would happily face eternity cast off from his love rather than kill my son.)

    The Bible was written and translated by men, not to mention interpreted by men. And men are fallible.

    • Shane

      While some morals appear to be consistent across all societies, what one society believes is moral may not be moral in other societies. No matter how much critical thinking one does, one's society and upbringing are going to be a large part of what they consider moral. For Christians, what is written in the Bible is to provide clarity/guidance. Further, while you are correct that through Christ he did away with the Mosaic law, you are incorrect that the teachings of the Old Testament were entirely done away with. Much of what was taught in the Old Testament was followed, revered and clarified. With regard to killing your son…there was no son killed in the Old Testament, so it is not ripe for the argument. Again, much of this comes down to faith, for a Christian, and there is no way to comprehend and believe religion by study of the doctrine in a technical way. Science or facts will get you nowhere, nor will logic. That being said, I do believe science supports my beliefs and that God is the Great Scientist.

  • Elaine

    I’m a Christian, have been since the age of 6. I always believed homosexuality was wrong. I stayed single and celibate. My mental health suffered. My relationship with God suffered more. God made no sense. I lied to myself and others that being a Christian was a positive experience. Actually, it was just traumatic.

    The bible changed my mind. When I studied the texts, it reinforced what I’d always known. Every single account in scripture was linked to idolatry, rebellion or abuse. There is nothing about same-sex partnerships.

    I also hadn’t acknowledged that equally strong words were are used in relation to all sorts of things that the people condemning homosexuality most loudly happily ignore. And they justify it with man’s logic.

    A Christian should be able to throw away the bible and still know the law. Because it’s written on our hearts.

  • Steve D

    Shane says: "Science or facts will get you nowhere, nor will logic. That being said, I do believe science supports my beliefs …"

    After saying that neither science nor facts nor logic support your beliefs, you say that science supports your beliefs.

    • Shane

      My point is that religion is not based on science or evidence, but on faith. If someone truly believes, through faith, then no matter what facts or scientific proof you throw at them they will still believe. Notwithstanding the fact that religion is based on faith and not fact, personally I find that my beliefs are very logical and supported by science. Again, that is just personally, what I interpret to be support for my beliefs may not be in the eyes of another.

      • Steve D

        Beliefs are stronger than fact. People view the objective world through the lens of their beliefs, and as in your case, science (and other objective facts) will then seem coherent with or seem to support one's beliefs.

        People tend to ignore what does not support their beliefs, and most of our actions are based upon our beliefs about reality, not necessarily reality itself.

        Beliefs, even arbitrary beliefs or erroneous beliefs, form the most substantial fabric of our daily lives. When people realize that, it opens up a whole new territory. Until then, they are more or less blinded by their own beliefs, especially those beliefs that are more in the nature of assumptions about reality, but religious beliefs come strongly into play as well.

        This is just my point of view.

        • Shane

          Agreed, that beliefs shape one's perception of truth and/or facts. No matter who it is or what they/we believe, we need validation, otherwise we would not believe it. While I certainly perceive the world through lenses tinted by my beliefs, it does not mean one cannot view other beliefs or views objectively. In all my studies of religion(s) I have attempted to understand their beliefs from an insider point of view (thanks to a great professor who encouraged/forced us to do so back in the day). My occupation tends to force me to view things on an objective/factual basis also (my wife actually gets upset that I can't just agree with her without arguing or providing a differing view). Anyway, I I always return to the same conclusion, which is I believe your conclusion, that everyone believes and interprets things differently, and whether it is "reality" or not (to us) we should show the same respect that we would hope to receive. We are not the judges of others (unless you're on jury duty, then maybe). Respect and humility goes a long way.

  • Todd Erickson

    Something interesting…there isn't a single Christian here who can support their argument against homosexuals out of Agape.

    Yet our command is to love one another in the same way that we love and have been loved by God. Unconditionally.

    People want to get all up in John the Baptist (who only preached to Jews, in the manner of a Prophet), or dragging in bits of Paul (talking to people in the midst of a polytheistic Greek culture) but in the end, what's clear is this:

    There are a lot of people who say that they're following Christ, but really only live to perpetuate judgment of others.

    They aren't building the Kingdom. They aren't living out Love.

    They're just waiting for "the unclean people" to "get theirs".

    And those "unclean people" are certainly, if nobody else is, "the least of these".

    Stop making Christianity be about sin, and start making it about emulating Christ. Christ, who hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors, who responded to his love, his empathy, and his wisdom, not his strong moral character. And who changed because they had been loved, not because they had been shamed.

    "I do not judge you either. Now go, and sin no more".

    • Matthew

      Conveniently, there is no sin in romantic same-gender love. The spoils of war? Male-to-male rape as a means of domination? Yep, that's a sin. But I don't think our modern understanding of what it means to be "Gay" (Exclusively sexually attracted to the same gender) really crossed the minds of a culture that lived thousands of years before sexuality was "nailed down" into specific terms.

      Gosh, love is a great thing. How conveniently Christian of it!

    • Shane

      I think all Christianity is about love (if you are a true Christian). God destroying whole cities, or wiping most of the inhabitants off of the Earth, was rooted in Love. Christ preached love, but also did not refrain from rebuking those who acted against the will of God, even to the extent of turning tables and chasing the money changers out of the Temple. We should all love, but that does not mean we shouldn’t stand by what we believe. You can do both. Further, by standing up for what you believe, and by sharing with someone your faith, does not mean per se that you not accepting or that you are judgmental. A Christian should not judge the individual, but must judge behavior. Christians have been given commandments and guidance and must draw a line, but must also love in doing so.

      To Matthews: I do think romantic same-gender love has been around for ages, including in the times of Jesus. To say otherwise, I believe, would be going against or be counter to the whole argument that people are born gay.

      • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

        Shane: ” God destroying whole cities, or wiping most of the inhabitants off of the Earth, was rooted in Love.”

        Translation: Hate/disgust/wrath/ = love.

        It is this kind of ‘logic’ that totally turned me off from being Christian.

        • Shane

          Not sure I understand your comment (your translation). Also, I wasn't attempting to be logical. I was just stating a Christian point of view, that God is love. There is no hatred as you wrongfully interpret. Not sure if there was even disgust. The reason for God exercising his wrath (in my view) was because he had to restore balance. It is God's desire (again, my views) that mankind be happy, that they grow and progress and be good human beings (not getting into what it means to be a "good" human being, because you again get down to each individual's interpretation). When evil became so rampant that it was affecting the freedom of other's to make their own decisions, then it was necessary to restore that balance. This is why I say it was out of love. Because God wants all to be free to act as they choose, otherwise they are not accountable. Anyway, I could go on for a long time, but your quickness to respond, and to respond by twisting my words, you are not likely to look at what I have said objective. I am sorry you had a bad experience with Christianity (as many do).

          • Joseph G. Mitzen

            “It is God’s desire (again, my views) that mankind be happy, that they grow and progress and be good human beings”

            Then why didn’t God create a world ideally suited towards our happiness (more temperate weather, less grizzly bears) and make us more inclined toward goodness by nature? And don’t read the last chapter of Revelations unless you want to really have a head-scratcher: “22:10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.

            22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” After getting through with describing how the evil are going to get theirs, they’re commanded to stay bad, because the end is nigh. Hmmmm….

            ” When evil became so rampant that it was affecting the freedom of other’s to make their own decisions, then it was necessary to restore that balance.”

            By killing off his creation? Could we see Jesus doing that? Either the Old and New Testament Gods are different people, God never wiped out cities, or there’s no God. God’s own commandment not to kill & Jesus’ talk of turning the other cheek can’t be reconciled with this. And we’re not just talking about people dropping dead – the Old Testament if full of incidences of God telling the Israelites to invade a city, kill all the men, women and children – except the young female virgins, which they should take (I’m sure you can imagine what for). You’re not going to sincerely claim that that’s a loving thing to command?

            “Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.”

            God and his prophets are constantly declaring all the terrible tortures that will befall others in the Old Testment and I could fill up a post with them.

            —-

            And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them.–7:2

            And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eye shall have no pity upon them.–7:16

            If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you … Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die. — 13:6-10

            Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.–13:15

            And the man that … will not hearken unto the priest … that man shall die.–17:12

            And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women … shalt thou take unto thyself.–20:13-14

            But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth.–20:16-17

            But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die.–22:20-21

            If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die.–22:22

            —–

            Everything except sneezing (and I haven’t researched that one) is punishable by grusome death. Yet the Bible is culturally regarded as a source of moral values. Hmmmm again….. Methinks it curious that the values honestly represented in the books of the Bible exactly mirror the social morality of the cultures and times that produced each of them….

            The other problem with your explanation – perhaps no time in human history was good/evil more “out of balance” than the Holocaust. Yet Hitler killed millions before WWII was over, not to mention what the Japanese did in China, etc. Wouldn’t the Holocaust be a far more compelling incitement for some good old-fashioned smiting of Germany, Japan and Italy than anything that was going on in Old Testament times? But yet… nobody got turned to pillars of salt then.

            I admire your attempt (which few people acknowledge even needs to be made) to try to reconcile the view of the nature and qualities of God with some of what’s actually depicted in the Bible. I personally don’t feel that your theory is able to accomplish that for all divergences, however.

            -Joe

            ————–

            “Strange…a God who could make good children as easily as bad, yet preferred to make bad ones; who made them prize their bitter life, yet stingily cut it short; mouths Golden Rules and forgiveness multiplied seventy times seven and

            invented Hell; who mouths morals to other people and has none himself; who frowns upon crimes yet commits them all; who created man without invitation, then tries to shuffle the responsibility for man’s acts upon man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs, upon himself; and finally with altogether divine obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to worship him!”

            [Mark Twain]

          • Steve

            Sorry to jump in on the conversation, hope its ok.

            "Then why didn’t God create a world ideally suited towards our happiness (more temperate weather, less grizzly bears) and make us more inclined toward goodness by nature?"

            The distinction that must be made here is between God's ultimate and subordinate ends. I'd recommend reading John Edwards dissertation on the Ends for which God Created the World, as he puts it much more eloquently and goes into far greater detail than I can.

            God does desire human happiness, but it is not God's ultimate end (His highest purpose in creation). He does not exist to make us happy, nor did He create us such that we would have nothing but warm fuzzies all the time. Rather, His creation was meant for that thing which atheists really have trouble with, namely His own glory. God, being the highest good, naturally can find no higher goodness to serve than Himself. And so His chief end in creation is His own glory. I expect a lot of problems with how God can be good when He thinks ultimately about Himself. We can go into that if you'd like.

            As a lesser end God desires the happiness of humans. To a far less perfect extent, so do I. But just because I desire the happiness of other humans does not mean that /everything/ I do is geared toward that end. Sometimes there are things which just matter more.

            A decent analogy (though imperfect, since God is not bound in similar manner) would be to think of a commander in a battle. That commander may love and value every one of his soldiers, and yet he will allow those soldiers to die for some ultimate end, like victory in the battle. The preservation of their lives is a lesser end. Victory is the ultimate.

            So why couldn't God just create a world with less grizzly bears (although I for one enjoy the presence of grizzly bears, but I get the point)? Well it was more pleasing to God to create a world in which man is utterly dependent upon Him, and a world in which God's character is more fully revealed.

            God is not just some all-squishy and happy nice puffy cloud in the sky. He /hates/ sin. He is eternally good and holy, and thus cannot even be in the /presence/ of sin. It is eternally displeasing to Him. All of your Scripture passages are meant to reveal these very simple facts to humans, namely that our actions matter, and that God detests sin to the utmost. So God, in desiring to reveal Himself, showed us these attributes of Himself through the Old Testament.

            But, as so many Israelites soon discovered, they were completely incapable of perfectly keeping God's commands, and thus every one of them through the law was subject to God's hatred, since they were vehicles of sin. God must have seemed quite harsh to no small amount of them, since they were worthy of judgment for doing things that it is sometimes really hard not to do. On faith they had to assume that God would provide a way out, as He promised to do so many times throughout the Old Testament.

            Thus it was fitting, in order that God might reveal His exceeding goodness to them, that He would reconcile Himself to them, and to the world as a whole. And this is that change which you observe in the New Testament. For where the Old Testament was written to reveal to man that man is utterly dependent upon God since we are unavoidably sinful and God is holy, the New Testament shows us that God's love is exceedingly great. Once God took out His full anger upon Christ through the cross, He revealed His compassion which had not been in full view since before the fall of man.

            Again, in order to more fully reveal His character to man, to the end of bringing glory to the highest good which is Himself, God permitted evil to take hold of this world and for His righteous anger to burn against it, and then for his wrath to be placated by providing a righteous sacrifice for our sins. Thats why we can see what you consider a dichotomy in God's character. He still detests those practices you mentioned (idolatry, adultery, etc…) every bit as much as He did in the Old Testament. But having satisfied His anger, He now deals with us on the terms of His love, providing for everyone a means to escape His judgment if they believe in Him and submit to Him. I for one am quite thankful for this.

          • Steve D

            Steve, without a lengthy expression of why it seems so to me, your view of God and of creation seems as lucid as it is wrong.

            You can't even know for sure that God exists, much less what motivates Him. I know you are merely expressing your opinions and (questionable) beliefs, so I'm content to leave it at that.

          • Shane

            Steve, I agree with your assertions (and really it is mankind's happiness and achievement that gives glory to God – in my view). Additionally, to Joseph, if we were in a perfect world, with no problems (like grizzly bears to eat us), then we would not be free to choose and face the consequences of our actions, in which case we would not grow mentally or spiritually. We would not be happy. Without sin or sadness you cannot truly know happiness. You would always be lukewarm. Thus, the world is ideally created for us to find happiness. Jesus' teachings, so the Christian believes, provides a path to happiness in a world of so much unhappiness. I too could go on and on, but simply put, it was Jesus who reconciled/made the issues you cite from the Old Testament no longer necessary. Of course, mankind will still be judged.

            Steve D, while you may not agree with my or the other Steve's beliefs, I sense some disrespect by calling them questionable. If they are his/my beliefs, and we truly believe them, there is no reason to mock or talk down. It is important to have mutual respect. As I have said before, religion is individual and personal. It is based on faith. One should not criticize what they do not know, which is the heart of another individual. I enjoy discussing these things, but never get frustrated or angry. It is just discussion of course. We are not likely to really change anyone's views or beliefs, just give them a glimpse of what we believe, which is hopefully just the impression that we all (Christian and non-Christian alike) have take the time to really understand what and why we believe the way we do and that we want others to understand that (not to convert others to our views – although I understand some Christians are zealous in their efforts to convert, but I just don't really think these blogs are the forum).

          • Steve D

            It is not disrespect to remind one that their beliefs are by nature not necessarily fact.

          • Diana

            True.

          • Diana

            "God does desire human happiness, but it is not God’s ultimate end (His highest purpose in creation). He does not exist to make us happy, nor did He create us such that we would have nothing but warm fuzzies all the time. Rather, His creation was meant for that thing which atheists really have trouble with, namely His own glory. God, being the highest good, naturally can find no higher goodness to serve than Himself. And so His chief end in creation is His own glory. I expect a lot of problems with how God can be good when He thinks ultimately about Himself. "

            Oh dear me!

            Joseph, have you by any chance read Thomas Talbott's "The Inescapable Love of God"? If not, I think you'll find it interesting–and that it gives better answers to your questions than what some of us are giving.

            My impression of you, based upon what I have read of your comments is that you are a Christian (a believer in/follower of Jesus), just somewhat skeptical about God as revealed in the Hebrew scriptures and some of the Greek scriptures as well. I kind of feel the same way. Thomas Talbott's book really helped me and might help you as well.

  • Steve C

    First off, thank you for a wonderfully thoughtful post.

    I'm new on this website and I've been lurking for a bit. I guess that it's a measure of how honestly you all have thought about (and commented about) this subject that I've felt compelled to throw in my two cents. I'll be the first to admit that I'm an imperfect Christian and that I don't presume to have all the answers, so forgive me for sounding "young" or "green," because I am. I understood that John is arguing that all objections from Christians concerning the "sinfulness" of homosexuality is biblically based, that homosexuality is presumed "sinful" by the Bible, and that if the Bible is not used as a determining factor, homosexuality is not a sin based on the test of whether a behavior "hurts" someone else. I further understood John to be saying that homosexuals cannot love, because their act of loving wouldn't mesh well with the bible, and that therefore homosexuals are doomed to a lifetime of no romantic love. And finally, I understood John to be arguing at the end of his post that as Christians who worship a God of love, we must be compassionate about this topic.I have several reservations about this, almost all of them near the beginning of the post. First, I wonder whether, as Christians, we can divorce ourselves from the Bible to come to our conclusions. Second, I question whether John's criterion of whether a certain action/behavior "hurts someone," can determine the "sinfulness" of an action/behavior. I believe that when sinners sin, they can harm other people, but they can also "hurt" God. And finally, John's post left me slightly discouraged for homosexual people. He seems to acknowledge that the "Christian proscription of homosexuality is nothing less than a call for anyone who is gay to live their entire life never experiencing the physical expressions of love," which sucks (huge understatement). I don't believe that homosexuality is a disease to be cured, nor do I believe that homosexuality CAN be "therapied" out. Which brings me to my own question: Why does God make some individuals homosexuals?

    • Shane

      I’m not sure anyone is/does say that God made some individuals homosexuals. Christians believe God created man (Adam and Eve). The offspring of Adam and Eve, and all those since, are shaped by genetics/science. Could God have foreseen people being born gay? Most likely. But why are some people born gay? Who knows. I imagine (because I don’t think anyone really knows) that the first parents were straight, otherwise the world would not have been populated. However, because of any number of reasons, genetic makeup changed (if you believe being gay is a genetic matter), whether it be evolution or something introduced into the environment, who knows. But, God did not create the homosexual. God created Adam and Eve.

      • Steve D

        God may not have created Adam and Eve either, not literally. And God, if he created the circumstances which allowed for evolution (as in evolution of life and the species) may indeed have created the homosexual. In addition, few people are completely heterosexual or homosexual by design even if they are by choice. There is nothing that prevents forming intimate psychological, emotional and physical (sexual) relationships between people of either gender.

        • Shane

          Of course I am basing my statements on the Christian assumption that God created Adam and Eve (and the Earth for that matter). And I believe evolution does exist (to an extent – I don't believe the origins of life …) If he did indeed create the homosexual, are you then stating out of survival mankind formed male/female bonds? Anyway, you are right there may be some same-sex attraction existing in all (if you want to call it that), or it could be human adoration, or anything. We are now just hypothesizing. (Again, I accept religion is also faith and hypothesizing to an extent). There is certainly minimal science on the origins of the homosexual or those tendencies. I am as hopeful has the next person that we will someday know. Bonds CAN be created among any being. And, again, that is why we should respect all people, regardless.

    • Joseph G. Mitzen

      "First, I wonder whether, as Christians, we can divorce ourselves from the Bible to come to our conclusions."

      I'll put it this way: you need to decide whether you worship a Bible and the Bible died on the Cross for you, or whether you worship God and Jesus died on the cross for you. If it's the latter, evaluate every statement in the Bible against Jesus' teachings – use him as your ruler.

      The Rev. Matthew Baldwin once wrote this:

      ———

      Our Mission: Preach Christ

      Paul said to the corinthians: "I resolved to know nothing among you but Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). This is the, forgive my Latin, sine qua non, the "without which not", of Christian preaching. Without the message of Christ, crucified, there is no Christianity. We are called to interpret, that is, to make plain and to proclaim, the meaning of the life of Christ to the world. The message which Christians have inherited is the story of Jesus in his life and death and new life, as "Christ", God's messenger, crucified. In our preaching, we are to explore the radical saving message of God's sacrifice of God's son in its implications for how we should live our lives amongst each other here on earth, knowing that God intends to rule in our hearts for the sake of the "kingdom of heaven".

      Our mission is not to "preach the bible", per se, but to preach Christ. If we use the bible for teaching or preaching, we do so to instruct and prepare people for faith in Jesus Christ and THAT IS ALL. (2 Timothy 3:14-17). The classic fundamentalist proof-text which they believe supports the idea that the Bible is infallible actually says only that all scripture is inspired, and it makes the claim that the purpose of inspired scripture is to help prepare people for faith in Jesus as the Christ. It has no other purpose. It is not our book of law. It is not our road-map for life, for our government, for our future, nor a mere collection of suggestions. Not everything in it, nor every and any perspective offered on what "the Bible says" has equal weight or claim upon our lives. Only that which teaches faith in Christ has relevance.

      This means that we are not to preach moral messages interpreted simply from the stories of the Old Testament, or say things like "Abraham was rich, so Christians can be rich." We cannot simply open the Bible and say, "this verse says such and such and therefore we must such and such." That is not the way.

      ————–

      " Second, I question whether John’s criterion of whether a certain action/behavior “hurts someone,” can determine the “sinfulness” of an action/behavior. I believe that when sinners sin, they can harm other people, but they can also “hurt” God. "

      Your use of quotation marks betrays your confidence in your point. You know you believe that God is omnipotent, and hence it is impossible for mere mortals to hurt God in any fashion.

      "Which brings me to my own question: Why does God make some individuals homosexuals?"

      You're asking the right question. You can either stay down the mainstream Christian path and concede that the Bible was written before the concept of homosexuality even existed (don't quote me, but it might not have been until the 1800s until people recognized the concept of homosexual orientation as such, as opposed to thinking of heterosexual people engaging in homosexual acts) and the brief mentions of homosexuality reflect the unenlightened thought of the primitive people of the time who wrote them, or you can question whether God directly controls things (or question God itself) but that's a completely different path….

  • http://spannerkit.blogspot.com/ monte

    I read this post with great interest and have followed the comments for the past few days. I was originally impressed with the dispassionate tone of the post and with the level, calm comments that came in during the first couple of days. Some of the later ones are a bit charged, but I guess that is to be expected.

    I grew up Pentecostal, dad was a preacher, I played the piano for several years. I struggled with same sex attraction from the time of my earliest memories. As an adolescent and teenager I would fast for days at a time, spend hours prostrate in prayer, basically droving myself into a neurotic state over my inability to be attracted to women and to avoid looking at men. Two things saved me from total self destruction.

    1. My mother caught me masturbating one day and since I knew it was a sin, I thought I was in big trouble. She just smiled, said, “Well, it won’t kill you”, and left the room. That told me that some actions can be considered sins but are still a normal part of growing up.

    2. When I was 15 years old I confided my problem with a man in the church who was in his 60′s. I trusted this man and during a prayer service I approached him and asked for a confidential discussion. I revealed my problem to him through my tears and his response blew me away. He said that he too had struggled with the same thing for his entire life. He said he didn’t have any answers about how to deal with it. He said he could only tell me one thing – never forget that Jesus loves you; no matter what you are going through Jesus’ love for you is more powerful than that. We prayed together for a while and I thanked him and we never spoke about it again.

    I learned several things from this encounter. The first thing was that, quite apart from what I had been told about gay people previous to this event, they were not all predators out for a bit of anonymous sex. This man never touched me except with a brotherly hug (very common in our church), never acted inappropriate in any way, and never made me feel uncomfortable before or after our discussion. I learned that someone I trusted as a prayer warrior was actually gay AND on fire for God (as we called it in our congregation).

    The final lesson really troubled me though. I got my first hint that reconcilling the teachings of my religion with my soul might take longer than I was expecting. Indeed, God never did deliver me from homosexuality. I ended up flat on my back in bed a few years later, crying for three days, praying for God to save me or take my life. It seems so ridiculous now, but it became impossible to live an honest life in that state of conflict, and I was not willing to live a dishonest life. During the evening of that last day I realized that I was hyperventilating and I came to my senses. I thought this is just too stupid. I have to get up and get on with my life. No God worth his salt would mandate this kind of BS for someone like me who has never touched a cigarette, drink, or drugs, reads the bible daily, tries really hard to be a good person, etc.

    I prayed my last prayer of the day then. I prayed something like this: ‘God I have done all I know to do. You have not answered so maybe I’m not praying for the right thing. Maybe I need to take control of my life and see if you can meet me there. I’m going to find a gay bar and one way or another I’m going to have sex with a man. If that satisfies my desires and curiosity then I’ll come back and pray, and hope that you forgive me then. If I really am a homosexual I’ll just see you when I see you.’

    I did have sex with a man that night and it connected me to a part of my soul that I had been trying to kill for so many years, It wasn’t the sex; it was the intimacy. I didn’t think of my actions that night as a leaf of faith, I felt like I was abandoning God, albeit a god with whom I was no longer able to connect. I have since come to see my decision differently. I was totally stepping out in faith. I made that decision hoping, but not knowing, that it was the right one. I had faith that I could live through it and come out better on the other side.

    I am so happy that I did not take the route that so many young people in that situation take – suicide. My will to live was too strong I suppose.

    That was about 1988. I have since found God in my life. I don’t find much meaning in the Biblical proscriptions to not do this or to do that. Life is not so simple that any code or book can ever be the final answer for all people at all times. That’s such a childish and unlived approach. The Brother’s advice from my church has carried me for many years beyond his own death. I don’t believe in angels as real supernatural beings but his words to me have lingered in my ears for almost 30 years like my own guiding angel. I can still feel his arm around me and his whispered words “Never forget that Jesus loves you.” I can’t help but cry now as I write this because his tenderness and understanding (that should have come from my father but didn’t) still sustains my spirit in hard times.

    I don’t know what it all means. I don’t even know if there is a real god. I do pray to him from time to time but I trust in my own self now and give God thanks when I feel its necessary.

    As I have read some of these long winded comments that appear to have been written by divinity students I have thought back to a scripture I remember from church as a child. I can’t recite it word for word anymore, but it says trust no in thine own understanding.

    You might have it all worked out on paper, but human experience trumps logic every time. When you have lived a while you’ll see. If you have difficulty reconciling homosexuality with God’s word I suggest you read the word then put it aside. Talk to a few homosexuals. Give us the benefit of a doubt. You may get all worked up when you hear about the gay agenda, etc., etc., but we are the ones living with these issues day in and day out. We are the ones working this out in our hearts and through our blood and tears. You might pray for us and think about us, but we are praying through our gay souls and trying to reach god. Stop talking and listen for a while. You might learn something new.

    Is homosexuality a sin? When you live it, the actual question becomes a triviality, a single dimensional proposition that stands in for millions of real humans, real lives, real humanity.

    • Steve D

      Wow! Thanks, Monte, for adding your own very personal, very interesting story to this discussion, which in some of the comments is being discussed almost like an abstract concept, not a real, human issue. It seems that you made your way successfully through a great challenge that often leads others to despair and suicide. May you have a great life.

  • http://www.ozearth.org Chloe Wolsey

    Hello there!

    Thank you for this far more logical response to being lesbain or gay. I am lesbian and I have a faith in love (which I hope is a God who actually wants to be involved).

    This poison from Christians has been the direct cause of having ‘Fuck off dyke’ spray-canned across the entire frontage of my Scottish home (due to Souter’s Section 28 campaigning) and my car set on fire. The so-righteous Christians preach hatred (with immunity from the laws that govern the rest of us), they fund hatred, they lobby for hatred: then the moronic, unthinking white-trash masses move like puppets to do the actual dirty work. Christians who can then ‘tsk-tsk’ at the ‘unthinkable violence’ that their hatred directly sanctions. Christians who recoil when you say, ‘So, taking your position to its logical conclusion, Hitler was right to exterminate us gays? It is right that we are attacked, wiped-out. Becuase God hates us.’ Then you get a dose of mealy-mouthed shite.

    Then I moved to Holland. To become the target of a gang of older youths: we filmed death-threats, physical attacks on our property (including bashing doors with wheely-bins). The police only came on the seventh call, when I made them listen to the glass cracking and the screaming from the 40 strong mob of our neighbours teenagers. Homophobia is rising, as is xenophobia. Christian lobbying is largely to blame. The police point-blank to follow the case as ‘hate-crime’ and actually told us it was ‘just kids having fun’. Nothing was done, despite having the death-threats and arson-threats on film: had those threats been made to a straight Dutch citizen, the teenagers would have faced a three years sentence (which happened locally). the homophobia is rampant in the police and in the local government: they just wanted us to shut-up and disappear. (As happened to at least 20 gay/lesbian couples in Holland during the last year alone… The attackers get to stay in their council houses, get to walk away scott-free after commiting HATE CRIMES whilst the gay victims of their extreme harassment and violence are forced to move – taking all manner of financial hit as salt in their wounds.) Having shop-lifting on tape gets you a conviction; having death-threat on tape gets you insulted and antagonied by the police.

    That is what is becoming more and more normal. Homophobia is rampant among European and American youth… why? Because it is taught in churches that God hates fags. That faggots should be wiped-out – because let’s not pretend – that is the Christian message. You are NOT ACCEPTABLE to God, you do not deserve to live. This crystal-clear message filters through… it filters as music to the ears of bigots who have never stepped into a church. They gobble it up. Just as the Christians who lobby to change government policy know it will. Christian organisations throw money at sustaining this foul bigotry, and violence is the net result. Evolution in society meant Christians had to let go of racism… They had to let go of anti-semitism… They had to let go of slavery… They are desperately trying to hang on to power against the gift of women… So they’ll be damned (probably literally) before they will give up this last clung-to dearly-held hatred of filthy faggots.

    Have a look at the rabid ‘ex-gay’ Christian literature: I have been sent it by ‘friends’ and it is so astonishingly sick, so vitriolic: these people shame the name of Jesus.

    If those clear-thinking, clear headed Christians stood up for the very minorities that their non-thinking counterparts wish to crush, life might not be quite so dangerous for us gays and lesbians. We now live under constant and very real threat: our home is neither safe, nor ‘home’ – it is a prison we cannot move away from fast enough (yes, we are trying to sell up. Being alive is better than being on the side of right.).

    So thank you for displaying intelligence and love in this posting. The world needs it. We homosexuals need it.

    Chloe

    • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

      @ Chole: ****Stands and cheers*****

      Chole, my hope is that you and your loved ones be safe. The tide is changing, and I hope we all survive it.

      Hang in there!!!!

    • Shane

      Very strong statements. I disagree that the Christian message is to wipe out gay people, that they should be hated, or even that they should not be included. I believe that most Christian faiths hold who truly profess to follow Jesus accept all people, regardless of their sexuality. I know my faith certainly does (even if there are those within my faith that may act contrary). I am sorry you have had such horrible experiences.

  • Hayden

    God can only be known, directly, never understood. To know God is also then to know thyself, which is also beyond a "personal understanding" of who I am contextually as a human (which is SO dependent on conditions and circumstances). All scripture points like a finger but is not the experience itself. It baffles me trying to understand why so much anger and ill will is expended towards others based out of some deep "understanding" of what God wants. Know that. Live that.

  • Steve D

    Wilton says: "You can’t legislate morality, but then why do the homosexual special interest groups pushing gay marriage try to do exactly that?"

    Why do Christians and other religious groups (Mormons) try to "legislate morality" by supporting laws to specifically forbid gay marriage?

    • Matthew

      You got it Steve: permitting equal access to the law is now suddenly legislating morality? Convenient. Real convenient. What a schmuck.

    • Shane

      Arguably, it is not legislating morality. At least that is not the legal and political basis for the laws that provide for marriage being between a man and a woman. However, I do agree that those who push or support the laws are doing so out of what they believe to be moral. But, by saying that Christians (I would include Mormons in this – they believe they are Christians/Christ is the central figure in their faith) should not support laws they believe have a good moral foundation (whether legislatively set up that way or not) is ridiculous and contrary to their Constitutional rights. It is amazing and impressive, and should be an example to all those who want to see laws passed, that they can immobilize and come together to support something they believe in. That is how laws get passed. They should not be criticized for it. Rather, those who would like laws different from those passed and supported by “Christians,” should get out and infiltrate the community. They should become involved, etc. Then, they will change the laws.

      • Steve D

        Shane says: “saying that Christians (I would include Mormons in this – they believe they are Christians/Christ is the central figure in their faith) should not support laws they believe have a good moral foundation (whether legislatively set up that way or not) is ridiculous and contrary to their Constitutional rights.”

        The extent to which these Christians and Mormons sacrifice their own morals to do so (in the case of trying to prohibit gay marriage) is what concerns me, and the fact that they wish–by any means possible no matter how suspect–to prevent others from supporting laws that _they_ believe have a good foundation whether moral or simply in line with some ideal or value.

        A dirty fight is a dirty fight. Saying it’s righteous doesn’t make it any cleaner.

        • Shane

          Agreed, a dirty fight is a dirty fight. Where there is/was dirty play, then it is wrong, regardless of faith or motive. Further, if they are "sacrificing their morals" to bring/make the fight, then it makes them no better than what they profess they should not be, and possibly hypocritical. However, I think whether or not what occurred in California by the conservatives was a sacrifice of morals is not something you can say for certain occurred. To rally a group of people in support of a cause that many people disagree with is certainly not sacrificing one's morals if the cause they are pushing is supported by their beliefs and morals. In fact, it is very impressive such a minority can make such a difference and should be an example to other minorities (not that Christians are a minority, because that is anything further from the truth). The unfortunate truth that may me concerning is that money plays such a big part of politics. There are a lot of wealthy Christians who are willing to put a lot of money behind their causes. Unless you want some sort of campaign reform implemented for the support of laws, then maybe that is something that should occur, but if there are not those laws, then the rich are certainly free to throw their money where they will, even if it is in support of something I disagree with.

      • Joseph G. Mitzen

        There's a flaw in your argument which was covered by Mr. Shore in his piece. He raises the point that gay marriage is fundamentally different from other "sins" because it doesn't hurt anyone. This touches on a distinction I've made about morality and Mr. Shore is the first author I've encountered to make a similar case. There are actions that hurt other people, and there are actions you believe would hurt yourself. We legislate against murder or theft because it hurts innocent people, which gives us the right to intervene. But when no one else is being hurt, we don't have that right.

        When I was a Catholic, we believed that divorce was wrong. We expressed that belief by NOT GETTING DIVORCED, not by trying to make divorce illegal. Senator Joe Lieberman keeps kosher by not eating bacon, NOT BY INTRODUCING A BILL TO BAN BACON. Some things are between a person and their maker, such as what (if any) day they keep holy, whether they eat bacon, get divorced, etc. These are, well, esoteric things that DON'T AFFECT ANYONE IN THE REAL WORLD. Whether I do or do not eat bacon impacts nobody (except the pig).

        You don't have a religious imperative to force people to abide by your arbitrary rules on matters that don't affect you or anyone else but them. That's forced religious conversion, and by that thinking, Al Qaeda has a right to try to force the West to adopt Islam, bundle up women, etc., etc.

        You follow your morality by being moral, not by imposing your beliefs on others.

        This issue also drives me batty when I see things like Christians feeling that to express their belief they have a moral imperative to persecute gay people. They feel that it somehow makes them sinners if they let a gay couple room at their bed and breakfast, or give them spousal benefits, etc. Again, you keep your belief against gay marriage by not marrying someone of the same sex, not by persecuting those who don't agree with you. By this standard, Catholic organizations should also be refusing to provide benefits to spouses of divorced and remarried employees, straight unmarried couples should be thrown out of their B&Bs, and Jews should be kicked in the nuts in the name of Jesus and force-fed bacon. Yet, these things don't occur. It's only when it comes to gay people that they feel that doing horrible things to gay people and making their lives miserable is the proper way to express one's personal beliefs. This means it has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with bigotry masquerading as religion.

        Lastly, your point about voting and laws is rendered moot by the fact that we don't vote on civil rights. The majority does not get to decide what rights the minority has. "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The Constitution also expressly states that laws are to apply to all or none (the concept of equal protection under the law). You can't allow marriage for one group of people and deny it to another, even if 100% of the populace wants it that way. The quote from the Declaration of Independence makes it clear that such human rights exist outside of any law, and even should the Constitution be changed, that does not change the fact that all people are inherently entitled to equal treatment. I always correct people who tell me they're fighting for gay marriage rights. I tell them the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution make it clear you already have that right; what you're fighting for is for that fact to be recognized.

  • Steve D

    Gary writes: “That’s why the situation was so desperate that God himself had to hang on a cross in order to rectify the situation.”

    Do you realize how nonsensical that sounds? God Himself had no alternative? Who constrained God to do that? Who made the rules? Did God “have to” or instead want to do that? Does God make rules for Himself to adhere to? Can he break the rules? If not, why not?

    On second thought, never mind. I don’t want to engage in serpentine arguments about what seems to me to be nonsensical religious dogma anyway.

    • Gary

      Scripture claims that Jesus Christ was both human and divine, and that he was the Son of God. Now, I'm not sure about you, but I think that hanging one's self/one's son on a cross is a pretty sadistic act if it wasn't the only course of action for affecting salvation. Jesus actually asked for that "cup" to be taken from him if at all possible, and the Father refused. Sure God had a choice. He could have let us all die in our sins or provide us a way out, but when he decided to provide a way out, there was only one way. Otherwise, he would have been a pretty nasty father, right? Imagine asking your son to die a gruesome death in order to help someone. Now imagine that he asked you, "Is there another way to accomplish all that you want to accomplish that doesn't involve me dieing a wicked gruesome death, dad?" You reply, "Oh sure son. There are any number of ways to accomplish my objectives that involve your not dieing a gruesome death." Seems pretty banged up,huh? I think our situation was pretty darn desperate given the steps that were taken to rectify the situation, and I think that logically, it was the ONLY way to rectify the situation.

      • Steve D

        Gary says: “Sure God had a choice. He could have let us all die in our sins or provide us a way out …”

        Who decided _that_ rule?

        Like I said, pretty nonsensical.

        • Gary

          What rule? If a) God exists, and if b) we are in trouble, then he can either help us or not help us, right? Is there a third option? I'm going to have to appeal to the law of the excluded middle at this point. Given (a) and (b), then it's either X or not-X. If you want to argue that (a) isn't true and/or that (b) isn't true, then those are completely different discussions, but given the parameters of the current discussion, I haven't put any undue constraints on God.

          • Steve D

            Gary– God makes all the rules, right? So you're saying he's saving us from an arbitrary rule that he made up in the first place.

            Let's put this in the context of a fairy tale, which Christian doctrine closely resembles. The king condemns many of his subjects to death for breaking some of his rules. Then the king tells his subjects that he'll forgive them and spare them from death if they torture and kill his son and then beg for his son's forgiveness. I would hate to have that king for a father.

            Who tied God's hands behind His back and made Him helpless? Who constrained or constrains God from doing anything, including changing His mind? Why would an all-knowing God, who presumably foresees all the consequences of his own actions, make such regrettable choices? What's keeping Him from helping us (if we truly need it) without having felt the need to kill his own son? And if He constrains Himself in any way, then why?

            I know that dedicated Christians have answers for many of these questions, but the serpentine (il)logic of many of those responses themselves often confuse the issues even further and usually raise more questions than they answer. And Christians' typical argument of last resort, that we can't fully know nor understand the mind of God, far from being a robust defense, is merely a weak admission that much of Christian doctrine and dogma actually is nonsense even as Christians stubbornly refuse to acknowledge or concede that fact.

            The comments section of this article is not an appropriate venue for this discussion, so I won't continue my portion of it much further.

          • Gary

            Steve, I totally understand where you're coming from on the whole "appropriate venue for this discussion" thing. I agree completely.

            Also, I love everything you said in your last comment. I love the fairy tale thing, because it is a great analogy. That's almost exactly what I'm claiming. I also understand every question and apparent contradiction that you raised, and I wish more people could articulate their problems with the whole Christian story and especially the problem of evil in the way that you have. I'm not patronizing you. I'm deadly serious. But, here's the deal. If you ask all those questions and then just stop with "Here's all these banged up questions, and I just don't see how it could be this way, so the whole thing must be crap," then you've short-changed yourself. Christians have struggled with every one of these questions and a hundred more since the beginning. Theologians (minds much greater than mine) have wrestled with these problems day-in-and-day-out for years, and you know what? They still maintained their faith. If you just write them off as blind idiots, you are making a serious mistake. There are satisfactory answers out there. You should do some serious research and find out what other great thinkers have thought about the questions you asked. Say to yourself, "Surely all of these guys are not complete and utter imbeciles. Maybe there is some way that this whole thing logically holds together."

            One last comment…food for thought. If God actually did exist, wouldn't his vast mind be so great that our finite minds could barely get a grasp. I mean seriously. I made a B in differential equations, and I worked my tail off. Is it really a cop-out to say that we can't provide all the answers because we don't have the mind of God? Think about how much stuff we don't know. We can't even reconcile general relativity with electromagnetism for God's sake. Think of how complex his mind would be. Think about how much data it would hold. He would know EVERYTHING. I think it's perfectly within my rights to try explain things as far as I can and then say, "I don't have God's mind." Most of us don't have half the mind of Einstein, Bohr, or Hawking, and Lord knows those guys don't have any answers for us…not unless we're asking how a freakin' star works or something. Who gives a crap about that? They can't explain anything I really care about like why my kid died or why my wife was raped or why I feel hopeless and alone. The mind of God would dwarf the combination their big ol' brains to such an extent that it would be utterly ridiculous. It's not a cop-out man. It's humility.

          • Steve D

            My gripe is not with Christians admitting that they don't really know the mind of God (nor whether God even exists) although many apparently believe they know His mind and presume to speak for Him. My gripe is with Christians using that argument as a discussion-stopper after trying to persuasively prove their case, or using it to try to fill logical gaps in their beliefs.

            Regarding theologians, I'm sure that there are equally devout Jewish (probably more devout actually) and scholars of the Koran that would argue vehemently with Christian theologians (and all among themselves). However, I certainly would not like to be among the spectators at such a gathering.

            Anyway– Later–

  • Timberwolf

    To the Christain fanatics, I would like to ask, “Can you please post your hotline number on this blog, so we can call God, too?’ Do you have an “in” with St. Peter, that we don’t have? Please share!

    I am a homosexual with two beautiful daughters, who accept me. I am in a loving monogamous relationship with a man who loves me. I grew up Catholic, and still look to God for guidance. I try to do the right thing, day after day, but am far from perfect, as is the case with many of you. I would NEVER profess to know God’s desires, as you should not. All we can hope for is to end up in the right place, when our time on this earth is over. We can do this, by loving one another, no matter what our own personal beliefs. Love me, because I love you! Sound like something somebody you know very well would say? (Hint, Jesus)

    • Shane

      Agreed, we should all love each other, regardless. However, as a Christian myself, and I believe all Christians would agree, we have to believe we know the desires of God (as contained in the Bible or other works if you believe so), otherwise we would not follow the teachings of Christ (which are, in His own words the desire/Word of God). Knowing (or at least seeking) God’s will is the foundation of Christianity.

      • Joseph G. Mitzen

        When Jesus summed up the law and prophets for the person who asked him what the greatest commandment was, he said loving god and loving neighbor… in short, love. Love would be the foundation of Christianity – there's God's will right there. Nothing to seek out. To the extent that something is done not out of love, it is sin. That which is selfless is not sin, that which is selfish is sin. Job done. :-) Just evaluate every choice you make with the question of whether it's being done out of love. If it's not – don't do it. Christians, atheists, everyone – I don't think any of us should have a problem with that. Sadly, certain folks found it too simple ("Come to me as little children….") so they've invented entire books of Canon law, hierarchies of authority and other power structures ever since to complicate things…..

        • Shane

          The problem is, people express love differently, and when a Christian wants to lead someone away from what the perceive to be sin, it is often considered an invasion, ignorance, hatred or whatever, by someone that is not of their same belief. So, when it comes down to it, yes, love is the most important thing (and for the Christian it is God before man), then we must also have respect (on both sides).

  • Natalie

    If a homosexual man or woman were in need of help, would you turn them away? And if so, how do you think you would feel? Would you pray to know the answer? Would you feel like you acted in the name of the adversary more than in the name of God?

    Love thy neighbor. We’re all different.

  • Wilton

    To fear or hate individual homosexuals doesn’t make any sense at all. And people are going to do what they want and engage in the behavior of their choice regardless of what you or I think. God gave us free will, we are not automatons. You can’t legislate morality, but then why do the homosexual special interest groups pushing gay marriage try to do exactly that?

    The fact is that “gay marriage” is an oxymoron. It cannot exist because of the definition of marriage, the union of a man and a woman. This definition goes back over 10,000 years and is established in virtually every CULTURE and CIVILIZATION in recorded history! The reasons can vary but usually were practical as well as moral- resulting in social stability. It is completely facist to force heterosexuals to accept a “revised” definition of marriage or else be labled as “the enemy” (in this case intolerant,backward,hate criminals,etc.) Using these Nazi propaganda tactics is worse than just irresponsible, it is like mass defamation of character. It just insults your intelligence. Imagine trying to revise or redefine current academic standards in a university with no research or proof. You wouldn’t even make it to peer review. Yes, laws are supposed to protect the minority but the minority has no right to use politics to enact laws that bludgeon the majority (and the Nazis who did this were definitely a minority within Germany)

    The selfish and facist gay special interest groups are guilty of perpetrating this falsely pious, and falsely progressive form of prejudice. (how DARE we disagree with them?) I also can’t believe Corporate America isn’t fighting this. I predict there will be a lot of “sham” gay marriages so that gays can qualify for benefits. Which will be followed by a lot of gay divorces. And can you seriously say that children should be brought up in this type of environment? I think the child psychologists would agree that these “gay marriages” would be psychologically devastating to normal child development. Children need a mother and father. It doesn’t always work out that way, but don’t they at least deserve a chance at that? A little boy with two mommies, no father, ever. A little girl with two daddies, no mother-daughter relationship for her, too bad kid, but facist politics and gutless, thoughtless legislation put you in that spot. As for constitutional rights, minors are supposed to be universally protected under the law. They shouldn’t be pawns in a political game. It is absolutley immoral. We had better think about the future. Morality doesn’t matter? Ask any historian about the root cause of the decline and fall of the Romans.

    All have sinned and fallen short. All sins have repercussions/consequences. I don’t think of myself as morally superior to homosexuals or better than anyone else. Heterosexuals commit sexual sins. But that doesn’t mean you should try to somehow legitimize what is against God’s will. God sent His Son as a savior to all. You have the free will to accept or reject Jesus as your savior. He will forgive you and wipe your sins clean. But you must accept Him and repent, and He will forgive you, love you and NEVER leave you, no matter what.

    You dimish His personal sacrifice for you and all when you go against God’s will and try to rewrite the Bible and legitimize sins for your own convenience.

    • monte

      <<<>>

      ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

      You clearly don't know much about family structures in other places and times. Google "John Boswell" and read some of his books for an introduction to the topic of same sex marriage in history.

      Again, like Ikeep saying, you folks who are hell bent on the sinfulness of homosexuality should stop talking and start listening. There is a whole world of knowledge and experience that you have no idea about. It all starts when you give the person you're opposed to the benefit of a doubt. If you could stop that torrent of opposition for just long enough to listen to that small still voice – you know the one – the one that says love thy neighbor as thyself. That does not mean that you shout "I love you" while you're beating him over the head with a sign. It means you try to see what he sees, try to follow in his footsteps for just a moment. That's what love is, a opening of the heart.

      • Shane

        Monte, you are correct a true Christian will love, talk, listen and respect all people as themselves. They should also not judge (that is the role of Christ). But you cannot expect for someone who believes homosexuality is contrary to nature or God’s word to accept the act. It would be equally non-loving and disrespectful of you to do so. Further, while there may have been same-sex marriage throughout history, I don’t think it is really relevant, at least to most Christians (even if they use the fact that opposite-sex marriage has been the norm). What they will really be basing their view/faith/opinion on is the Word of God. It is a dead end to argue with them. God created man and woman and brought them together, asking them to procreate and fill the earth. The binding of man and woman is a very important concept throughout the scriptures. Anyway, I just think both sides of this argument are often pushing against an immovable wall.

      • Joseph G. Mitzen

        Thank you monte for mentioning Boswell. I'd like to add that for most of history marriages were arranged, women were viewed as worthless so parent would have to pay people to marry them (the concept of a "dowry") and were often done to unite families or clans. In fact, such practices continue in many places today (and even as an American, I know a fellow American who entered an arranged marriage because his parents back in India decided he would eventually marry the neighbor's daughter when they were both five years old). I don't know about you, but I think traditional marriage doesn't sound so nice. Oh, and let's not forget about polygamy.

        Sir Ian McKellan, not an American, nonetheless proved he is more versed in our history than many of us when he produced and read one of the inscriptions from the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC during a panel discussion on gay marriage and the bringing up of "tradition":

        "I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

        -Thomas Jefferson

    • tinydancer

      This is the thing, it's not even the title of "marriage" that we want.

      It's the rights, the rights to be able to be with our loved ones during their last minutes.

      the rights to be able to have custody of a child instead of a "parent" and a "legal" guardian.

      the rights to be able to adopted a child TOGETHER.

      the rights that every other hetro couple gets and doesn't have to worry about because they have all the legallities of marriage that we don't/can't have.

      I wouldn't care what we would have to call it, as long as I got the same rights as every hetro couple.

    • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

      While m_o_s_t cultures have t_e_n_d_e_d to define marriage as between a man (or men) and a woman (or women), a bit of research will show that it has certainly not been true of all cultures nor all periods.

      Arguments in states which have settled for increasing the rights involved with Civil Unions show that the issue tends not to be about the word ‘marriage’ but about the actual relationships.

      I know a single gay man who is the adoptive father of a teenage boy (who is still being kept uninformed of his father’s sexuality). The boy is growing up to be a decent, well loved (in an appropriate sense) individual. The only complaint I’ve ever heard is that perhaps the boy is over-protected.

      Be Well,

      Bob G

      • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

        By the way, while I am strongly for civil gay marriages, I am equally strongly AGAINST gay church marriages, unless in churches which have already incorporated informal gay marriages. Churches should no more be pressured into performing gay marriages than performing marriages between believers and non-believers.

        Be Well,

        Bob G

        • Matthew

          For what it's worth, my entire denomination supports the full inclusion of our LGBT sisters and brothers. Religious liberty is a two way street: I'd like the government to get out of our marriage ceremonies and give us the generic document it gives every other denomination. As long as our marriage rites look like the popular religions (i.e. man & woman), they get a legal document to back up the religious ceremony. If we celebrate the marriage of a man and a man? Gosh, looks like the government is really endorsing the other team here…

          Religious liberty is a two way street.

          • Diana

            Just curious, Matthew–what is your denomination?

            Mine is United Methodist–so we're still fighting over this issue. Slowly (as in "slowly, the ice age ended"–a line I'm borrowing from Rita Mae Brown) our denomination is coming around to the idea that the Bible is not as definitive on the whole LGBT thing as we've always believed. We've still got a long way to go, though.

            BTW: for those of you who are leaning toward greater acceptance of the LGBT community, but who are concerned that the Bible condemns homosexuality, you might want to look into "Claiming the Promise: An Ecumenical Welcoming Bible Study Resource on Homosexuality" by Mary Jo Osterman. For more info on this, go to http://www.rmnetwork.org/ctp.php .

          • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

            Matthew,

            If we can allow gay civil marriage, then we can allow gay church marriage. If we cannot allow gay civil marriage, then we cannot allow gay church marriage, at least we cannot allow such church marriages to be given the same status as 1m1w marriages.

            This brings up the point that pastors who refuse to perform allowed marriages are within their rights, but pastors who exceed the law can be convicted of breaking the law. Gay pastors and gay friendly pastors are not yet allowed to perform civilly recognized gay marriages in my state, and could potentially face jail time. Anti-gay pastors on the other hand are (or should be) as protected in rejecting gay marriages as in refusing to perform Muslim/Catholic marriages.

            Be Well,

            Bob Griffin

          • Joseph G. Mitzen

            Unless your state is Saudi Arabia, you are mistaken. I can throw on a white collar and read from a book and otherwise engage in a ceremony anywhere in these 50 US states without facing JAIL TIME. The ceremony won't be official without a certificate, but it's not ILLEGAL.

  • Alan

    I think the mistake about understanding homosexuality is to put the issue on same-sex relationships i general versus homosexual intercourse and derivatives of intercourse (such as oral sex). I do not believe men holding hands or women snuggling up together on couches is considered homosexual behavior, nor is it usually inappropriate, as long as it can be a sharing of intimate love (like between sisters and brothers), rather than the inferior romantic aspects of love.

    Christians don't need to ask homosexuals to give up love, just sexual intercourse outside the marriage between one man and one woman, just as straight people should not do. And if sexual intercourse is the definition by which we most use the word "love", then we have a serious problem indeed about what it means to be human and Christian.

    By saying this, I also think it is essential that Christians have just as strong a stand against all extra-marital sex as we might need to have about homosexual intercourse.

    Sex is misrated. I think the Catholic Church has it right to the extent it suggests that sexual intercourse is primarily for "recreation"–the making of more people, and the enjoyment of the bond which no human shall tear apart. Yes, it is enjoyable, but it should not be done in ways that match my own debauchery of ice cream, for instance–meaning, I like it for the taste and comfort.

    So, licentiousness, misplaced desire, and too great a focus on individual freedom are some issues behind mistakes such as homosexual intercourse and extra-marital intercourse.

    Personally, I would be fine with same-sex unions–if it is like having a roommate who is a best friend–except that people may as well assume that these unions (and in some states, "marriages") involve the type of love which must be creative.

    Don't forget–sex is what drives our culture: business/advertising, entertainment/celebrity, dating/high school…. But there is so much more to life! Why not leave sex to those who have the ability or hope to procreate (man and woman) in a full fledged relationship (marriage)?

    If homosexuals and heterosexuals who have sex outside heterosexual marriage would spend their time truly "loving" each other, then there would need to be no law in the state, or division in the church, which would grow into the kingdom where God's creative will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

    • monte

      Men holding hands and women snuggling on couches is definitely "homosexual behavior" as you term it, and it is not inappropriate. Similarly, when a guy and girl make out in the theatre, have a goodbye peck on the cheek, hold hands at a concert, etc – that is heterosexual behavior.

      Sexuality is not limited to intercourse.

      Same sex relations are not like having a best friend. Let's try limiting your marital relations to "best friend" status and see how you like it. No more sex, just some friendly hand holding or snuggling. Don't worry, you're pleasing God so you should be fine. Ridiculous.

  • Rest

    You ask: "Who does such love hurt?"

    I respond: it is an assault on God's design of the family.

    The verses of "love" quoted from 1John 4:8,16 are taken completely out of context, not merely etymologically; although I could rest my case on the latter note alone. True, Christ didn't die to judge homosexuality harsher than other sins. (And I appreciate the fact that you don't deny that it's indeed a sin.) But Christ also didn't die to uphold the lifestyle, which actually is harmful to homosexuals and society.

    Perhaps you are in a safety bubble where, at worst, your feelings are hurt–"psychologically"–because of how many "Christians" treat most homosexuals, or you have compassion for others who struggled with things you struggled with in the past. Equally perhaps, you remain at the lower class level of persecution with the majority of homosexuals, justified by the modern martyrdom of the lifestyle and what it represents.

    You see many times today parents who "love" their children, giving them anything and everything they want at their beckon call, whether or not it's according to God's preference. There are things children and parents can easily look away from, and seemingly go years without harmful effects. Lack of responsibility. Lack of hygiene. Lack of respect. Self-indulgence. And it feels good, sometimes for a very long time. People around them accept it, condone it–society and liberal churches wrap their arms around their every child-oriented decision.

    Preferences tend to mature as the child grows into the adult years, and these preferences often have a sexual spin to them. If my parents or church or those around me didn't correct my sexual preferences as a growing child, I would be living that self-indulgent sexual lifestyle. As a young boy, more often than not it was homosexual. But I learned what it took to please God, and yes according to the Bible. Yes, according to every verse pertaining to love and how to love, but primarily according to God's preferences. One man- one woman. And I'm glad I saved the unnecessary heartache, the unnatural body aches I was prone to live out for the rest of my life, according to society's preferences and those of the more liberal churches.

    Nothing was forced upon me once I was old enough to decide for myself what to believe, how to live, who to please. And looking back, it's not such a great sacrifice after all, giving up that love–the homosexual sort–to remain holy in the eyes of God. There are other sins that are weighed differently in society that I do struggle with, and certainly I have enough compassion to translate my struggles with the struggles of the homosexual sort–but in no way am I right to exalt my struggles over any other, let alone condone them through words or action. How unChristian.

    • Matthew

      You need professional, non-Church accredited psychological help. Your "reparative therapy" science that you're quoting has been shown to be medically defunct, and harmful. No accredited medical body in the first world would read what you're saying without clutching their hearts and gasping.

      Seriously, you need help. God gave you a heart and a mind, and courage to go against the popular religious belief. If Jesus could do it, you can, too.

  • Amy

    Very interesting post with lots to think about! But I have two possible quibbles with your arguments.

    1. For a Christian, I don't think "causing harm" is the primary defining characteristic of sin. Taking a look at the whole Bible, from beginning to end, what is the one sin of all that continually offends God over and over? Idolatry. Yes, God gets really angry at murder and violence, oppression of the poor and helpless, abuse of workers, deceit, etc. But God also REALLY hates idolatry. And as far as I can tell, idolatry is another one of those victimless crimes – apart from God. Now I am not necessarily arguing that homosexuality is the equivalent of idolatry. I am just pointing out that God's standards for what is right and wrong may not rest solely or even primarily on whether or not something causes other people harm. Causing harm is definitely not good, don't get me wrong! And it's a great standard for the rest of the world as well. But it seems to me that sin, for a Christian, is about more than just causing harm, it's about obedience to God's commands.

    2. I think you may be overstating the case that living a chaste lifestyle automatically equals living without love. First of all, I find your words to be unfairly dismissive of all other kinds of love between family and friends. The assumption that a life cannot be full and rewarding without sexual, romantic love is just false. Secondly, God may call all kinds of people to live without romantic, sexual love – not JUST homosexuals. Many heterosexual and homosexual people willingly choose it for the sake of the Kingdom, like Paul recommends – priests, monks, nuns, missionaries, widows, etc. Then there are some people who may not have chosen celibacy for themselves, but live out a single chaste life anyway because God never brought a spouse into their life. Is there sadness and loneliness and pain in such a life? YES. But this world is broken, and we are not entitled to every possible happiness. Married people experience sadness, loneliness, pain too. I am not necessarily arguing that all homosexual people are ipso facto called to be celibate – I don't know the answer to that. My point is that for a Christian to say that homosexuals cannot legitimately engage in homosexual relationships is NOT the same as saying they are uniquely banished to a cruel, cold life of living without love.

    Peace!

    (Apologies if I have repeated the points of someone else. I usually read all comments first, but just haven't the time to do so right now!)

    • Joseph G. Mitzen

      “1. For a Christian, I don’t think ‘causing harm’ is the primary defining characteristic of sin.”

      That would be sad if people being hurt was relegated to a minor consideration.

      ” Taking a look at the whole Bible, from beginning to end, what is the one sin of all that continually offends God over and over? Idolatry. Yes, God gets really angry at murder and violence, oppression of the poor and helpless, abuse of workers, deceit, etc. But God also REALLY hates idolatry. And as far as I can tell, idolatry is another one of those victimless crimes – apart from God.”

      So by that conclusion God is jealous, petty, vindictive, arrogant – in short, God is not all-good. That at least explains the problem of the presence of evil, but it also raises the question of why one would want to worship a being that demands you worship it.

      ” Now I am not necessarily arguing that homosexuality is the equivalent of idolatry. I am just pointing out that God’s standards for what is right and wrong may not rest solely or even primarily on whether or not something causes other people harm. ”

      You just can’t make the one final leap yet, can you? You’ve gotten far enough to see that if you take the Bible literally, the Old Testament God doesn’t seem very nice. Now just keep going a little bit further; you’ll be glad you did.

      “Causing harm is definitely not good, don’t get me wrong! And it’s a great standard for the rest of the world as well. But it seems to me that sin, for a Christian, is about more than just causing harm, it’s about obedience to God’s commands.”

      Christ was asked what the greatest commandment was. He replied to love the lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and to love your neighbor as yourself. He said that this sums up *all* the law and the prophets. Since God + “your neighbor” essentially means “everyone”, we can shorten Jesus’ statement to “Love”. Period. So…. to the extent something is done out of anything other than love, it is a sin. Sin isn’t a list of things. Sin is the intent of the doer. It’s an internal state, not an external act. Lying, killing,.. and yes, sex… can be done out of love or hate, selfishness or selflessness, and that’s what makes them right or wrong. Jesus also made this clear when the Pharisees were complaining that Jesus’ followers didn’t observe ritual purity laws. Jesus got angry and really repuked them. He called them white-washed tombs; clean and pure on the outside but dirty and defiled on the inside. He said that it’s not what goes into the mouth that is a sin, but what comes out of it from the heart. The Pharisees thought religion was a checklist – do this, sacrifice that, yes, yes, 3 points for that – ok, I’m good. Most religious people are still like that today. Religion is not a set of actions; it’s a state of being. The Pharisees didn’t get that then, and most people don’t get that now.

      What you are tapdancing around is the notion that religious commands don’t have to make sense or even seem morally right, so long as one sees a verse in the Bible that one thinks says to do it. If you’re a Christian, judge everything – even the Bible – by Jesus. If it doesn’t live up to Jesus’ teachings… toss it aside. A general rule of thumb for me – Christians or otherwise – is that you find yourself having to jump through legalistic hoops to justify something that feels wrong – you’re at best on the wrong side of the position, at worst you need to reject the whole religion/philosophy/system that wants you to do it. I saw this at one Christian author’s website where someone was asked in comments to stop giving emotional, heart-tugging sympathetic examples to make their point (in this case, it was about how gay families were suffering under laws that don’t recognize them as such). Dude, if your religion mandates you to ignore emotional, heart-breaking stories and your own impulses towards kindness, sympathy and mercy – your religion is false and dangerous. Same goes for philosophy or political/economic system. You’re walking down that road with your trying to make the point that the Bible seems to mandate a lot of rules that don’t take into account human suffering. That’s a reason to at best, reject the literallness of the Bible, not to do something your heart and head tell you are wrong.

      “2. I think you may be overstating the case that living a chaste lifestyle automatically equals living without love. First of all, I find your words to be unfairly dismissive of all other kinds of love between family and friends.”

      We’re not talking about your love for your grandma, and you know that, so don’t play with words and act offended.

      ” The assumption that a life cannot be full and rewarding without sexual, romantic love is just false.”

      Good. Then let a preacher declare from a pulpit to all the parents that their straight children are never going to be allowed to love anyone or get married, and the Church would be burnt down within the hour, possibly with the preacher still in it. How DARE you try to peddle onto other people – against their will – what you would NEVER dream of imposing on yourself or your family.

      “Secondly, God may call all kinds of people to live without romantic, sexual love – not JUST homosexuals.”

      People are not being allowed to make that choice – the Church is making it for them.

      ” Many heterosexual and homosexual people willingly choose it for the sake of the Kingdom, like Paul recommends – priests, monks, nuns, missionaries, widows, etc. ”

      And they have affairs, turn to drink and drugs, engage in risky encounters, etc. (And as a Catholic for more than 30 years, I’ve personally seen many cases like that, including a priest swept up in a cocaine sting.) And that’s people who’ve CHOSEN to live that way. It’s not the norm, nor is it natural, and leads to a lot of suffering. In the words of Pope Benedict, it’s “intrinsically disordered”. :-) Now imagine grabbing a random bunch of people and imposing it on them.

      “Then there are some people who may not have chosen celibacy for themselves, but live out a single chaste life anyway because God never brought a spouse into their life. Is there sadness and loneliness and pain in such a life? YES. ”

      Is lonliness forced on them from a religious body? No.

      “But this world is broken, and we are not entitled to every possible happiness.”

      Holy &%^#. Um, yes. Yes you are. The world isn’t broken; people make it that way. It’s been observed that the Christian God seems to only be happy when His creation is being made miserable. In Richard Bach’s “Illusions”, a prophet asked devoted followers what they would do if he said God commanded them to be happy all the days of their lives, and they walked away confused. Please don’t live your life in such a way as to bear thid observation out. And don’t even think about mandating such a nihilistic philosophy on others. I won’t even ask what kind of God would want its creation to suffer.

      ” Married people experience sadness, loneliness, pain too. I am not necessarily arguing that all homosexual people are ipso facto called to be celibate – I don’t know the answer to that. My point is that for a Christian to say that homosexuals cannot legitimately engage in homosexual relationships is NOT the same as saying they are uniquely banished to a cruel, cold life of living without love.”

      The arrogance just bowls me over. It’s like those who argue that slaves brought over to the U.S. really had a better life and more opportunities for their decendents than if they were left in Africa, so slavery was really a good thing. You’re arguing that a few words written by an ignorant, bloody people who thought all the animals in the world were within walking distance of Noah’s house and hadn’t quite figured out the earth wasn’t flat yet should be used in the 21st century to take a minority of people and decree that they should never be in a relationship or experience romantic love, no matter what your heart or common sense would say.

    • Joseph G. Mitzen

      ———————————————————————–

      Malawi Men Defiant Before Court Date

      By Advocate.com Editors

      5/15/2010

      One of the two men currently imprisoned in Malawi for engaging in a same-sex marriage has vowed to become a martyr rather than give into homophobia, according to a report in the U.K. newspaper The Guardian.

      Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, who has maintained contact with the Malawi men, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, since they were first arrested in December, told The Guardian that he’s received a defiant message from Chimbalanga: “I love Steven so much. If people of the world cannot give me the chance and freedom to continue living with him as my lover, then I am better off to die here in prison. Freedom without him is useless and meaningless.”

      Tatchell also quoted Monjeza, who he said is thin and weak with jaundiced eyes: “We have come a long way and even if our family relatives are not happy, I will never stop loving Tiwonge.”

      The two men, who face three charges of unnatural practices between males and gross indecency, are due in court on Tuesday, when a judge is expected to announce his verdict in their case.

      ————————————-

      Tell me again how "for a Christian to say that homosexuals cannot legitimately engage in homosexual relationships is NOT the same as saying they are uniquely banished to a cruel, cold life of living without love".

  • Martin

    John, you are so right. I am a gay person who is celibate because of what I've been taught.

    You're right. I will never have someone to share my life with. I will live and die alone, bearing what some call a sin and I know I was born with. I don't come home to anybody when I've had a hard day to a warm home where love resides. I have no partner (and never will) to share my deepest thoughts with.

    You know what it means to be gay and live as we've been taught we must? It is the unbearable pain that we must bear as we see people holding hands and showing affection. It is torture to see an elderly couple walking down the street, hand in hand, the love of decades evident. Valentine's Day is a reminder I am on the outside.

    No matter how well I succeed in living a Godly life, I will never experience the warmth of love of one devoted to me and I them.

    Because it's a sin.

    I guess that I am a sin, right? I was born this way.

    I don't have a lover. I have a cat.

    • Timaree

      martin,

      you make my heart hurt. and if it turns out that this one particular branch of christianity to which you cleave is right and some distant future judgment day comes, i guess you'll consider it all worthwhile.

      but you are living the life that is the answer to pascal's wager. he argues that we have more to gain from going along with belief in god than we have to lose. but you, to me, are proof that's not true.

      i know for a fact that i have this life to live. i have no proof of anything further. and for that reason, i choose to be good simply because i want this life to be good, not as fire insurance. and i choose to love whomever i please because i was given the gift of being able to do so.

      and when all the dust settles and we have all lived and died, i will know for certain that i experienced being human and was not held back by fear. that i did my best to be an honorable, reliable, truthful, kind and generous person … and hopefully that will please god. and if there is a god that decides that a lifetime of caring for others is not good enough because i chose the wrong people to love, then that god and i wouldn't have really gotten along well anyway. a god that made me knows the beauty of loving life, not the irksome power to say "i told you so."

      i hope you find a way to rectify your beliefs and your identity. i really wish that joy for you.

    • Shane

      Sounds like you need to find companionship and friendship. It is very admirable, if it is what you believe, to live a life abstaining from homosexual activity when you know such activity is against the will of God. However, it is also God’s will that man be happy. You must find a way to reconcile the two.

      Sexual activity is certain not necessary to one’s happiness. While it does have a purpose, and does bring two people closer together, it is not all there is to life (or even close). God will judge us all on our acts, our thoughts, our experiences, our innate urges, etc. But, again, God wants us all to be happy. There is a way to live God’s Word AND live and love life.

      • Steve D

        Shane says: "Sexual activity is certain not necessary to one’s happiness."

        That depends on the person and his or her own values and ideals.

        • Shane

          My point exactly. There are many people who are happy whose lives are void of sexual activity.

          • Steve D

            And I'm sure there are many people both heterosexual and homosexual to whom sex is an important part of life, who would be unhappy if their lives "are void of sexual activity."

          • Shane

            Yes.

  • Cory

    I agree with the idea that logic is helpful in relating as a Christian. Therefore let me propose this solution in reponse to your article John if I may:

    If creation exists to glorify and reflect the Creator (which the bible teaches), one can assume that if you believe the bible is the word (and Word) of God, that the commands, laws, and truths presented in its pages are reflections of God's character and provide insight for humanity to realize the expectations He has for us.

    The bible clearly proclaims (which it does in both the Old and New Testaments) that homosexuality is sinful and not apart of God's original design) (Romans 1:26-27: For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.) (Also see 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, where Paul says those who make a lifestyle of PRACTICING (not inclined toward) homosexuality, among other things, will not inherit the Kingdom of God (heaven).

    My logical argument is that Scripture clearly teaches that a homosexual lifestyle is an affront to the created design of God for a one man, one woman marriage relationship (See Gen. 3), which categorizes it as a sexual sin.

    The argument therefore that this sexual sin (or without sex, a relation perversion of love that goes against the concept of a man-woman relationship), is somehow less sinful or harmful than other sins, is unfounded. For although sin can be seen as being done against another person–ultimately ALL sin is committed against the holiness and glory of God. King David recognized this after his affair with Bathsheba, stating in Psalm 51:4 that, "Against You, You only, I have sinned, And done what is evil in Your sight.."

    The point is not really whether man sees homosexuality as sinful or harmful, but whether God sees it as such. That is why famously Jesus in the "Lord's prayer" recites, "Your [God] kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." God's will is that the entire earth, all of humanity, would willingly live according to His design and His purpose, attributing to Him the glory and majesty that He is worthy of.

    I hope this insight helps shed a little light on the subject.

    Humbly in Christ,

    Cory

    • Timaree

      fair enough. now justify why other laws spelled out in the bible (wearing clothes of mixed fabrics, eating pork, working on sunday) are not just as important.

      • Shane

        For the most part, those are Mosaic laws, which were fulfilled in Christ (the new teachings). However, there are certain laws that are important, but which aren’t the subject of this post.

    • Matthew

      If the word of God was as fallible as a language originating in a human tongue, we've all been doing a cruel exercise in cosmic humor. You are no more sure about what God means than I am when I read the same book and come to very different conclusions. Accept the limitations of human understanding: if you think it says "Don't do X," then by all means, don't. If I think that it says, "Don't do Y," then I won't do Y. There are some real zingers in there like "Do not kill." Nice, three word sentences, no arguments.

      Leviticus? Are the talking about Gay people engaging in romantic intercourse, or are they talking about Straight people engaging in homosexual rape as a means of establishing supremacy? (The spoils of war, the prison shower, we have many examples of male on male rape as a means of exerting power and shame.) You want my reading of the history of male on male sex in the Bible? It's easy: Stop raping each other to dominate (what rape inevitably is about, anyway).

      I find no mention of two loving, exclusively same-gender loving individuals in that book. Save Paul, but perhaps loving yourself more than God isn't exactly same-gender loving. That guy is so full of himself, it gives me the willies. Gross.

      • Joseph G. Mitzen

        "I find no mention of two loving, exclusively same-gender loving individuals in that book."

        Oooh! oooh! I do! (Time to make those 12 years of Catholic school pay off!) (Assuming by book you mean the Bible and not Leviticus).

        David and Jonathan had quite a relationship; " I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women." etc., etc.

        Oh, and John was the apostle whom Jesus loved.

  • Dino

    Can someone know what God wants? Know what God thinks? Know “God’s will?”

    If God is that great, and all powerful, could he communicate to people? Is that even possible?

    It is possible. He told us His thoughts, His desires. He sent us his word, and sent his son. If He is really God, he could do that. Some people believe that, some people do not.

    I have been reading the comment in this blog discussion, and thanks for taking the time. For those asking for others to listen, most of the people in this discussion are listening. People are reading every word. You are being heard.

    Actually, God is bigger than the Bible. The Bible is just one small part of what God thinks. It is not a short conversation to answer all the questions about why God did or said this or that. But as an earlier post says, to understand what this verse or this book of the Bible says, you have to take it in the light of the whole Bible. To understand what Christians think or believe, getting familiar with the Bible is one good way to do it.

    Yes, there are really hypocritical people out there calling themselves Christians. It sets the bar pretty high to expect people to behave better than they do. Then a lot of the Christians (or Muslims, or Jews, or any other groups) do end up looking like and being hypocrites. You got us! There are a lot of hypocrites. They’d like to be different, they just haven’t perfected how to be perfect yet. They never will in this life.

    I read the blog about R. Crumb’s illustrations of Genesis. I looked up some of the images, and yes, it was just like the R. Crumb comics I read 40 years ago. He’s a great artist. His portrayal of Genesis might be the most realistic portrayals of the events in Genesis there have ever been (realizing that he was not attempting to draw or paint in a “realistic” or naturalistic, or photographic style – he has his own style).

    I’m sure many many Christians would find his depictions of events (“Adam lay with his wife . . . “) shocking, but it probably looked a lot like that – don’t you think?

    But, I am really glad that a lot of people who would never, ever even thin of reading the Bible, might read Genesis – because R. Crumb illustrated it. May his tribe increase.

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  • JJ

    Thank you, John, for this thoughtful and thought-provoking article. It spoke to me powerfully today.

    For me, for a long time, it was this question, not my "orientation" that was separating me from God. Truly, I couldn't reconcile my vision of a loving God with the constant acts of and calls to violence against LGBTQ people in the name of various religions. To my shame and sadness, I allowed myself to confuse the frothing-at-the-mouth minority who grab the headlines, with the voice of God, and I cut myself off from God. Many years later, I have come to believe that my deep aversion to the injustices perpetrated against the LGBTQ community comes from God. I've prayed about it, and found that for me, the pursuit of justice is the only option.

    I've found the writings of Daniel Helminiak helpful in clarifying my own thoughts on the matter. You might enjoy his analysis as well.

    Thanks again for putting clearly the argument I found myself making, unclearly and badly this very morning.

  • Loving soul

    I love GOD and JESUS CHRIST, without I would not be alive. I believe if you accept JESUS CHRIST into your life you can be saved. Everyone has an opinion, a comment, a quote, a scripture. You fail to realize that the bible is to be interpreted you yourself and that you yourself must have a relationship with god regardless of what anyone says. It's what the bible means to you. We go to church to get different understandings of scriptures, but it comes down to what it means to you. God made us all different not one alike even twins aren't exactly the same.

    Now I have some questions for you

    GOD made eyes to see, but there are those who have no sight. Are blind people sinners?

    GOD made legs to walk, yet there are those who can't even stand. Are people confined to wheelchairs sinners?

    GOD made ears to hear, but there are people who have never heard a sound. Are deaf people sinners?

    GOD made men to love women, but there are men who love men and women who love women

    GOD makes no mistakes I believe that without a doubt.

    We are all in gods design, some people are made differently doesn't mean you should hate them.

  • http://bookfloozy.wordpress.com twila

    As a young person, I considered myself an atheist, until I took a world religions class in college that alerted me to the understanding that there could, in fact, be more. I spent the next two decades in an evangelical church. I buried my true self (gay) for all those years, married, had children. At age 50, after a long journey toward authenticity (started because of my spiritual practice) I finally came out, divorced and am now living with a wonderful woman, happy as a clam. (no pun intended) I classify myself now as an agnostic comtemplative. I live in the land of unknowing. It is a very uncomfortable place, but I am getting used to having the ground ripped out from under me. Although I now realize all religions rest on agnosticism (it takes faith), I am on the “no faith” side of the picture. I hope one day to recover my ability to “believe”….I miss this God I no longer believe in! But if I do recover my spirituality, I feel pretty certain it wouldn’t require me to negate who I am.

    • Steve D

      Very interesting thoughts, twila. Thanks for sharing them.

      In my case, I ask myself whether it is necessary to understand the precise nature of reality.

      To me, the answer is no, if one believes that reality is basically benevolent. However, if one is fearful of life and all of reality including a perhaps nonphysical reality, one might feel the need to try to understand reality that goes beyond mere interest or curiosity. In this case, in my opinion, religion acts as kind of a "security blanket" or "safety net" for people in what they regard as a hostile world and reality full of certain threats and dangers if they _don't_ know about them and do something about them.

      I believe that a fearful, insecure view of reality is unnecessary and unhealthy, and by extension that almost all of religion is unnecessary and–often–unhealthy.

      That's just my view.

    • http://bonnie-halfelvn.livejournal.com/ Bonnie Half-Elven

      Interesting. Mr. Shore, I have used the same talking points you have used here, with pretty much the same results. If a Christian wishes to hide his prejudice behind his religion, reason, logic, and even credible science will likely not disuade him. The argument I get is that homosexual behavior IS, in fact, a destructive "lifestyle." This will be backed up with debunked science by the likes of Paul Cameron and Narth that says homosexuals have a shorter life span. Nevermind that since so many gays are closeted, credible stats do not exist, but that some lives are indeed shortened in some cases by the stress of the closet, or bullying to the point of suicide, or being physically attacked or killed for being gay. In other words, if everyone would just let them be, instead of telling them that they are not good enough for God, their overall life span would indeed increase.

      What I also find interesting is that, despite your argument, you continue to call homosexual behavior a sin. Perhaps you believe that ALL sex is sinful, in which case, what you're saying makes sense (although I feel sorry for people who are that uptight about sex). But rape and prostitution and adultry, whether same sex or not, may be all that is talked about in the Bible. Hard telling, since we can't get a direct line in to God to ask Him. But there sure are a lot of people who are willing to explain it to us, since God made them wiser. ;P

      If I did not believe that God loves my gay brother as he is, and that he has the right to experience real love, since he has been blessed to find it, I would be able to believe in God at all.

      I read your article on the things that Christians get wrong, which led me here. Fixations on homosexuality – indeed, I would not be so fixated on it, if people avoided #5 & #6 on your list, which say essentially, "Don't try to force this country into a Chrisitian theocracy, and mind your own business and let others mind theirs."

      What people really need to change hearts is to get to know real gay people so their prejudices are revealed to themselves and they can take a hard look at who gay people are.

      My brother is a great guy, but many who have commented here would not see past the label to the man behind it.

  • Steve D

    Steve says: "what you’ve shown is the necessity for divine revelation – that man cannot come to any meaningful knowledge of the personality of God without God coming down and showing us."

    Don't put words in my mouth. I believe that it is possible for anyone to have direct, personal awareness of God and to some extent what it means to be God, and that is the only type of "divine revelation" that is valid.

    I believe that spirituality of any sort, regardless of which religion forms its backdrop (if any) is a private and very personal thing, with emphasis on personal. My own gripe against religion is as a social institution, in which it often seems more divorced from God than married to Him.

    As I've said before, I have no gripe with Christians who admit that they can't know with any certainty the mind of God, but instead with those Christians who claim they do know and then presume to tell all the rest of us exactly what God thinks and wants. Christians need to practice a little more of the humility you extolled and less of the "proclaiming" you insist is "incumbent upon" Christians.

    By the way, the word is tenet, not tenant.

    • Steve

      @Steve D,

      Thank you for correcting the typo.

      I didn't intend to put words in your mouth, and am not altogether certain how I did. All I was saying is that man does not have sufficient grounds to speak about God authoritatively without any direct revelation from God, a point on which I believe we are in agreement. Please correct me if I am misinterpreting.

      I'm also not certain why you insist that religious adherents should not freely express their beliefs, in like manner as you did when you proclaimed that Christians need to stop proclaiming things. I am personally in no way threatened by your contrary beliefs, so I don't know why people of a religious persuasion need to keep their beliefs to themselves. Just because we believe in supernatural things, does that mean our tenets are not qualified for free expression? Why are you able to proclaim that all religions are very personal, but religious adherents are not allowed to proclaim that religions are also collective?

      Its really tough to argue that a Christian should not make proclamations about God when their religion commands them to do just that in no uncertain terms. The Bible is simply full of such commands, in the Old Testament and New, from Jesus Himself and others. To say that Christians should not follow that which they believe to be clearly commanded in their Scriptures by their God is roughly akin to insisting that Muslims stop their pilgrimages, or Jews stop their circumcisions. So to be an acceptable Christian by your standards is to be one who does not adhere to their religion in deference to your preferences.

      And again, I'm not sure why you want to stifle the discussion. When confronted by the Christian's claims about God, you are free to refute them if you wish, ignore them as you see fit, or accept them if so inclined. As someone who has used this forum extensively to share his opinions (not unlike myself), I am surprised that you hold such a position.

      • Joseph G. Mitzen

        "Its really tough to argue that a Christian should not make proclamations about God when their religion commands them to do just that in no uncertain terms. "

        No it's not. A religion is a set of things you choose to believe without having any evidence for it. Just because your arbitrary belief system commands you to annoy other people doesn't give you the right to do it.

        Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own set of facts. As it is a fact that you've never seen or spoken with your God, you have no ability to claim you know what he/she/it wants. And THAT'S why you shouldn't be making claims about what your God wants. Your Bible references are moot because your only source for the belief that the Bible is the word of God is the Bible.

        "And again, I’m not sure why you want to stifle the discussion."

        It's not stifling discussion to insist that people speak only about what they know.

        • Steve

          Interesting thoughts Joseph. Your main assertion seems to be that, absent any immediate, personally-communicated evidence, nobody should share their opinions.

          I’m not sure I agree with that. For instance, I have no /evidence/ that anything happened in history except through faith that what has been passed down by people before me is true. In the same way that I have never spoken to God, I have also never spoken to Caesar Augustus, Plato, or Nietzsche. Yet I presume their existence because it seems reasonable. There are things about this world which indicate their existence, such as documents, archeological excavations, etc…, which I accept as valid on faith (trust). So even absent personal communication with them, I face no dilemma in asserting that they existed.

          Atheism (the position which I presume you are coming from, though I know not for certain) requires a good deal of faith in the unknown, as I will demonstrate later. Yet volumes of work have been written by atheists to try and convince others of the validity of their beliefs (aka evangelizing). So if you hold true to your assertion, namely that nobody should try to convince another of that which has no direct or immediate evidence via divine communication, then the same must be true for atheists, agnostics, and any other adherents to metaphysical theories. How come you guys get to talk about things of which you are not certain (at least not by the standard you laid out of immediate revelation), but theists can’t?

          Not only that, but by definition it would seem that an atheist could /never/ assert his/her beliefs in a confident manner (according to your standard), even if they had overwhelming scientific evidence at their disposal. For you hold that religion is not valid enough to be shared unless the person has been spoken to directly by God. Does this only apply to religious metaphysics? Because if atheism holds true, then no atheist can ever have such a one on one conversation to explain the origins of the universe since they cannot speak to their ungod.

          I expect you to refine your standard at this point, saying that revelation isn’t necessary for non-religious ideas. Thus it seems that, in order to maintain my belief that Christians can legitimately share their opinions, I need to demonstrate that Christian beliefs are at least as reasonable as our historical belief in previous existence of other humans (like the Caesar Augustus example). Note that I said /reasonable/ and not /certain/ (for I have no /certainty/ about the existence of Nietzsche, yet I can reasonably accept it as fact). Very well. This will take a bit of writing, so bear with me.

          The evidence for some form of deity(ies) is pretty compelling. I’ve written about this in a previous comment. Basically we live in a world characterized by causation. This means we believe that everything we encounter has some antecedent cause which brought it into being. Another way to put this is that we don’t believe in spontaneous generation, where (as I alluded to in my other comment) a jet plane could just materialize right outside my window. The only jet planes have been caused. The only trees have come from seeds (or root sprouts or some other means of propagation). The only paintings were painted.

          So you can trace back the origins of everything to a point. However, that presents a problem when you consider where matter came from in the first place. Did it just appear? Did it just explode out of nothingness? Do we really believe in that kind of universe?

          Adherents to the Big Bang theory (the postulate, not the awesome show) assert that the explosion of condensed matter caused all stuff to come into form, without ever demonstrating what efficiently /caused/ the stuff to explode. And it takes no small amount of faith to believe that a whole bunch of condensed matter, upon exploding, created this orderly universe, in which everything is held in harmony through gravity (an arbitrary law) and resistance. I’ve seen explosions, and order is typically not how I’d describe them.

          The same goes for life itself. Specifically, in all the years of human consciousness we don’t have any recorded instances of rocks coming to life and gaining sentience. If we hold that life came about out of a mass of lifeless particles, does it not stand to reason that at /some/ point in our history we would see instances of a non-sentient object gaining sentience? Is it just really really rare or something? Is it just by chance that humans haven’t observed such a thing?

          Thus it seems reasonable that there is some form of Creator. It seems that something not bound by physical laws would have to exist in order to cause all other stuff to exist, since the laws of physics as we know them are not able to bring about substance out of nothingness, and because all things we observe have efficient causes.

          So if we accept the presupposition that I tried to demonstrate (that it is reasonable for a God to exist) then it is by no means unreasonable that He should choose to communicate Himself to humanity.

          Again, the world is full of order and symmetry. If we accept a creator, it does not seem likely that He/She/It (or even they) is/are haphazard, as there are so many things in this world which have to be /exactly/ the way they are. For example, our existence would be fundamentally changed were there /one/ less particle in the universe, since by the law of gravity every single particle exerts force upon another (even when very distantly separated). Humans throughout the ages have observed various other laws which, though completely arbitrary, are nonetheless fundamental to the predictable nature of our existence. We don’t see spontaneous generation, we don’t see 2+2 equaling 5 every once in a while. Things happen in an orderly fashion.

          Which brings us to God’s communication of Himself (I use the masculine only because it is traditional, as at this point I haven’t tried to deduce anything else about His character other than existence, orderliness, and purpose). If God exists, then it seems He made this world with purpose and order, which would generally seem to indicate an interest in that creation. I know from experience that when I create something of little to no value to me, I am not particularly attentive to detail. If I am drawing something which I plan to ignore for the rest of my existence, I don’t take great pains to ensure perfectly straight spheres, lines, etc…

          But the universe has such natural symmetry and beauty, which would indicate that God (if He exists, based on the suppositions I’ve laid out) would care about and have interest in this world. I wouldn’t expect a musician to go to the trouble of creating a harmonious symphony unless the musician took some manner of interest in that symphony of his/her creation. The creation of this world, with all of its marvelous and harmonious complexities, is far more indicative of value than any symphony.

          So having shown that it is reasonable that there could be a God, and that it is reasonable that this God might take interest in this world, then it would also seem reasonable that this God should see fit to take special interest in humans. For humans, unique among every other sentient being that has ever been encountered, have a very distinct personality not easily explained as animal behavior. Specifically, we love music, art, starry nights, laughter, and science in ways not really observed in any other species. We have these things called ‘convictions’, which prompt us to communicate to one another about ‘ideas’. We bury our dead, we reminisce about the past, all in ways qualitatively distinct from what we typically observe in other creatures. Sure there are similarities, but there’s also something very distinct about humans.

          And most importantly, we are relational. The union existing between two people in love, or friends of like minds, seems a bit different than what we see in animals. Even the higher primates, while they may show some semblance of grief after the loss of an infant, don’t really compare to that type of love which seems to persist between human families throughout their existence. We are not just social like the primates, but relational. Our relationships are passionate, joyful, sometimes heart breaking, and seemingly very different from what we see in other beings.

          So God appeared to create these humans as distinct from other beings, and also very relational. On this basis, it would seem quite reasonable that God, who doesn’t seem to be haphazard from what we can tell, might seek to establish relationships with these creatures. For he endowed them with these metaphysical thoughts (again assuming His existence), such that every human culture without exception has naturally developed some sort of theology at some point. Why would he put this seeming inclination to theology into relational humans unless He intended it unto some purpose?

          Thus it seems reasonable that, should a God exist, and should He not be haphazard, that He should find it pleasing to enter into relationships with humans. And like any two people who enter into a relationship, there necessarily must be some knowledge about one another for that relationship to exist. Two individuals cannot really be considered to love one another if they know nothing of each other. I cannot be considered in a relationship with someone living in Qatar, for I don’t really know anything about anyone living in that country.

          Thus if God truly desires a relationship with humans, then it is necessary that He should reveal some qualities about Himself. For we can’t really come to any true knowledge of who God is without Him showing Himself to us. We can’t really be expected to be in a relationship with Him if we can’t know anything about Him.

          So how could a God reveal Himself? Obviously in any way He chooses. He could appear on the earth and talk to folks. He could just supernaturally give us knowledge of Him. He could create a big movie screen that humans could watch and thereby learn about Him.

          Or He could reveal Himself by inspiring people to write things about Him which are true. This manner has some advantages, in that books are probably the most efficient means of preserving information over time. In doing so God could give humans something that they can look to in each generation, and thus God wouldn’t have to constantly reveal Himself over and over again in the same manner to every new generation.

          So here we have it. It seems to be a reasonable proposal that God should exist. And it seems reasonable that He might create the world with purpose, and value that creation. And it seems reasonable that He might have a high regard for humans, since they are fairly unique among creation in being relational and theologically concerned. And since they are relational and theologically concerned, it seems reasonable that He should enter into relationships with them. And since He might reasonably desire to enter into relationships with them, it seems reasonable that He would need to reveal some of His character traits in order for those relationships to be possible. And it seems reasonable that He might choose to do so through the means of literature, since it is a common, easily preserved, and uniform means of communicating ideas throughout generations.

          Thus belief that God chose to communicate His personality through the Bible, such that humans could enter into relationships with Him by learning about Him, seems a reasonable position to hold. It of course requires beliefs that are not /necessary/ or /exclusive/, but by no means is it an unreasonable position to hold. It seems equally reasonable as the assertion that a certain Caesar Augustus once existed, with whom I have never spoken and whose existence is not a /necessary/ logical deduction. If one were to assert some scheme by which Augustus’ life had been fabricated I would have no means of rebuttal other than belief that the accounts of his existence seem reasonable.

          Allow me to reiterate once again (for I fear this post might be mistaken as some logical /proof/ of divine revelation, which it is not) that my purpose here it to show that it is a /reasonable/ position to believe that God might have revealed Himself through the Bible, and thus Christians are no more required to silence their opinions than any other people-group. While my opinions were not immediately (ie, without a mediator) communicated by God (a trait which I share in common with everyone else in existence, presumably), I can still nonetheless assert them with reasonable confidence in the realm of ideas.

          • Steve D

            I apologize in advance for jumping into this conversation.

            Steve says: "In the same way that I have never spoken to God, I have also never spoken to Caesar Augustus, Plato, or Nietzsche."

            And you don't presume to speak for Caesar Augustus, Plato or Nietzche. And if you were to posit something based or their writings, or writings about them, you would regard those comments, thoughts and interpretations as your own, and not attribute them to someone outside yourself, right?

            Energy and matter can be neither created nor destroyed, and both are merely different forms of the same thing. Time, like space, are merely characteristics of physical reality: they do not necessarily exist outside of or apart from physical reality, and neither necessarily defines any particular boundary between physical reality itself and something else that is not physical reality, whether that theoretical something else may exist concurrently in space or adjacent in time.

            Just because we happen to be in one place doesn't mean that all other places do not exist. Just because we recognize ourselves as occupying a specific time does not mean that all other times do not also exist at once, at the same time. The "Big Bang" does not necessarily represent a beginning; it may instead represent one extremity of a cycle that is endless in terms of time, eternal.

          • Joseph G. Mitzen

            “Interesting thoughts Joseph.”

            I’ll apologize off the bat for the curt and gruff reply while still supporting its core point (which was put much more politely by the comment that had preceded mine).

            “Your main assertion seems to be that, absent any immediate, personally-communicated evidence, nobody should share their opinions.”

            My assertion was the same as the fellow’s above me: that one shouldn’t claim to *know* something which one can’t possibly *know*. There’s a difference between opinion and fact, and my objection is to one positing as fact that which can only be opinion at best, uninformed opinion at worst.

            “I’m not sure I agree with that. For instance, I have no /evidence/ that anything happened in history except through faith that what has been passed down by people before me is true.”

            Now you know that’s not true. :-) Most civilizations abandoned oral tradition with the advent of writing except the Inuit (because there was no paper in the frozen north). We have plenty of evidence in the form of documents and artifacts for at least the last several thousand years for most cultures.

            ” In the same way that I have never spoken to God, I have also never spoken to Caesar Augustus, Plato, or Nietzsche. Yet I presume their existence because it seems reasonable. ”

            The topic of the discussion I rudely inserted myself into was not the existence of God, but claiming to know the mind of God. One doesn’t need to have spoken to any of those three to have significant evidence that they existed. However, to claim that one knows what Plato or Aristotle would have thought about something would be mere conjecture barring any extensive writings on that same subject. How much more so to claim to know the mind of God?

            “There are things about this world which indicate their existence, such as documents, archeological excavations, etc…, which I accept as valid on faith (trust).”

            You don’t have to accept them on faith. You can read the documents, visit the excavations, read academic papers, etc. Also, faith isn’t the same thing as trust.

            ” So even absent personal communication with them, I face no dilemma in asserting that they existed.”

            Sadly, that’s not what we were talking about though. It was claiming to know what someone you’ve never communicated with is thinking right now about something. It’s no different than if I began saying I *know* what Barack Obama or Vladimir Putin would say about the finale of Lost. I can’t possibly with any certainty.

            “Atheism (the position which I presume you are coming from, though I know not for certain) requires a good deal of faith in the unknown, as I will demonstrate later.”

            I was a Catholic for over thirty years, and an atheist for about two, but you’re changing the subject from the point that was being debated… how anyone who’s never spoken with God can claim to know what God wants. Susan B. Anthony once said, “I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.” By the way, you’re not a fan of Dr. Frank Turek (“I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be an Atheist”), are you?

            “Yet volumes of work have been written by atheists to try and convince others of the validity of their beliefs (aka evangelizing).”

            Atheism is a disbelief, not a belief. As someone once said, “If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

            “So if you hold true to your assertion, namely that nobody should try to convince another of that which has no direct or immediate evidence via divine communication, then the same must be true for atheists, agnostics, and any other adherents to metaphysical theories.”

            See above. There’s a lot of logical fallacies going on here. Atheists and especially agnostics don’t have metaphysical theories. They simply fail to see sufficient evidence presented to them to prove someone else’s theory.

            ” How come you guys get to talk about things of which you are not certain (at least not by the standard you laid out of immediate revelation), but theists can’t?”

            Atheists don’t claim to know what’s on the mind of someone else. Also, an atheist or an agnostic (who by definition are uncertain) will say they are uncertain about things. They don’t claim to *know* things which they don’t know, so they in no way perform anything equivalent as claiming to know what God wants.

            “Not only that, but by definition it would seem that an atheist could /never/ assert his/her beliefs in a confident manner (according to your standard),”

            Again – what belief? An atheist fails to believe in someone else’s proposition. They can be confident in stating that they don’t accept the arguments for God. :-) That’s the only claim they make. My brother belongs to one of those “ghost hunting” groups, has been on tv, etc. I don’t believe in ghosts – in all of his investigations, he has yet to present to me sufficient evidence for disembodied spirits haunting people. That’s not a belief on my part. That’s a failure on his part to demonstrate evidence to prove his claim (that there are ghosts) beyond a reasonable doubt. I don’t assert any belief beyond he (and others) have failed to convince me. Why can’t I assert that confidently? It’s a fact that I’ve failed to be convinced. It’s a fact that atheists have failed to be persuaded by arguments for God. There’s no conceptual equivalence between making a statement of fact about something one can’t know as a fact, and stating one hasn’t seen evidence.

            ” For you hold that religion is not valid enough to be shared unless the person has been spoken to directly by God. Does this only apply to religious metaphysics? Because if atheism holds true, then no atheist can ever have such a one on one conversation to explain the origins of the universe since they cannot speak to their ungod.”

            That last bit you wrote, “ungod”, doesn’t prove your argument – it’s an illogical concept that shows you’re making an irrational equivalence. You can’t equate making a claim (for which the burden of proof exists) and failing to see that proof. You’re not even making sense anymore.

            In a nutshell – the original poster was upset because people claim to know what God wants. You said those people can’t be asked to stifle their opinions, and I said they can be asked to speak only about that which they know – or more precisely, to not make claims to know something that they can’t know. The word atheist never even came up and you’re dragging this through the looking glass to claim that atheists then have to speak with “ungod” before they say what’s on the mind of “ungod”.

            >I expect you to refine your standard at this point, saying that revelation isn’t

            >necessary for non-religious ideas.

            I didn’t need to refine anything – I just needed to constantly repeat the original claim I and another poster made, one which has very little in common with where you’ve taken your reply.

            >The evidence for some form of deity(ies) is pretty compelling. I’ve written

            >about this in a previous comment. Basically we live in a world characterized

            >by causation.

            This is completely off-topic, but I’ll do you the courtesy of reading and responding (although we should probably take any further discussion of this twist to e-mail or another forum because it has nothing to do with John Shore’s essay).

            “…Adherents to the Big Bang theory (the postulate, not the awesome show) ”

            … of which I’m not an adherent to (the postulate)…

            “assert that the explosion of condensed matter caused all stuff to come into form, without ever demonstrating what efficiently /caused/ the stuff to explode. And it takes no small amount of faith to believe that a whole bunch of condensed matter, upon exploding, created this orderly universe,”

            Actually, it’s not faith, but a whole lot of complex math and particle physics. Now the dark matter & dark energy – that’s faith.

            ” in which everything is held in harmony through gravity (an arbitrary law) ”

            It’s not an “arbitrary law” but a mathematical description of real effects. There are several competing hypotheses regarding the nature of gravity (distortion of space time and particle theories are two models).

            “and resistance. I’ve seen explosions, and order is typically not how I’d describe them.”

            The order in Big Bang cosmology comes from fundamental interactions as well as gravity operating over billions of years. I can fill a jar with marbles of different sizes and shake vigorously, and eventually the smallest will all be on the top and the largest will migrate to the bottom. Order out of the chaos of shaking. Please tell me you’re more familiar with the Big Bang theory than you seem to be from your explosion quip before you rejected it.

            “The same goes for life itself. Specifically, in all the years of human consciousness we don’t have any recorded instances of rocks coming to life and gaining sentience.”

            You know (or maybe you don’t) that scientists don’t hold that rocks came to life. Although religion does give us the tradition of the golem. :-) We have neither the primordial materials not the environment that existed billions of year ago when life first appeared, which is obviously why we don’t see it. We DO see molecules that can form into self-replicating compounds in laboratory conditions. I personally give strong odds to panspermia, given the complex organic molecules that have been detected in space and the possibility they could have arrived here via asteroid or comet impact. Meanwhile, I can retort that in all the years of human consciousness we don’t have evidence of talking snakes or Eden appearing on Google Earth either, but that would be just as silly as the claim you’re making here.

            > If we hold that life came about out of a mass of lifeless particles, does it not

            >stand to reason that at /some/ point in our history we would see instances of

            >a non-sentient object gaining sentience? Is it just really really rare or

            >something? Is it just by chance that humans haven’t observed such a thing?

            Are you confusing life with self-awareness? Either way, the answer is no, it doesn’t stand to reason. Is it really rare? Well – given that the conditions of Earth today are nothing like those of the primordial earth – why YES it would be rare. But, given a billion years or two to play with….

            >Thus it seems reasonable that there is some form of Creator.

            Not even close, Fallacy Of False Alternatives, but go on…

            > It seems that something not bound by physical laws would have to exist in

            >order to cause all other stuff to exist, since the laws of physics as we know

            >them are not able to bring about substance out of nothingness, and because

            >all things we observe have efficient causes.

            This is the same argument that’s been around for what a thousand years or so. Your creator needs a creator. If you say your creator doesn’t need a creator, your opponent replies then neither does the universe, and we’re back to square one. “the laws of physics as we know them are not able to bring about substance out of nothingness” – actually, quantum mechanics has “virtual particles” appear out of the quantum vacuum, so the laws of physics as they stand now do claim matter can appear out of thin air. In addition, the laws of physics aren’t done being written yet. In 1903 man’s first successful powered flight got 10 feet off the ground. In 1969 he landed on the Moon. Because we haven’t unravelled the origin of the universe yet is no reason to throw out physics and introduce the supernatural. Look up “god of the gaps”. ” “…how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

            “So if we accept the presupposition that I tried to demonstrate (that it is reasonable for a God to exist) then it is by no means unreasonable that He should choose to communicate Himself to humanity.”

            So why doesn’t he?

            “… For example, our existence would be fundamentally changed were there /one/ less particle in the universe, since by the law of gravity every single particle exerts force upon another (even when very distantly separated). ”

            That doesn’t sound like a fundamental change. In addition, this is another fallacy. the condition of the universe isn’t adapted to life. Life is adapted to the conditions of the universe. The desert wasn’t created for the cactus; the cactus evolved to survive in the desert.

            “…If God exists, then it seems He made this world with purpose and order, which would generally seem to indicate an interest in that creation. I know from experience that when I create something of little to no value to me, I am not particularly attentive to detail. If I am drawing something which I plan to ignore for the rest of my existence, I don’t take great pains to ensure perfectly straight spheres, lines, etc…

            “But the universe has such natural symmetry and beauty, which would indicate that God …would care about and have interest in this world. I wouldn’t expect a musician to go to the trouble of creating a harmonious symphony unless the musician took some manner of interest in that symphony of his/her creation. The creation of this world, with all of its marvelous and harmonious complexities, is far more indicative of value than any symphony.”

            Are you serious? Does the word “earthquake” mean anything to you? How about the tsunami that killed 200,000 people? If this is design, the designer is an evil monster. ***99%*** of species we know once walked the earth have gone extinct. Asteroids occasionally hit with devastating impact. Volcanoes erupt. Scientists have done recent genetic studies that suggest that at one point the human race may have been reduced to less than 4,000 individuals. There’s ice ages. The universe itself has exploding stars, massive radiation, black holes, and all sorts of other deadly items. And have you looked at the rest of the solar system? Hardly conducive to life, what with either burning or freezing temps on the other planets.

            Life is struggle for survival, with lots of things killing and eating other things – periodically interrupted by nature coming close to extinguishing all living things. The world has beauty and order – and chaos and horrors. We’ve got one known planet in the universe known to be conducive to life, and even then just parts of it – and it’s almost been wiped out more than once.

            That’s NOT the sign of a creator! That’s exactly the way we would expect the world to be if there were no creator and everything was instead shaped by natural forces. Brutal, heartless and uncaring. That’s one of the biggest arguments AGAINST a creator. The universe appears completely indifferent to our existence. If your God gets credit for all flowers and bunnies, he’s got to take credit for meteor strikes, ebola and the eventual death of our sun, which will wipe out all life and the planet itself (if nature doesn’t do us in first in other ways).

            “So having shown that it is reasonable that there could be a God, and that it is reasonable that this God might take interest in this world,”

            No, you actually laid out evidence for either a godless creation or an indifferent and impersonal creator, which moots everything else. There’s zip evidence for anyone taking interest in humanity, given the conditions under which humanity labors unaided. If I had a puppy and didn’t feed it I’d go to jail, but your creator who cares about you lets people starve to death every day.

            “Or He could reveal Himself by inspiring people to write things about Him which are true. This manner has some advantages, in that books are probably the most efficient means of preserving information over time.”

            That’s an incredibly flawed method, because an omniscent God would know that people would mistranslate and miscopy said book, and that many, many other books claiming authenticity would pop up, and that there would be no reason for anyone to believe said book was the word of God. The simplest way, if he’s the creator, would simply be to have every human born knowing about God. Or maybe a giant “Hello world it’s me God” hanging in the sky would work. But given that there are over 1000 sects of Christianity alone today, why would God continue with a book plan knowing the end result?

            ” In doing so God could give humans something that they can look to in each generation, and thus God wouldn’t have to constantly reveal Himself over and over again in the same manner to every new generation.”

            He has something else to do or somewhere else to be?

            “It seems to be a reasonable proposal that God should exist. And it seems reasonable that He might create the world with purpose, and value that creation. And it seems reasonable that He might have a high regard for humans, since they are fairly unique among creation in being relational and theologically concerned. And since they are relational and theologically concerned, it seems reasonable that He should enter into relationships with them. And since He might reasonably desire to enter into relationships with them, it seems reasonable that He would need to reveal some of His character traits in order for those relationships to be possible. And it seems reasonable that He might choose to do so through the means of literature, since it is a common, easily preserved, and uniform means of communicating ideas throughout generations.”

            We’re left with a universe that looks randomly shaped and evolved without need for a god to explain its current state, an indifferent universe very unforgiving of life and merciless in its cruelty, no intervention by said God in the trials and tribulations of man, and thousands and thousands of Gods, from Quetzalcoatl to Zeus, in the history of mankind because there was no definitive revelation to man. Meanwhile, man has been killing each other for thousands of years based on their own interpretations of altered, edited, contradictory holy texts.

            “Allow me to reiterate once again (for I fear this post might be mistaken as some logical /proof/ of divine revelation, which it is not) that my purpose here it to show that it is a /reasonable/ position to believe that God might have revealed Himself through the Bible, and thus Christians are no more required to silence their opinions than any other people-group. While my opinions were not immediately (ie, without a mediator) communicated by God (a trait which I share in common with everyone else in existence, presumably), I can still nonetheless assert them with reasonable confidence in the realm of ideas.”

            It’s no more reasonable than some atheists creation of the flying spaghetti monster, and in the end there’s still claims to know something that can’t be known (what this God would think if it did exist). Even granting a creator, you still have no way to know which (if any) holy book is holy, and whether said book is the original unedited text. And then, even assuming the Bible’s authenticity, you have numerous contradictions and vague statements (which is why there are over 1,000 sects of Christianity. I won’t even get into whether this God is honest or possesses the qualities its holy book claims it has. So granting you God and the Bible, you’re STILL left unable to claim to know the mind of God with any certainly.

          • Steve

            Hi Joseph,

            Thank you for the apology, but I don’t think any was needed. I prefer open and candid discussion, so no harm done by your comment.

            So yeah, I was worried that the post might be taken wrong and it turns out that worry was not misplaced. Remember that I was not arguing here to prove the existence of God or the certainty of divinely inspired texts. Rather, your original post said that Christians need to shut up about God since we don’t know God’s mind with any certainty. So my goal was to show Christian doctrines as worthy of public discourse, on the same level as other historical judgments which we typically make.

            So the key distinction you bring up (which I’ll admit I didn’t go into in my examples) is the validity of knowing the /mind/ of something with which we cannot communicate, and asserting that mind’s values in the public discourse. Since I cannot speak to God, I can’t presume to know His mind, and therefore I have no grounds on which to talk about Him to others. And on those grounds I should silence myself (or be silenced?).

            So my comment, which was I think misconstrued as some attempt to /prove/ the Bible’s validity beyond any shadow of doubt, was instead geared toward showing that a reasonable person could reasonably end up believing that God revealed Himself through the Bible, and that Christians thus can indeed openly discuss the implications of those beliefs in the public discourse. I am truly surprised that there are any who assert otherwise. It smacks of no small amount of pride to condemn anyone’s tradition as not even relevant enough to speak out loud about, but thats a tangent.

            So using the example of historical figures again, could I ever have any reasonable means to presume what Plato or Caesar Augustus would think or value? My answer would be yes. If we trust what has been passed down to us over the years through texts, we can look at them and make judgments about what these men valued. I can say with reasonable certainty that Plato valued reason, for example, since the texts which we attribute to him are loaded with it. Likewise I am fairly certain that Nietzsche didn’t believe in God, based on the texts we attribute to him. If you were to hold a contrary position, you are free to look at the texts and assert the reverse.

            I presume you will agree that we can deduce values about these men, even though we don’t have any means of directly communicating with them. All of our certainty is based on assumptions that the texts which we read today were written by whom we think they were written. Its not /certain/ in the absolute sense of the word. But it is reasonable.

            So my comment again was not to prove that God absolutely must exist, and that the Bible must absolutely reveal His values. But I tried to demonstrate how one could reasonably reach that position, and how therefore they did not have to relinquish their freedom of expression under your scheme.

            In analyzing my series of deductions, which I presented as reasonable possibilities (again not absolute fact), you presented alternate possibilities which could also be reasonable. However, these parallel possibilities (that matter could be eternal, that God could write His name in the sky, etc…) do not negate the fact that a reasonable person could arrive at my conclusions. What they instead show is that another reasonable person could arrive at the opposite conclusion.

            Which is fine. If we want to talk about whether God is necessary, or whether the Bible /has/ to be the way that He reveals His character, we are free to do so. All I’m saying is that Christians do have an right to speak about the character of God as revealed in the Bible because it is a reasonable possibility that He revealed Himself through it.

            I say that you showed other possible conclusions rather than refutations for each of my deductions, but there is one exception. You asserted that one should not hold the view that the world is orderly, since it is full of violence, struggle, earthquakes, death, etc… Which is interesting since I have been criticized by other atheists on this forum for having a pessimistic worldview. But thats another tangent.

            I am in wholehearted agreement that God is not just Lord of the cute fuzzy animals, but over the diseases, asteroids, and genocides as well. I would argue that my Christian colleagues could benefit from such a lesson (reference Franklin Graham when discussing 9/11). If you wish to discuss the implications of God’s sovereignty at some point let me know. But my main assertion (that there is a seeming order and symmetry to this world which would indicate that, should it be created by a God, that He would value it) is not lessened by the fact that bad things occur. Rather, it would just indicate that there is probably more to God than just happy fuzzy thoughts (were we to assume His existence and creation and all that).

            It is reasonable for me to look at mundane objects like seashells and pine cones, which are in conformity to Fibonacci’s number, and say that there is some level of order or symmetry in the world. You may have a different explanation for it (shaking up a jar of marbles), but it is still a reasonable conclusion that such small but striking details could also indicate the possibility that God values His creation (again, assuming His existence and all that).

            Thus we are back to my original flow, which attempts to reasonably posit that God might have created the universe, and that He might be interested in His creation, and that He might take special interest in humans, and that He might want to enter relationships with them, and that He might do so by revealing His character through literature. I use the subjunctive here to indicate that this is not necessarily how everything /must/ have happened. But it is a possible formulation with reasonable deductions, and it thus should not be silenced any more than our beliefs in the values of Plato or Nietzsche. It should just be subjected to criticism, review, and everything else that makes for a good exchange of ideas.

            There is one more assertion that I’d like to address:

            “It’s no more reasonable than some atheists creation of the flying spaghetti monster, and in the end there’s still claims to know something that can’t be known (what this God would think if it did exist). Even granting a creator, you still have no way to know which (if any) holy book is holy, and whether said book is the original unedited text. And then, even assuming the Bible’s authenticity, you have numerous contradictions and vague statements (which is why there are over 1,000 sects of Christianity. I won’t even get into whether this God is honest or possesses the qualities its holy book claims it has. So granting you God and the Bible, you’re STILL left unable to claim to know the mind of God with any certainly.”

            We can talk about the seeming contradictions and vague sections in detail if you’d like. However, I actually have no problem openly discussing the implications of the Flying Spaghetti Monster with Pastafarians, If they hold this God to be reasonable, then I’m willing to discuss why or why not they might believe in such a scheme. I certainly have no desire to silence them or inhibit their freedom of expression.

            Granting for God and the Bible, you said we still have no way of knowing the mind of God with any certainty, because of those contradictions, vague statements, divisions, and the assumption of God’s honesty. Well, all the same objections could be leveled against Plato’s works. I could argue that Plato might have been dishonest in his writings, or that there are different schools of thought with regard to Plato (or other philosophers, who might be better examples), or that some of his reasonings are not readily intuitive, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t reasonably deduce his values. Again, I have no /certainty/ in the purest sense of the word that Plato wrote anything. But it is a reasonable deduction to hold, so I face no contradiction in asserting his views in the public discourse.

            With regard to “which” holy text should be held as God’s means of revelation, this is another thing which we can discuss if you’d like. I have written previously within this forum about the resurrection and how it seems reasonable based on the available evidence. Again, its not as absolutely certain (logically speaking) as say, the fact that I am typing, but its reasonable enough to be up for public discussion.

            What we’re really getting at here is the nature of certainty. If we play the skeptic, then there is really very little in this world of which we can be completely certain. I’m /pretty/ sure that every person I encounter is not just a figment of my imagination, but its really hard for me to remove the remotest possibility of such a thing. I’ve got a pretty good idea that my life isn’t just some version of The Truman Show, but I suppose it could be possible with some stretches of my imagination.

            We have very little of which we are truly certain. We instead have to do the best we can with the tools at hand. I argue that a person can reasonably come to the belief that the Bible is God’s means of revealing His character to people, and to that end Christian opinions are relevant enough to be expressed.

  • Matthew

    @Christine, generally:

    I had posted a reply earlier to Sonnys in which I suggested something I’d like to direct to you: perhaps the sureness of God’s intent is the problem that I often have with Biblical literalists.

    You claim to read an imperfect human language, existing in an imperfect human world, and claim to have the ability to know its ultimate purpose, authority, the whole kit and caboodle. Isn’t that a little presumptuous? Have we all formed our own opinions about sacred texts?

    No one would claim that each person hasn’t made up their own minds about what those texts mean, or even the credibility of them; that’s not the point. If you’re going to speak for God, I think the only legitimate way you can do so is personally, to yourself. A public expression, “For God,” about other people’s lives is just distasteful. It’s why so many people on the other side of the aisle with regard to this issue are tuning out.

    Best

    Matthew

  • Steve D

    @Matthew — Well said, about presuming to speak for God.

    As I’ve mentioned elsewhere in these comments, I personally have no problem with Christians using the frequent argument of last resort, an often grudging admission that we don’t and can’t really understand the mind of God. Instead, my problem is with those who insist that they do know and understand God’s mind and are all too eager to tell the rest of us exactly what’s in and on it. :-)

    • Steve

      @Steve D and @Matthew,

      I would submit that God, by His nature and majesty, should be above casual conversation and that any discussions about the nature of His will should be handled with utmost humility. This is a Christian doctrine going back to the beginning of the religion – that God is higher than we and His ways are above ours. This is especially true considering the fallen condition of man (doctrine of Original Sin), which @Matthew alluded to in his post.

      As I’ve mentioned to @Steve D in other comments, what you’ve shown is the necessity for divine revelation – that man cannot come to any meaningful knowledge of the personality of God without God coming down and showing us. I’ve posited before why I believe Christ’s resurrection is pretty darn reasonable, and thus why there is plenty of reason to accept Him as divine revelation.

      As for the Bible itself, there are mysteries about it which Christians need to be realistic about (which is again a tenant held by Christians since the beginning). Anyone who claims to know infallibly what any and every word means in its totality is probably not acting with the humility that the Bible discusses so often. That being said, there’s some stuff in there that is pretty darn clear. And its clear that God wants Christians to make proclamations about Him when Christ gives the great commission, saying that Christians are to carry the ‘good news’ with them wherever they go, preaching a gospel of repentance for the remission of sins.

      Thus Christians should be proclaiming that Christ exists, and that the world needs to turn from its sin. So it is incumbent upon Christians to study the texts, find out what constitutes sin as best as they can (and trusting God to guide their understanding as He wills), and to share that with everyone else. Any honest Christian knows he/she is no better or smarter than anyone else, so it is fitting that we should be appealing to higher authority any time we speak.

      If you have problems with the way that Christians interpret their texts, thats a fine topic for discussion. But pure skepticism is not a valid position in the matter.

      • http://ramblingsofaspiritualidiot.wordpress.com ~Julia~

        Steve: “And its clear that God wants Christians to make proclamations about Him when Christ gives the great commission, saying that Christians are to carry the ‘good news’ with them wherever they go, preaching a gospel of repentance for the remission of sins.

        “Thus Christians should be proclaiming that Christ exists, and that the world needs to turn from its sin. So it is incumbent upon Christians to study the texts, find out what constitutes sin as best as they can (and trusting God to guide their understanding as He wills), and to share that with everyone else. Any honest Christian knows he/she is no better or smarter than anyone else, so it is fitting that we should be appealing to higher authority any time we speak.”

        Okay. This I believe is the main reason I have trouble with Christianity and unfortunately, way too many Christians. Let me try to explain:

        There are two vastly different concepts of the world and people going on here; the Christian view and the non-Christian view.

        Christianity views the world and people in an incredibly negative light. Christianity teaches that all have fallen, that all are sinners, you are born disgusting to god, god rejects you for not being a proper worshiper, you are a filthy rag, dead in gods eyes, worthy of only god’s wrath, you are not worthy of god’s love until you worship it as a Christian. Christianity also says that the world is not good, that it all is under a fallen and corrupt nature of sin.

        This is an incredibly ugly way to view the world and other people, imho.

        It suggests that life is a burden, to distrust others; especially non-believers. There is no trust and one must be suspicious. After all, they do not have god, yes?

        Yet, it seems that for Christianity to carry out its ‘Great Commission’ the Christian MUST view the world as without god and thus ugly and untrustworthy.

        To do so the Christian upon meeting another must therefore JUDGE. The Christian must judge if the other person is not already a Christian. How else can they separate the saved from the hellbounds?

        Again: To carry out the ‘Great Commission’ the Christian must first: JUDGE.

        Hand in hand with this judgment is PREJUDICE: All other faiths are not of god. NOTE: Here there is no need for the Christian to know or attempt to learn and understand the non-believers chosen faith for ALL NON-CHRISTIAN FAITHS ARE NOT OF GOD. To learn or try to understand may contaminate you, deceive you into believing lies. Do not trust!

        Again: The Christian must have PREJUDICE: pre-judgment of all non-Christian faiths as not of god.

        The Christian must already PREJUDGE the other if they are not Christian and are filthy rag sinners disgusting to god. To do this the Christian must JUDGE the other as a non-believer and thus are in need of Christianity.

        What an ugly way to treat people, imho.

        Why? For this negative view of the world and other has NO RESPECT in this judgment and prejudice for anyone of other faiths. None. How can one respect anyone and their viewpoints, how can one respect another’s wisdoms and knowledge when you already have decided, have already PRE-JUDGED (prejudice) them as having nothing of value to offer you? How can one foster trust and respect when you have already past JUDGMENT upon them without first asking them what they already know?

        To recap; Christianity has a very negative view of the world and people based on PREJUDICE and JUDGMENT.

        Now, the other view I mentioned:

        I will call it NAMASTE.

        Namaste means “The divine in me recognizes the divine in you and acknowledges we are the same.” Namaste is much more than a word. Namaste is actually –for lack of a better definition- an entire ritual. You really do view another as having the Divine in them and HONOR this with respect to them, and they to you.

        Here is why I believe many non-Christian faiths actually are a huge step ahead of Christianity: Many view the world and people as ALREADY HAVING GOD WITHIN THEM AND THUS THEY ARE SACRED. All things, the entire world and all the people are sacred, respected and honored as having the Divine within them.

        Now, think about that a moment. If another you met is walking with the Divine and you recognize this, how would you treat them? With respect, yes? At least I believe you should. Thus they treat others with more respect without first prejudging and prejudice. For me this is what NAMASTE means: ‘The Divine in me honors the Divine in you for we are the same.’

        For me the act and practice of Namaste is much more than a phrase and a gesture. Namaste means that you treat and view others in a sacred and respectful way. You treat them as already LOVED BY THE DIVINE and you reflect that in your actions, words and deeds.

        When I gather with others of different non-Christian faiths it is a wonderful sharing celebration. We gather with no pretense of pushing a faith or religion. No one is trying to push their view of gods and goddesses and the Divine upon another. No one has the agenda of spreading their religion or particular way of walking and working with their deities. We simply share. When we speak of the Divine or God or Goddess rarely is someone upset for many understand we are all coming from a place of walking with our Divinity, with our Gods and Goddesses. It is not so much about who has the proper religion or faith or Divine Being, but a mutual sharing of insights, experiences and wisdoms. There is respect for one another and the path they are walking with the Divine regardless of technique or deity. It is simply in the spirit of Namaste, of Namaste in action.

        I just do not see Namaste practiced by Christianity in general for it smacks against the religion. It’s hard to practice Namaste when you view the world and people as filthy rag sinners who know nothing of god and are direly in need of yours….

        Now, all that said, should I try and treat Christians within the spirit of Namaste? Absolutely.

        And, I try. Unfortunately many a Christian simply will NOT view myself or others in the same manner. Namaste lopsided like that is rather awkward. I am often baffled by Christians who claim to have Jesus or God yet cannot seem to see the Divine in another human being for they simply are not a Christian. Their seeming blindness all too often results in bigotry and prejudices which both saddens and infuriates me. As a result of years of first hand prejudiced judgments from Christians I have had to learn to keep my faith to myself. Upon learning the person is a Christian I will usually back off. What kind of Christian are they? Are they living in a manner of Namaste? Or, are they trying to spread their ‘Great Commission’? All too often I will simply avoid known Christians for they do not usually come from a place of Namaste it less it offend their god.

        So, I stay away.

        Oh, I will still try and treat them in the spirit of Namaste by being polite and respectful. To do any less is not respectful and not being in the spirit of Namaste. I just do so by not openly mentioning anything spiritual to them. It’s just less stressful for both of us that way.

        Hope I made myself clear; I do tend to ramble. ;)

        Namaste,

        ~julia~

        • Steve D

          Very interesting thoughts, Julia. I too believe that many sets of Christian beliefs (each Christian has his or her own personalized set, it seems to me) are negative, destructive, and unhealthy. And I say this coming from a deeply Christian background, as the son of a minister raised by and around zealous missionaries. The basic premises and presumptions of many Christians cast reality as a dangerous and threatening place that we have to learn to fight against, live within without getting (any more) tainted ourselves, and save ourselves from. Many other Christian beliefs are conflicting, sometimes drastically so, and if one does not make a very substantial effort to try to find some coherence among them, they can cause deep psychological problems and challenges that can take many years to work through.

          Your Namaste seems like a much better alternative.

  • Steve D

    @Steve — “Tenant” instead of “tenet” may have been a typo in your case, but is is a very common (and annoying) mistake.

    There is a difference between merely expressing one’s beliefs and attempting to get others to adopt them. I’m not suggesting that Christians suppress themselves. But I think they need to be prepared for the often negative response they encounter when they try to impress their beliefs upon others.

    If you are curious as to why I seem so negatively inclined toward Christians, it may clarify the issue if I mention that I was raised in a Christian missionary compound in Peru, in an isolated village in the Amazon rainforest. I was subjected to intense religious indoctrination from the time I could understand anything. Without going into further detail, I’ll just say that I still have a strong and bitter resentment toward Christians as a result–not all Christians by any means, but toward any that presume to believe that they understand our complex reality and know what’s best for others.

  • Jason

    Definitely an interesting read and he makes some very good points but I don’t think it would phase any of the ministers I’ve had exposure to. They would argue that homosexuality is harmful because it harms the spirit and eternal future of another human being even if it doesn’t cause physical harm.

    Sometimes I wonder if “what people most commonly mean when they use the word “love.””, is primarily lust. What if human love, even heterosexual love, as we commonly think of it, is skewed so far from what God intended that is actually sinful and lustful by biblical standards. What if the kind of love that God wants humans to have for each other is primarily a spiritual and emotional connection. What if the whole thing is skewed? What if both homosexual and heterosexual “love”, as our society thinks of them, are just other ways of feeding our ego at the cost of spiritual enlightenment?

    Talk to you later.

    • frank sonnek

      This is a great post and the responses are worthy of a read. on both sides of the issue.

      I am a 54 year old gay man living in brasil. I am also a christian in church affiliated with the most conservative of Lutheran sects, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

      Like any large body (around 2.5 million members), the opinions run the gamut. Usually the mildest form is "we accept you as a homosexual like we accept any other sinner… like a drug addict or alcohol for example".

      Look. Who Jesus is, what he did and why he did it matters to me most of all. for that reason only, the bible and anything else matters to me as well and to the extent that it is about Him.

      Lately I think I have acheived some clarity about where the divide is. It is about peoples view on goodness.

      The religous feel that goodness is about being personally good. This usually means that can feel they are good by following a checkoff list. This applies to both "liberals" and "conservatives". being good is about pleasing God by following his rules then. Jesus always seems to be judgemental only about those types so far as I can tell.

      I think Jesus tells us, and st paul, and st james, that God doesn´t care about personal goodness. He doesn´t need that. What he cares about is our worrying about the good of others. So this looks like a practical thing and means that the goodness God wants is not about being judged against a set of His rules. it looks like: 1) do no harm and 2) help and befriend our neighbor in every bodily need. It means actually liking our neighbor. It does not mean just some patronizing hate the sin and love the sinner that does not ever feel like love to anyone.

      Jesus paid for my sins and I am cool with God. This means I a free from having to try to please God. He is. Completely. His outstretched arms, nailed to a cross proves that. So I am free to focus my efforts on the hurts and needs of my neighbor! God will be pleased with that and will fix any (or rather the many) errors I make in trying to live this. Those outstretched arms assure me of that as well!

      More challengingly than that: It is about letting our neighbor (whoever needs us) be the judge of whether or not they feel loved by us and whether or not they feel we are a + and not a – in their lives. We hate this and flee from the judgement of others. Let´s be honest. This is why we keep our sins secret. I am suggesting that the biblical attitude of god pleasing morality is summed in the customer service motto: "The customer is always right".

      By the way this is the opposite of being a libertine or giving a kid candy to please when he needs food. Try it and see how hard it is on one´s own inflated ego and sense of entitlement and self importance. This informs me as a gay man for instance, that I cannot afford the luxury of righteous anger towards those who seem hateful towards me. Or the condescension of a superiorizing "I love but I don´t like" atttude.

      By the way, the official teachings of my Lutheran Church are fully supportive of everything I just said. So that gives me the grace to embrace those in my church who don´t like what their own church is trying to teach them.

      John, your attitude as to what true morality here on earth is a perfect reflection of the attitude of the Lutheran Church and her official teachings. And it is right! Thanks for articulating it so well! I will plagarize and give you credit! This is all about the earthly righteousness of St James that does truly please God. Then there is that heavenly righteousness that is meaningless except to god and troubled consciences. that is what makes you and i christian. that is faith that Jesus makes us righteous before God apart from anything we can do or think to do. There are two kinds of righteousness that please God then. romans 8 is about this.

  • http://www.tsarlymayn.blogspot.com Carl Magno

    Bottom line kind sirs and ma'ams, who are we to judge one another? Even God reserved that privilege to the end of days.

    And if Christians do firmly believe that being gay is morally, spiritually and socially wrong, as they interpret from the Bible, then let them follow the book by heart, "he who has no sin, cast the first stone," and whosoever threw me one, who is sinless and righteous, I would gladly face it head on.

    God himself does not condemn but rather teach love above all things, regardless. Nothing He created was wrong, it was all made in His perfect mind and plan. If we gay people were wrongly made, then why are we here in the first place? For the "straight" ones fun?

    I can only understand this, that we are who we are, we are meant to be, and being good in everything we say and do is also our own right. To live in harmony with one another despite the prejudism. We are also divine beings just like everyone else.

  • frank sonnek

    Wow john. you are teaching me more about what I believe as a Lutheran without trying.

    Lutherans teach that there wre two elements to earthly righteousness: 1) self-restraint, self-discipline (called mortification of the flesh in the bible) that is basically "do no harm".

    Religious legalists generally focus on this part as the mend when it is really a means to an end.

    Mortification only exists to make a space for love possible. and what is love? love is any action (of word or deed) that makes the creaturely existence of someone else better. This positive love part is what religous legalists ignore by making the mortification part into righteousness as a sort of sacrifice.

    This is what true righteousness looks like:

    5th commandment: Thou shalt not kill.

    What does this mean?

    We should not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body. (mortification)

    But we should help and befriend (!) our neighbor in every bodily need. (love)

    This fits perfectly with Jesus saying "the sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath, and his telling them immediately after "i would have you go find out what it means when God says "I want mercy (love) and not sacrifice (mortification aiming to please God rather than prepare to do love for others)."

  • miscellaneous

    youve written this very well, and youve argued in a restrained, non aggressive manner, which characteristically stains this topic. for that, i applaud you. however, i think that where this article falls apart is in your definition of sin.

    "homosexuality shouldn’t be classified as a sin, because it doesn’t meet the first, most important criterion of being a sin, which is manifestly causing harm."

    doubtlessly, thats well written, clearly theres been a lot of thought here. however, isn't the definition of sin open rebellion against God, a denial of God? under that definition, which i believe is more biblically supported, homosexuality is defined as a sin.

    i dont claim i know everything about the bible, i could very well be wrong. i just wanted to throw that out there. this is a big topic which, as i mentioned above, is typically stained by heated argument. one only needs to read down the page to see that. ive tried my best to avoid needless offence, id appreciate it if anyone who replies specifically to this post did so in a similar manner.

    • Diana

      "…isn’t the definition of sin open rebellion against God, a denial of God?"

      Certainly that is one definition of sin and a very important one.

      "under that definition…homosexuality is defined as a sin."

      I disagree with you on this. The impression I get from you regarding this statement is that you think people engage in homosexuality deliberately as a way to rebel against and/or deny God.

      It's possible that there are some people who do so, but I think for the majority of homosexuals, homosexuality is not something done to rebel against and/or deny God. Rather, homosexuality is like heterosexuality–a feeling, desire, interest–just targeted toward one or more members of the same gender, rather than the opposite.

    • frank sonnek

      you assume that the opposite of sin/evil is goodness.

      The bible says that the opposite of sin/evil is faith.

      "That which is not if faith is sin".

      People, like the pharisees can make a life work out of being good and following God´s rules and still be very very wrong. It misses Jesus entire point to dismiss the righeousness of the Pharisees as hipocracy. Jesus did not say this. When Jesus said "your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees" he meant to say that even a meticulous keeping of the rulebook of God will not save one. It only leads to death.

      Thus: "A man must be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven." There is no fix for what is wrong with man. No re-condition-ing. We must die. that is the only solution. there can be no resurrection without first a death.

      thus: "you were buried with Christ by your baptism into his death, and raised up with him in newness of life." This is not metaphor being spoken here. Baptism is not just an empty symbol . What is described is what actually happens: The old adam starts his death struggle in baptism by being drown (but it turns out that he is an excellent swimmer….) and a new man. as in NEW , christ in us, is created in us.

      thus: romans 8. flesh/body (read earthly righteousness by keeping the law) will perish and what will remain is spirit, a new man who just keeps the law (think Jesus in the incarnation here) spontaneously. what else would that new man do.

      But at the same time, that old adam still clings to us. and so he needs to die. The holy spirit kills that old adam in us daily by the carrot and stick of the law so that he can be made useful to our neighbor in acts of love. not just stick, but carrot too…

      thus: good works are about pleasing and serving our neighbor. this is not about us our our life. it is about the life of others. Our live is in our new birth in christ. this is where our hope is in the resurrection. we are free to participate in that death of the old us, the old adam, so that we can give that bread, or love to our neighbor.

      This was long. I hope it is useful to someone.

  • Nathan

    The problem with liberal-progressive Christian dogma is that its possible to be so open minded that you forget who you are. The article states that homosexuality is different from other sins in that it doesn't cause harm to others. However, from whatever non-christian perspective you take any sin can be justified. Fornication is something people do all the time because of their natural lusts and drives, adultery, as an atheist associate of mine said, most apes do not have committed unions why should humans? Stealing (some steal to survive), the list goes on. So eventually the entire concept of sin (and hell) is eliminated, because its too antiquated. "God wouldn't be so hateful to dehumanize a bunch of people like that, God is not a bigot". But we are called as Christians to be a peculiar people, to be in the world and not of the world. But when we use the worlds wisdom to influence the Church what is the point of being a Christian in the first place? I agree that Christians put to much focus on homosexuality when there are issues that are more closer to home that should be dealt with. But I think we should instead of reinterpreting things (Christianity is already far too divided for this reason) and trying to broaden the "narrow path" we all should "man up" and choose what side were on.

    • http://Nukraya.blogspot.com BobG

      Nathan,

      Thanks for at least trying to deal with this.

      Unfortunately when listening or reading much of the recent (past 35 years) evangelical literature dealing with homosexuality, I far too often feel like one of those pots created unto dishonour (Romans 9:21).

      I spent a couple decades in a fundamentalist Calvinist church, and by their understanding, God would certainly (be so hateful as to) dehumanize a bunch of people (like me). (Parenthetical phrases inserted by me)

      After some twenty years of this sort of preaching, I grew to wish that atheism were true. I was a believer, and was in despair BECAUSE I was a believer. To avoid some misunderstandings–I was not then nor am now in a sexual relationship. It was simply an issue of God's attitudes and character.

      Be Well,

      Bob Griffin

  • Jen

    … is anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin because it says so in the Old Testament going to tell me why they still continue to do other things that are lambasted in the Old Testament? Like eat shrimp cocktail?

    • Nathan W.

      Hey! Wanna know why Christians eat Shrimp and Pork but condemn homosexuality?

      1 Timothy 4

      1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

      2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

      3Forbidding to marry, and

      (((Here it comes!!!!)))

      ……//commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

      4For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

      5For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.//……

      • Diana

        My, don’t we just have all the answers. Too bad we don’t have any compassion.

        • Nathan W.

          In anycase I answered her question.

          • Nathan W.

            A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

            – Proverbs 15:1

            I guess I could have done it nicer though. :/

        • Nathan W.

          You’re the one who just cast judgment upon me assuming I’m not compassionate.

          • Diana

            Attitudes speak louder than words. Show me that you have compassion and I'll believe you have some. As for my being judgmental, well, turn about is fair play. Not Christian maybe, but fair play.

          • Nathan W.

            I can't prove to you anything about my attitude, especially over the internet.

            In a secular sence you have the right to judge me however way you see fit, just like homosexuals have the right to do what they want as well.

            As for myself though, in terms of the Christian faith I use the Bible as my primary source as opposed to my own wisdom, bias, and understanding of what is or isn't permissible.

            Proverbs 3:7

            Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.

  • Denise Clapsaddle

    John,

    This is a thoughtful post but it does leave out even more serious problems that come from condemning homosexuality. Many people who are not heterosexual convince themselves that they are straight and date or marry members of the opposite sex. They do this because of the stigma of homosexuality. This is not fair to the said member of the opposite sex, who is deprived from having a loving with someone who shares his/her sexual orientation. I have dated someone who didn't share my sexual orientation. I appreciated that he was confused and why he was confused, but in the end I suggested that he not date anymore women, and thankfully he took that advice to heart. (He knew he was attracted to men and self-identified as bisexual at the time.) After the breakup he confessed he came near to proposing. It was because I stopped fighting with him because at that point I knew we weren't going to last forever, so why bother to fight? He thought that meant things had somehow magically gotten perfect.

    The other danger is that closeted gay people often do act out and don't practice safer sex (I know, there is no truly safe sex, but it is safer if you take precautions.) A staff member at my seminary continued to donate blood to the Red Cross even after men who had sex with other men were advised not to. His AIDS infection finally came to light when he tried to donate one year and was disallowed from giving blood due to anemia. He went to the doctor and discovered the anemia was caused by AIDS. The blood bank was at the seminary and he had continued to donate to try and keep up the charade that he was not gay. Of course by then people just kind of assumed he was gay anyway and didn't care (It was a seminary in a pretty liberal place, though the denomination still condemned "self-avowed, practicing" homosexuals.) I hope the blood he donated before his diagnosis got tested and thrown out, but I'm not sure what the practice was at the time.

  • joe

    like this post.

    By nature, I believe human beings can be compassionate but religion makes us hurtful. You do not need to be Christian to be kind to someone, but when you look at the groups who tried to justify slavery and the ill treatment of homosexual, destroyed so much cultural history, ect. its the religious groups.

    I am a Christian, but without denomination because I can't stand how many churches interpret the Bible. Where in the Bible does it explicitly say fornication is homosexual behavior….NO WHERE. It can instead be interpreted as promiscuity, rape, adultery ect.

    • Diana

      Some denominations are less rigid than others on this subject. Moreover, even among the more rigid denominations there are some voices of reason.

      I've never heard that fornication referred to homosexual behavior. I believe that there are other terms in the bible that have been taken to refer to homosexuality. It turns out, however, that even these terms are often misinterpreted, taken out of context, etc.

      A really good resource for finding out more about what current biblical scholarship says about the biblical references to homosexuality is Claiming the Promise by Mary Jo Osterman. This is a study book for a class given through Reconciling Ministries Network. I'm going to give all the information I have on how to contact them since I just tried their link and it's not working:

      Reconciling Ministries Network

      3801 N. Keeler Avenue

      Chicago, IL 60641

      Phone: 773-736-5526

      Fax: 773-736-5475
      http://www.rmnetwork.org/ctp.php

  • http://joechianakas.wordpress.com joechianakas

    “Virtually all other behaviors Christians typically considered sinful can be readily understood as objectively and clearly wrong without any reference to the Bible. But you take the Bible out of a Christian’s hands, and he has no arrow left to shoot at the gay man or lesbian. He’s without recourse, justification, argument. Without his Bible to quote from, he has virtually nothing upon which to base his claim that homosexuality is wrong.”

    This is quite simply one of the best if not the best logical conclusions to homosexuality from a Christian point of view. Brilliant and true.

    I wrote about homosexuality as well, not as eloquently as you did, but the opposing comments are nothing but Bible verses. http://joechianakas.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/new-same-sex-law-is-positive-change-facebook-fans-indication-of-popularity/

    Here is a sample of one comment left on my post:

    “The Bible locates the origin of homosexual behavior in man’s sinful heart (cf. Mark 7:21-23). Although there are factors that affect our actions, like the patterns we learn as children or physical problems, our sinful responses to life come from our fallen nature (Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Ps. 51:5; Shorter Catechism Q. 16-19).

    Paul lists homosexuality as one of the expressions of man’s sinful rebellion against his creator. Remember, however, that Paul includes homosexuals in a list of types of sinners. They are not singled out or highlighted; they are simply mentioned along with others. There are sins that Paul mentions which Christians too easily excuse, like greed or slander, while reacting strongly to sins like adultery or homosexuality. All sin, though, demonstrates rebellion against God (Rom. 3:9-19).

    In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul uses four words to describe people who commit various sexual sins. First he uses a general word for those who sin sexually (pornoi). Next he speaks more specifically of those who break the marriage covenant (moichoi). Then he uses two words to describe those who engage in homosexual activity. The first word, translated in the NIV as “male prostitutes,” comes from a root that means “soft,” and hence refers to those who are effeminate (malakoi). The other word graphically refers to “those who lie in bed with a man as with a woman” (arsenokoitai).

    All of these sins are violations of the seventh commandment (cf. Larger Catechism Q. 139). Paul is not putting homosexual activity in a special, more heinous category of sin, but showing that it is one of the ways in which people try to live apart from the rule of God.

    What does God think of sin? Paul says that it excludes people from the kingdom of God, for they are renouncing the rule of God. Those who continue in these sins will be separated from God and his kingdom forever. Homosexuality is included because it is a rejection of God’s created rule for our sexuality (Gen. 2:18-25), saying that man knows better than his creator how he is to live. Paul links homosexuality and idolatry in Romans 1 because the homosexual becomes his own god and lawgiver.

    Therefore, Christians must confess, with Scripture, that homosexuality is rebellion against God and a violation of God’s law, rooted in the sinfulness of the human heart. Yet this is not bad news. This is actually good news, because it points to true hope.

    What Was the Hope That Paul Described?

    The good news is that the guilt, penalty, and power of sin are eternally altered by God’s saving work. People can be changed from their homosexually expressed rebellion by the power of God (Rom. 1:16-17). The picture that Paul paints is not one where someone exchanges one kind of sinful behavior for another. If there is only an end to homosexual behavior without conversion, an ex-gay will still go to hell. The change needed comes by being made alive to God by his power (Eph. 2:1-10; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; John 3:1-8).

    God’s power truly changes lives. Since his power enables people to overcome all sorts of sins, it enables them to overcome homosexuality as much as any other sin. In verse 11, Paul says that “some of you were” committing these various sins. These sins had characterized their lives at one time, but then a dramatic transformation took place. People whose lives were formerly dominated by sin were washed off, consecrated or set apart for God, and declared righteous in his sight, by being united to Christ through faith as the Holy Spirit applied the fruit of Christ’s redemption to them.

    The hope of true change is available to every repentant sinner, for the person who is effectually called by God does indeed become a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). To be justified, as some of those formerly homosexual brethren were, is to be accepted as righteous in God’s sight for the sake of Christ’s work (not our own merit), received by faith (Gal. 2:16), and so to be no longer subject to condemnation for our sin (Rom. 8:1-4).

    What Is the Church to Do?

    Here, however, is the challenge that the church always faces. Do we truly receive as fellow saints those who come out of overtly sinful lifestyles? Isn’t it too uncomfortable to know that the person sitting next to you in worship was formerly a __________—a sinner like yourself! We want to treat people struggling with homosexuality differently, but Paul assumes that every believer is equally a saint through the work of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:2). There is no place for fear or withdrawal because some sins have a special status in our eyes.

    Those leaving a homosexually oriented life need the people of God to be willing to encourage, befriend, and patiently love them, because this sin encompasses so many powerful emotional, spiritual, and physical issues in their lives. No sin that has gripped our lives is ever easy to handle.

    Too often the church has gained a reputation for only responding in fear and judgment toward homosexuality, rather than with love and grace. The church should be the one place where sinners struggling to turn from homosexuality by the power of God should be welcomed. Is that true of our Orthodox Presbyterian churches? Are we willing to pray for those fighting homosexual desires and treat them as brothers or sisters in Christ if they show repentance for their sin? Are we ready to do for them what we should always do for one another: pray, love, encourage, not abandon each other when there is failure, but call one another to obedience to God’s holy law? Perhaps because we are so reluctant to encourage the brother who has a problem with anger, we are even more loathe to stand with a brother fighting homosexual lust.

    Some believers at Corinth took the risk, however, and pointed the male prostitutes and homosexual offenders to Jesus Christ. Are we willing to do the same? The Corinthian believers saw more than homosexual behavior; they saw needy sinners. Homosexuality is ultimately caused by fallen hearts, but that means sin’s reign in a person’s life can be ended through the gospel of God’s mighty work in Jesus Christ (Titus 3:3-7). Only the Christian church can bring people out of the closet and into the light, truly offering hope to the homosexual community. Do we believe that?

    The author is the pastor of Covenant OPC in Barre, Vt. Reprinted from New Horizons, November 2000″

    I know that was a lot, but how do you argue against such a person who cannot see outside of the Bible?

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

      You don't.

      • Diana

        That's what I was thinking.

      • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

        Yes you jmust. You must simply trust that the Holy Gospel is powerful enough to overcome this big ole blind spot in fundy christians.

        Why is this so very important? It is an act of compassion to others who suffer from religion. it turns out that conservative christians suffer from the very gun that they point at homosexuals. no one can have a good conscience with the thinking they have.

        Full Disclosure : I am a gay Lutheran christian.

        and here is exactly how you let the Holy Gospel treat and heal this dis-ease of bad doctrine without even talking about homosexuality at all:

        The title of the lecture is : The Gospel for those broken by the church by a doctor rod rosembladt

        http://www.newreformationpress.com/blog/nrp-freeb

        note that this guy is doing exactly what our cool host john Shore is serving up here…….

        • Diana

          Thanks for the link, Frank. I've downloaded the MP3 & and the document, and will look into them further.

          • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

            you are so welcome dear sister in christ. I follow your posts here. you are brief (pray for me. it is a quality I covet) and always so very loving towards all. especially those who disagree with you.

            now Those TWO qualities in tandem, self restraint and love is what God truly calls righteousness here on earth! You are a righteous and virtuous woman diana.

            And to my joy, I see that you are also clinging like me to that Righteousness that is not at all about what we can do or not do. It is that heavenly Righteousness that is alone trust in Jesus. this righteousness is meaningless and useless here on earth except to God and a troubled conscience.

            That earthly righteousness that is love that God demands of all, christian and pagan identically, will perish with the earth along with all who think they can find their life there. The just live by faith. Alone. and then here on earth we practice the art of dying to ourselves in favor of bettering the creaturely lives of others by simply doing love to them.

            we can die to our old self knowing that our new self is safely hidden in the wounds of christ.

          • Diana

            Thank you, Frank. I am deeply touched by your words about me.

            And, I will pray that God will grant you the gift of brevity (though I don't necessarily consider you long-winded, and God probably has reasons for any long-windedness you do possess!)

          • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

            bless you. keep praying for the brevity thang for me. I want to serve others. many would not have the patience to read me either in form or substance.

            so I need to make things about others just like you always do so lovingly dear sister. I hope dr rosembladts lecture will be a great joy to you. let me know!

  • http://www.narth.org Narth.org

    I notice how many comments on here are deeply critical of religion/the bible, despite Shore's interesting conversion story to….Christianity? Do they not take that into account when debating homosexuality? That they're slagging off the religion of the blogger that they otherwise agree with?

    And it's "evangelicals" who are daft or thoughtless. Right. Absolutely.

    On a semi-random note, I found this article earlier concerning homosexuals bigoted against bisexuals. It's not the first time I've seen this phenomenon, but it's worth exploring. Are is this gonna get swept under the rug? http://open.salon.com/blog/max_the_communist/2010

    • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

      I get really tired of NARTH. Why?

      If you wanted to really be HONEST with your stuff, you would ALWAYS cite a link to the ORIGINAL studly you claim is proof for your claims, and you would further cite the exact page number from that original study so people can see if what you say is true in context.

      but you NEVER do that do you? Your cites always refer to someone who is commenting and interpreting the original study. usually it is some bloviating post on your site. so I guess I am really saying that you are very very dishonest.

      this post is a typical example. You level the accusation that john Shore is a biggot in this post. Where? How so? Am I going to find that the salon article you post is about this specific post by John Shore. Of course not. So where exactly is this article of john 's bigotted against bisexuals? It isn't is it? You just want to win an argument. Hit and run style. You do not want to engage specifics. ever.

  • Pingback: Prop 8 = Prop Hate « A little more conversation, please

  • Kenny

    is it possible that…if god is love…then any true expression of love is the closest thing that human beings can get to achieving godliness?

    • Diana

      Yes. It is absolutely possible. In fact, Kenny, you've nailed it on the head. (See 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13, among other places.) Thanks for making this point.

  • Kara

    This is a generic comment. Just sayin'.

  • Mel

    Okay, so here's my question. You are a Christian, correct? I'm pretty sure that in the other blog, you stated such. So, do you believe the Bible to be true? All of the Bible? Is our difference in opinion based on different interpretations of the Bible, or is it based on you not believing all of the Bible to be true? I just wanted to ask this first, so that I knew where to try and take the conversation from there.

    • Kara

      I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus. I believe all of the Bible to be profitable. I believe that it's all there for a reason, and that I can learn something from all of it. It's very possible that I have a more poetic/symbolic interpretation of some events, like the creation story, than you do. (That is, I don't believe we're talking about literal 24 hour days, but metaphorical periods of time.) But I don't discount any scripture because I don't like it, or because it's hard, if that's what you mean. I don't "get around" the homosexuality issue by just deeming the traditional verses used against it irrelevant.

      I believe that the only proper way to read the Bible is to try to read it with an understanding of when it was written and to whom it was written. For example, the verses regarding women covering their heads when praying. I see these as largely cultural, and therefore, look to the underlying moral point Paul was trying to get at, not the specifics of how he said it.

      That's my philosophy of Biblical interpretation.

      • Mel

        Okay, that is good to know. So, my actual question with regards to homosexuality and the Bible is; if homosexuality wasn't sinful, then why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? Again, I'm trying to ask honest questions and say what is on my mind. I can't do so without saying that I believe homosexuality is a sin, so please don't take this personally. And please don't be offended. I will try my absolute hardest to only use kind words, and to treat this like the delicate topic that it is.

        • Kara

          Please don't worry about offending me. You really, really, really aren't going to.

          The guys in Sodom and Gomorrah were trying to gang-rape visitors to their town. I don't know of anyone who thinks that's okay. But the angels looking like men or looking like women isn't the issue, IMO. And elsewhere in the Bible (Ezekiel), the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is described as their pride and their greed and their unwillingness to feed the poor.

          • Mel

            Okay, so that is your opinion on Sodom and Gomorrah. I have other verses in the Bible referring to homosexuality that I would like you to talk about.

            Leviticus 18:22 (NIV)

            22 “ ‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

            Romans 1:26-27

            26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In 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.

            1 Timothy 1:10

            sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers – in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching

            To me, these make it pretty clear. I'm sure you have a different interpretation, but I'm curious as to what that is.

          • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

            MEL Okay, so that is your opinion on Sodom and Gomorrah. I have other verses in the Bible referring to homosexuality that I would like you to talk about.

            FRANK The first thing is … define that word "homosexuality". The word has only existed for the past 100 years as a clinical diagnostic technical term. and it has only had the current clinical meaning since around 1980 largely do to the work of dr hooker. It would seem strange to use a word that appears in a medical reference book technically and insert the word into the bible. that would be like translating the biblical command to "be joyful always" as "never be clinically depressed". Isn´t it safest to use words the way they are currently defined by the general population rather than insist on ones own definition? The idea of "homosexual" being a category of human beings never would have occured to anyone in biblical times. Nor would have electricity or alot of other stuff. not a big deal that. Unless for some reason someone needs to make it into a big deal.

            now for the passages.

            BIBLE Leviticus 18:22 (NIV)

            22 “ ‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

            FRANK yes it is detestable, or rather the idea of that sexual scenario would disgust gay men. I would never want to be treated as a woman sexually. I am a man. and a homosexual man. That would feel like a rape or violation to me. So this does not look to me like anything that would appeal to me as a homosexual or homosexuals in general. You can easily check that out independently. Alot of the dating and sex ads for gays say something like "I am not effeminate and dont want to be with anyone who is". This is a huge deal for some reason for most gay men. so….. how is this about homosexuality if homosexuals have that reaction to what the bible passage describes? Yeah I know there is the assumption that in a gay relationship a heterosexual relationship is mimicked and one of the two assumes the female role. This is simply ignorance and misinformation ok?

            BIBLE Romans 1:26-27

            26Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. 27In 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.

            FRANK Ok. This is easier…

            1) if "they" and "the men" means "homosexuals" in any one place in this chapter , then it means homosexual everywhere in the chapter.

            2) if that is true, then the characteristics described of the "they" would fit most homosexuals you meet, be a medical diagnostic for example, for the typical homo you would meet right? So is it typical that homosexuals, as an expected rule… "abandon their relations with [their] women" and then become sex addicts addicted to other men? There is a possessive sense in the greek here that says clearly abandoned THEIR women. and then also all the things described from vs 28 till the end at vs 32 would also be expected to be found as diagnostic characteristics of all homosexuals right? inability to love, inability to be honest? fornicators? etc etc. I would be afraid to be around anyone like that right?

            3) finally what about romans 2:1? Romans chapter 1 seems to be entirely entended as the setup for romans 2:1 How can that be so if the "they " in chapter one is only and I mean only about "homosexuals"? This reading does not make sense. So there must be another understanding that fits with the overall point paul is making right? besides, sex acts are never mentioned in romans 1 until (i think) verse 30 where the word "fornicators" is used.

            BIBLE 1 Timothy 1:10

            sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers – in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching

            FRANK The word for "practicing homosexuals" is never translated that way in any older translation. That means something. It means that the underlying greek word does not mean homosexual. The use of the word homosexual here is revisionism and modernism. It is not a conservative translation of the greek. Besides what exactly is a "practicing homosexual"? it is clear to you maybe, but if that expression is not clear to me, and I am a homosexual, then that suggests that something is wrong. Maybe asking the question "What is a "practicing heterosexual"?" might help make this clear to you?

            MEL To me, these make it pretty clear. I’m sure you have a different interpretation, but I’m curious as to what that is.

            FRANK ok. now I hope your curiosity is satified. There is such a thing as sexual sin. sexual sin is the same for you and me. prison sex as rape is between two men for example but is not homosexual sex. it is rape. rape is not sex in the ordinary sense. it is an act of violence.

          • Mel

            @Frank

            Not that you aren't totally welcome in this conversation, but I was directing those questions at Kara, and I wanted to hear what *she* had to say about them.

            The word homosexual is in the Bible, so I'm not sure what your point is. Changing be joyful always to never be clinically depressed is *changing* what it says. I'm not changing what the Bible says, that is a quote right out of the Bible. The definition of homosexuality would be men who have relations with other men, or women who have relations with other women. Or those who intend to do so.

            That is a huge stretch saying that the Bible means not to treat a man like a woman sexually. It says that as a man sleeps with a woman, a man should not sleep with another man.

            You don't have to say that "they" and "the man" *means* homosexuals. It says a man that lusts for another man. It says that a man abandoned the natural way of things, which is to be with a woman, and started to be with men. That in no way means that every time the word "they" is used, it is referring to homosexuals.

            A "practicing homosexual" would be somebody that doesn't just think about homosexual behavior, but acts upon it. The same way that a "practicing heterosexual", which for some reason you think proves a point, is one who doesn't just think about heterosexual behavior, but acts upon it.

            The last example you used would be classified as homosexual rape, so again, I'm not really sure what you're trying to prove.

          • Kara

            Mel – This is sort of what I was afraid of. All the threads on homosexuality get really heated, and people subscribe to the comments, so it's really, really not easy to do a one-on one conversation here. For the purpose of not getting too deeply threaded, I'm going to give my answers your questions in a new, not-a-reply comment.

          • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

            @Frank

            MEL Not that you aren’t totally welcome in this conversation, but I was directing those questions at Kara, and I wanted to hear what *she* had to say about them.

            The word homosexual is in the Bible, so I’m not sure what your point is. Changing be joyful always to never be clinically depressed is *changing* what it says. I’m not changing what the Bible says, that is a quote right out of the Bible. The definition of homosexuality would be men who have relations with other men, or women who have relations with other women. Or those who intend to do so.

            FRANK As you probably know, the new testament was written in greek and the old testament largely in hebrew. In the greek there is no word for homosexual. and you wont find that word in any english translation that is more than about 20 years old either. Using that word homosexual to translate the original greek is a very very modern change and innovation.

            the two greek words that are usually translated "homosexual" are "arsenokoitia" and "malakoi". Kara is missing info here. it seems clear that "arsenokoitia " is a direct reference to the a greek translation of the old testament called the septuagint referencing leviticus 18. That would probably strengthen kara´s case for the word as being about temple ritual sex among heterosexuals. or not. The other greek word is "malakoi" which means usually weak or morally weak. It takes some real twisting to insist that this means "homosexual". I don´t think that is what a greek reader in the 1st century would have thought when they read that word in a sin list.

            That is a huge stretch saying that the Bible means not to treat a man like a woman sexually. It says that as a man sleeps with a woman, a man should not sleep with another man.

            FRANK In that case it could have just said "a man should not have sex with another man". But the text says more than that. My point is not to argue Mel. My point is this: If homosexuals read this passage and go "yuck!" then how is this about homosexual sex? Chances are good by the way that it was heterosexuals with wives and children who were doing what was described in leviticus 18.

            MEL You don’t have to say that “they” and “the man” *means* homosexuals. It says a man that lusts for another man. It says that a man abandoned the natural way of things, which is to be with a woman, and started to be with men. That in no way means that every time the word “they” is used, it is referring to homosexuals.

            FRANK I am saying that the "they" in romans 1 refers to the same group everywhere in romans 1. I am not saying that "they"=homosexual. That would be silly wouldn´t it? I am saying that if romans 1 is about "homosexuality" in one part, that in one part "they"=homosexuals, then in that case "they" must be about homosexuality in the entire chapter.

            MEL A “practicing homosexual” would be somebody that doesn’t just think about homosexual behavior, but acts upon it. The same way that a “practicing heterosexual”, which for some reason you think proves a point, is one who doesn’t just think about heterosexual behavior, but acts upon it.

            FRANK "acts upon it". Can i assume you mean sex? Your "practicing heterosexuality" with your wife can be reduced alone to the sex act? If not, what all do you include in "acts upon it"? Is homosexuality only and strictly about same gender sex acts for you? In that case we have a communication problem, because that is not how medical professionals would use that word "homosexuality". We dont get to make up our own definitions for words do we? that would be chaos.

            MEL The last example you used would be classified as homosexual rape, so again, I’m not really sure what you’re trying to prove.

            FRANK so rape needs to be classified as either homosexual or heterosexual rape? do we need to classify all other physical violence as heterosexual or homosexual? homosexual murder? heterosexual physical abuse? heterosexual child molestation? homosexual rape? Does that make sense to you? Is there some purpose to that Mel?

          • Mel

            I’m not going to comment on anything else you said in this comment, because it is not productive and it is causing a fight. That was not my intent as Kara and I came here to have an actual discussion about this. I just want to say that “acts upon it” does not only mean sex. It means acts upon it. As in…takes it out of the brain and actually *does* something. Shows their feelings….acts upon it…I really don’t know how else to say it. Also, just an FYI I wouldn’t be sleeping with my “wife” because I’m a girl.

        • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

          mel you are assuming that the sodom and gommorah story somehow is about homosexuality. why? I am homosexual and I cannot place myself in that group wanting to commit rape. you I hope could not place yourself in some news story about a bunch of guys gang raping a female.

          then the next question would be why many make the sodom and gomorrah story about homosexuality. That is the more interesting question. ezekial , which is the divinely inspired commentary on the sodom and gomorrah story is ignored why?

          • Mel

            I am not saying that any other part of the Bible is ignored. In Sodom and Gomorrah, the men surrounded the building where the angels disguised as men were staying. They said that they wanted them to come out so they could have sex with them. That is why some people interpret this part of the Bible as having to do with homosexuality.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            It’s true that the sort of sex that would be forced upon the angels was of the man-on-man variety. But note—and this is very telling—nowhere, though the Bible speaks of their extreme wickedness in multiple places, though Lot begs them not to violate these men who had come under the protection of his roof, nowhere is any indication given that the homosexual nature of the act attempted (if it’s even appropriate to call it “sexual”) was of any significance to the grave evil in Sodom and Gomorrah.

          • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

            ok mel. lets assume that the hebrew word "know" in this context means sex, which is not entirely clear, but can maybe be inferred because of the fact that Lot offered up his daughters. Know could simply mean know. In that case, it would be about the townspeople wanting to interrogate strangers to see if they were spies. note that the crowd was not just men. it was men women and children who wanted to "know" the angels.

            ok now, assuming that this was about attempted rape… do the many stories in the old testament that are about men raping women say anything at all about hetersexuality. as in "this is a story about heterosexuality. it describes something about heterosexuality or tells us something about heterosexuality or God´s attitude towards heterosexuality?

            So you see.. in any understanding, this passage that you have been taught is a story depicting homosexuality has other more plausible understandings.

            I would suggest that it is the ones who taught you that this is about homosexuality that have departed from the traditional understanding of this passage.

        • Diana A.

          Adding to what Kara and Frank have already said, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality, it was lack of hospitality.

          The men of the town were not interested in having consensual sex with the strangers. They wanted to rape the strangers–and likely for the same reason that other forms of rape take place–not sexual desire but the desire to show dominance over the victim. This was considered particularly egregious back in the day because being hospitable to the stranger was such an important part of the Middle Eastern code of ethics. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is intended to be contrasted with the story in the previous chapter about Abraham’s response to the same strangers. This is why Lot is considered to be “the good guy” in the story–even though offering up one’s own daughters to be raped instead of the strangers is hardly heroic–but at least Lot stood up to the evil of raping the strangers.

  • Kara

    Leviticus 18:22 (NIV)

    This one involves talking about the role of Old Testament law for those of us who live after Christ. It involves looking at why that verse was in there. It involves looking at cultural context. (As do the verses in the OT that condone slavery, allow polygamy, prohibit wearing fabric blends, and prohibit sex during a woman’s period.)

    Israel was small, and Israel was chosen. God needed Israel to grow. Therefore, any time a guy was having sex and not at least potentially making a baby, that was bad. (Hence the proscription against Coitus Interruptus.) Note that the OT makes no mention of lesbianism.

    Also, in OT days, because they needed babies, everyone got married to someone of the opposite sex, period. Love wasn’t an issue, wanting to wasn’t an issue. Therefore, homosexuality would have required adultery.

    Romans 1:26-27

    I don’t want to get super-technical here, so I’m going to have to ask you to take me somewhat on faith, but I have read extensively about this passage, talked with many people who understand the context and culture at the time of Paul’s writing better than I do, and examined the Greek myself.

    There is a very strong argument to be made that Paul is referring to straight men and women who are engaging in gay sex as part of pagan idol worship. The two-word phrase that is translated “unnatural” can also mean “unusual”. There’s no value judgment attached to the word in Greek, in fact, Paul uses the same phrase later in Romans to describe an action of God.

    So my understanding is this: The Romans were acting against their natures due to blind lust and worshiping idols (sins). One way they were expressing these sinful things was through gay sex (unusual, at the time.) However, if you know the history of Rome, there was conception of an equal, monogamous, loving, consensual gay relationship between equals. At the time, where there was gay sex, there was power imbalance, pure lust, and usually adultery.

    It makes no sense to say that Paul was writing against something that no one was doing at the time. Paul speaks against, and I am also against, lust-based, idol-worshiping gay sex practiced by straight people. But Paul doesn’t speak to the relationship I want: loving, permanent, monogamous, consensual, and God-honoring (that is, with another Christian woman).

    1 Timothy 1:10

    This is just a simple error of translation. If your Bible says “homosexual,” then it’s been manipulated by a political agenda, because there absolutely was no such concept at the time Paul wrote. There was no concept of a “homosexual,” and there was no Greek word for such a concept.

    The word is this verse “Αρσενοκοιταις”. Paul made this word up. But he uses it elsewhere, and from the context, the most reasonable understanding of this word is that it’s someone who makes use of a male prostitute. There is absolutely no reason to translate this word as “homosexual”. None.

    I didn’t just decide that the parts of the Bible that I didn’t like weren’t relevant. I’ve looked at these verses. I firmly believe that the Bible does not condemn our modern notion of homosexuality. It speaks against men wasting sperm that was “needed” for procreation. It speaks against idol worship and having sex that goes against your nature. It speaks against exploiting prostitutes. I agree with all of these things.

    That’s my take. You don’t have to agree with me, but I hope you can at least see that I’ve thought long and hard about these questions, and that I care very much about what the Bible has to say on this topic.

    • Mel

      I realize that you didn't just decide that parts of the Bible you didn't like weren't relevant. I hope I didn't insinuate that. Actually, I thought just the opposite. I've never actually met, or talked to a gay Christian, so I figured that you would actually be able to explain to me your interpretation of these verses as opposed to non-Christian homosexuals just saying that the Bible is a piece of crap, and God is a homophobe. I can definitely tell that you have researched these verses. Thank-you so much for having the patience to explain it all to me. I have another question, and I hope you don't mind, but I will probably come up with more that I just didn't think of while writing this post. Every time the Bible refers to a God-honoring marriage, He speaks of a man and a woman. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it also seems that you believe homosexuality actually isn't addressed at all in the Bible. So, my question is, if there wasn't anything wrong with it, then why wouldn't God sometimes talk about a homosexual God-honoring relationship, and then sometimes talk about a heterosexual God-honoring relationship? Why is it that He only refers to the one? Also, since God is all-knowing, He definitely knew that homosexuality was going to be a "heated topic" among Christians in the future. Why wouldn't He have clarified that a homosexual relationship is okay? He could have stopped so much hurt, and discrimination had He only said so. But He didn't. To me, that means something. Not even once, does God refer to a God-honoring homosexual relationship. So, why is that?

      • Kara

        I guess I feel like it would sort of be like God addressing hair dye, driving etiquette, or alternative rock.

        That is to say, it's really an issue of time and culture.

        There was still no concept of homosexuality when the very last book of the Bible was written. Why would God address it specifically?

        When it comes to modern things, I analyze them like this: Is it just? Is it merciful? Does it bring me closer to, or farther from God? Is it compatible with me loving my neighbor as myself?

        So I guess I think God only talked about heterosexual committed, monogamous relationships because that's all that the readers of the time would have had any idea of. It would have been bizarre to randomly start talking about a God-honoring lesbian couple in Corinthians if there weren't any at the time.

        • Mel

          I would like to continue this conversation…I feel like it was starting to go somewhere. But given your last post about the distinction between hurt feelings and just being hurt, I feel like I am hurting you by discussing this. I am sorry that what I believe hurts you. It breaks my heart actually. I really am trying to live my life according to the way God wants me to. Even if I get to Heaven, and find out that I was wrong, I don't think that my simply trying to understand to the best of my ability should be offensive. Like I said, I'm sorry that it is. I guess that's what I have a hard time communicating to Mindy, and John. That's why I feel like I'm not part of the problem, which they accuse me of. Because, if I get to Heaven, and I was wrong about all this…I was just simply wrong. I don't think I'm doing anything that God would judge me for. I'm not telling people who is or isn't going to Heaven. I'm not screaming at people, I'm trying my hardest not to be judgmental. So my belief in itself, is not part of the problem. It means a lot to me that you said in another post that I am not a hateful person, or a bigot. I feel like Mindy used that word, and the instant she realized how hurtful it was to me she decided to use it again, and again. Then other people saw how affected I was by it, and they started using it. So the fact that *they* are saying I'm a bigot, and yet you, who actually is a homosexual, is saying that I'm not means a great deal to me. Thanks again for taking the time to explain all of this to me, but as I said, if I'm hurting you, I think we should stop.

          • Kara

            …Mel. I don't know how many ways I can say this.

            This conversation is not hurting me. Nothing you've said has hurt my feelings. And your saying or not saying things here, on John's blog, does not make one inch of a difference in the hurt I was talking about on the other post.

            It's systematic. It's nothing that your actions or inaction can control. It's about what you believe. It's about the system that says that you're good and I'm bad because you're straight and I'm gay. It's about the power, Mel. It's not about you and me. It's about people like you and people like me.

            I do not want to stop this conversation under any circumstances. Please believe me and take me at my word.

            I believe the beliefs you believe cause hurt. That doesn't mean that you personally have hurt me. Do you see the difference between me being hurt by you and me being hurt by certain beliefs that affect my life?

            I have such tremendous faith in your intentions. I don't believe for even a second that you mean anyone any ill will. So if I get frustrated, I'm sorry, but I really, really do want to continue this conversation, if only so you can see where I'm coming from more fully. If I thought you were saying the things you do out of bigotry, I wouldn't be talking to you. It would be a waste of my time, because you wouldn't care what I believe or have to say. But that's not the case.

            I'd love to answer any more questions you have, if you're willing to ask them. (But it will have to be tomorrow, because I really do have class in the morning, and I have to get more sleep than I have been.)

          • Mel

            I think I kind of get it. Between this post, and the one you left on the other blog….sort of. If I have any other questions, I will ask you. But as of now, I don't.

          • Mindy

            Mel, I don't believe I ever actually called you a bigot. I said that this particular belief of yours is part of a bigger picture of bigotry. That perpetuating the belief even in the face of evidence after piece of evidence to the contrary is bigoted – point out to you, in strong terms, that regardless of your intent, the end result is still discrimination.

            I do believe that you are not intentionally being a bigot. I believe that your position comes from a place of both innocence and ignorance – and before you slam me for calling you ignorant, I am not. You may be ignorant – about this one topic, homosexuality, because you have not learned about it from any real, valid source. As in, an actual gay person. But you are, hopefully, learning now, talking to Kara, listening to Kara and taking under consideration what she has to say about who she is and how she is hurt by the belief system in which you participate.

            I think you assume that when I talk about bigotry I am assigning a malicious intent to you – and I am not. But bigotry borne of ignorance is just as damaging as bigotry born of maliciousness. What has been frustrating here for me is that instead of listening to what so many people have said to you, you've continued with a circular argument and turned away from the real discussion to a discussion about your own feelings and intentions. If your intentions are innocent and you just haven't known any better – which is, I think, what most of us here believe – then we continue to hope that your position can change when you DO learn better, maybe, ultimately, from Kara. When you become willing to really hear what she has to say.

            I believe with all my heart that you do not mean to be malicious. But the end result of your belief system – gays suffering discrimination because of it – is no different than if you did.

          • Mel

            “because of bigoted homophobes like you.”

            “then you can [..] suffer the consequences of your bigotry -because I’m here to tell you, Mel, that that is exactly what it is”

            “and I am calling it out for what it is – bigotry.”

            “Personally, if I have to pick something to hate, it’s bigotry, and those who practice it. Where homosexuality is concerned, Mel, “hating the sin, not the sinner” is as hypocritical as it gets.”

            “This person admits to not knowing any gay people. When I called it out as bigotry…”

            “your misguided belief that homosexuality is “sinful” is actually bigotry hiding behind Bible verses.”

            “People who continue to insist that homosexuality is a choice and therefore a sin even when they do not knowingly know a single gay person – I have to call that out as bigotry”

            “only to hear otherwise intelligent people justify their bigotry based on the Bible”

            When you say thing like *your* bigotry or *their* bigotry, that is the same thing as calling me a bigot. That first quote from you that I put here is my personal favorite, since you claim to have never called me a bigot.

            Ya, you don’t like to use that word to intentionally hurt me at all (eye roll).

          • Mindy

            Nope, didn't call you a bigot. Called you a homophobe.

            Do you see what you just did, Mel? Turned it into a conversation about me hurting your feelings. It is a shame that your feelings are hurt, yes. No one likes that. I pointed out the bigotry in what you've said and what your actions accomplish, yes. I pointed out that what you say and do results in bigotry, so if you want to internalize the message as "Mel, you are a bigot," well, that's on you.

            My intent is NOT to hurt you. I don't know you, and therefore can't care enough about you to want to to hurt you – sorry, but that's just a fact of life. What I want to do is make you uncomfortable in this one belief. I want to challenge you to reconsider, to rethink it, to look at it from a different perspective and be willing to open your heart and mind to the fact that maybe, just maybe, on this one thing, you are wrong.

            So far, you've remained resolute in your refusal to do so, even as I and others kept poking and prodding and hoping. I then made the decision to stop, because I felt as though I wasn't getting through to you, regardless of how I framed it. Nice didn't work, blunt didn't work.

            Since it appears that you remain willing to learn from Kara, I remain hopeful and since she is incredible enough to engage in this conversation with you, I will leave it up to her, supporting her efforts all the way. She is a rock star, Mel. I hope you realize someday the gift she is giving you.

          • Mindy

            @Mel – here's the way I make the distinction with my daughter. I would never call her names. I would never call her a brat, for instance.

            But there are times when she acts like one. She's a young teenager, and she can get mouthy. So I will tell her that she is ACTING like a brat. And since I know that she is NOT a brat, her acting like one is hard for me to tolerate.

            I call her on her behavior, not on the essence of who she is.

            That is what I have done with you, calling you out on your behavior – your comments and voting plans – not on who you are. And because you seem like a generally nice person, it is hard to tolerate that kind of behavior – because it is inconsistent with who you are overall.

            And you seem to be trying to do the same thing with Kara – call her out on any homosexual behavior in which she has ever engaged, while not calling her out on who she is.

            Except when you finally HEAR what everyone has been saying to you, you'll understand that in the case of being gay, that separation is not possible – leaving your position completely indefensible. Which is probably why, when I point out the bigotry in your behavior, you feel as though I've called you names.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            @Mindy at 11:00 am

            Brilliant comment, Mindy!

            I hope the message gets through.

        • Mel

          and for what it's worth, I get your last point addressing why God didn't just say that homosexuality was okay. That it would have been weird for people back then to read about something that basically didn't exist yet.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          Not just bizarre, I doubt there would actually be any adequate and appropriate way to describe it in the language of the day.

          About only describing "committed, monogamous relationships”, I’d suggest we might want to take another look at the Old Testament!

          • Kara

            True that, Matthew.

  • http://phule77.blogspot.com Todd Erickson

    It's interesting, reading 1st and 2nd Kings, how much time is spent over the issue of male cult prostitutes, and whether the king has allowed or disallowed them.

    The laws brought forth in the Torah weren't just about survival (cleanliness during menses, not eating pork or shellfish) but were also about setting themselves apart from the religious practices of the other nations (not allowing the men to engage in sexual intercourse with cult prostitutes serving another religion, especially when their seed was meant to be impregnating Israeli women, not wearing clothing of specific mixed fibers from that area with a local significance)…The idea was for them to take on a culture that was set apart from all of the local cultures, and to not mix with them, so that they would not be pulled away from God.

    I think that (at least in my case) the way that we grow up and are taught in Sunday School, from the time of Abraham we're already thinking of the tribes of Jacob as "Jews", who believe in one God and actively take on all of His prescribed practices, but in fact that's mostly not true. They were polytheists who in practice were nomadic, and took on the practices and beliefs of much of the surrounding culture. It took exile to Babylon for them to truly begin to take on the character and manner of the Law, because it became so inherent to who they were since they were no longer in the land.

    Additionally, the manifesto given to Abraham by God, and repeated to Moses, was that God was going to bless this people so that they could be a blessing to others, but instead we see a history of war and struggles for power (especially under Solomon, who became an arms dealer) and which led to practices in Jesus' day like not setting foot into a Gentile's house, or speaking to them more than was necessary, for fear of uncleanliness.

    Though I suspect that Jesus would say that cleanliness, much like the Sabbath, was for man, not the other way around.

    When we look at what is identified in the New Testament as Paul condemning homosexuality is actually much closer, and much more likely, to Paul condemning prostitution, temple cult prostitution, and pedastry…all of which were common, and by intent are anti-thetical to the practice of one who says that they are following Christ, who love others as themselves, and who see others as being made in the image of Christ. In the first century church document the didichae, we see that they specifically did not support prostitution or abortion, but there is no mention of homosexuality. They simply wouldn't put up with fornication.

    The modern twist to this is, of course, only defining marriage in terms of "a man and a woman", but as has been mentioned repeatedly, at the time the bible was written, it was the sort of society where only men who were married to women had any power or voice, where women and children were property who could be disposed of as a man desired, and where remaining single was a sign that God had cursed you.

    By attempting to read our culture into the bible and apply what we see there directly, rather than looking at the Spirit of what is happening and allowing it to enter us into progression and change, we do violence to the text, ourselves, and our community.

    • http://www.thirduse.com frank sonnek

      wow Todd. What a rich wonderful and nuanced post. thanks for sharing. You made me rethink a few things I thought I knew. Please share more often!

  • Mel

    Mindy you don't need to be so sarcastic. Once again, I'm not saying this is about my feelings. I can have conversations with people to hear what they have to say on a topic, and then to tell them how I feel about it as well. However, there is never any reason for people to get mean. Just like there wasn't a reason for whoever it was to call you a hypocrite and lose it on you, but I didn't go and say "oh Mindy, now you're making this whole conversation about your feelings". I'm not saying that this whole conversation is about my feelings, but when people hurt them, I think they should know. You just don't care for some reason. You *say* that it is wrong to hurt people with your words, and yet you knowingly do it all the time. I'm not saying that simply by having a different opinion than me, you are hurting my feelings. It's the *way* you say things. But for some reason it makes people feel good to get immature about everything, and get involved in things that are none of there business, and call people names. So congrats Mindy, you have accomplished all of the above…I hope you feel good now.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Mel, you're almost 10 times as hypocritical as Mindy ever was (to the extent of my knowledge). (I’d reckon that makes you at least twice as hypocritical as myself.)

      "You *say* that it is wrong to hurt people with your words, and yet you knowingly do it all the time," implies: "You are being a hypocrite."

      "However, there is never any reason for people to get mean," though you are far meaner in actively disrespecting the rights and dignity of others than it is to call one as they are.

      And are you just not listening or are you really so dense as to still say that?

      In doing so, you effectively deny the divinity and perfect example of Christ!

      I wonder how you're going to answer for all these things when you stand—no; when you fall on your knees and prostrate—before the throne of Glory.

      Will you say—in a round-about way because you aren't bold enough to say these things directly—Lord, You "get immature about everything, and get involved in things that are none of [Your] business"?

      Also, you said, "Mindy you don’t need to be so sarcastic," when she wasn't even being sarcastic but speaking the truth! Then, you go on to be truly sarcastic yourself! But if someone else says, "Mel, you don't need to be so bigoted," then they're name-calling!

  • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

    Discriminating against gay people is mean, Mel. Getting involved in their legal rights and affairs IS getting in someone else's business. Desiring to ask questions about someone's sexuality with the objective, whether spoken or not, of trying to convince them of their "wrongness" is not an approach from any place of understanding or respect.

    People have called you names here based on your conversation with others. It shows up as public discourse.

    Saying things like "I hope you feel good now…" is a technique I used in grade school.

    If you have had a truly merciful, love-drenched encounter with God through Christ Jesus, ask Him to show you the mirror. And I mean that in the gentlest way possible.

    I dropped out of even reading yesterday's commentary once you started after Kara. It's just hard to stomach that crap.

    • Mel

      Actually, I'm asking questions to see where she's coming from. I've never met a Christian who is also a homosexual, so I feel like she can shed some light on the topic for me with regards to the Bible. But thanks for trying to tell me what I'm doing.

      • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

        Again:

        If you have had a truly merciful, love-drenched encounter with God through Christ Jesus, ask Him to show you the mirror. And I mean that in the gentlest way possible.

        That’s what I’m saying, Mel. I’m not trying to tell you what you’re doing. I am not your Holy Spirit. As a sister in Christ, I’m saying consider how you are coming off to people here on this public forum. And perhaps pause long enough to consider why.

        You said yourself you wanted to talk to Kara about her homosexuality with the belief that it’s wrong. If you want only to have a private conversation with someone you’ve discovered is both Christian and homosexual, use her e-mail.

        And by the way, Mel, I am a born-again, Bible-believing, spirit-filled, tongue-talking, wholly healed receiver of God’s grace through Jesus Christ, to put it in terms you might understand (even while others might pigeon-hole.) I’ve also been blessed with a very good brain. If you can’t hear this from me, you aren’t listening:

        It is not your job, nor mine, to convict people of sin, nor point it out, nor focus on it. That is what the Holy Spirit is for. And He’s really good at it. He’s got it covered.

        Part of my underlying belief is that arguing issues like this, in this way is actually, in itself counter-productive to the cause of Christ. I don’t see him engaging this kind of discourse anywhere in scripture. And ultimately, as I said before, it isn’t an effective way to communicate about anything one hopes will persuade another.

        Flies and honey. All that. Tildeb has a beautiful brain, but I’d like to see his/her heart too. But (s)he is not my sister/brother, so I don’t EXPECT, though I might hope, to gain an ear there.

        I have two gay siblings and in all my life have never presented myself as an authority on their sexuality any more than I would the sexual activity or bent of my other eight siblings. It’s not my job. My lesbian sister is my absolute closest sister so we have definitely talked about her love life, but never in the context of me trying to convince her of something.

        The cool thing is that here, in this venue, you can have discussions with people who have very different perspectives and experiences from yours. So cool!

        Love it! Thank you, John Shore for the opp.

        At every church I’ve ever attended, no matter what the issue, whoever talks loudest is the opinion people assume represents the core belief of the group. Tht’s part of why this gathering is so dear to me personally.

        Now I’m rambling and I’ve gotta go for the night– Hopefully John won’t shut us down….

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          This is a child we're dealing with here. She's had little education, little exposure to the world, to Christians who are gay and liberalism beyond that which has been fed to her as bad. She'll take this as being condescending and that's fine, but it's a good reminder to me to remember who we are dealing with.

          When I was 18, I was the most insecure, self-righteous Christian twit on the planet. I just never learned, but I find it really interesting that Mel is coming back and continuing these conversations. Sometimes we learn what we had absolutely had no intention of learning!

          • Mel

            I don't find that condescending actually. It's true that I have had little education on this topic other than the one side of the fence. I haven't really heard the other side. That's what I'm trying to do by speaking to Kara about it.

            I know you were saying this about you, but just in case it was also about me, I would like you to know that I'm not insecure. And I am definitely not self-righteous. I can be a horrible person. I've never claimed otherwise. Everybody makes mistakes, and I am definitely not exempt from them.

        • Kara

          Just to throw it out there, I don’t feel like she’s trying to convert me back to straightness. I think she’d love it, and praise Jesus if it happened, but I don’t think that’s her intent with this conversation. Maybe I’m naive.

          • Mel

            You are correct Kara. I'm just trying to come to an understanding about what these passages in the Bible really mean. I'm trying to hear the other interpretations of them, so that I can make an informed decision about how to interpret them. Also, just because you said it and it sparked my interest…you say that I'm not trying to convert you *back* to straightness….were you straight before you were gay?

          • Kara

            Haha, I realized that I should have put that whole sentence in quotes about a half-second after I posted. That's basically quote from what someone else has said to me. (Regarding what God requires of me for me to be spiritually okay.)

            I was never straight. That should have read "back to being straight," quotes and all.

          • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

            I'm okay with that, Kara. You've been very patient with everyone. I don't really see that as her intent (conversion to straightness) but I do think conviction of sin is one of her objectives. Which is ironic given the post we're all chatting under.

            That's my rock-bottom point. It's as useless for a Christian to try to point out others' faults as it is for thinkers like tildeb to expect people with a powerful and personal faith experience to check it at the door (though I don't mean that legislatively, athough arguably that's just not even humanly possible, since we all bring our whole self with us every where.)

            I think tiledeb expects that in discourse like Mel thinks its her job to point out homosexuality as wrong. And that is the kind of communication I see as pretty counter-productive, no matter what the issue.

          • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

            PS. I'm here to witness conversations like the above :)

            Did I say I need to leave? Now I really need to get off here.

            Just let me say,I started reading this blog because I found here like-minded believers, something I haven't always discovered in a congregation. (But also might not be possible in a congregation… finding them, I mean.)

            At any rate, I've noticed my own growing ire with people in The Church who are my brothers and sisters whom I purportedly love. I do mean to love people, no matter what.

            If I've been unloving here- to anyone- I'll hear that and examine myself.

            But really, I'm honored to be part of this little webernet community at all.

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Beth, you seem to keep misunderstanding my position, and more importantly grasping the crux of my criticism and the reasons that back them up.

            It is counter-productive to have a powerful and highly personal faith experience – a transcendental, transformative experience – and then assume that this experience reveals what's true out there beyond the boundaries of the personal. When the experience is appreciated for what it brings to the individual who has had it, then all is fine. It's not a matter of what's true; it's a matter of what's meaningful. It is personally meaningful and highly relevant and touches every part of one's life. I'm not suggesting otherwise. Nor am I suggesting that one park this personal affect at the door. The experience is what it is and it changes one (hopefully for the better). That's great. I have no issue with this.

            But when one takes that experience beyond it's personally meaningful boundaries and begins to insist that it represents what's true out there (in the public domain), then we have real and unnecessary problems and conflicts.

            Mel's beliefs are a terrific example of thinking herself fully justified of applying her beliefs about the sinfulness of homosexuality out there in a vote against gay marriage. It doesn't matter that Mel honestly believes it is sinful for her and it's no one's business why she thinks homosexuality is a sin for her but it sure as hell matters a great deal to others when she applies her beliefs to justify the intention of her voting. She should not do that. It is morally wrong and ethically untenable no matter how 'right' she thinks it is because it is her (and many other people's) religious belief. And it is wrong not because it is based on her religious belief but because it does not in any way, shape, or fashion justify reducing another's civil rights or political freedoms or respect for the equality of human dignity on such a basis.

            She doesn't have to change her belief (I would hope with maturation she would do so willingly) to satisfy me. But she does have to be confronted when she thinks herself justified for extending her belief into the public domain and intentionally harm another. Simply put, her religious belief doesn't belong in Kara's life. It's rude, ignorant, and colossally arrogant to think herself justified by god to do so.

          • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

            Great stuff, tildeb. And I'm sorry if I've misunderstood your position or the crux of it. I wholeheartedly agree with the absolute ludicrous nature- that it is morally wrong and ethically untenable- to try to convince someone else that something they do is wrong. It is, among other things, a waste of time for everyone.

            It is, in fact, non-Christian, counter to His teachings and example, contrary to Scripture and, simply put, not our job. It is this very practice which sometimes enrages me as a fellow Christian. So that is what I'm trying to point out to Mel above, as a fellow believer.

            To you, clearly a thinker, I say this: I don't think it's reasonable or realistic to expect anyone NOT to utilize whatever morality they possess-no matter how misguided, no matter from whence it stems- when it comes to voting. That's just silly. You vote based on what you believe to be right, if you vote. I mean, literally, you do. We all do.

            So, when we are conversing in a forum like this one, my principle point is that the discussion gets further when it starts at a position of a desire to understand. Not a position poised to bludgeon with resounding intellect, or religious condemnation. In this discussion, for me, you and Mel represent the extremes of the spectrum.

            Also, having a powerful and personal faith experience is not the same as being part of a religion that shapes one's beliefs. One is based on an incredible encounter with God in a way that forever erases the possibility He doesn't exist (for me) and the other is simply being part of a system, which may be more the experience Mel has had. I don't know and I don't pretend to, but I do think it's important to make the distinction. They are distinctly different things.

            And both very real.

            I agree completely with you:

            "Simply put, her religious belief doesn’t belong in Kara’s life. It’s rude, ignorant, and colossally arrogant to think herself justified by god to do so."

            And I seriously think she does not get this…

            yet.

            That's one of the things I love about this blog. I actually think she might, after a while, get it. She certainly has had lots of people confront her and her sense of justification, myself included.

            Btw, it's not that I haven't been impressed with your big beautiful brain, I absolutely have. And you think that just happened by accident and your glorious effort? Okay. But you should be careful how you use that thing. I'm just sayin'

  • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

    Kara, you are an extremely bright and articulate person. Any country is lucky to have such a citizen as you. But if your path is blocked and you grow too frustrated weary, please come to Canada.

    I am pleased to point out that the lead pilot of the Snowbirds – Canada's elite aerobatic military team (431 Squadron) – is LCol Maryse Carmichael, who has worked her way up through the ranks to become its commanding officer. Your chosen path will not be blocked by your gender or sexual preference here. Not only do we have men and women serving side by side in combat roles in all three branches of the military but a great deal of shit hitting the fan if a soldier's sexual preference is used against him or her. The same is the law on Civy Street.

    That's why <a>Michael Rowe, mentioned several times by John, is well known north of the 49th. His has been an important voice from his side of the sexual gender dividing line and has truly helped a nation come to terms with dismantling many of those barriers that have for so long be codified in law against this identifiable group and prying open opportunities that have remained closed to the GLBT crowd. From openly gay military officers to elected politicians at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels, from openly gay teachers to gay clergy, from gay business leaders to gay union activists, Canada has indeed rallied around equality of citizenship and all that entails and being gay is about as important as being a Leaf's fan… a little strange perhaps, but nothing out of the ordinary. For example, as I rode through the park this morning, I passed a middle-aged couple of men walking a dog and holding hands. One looked Irish and the other Iranian. And it makes me proud to live in such a open, accepting, and mature society where individuals can live a full and honest life.

    You just have to learn the rules to hockey.

    • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

      Did I mention the Toronto Gay Pride event? This year more than 2 million came to it. Being gay isn't a sin: it's a good reason to celebrate!

    • Diana A.

      I've thought about moving to Canada. I keep hoping things will get better here, though.

    • Kara

      It’s funny that you say that, Tildeb. I’m pretty sure I was eight years old the first time someone asked me if I was from Canada.

      Apparently, for no reason I can determine, when I was learning to talk, I picked up a very Canadian “ou” sound. That is, when I say “about,” it seems that I don’t use the American “ow” sound, but the Canadian “oo”.

      I visited Canada with my family last spring, and they didn’t stop making jokes about my “homeland” the entire time we were there.

      I love Canada. But I think I’m too attached to my jacked up America to give up on it, at least at the moment. I’ll hang around and keep trying to effect change here.

      The warmth and kindness of your comment really means a lot to me, though, and it’s always great for this Bible-Belter to hear words of support and encouragement.

      • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

        No! We need you here in America! Where are you going to get so much deep-fried food, Kara? Will Canada have state fairs where you can get a deep-fried Twinkie? Who is their version of Jersey Shore? Can you really LIVE without any of that? Really think about this decision.

      • Argy-bargy

        [Picketing with a sign] If Kara goes North, we go South! If Kara goes North, we go South!

      • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

        Well, I don't know of many people who pronounce about as aboot, but then I barely understand Newfoundlanders a'tall, bi.

        I went to a performance on Saturday night at very small restaurant/bar that could only seat about 30 people. At our table for four was someone from small-town New Brunswick, big city Ontario, far north Manitoba, and big city British Columbia. The performer was a solo artist and proudly lesbian (and who told much her life story through song sad and funny, fast and slow, in many different styles). She had just finished her tour from coast to coast to coast (yes, Canada has three ocean coasts) performed in people's living rooms and had an upcoming gig at the National Performing Art Centre in Ottawa. The table next to us had young crossdressers (there was a drag show in the basement) of both french and english speakers, an older couple at the corner table holding hands and tapping their feet with the livelier songs, a centre table with a group of asians, blacks, whites, and first nations singing along and having a great time, and I thought to myself: this is Canada in a nutshell. Everybody is different, but everybody can come together and just be and that's not just okay but ideal. And if we can do it here, then we have to be doing something right. And that's why Canada isn't just a place. It's an idea that works.

        Wouldn't it be great if the idea could be exported rather than people having to come here?

        • Susan

          Tildeb,

          A friend of mine recently converted to Canadianism. Her reasons are many and compelling.

          Where did Canada go right, and where did US go wrong?

          • https://questionablemotives.wordpress.com tildeb

            Ha! I love the the idea of 'converting' to Canadianism! I often suggest that Americans can always join confederation, but few seem to think this is the least bit funny. Oh well.

            Like many Canadians, my family lives on both sides of the border and has for more than a handful of generations and it is really interesting to see how the common root branches into different views.

            What we call 'regulated' on the north side of the Great Lakes, is called 'socialism' on the south. What we think of as 'multiculturalism' is deemed to be a 'foreign takeover', and so on.

            And there is a very big difference about the public role of religion. Although certain religious leaders try to make calls for action about this and that, most Canadians politely listen, smile, say thanks, and go about their business. In Ontario, for example, a political leader with a sizable lead in the polls managed to get trounced on voting day for suggesting more equitable public funding for religious schools. Three catholic Prime Ministers in a row basically told a very vocal cardinal who insisted that their mortal souls were in peril if they allowed abortion to be a publicly funded aspect of healthcare to mind to the business of his own soul and let public servants adhere to the law of the land and do their sworn duty without being threatened.

            Canadian voters, very similar to their American cousins in so many opinions and beliefs, do not trust mixing politics with religion and will punish the politician who tries.

            The reason why there seems to be such a difference in public policies between our countries is deeply historical. Suffice it is to say, the founding pillars of this country are three: First Nations, French, and English each with different languages and dialects, religions, and significant cultural traditions. The result of this mixing has been to find ways to get along, to create a political system that recognizes that differences may define us but do not separate us. Our constitution is not aimed at life, liberty,and the pursuit of happiness, but the much more practical peace, order, and good government. It makes a huge difference in legislation.

            We have learned through hard history that we are stronger together with all our differences front and centre than apart as little enclaves of homogeneity. To a large extent, what defines us is that this strength through diversity means that we are not American! That may sound peculiar and even negative, but it is still very meaningful in that we don't have to be afraid of the Other but can rely on each other for our common good in spite of sometimes very large differences in particulars. And no where is this success more apparent than in our brilliant military history – not just for punching way above our weight class in war but in having effect in peace keeping.

            For example, few events are more moving or defining of what it means to be Canadian than when a soldier is killed on foreign soil and brought back, where their remains arrive by plane and is met with full military honours at CFB Trenton by high ranking public and military officials no matter the rank of the soldier. Each soldier matters, you see, and publicly so. The body is then taken by small motorcade along with attending family to Toronto by hearse, about a two hour journey. Even on Canada's busiest highway, drivers pull over and turn on their lights to show respect. But what is truly remarkable is to see tens of thousands of Canadians of all ages and ethnicity put aside their activities and gather on overpasses ahead of the motorcade where national flags of all sizes are brought and held and draped in silent tribute. These waiting groups are joined by various local police and fire crews – sometimes classrooms of school children – with the cruisers and trucks flashing their lights in silence and they wait patiently for the convoy to pass beneath them, and this is repeated a hundred times by other such groups all along the two hour freeway journey. This is a spontaneous show of public support and recognition for the family's loss because in Canada, such a loss is personal. It's a shared loss, a shared sacrifice, and a reminder to all that those who make up our military is just another branch of the same family of which all us belong regardless of our smaller differences and particular ethnicities and various religions.

            So when issues like gay marriage stir the public pot, it's just another difference and we know there is nothing to fear. And therein, Susan, lies what I think is the most important consideration: I think far too many Americans are insecure with and somewhat distrustful not only of neighbours who are different but those who try to build a larger sense of community in spite of these differences.

          • Susan

            Tildeb,

            That…makes complete sense.

            Seeking, sharing and appreciating commonalities – sounds simple. It is, unfortunately, a mentality that is foreign, pun intended. Tolerance, greater good – often "mandated" which of course serves only to separate us more, breeds more distrust.

            There are many wonderful things about our country. But, we could learn a lot from Canada.

            I love the Big C, but it's just so damn cold!

            Thanks. I will be sharing your insight on my FB.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            America has sacrificed liberty at the altar of Freedom.

            We sacrifice our independence to our own Independence.

            We perverted the vice of pride into a virtue.

            Enslaved to its sin, we ultimately decrease the options available to us, and thus our ultimate liberty.

            We have forgotten that the truth sets us free when we submit our free will to Truth.

            We have forgotten that being bound in Love makes us free as a bird.

            Rather, in the name of exercising God-given rights, we actively enslave ourselves in idolatry.

            We are burdened by debts.

            Independent thought is hardly encouraged and promoted.

            In support of our illusions we remain in (often willful, often proud) ignorance. And where there is intelligence, it is analytical, preferring details (as interpreted through our personal feelings) to the big picture.

            We are a nation of overgrown children, divided up into cliques.

            We do not have much empathy as the illusion of self-reliance (i.e. independence) discourages it. We do however have much loyalty to those like ourselves, as we find it self-affirming.

            Group loyalties and individual ignorance leave us easily manipulated by others skillfully acting in their own best interests, though the basis of these interests is questionable at best. But to question them is none of our business.

            Yet for most of us, acting in—or even defining—our best interests we're not always particularly good at when doing so completely independently. Hence, for example, the high levels of obesity throughout much of the country. But don't stick your nose in anyone else's business; it's a God-given right to eat fried Twinkies daily.

            It's all about us individually, which produces a lot of noisy interference to the program of advancing us all together.

          • Susan

            Oh MT, what you write is so, so true. I have nothing to add in response. It's too much for me to delve into mentally right now. I am spent.

            Thank you for your thoughts. I mean this sincerely, it's just something I can't reflect upon at the moment. But, I will.

  • Argy-bargy

    We're at risk of John locking this thread for comments as well, at this point, but…here goes.

    I’m not going to speak about whether you were called names, you called others names, whose feelings are hurt, etc. I wasn’t involved in the exchanges. But I’ve been reading all of these exchanges, and I’ve got to weigh in with some questions and comments.

    Mel, what are you still trying to understand? Where do you think the "somwhere" this conversation was starting to go? Kara, Mindy, and others have tried to answer questions and explain all the myriad reasons why you can't be right. Kara particularly has shown monumental patience and grace in trying to accomodate your stated desire for dialogue and dogged avoidance of taking things too personally. They have, I believe overwhelmingly, demonstrated that there are so many flaws in your thinking that your belief on this topic has to crumble from the failure of the belief’s foundation to support it.

    If you believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality as a sin—sin being a conscious choice by individuals to disregard what God wants us to do—and that the Bible’s proscriptions on this topic are inerrant and infallible, then that would explain your belief. But…It rests on some assumptions.

    What if: (1) your understanding and interpretation of these Biblical passages is incorrect? There has been a tremendous amount of scholarship on these passages of scripture in the last few years that have undermined the original interpretation of their meaning (do the research if you haven’t already). For that matter, if you believe that the Bible tells you that homosexuality is a sin, doesn’t the Bible also command you to kill these people as abominations? I’m very confident you don’t believe that should be the case. Why then are you ignoring one seeming commandment for another? On what basis are you taking one part as the word of God and not the other? Why is your interpretation correct and that of other’s incorrect and a condoning of sin? Where do you get that authority?

    (2) the overwhelming and indisputable evidence is that homosexuality is not a choice, but a basic fact of life just as your own sexual orientation is. I'm quite thoroughly heterosexual, but I fully accept and validate that others are not. Homosexuals can no more be blue-eyed if they wanted to if they were brown-eyed (without using contact lenses!). They were born and will always be this way. If so, there is no voluntary choice to sin against God…God has made them that way. If God made them that way—and you haveto acknowledge the strong possibility if not the reality—then isn’t it the greater sin to say that God shouldn’t have made them that way? To say that a person should be blue-eyed rather than brown-eyed, because the Bible tells you so? If you’re still not sure about that, consider: why would you take the chance of making that graver mistake if you are wrong?

    In light of this, your stubborn, yes even obstinate refusal to acknowledge otherwise smacks of something other than being steadfast in your faith. Anyone who sticks to an obstinate belief that is not supported by the evidence and refuses to even acknowledge the possibility of being wrong is going to be considered to have bigoted beliefs. Whether you are truly a bigot…well, that is only for you and God to judge what is in your heart. But it sure seems that way from where I'm sitting.

    Help us out. Where is there a flaw in our argument? How can we be so wrong in our belief? Why could we be so wrong in considering your views as bigoted in light of all this?

  • http://phule77.blogspot.com Todd Erickson

    The word "abomination" used in the OT means, essentially, "taboo for this societal group". It is also used regarding the Egyptians, in that it was an abomination for them to eat with Shepherds.

    It would be sort of like not keeping your shoes on when you go into the home of somebody in Japan, or talking about politics at dinner in America. You just don't do it, and anybody who does do it is offensive (at varying levels).

    One will note, the Jews continued to know about things like Child sacrifice…Ahab sacrificed his oldest son to Molech during a seige at one point. When we try to paint these clear "us vs them" definitions with these words, we run into trouble, because they aren't used that way.

    Much like how the word "Satan", which means accuser, is at points used regarding Angels that God sends to give a message to somebody. It's a title, not a name, but it has been retranslated to fit modern theology.

    In certain third world countries, it is still the practice of tribes to rape visitors to demonstrate their power over them, so that they know that they are not better than them, being from somewhere else. This is what the group in Sodom was attempting to do to the visiting angels, which would fall squarely under inhospitality. Sociologically, we still see this behavior in prisons here in America today. The people doing it are not attracted to the same gender, they are exerting power and authority. They are also denying the image of Christ in one another.

    • Mindy

      Isn't it fascinating how the culturally-specific meaning of a word can make so much difference?

      Two things occurred to me while reading this. First, when I read your comment about the definition of abomination, I was reminded of a topic that comes up in Chinese adoption. One of the pieces of paperwork we receive from the Chinese government upon completion of an adoption is call the "Abandonment Certificate." Some adoptive parents are upset by this, as they don't want to have to use the word "abandoned" when talking to their children about their beginnings. Yet it is there, in black and white, in the legal paperwork that belongs to said child.

      We've discussed it from the perspective that using the word, and doing so in a nonjudgmental manner, takes the negative power out of it. But the real key is that the Chinese characters used, the ones that translate to "abandon," actually mean "left to be found." What a huge difference that makes. In our culture, when you abandon something, you give it up without thought, leave it to the winds of fate, essentially, throw it away. There, babies who cannot be raised by their birthparents are most often wrapped up and placed somewhere, under cover of darkness, to be found at morning's light. On the steps of a police station, at a busy market, at the gates of park, on the street-corner of a busy intersection. And often, from the small amount of research that has been able to be accumulated, the family member leaving the baby will remain nearby, in hiding, to be sure the infant is picked up. Not at all like the stories we hear on the news of babies in dumpsters.

      I realize that is completely off-topic, but my point is that cultural context can be everything.

      And that led me to my second thought, which is simply that putting all one's faith in a book, particularly a book that has been translated and re-translated and is the subject of many lifetimes of scholarly study in order to be understood, is a poor substitute for learning to trust one's own heart to know what is truly right in this lifetime. All the Christians here speak of the Holy Spirit speaking to them, helping them understand and make sense of situations. For me, that is intuition, "trusting your gut," whatever. But it is like an internal voice, and I trust it. Most of you seem to trust it. Why are others so afraid to trust it? Why are others, when faced with evidence that what they thought was true is not, so afraid to let go of what they think is the "right" translation, when the reality is that good people are being harmed by it? Do they ever learn to trust that voice inside?

      • Argy-bargy

        Exactly, Mindy! Why should we listen to the voice? Because God gave it to us to use. Not doing so is ignoring one of the best gifts he's ever given us.

  • Mel

    @Kara

    Due to John shutting down the comments on the other page, I didn’t get to say what I wanted to…so I’ll just say it here. Mindy, and DR were very upset that I said “I forgive you”. I just want to point out that I totally know what you meant….about not taking back *what* you said necessarily, but *how* you said it. I wasn’t saying I forgive you for having an opinion that differs from my own. You said sorry for the *way* you said something, so I said that I forgave you. I don’t see why everybody was so worked up over it, but I just wanted to clarify. Also, Mindy said that I “dare to ‘forgive’ you” and yet I have not asked for forgiveness in what I’ve said. Would you mind informing her that that isn’t true? Not only have you said that I haven’t hurt your feelings, but I *have* time and time again, asked for your forgiveness if what I said *had* hurt you. On the other post, everybody was mad that I was making this about *my feelings* and yet I wasn’t trying to learn anything but just condemn others. Again, this isn’t true as I clearly am trying to learn by asking you all these questions. As for making this about my feelings…I’m not *making* it about my feelings, but when people are rude, yes, they are at fault when they hurt my feelings. Anyways, I was really getting attacked on that last page, so I just wanted to clarify to you what my take on all of it was.

  • Mindy

    And again, it becomes all about Mel. You getting attacked. Your feelings hurt. Whether or not you hurt feelings.

    This isn’t about you or your feelings. This is about your ACTIONS and how the ACTION of voting against gay marriage discriminates. But you know that. I think DR hit the nail on the head on the other post in pointing out that by acknowledging your Bible might be misinterpreting God’s message here, the entire book on which you seem to base your belief system and all thought processes gets called into question.

    You don’t have to look at it that way – you have to understand that interpretation can be fallible. Seems that there are many Bible scholars here willing to show you that. I hope you are learning.

  • http://www.shadsie.deviantart.com Shadsie

    Hmm. I used to be conservative on this issue, and I changed my mind, but, at the same time I cannot *hate* the people who have the attitudes I used to have – not only because I remember where I come from, but I rememeber my former church and how the people there were really good people — their beliefs about certain "sins" weren't born from wanting to be evil ogres, but because they wanted to follow the Bible, to "believe right." In short, the discrimination was born out of a genuine desire to "do the right thing," sadly enough. I know it was with me.

    Encountering some differing opinions on what Paul really meant helped me to change my mind – and also, encounting gay people online who were willing to *talk and share* rather than launch into tirades about how religion sucks. On a nerd community, I encountered someone being rude about homosexuality and a bisexual woman's response to it – she spoke about the looks she and her girlfriend would get from people and how the girlfriend was deathly afraid of holding hands in public for fear of them getting beaten to death by some violent bigot. I read that and it just *hurt* me that this woman and her girlfriend couldn't feel safe doing something as simple as holding hands.

    Is homosexuality a sin? If I speak honestly, my answer is "I do not know." — I figure it's between a person and God and since it doesn't apply to me, I don't worry about it regarding other people anymore. The best thing I can do is respect and love people, whomever they are. The problem for me is… that back when I had more "conservative-style" attitudes, I said some things that I know some people haven't forgiven me for. In coming to them to tell them I know I was wrong, I've pretty much gotten "We're glad you've realized homophobia was wrong, but what you said makes you suck forever and we still wish you'd drop dead." (Not quoted, just the attitude).

    I think for Christians who still hold to conservative attitudes – *I* know, at least, that you're just trying to "believe right" and do what you feel is the right thing… and people calling you the scum of the earth are likely just entrenching you, but think about this, if you are an American. Don't some of your beliefs "as an American" trump some of your religious beliefs? Think about it. In America, everyone enjoys a lot of freedom – including the "freedom to sin." Jesus had some not-happy things to say about divorce, but we allow divorce for a variety of reasons (not just adultery). We know that "lust in the heart" is wrong, but we allow strip clubs to operate. We may believe in the "one true way," but we allow people of other religions to practice and those of no religion to stay home from church and not pray. To grant freedoms to those we dissagree with – and to protect the freedoms of those we dissagree with ultimately serves to protect our own freedom.

    So, why not let people who have a lifestyle you don't agree with have their freedom and peace? It's the American way.

    • spritz

      i know i came way WAY late to the party and probably no one’s even reading this anymore (then again, i am); i just wanted to say this was a very nice arguement and one that often gets overlooked. thank you for making it. (and in such a noninflammitory manner)

  • Jill

    I cannot allow myself to read every line of these comments, because I need to be working. So please forgive me if I missed something that renders my response problematic.

    When two world views, which are each emotionally loaded and have hefty material consequences, come together, as they are in this thread, it is inevitable that there will be missteps and that people will make comments that members of the other side will experience as hurtful. It might help to remember we have all been on both sides of conversations like these. There are many reasons why we so often fail miserably to have these types of meaningful conversations, but one of them is our fear of how the other side will treat us.

    I deeply admire Mel for having the courage to come to this forum and ask what I judge to be sincere questions with the goal of reaching understanding. I know that her current views are tied to a system that causes great material, social, and emotional hardship to a great many people. At the same time, what she is doing here, asking sincere questions, being honest about what she currently believes, and earnestly seeking understanding, is the only way we will move forward on this.

    I will also say that some people use these ideologies to control the flow of power, but it is terribly important that we remember that many average people who also subscribe to these ideologies truly believe them and defend them because they want to be faithful to God and shape the world as closely to God’s will as they can. The rest of us may feel in the deepest part of our souls that these sincere folks have misunderstood God, but if we can honor our shared desire to be faithful, we can appreciate our common ground and the basic goodness of our intentions. It seems that Mel wants to be all of the things others of you wish (loving, accepting, just, etc.) but that she is torn because she wants to be faithful to God’s will and she cannot accept the interpretations you are sharing.

    I think there are two reasons for why these interpretations are not enough. First, not all the arguments are good. As someone who does not believe that God condemns homosexuality, *I* didn’t find all of the arguments convincing. Second, there is a larger meta-issue of how we approach faith and scripture and when we do not share the same presuppositions, all of the deductive logic in the world will not bring us to a conclusion we all can share.

    That said, let me add my two cents to the content of this discussion. Mel, I know you want to have a discussion with Kara, but I hope you will allow me to share a couple of ideas. In my much younger days, I understood God in very much the same way you do. I wish I could easily explain to you how I came to where I am today so that you could judge it for yourself, but it was a long and slow process and probably too complicated for me to even understand all aspects of it. Through many, many years of study here is where I have come on the issues at hand:

    1. Because the Bible is so complicated and written over such a long period of time, it is not actually possible for any particular person to follow each bit of it literally. I have come to believe that saying one is reading the Bible “literally” is a power play that really means: “I read the Bible the right way and you read it the wrong way.” None of the people I know and love who claim to read the Bible literally put children to death for being disrespectful or avoid wearing clothing of mix fabrics or any of the other countless rules we have all accepted as being a part of a culture that does not in and of itself capture God.

    2. I do not believe this leaves us with a situation where anything goes and we can all just pick and choose the bits we like. The Bible itself models the solution. Within the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament), later parts serve as commentaries on earlier parts. This serves to adapt what is important in the faith tradition to a changing culture and to new and different material situations that the people of Israel find themselves in. The New Testament is a part of this tradition in that it was meant to be a commentary on the Hebrew Bible. In other words, it continues this tradition by framing the issues of the Hebrew Bible so as to clarify God’s will for a new context. In the non-Christian Jewish traditions this was also done through the practice of Midrash (rabbis commenting on comments on comments on scripture). We still do this today, but in a more ad hoc way, since our canon is closed. We are doing it here, really.

    3. The issue, then, is *how* will we interpret scripture? When folks tell you that they are “reading the Bible literally” they are hiding all the issues that really go into their interpretation. Words cannot but be interpreted. The issue is not whether or not we are interpreting, but whether or not we are aware of the way we are interpreting and all of the values and assumptions that go into that interpreting.

    People interpret in communities. Even communities that claim to be reading the Bible literally interpret the Bible differently from one another. Until you become aware of all of the assumptions that go into your community’s interpretation, you will not have your own faith, but instead one you have accepted by word of mouth. One reason why I switched the community with whom I interpret these texts is that my current one is more internally consistent. I share Kara’s love ethic. I look at the way Jesus loved people, and I ask whether acts and ways of being come closer to that model or further. On the other hand, my old community, who would have condemned homosexuality, did so by interpreting scripture rather randomly. This inconsistency seems wrong to me. For example, if we are going to follow the part of the Levitical holiness code that condemns homosexuality, then we need to follow all of the other bits and pieces of it. I do not know anyone who does. For example, a central concern of the time was the spilling of male seed. This was seen as a grave sin. Any act that could not result in procreation was an act of spilling the male seed. This is why male-male sex was seen as wrong. Equally wrong are masturbation, oral sex, and sex with ones wife when she’s on her period. (You will notice now why female-female sex is not a concern in Leviticus). I have yet to see anyone deny marriage or dignity to heterosexual couples who commit any of these other acts equally forbidden in the same section of the Bible.

    I fear that I have rambled a bit. There is just so much to say. Mel, thank you for asking sincere questions and seeking understanding. I hope we will all get better at this.

    • Mel

      Thank-you Jill. I am looking for a conversation with Kara, but if other people want to chime in in the same respect that she does, I'm perfectly fine with that. I've said before, but I'm asking these questions to see how people view homosexuality from a *Christian* stand point. The only reason I asked others to stay out of it, was because they weren't answering my questions. They were simply resorting to name-calling. They'll say that that kind of thinking is making it about my feelings, but the truth is, I just don't see the point in talking with them about it anymore because they aren't helpful. Thank-you for understanding that I am asking sincere questions, and I am trying my hardest not to come off as judgmental in any way. I appreciate your comment, and I will read through it again to make sure I got everything, and I will think about it. Just a quick comment on what you said regarding masturbation, oral sex, and sex with one's wife while she's on her period. You say that if I follow the part of the Bible that says homosexuality is wrong, I must follow the rest as well. I don't want to get a whole conversation started on what I'm about to say, but I just wanted to let you know in answer to your question. I have already stated on another page that I don't agree with masturbation…for me. The same goes with the rest of the things in that list.

      • Jill

        Mel, would you say that you don't agree with that list of sexual acts for the same reasons of the time (i.e., that it is spilling of the male seed) or do you have different reasons?

        It might be a good idea to look at the whole "Holiness Code" (Leviticus 17-26) and see how you feel about the other items that are forbidden in the same manner.

        Finally, I would recommend looking at Mark Jordan's book, The Ethics of Sex, particularly chapter 2 on "Scriptural Authorities." Much of my argument above comes from him. For a broader perspective that doesn't focus on the issue of sex, I highly recommend Luke Timothy Johnson's The Writings of the New Testament: an Introduction. Looking at texts like theirs will make you a "fly on the wall" to the types of conversations had within my interpretative community.

    • Diana A.

      Thank you, Jill. This is wonderful!

  • Kara

    I’m really just waiting for you to start the conversation back up, Mel. I’ve answered every question you’ve asked of me. I feel no compulsion to speak to anything else that’s going on in these conversations, but I’m here, still interested in talking, just waiting.

    • Mel

      I have found an article that I have read through, and I would like you to read it, and maybe comment on it? I realize that certain things from it you have already talked to me about, but some of it is new. Specifically, in the section “made that way?” the beginning talks about the studies which have been given as “proof” that homosexuality is genetic. The rest of that section talks about stuff you have already explained, so don’t feel the need to re-explain it. The section that I find to be most interesting, which I would like you to read is “equally valid?” It talks about some things that you have explained to me, but they are the opposite opinion. I find it interesting because it also addresses the actual Greek in which the Bible was written. If nothing else, please read that section because it is what I find to be the most valid (not really the word I’m looking for, but I can’t think of anything else). The rest of that article feel free to read, but like I said, that section is one that I would like you to comment on.

      http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c040.html

      Thanks again for your patience in explaining this to me :)

      • Kara

        I’ll give this a shot.

        In contrast, homosexuals claim that scientific studies have shown that there is a biological basis for homosexuality.

        I don’t claim that. I’ve never claimed this. What I’ve claimed is that it isn’t a choice.

        Point: I hate olives to the point that I can’t eat them. I’m 5’5″. I can eat very spicy food. I score extremely high on academic tests.

        These things are all things that I didn’t choose at all. They’re also things for which there is no known “gene”. They do seem to be somewhat heritable (my brother also identifies as queer), but they aren’t necessarily fully biological.

        I don’t know why I’m gay, Mel. I cannot tell you what caused it. Biology, pre-natal environment, early childhood something-or-other, I have no idea. But there is one thing I can tell you without even the slightest doubt or hesitation. I did not choose to be gay.

        I was raised a Southern Baptist. I agreed with everything they taught. I thought, as a pre-teen, that gay people were evil people who hated God. My town was virulently anti-gay. My entire family, too. I was home schooled, so I didn’t have a single place in my life that encouraged homosexuality, or even deigned to tolerate it.

        Why would I have ever chosen to be gay, in that environment?

        To the extent that biological or social factors may contribute to a person’s bent toward homosexual behavior, this does not excuse it. Some people have a strong bent towards stealing or abuse of alcohol, but they still choose to engage or not engage in this behavior the law rightly holds them accountable.

        This is, pardon my language, a bullshit argument. Being gay and being an alcoholic aren’t the same thing, and not being able to drink because you might hurt other people, physically or emotionally, is not the same thing as never being able to have any kind of fulfilling romantic or sexual relationship in your entire life because… something, something, something, Dark Side.

        As to “Equally Valid”.

        I already discussed the Leviticus verse. It’s not about idolatry, true. It’s about baby-making, expanding the nation of Israel in a specific historical context, and the reality that at the time, homosexual relations would have certainly required adultery.

        They’re just wrong about the Greek in Timothy. They’re using circular logic; claiming that because modern translations say it means “homosexuals” that it actually does. Paul made the word up. No one else uses it anywhere in classical Greek language. Taken in context in Corinthians, it only makes coherent sense that he is referring to those who visit male prostitutes. There is absolutely no reason to say he meant “homosexuals” when, as I’ve said, there was no such concept at the time.

        Sodom and Gomorrah was about rape and greed. I don’t see why this story has such sticking power re: homosexuality, when it’s so clearly messed up so much more in so many other ways.

        My argument has never been “It must be okay because I can’t help it”. It’s “I do not find compelling evidence that this is remotely wrong when done with a spirit of Christlike love”.

        I don’t really know how to address a whole article at once, so if there are specific parts of it that I didn’t address here that you’d like me to, feel free to quote them, but it was a lot to take in, and utilized a lot of straw-man arguments.

        • Mel

          You say that they are just wrong about the Greek. So, just put yourself in my position, and maybe you can clear it up for me. There’s me, who hasn’t studied the Bible in its original Greek. Somebody says it is a word Paul made up, and somebody else says that the literal translation is “men who sleep with men.” How do I pick who is right?

          With Sodom and Gomorrah, if it was simply about rape and greed why did Lot offer up his daughter? As if that was somehow better?

          Those were the main parts of the article I wanted you to touch on, so I don’t have any other part of it to address now.

          • Kara

            Don't you see what I'm saying about the circular logic, though? Their only proof is English translations. (Not that I've given you more, but at least I explicitly said you'd have to take me at my word unless you wanted things to get really technical.)

            However since it's come back up, I'm gonna get technical.

            "Arsenokoitai".

            Arseno- man

            Koitai- beds

            The only place other than Timothy, in the entire world, that this word is used is in Corinthians, so let's look there for some context.

            "Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites…." 1 Corinthians 6:9, NKJV

            Okay. But here's the thing: Why the distinction? What's the difference between a homosexual and a sodomite, and why did Paul use two different words?

            Because the first word, "malakoi," means male prostitutes. The second is its companion. Those who sleep with prostitutes.

            The Bible cannot mean now what it didn't mean then.

            Arsenokoitai cannot mean "homosexuals," because the idea is more modern than hair dye or driving etiquette. Society couldn't even imagine that concept in the first and second century. It is a matter of fact, not belief, that homosexuality was totally unknown to people of this time outside of adultery, rape, and prostitution, because heterosexual marriage was too important for the sake of having children.

            On the question of Lot: Lot did think it was better, but not because gay sex is inherently icky or something. It's because men were important, and women were not. Sure, it sucks. But far better to let girls get raped than men. The men are actually worth something, fully human, etc. It's messed up, but it's how gender relations worked a couple thousand years ago.

          • Jill

            The issue with Lot is not only gender. It comes back to hospitality. It was better for Lot to have his daughters raped than to turn his guests over to be raped. In the worldview of the time, it shows Lots extreme commitment to hospitality. It also contrasts his hospitality with the lack of it being exhibited by the "Sodomites."

            Further, if the issue is that the men at the door are homosexuals, why would it make any sense to satisfy them with Lot's daughters?

            Mel, it is a bit dense, but if you will look at that chapter from Mark Jordan's book that I recommended, he goes through in painstaking detail what all the relevant Greek and Hebrew words are and how decisions have been made to interpret the meaning of those words by citing all of the most important evidence from the rest of the Bible and from other texts of the times.

          • Mel

            @Jill

            I don't think it was that they were homosexuals, and therefore giving a woman to satisfy them wouldn't make sense. I think it was that they were wanting to engage in homosexual behavior.

          • Meredith

            Mel, if they – this group of men in Sodom – wanted to engaged in homosexual behavior, they could have had sex with one another. What they wanted to do is show that they are powerful and make these visitors fearful of them by raping them. Rape – having sexual contact with someone who doesn’t want to have sex – is about power, it’s not about attraction.

          • Diana A.

            Oh great. Now I have another book to add to my Amazon wish list. Thanks a lot, Jill! ;-)

          • Jill

            Sorry, Diana! It’s somewhat expensive too because academic books tend to be, partly because the market is so small. Perhaps you could get it through interlibrary loan from your local library? It is pretty dense, but Mark Jordan is brilliant and very clear in his thinking.

            Don’t forget to add Luke Timothy Johnson’s The Writings of the New Testament. ;)

          • Mel

            Thanks for getting technical, in this case I think it's needed. So, I guess now my question is; if it translates to man bed…then who's to say what that means? You say that that means one who sleeps with male prostitutes, whereas others say it means homosexual. If the word is made up, how can we decide what he was trying to say when he used it?

            I guess I kind of see where you're coming from with regards to men being more important than women. To me, it seemed like since his daughters were virgins, they were important too. But, he gave them to the men b/c then it wouldn't be men with men. If the men only wanted to show that they had power over the visitors, then what would be accomplished by giving them the girls who already lived there? That shows nothing to the visitors.

          • Kara

            Mel, I think you're missing a key point. The word, even if it doesn't mean what I think it does, cannot mean homosexual. Whatever it is, it's not that.

            Like I said before:

            At the time Paul was writing, there was no such thing as a committed, stable, loving, consensual, equal, monogamous gay relationship.

            Therefore.

            Paul could not have been writing about a committed, stable, loving, consensual, equal, monogamous gay relationship any more than he could have been writing about a rocket ship.

            Period. Even if my interpretation is wrong, there is no way that it means "homosexual" that word didn't even exist in English until the last 200 years.

            As to Lot: first, I question the relevance of this line of thought. The story of Lot is one specific story about a specific set of events. It certainly doesn't preclude my dating a woman.

            But to respond. Rape is not about sex. Rape is about power. Lot's daughters didn't have to consent in that society, he could consent for them. And he did. Therefore, his daughters weren't what they wanted. Because it wasn't about sex or gender, it was about power. Rape is about power now, rape was about power then.

          • Mel

            okay, but even if it doesn't exactly translate to homosexual…it could still mean the same thing. That particular word wasn't around then, but there were homosexuals, so he could have just used a different word to describe them??

          • Kara

            It's not just about the word. The word didn't exist because the concept didn't exist.

            I'll say again: "Paul could not have been writing about a committed, stable, loving, consensual, equal, monogamous gay relationship any more than he could have been writing about a rocket ship."

            When you say "there were homosexuals," you're technically correct. There were also diabetics. But that doesn't mean anyone knew, or that Paul could have written about them. The idea wasn't around.

          • http://www.selahsopinion.wordpress.com Machelle

            Mel,

            Like Kara, I too have done an in-depth study of the word “homosexual”. The word simply does not exist in the original scriptures. It was placed there by modern-day scholars and theologians to persuade people both religiously and politically. And it’s done a pretty good job! Here are my two in-depth articles explaining the use of the word and the actual definition in the Greek (because it’s only found in the New Testament so you have to use the Greek side of the Strong’s Concordance of the Bible to find the word): http://wp.me/p1bnpK-1N AND http://wp.me/p1bnpK-1V

            Happy reading and discovering!

          • Diana A.

            I was under the impression that the word "Malakoi" meant "soft" and that a variant of that word was used when Jesus was talking about John the Baptist:

            "If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces." (Matthew 11:8) See also Luke 7:25.

            The word translated here as "fine," is, to my understanding a variant of the word Malakoi.

            Also, I didn't know that the word Arsenokoitai was made up by Paul–though I'm not sure I'm surprised by that. I was under the impression, though, that the Arsenokoitai were young men who traded sexual favors with wealthy people of either gender for money and security. I could be wrong about this, of course (I've only studied this issue a little bit.)

          • Kara

            One of many places I've read about this, with a fairly comprehensive treatment of it.

            http://www.religioustolerance.org/homarsen.htm

          • Diana A.

            Cool! Thanks Kara!

          • Michael Rowe

            Hey Mel, it isn’t just “homosexuals” who claim the scientific basis for sexual orientation being hardwired. We let straight scientists work on this too. :-)

        • Matthew Tweedell

          It’s sad that so many fail to see that that’s a bunch of bull.

          “Although Ezekiel 16:49 condemns Sodom for its selfishness with regard to poverty etc., this does not contradict its condemnation for homosexual practices. ‘The very next verse of Ezekiel (v. 50) calls their sin an “abomination.” This is the same Hebrew word used to describe homosexual sins in Leviticus 18:22.’

          “It is also used in Scripture to describe such things like the practice of offering children to Moloch, but never such things as mere selfishness or lack of hospitality.”

          That last sentence reveals their preconceived notions all too clearly. “Mere” selfishness? Like, any homosexual behavior *must* be worse than just being selfish “with regard to poverty etc.”! Hmm… ever read any of the preachings of *Jesus Christ*? Right, homosexuality—which is clearly what was wrong about it, not that they wanted to GANGRAPE these guests—is necessarily on the same level as *sacrificing children in the fires to Molech*!! And guess what I deeply suspect was a part of the sacrifice ritual? Well, guess why is Lev. 18:21 is included in the midst of a list of sexually deviant practices.

  • http://digitopus.com/ skatoolaki

    There is so much I want to say about this post, but I really think it can all be summed up quite succinctly: Thank you. You have stated it *perfectly*.

  • Merlin

    Alcoholism is genetic. It’s in the genes, but I doubt anyone says it’s “who they are.” And I’m sure that most of the human population would agree that Alcoholism is not “right.” But people are born with the Alcoholism gene all the time.

    But God does not hate Alcohols. Nor does he hate homosexuals. In fact, he doesn’t hate any of us, but he still wants us to love Him and each other no matter what genes we are born with.

    Let’s face it…the world is screwed up: people born blind, mental handicaps, women who can’t give birth, tendency towards anger, genetically inclined to gain weight, anorexia, etc etc etc. We all are effected by sin therefore we aren’t who we were intended to be…but the good news is, through God, we can learn to make the most of “who we are” by using His love to focus on important things: like HELPING THE NEEDY!

    • Anonymous

      Helping the needy: Yay! Homosexuality is an unfortunate genetic aberration: Boo.

    • Michael Rowe

      Alcoholism is an illness that destroys the body and the mind. It also doesn’t manifest itself until one has a drink. Sexual orientation is sexual hardwiring that, in and of itself, does nothing more than dictate which sex the individual is attracted to. And gay people are gay before they act on their sexual orientation. Remind me again what they have in common?

      • Angela Jones

        Michael…I don’t think anyone could have made that point better! Thanks.

  • Shannon

    Wow, for an author to claim that this is “logical” thinking seriously disturbs me! This article is completely illogical and disappointing that such idiocy would be asserted as advice for Christians! This article enforces dangerous lies. The propostion that homosexuality is a sin to be overcome is in no way illogical, but rather, spot on with the teachings in the Bible. This proposition does not “completely ignore the crucial, absolute difference between homosexuality and the other sins!” The author has made a jump without bridging logic! Oh wait…This sin is categorically divided from the others because it “doesn’t hurt anyone!” This is laughable. Our morals are not based on relativism! Our morals are Biblically based in faith of the ONE TRUE GOD. Our morals are not subjective based on conviction. For example, read Romans 1, which is one example of the many Biblical teaching against homosexuality. Okay, for the nonbelievers (and what appears as, those who claim to be believers that disregard truth for truth), before your roll your eyes, remember, that darkness hates the light. As you read these words, as you read Romans 1, you will probably shudder, shrug off the conviction. Regardless of what Christians today hold acceptable: materialism, superficiality IS BESIDES THE POINT, a worthless debate at that. Talk about beating a dead horse! The real debate is this sick justification for homosexuality – sin is sin and it’s just love. Just some words of wisdom: You better check yourself, before you wreck yourself. The author claims he is a Christian, but he wants to “take the Bible out of the equation” and determine “what grounds is there for determining that homosexuality is wrong?” This is absolutely ludicrous..Who gets hurt? Really…How is this a justification? I hesitate to divulge this question for fear that I am feeding this lie, as if, there is any reason the question is valid in the first place! However, I’ll digress generally – at least one may recognize that this IS a sin. Therefore, if a Christian chooses to walk in sin, he or she will lead others to stumble. If you’re a Christian with homosexual tendencies or wrapped up in that lifestyle, read Mark 9:42-50. Also, if you’re a Christian you are giving Satan a foothold in your life. Regardless, as Christians we must strive for holiness and purity – Hey! I didn’t say it, God did. If you’re a Christian and you’re mulling over this ridiculous blog as being true, read the Bible and find out what God says. Don’t rely on man for reason. Finally, if you’re a homosexual and you do not know Christ as your Savior, read Romans 1. The recompense for this vice is death (not in the sense that we are all going to die as mortals, but spiritual death – separation from God, and even more sugar coated, hell. This isn’t a warning for homosexuals, but ALL people who do not know Christ as Lord. I didn’t say it, God did. I stand by these truths. And if this makes you uncomfortable, c’est la vie. This author has DIMITTEDLY (made up word) redefined sin as: first, “manifestly causing harm.” Then, drawing the conclusion from thin air, without evidentiary support that homosexuality “shoulldn’t be classified as sin. He claims to be a Christian, but outrightly disregards Biblical fact. HUGE FAIL and a sorry attempt to justify sexual immorality. This “Christian” blogger, even goes as far to discourage Christians from upholding Biblical standards down to this illogical train of thought. “it’s high time Christians were honest about the fact that asserting that homosexuals should stop acting homosexual necessarily means asserting that they should spend their lives never knowing the loving intimacy with another that straight people enjoy and know to be the best and richest experience in life. Asking a homosexual to give up homosexual love isn’t at all like asking him to give up booze, or greed, or any other such negative thing. It’s asking him to give up love.” This is a dangerous assertion for the Christian community, especially if people are such insensitive to what is holy and true. The family is ordained by God from the beginning in Genesis. And just in case, you Christians haven’t inferred this from scripture, look up what God says about the homosexual lifestyle. (Whether or not I am judgmental, is irrelevant. This is not the sin of topic. We are discussing homosexuality. This is a sad adversion people use during debate when they see their side is dwindling against the truth. Stay on topic!) The author sadly attempts to get sympathy from the reader because, “if he listened to the advice from the Christian community – NO the Bible, he would be all alone.” This is asserting that the Bible does not offer advice on celibacy. Sometimes, it is better for him or her not to marrry! This is without sound justification. You are not alone. God is with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do right in the sight of God. This may be a self sacrifice, but homosexuals are NOT called to a life of sin! The author says, “remaining as sinless as possible would mean never knowing love of the sort that all straight people, Christian or not, understand as pretty much the best thing life has to offer.” Know the love of God before the love man (or in some cases, woman) has to offer! I almost puked, when I read “…which is that gay and lesbian men and women should spend their lives never experiencing what people most commonly mean when they use the word “love.”

    When, all along, the Bible repeatedly, emphatically, and explicitly tells us that God is love.” Like, Revelation 3:16, I can’t imagine God’s reaction to this distortation and pervsion of the truth. Finally, the author takes a low blow, “no matter how many logic-challenged pastors daring to call themselves compassionate Bible lovers claim they’re not.” This blogger provides absolutely NO biblical foundation and lacks biblical criteria. Do not base your level of morality on this wacko (I’m sorry, misled blogger). Spreading lies really makes me sad :(. If I’m going to follow Biblical advice, I will uphold the institution of marriage between a man and a woman. I am thankful that truth prevailed at the polls regarding proposition 8. For those of you who think you are intellectual because you’re complicated or you’re more interested in the gray than black and white and you claim to be a Christian, the Bible upholds absolute truths. God is a not a God of confusion. Figure out what you believe and stand strong. Do not cause other men to stumble. You have the truth in you! You will be held accountable!

    • RayC

      Thank God you didn’t write it all in caps!

      This guy says nothing new. He uses the Bible to put forth his own personal bias against homosexuals, just like many have done to justify their hatred of Jews, like Christians have been doing for thousands of years. He is one of many. This is a good example of the hermeneutic lassitude in the Bible. You can pretty much get anything out of it that you want to. This ranter is a ranter in a long line of ranters and a rather beige one, at that.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      A woman is not permitted to teach, Shannon, but should learn in quietness and full submission. I didn’t say it, God did.

      So, seeing as spreading lies really makes you sad, you can stop doing so at any time.

      As you’ve noted, we do have the truth in us. Let us know if you’d like some.

      • Angela Jones

        I notice that there was no response from Shannon….hmmmm….interesting. Must have been too inconvenient a truth. Oh, no, wait….it means she would have had to look at herself and do something other than casting stones at everybody else. WOW! There’s a thought.

    • A’isha

      Shannon, I’m so sad for you. You’re missing out on so much of God’s love by trying to be God. Judging is his job, not yours. Yours is to love. Billy Graham said it better than I can: “It’s God’s job to judge, the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, and our job to love.”

      You might want to check out http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/2010/06/romans-1-caution-to-those-who-have-used-romans-as-anti-gay-license/ You seem to keep directing us to Romans 1, but I’m going to direct you back to it and ask you to honestly look at it in context.

    • DR

      Dear Shannon,

      Your rant is tired and old and so is your righteous indignation. Your theology is contributing to a framework of belief that causes gay children to either consider suicide, or actually do it. They are the most vulnerable population of teenage adult and all your care about is making sure they are unfit for marriage as well as never having a relationship with Jesus if they don’t somehow stop *being gay*.

      Talk about accountability on the Last Day. The devastation you’ve caused is so extreme. I’d not with the justice you will experience from the Father on my worst enemy to how you’ve driven these kids to death with your anger as well as actually drive away gay men and women from experiencing the love of God through Jesus Christ. You’re responsible. God have mercy on you.

    • Liza

      I think my eyes are bleeding now. WOW! Guess she hasn’t hear of paragraphs.

  • Paul

    Three things should be addressed here:

    1. A living faith requires a continual revisiting of a living scripture. As others have pointed out, we don’t follow every last prohibition or proscription in Leviticus (or anywhere else in the Bible, for that matter), because our understanding of what is right and moral, like it or not, is viewed through the lens of our time. For anyone who calls this “moral relativism,” I would point out that the New and Old Testaments were also, themselves, a reply to, and refutation of, belief systems that had themselves lost their relevance. To fail to adapt is to similarly consign Christianity to the dustbin of history.

    2. Will someone please point out to me the chapter and verse where it says to “hate the sin, but love the sinner”? Wait, no, you can’t. Mahatma Gandhi (who, when asked about Christian Civilization, is said to have replied, “I think it would be a wonderful idea”) was actually the one who said it. Thus, it has no scriptural basis.

    3. Most importantly: If homosexuality were such a big deal, don’t you think that Jesus would have had something to say about it? It’s not as though it didn’t exist in his time; that he said nothing about it speaks volumes about its importance, or lack thereof. If Jesus had bigger fish to fry (or multiply), perhaps we should take a cue from that…

  • Michael Rowe

    What I love–in the same way I love stepping in dog-shit in the park–is the way Christian idiots like Shannon manage to bend over and spray their stock-in-trade diarrhea all over this brilliant, lean piece of writing which asks only one thing: that the Christians it addresses THINK LOGICALLY for once. Naturally, incapable of thinking logically, twat Shannon purges out a mountain-sized fundie effluvia without once addressing Mr. Shore’s (diamond-cut in its simplicity) core premise. Yes, Shannon, by all means rattle off your fundie talking points. Yes, of course we’re all thrilled to hear them. Naturally we’ve never heard them before. No, of COURSE we don’t mind the complete lack of intelligence or logic therein.

    I don’t know whether Mr. Shore deserves to be fast-tracked to beatification for continuously trying to edjumicate losers like Shannon, or whether the Rapture can’t come a moment too soon–since it will doubtless suck up this mean, dumb fundie trash with an effectiveness roughly on par with God vacuuming up the BP spill to the point that the waters are as pristine as they were in Eden.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Yeah, but tell us how you think.

      Wow! Nobody does this stuff like you. You’re all the way in Canada, and I’m scared.

      If I were Shannon, I’d freakin’ toss my computer.

      (Who IS Shannon, by the way? You clearly meant this in response to something she wrote. Maybe I’ll cut and paste this where it belongs, after I’ve gone to find the comment of Shannon’s to which you’ve obviously intended this reply.

      Whoa. There are 500 comments on this thing. Maybe not.

      Oh, here she is: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2010/03/13/christians-when-it-comes-to-homosexuality-man-up/comment-page-4/#comment-55167

      You READ all that?

      • Michael Rowe

        Oh, she’s so appalling.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          I don’t know if this is what Shannon did/is, but a pretty typical thing for ravers to do is take a set piece they have, and then go around to blogs everywhere and either simply cut-and-paste it into a comment field, or first write a little tailor-made-type intro for it, and then do the same. That’s often what’s happened when you see one long thing like this, with no breaks.

          If I READ the thing beyond the first two or three lines, I’d probably know if this was a cut-n-paste fundy troll. But … then I’d have to shoot myself.

          • Matthew Tweedell

            You did read it, John, when you did a whole piece on it, and broke it up into paragraphs for us.

  • http://www.balancepoints.wordpress.com Machelle

    Wow. I am having a difficult time deciding which identity to post under, my identity that addresses spiritual issues, which is my “Balance Points” blog, or my identity which addresses humanity issues, which is The Symposium for Equality and Liberty for ALL Humanity (SELAH). I think I will post under “Balance Points” since I will be quoting a couple of my posts from that blog.

    First I have to address the author and make a couple of points about his own spirituality. On one hand I want to congratulate him for taking this issue head on and confronting those who he undoubtedly knew would attack him from every angle they could drum up. These are the people who take their Bible quite literally and commonly use the Bible to (lovingly) beat people over their heads until people find themselves down in the dirt, knees bleeding and picking the stones out of their flesh wondering when and if they should rise back up, only to find, “no” they should not lest they be beaten back down all over again by an even larger crowd now gathered by calls sent out by “The Brotherhood”. But back to the spirituality of the author. There seems to be some gaps even in this Believer’s generosity for he still quietly calls homosexuality a “sin” when he says, “It completely ignores the crucial, absolute difference between *homosexuality and the other sins* people typically struggle against committing, which is that committing virtually every kind of sin except homosexuality objectively and tangibly hurts someone.” Am I missing something here, or do I understand this correctly that the author truly does believe that homosexuality is, in fact, a sin? If this is the case, then what the author is saying in this post is that he condones the “act of love”, but not the act of homosexuality, he still believes, in his heart, that homosexuality is, in fact, sinful, and he will not take a stand on dismissing it as something that can be accepted by God as a natural and harmless behavior a person is born with, that it is a behavior that still needs to be forgiven by God. This presents an oxymoron if the author is allowing the “act of love” during the homosexual act, but not allowing the homosexual act itself without asking for forgiveness for committing the homosexual act. I’m left confused.

    But I do have more to say.

    And what I have to say, I say to the Bible literalists. I figure the author can get back to me, if he wishes, and clear up any misunderstanding I may have surrounding his use of wording and sentence structure. Maybe I’m just not reading the way he writes correctly…

    So, for all of you Bible literalists who have condemned this find author for taking the time and having the courage to address this issue of homosexuality and the right to love whomever a person loves, and cannot help who their heart loves…I have some back up material for you to read. I HAVE done my homework on the issue. I took the word “homosexual” to task and learned that the word never occurred in the original Hebrew or Greek scriptures. And no work like it. I scoured the Strong’s Concordance of the Bible and found no such word. Not even close. And here are my two posts for you to read: http://wp.me/p1bnpK-1N AND http://wp.me/p1bnpK-1V Go ahead, read them, I dare you. The word “homosexual” has been placed in the Bible by modern-day scholars and theologians to puff up what they want all of us to believe for religious and political reasons. And they have been quite successful at it I might add. Jesus never addressed homosexuality in the New Testament, and it’s the NT we are to live by now that the Old Testament has passed away. Yes, you read that right, the Old Testament has passed away. It is to be used as a GUIDE ONLY. “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” Hebrews 8:13 NIV -You see, we have two commandments now, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus didn’t say some of Law hangs on these commandments, he said ALL of the Law hangs on these two commandments. In other words, the Law has been FULFILLED, just like he said on the cross, “It is FINISHED”. One of Webster’s definitions for “fulfilled” is “to put an end to”. That’s what Jesus’ dying on the cross did to the Old Testament Law. We now live BY Grace, not UNDER Law. We now live by a new law, a law of love. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18 NIV

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      You pointed to a semantical mistake that I was happy to go and correct. Thanks for that.

      • http://www.balancepoints.wordpress.com Machelle

        I’m sorry, John, but I don’t see where you changed your sentence structure. I am leaning towards believing that you *do* believe that homosexuality is, in fact, a sin, but that it only harms the two people involved? Unlike “the other sins” you mentioned? The other sins harm an abundance of people so therefore they must be much worse than homosexuality? Am I correct in understanding this?

        • Mindy

          No, Machelle, you not. If you’ve read John regularly, you know that he in no way thinks homosexuality is a sin. He is putting it in the perspective of those who do. Trying to get them to rethink their position. He’s writing to those who do believe it is a sin, and asking them to reconsider, based on the evidence he provides – in their language, because they immediately come back and quote “love the sinner, hate the sin” to him, every blasted time he writes about this.

          He’s using their words to try to expand their understanding. I respect the hell out of him for trying. He fights the good fight, every day.

          • http://www.balancepoints.wordpress.com Machelle

            Thank you, Mindy, for clearing that up for me. Now I understand the writing style of the author. You have placed me on the fast track. I appreciate the help. I will be reading with a different point of view. This will allow me to comment more appropriately and realize that John truly is on the side of love, acceptance, equality and wishes to embrace, not just tolerate.

  • Robert

    I occasionally look at your blog and you seem like a nice, relatively rational person… but after all is said and done… for any one group to believe that they speak the “word of god” is dangerous. It gives them too much authority and power.

    It means they don’t have to reflect on what they say; it means they don’t have to think; and it means they are “right” and are not swayed by logic, empathy or common sense. This is the primary reason I am an atheist… because of the abuse of power “believing” seems to instill in so many people.

    I have found I can live a meaningful, loving, serene life…. by living a life filled with meaning, love and serenity. Rather than getting involved in the pettiness that seems pervasive in Christian communities.

    Good luck

    Robert

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      And good luck in your efforts not to seem almost astoundingly condescending.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        Good point. Perhaps such as will take Robert condescendingly should not deserve being condescended to.

    • http://www.balancepoints.wordpress.com Machelle

      Yes, Robert, I agree with you. Christians are way too petty. This is one of the reasons why I no longer call myself a “Christian”. But I refuse to stop fighting the good battle because love never fails…I’m determined to make this world a better place for ALL humanity. I want to be on the side of those who help to open the “boxed minds”.

  • Angela Jones

    One other point to ponder in this particular vein of thought is the fundatmental Christian teaching that one sins not only in deed but also by word and by THOUGHT. So, simply refraining from “acting” gay does not remedy the conundrum faced by the gay community. When presented with the question, “How does not ‘acting’ on one’s attractions absolve one of having those attractions in the first place?”, most fundamental Christians are struck mute.

  • http://david-and-sirach.blogspot.com David Wang

    I’m gay, and I don’t agree with this article.

    I believe being gay is not wrong, but acting on it is.

    While I’ve struggled with that same idea that acting on homosexuality is one of the only sins in which one cannot see a tangible “hurt” on someone else, I’ve come to realize that that “hurt” happens more subtlely than most sins. God doesn’t just care if you hurt someone else for sin to be wrong–He cares about what happens to you too. He’s trying to sanctify his children, and I think that practicing homosexuality gets in the way of that.

    I’m sure you guys have heard the Bible verses (including the NT ones!) regarding that. And I’m sure you’ve heard the argument of how homosexual behavior in Leviticus gets *death penalty.* Death penalty… that’s not the same punishment as wearing clothes made from two different kinds of fabrics or eating shellfish or other Levitical laws. It’s smack-dab in the same passage and category of punishment as incest, bestiality, etc.

    The New Testament and Jesus don’t speak about bestiality… does that mean bestiality is ok now that the New Covenant has come?

    Um, no, I don’t think so.

    If you aren’t familiar with an NT passage regarding this, here’s one:

    1 Cor. 6:9-10 (ESV, astrisks mine)

    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**, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    But please, please, don’t forget verse 11 (asterisks mine):

    ***And such were some of you.*** But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    Such were some of us. Those sins, those awful things. They WERE us. But such is justification. Such is redemption in Christ.

    So I am celibate from same-sex relationships because of these continuing commands from God and His Word.

    Sure, I still want a spouse and kids… i’ve always wanted that.

    I don’t mean I won’t ever get married to a girl–I *have* to be physically attracted to her, of course, for both our sakes, but I’m just waiting on that to happen with someone. I’ll probably have these same-sex attractions for the rest of my life, but I don’t think I have to completely change my orientation (which I don’t think is possible of my own volition anyway) to finding girls attractive… I just have to be with one particular girl I find attractive.

    If God has other plans for me than marriage with a girl, well, that’s ok. I’ll stay celibate my whole life. He *gave* His whole life for me and sacrificed so much more… isn’t dedicating my life in one way the least I could do for Him?

    Sure, “I would live alone. I’d wake up every morning next to no one. I’d never hold hands with anyone. I’d never kiss or be kissed by anyone. I’d never cuddle up with anyone. I would not know the profound pleasure of every day growing older with anyone.” (although celibacy traditionally is practiced in a community in which people can support one another, so I probably wouldn’t live alone.)

    But “people, Christian or not, understand [the above] as pretty much the best thing life has to offer”?

    I disagree.

    **NEWS FLASH*** people: marriage or having a significant other or a boyfriend/girlfriend is NOT the most meaningful human relationship that one can have.

    Otherwise, why would God do away with marriage in Heaven?

    Instead, I think the Bible speaks about how the most powerful human relationship is that of Christian community. Of the one body of Christ.

    Please, please read Wesley Hill’s Washed and Waiting

    http://www.amazon.com/Washed-Waiting-Reflections-Faithfulness-Homosexuality/dp/0310330033

    He’s another gay, celibate Christian who has some illuminating thoughts.

    • DR

      David, you get to live your life exactly how you want to in order to experience life, love, intimacy and as Jesus said “abundant life”. It would appear as though many gay men and women don’t share your experiences at all but there certainly needs to be room for your perspective, I would imagine.

    • Dirk

      Goodness, where on earth did you find that filthy pack of lies you are quoting from? The term ‘homosexual’ does not appear ANYWHERE in the real Bible.

      And you know it.

      I don’t know whether you are a self-loathing homosexual or a badly written avatar of a conservative Christian, but I do have some advice for you: Throw away that abomination you are reading and go buy a real Bible.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Dirk for the win.

    • Steve

      I’m sorry for you, in that you will never feel the love that I have shared with my partner. I am a christian (small c) and am comfortable with my life, my partner, and my after-life. As a christian, I follow JC’s teachings, and no where is he quoted as saying ‘gays are bad’.

  • T Yonley

    “virtually every kind of sin except homosexuality objectively and tangibly hurts someone”

    The Bible doesn’t condemn same-gender love or friendship, rather it condemns same-gender sex acts. Homosexuality in the general sense may arguably not objectively/tangibly hurt someone, but there is no question that homosexual sex acts are remarkably destructive to a society.

    Take just one example of HIV-AIDS. The HIV transmission rate per sex act among American married couples engaging in vaginal intercourse is immeasurably low–it takes thousands of sex acts for a man to reach a 50% probability of contracting HIV from his wife (keep in mind that having sex ~2x per week yields ~100x per year, so reaching the 50% probability threshold would take an average American couple multiple decades). However, in the male-homosexual community, HIV is spread at a rapid rate, partly due to the fact that anal sex is a ~100x more efficient way of transmitting the disease, partly due to the tendency of homosexual males to have more sex acts (with more partners), and partly due to other factors (e.g. greater IV drug use, greater instance of other STDs facilitating easier infection, etc.). Homosexual males make up an extremely small portion of the population, yet account for the majority of HIV-AIDS cases. Were it not for the male homosexual community, HIV-AIDS could not have ever spread in the USA–it would simply not exist here. Homosexual sex acts are literally to blame for virtually all of the ~600,000 HIV-AIDS deaths which have occurred in the USA in the last few decades. The hurt caused by sinful homosexual sex acts is highly objective and tangible for anyone willing to take a look at the available data.

    In addition to AIDS there are many other harms brought by homosexuality in general, and homosexual sex acts in particular, but I think that the general point has already been sufficiently demonstrated.

    (An interesting side topic is how our society has taken such aggressive actions against the health threat of smoking, but no actions against homosexuality–despite the fact that homosexuality represents a far greater health threat.)

    The good news is that human sexuality is flexible. Most lesbians have had more MALE sexual partners than the average heterosexual women. There are countless examples of individuals “changing teams”, hence the common term “hasbian”, “lesbian until graduation”, etc. There may or may not be a genetic tendency towards being gay, but it is an unquestionable scientific fact that sexual “orientation” can change over time. It has also been scientifically demonstrated that therapy designed to change sexual orientation can be significantly effective in doing so, at least in some individuals:

    http://www.stolaf.edu/people/huff/classes/Psych130F2010/LabDocuments/Spitzer.pdf

    There are some people who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, shoplifting, or whatever negative sinful behavior you want to pick. There are almost certainly genetic (or developmental) factors which make people more likely to engage in any given sinful behavior. The solution is not to “normalize” and justify the sin. The solution is to change one’s behavior–and the role of society should be to encourage and support this. Because of the influence of Christ, and of the Bible, many homosexuals have sought to change their sexuality to conform to God’s ideal, and have succeeded in doing so. No doubt, this is a difficult struggle for many. However, the fact that the struggle is difficult is only made worse by people who falsely claim that the struggle can’t be won, or who claim that the struggle isn’t worth making.

    • Hannah Grace

      It’s hard for men to get AIDS from their wives. But really, really easy for women to get AIDS from their husbands. Is that because God hates women, and gays, for not being the Ubermensch of straight man? You sound ridiculous.

      Also, maybe lesbians tend to have lots of sex with guys because it’s hard being gay, and they’re trying to figure out if they’re actually gay, and force themselves to be into guys. Because of people like you. And then it doesn’t work. Because they’re gay. That’s not “changing your orientation”. If you could just force yourself to be straight, everyone would do it, because it’s way, way easier to live as straight.

    • Jon A

      “The HIV transmission rate per sex act among American married couples engaging in vaginal intercourse is immeasurably low”

      In Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Russia, Latin America, Haiti etc the reverse is true. Most transmission in these regions is from heterosexual sex.

  • david taber

    sin is not simple an act that harms someone but is an act against God or his will

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  • Jon A

    Why are self-avowed Christians so fixated on gays? Aren’t there a plethora of other sins they can and should be focusing on? I don’t presume to know anything about the Bible – and I’m happy to keep it that way, but my understanding is that divorce and adultery are pretty severe sins, but we don’t see Christians mobilizing against them (on the contrary, many high-profile Christians are guilty of committing these very sins and are seemingly given a pass by the “moral majority). Why the fixation on homosexuality? I’m not trying to troll or start a fight. I’m genuinely curious.

  • Calvin Friend

    I like your honesty! Christians are too fixated on homosexuality. It’s called homophobia – the fear of homosexuality and/or homosexuals. Some fears are simply irrational. Others are entirely understandable. You seem to think homophobia is irrational because it doesn’t harm anyone. I am sure there are those Christians who would make the argument that it hurts lots of individuals. It hurts the gay couple, it hurts the children, it hurts their parents and perhaps even hurts them. You’ve heard them all. But what I hear more about is the homosexual agenda. I think the fear is not that we as individuals are going to be harmed by the love of man for man. I think the fear is that society is harmed – and therefore every individual within it – by moving away from heterosexual marriage as the standard.

    I appreciate also you saying what is often only implied – that the options in many Christians minds are two: heterosexual marriage or celibacy. The assumption in your post is that marriage and love are the preferred option. Jesus and Paul both state clearly that celibacy is the preferred option that many (most?) will not be able to accept.


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