When biblical “laws” no longer apply

biblelawAs proof that God condemns homosexuality, anti-gay Christians commonly point to the laws prohibiting homosexuality found in Leviticus:

Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable. … If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

The pro-gay argument to this (which I use myself in Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality) is, “But Christians today blithely ignore all the other Levitical laws, such as ‘Don’t eat shellfish,’ ‘Don’t wear mixed fabrics,’ ‘Kill adulterers,’ and so on. And the whole point of Jesus was to establish a new order; that’s why it’s called The New Testament. Paul himself was very clear about saying that following Jesus meant no longer following the Laws of Moses. For these reasons using Leviticus to condemn gay people is unsupportable.”

The anti-gay argument to this? “Hold on. Jesus was willing to let go of things like eating shellfish and wearing mixed fabrics, because those are ceremonial laws. But other Old Testament laws, such as the Ten Commandments, are moral laws, which Jesus insisted on upholding. And since the Old Testament prohibitions against homosexuality fall into the category of moral law, they are fully supported by Jesus. For proof, just look at Matthew 5:17-19 :

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.”

Then the anti-gay and pro-gay Christians realize that they’re making a scene at Starbucks, and go their separate ways.

But let’s think about what they both just said.

The first crucial thing to note is that nowhere in the Bible are moral laws distinguished from ceremonial laws. That’s a purely man-made distinction. In other words, it is up to Christians to decide which Biblical injunctions are eternal and universal moral rules that need to be upheld. Determining which laws are “moral” and which “ceremonial” has always been part of Christian history. And Christians have always allowed for Biblical “laws” to migrate from one category to the other.

It was once considered against Christian moral law, for instance, for women to speak in church, and for married couples to get divorced. It used to be considered in accord with Biblical moral law for Christians to keep slaves. “Thou shalt not work on the Sabbath day” is one of the Ten Commandments. Yet today Christians allow women to speak in church, get divorced, don’t keep slaves, and on any given Sunday mow their lawns or play professional football.

And why? Because times change, and Christian “laws” change along with them. That’s how it is; that’s how it’s always been.

So when it comes to Christian moral law, what if any biblical rules do remain constant?

Is there a dependable moral standard—a criterion that never changes—by which Christians are called upon to judge every single biblical “law”?

Yes, there is. And to find it, we have only to turn to Jesus’ Great Commandment, here at Mark 12:28:

“The most important commandment,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

and here at Matthew 22:36:

“‘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.”

So there is Jesus himself, very clearly directing us to understand that if breaking a Biblical “law” does not violate the Great Commandment, then that law should no longer be considered a moral law. And that is, in fact, the standard which Christians have always used to evaluate Biblical laws. No one wants to be kept quiet in church. No one wants to be told what they can and can’t do on a Sunday. No one wants to be unable to leave an abusive marriage. No one wants to be a slave. So as they were found to be out of accord with the Great Commandment, the Christian understanding of the “laws” pertaining to those Biblical injunctions evolved and finally changed.

You know what other Biblical “law” is out of accord with the Great Commandment? The one which holds that people who are born gay have but two choices: to spend their lives celibate and unpartnered, or to deserve being shunned and denigrated because their very existence is a moral offense to God.

It is time for the condemnation of LGBT people to be understood by all Christians as an egregious moral affront to God, since it is in such clear violation of what Jesus Christ himself called the most important law of all. Any Christian who argues differently is not taking God, Jesus, or the Bible seriously, and should not pretend that he or she is.

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. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Nedclark

    …whenever someone offers up Leviticus as their justification for `hating the gay’, I simply point out that this makes them an Ultra-Orthodox Jew — not a Christian — citing the fact that Leviticus resides in the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament)…

  • Rob Osberg

    Thanks for this article John. I see slow changes, but I fear the fundamentalists will never accept this change. For myself, my mother helped me study these issues way back in the early 60′s when I was just a young teen. I was truly blessed to have understanding and loving parents back then who simply accepted that I was who I was and simply born this way. I praise God daily for them. Through the years I have been un-invited at several different churches (their loss, lol), but as my mother and father always told me, leaving a church is one thing, and acceptable, but NEVER give up your faith. AMEN TO THAT!!! Thanks again John.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Wow! Way to win the parent lottery!

  • Michelle P.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This makes SO much sense. I’m sharing this one all over.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Thanks, Michelle. I appreciate the sharing. That’s … well, pretty much the only way anyone ever reads anything I write. So thanks again.

  • Matt

    I admit John, I was a skeptical when you said it was no less Biblical to believe that the Bible doesn’t condemn LGBT people. But you have delightfully proven me wrong, and continue to. It’s so deeply satisfying and relieves an ache I didn’t know that I had. Thank you.

    I think your scholarship on LGBT people will go down in history. Truly, I do. Your work will be cited decades from now as examples of the kind of thinking that helped changed the tide. And I’ll get to be the old man who’s all, “I kinda knew that guy!”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Best/most flattering/so best comment EVER. Thank you, Matt.

      • SugarMags

        Where’s the “like” button?

  • Leslie

    John, I think that’s the best explanation I’ve ever read. Thank you.

  • ~Sil in Corea

    Blessings on you, John, for stating this so clearly. I will be sharing this with all my friends and fellow Facebooknauts. I’ve a dearly beloved Bi daughter and many friends who are one or another form of “none-cis.” I hope they’ll pass your link on. Viral is the way to go.

  • Anakin McFly

    Playing devil’s advocate, there’s a third option though – marry someone of the opposite sex, which at least helps deal with the loneliness thing, and isn’t always a completely bad idea if the two people involved genuinely love each other (platonically).

    • Matt

      I don’t know, Anakin. When it comes to something as permanent and life-altering as marriage, “[not] a completely bad idea” just sounds like a bomb waiting to go off. Combining your entire life with someone is an undertaking that should have as much compatibility as possible–it’s not fair if you’re just marrying to suit the needs of one person.

    • Lymis

      I’ll agree that it’s a conception option, in the sense of “things that someone might choose to do.”

      However, given the descriptions of Love as the defining element of one’s relationship to God, the metaphors of marital love as comparable to the love of God, and the discussions of the intimate melding of two human being so thoroughly that they become “one flesh,” the idea that God really intends people to hook up with pals that they aren’t sexually attracted to really doesn’t work nearly as much as the idea that homophobes don’t understand the plan.

  • Anne

    As you so eloquently wrote in your article that “the law” hinges on the Golden Rule and that first and foremost we are to love God. This to me needs no other “what is acceptable to God” questions. If we are loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, we can’t go wrong or act contrary to our God given purpose, to think otherwise is to doubt God’s creating ability, to believe that God could make a “mistake”. To love God is to honour the man of His creating and not put our human judgements on His handiwork after all the Bible says “It is He who has made us and not we ourselves” and “He made us in His image and likeness”.

  • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

    I’d like to bring up a point that may at first blush sound nit-picky but I think is actually very crucial to the Christian / New Testament understanding of the Law.

    The two great commandments you cite were not originated by Christ; he was directly quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (love God) and Leviticus 19:18 (love your neighbor).

    No, Christ’s big breakthrough was John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” While his answer to the Pharisee expressed two separate but related concepts (i.e., that humans should love God and that human should love one another), John 13:34-35 mashes both together “Love each other as I [God made incarnate in Jesus] love you.”

    Indeed, selfless, forgiving, non-judgemental love is the only attribute of God that humans can hope to emulate.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Buzz: I tend to not use John 13:34 as a way of illustrating how we’re supposed to feel about and treat our neighbors–that is, those people outside of our group or belief system–because there Jesus is telling (essentially) Christians how to treat other Christians, right? He’s telling his disciples to love one another. To my mind, that doesn’t really address how Christians are supposed to treat everyone, Christian or not. But perhaps I’m reading that wrong?

      • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

        John, I think your reading is correct. Those are my thoughts exactly.

      • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

        John, I understand your argument, but to me:

        (a) God [inc. His only begotten son Jesus] loves the world [i.e., everybody]

        (b) “Love one another” is deliberately open ended, not limited to a specific group

        (c) “As I have loved you” = both (c.1) everybody as per (a) above b/c Jesus came for the lost, not the found [viz/ the shepherd leaving ninety and nine safe sheep to go look for the lost one] as well as (c.2) the unselfish accepting and forging pure love of Christ

        (d) disciples of Christ will love everybody [ref. (a) again] meaning non-Christians will love some people [which is what Jesus tells us even the pagans / gentiles do, and don't we want to be spiritually better than that?] but genuine Christians will love universally

        • http://www.buzzdixon.com buzz

          “forgiving” not “forging” in (c)

      • Lymis

        I wouldn’t say John is reading it wrong, but I would say that he’s probably prudent not to use that quote as a lynchpin of an discussion about universal love with someone who doesn’t already accept the idea. It’s far too common for people who are currently committed to being closed-minded to read it as supporting their view.

        It’s sort of the way I find people interpret things like “there is only one God” – it can be seen either as “…. and therefore everyone who disagrees with my view of God is clearly worshipping a false idol” or as “… and therefore, anyone who has a genuine experience of the Divine in any form, via any tradition, is ultimately interacting with the only God their is.”

        I agree with the interpretation buzz puts on it, but people who see the “you” as “you Christians” will see it very differently from those who see it as “you humans,” or possibly some day, “you intelligent beings, whatever shape you come in.”

  • Dale

    This article does not deal with the New Testament at all and I think that is what it is lacking.

    Romans 1: 26-27

    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 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 and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    These are called dishonorable passions. To me that does not sound like they are acceptable behavior.

    In the same way, if you come out and say that Levitical law is no longer because of the new covenant then are you also saying that a man or woman who has sex with an animal should be allowed? My guess is no…

    The bottom line is that we as Christians are called to love one another but we are also called to repent of our sins, ALL sins. If we continue to allow the world to dictate what we do than what is the point of meeting as a church or even reading the Bible?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Being gay is no more a sin than is being straight, Dale.

      Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality.

      Don’t be afraid to love the way God loves. You betray Jesus when you insist on choosing bigotry over the love embodied by Jesus and the Bible.

    • http://Fordswords.net David S

      Dale,

      If your comment is intended to say that the bible unequivocally condemns covenant same sex relationships, I profoundly disagree. If you are intending to say that morality is immutable, that’s just not historically accurate. Christian morality has always been relative to society. Polygamy was acceptable, as was slavery and the subjugation of woman. Our understanding of God’s law has always been shaped by cultural context. That makes some people uncomfortable as if it somehow diminishes Truth. But I think in the continuing revelation of God’s will, our understandings have ALWAYS become more inclusive and have better-honored humanity.

      • Keith Johnson

        Hi David. I totally agree you about gay relationships. But I disagree about the mutability of what’s actually moral. No doubt Christians and the Jewish people our faith came from saw slavery and the subjugation of women as being morally permissible, the Bible is loaded with passages describing how to do those things right. But IMO they never were OK, they were wrong all along, and God always thought so. IMO the only reason the Bible is permissive on the subject is that even though God inspired the Bible (whatever that means) the words were addressed to people who were intellectually, spiritually and morally limited, and inspired through those people. How could anyone expect it not to be limited? The Bible doesn’t teach things in terms of abstract principles, except these two: love God with all you’ve got, and love your neighbor as yourself. Anyone who’s on the road to this Kingdom is heading in the right direction. This road led to treating slaves with compassion instead of cruel indifference, then to the abolition of slavery, then to the effort to end the fruits of the legacy of that slavery. And today it’s leading to treating our gay neighbors with the love and respect the rest of us already enjoy. That’s what I think.

        • http://Fordswords.net David S

          Hi Keith,

          I think we may be expressing the same thoughts and I may have stumbled over words. Damn words…they’re so…inadequate.

          I’m a big fan of the idea of trajectory theology (eg, in the Old Testament it was law to kill disobedient slaves and the New Testament says treat slaves kindly, which points us towards abolition).

          As we move towards reconciliation, we get better at honoring humanity. As morality changes over time, so do culturally acceptable practices.

          Maybe in the future, it will be morally reprehensible to protect our own privilege. To your point, it has never been ok, but it has always been culturally acceptable. But we went from Jewish hierarchy to early Christian inclusion of Gentiles; why not a totally inclusive culture in the future?

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com brmckay

            Yes!

            Egoic persona evaporates in the

            Bright sun of Christhood.

            Evolutionary superconductivity.

            Bingo!

    • Lymis

      Dale, you do realize that if that passage means anything, it is that God sometimes punishes straight people by giving them same-sex attractions. It has absolutely nothing to say about people who started out gay or bisexual – because same-sex attractions ARE the natural relations of gay people, and some of the natural relations of bisexual people.

      I personally don’t think that same-sex attractions constitute a punishment by God of anyone, but this passage is no more a condemnation of LGBT people than the fact that the Bible reports God punishing individual people by striking them blind means that blindness is a sin.

      Just like the Sodom and Gomorrah story is about gang rape and says nothing about consensual gay relationships, if anything, this is a story about straight people forced into gay sex. That’s something I happily disapprove of, without needing to condemn people for whom same-sex attraction is perfectly natural.

      • Jordan Hurley

        Read Matthew 19 in which, Jesus speaks about marriage. 4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’[a] 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’[b]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Matthew 4. Jesus spoke about marriage. Not gay marriage.

        • Lymis

          Jesus spoke about marriage, not straight marriage, either.

          Gay marriage IS marriage. Gay people are still “male and female” – we just don’t pair up as one of each.

          I’m as much male as any straight male and so is my husband. And as much created by God.

          Jesus said that if a father loves his child, he’ll give them bread when they are hungry, not stones. Are you claiming that God forbids feeding meat or vegetables to children as a result of that passage?

          A straight man “leaves his father and mother” to marry a woman. If you look in Genesis, the stated reason for the creation of Eve was that “it is not good for man to be alone.” That’s as true for gay people as straight ones. A gay man or a gay woman “leaves their father and mother” for exactly the same reason – to form a new family, to bond as a new flesh, and to stand together before God.

          • Lymis

            And before anyone points it out, by exactly the same logic, the fact that God very clearly creates people who are not clearly “male” or clearly “female” by human definitions of those terms doesn’t make them any less beloved of God or their relationships any less legitimate.

            If you don’t think God loves gay people, you don’t know God.

        • anne

          Jordan, it could also mean that what God had created ‘male and female created He them’ was being misrepresented individually, instead of as one combined. It didn’t say God made two persons, one male and one female. This to me explains ‘therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate’. I don’t think it was about marriage as we define marriage, but more about one whole complete man. Because we are made in God’s image and likeness and He is both male and female, we would then reflect both qualities in our being.

          • Soulmentor

            Anne. Your closing sentence reflects what I’ve long considered the profound error of anthropomorphizing God, especially as HE, from the predominant male oriented social perspective. The ideas you present were pushed aside with the advent of Christianity and the Abrahamic religions. It has confounded human relations for millenia.

          • Anne

            Soulmentor, “reflection” isn’t anthropomorphizing God at all, it points to our being God’s expression, His creation or manifestation. I believe my view is in complete agreement with Christianity and is in fact substantiated by Christ’s teaching, as he taught our “oneness” with God.

            I think you sort of missed the point I was trying to make also…

          • Soulmentor

            On the contrary. You missed mine. We’ve anthropomorphized God for…well, since the beginning almost and it has become almost genetic memory to the point where the whole idea is rejected before it even enters the consciousness of most. It is a deliberate unconscious act in order to avoid the realization that would profoundly change religious thought, the very idea of which is frightening to most Christians, I suspect. Change?!?!?! Heaven forbid!! That’s SO uncomfortable.

            If you don’t get it, well, maybe that’s why.

          • Anne

            ‘The very idea”….what idea?

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com brmckay

            As singularity expresses into multiplicity, the components remain unified in perfect complementarity.

            There is no “male” without “female”, no this without that, no day without night.

            Nothing anthropomorphic about it.

            Projecting genitailia onto God, would of course be anthropomorphic. Anne certainly wasn’t doing that.

            As I adapt to our changing times, much of it through the teachings on this blog, I realize that it is complementarity that makes relationship.

            The nature of complementarity is Love. This is marriage. This is God.

          • Anne

            Wow! brmckay, and thank you. I so wish I had a “hold” on words as you do to express my thoughts. You said it all so perfectly, so again….thank you!

          • http://brmckay.wordpress.com brmckay

            Anne,

            Thanks to you and Soulmentor; John and everybody else. The chance to practice this is a blessing. We’re all in it together.

          • http://mccbrighton.org.uk LAurence

            In response to “Male and female created He, them” I always think of the wonderful quote from the late Quentin Crisp in “The Naked Civil Servant”: “Male and female created He, me.”

          • Anne

            Thank you Laurence, this idea sure does away with any issues regarding what we call homosexual relationships.

          • Lymis

            Um…..

            Anne, while I agree with both your point and Soulmentor’s (which are not, in my mind mutually exclusive), I honestly think that Quentin Crisp’s line was far less a theological paradigm than his own recognition that he was one of the most flamingly effeminate homosexuals in history to be in the public eye. I don’t think he intended the comment to apply broadly, though people certainly can feel that it does.

    • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

      Dale, when Jesus established the standard of love for all our behavior he did not then begin to add exceptions. Neither did the writers of the New Testament add exceptions. There are no exceptions; it is all based on love and consideration.

      However, I would say that implied in this standard is that we should love ourselves appropriately. Otherwise we cannot properly love others ‘as ourselves’ in a healthy way. So self-destructive behavior is a factor.

      We cannot decide for another person what behavior fulfills this standard. And an important thing is that we don’t have to; judging others is not our job. Now there are things that society must control, such as murder, rape, and theft; but it is not because they are violations of God’s law–they are violations of society’s law.

  • http://Fordswords.net David S

    Roberta Kaplan, the lead attorney in the DOMA victory, gave the sermon at Shabbat services two days after the SCOTUS decision. The Torah portion told the story of the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 27: 1-11) who challenged Jewish inheritance law that disregarded families with no male heir. In the story, Moses takes their challenge to the Lord who instructs him to change the law so as to include the daughters. Roberta made the point that God rewrote His own law so that it was more just. She eloquently argued that those who view biblical law as fixed and unyielding ignore the precedents laid out in the bible itself. According to the holy text, God’s law evolves in the direction of justice and inclusion.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Whoa, David. That’s huge.

    • Lymis

      David, that’s a wonderful point. There’s a New Testament rough equivalent as well, when Jesus is reported as telling us that there are truths that Christians were not yet ready for, and that He would send the Holy Spirit to be with us and continue the teaching.

      Whether that is interpreted as old ideas being subject to change, or new ideas that hadn’t been thought of still being part of the ongoing revelation of God to man, it still means that the Bible itself says that for Christians, the Bible cannot be the final authority because the Holy Spirit has more to teach.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Fantastic. Thank you, friend Lymis.

        • Soulmentor

          One of my strongest arguments on the gay issue to my evangelical type family has long been that if they believe that the Holy Spirit “speaks” to us (humans) then could it be speaking to us now about this social issue? This always illicits agonizingly perplexed expressions from them because if they suggest it isn’t, then I ask them when the Holy Spirit stopped speaking to us, after Revelations? After the Inquisition? The Reformation? After women got the vote? When did the Holy Spirit go silent? That always stops em cold. To suggest that the Holy Spirit is now moving us to change attitudes toward gays is, for them, little short of blasphemy. Sigh!

          • Todd Reeder

            I hear many preachers say that God stopped giving revelations and stuff after the last book of the bible was written. And they say that no one is to add to the word of God. Meaning the 66 books of the bible. And they quote the verse “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” Preachers say when the last apostle died God stopped giving new teaching.

          • Anakin McFly

            Regarding that verse, it was referring solely to the book of Revelation, though. The Bible as a single book had not yet been compiled at the time that was written.

          • Lymis

            Preachers often say a lot of things I disagree with. Literal interpretations of either Genesis or Revelation often find themselves high on that list.

          • Todd Reeder

            I don’t know if God gives new teaching currently or if it stopped when the last of the apostles died. I have heard lots of people claim God spoke to me. Or I got a revelation from the LORD.

          • Lymis

            I’m certainly not going to defend every unhinged yahoo who claims God is talking to them, but is it a serious question whether God stopped talking to people when the last apostle died? Really?

  • Todd Reeder

    I listened to Adam Hamilton’s sermon about homosexuality. He book when Christian’s get it wrong is based on his sermons about when Christian’s get it wrong. One thing he says is something like did God really tell people to stone people? And he uses instances like when God told the Israelites to kill all men, women, and children, and babies. Then Adam Hamilton says something like did God really tell them to do that? Adam Hamilton says instead of condemning gay people we should show them love. I agree we should show love and not condemn people. We are trusting that every word and instruction in the bible was from God and inspired by God. The Pharisees made up laws beyond what God commanded. How many of them are in the bible and being said they are Gods laws? How do we know the commands to stone people are really from God?

    • Lymis

      I’d say a good rule of thumb is that ANY variation of “Take it upon yourself to decide who I want dead and kill them for me” is NOT the sort of thing God would say.

  • John Payzant

    There’s also Romans 1 as well as several other passages not just Leviticus 18.

    The bible encourages prayer and fasting

    • Elizabeth

      Hi. I assume you’re referring to 1:26-27. “That is why God abandoned them to degrading passions: why their women have exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural practices; and the men, in a similar fashion, too, giving up normal relations with women, are consumed with passion for each other, men doing shameful things with men and receiving in themselves due reward for their perversion.” 2:10-11 is more pertinent, imho. “[G]lory and honour and peace will come to everyone who does good — Jews first, but Greeks as well. There is no favouritism with God.” (NJB)

      In my experience, if you’re prayerful activist — which is what Paul was — you need to concentrate to remember to eat. :)

  • Donald Rappe

    This is well thought out!

  • Dana

    David, I’m with you. If our God is all knowing, why would he stop working? Are we to truly believe that after all of the books of the Bible were compiled and printed that God was finished communicating with us? Yes, Jesus came to teach us how to live according to God’s commandments, and yes, Jesus promised the Holy Spirit would come in to all who believe, so why are people so stagnant? If God is all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, than why would he stop communicating with us? I believe that he is still instructing us and that f0llowers of Christ will be judged by how they treated other people, especially those who aren’t like us. Perhaps LGBT people would be under the auspice of “the least of these”? Shame on anyone who judges who God had made. God doesn’t make mistakes.

  • Keith

    Just wondering if you had seen these essays written by gay Christians, which I think go into a great bit more detail: http://www.gaychristian.net/greatdebate.php

  • Todd Reeder

    How do we know the command to stone people for certain things came from God? And how do we know any prohibition of same sex relationships came from God? How do we know they are not inventions of man that God had nothing to do with?

    • Anne

      The temptation depicted in Genesis 2, was the lie that “ye shall be as gods”, that’s the trouble, we look at the inventions of man (which includes almost all our known “world”) and attribute it to God.

    • Lymis

      “How do we know the command to stone people for certain things came from God? ”

      Easy. It didn’t.

      Next?

  • Toireasa Purviance

    Only one thing in your article that I disagree and take issue with…Sunday, the first day of the week, is not now, never HAS been, and never WILL be “The Sabbath”! That designation belongs EXCLUSIVELY to the seventh day of the week! Other than perpetrating that fallacy, your article was very good.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Man. People sure do … pick their issues.

    • Lymis

      “never HAS been, and never WILL be “The Sabbath””

      Uh, no.

      “Didn’t used to be and still isn’t for some people,” I could agree with. But a couple thousand years after people made the change to considering Sunday the Sabbath, I think the boat has well and truly sailed enough that “never has been and never will be” is a flat-out untruth at this point.

    • Tim Northrup

      The English/American calendar is also unique in considering Sunday the first day of the week. The German, French, Italian, Spanish, and all other European calendars I can find (I know those four for a fact from experience) have Sunday as the 7th day of the week and speak of “the week’s end” as Saturday and Sunday not “the weekends”

      Just so, ya know, your facts are straight.

      • Todd Reeder

        First day of the week Christians use many bible verses to say that the seventh day Sabbath has been done away with. And some say it doesn’t matter what day you set aside and devote to God. And some seventh day Sabbath people teach if you don’t keep the seventh day you have the mark of the beast and are unsaved. Or teach you are unsaved. I watched a video about the seventh day that said Christians who never heard of first day worship; worship on the seventh day because of what they read in the bible. I was looking at images of British calendar’s online. Some show that Sunday is the last day of the week. Some show Sunday is the first day of the week. I have no idea why. That would cause confusion if they used two different calendars. Some would say all that matters to God is do the best you can. How do we know what is right and true about what people teach? The bible says God is not the author of confusion. But people teaching different things causes confusion. Some people have told me that God allows people to teach false teaching because people don’t want to hear the truth. And some people say God allows the devil to deceive people. Why would God allow the devil to deceive people. And allow people to not know the truth? I have been told that you have to know how to interpret the bible. You have to know what it meant to the Jews and the Greeks in there day. I was told that when Jesus said God was his father; and when he was called the son of God people at that time knew he was saying he was God. And was being called God. But the way things are said have changed and we don’t understand it like they did then. So you have to be taught what it meant to them. So if someone picked up a bible and read Jesus son of God they would think he was not God. Just the son of God. I don’t think God would allow confusion and someone to not know clearly what he wants people to know. Everyone says what they teach is true. And everything else is wrong. Everyone can’t be right. So how do we know the truth?

        • Lymis

          Honestly, with no snark or sarcasm, if that’s the issue that you feel is critical to Christians, you and I have next to nothing in common regarding our view of what God thinks is important.

          I don’t think that “confusion” about the days of the week indicates that “God is allowing confusion and someone not to know what he wants people to know.”

          I don’t think God cares what day of the week people set aside, and would far rather that they love their neighbor every day rather than argue over which six days they can treat each other badly.

        • http://brmckay.wordpress.com brmckay

          Todd – “So how do we know the truth?”

          For me, the problem goes away when I rely on the one, undeniable Truth:

          It’s all God. The Entirety. If something someone tells me doesn’t serve this essential understanding, then it’s not worth investing in.

          If a belief does not anchor my understanding in This, the Eternal Now, what good is it?

        • Anne

          “What is the truth?”, is the question Pontius Pilate put to Jesus before his crucifixion. The fact that Jesus didn’t answer him, indicates to me that truth can never be passed on to others, but must come from an individual understanding from within. As Jesus told his disciples “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free”. He didn’t say “you will be told the truth, or you will learn the truth”…just that we would know it. So to me that means when we live in that one Consciousness, “having that mind which was also in Christ Jesus” we too shall know the truth (God), there is no other way.

  • John Payzant

    The story of Jonathan & David are discussed more than once some wondering if this could be a homosexual relationship? The middle east is quite a different culture with thigs like foot washing a practice that Muslims still do. Some people are close and have a small personality radius and some are distant.

  • Daphne

    Moses did at least do the right thing – he took it to God and let Him decide. Thats better than considering issues in the light of prevailing culture or fashions, eg political correctness, green issues etc – and letting that influence. EG If your eyes are dark, how great is that darkness (like Hitler who thought he was enlightened).

    If all all Christians who wanted to step outside accepted practice – or form an opinion on those who do – ‘took the issue to God’ first, there might not be such a division about homosexuality.

    God said His laws were made for man, because of evil – such as the divorce laws, where Jesus declared Gods ideal (no divorce) but then explained the law was made because men could not comply.

    Trusting the Bible is a crucial bedrock of faith and the Holy Spirit opens it up but never breaks or twists its truth in my experience – if you want to alter perspective on its laws instead of just accepting the sacrifice of Jesus for forgiveness, then that’s definitely something to ‘take to God’. Read the last sentences of Revelations – plagues for anyone who changes anything in the Bible. And curses for those who preach a different gospel but, as you said, its a growing revelation and deepening truth as we continue in faith and Jesus lives in us.

    Jesus said ‘love your enemies’ so there is no place for judgemental, condemning, or any kind of rude inconsiderate or violent treatment towards anyone in Christianity. No one is perfect, no one is ‘good’ except Jesus; when someone called Him ‘good teacher’, even Jesus said ‘why do you call me good? no one is good except God’.

    I beleive that Jesus forgives all sins through his death on the Cross, but not through our trying to make them ‘not a sin anymore’. Only His blood can cleanse and remove sin – and everyone has sinned – so the law can never justify anyone – gay, straight or otherwise.

    • Elizabeth

      Cool. Plagues. Also, Jesus = God, so I’m a little confused.

      • Daphne

        I meant to point out that there is no justification or righteousness just from keeping the law because no one can keep it; its too difficult. But there is justification and righteousness through Jesus who fulfilled the law for us (so we don’t have to) on the Cross.

        The point is – that is where the love and acceptance happens – not in saying it was never a law in the first place but just misunderstood all these years. It was a law and still is.

        But living in Jesus you live in constant forgiveness. Being forgiven through Jesus is about love and grace; about accepting you’re not perfect and never will be except in Christ, as oppose to trying to be perfect or acceptable to God through self-effort which is just like being a Pharisee.

        I think many Fundamentals are also barking up the wrong tree with this – they try and make themselves ‘Holy’ instead of just accepting Jesus did it for them – and they also face the temptation to interpret the law in a way that fits their lifestyle and innate prejudices.

        So its a shame that gay people – who have a huge natural advantage already in place where the law is concerned (knowing they can’t keep it) – are following their lead.

        • Elizabeth

          Thanks for clarifying! I agree. I follow my gay BFF’s lead always. My only sticking point is that, since homosexuality isn’t a choice and the six clobber passages weren’t about consensual relationships between loving adults, no law was ever in place. No forgiveness necessary.

  • Wake Up !!!

    [fundie craziness deleted.]

    • Anakin McFly

      Fun story: When I was born, one nurse yelled “It’s a boy!” while another nurse simultaneously yelled “It’s a girl!” Apparently the umbilical cord was between my legs and it confused them for a moment.

      Eventually I turned out to be a trans guy, which makes this all the more hilarious.

      • Elizabeth

        LOL, that is pretty hilarious. *thumbs up*

      • Jill

        Love this!

  • Ted Garvin

    I have read (source amnesia here) that the Mosaic Law was a civil code, not a set of religious obligations. Make of that what you will.

    There are times that I agree with Aleister Crowley: “Love is the Law.”

    As for gayness being a voluntary sinful condition, it is high time that Christianity got in line with science.

  • http://marconidarwin.myopenid.com Marconi Darwin

    Sorry, but this is a copout. It is a copout to justify Christianity and Jesus and excuse the misogyny, racism, hatred, violence and bigotry practiced, advocated and commanded by Yahweh, and avoided with cowardice by Jesus.

    At least be honest, Christians. You worship a monster.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Yes, lets at least be honest, Just like like not all lunch meat is balogna, Not all Christians view God the way you state,


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