To secretly gay-affirming pastors of conservative churches

One year ago I met with the pastor of a large conservative church. It was a secret meeting: when I found the guy tucked into the corner of a coffee shop, he was practically wearing dark sunglasses and a wig.

“My congregation would eat me alive if they knew I was so much as talking to you,” he said. “Much less actually meeting with you.”

“Oh. That’s too bad.”

“I read you all the time,” he said. “I love your work. But my church is very conservative.

“Oh, well, thanks,” I said, taking a seat across from him. “Bummer about your church.”

“For me right now it does, actually.” The pastor explained that lately—due in no small part, he said, to my blog—he had come to doubt his lifelong convictions about homosexuality. He didn’t have anyone in his life he could talk to about that. “So I wanted to meet with you,” he said.

“Cool.”

“My big concern,” he went on, “the hurdle that I just can’t seem to get over, is that I need to know that it’s biblical to believe that being gay isn’t a sin. I can’t abandon the Bible. And I just don’t find convincing enough the intellectual argument for the Bible supporting gay relationships. Can you help me with that?”

“I believe I can,” I said. So we talked for the next hour or so. And then we went our separate ways.

Last week this pastor contacted me again. I hadn’t heard from him since our first meeting. He wanted to get together again.

When we met for the second time, he said, “When we talked last year you were really hard on me. You very directly challenged me to look deeply into the issue of gays and the church. And that’s exactly what I did. Between now and then I have read everything I could about Christianity and homosexuality. I found your book UNFAIR [here] invaluable.

“I can tell you that I have completely changed my mind on this issue. I’ve done a complete one-eighty. I am now fully convinced that there’s nothing whatsoever sinful about being gay.”

“I’m so glad to hear that,” I said.

The bad news, though, is that my pastor friend is now stuck leading a huge church from which he would be fired the moment he so much as intimated that he was thinking about changing his position on the gay issue.

“I’d be gone before I finished that sermon,” he said. “The elders would boot me out the door while I was still flipping through my Bible. Which means I now can’t preach the way I really want to. I can’t say the things I really want to say.”

I hear from pastors like this one all the time. It’s insane. So many pastors out there are leading congregations way more conservative than they are. And on the gay issue in particular they do not dare to ruffle their congregants’ feathers, since they fear doing so would mean finding themselves suddenly unemployed.

“I’ve got a wife and kids,” said the pastor uneasily. “I’ve got a mortgage. And yet I’ve also got pressing on my heart this thing I feel God calling me to preach about. Honestly, John, I just don’t know what to do.”

I suggested to him what I’d suggest to any pastor in his position: that maybe he could consider trusting just a bit more in the people whom God has seen fit for him to lead.

“You don’t have to stand in the pulpit and boom out, ‘We’ve all been wrong! It’s no sin to be gay!’” I said. “Because then you’d be fired, and what good would you be to the cause you now share? But what you can do is just broach the subject a little. Pretty much every Christian these days is, after all, talking and thinking about the gay issue. Why not simply acknowledge that?

“Just say that you feel that it’s your responsibility as the pastor of your church to lead the church in a conversation about the issue—or to do a series of classes on it, or a symposium, or something like that. You don’t have to commit to an opinion on the matter. You just have to commit to facilitating a careful and thoughtful exploration of the subject itself—the same as you would any other issue being faced by the church.

“I guarantee you that, just like you went through your process of change on this question, individuals out in the pews of your church are doing the same in their own hearts and minds. They have to be. Too many people are talking about this issue; too many books and articles are being written about it; too many people have learned that a person they love is gay. Things are changing. Everyone knows it. Everyone, one way or another, is part of it.

“All you have to do is ask your congregation if they’d like to have a conversation about homosexuality and the Bible. If none of them do—if they refuse to even talk about it—then shrug, say ‘Oh. Well, never mind,’ and then quietly start searching for another church to work at, because yours is too crazy to … well, raise your children in, for one. You’ll be wanting to show yourself the exit of that place.

“But I’ll bet that doesn’t happen. I’ll bet that people will want to engage in that conversation. As long as you’re not pushing them one way or another, they’ll feel safe.

“And once people feel safe, they start to talk. And once people talk—and once people listen—their hearts open up. And that’s when things start to change.

“God has put you where he has for a reason. Maybe God has put you where he has so that you can help move the people in your church toward full acceptance of LGBT people.

“Why not? If the pastors don’t lead in this matter, who will?”


Related: Secretly gay-affirming pastors: You are not alone

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.

  • Andy

    Nice job turning it around! Let’s hope it gets those people talking and, eventually, accepting.

  • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

    The best explanation I’ve read to start the conversation without sacrificing the pastor’s job.

  • Beth Beyer Abbott

    Yes. This is the system Reconciling Ministries of the UMC also recommends. Hoping some hearts are changed and he can find a way to be true to God’s
    call.

  • JoAnn Forsberg

    Bless you John Shore. Your honest straight forward statements on questioning issues people have. To make others take a look at why they believe what they do is a “Christ-like” trait.

  • http://rachelheldevans.com Rachel Held Evans

    Oh my goodness. I get similar messages from pastors and Christian college professors all. the. time. There are so many people in Christian leadership who have changed their minds about homosexuality but are fearful of the consequences of sharing that publicly. Thank you so much for writing an article I can send them!

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Right? It’s so crazy. And, as you say, soooooooo common. It’s painful. Anyway, great to hear from you, Rachel. Hope you’re well.

    • Andy

      I think there’s a “closet” joke here somewhere…

      • lrfcowper

        This is something I’ve observed in my church, where I’ve stayed despite vehement disagreement with some of our leaders over the treatment of our lgbt neighbors. I’m “out” as an ally. I get a lot of people sidling up to me at church and oh-so-quietly saying, “That thing you shared the other day on Facebook? You know, that thing? It so touched me. I agree so much. I just wish other people / my family / my Bible study group / our minister / the elders could see it.” Or I get emails and private messages. It’s hard for people who’ve been raised to believe homosexuality is a sin to publicly come out against that message, to oppose family members and church leadership and dear, personal friends.

        And it’s new enough to them that they don’t always connect the dots– If this is hard for me, what must the rejection and fear of being hurt be like for my lgbt neighbors?

        They have to come out as allies in their own time and in their own way, though, as much as I sometimes feel frustrated impatience with them.

  • Dedangelo

    The only thing I would add to this is that I hope this pastor — and all pastors — realize that the fear they feel of losing their jobs, their friends, etc., is just a small measure of what it’s like to be LGBT. Use the awareness to be a more compassionate person working for justice, please.

    • GordonKS

      That’s a great point. That’s how a pastor can develop some empathy with the experience of LGBT persons, a point of connection with them. Then change happens.

    • Michael Bussee

      YES. That. ^^^

      • paganheart

        EXACTLY that. :)

  • Michelle M

    I honestly believe that if this pastor announced his new beliefs from the pulpit tomorrow, he’d find that at least half his congregation agrees with him and has been hiding it, too.

    • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

      I would love to think so, but I’m not so sure. But even if this were true, who’s going to risk excommunication from their community? Gay-affirming conservative Christians have their own sort of closet to contend with.

      • Andy

        …and there’s that closet joke I was talking about just now.

    • JCB

      I agree, but the problem with this view is that for many churches (not all, but many), the congregation don’t actually decide things like whether or not to fire a pastor. The board of the church does, and in many churches the board members are older men who are very stuck in traditional beliefs. So, regardless of whether the congregation agrees or not, the pastor could still be fired. Yes, there will likely be backlash within the church for years to come, it may even cause a split in the church, but none of that will get the pastor his job back, and like he said, he’s got a wife, kids, and a mortgage.

  • Jason Sansbury

    Not to be too crass or anything but God is our provider. If we really believe that, then you have to preach what you believe to be true. It really has to be an issue of faith, trusting that God is bigger than this. Yes, you may not be at that church but I think God is bigger still.

    • Shane Osmond

      Excellent point, Jason.

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

      Often more progress is made by being prudent than by clashing headlong into battle.

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    John. I love this advice. I apologize in advance for the length of this comment.

    From what I can tell, most pastors just can’t tolerate the pastoral implications of traditionalist beliefs. It causes division and exclusion. It is patently destructive.

    I think our polarized public dialog makes their lives much harder. This is not an “issue” with “correct beliefs”. These are lives with faithful people trying to live In a God-honoring way. We tend to say “affirming” or “non-affirming”, and expect these poor pastors to fall in line behind one of these two positions. But there is a spectrum of belief about the sinfulness of homosexuality that runs from totally exclusive to totally inclusive. Most people’s beliefs change over time by degrees. We’ve eliminated any of the interim steps and expect these pastors’ congregants to jump straight to full affirmation.

    How awesome would it be if, as you suggest, these pastors could be allowed to come alongside their congregations to explore the whole spectrum of belief?

    So that’s a lot of words to say I totally agree with you. Thanks as always for your fierce advocacy.

    • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

      I love this response. I mean, I accepted the L and G in my life from preschool. I couldn’t reconcile it with the Bible eventually, so I started ignoring God. That’s how I thought about it: He’s still there, I’m still a Christian, but we’re not on speaking terms. My familiarity with B, T, and the rest of the sexual alphabet soup came even later. If my journey bringing all of us into alignment took that long — think a decade — how can one expect the other side to do it in a heartbeat? A gracious reminder.

    • Matt

      There is no doubt in my mind that change takes time. But I also wish to impress–as gently but as firmly as possible–to people that these beliefs do cause demonstrable harm. Taking the time to examine and discuss can take place after pain is no longer being inflicted. I don’t know exactly how that might look; it probably varies from person to person and group to group. But I am still wary of your approach, Ford, if you don’t mind me saying.

      • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

        Hi Matt,
        Great thought.
        As you know, I have a lot of exchanges with traditionalists about the sinfulness of homosexuality. There is a certain ignorance about the harm that flows from this toxic doctrine. I wholeheartedly agree with you that traditionalists need to understand the carnage that lies behind us, and their complicity in any future deaths.
        Best!

      • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

        Hi Matt,
        One more thought. There is a non affirming belief that is still inclusive. It’s called the accommodation perspective. It basically says that being gay is sinful and not ideal, but gay covenant relationships are morally permissible because that the “most moral” life available to people who are gay.

        I think that is the most likely way forward for traditionalists – a non affirming belief that causes less harm. That’s why the whole spectrum of belief needs to be on the table for consideration.

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          Wow. Yet another way to split that hair.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            You can say that again! I’m not proud. I’m happy to allow for split hairs so long as the harm stops.

          • Guy Norred

            Doesn’t this kind of put God in a bad light? It essentially is saying that God makes gay people sin because he made them gay.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            The idea is that homosexuality is a distortion of God’s creative intention caused by the fall. In other words, God doesn’t make people gay, our sin nature does.

          • Matt

            That is…impressively crazy-making. And I (unfortunately) know crazy.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            I don’t disagree. But these folks aren’t the enemy, they are the ones on the journey – learning how to love gay people. I hope you understand why I hate the false dichotomy of “side a” / “side b” or “affirming / non-affirming”. It’s a barrier to the journey.

          • Matt

            You and I are in agreement there, Ford. Really. I understand why it doesn’t work.

            They’re not my enemy, but they do scare me. I can see why I scare them. Except, well, their fear can turn into my death, if things take certain dark turns. I only wish some of these groups and people could take a few deep breaths. They’re the ones with the power. You would think that such power would make one, well, a bit more secure in one’s position, and not so prone to lashing out or twisting themselves into incomprehensible mental shapes.

          • lymis

            “In other words, God doesn’t make people gay, our sin nature does.”

            The problem with that is that one doesn’t correct a misunderstanding with a comfortable lie. The fact that framing homosexuality as a consequence of the fall is more palatable doesn’t make it true.

            And, remember, too, that shifting someone’s view from “condemn them because they choose evil” to “tolerate them because they are inherently damaged” still requires the LGBT people who hear that to hate themselves, and work to “overcome” their homosexuality rather than embrace and celebrate the ways in which love comes naturally to them.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Lymis! So glad to see this comment!

            I totally agree with you. I’m not saying this is an ideal perspective. I’m saying it’s one landmark on traditionalists’ journey to full acceptance and inclusion of people who are gay. I don’t know about you, but when I was going through the process of reconciling my faith and my sexuality, I didn’t immediately jump from self-loathing to full acceptance. It was a process that took years.

            An accommodation position is some degree better than the traditionalist position in that it recognizes the full humanity of people who are gay (even if it still diminishes that humanity). It acknowledges that we are relational beings and doesn’t insist that gay people live contrary to God’s creative intention.

            My best to you!
            David

  • Shane Osmond

    Great article John, as always.

    I hope this pastor, and the many like him, realize what a positive impact they can have on the Christian LGBT community by sharing their beliefs with their boards, congregations, and the wider community through the wonderfully expressed methods highlighted in this article.

  • cegr76

    Today, I was in conversation with a parishioner who was talking about the Ogletree trial. I allowed her to state her position which was not surprising. I then asked her how much of my perspective she wanted. She wanted full disclosure.

    Without hesitance I shared that I thought homosexuals should be allowed to marry and be ordained. It was my first time being fully honest about it. She pressed about the Bible in general and Sodom and Gomorrah specifically. I talked about knowledge we have now that Biblical writers didn’t have. I referenced Judges 19 as a parallel to Sodom and talked about the difference between rape and love. I talked about the difference between dominance and oppression.

    And, we both listened to each other like adults.

    • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

      SO encouraging. Thanks for sharing!

    • Andy

      Awesome! I hope this is only the first of many such conversations.

  • http://radixthinking.wordpress.com/ A.O. GREEN

    The gay issue aside “pastoring” is not a vocation. It was never meant to be so. That’s why people get stuck in these situations.

    • John Thomas

      Well, there are people who believe they’ve been called by God to be a pastor– at its best, to enable and empower laity to explore their call and Christian vocation and to advocate for justice and minister (serve) with people as their vocation. While I’m sure you could find some verses to the contrary, many pastors/deacons/elders regard their work to be in succession with the apostles (and along the lines as ancient Levite tribes)… don’t be too quick to say “is not”, perhaps “I’m not convinced”, God calls whom God calls.

      • http://radixthinking.wordpress.com/ A.O. GREEN

        Please show me in scripture where it is a one man show or that it is a vocation.

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

          The stories of Jesus, Paul, Elijah, Elisha, Amos, Deborah, for starters.

  • John Thomas

    Every movement needs those who work within the system for positive change, quietly and in very strategic, long-term ways (in my context, the many elders who are quietly affirming and working to have conversations and dialog, but won’t break the unjust church law). Just as people who work within the system vocally who are willing to break the unjust church law are needed (Reconciling Ministries), and those that disrupt the system, often from the outside, are needed (Love Prevails, Church within a Church and non-UMC/non-Christian people in solidarity) A movement, I believe, fails without all of them at work, even when there is tension between these groups with similar aims. I think you can see parallels in other social justice/rights movements in the past as well. Each role is noble and necessary– the pastor in the blog post has a very important role.

  • Valerie Van Kooten

    I had the same experience several years ago. Our 15-year-old son had come out to my husband and me, and in a miasma of pain, I really needed to talk to my pastor about it. I asked him point blank if living in a monogamous, loving same-sex relationship was really so awful, and he said, No, he didn’t think so, but he asked me not to mention that to anyone else, and if I did, he would deny it! While I understood the implications for him…it’s a very conservative denomination…what a hypocrite.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      How awful.

  • Jo

    My father could not get a church to hire him for FIVE YEARS after he left his last church because of this very specific topic. Three denominations (Methodist, Disciples of Christ and Mennonite), all of which he had floated in and out of without any issues for 30 years, and dozens of churches that went through the hire process, were excited about him and then lowered the boom in that congregational meeting when he refused to hate on gays. He wasn’t even brave enough to be fully supportive. He said to them that 1. gay is not the same as pedophile and we cannot compare the two and 2. if science proves that you can truly be born gay, then the church must rethink it’s position. That’s it. When he fell back on his *other* degree and took the Dept Chair of Sociology for a liberal arts college instead after failing to be given one church to pastor, he told he was relieve that finally, finally he can be open about his beliefs because he will no longer ever have to answer to a church for his own personal convictions that we must love all people, and that includes those of other sexual orientations.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Wow. That is just … wow. So, so, so wrong.

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

    The youth pastor of my local UMC church gave a sermon a few months ago. it was highly personal, as showed how being an outsider, as a female clergy member, in a field, especially here in the south is a minority. She mentioned a conference she attended where she was the sole female clergy, and the conference organizers just didn’t know what to do, assuming all women attendees would be pastor’s wives. It was completely male oriented.

    Then, this reserved young woman, who’s gift for ministering to kids, who raises organic veggies and chickens with her husband asked THE Question. She asked the conversation to consider what it is like to be the one on the outside, and to consider the great commandment about loving our neighbor, be them non-Christian, homeless, poor, with criminal records, female clergy members, gay…to consider that God loved each of us, no matter what, and that each has something to offer the community and to us.

    You could have heard a pin drop, until the final hymn when several people went up front to pray, and to thank her, all of us in tears. It was the largest group of people I’d seen do that since I’ve been attending there. Not many, but enough to be noticed, in a group that isn’t known for public displays of emotion. This is an older congregation, mostly conservative…but there are more of us progressives than you’d think scattered amongst.

    She’s still doing her job, quietly, compassionately, lovingly, and is loved by the young people she serves and the rest of us as well.

  • Michael C

    *My note to you, the Pastor.

    This has been a very long journey for you. Your knowledge and understanding comes from years of research, contemplation, and prayer. Had someone told your younger self (before you started questioning this issue) that homosexuality was not a sin, I’m guessing that the younger you would have been offended and outraged.

    I think your first step should be to figure out what first inspired this journey in you. What question was asked… what belief was challenged… what ideal drove you to spend years researching, contemplating, and praying over this? This is what you must first present to your flock. Your congregation cannot be smacked across the face with your conclusion. They must all begin to embark on the journey with you as their guide. You have a head start, so you can help them along the trail one foothold at a time.

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

    This is excellent advice John; as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

  • Guy Norred

    One of the reasons my father left the UMC pastorate in 1988 was the opposite. He felt that the church hierarchy was not giving him the support
    he needed, yet they were willing to help another pastor who was
    struggling with homosexuality. He never had a full time ministry
    position again that lasted very long. Still, while he never fully came
    around to an affirming theology, he came a long way in the decade or so
    after I came out to him. One of the last things he told me the last
    time I saw him in person was that he wanted to start a study with me on
    the subject (though, I didn’t find his choice of material quite
    fair–starting as it did with the work of someone who is reasonably
    traditional in his interpretation on the subject). He also wanted to
    come to my wedding but was kept from doing so by what was to be his
    final illness.

  • Kathy Verbiest Baldock

    I hear this all the time. In mail, in person. The tipping point of people leaving to people being drawn in with an affirming stance will come. It comes down to money and “responsibility” to other staffs’ income much of the time. When enough people walk out AND SAY WHY — they will shift. Problem is — most people walk out and do not walk in another more open door.

    • Guy Norred

      In the past at least, a lot of that I suspect was because they simply didn’t know the more open doors existed. Thankfully, these are becoming more visible.

  • Michael Brian Woywood

    I’m moving into the candidacy process in the UMC, and I am absolutely terrified of THE QUESTION coming up… because full inclusion is my firm conviction, and I absolutely refuse to be dishonest about it. But, I’m also afraid that my entrance into ordained ministry could be hampered or even refused, due to the controversy happening in the church right now. I could be making mountains out of molehills in my mind – after all, there’s a lot of momentum for full inclusion in the UMC right now – but, then I remember Rev. Schaeffer, and my tummy goes all atwitter.

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

      There are pastors who are all for full inclusion all over the US and in the UMC, and I think having more is a welcome thing. Good luck with your candidacy.

    • John Thomas

      Michael, the great majority of UM students at the UM theological school I attend are affirming, while the experience varies widely from DCOM/BOOM, you have several options– without lying: consider (1) an answer about affirming the “sacred worth of all people” (2) Quote UM bishops who have condemned the violence against LGBTQ people in Africa and spoke out against state-level discrimination in the US. (3) Affirm the UM social principles (UN Declaration of Human Rights; right to health care and dignity-(which CIVIL marriage is the only way to provide in the US, in some cases), (4) the UMC’s work on HIV/AIDS and (5) that ordained people are called to be “in ministry to all people” and “not reject gay and lesbians” and that “all are welcome at Christ’s table.”
      All of these are in line with UM Doctrine in the book of discipline, and/or bishops in good standing, so these could be some ideas for response.

      I encourage you to reach out to the LGBTQ affirming seminary student organization at your institution, and the Reconciling Ministries presence in your annual conference.

      • Michael Brian Woywood

        Thank you so very much for this response, John Thomas. My DBOM interview is next week, so this is as timely as it gets for me. I will prepare an answer using each of your 5 points, and IF the question even comes up, I’ll be much more confident in the first answer that comes to mind. Looking forward to serving in the UMC with you, Brother.

  • Doug Bristow

    First God makes man is His image and likeness and gives man rules to go by that lead to salvation and eternal life with Him. Man decides that is not good enough and he obviously knows more than God. Now man is trying to make God in his image and his likeness and rewrite God’s Word.

    Who do you think will win?

    • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

      House Stark.

      • Doug Bristow

        ???
        What does that mean?

        • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

          Oh, sorry. I got my fantastical fiction confused.

          • Doug Bristow

            I still don’t know what it means but if it has something to do with your fantasies I don’t want to know.

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

        I so need to read those books again, BUT not until RR Martin gets his butt in gear and releases the next installment.

    • Guy Norred

      God does of course (which means we all do). Thankfully, God’s rules are few and simple, if not always easy. Love God, and love your neighbor.

      • Doug Bristow

        So do you agree with God that homosexuality is sin or do you agree with man that it is not sin?

        • Guy Norred

          I agree with God that homosexuality is not sin. Of course homosexuals and heterosexuals both sin, they may even do so sexually, but accepting the nature God created us with is not sin. The opposite, as it separates us from Him, is. At least as great a sin would be to work to separate others from God by heaping shame on them for being who God created them to be. Man has done a very good job of this for centuries.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Exactly this! Traditionalist doctrine demands that people who are gay live contrary to God’s creative intention. Then they shame those who seek to live fully human lives with authenticity and integrity.

          • Doug Bristow

            God does not create anyone to be homosexual anymore than He creates someone to be an adulterer, a murderer or a thief. If He did He would not be true to His Holy Word and would be a liar which of coarse, He is not. His Word plainly says that sexual immorality is a sin. Homosexuality is a form of sexual immorality. If you need scriptural proof just ask and I will provide.

          • anakinmcfly

            “God does not create anyone to be homosexual anymore than He creates someone to be an adulterer, a murderer or a thief.”

            Not comparable. Those are all acts, and choices, and things people can stop doing. If you don’t want to be an adulterer or murder or thief, all you have to do is not commit adultery or murder of theft. Whereas if one doesn’t want to be a homosexual… there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop being one.

            “His Word plainly says that sexual immorality is a sin.”

            Yes, it does.

            “Homosexuality is a form of sexual immorality.”

            Says who? I’d say forcing gay people into heterosexuality, against their nature, is what is truly sexually immoral.

          • Doug Bristow

            Homosexuality is a CHOICE just as all sin is.

            God says it is sin.

          • anakinmcfly

            “God says it is sin.”

            No he doesn’t.

            “Homosexuality is a CHOICE just as all sin is.”

            It’s not a choice. How would you know, either way – did you choose to be gay? I’m gay, and I can assure you I never made any choice ever, because if someone had offered me said choice, I’d have chosen to be straight. It would definitely make life a lot easier and I wouldn’t be so lonely now.

            Also, how would you explain the thousands of gay kids who kill themselves because they’re gay and couldn’t make themselves straight? If it were a choice, wouldn’t it be so much easier for them to just choose to stop being gay so that they could keep on living?

          • Doug Bristow

            God does say several times that homosexuality is a sin Read Romans 1:18-32 for an example.

            Just as all sin, once you’re into it it becomes an addiction and it is very hard to break free especially on your own.

            As far as the kids you mention it was demonic influence over them and the ones that tormented them.

            Christ is the answer to all sin.

          • anakinmcfly

            Sorry for the short reply because I’m typing on my phone, but regarding that verse in Romans, I’ll have to direct you to that link I posted above to Matthew Vines’ speech. Summary: it wasn’t referring to what we’d call gay people today, who if nothing else did not ‘give up’ heterosexuality in favour of homosexuality as a result of turning to pagan gods.

            Regarding the addiction: I’ve known addictions. My attraction to men is not an addiction, nor can I see how it could be by definition of ‘addiction’. I guess there can be addictive thoughts, but attraction isn’t really a thought so much as an unconscious response, and I have no idea how one would even go about ‘breaking free’ from something they have no control over. There wasn’t any ‘getting into’. It happened pretty spontaneously upon puberty with zero action on my part. Sins generally involve people doing *something*.

            I am a Christian, by the way. And Christ has done a lot to free me from things that were actually sins. This isn’t one of them, nor does it feel anything like it.

          • Doug Bristow

            The passage from Romans says that both pagan practices and homosexuality is sin.

          • anakinmcfly

            It doesn’t. It says that a very specific kind of homosexual sex, namely between heterosexual people acting against their nature in worship of pagan gods, is sin. Some kinds of homosexual sex are sinful, just like some kinds of heterosexual sex are sinful. That doesn’t mean that homosexuality or heterosexuality themselves are sins.

            What you’re suggesting is like: saying ‘premarital sex is a sin’ means that all sex is a sin. Which is not true, because that sentence is referring only to *premarital* sex being sinful.

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

            Doug, if you think you will convince anyone here that your views on these few passages of scripture are right. You are wasting your time.

            The thing is Jesus, to whom, many of us believe in, is never recorded saying a single thing about homosexuality, nothing, Nada. Zip. He did have some things to say about judging and condemning others. Like:

            Matthew 7:13, Matthew 7:2, Luke 6:37, John 3:17,John 8:15,and of course the Great commandment, Then there is verses like James 4:11, Job 36:17, Zechariah 7:9
            Romans 2:1-3 and others.

          • James Walker

            Romans chapter 1 does not make any mention of the term homosexuality. it describes something going on that is female-on-female and male-on-male but whatever the writer is describing has nothing to do with modern same-sex relations between consenting adults who love each other.

            also, there are compelling arguments that in Chapter 1 the writer is parodying boilerplate stereotypical material that was common among Jewish Christians to justify not admitting any Gentile converts to their congregations.

          • Doug Bristow

            1 Corinthians 6:8-10

            New King James Version (NKJV)

            8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 Do
            you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
            Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,
            nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

          • anakinmcfly

            Dude, seriously – I say this with all respect and kindness, because I’m in an ok mood today – please at least give this a read: http://www.matthewvines.com/transcript

            You don’t have to agree with it, you don’t have to believe it, you can even consider it twisting of scripture if you want. But at least, please, read it, because it does address a lot of the points you’re bringing up, and I don’t want to basically repeat what’s already been said so well by others. Come back here after you’re done, and we can continue from there if you wish. God bless.

          • James Walker

            the word in the Greek that was translated there as “homosexuals” doesn’t actually mean that. at. all.

          • Doug Bristow

            Jude 1:7

            New King James Version (NKJV)

            7 as
            Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to
            these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after
            strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of
            eternal fire.

          • anakinmcfly

            This is talking about sexual immorality, not homosexuality.

          • The_Physeter

            The story of Sodom and Gomorrah describes an attempted violent gang-rape. Why Christians get so hung up over whether it was heterosexual or homosexual violent gang-rape is beyond me.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            I am unconvinced it is even talking about male-male gang-rape. How we get to that common conclusion seems to be a slip of our own mind. We take “know” as a euphemism for sex because Lot sees prostituting his daughters as an effective (though failed) distraction. In other words, the attempted solution does not necessarily have anything to do with the nature of the problem.

          • Bones

            Actually there are parallels with the horrific account in Judges 19 where the man actually does give his concubine to the Benjaminites to be raped then hacks her body up.

            It’s very similar.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            In both situations, are the mobs explicitly implying that rape was the original intention or that prostitution as a distraction failed in one case and ended up in gang-rape-homicide in the other case?

          • Mike Barnhart

            The cities were destroyed due to the way they treated strangers…the sexual immorality was simply another item on the long list of items. The main one was the horrible treatment of strangers. We do not understand how insanely evil it was in that day and age to do bad things to strangers who sought refuge in your city.

          • Guy Norred

            Even if we are to accept this passage as stating clearly what you say it does (and very few who put great study into it come out finding this to be absolutely clearly so), these are the words of Paul, not God. While I have no reason to believe Paul was not sincere in his writing and often did speak wisdom and love, he was still a fallible human being.

          • Doug Bristow

            2 Timothy 3:16

            New King James Version (NKJV)

            16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

          • anakinmcfly

            No disagreement there.

          • Guy Norred

            Of course, but we should always let the Spirit lead in our discernment, not only of what scripture says and means, but even in what is scripture. Even these words were not scripture when the were written and it took several centuries for a (nearly) universally accepted canon to come into being. In the end, though, scripture is not God.

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

            HMMM. This verse was written before there was a New Testament, and is part of an anonymously written letter. Letters tend to provide personal opinion. Its a nice sentiment, but it does not prove anything, especially as its the only place such a phrase exists. We don’t even know if it was original to the work, or if it was a notation added later.

          • The_Physeter

            Guy said: “While I have no reason to believe Paul was not sincere in his writing and often did speak wisdom and love, he was still a fallible human being.”

            Doug said: “2 Timothy 3:16 — All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”

            Doug, those words were also written by Paul*. Maybe he overstated the importance of his own writing. And did he know that his letters would be considered scripture in the first place?

            * Allegedly written by Paul. Most scholars now say it was written by someone else using Paul’s name.

          • The_Physeter

            It is not demons who torment kids until they feel suicide is the only option. It is Christians, pastors, youth leaders, politicians…all those who preach that the way you are is wrong. All those who preach that the desires that well up within them, that just come naturally, that they can’t get rid of no matter how much they pray–all those desires are evil. On the same levels as lying, stealing and murdering. You tell Christ will ‘save’ them, Christ will ‘wash away’ their sin, Christ will fix them and make them not gay anymore–so when it doesn’t happen they think they must have done something wrong.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            Sad that Jesus condones demonic influence. How could the ALL-POWERFUL being, Jesus, cast out demons without willing that a man be possessed by demons?

          • Lamont Cranston

            If God says homosexuality is a sin, then fuck him. I’d much rather spend eternity in hell than have to sit around listening to a moron like the jackass you worship.

          • Guy Norred

            And seriously, not to be a jerk about it, but the strident all caps thing does nothing but make you sound angry and perhaps irrational. I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are here to show people what you think is right (as opposed to trolling around trying to spread pain), but you are going to get no where the way you are going.

          • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

            That’s complete nonsense. Before you came to that conclusion, which I might add is unsupported by actual evidence, did you talk to many gay people? Or did you just decide that based on the talking points you’d carefully memorized?

          • Andy

            If he did talk to any, he didn’t listen to them.

            So much for greatest commandment.

          • Andy

            It is not a choice, and God most certainly does not say that. And how dare you claim to speak for God?

          • Mike Barnhart

            When the common man says “homosexuality”, he means physical homosexual sexual acts, not the real meaning of “sexually attracted to the opposite sex”. That is why he can say it is a choice, which it is. A homosexual can choose not to have sex just like a heterosexual can – and my personal view is that it would suck badly for both men.
            I have found this is often a disconnect in the discussions and leads to a rapid breakdown. I try to define homosexuality when I notice this is happening, or more often I say “homosexual act” when I am referring to the physical act and simply “homosexual” when I am referring to the person and all that is involved in the complex being that is a human.

          • Andy

            That might alleviate some confusion. Good to keep in mind.

            That said, the way people say things like “homosexuality is a choice”, I don’t think they usually mean the sexual act. Most people who say that probably think that gays are choosing to be attracted to people of the same sex. Which, of course, is Grade-A bullshit.

            If you doubt that, watch the reactions of a few people in this video, and you’ll see they were referring to the orientation, not the act, as being a choice.

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

          • Mike Barnhart

            I agree, especially when choosing to be gay brings in so many problems. I mean, really, why would anyone choose to be gay if it was a choice!?! Life would be easier if the choice was made to be straight. It is not like a religion, where even though it can cause you pain you are doing it for a higher reason (your chosen God). Homosexual desire being a choice does not pass the logic test at all.
            It is funny, it is still at the point where a straight man has to worry about saying another straight man is good looking. Seriously? I can easily say Brad Pitt (at least in his younger days) is a good looking man without having a single ounce of sexual desire for him. I can say this while also saying I wish I looked more like him. That mindest (of being so worried someone will think you are gay when you are not) is something I just cannot seem to wrap my head around.

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

            Yeah, I wish I had a body more like Scarlett Johansen. Instead I’m more like the Stapuff Marshmallow man’s stunt double. At least my husband still thinks I’m sexy.

          • Andy

            Exactly. Nailed it.

          • Guy Norred

            Sexual immorality is sin, no question, but I posit that your assertion that homosexuality is inherently sexual immorality stems less from scripture and more from a cultural assumption of it being immoral and then reading that assumption into scripture. You asked earlier if I agreed with man or God. I ask you to try to see that it might be your thoughts that are the opinion if man–put it to the test Jesus himself gave for right teachings–look to the fruit of the teaching–and try to do so in a deep way. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, ask yourself why you think homosexuality US a choice, especially in the light of so much evidence to the contrary, but even without that, take on the empathy of Christ and truly listen to other people’s truth.

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

            Oh those horrible murderers that God just loathes…cough, Moses, David, Samson…adulterers..Abraham and most of his family tree..Thieves… David and Jonathan. The bible says diddlysquat about those people being horrible sinners, immoral and apostate, worthy of our scorn. The Old Testament is chock full of sex outside of marriage without reprisals. The New Testament even offers a couple of examples.

            So why should we get all hot and bothered over less than ten sentences in the Bible that most likely aren’t talking about what you think its talking about, and hyperfocus on it to the point of causing pain to others?

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            What must one do to be [gay]? What must one do to be straight? Now ask yourself if you can be an adulterer, a murder, or a thief without so much as a willful thought.

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          The Bible never says that homosexuality is a sin, Doug: about that man has rewritten the Bible–and to follow that heresy is a sin indeed. See:

          Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality.

          • Doug Bristow

            1 Corinthians 6:8-10

            New King James Version (NKJV)

            8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 Do
            you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
            Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers,
            nor homosexuals,[a] nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

            Footnotes:

            1 Corinthians 6:9 That is, catamites

            —————————-

            Jude 1:6-8

            New King James Version (NKJV)

            6 And
            the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own
            abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the
            judgment of the great day; 7 as
            Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to
            these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after
            strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of
            eternal fire.

            8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.

            ————————————–

            Romans 1:18-32

            New King James Version (NKJV)

            God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness

            18 For
            the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and
            unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and
            changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like
            corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

            24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who
            exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the
            creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

            26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. 27 Likewise
            also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their
            lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and
            receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

            28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality,[a] wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving,[b] unmerciful; 32 who,
            knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such
            things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of
            those who practice them.

            Footnotes:

            Romans 1:29 NU-Text omits sexual immorality.

            Romans 1:31 NU-Text omits unforgiving.

          • anakinmcfly

            Romans: not written in English. Those words were originally not translated as ‘homosexuality’, and are unlikely to refer to it.

            We’ve established that sexual immorality is, well, immoral, so those other verses aren’t relevant.

            For the rest: http://www.matthewvines.com/transcript

          • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

            If you’d like people to think you’re capable of thinking anything whatsoever for yourself, Doug, you might want to come up with something a little more substantial than simply highlighting the fact that you’ve managed to master cutting and pasting stuff online. Let’s at least put some effort into showing the world that Christians aren’t all mindless drones, shall we?

          • Michael C

            (Sorry, all. I may be the cat that inadvertently dragged that in)

        • Lamont Cranston

          I agree that you should worship the actual god and not the bible. Otherwise you are an idolator and will burn in hell.

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

          I agree with God that we should love one another as we feel we deserve to be loved. Everything else is just commentary.

          • Mike Barnhart

            heh – I saw what you did there. Well done. :)

            “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole of the Law, the rest is only commentary”

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    When a man brings in cash by working for an organisation that advocates the ongoing oppression of a group of individuals, I have no pity for him.

    When it turns out he’s a hypocrite because he actually doesn’t believe in what he’s doing, I have nothing but contempt.

    Don’t bleat to us about paying your mortgage. Talk to any LGBT individual on the streets and ask them what the greatest trial they’ve had to overcome is. They’ll tell you about the lost jobs, lost families, homeless youth, ostracisation, beatings, electroshock torture. They’ll tell you about losing a generation of friends to a disease they were told was a judgement against them. You’ll hear about foul names and thrown objects and bashings. And there’s a good chance that it will all have been acompanied by the screaming and shouting and laughter of Christians.

    So don’t cry to me about your damn mortgage.

    It’s astonishing and appalling that you’re trying to generate sympathy for a group of individuals who deserve absolutely none.

    • usingmyvoice

      I hear your anger. I’m a – well, I don’t usually call myself a Christian these days; I prefer Christ-follower. And I’m currently battling from inside the United Methodist denomination for change, in my own little way, writing posts, speaking out, talking to pastors, sharing posts like John’s. And consider this – which was one of John’s points as well – if I’m not IN the church, I can’t support any changes – I can’t make a difference IN the church if I’m outside it! That’s how it works.

      John’s also right when he says there ‘may be’ (there ARE!) people sitting in the pews who absolutely support gay loved ones and/or gay rights. I’m not gay, but I have some amazing gay friends in my life. This is not about generating sympathy, Irish Athiest, this is about changing hearts and minds, and CREATING support. What if you and I work together?

      p.s. There are pastors (I know of more than a few) who are also working, in much the way John describes, within the denomination, for CHANGE. It’s a matter of us speaking out. So here I am.

  • Michael Bussee

    Personally, I think John has a lot more patience than I do. I understand it must be hard for these silent, frightened, “gay affirming” pastors to come out of their pastoral closet. They risk alienating their congregation and even losing their jobs.

    But LGBT people face much worse.

    While they worry and hide, LGBT people are being actively persecuted by “Chrisitans” — here and abroad — beaten, rejected, imprisoned, even killed for being LGBT. It’s time for them to stop the hand-wringing and start doing what they were called to do.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      Hi, Michael! So good to hear from you, as always!

      If there’s one thing I don’t have on this issue, it’s patience. (Which is why the first time I met with this pastor I was so ferocious about his getting off the fence that … well, that I almost made him cry, for one.) Which means I’m all about efficacy. Which is why … well, as I say in this piece, “You don’t have to stand in the pulpit and boom out, ‘We’ve all been wrong! It’s no sin to be gay! Because then you’d be fired, and what good would you be to the cause you now share?”

      If he is too bold, he loses all of his considerable influence. Fuck that. I want him to LEAD his congregation to where they need to be. And he ONLY way they’re going to take that trip is one step at a time.

      I’m not patient. I’m just in favor of traveling the shortest distance between where we are now and where we need to be. And sometimes that means strategizing in a way that results in a process that looks patient, but is in fact–at least where I’m coming from–anything but.

      • Matt

        I remember when I heard you speak, you had (to me) a tone that was very urgent. You looked easygoing on the surface, but you could barely conceal the force underneath. Almost as if you wanted to say, “Really? We’re still talking about this?” So it makes sense seeing you articulate it here.

        • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

          It is so hard to believe we have to actually take seriously the manifestly moronic idea that God created gay people just so he could then send them to hell forever. It’s like …. what are we, in third grade, STILL? But … right. Anyway. Thanks for coming out to see me that night, Matt. I really appreciated you taking such a long trip just for … well, that.

          • Matt

            It was genuinely my pleasure. You should have heard me when I tried to pitch the idea to Anna. She was like, “Honey, you actually have to tell me what you have in mind, then I can decide whether or not it’s insane, okay?” But she was totally on board once I actually pitched it. We enjoyed having an excuse to spend the whole weekend together.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Is that really what you believe, because it is a failed argument (the use of a ludicrous argument about God creating gays so He can send them to Hell) to show why homosexuality cannot be a sin. Reduction to absurdity uses your same statement but replaces pedophile or serial rapist or homicidal maniac…which we all know makes the statement absurd. If it is so easy shown to be absurd, it is a failed argument.
            It basically only works to inflame those who already completely agree or to “win” against those who both disagree and are also weak minded.

            EDIT: For the easily offended, I am not saying all those items are synonyms – that is NOT how reduction to absurdity works. The point is to use something so out there in the sentence that, while the logic remains the same the argument shows itself to be flawed. Aristotle liked using it.

          • James Walker

            John’s argument works because unlike all the counter-examples you mentioned, being gay is not a choice. it is something integral to the person in question.

            his entire POINT in the argument is precisely that it’s absurd.

          • Mike Barnhart

            The items I chose were all selected because most of the people who have them also do not have a choice. We classify these items as mental sickness – because they cause harm to others. Those who have these uncontrollable desires would ask why God created them with the uncontrollable desire to rape, or the sexual desire for children just to demand they not do these things or send them to Hell if they did what they were designed to do. There are the kleptomaniacs, people who have no control over their desire to steal things – what about them, should we allow them to steal just because that is how they were made?
            No, we should not, since these things harm society and other people – but harm to others was not a part of his reasoning which is why it fails when placed in the light of logic. Saying “I was born with this desire and cannot change it” is a bad reason to allow something and should not be used as an argument.

            As for the argument being absurd – yes, it is…and using it as a reason to say homosexuality is ok is just as absurd. There are a myriad of other arguments that can be used instead.

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

            Being gay isn’t a choice. Its something hardwired into their being, having proven to have genetic predisposition. Their intent is to live a normal life, not to intentionally cause harm to others.

            Being a serial rapist is a choice. Yes, people who do that may have a mental illness, but the jury is out if all do. A rapist, chooses their victims, plans the how, and sometimes the when or where. Thier intention is to cause harm.

            Most people with addictive behavior, be it hoarding, kleptomania etc. do have a disorder that is treatable. There is no disorder in being gay. There is nothing that needs treating there at all. They are as normal as you are I.

            I’m not sure, but we are on the same page there…right?

          • Mike Barnhart

            Ah, they old “I don’t like it so it must be a choice” excuse so many use to attack homosexuality. Many even say homosexuality can be treated, just like you say about the items you do not like.
            No, there are people who cannot help themselves. The way they were made make them desire what they desire. Pedophiles are well known to be in this category. We should not condone them – they cause harm to others, but the logic that “it must be ok if God made them this way” fails miserably when faced with pedophilia and other such horrible acts.
            Your dislike of the act does not change the way the person was made any more than the dislike of homosexuality does.

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

            Some say homosexuality can be treated. They of course are wrong. Being gay is not comparible to pedophilia. It is like trying to compare apples to Nuclear reactors.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Neither can be treated, and they are alike in that the person is born that way. They are both of a sexual nature as well, but that is where the comparison stops.
            In both case, people are born that way, which is why the argument fails. The BIG difference between them, which is why they should be treated differently, is that homosexuality hurts no one while pedophilia does. That should always be a line that cannot be crossed.

          • James Walker

            so.. short answer is – No, God does not send people to Hell for being (internally) a pedophile or for being (mentally) a serial rapist or for having any other physical or mental defect that cause thoughts or behavior the individual can’t consciously control but that are unacceptable to society. That’s exactly what John believes and what I believe and what many others who are part of this faith community believe. God does not send people to Hell for those reasons or for any other reason you can name.

            you’ve missed what the above statement is about, in part, because it was a short-hand comment made to a long-term friend of John’s who, like me, instantly caught the reference. you missed it because you haven’t read UNFAIR or any of John’s other works where he lays out, in full, why he thinks Christians should re-examine all the reasons that have been used in the past to condemn homosexuality. in other words, there was a conversation you overheard a piece of and then you leaped on that piece because it didn’t, in your mind, fully address the issue. it wasn’t supposed to.

          • Mike Barnhart

            The homosexual nature is mental as well, there is not an extra internal part or a differently designed internal part that would make it an internal instead of a mental nature. Heterosexual nature is also mental, so it is not like I am putting a homosexual nature into a different category. All of our likes, dislikes, predispositions, etc., are of a mental nature, imo.
            I thought there might be more to it than just that blurb, but I have seen that exact blurb used as an actual argument and always find it severely lacking.
            Do you have a link to where I can read UNFAIR?

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

            it isn’t specifically an argument that being gay is ok. it’s an argument that God isn’t sending anyone to Hell for being gay. that’s it. because the idea of God creating people who have an uncontrollable desire to find love in a way that’s different from the majority and then condemning those who act on that desire to eternity in Hell is ludicrous. it would not be the act of a loving, benevolent being. any deity who actually WOULD behave in that way would be inherently unworthy of our love and worship.

            apply that same argument to whatever other class of “sexually deviant” members of the population you care to. God isn’t sending them to Hell merely on the basis of their being different in that regard.

      • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

        YES.

  • anakinmcfly

    One huge point in favour of those pastors keeping their jobs, though – if they leave, they might very well get replaced by pastors who are *not* gay affirming, and instead use that position to actively hurt LGBT people. Better a lack of visible support than active oppression, any time.

    • Tim Crowhurst

      A closely linked point in favour – if a homophobic or lily-livered pastor of a conservative congregation has to deal with an LGBTQ teen, they will undoubtedly recommend that the parents send their child off to one of the psychological torturers they call “reparative therapists”, either because they believe that bull, or because they don’t have the backbone to deal with it compassionately.

      An under-the-radar affirming pastor could help prevent harm to hundreds of young people, by doing one-on-one faith counselling that would appear like reparative therapy to an outsider, but in reality would be designed to let the young person make up their own mind about how to interpret the Bible’s teachings on sexuality.

      This is a specific way in which an affirming pastor would be of specific help to one of the most vulnerable groups within the LGBT community: queer youth.

    • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

      That’s a very good point. It’s comforting to me to think of someone gay-affirming in a position like this, because folks who need help will find it. But it’s also just awful to think of the person behind the pulpit, living what he might think of as a lie. It really depends. I’ve heard from plenty of pastors and ministers who say exactly this: that they’re staying where they are because they can mitigate the most damage that way.

  • Psycho Gecko

    Reminds me of some issues presented by the Clergy Project. That’s about pastors who are actually atheists, so they definitely would sympathize with someone in this situation up here. It can be hard for someone to give up their line of work, financial stability, and community all at once. That’s their career. That might be the only thing their degree is good for. More than that, it’s a community that stands a good chance of turning on them. It’s reasonable to not want to risk giving all that up, even if it means preaching against their beliefs.

    • The_Physeter

      That, and the guy doing Year Without God.

      • Psycho Gecko

        I have mixed feelings about that guy. I was always somewhat cautious, because I’m used to Christians misrepresenting atheists and atheism. Also, a lot of his early posts seemed to be more about all the media attention he got from announcing his one year. Still, I should give the guy some time. Kinda hard for me to judge his sincerity from this distance.

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

          I am curious what he will have to say in a year, and if the doing a year without God is as authentic as advertised. One just doesn’t set aside such beliefs all that easily, and to purposely do the opposite will be a challenge.

  • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

    Are you so very sure homosexuality is not a sin? Or are you deceived by the devil? Unless you are 100 percent sure, I suggest you leave the pulpit and not risk your or any of your congregants’ souls by preaching that which is contrary to the teachings of God and the church in which you serve. Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come!” (Luke 17:1).

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

      Sb0T,

      Does this mean you are 100% sure? One of the biggest occasions for stumbling I know is teaching people they must believe in an angry, violent, vindictive God who sends to eternal torment those who don’t follow certain misguided doctrines.

      This places a great deal of fear and painful baggage on people whom the Father loves. Fear instead of love; I would not risk the stumbling of people due to such doctrines unless I was 100% sure, and I am not even close.

      • The_Physeter

        I am not completely, totally, 100% sure that I will not be eaten by flying space-whales when I walk out my front door to go to work tomorrow. I guess I better just stay in bed.

      • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

        Yes, I am 100% sure, and those who presume to judge our heavenly Father as an “angry, violent and vindictive God who sends to eternal torment those who don’t follow certain misguided doctrines” don’t know our loving Father. Our Father’s instruction is offered in love for our good and the betterment of society, those who choose to ignore His kind and gentle guidance choose, themselves, their eternal destination. God is love, His motives are loving; when you judge Him by the world’s standards, you limit our boundless Creator and demonstrate your lack of faith. Put aside your base and limited assumptions and try and see it from God’s perspective. You can’t possibly know the ultimate consequences of sinful behavior, none of us can; you may not see the harm in surrendering to sinful behavior but God does and He seeks to spare His children the pain of suffering the consequences of sin. Don’t presume, in your limited capacity, to know better than God. Revere and love God, follow where He guides you through scripture and prayer and you, too, will know with certainty that His way is the best and only Way.

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

          There is a big problem with the type of certainty that says 100% sure, especially when it comes to assumptions about God and what God thinks. They are so often wrong.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            My faith in God and His Holy Word are the basis for my certainty. Those who claim certainty based on belief in their own fallible intellect are often wrong.

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

            Ah, My limited understanding of an impossible to define being, and my certainty that a book is literally God’s words, despite strong evidence to the contrary, VS. everyone who disagrees with that is wrong, stance.

            Sure it works for you….for the rest of us? Not so much.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I know of no “strong evidence to the contrary” save that produced by fallible human intellect.

            Look, people either believe or they don’t believe. This pastor has come to the conclusion that the divinely inspired Word of God and thus, the church are wrong and wants to know what he should do now that he’s come to that conclusion. I believe he should step away from the pulpit rather than feed false doctrine to God’s hungry flock.

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

            There is considerable evidence to the contrary. But this brings up another way to address the view of the inspiration of the Bible: I know of no strong evidence to support it save that produced by fallible human presupposition.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            My faith is a result of God’s grace and my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, no tangible evidence is necessary to support my belief. It is impossible to understand God’s Way without first believing in Him. Thankfully, God’s grace is freely offered to anyone who chooses to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world. God loves us and wants us to love Him–to know Him is to love Him. May He bless you with His grace.

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

            My faith is also a result of God’s grace and my personal relationship with Jesus: my relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in my life.

            I have spent more than 50 years learning about God’s love and getting to know him better. I love him, and my goal is to serve him throughout the rest of my life as I have until now.

            Believing that the Bible is inspired isn’t necessary to support my trust in Jesus and the Father.

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

            Do not go down the proselytizing route.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I do not feel I was proselytizing, merely commenting on the subject at hand as you and others have done. It is apparent to me that many who have responded to my comments disagree with me and that’s okay, we’re all entitled to our opinions. Let’s agree to disagree. God bless you all.

          • Psycho Gecko

            I personally find claims of “Love the sinner, hate the sin” to be a bit of a smokescreen. People are denying other people rights. They’re telling other people that they aren’t as human as other people, that their own natural feelings are wrong and shameful.

            But if you insist on bringing up the bible and the Catholic church, then perhaps we should consult them.

            For example, Acts 10 discusses Peter being sent a vision from your god in which he is told that what god as made clean, do not call common or unclean.

            It was a short while later, when confronted with gentiles, that he realized was his god was trying to tell them. Acts 10:28: “And
            he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man
            that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but
            God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”

            Perhaps this is why the Catholic church held a ceremony identical to a heterosexual marriage, but for men. Evidence of such unions date from the 8th century to the 16th. One prayer from 1147 states: “Send down, most kind Lord, the grace of Thy Holy Spirit upon these Thy
            servants, whom Thou hast found worthy to be united not by nature but by
            faith and a holy spirit. Grant unto them Thy grace to love each other in
            joy without injury or hatred all the days of their lives.”

            They held hands, they kissed, they received communion, and then there was a feast afterward, for both men marrying men and men marrying women. It’s unlikely they would have had one for women, though I suspect that’s because for a long time they didn’t consider sex as something women did.

            So there you go. Your bible says that you should not call anyone unclean, let alone gay people, and your church spent at least a thousand years marrying gay men together.

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

            I loath the concept of love the sinner, hate the sin. It is rarely, if never used for any scenario other than against the LGBT community. It focuses on the so-called sin, and never on the person deemed a sinner. It attempt to give justification for condemnation and bigotry. It is not a concept Christians should adhere to.

          • Bones

            Yep!

            Tony Campolo once said it should be ‘Love the sinner, hate your OWN sin’.

            If you want hate anyone’s so-called sin – start with your own.

          • Andy

            It really bothers me how some people just get so mired in obsessing about sin. I don’t know if they realize the good people and things they’re missing because they’re so worried about whether or not it’s condemned by ancient writings from a different time and place.

          • Bones

            Preach that, Andy!

          • Mike Barnhart

            I have thought a lot about that, and I have determined the phrase is almost exclusively used for people who cannot change. A gay man is not going to decide he is no longer gay. Oh, he may go through phases of sexual exploration, sure, but in the end he will still be a gay man. Same with heterosexual men – hetero men do not wake up one day and decide they are now gay. Both ideas are just silly.
            So the phrase is used to say “Look, we know you cannot change, but we also know what you are doing is a sin. Short of becoming celibate, there is no way to change your sexual behavior. So I am going to love you anyway, even though I disagree with your chosen sexual lifestyle.”
            It is a way of extending love to a person without also saying you agree with their lifestyle. We do NOT have to agree with each other’s lifestyles, but we DO have to love each other.

            That applies to more than sexual lifestyles – I can be a street thug and you not approve of my lifestyle…or I can be a Bible thumper and you not approve of my lifestyle. It does not matter, we are to love each other anyway. Until the lifestyle harms others, we need to let it in God’s able hands.

          • James Walker

            The phrase is, to me, a cop-out. It places the person saying it in the position of claiming not to judge while still judging. It’s stupid. Leave out the entire reference to sin. It’s never our job as Christians to tell others about sin anyway. That’s the role of the Holy Spirit. It’s our duty to BE the example of Christ’s love to everyone around us. Period. I’m not aware of a single example of Jesus pointing out to people in His audience their individual sins. He speaks of sin in general terms, He rails against the evils of using the Temple grounds as a place to make a profit. He engages the Pharisees and Saducees to demonstrate their lack of understanding of WHY the Law commands what it does. When people have been convicted of their sinfulness and approach Him for healing and ministry, He tells them “Now go, and sin no more.” But not once do I ever see Him directly stating to anyone “That thing you’re doing, right there, is a sin. Stop it.” or telling His Disciples “That person is a sinner, go tell them to stop sinning.”

          • Andy

            Yes. Exactly.

            John writes about this often enough. Here’s one from HuffPo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-shore/how-is-being-gay-like-glu_b_747071.html

            This one’s good too: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2013/12/why-jesus-wants-christians-to-stop-evangelizing/

            (When I searched for it, I thought that last one was about gays, but it’s actually about the Great Commission. But I think it works just as well if you substitute “being gay” for it.)

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            The woman at the well.

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

            What about the woman at the well?

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            This was offered in response to James Walker’s statements, “I’m not aware of a single example of Jesus pointing out to people in His audience their individual sins,” and “…not once do I ever see Him directly stating to anyone, ‘That thing you’re doing, right there, is a sin. Stop it.’” Another example involves the woman Jesus rescued from stoning for the sin of adultery.

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

            I wish that it was the content that the phrase is used, Mike, But I have yet to see it done. I have also never seen the phrase used in any setting other than when talking about the LGBT community, or a member of it.
            Yes they admit, that the person they are speaking about is not going to change, they also know that they are supposed to love others, but they really don’t want to. I’m with James. Its a cop-out, because the focus turns right back to the fact that they believe that the person is a sinner and an unrepentant one.

          • Guy Norred

            Honestly, I have never heard it used in either of these ways–or if I did, I would find it all the more hypocritical. I have heard it only in regard to believing that the sinner is sinning because he or she refuses to give up the sin–which is believed to be entirely possible. In regard to the majority of times I hear it, I of course find both the sinfulness f the thing looked at highly questionable, and the ability to change also highly questionable. If it is being used because, despite being something that the person has no power over, the thing in question is still considered sin, well might as well go back to some of the other laws and consider people with certain birth defects or diseases sinners.

          • Andy

            Yes, I don’t think I’ve ever heard about a robber or a rapist and heard someone say “love the sinner, hate the sin” about them.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I have been trying to think of other items that would fit the bill – and frankly there are none that I can think of. Sadly, I think this is because Christians refuse to even entertain (as a general rule) the idea they should accept a street thug for who he is. Of course, we also have the other side of the Christianity coin where the people refuse to accept the Bible Thumpers for who they are as well, which is just as bad.

            If the person speaking (the non-homosexual one) believes the homosexual is sinning and has no plans to ever repent and change, then the person speaking should believe that the homosexual is an unrepentant sinner. It just logically flows that way. This is no different from how an Orthodox Jew views a Reform Jew when the Reform Jew eats Pork. The Reform Jew does not feel he is sinning and has no plans to stop, the Orthodox Jew sees him as an unrepentant sinner.
            Homosexuality is not the only thing people do that they are unrepentant for doing. Christianity DOES make too big a deal out of it, to be sure. Christianity should start with the things we all agree are sins (I know that is a big assumption, but I hope these items are considered sins by everyone) like stealing and bearing false witness for example. Christianity should work on stopping things which we CAN change instead of focusing only on homosexuality. These items cause real harm to society.

          • Andy

            I get what you’re saying, but I’d like to comment about your use of the word “lifestyle” regarding gays. I have heard some say they consider that pejorative, as it implies that it’s a choice they consciously made regarding their lives, and of course I haven’t heard of anyone admit to having chosen to be gay.

          • Mike Barnhart

            People need to not be so sensitive to things, imo. There are many lifestyles out there and everyone is a member of one of them so people should not be upset about being a member of one of them. There are too many real pejoratives (I love that word, btw, and use it often) in use to be upset over one that is not really an insult…though really almost any word can be used as an insult if both the speaker and the listener allow it to be.
            For lifestyles, here is the married hetero without children, married hetero with children, married homo (with and without children as well, not that I think all states allow homosexual adoption and such – I used married even if the state does not allow it but for all intents and purposes the couple is married), hetero single, homo single, both the hetero and homo empty nest lifestyles and of course both the hetero and homo swinger lifestyles. I am sure there are more. Each one is slightly different from the others, though many are very closely related to each other.
            Maybe I just don’t understand since I am hetero, I fully accept that as a possibility.

          • Andy

            It’s easy to say “people need to not be so sensitive” when you aren’t one of the people who might take offense at the words in question, isn’t it?

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Psycho Gecko, surely you are not suggesting that these examples from the Bible negate the Law of God and allow us to pick and choose what laws to obey and which not to obey? As I understand these statements, our Lord is speaking of food and drink and perhaps other minor things. As to your other comments regarding examples of marriages of men in the Church, if that did happen, you must remember that the Church is made up of fallible men who are capable of misguiding the flock they are ordained by God to protect. Examples of sinful behavior can be found throughout the history of the Catholic Church–and the protestant church, I might add; that does not mean these actions are ordained by God.

          • Psycho Gecko

            I am suggesting that you accept what the bible says, and don’t call me Shirley. After all, you seem to be in favor of rejecting a personal revelation made to Saint Peter in favor of earlier passages meant for Jews.

            If you are so eager to love the sinner despite hating the sin, then why do you need to pick and choose? Why do you choose Leviticus over the New Testament of Jesus Christ?

            You may understand this to be about food and drink, but Peter himself states what god is talking about? You talk about people presuming to know god better than you, yet here you are rejecting what Peter, the apostle and first Pope, discerned this vision to be about?

            Apparently your idea of fallible men includes not just the several Popes within a 1,000 year period of the church, but the one of the Twelve Apostles who went on to found your beloved Roman Catholic Church.

            You have a lot of pride, claiming to know the mind of god so much better than apparently god himself and his first Pope on earth.

            I have to ask you, then, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?”

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            One does not have to be sinless to recognize sin. I freely admit that I am a sinner, I struggle daily like every other Christian to follow the precepts of God’s Law, but my sinful behavior is not the topic of discussion, homosexuality is, and based on my convictions (not pride), I have expressed my opinion in the comments I have offered. I do not offer condemnation, I offer the Truth as I understand it.

          • James Walker

            but you’ve been arguing that the “Truth” as you understand it is the only possible truth and that’s the problem. the “Truth” as you understand it comes from interpretations of the Bible that have been demonstrated in recent history to be based on some false assumptions and on flawed traditions. you’ve been trying to argue since the RCC teaches homosexuality is sinful that the final word on the subject has been spoken. we’re trying to get you to see it’s not quite so final as all that.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            My beliefs are my beliefs and any who read my comments are free to take them or leave them. More importantly, James, what do you think? Do you believe a pastor in a Christian church should knowingly preach from the pulpit that which is inarguably contrary to the teachings of the church?

          • James Walker

            you’re sticking to that line of thinking – “inarguably contrary”

            the entire point of this blog article is that the minister John spoke with has become convinced through his study of the Bible that there is no conflict between homosexuality and the Christian faith, but is concerned his congregation is not ready to become an “LGBTQIA affirming” one. if he were to suddenly speak out in his sermons or lessons, he might very well be fired. so, how to approach this important but controversial topic gently?

            so, that’s it. it’s not “inarguably contrary” except in the minds of some people like yourself who insist on rigid and inflexible ways of thinking about our faith. instead, it’s “arguably not contrary” and it behooves us all to engage in the conversation about whether we can embrace as Christian brothers and sisters people who maybe do some things we don’t agree with but who still love God and try to live as Jesus taught us.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            The established teachings of the Christian church do not change because the congregation of one particular church decides to change them . . . oh, wait, that’s how the protestant church came to be. Okay, I concede, the protestant church and it various denominations have decided the church is a democracy and that what the church teaches is open for discussion/debate and based on consensus. This would not happen in the Catholic church, of which I speak. Preaching and teaching false doctrine that is inarguably contrary to what the church holds to be true is heresy, and any priest who doubts the veracity of the church’s teachings would take his misgivings to church authorities, not presume he is correct in his judgment and preach it from the pulpit as gospel.

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

            Hmm. Priests can marry, until they can’t, Mass is only in latin, until it no longer needs to be. The dogma on papal infallibility has been eased three times. Indulgences is not usually practiced as it used to be. Popes were once more powerful than kings, being more political than religious beings.
            Your renderings do not reflect the Catholics I know personally, nor the churches I have had the honor to attend.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            As I said previously, Allegro 63, the church is made up of fallible human beings.

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

            Therefore the church and all it contains, all it teaches, all it believes, is also fallible.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            You have your beliefs and convictions and I have mine, Allegro63, and apparently, never the twain shall meet. Let’s just agree to disagree, shall we? God speed.

          • James Walker

            you misunderstand. this isn’t about democracy or consensus. and disagreements over interpretation of doctrine absolutely do occur within the Catholic Church, sometimes quite publicly.

            the Catholic Church has a long and well-documented history of shifting doctrinal positions (although extremely slowly) as new information has become available or as the needs of the congregation have changed over time. that is as it should be. we do no one any favors by pretending that matters of faith are somehow so fixed that they cannot respond to the needs of the faithful.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Doctrinal changes occur in the Catholic Church, I have already acknowledged that, James, but the underlying Truths (dogmas) of the Church do not.

          • James Walker

            and in that answer you’ve just indicated exactly which grounds John Shore and others like him have been using to argue that the Church must rethink its treatment of LGBTQIA people in general and LGBTQIA Christians in particular – because our Salvation does not depend in whole or in part on whether we believe homosexuality is sinful (and there’s plenty of reason to believe it is not sinful). therefore, the teaching on homosexuality cannot be a dogma. it is, instead, a doctrinal interpretation which may be changed as the needs of the congregation change.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I disagree, James, but you are entitled to your views and I respect your right to express them. I hope the feeling is mutual. I wish you all good things. May God be with you.

          • Guy Norred

            Your words here keep coming back to me. Forgive me if I am wrong, but have not some points of dogma been changed in the past? I would like to point out that, by this, I mean that the RCC changed its understanding, not that the thing itself changed. As an example, again I may be ignorant of some terminology and perhaps some of the facts here, before Vatican II, mass was always to be in Latin. At at least some times in history, a non-Latin mass was considered sinful by the RCC. Now it generally should be in the language understood by the congregation. From my understanding, the Church’s stance is that not only does a current mass not have to be in Latin, but masses said in other languages before the official change were not sinful even if at the time, the official stance was that they were. In other words, it is not that the thing changed, but that the Church’s understanding of it did (and that the newer understanding is closer to the divine intention). Now this particular example may not have been dogma, but I am certain that there were those who considered it essentially such. When it comes down to it, I find it strange to consider anything outside of a credal statements (interestingly usually referred to as doctrine) can be considered underlying Truth.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Your comment reveals that you have given considerable thought to this matter, Guy, and I appreciate the kind and respectful way in which you have posed your question. As I have been admonished by others to cease and desist in sharing my views on this site, I recommend you and others with similar questions access the wealth of resources offered by the EWTN website (ewtn.com) and encourage you to tune into the EWTN global Catholic television network for answers. God love you, Guy, and may He richly bless you as you continue on your spiritual journey.

          • James Walker

            err.. you’ve not been “admonished by others to cease and desist in sharing” your views on this site.

            you’ve been requested to find a way to share without coming across as telling other people what to believe or presuming there’s only one right answer. please, please find that middle ground because you have a lot to say that is worth hearing and discussing.

            in other words, it’s not your content so much as it is your tone. ok?

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Okay, James. God bless!

          • Andy

            “Inarguably”

            I’m skeptical there is very much in Christianity, if anything, that is inarguable.

          • Guy Norred

            But haven’t you just said that your belief (in regard to the subject at hand) is the only conclusion that can possibly be found in the words of the Bible? Is it not possible that this pastor has opened his heart and mind to the Holy Spirit on this matter, while you have kept yours closed?

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            If having a closed mind means believing in the teachings of Christ and His Church instead of my personal thoughts and feelings, that change hourly, then consider me guilty as charged.

          • Guy Norred

            You brought up the personal relationship (which I believe is the important thing, by the way), yet you seem just now to have put the Church before the Spirit.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            The Spirit is in the Church, the Spirit is in the Pope and the magisterium. The Spirit enables these ordained men of God to interpret His Holy Word and the Spirit enables me to accept and live by their interpretation.

          • Bones

            Dude. Seriously!

            I’m a supporter of the Catholic Church whose family goes back to the Protestant persecution of my Catholic ancestors in Ireland. It’s why my family left.

            There is much in Catholicism I admire.

            The fact is though that throughout history the Catholic Church has been involved in genocide, religious bigotry, massive corruption, the abuse of her most vulnerable people and torture and people are expected to listen to what the Pope says about contraception and gay marriage.

            You guys need to deal with celibate and male priests and get into the 21st century.

            Ordain your women and let your clergy marry.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            The constancy of the Catholic Church is one of the many things I love about it. Those who understand the value of retaining the traditions of the Catholic church know the importance of maintaining that constancy in this chaotic, ever-changing world.

          • Jan S Yoder

            I find it interesting that dozens of people can offer credible statements that challenge almost every part of your statements. Your statements and their statements are your (collective) statements. This is my statement.

            What I also find interesting is that this God you talk about, that gave us Laws, in the form found in the Bible and other forms of sacred writings, ignores nearly all of the sacred writings of the entire world, and as far as I know, the God I personally know (as much as humanly possible) created All of them, and gave all of the sacred writings to various peoples at various times. No one of them can then claim to be the only True one without falling into the logical trap of “I’m better than you because my God said so.” Which God is that then? Yours, Mine, or Ours? If Yours, I’ll take my chances with rejecting that. If mine, I’d really have to do the same or I am in the same boat as you. If ours, then perhaps it’s time to allow that All of us Together, are part of a greater God than any church has ever allowed. Perhaps it is time to question everything, including the infallibility arguments, dogma, science (certainly), all religion, myth, and especially what we are being told is true today, by media, and churches, including the RCC. I respect that you are standing for your beliefs, your convictions. What I do not respect is how nearly all of your responses have smacked of condescension, from that place of ‘what I know is right, so I’ll forgive you for having a different view/opinion/belief.’ Please don’t forgive me for anything. I won’t even tell you what I really believe, for my relationship with God is personal. Emphasis on personal.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I appreciate your respectful and well-thought-out comments, Jan, you are certainly entitled to challenge my beliefs as I have challenged yours. It has come to my attention that this website does not welcome contrary opinions so I will offer no more, except to say that you and others may reject my comments but that does not make them any less valid than your own. I have been respectful in my words, unlike some who have been vitriolic and caustic in their responses, and I will not apologize for my views. I do, however, apologize to anyone who feels I have overstepped my bounds. I wish you all peace.

          • Jan S Yoder

            Thank you disqus… I intended to do what I learned the very hard way, to try to only ever talk about things in relation to myself, and to not project them at or on anyone else. I have found that this website tolerates all sorts of views fairly well. What I suspect you are finding is that people’s bullsh*t meters are pegging out, so to speak, mine included. I just prefer to state it in my own way, almost as if we were having a friendly discussion. I thank you for staying with this discussion as long as you have, for I would not have entered the fray if you had not. I thought more of this over the course of the past half day, and have this to offer. I do not expect your views to change one whit, at least not at this time.

            I have read widely, on many fronts, from cheap pulp literature to long, well-reasoned tomes on science, religion, history, politics, a lot of science-fiction (where all the good theories are brought to graze), and there is this: God created All That Is; Corollary – All That Is IS God. God is indivisible from any part of All That Is. There is no place, thing, idea, speck, grain of sand, atom that is not full of God stuff. This implies that every being that is here on this planet, and by extension, every other planet, IS God in some way. As is sometimes stated, quite seriously, “Show me a place where God is Not.” I cannot. This is my challenge to anyone, church, institution.

            From this, if God is in All Things, All Ideas, if all things, ideas, people, animals, plants were created perfect, by God, then how can anything be imperfect? And if you say that we err, sin, or fall from grace, then does that not say, rather arrogantly, that we are more powerful than God? In order for us to be 1) not more powerful than God, and 2) sin, err, fall from grace, then God had to have created the capacity for all this in the first place. Are there “Laws” such as the 10 Commandments? They are certainly “Good Ideas” and I would say, Very Good Ideas, and ones by which I try to live my life, some days fairly well, others…

            I’m saddened to say, disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0, that if I were a Buddhist, and I met you on the road, I would be enjoined to kill you, as in the saying “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” The implication is, that if you are claiming to be Buddha, then you are not. If you are claiming to know God, then you do not.

            For me, it comes down to this; There are no two snowflakes alike, no two grains of sand, rose petals, trees, days, clouds, stars, planets – there are no two people alike, nor are there two thoughts exactly alike. Therefore, why on earth, or in heaven, would a God that made infinite beauty, diversity in all things, and gave us the ability to think, ponder, question, and posit, why would this God create exactly One way to eternal life? This, to me seems to be the highest form of sacrilege. Instead, there would be no two ways the same, though many of them may follow a similar path. That, to me, is all that religion can offer, company and perhaps, compassionate guidance along the way. Namaste

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Thank you, Jan, for sharing your thought-provoking insights; I appreciate the time and effort you put into your comments and the respectful way in which you presented them. You and I see things very differently and, while I would like to respond to your thoughtful discourse, I will refrain in deference to those who may read my remarks and find them inappropriate and contrary to the limited views welcomed on this website. I wish you God’s peace, Jan, and all that is good.

          • BarbaraR

            “People either believe or they don’t believe.” There are people who believe and continue to evolve in their beliefs. Faith is not static.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I agree, faith is not static but Biblical truths are indisputable. To deny scripture Truths and preach false doctrine is not evolution, it’s heresy.

          • BarbaraR

            Actually, “Biblical truths” are quite disputable. That’s why there are six million denominations, each of which believes it has the “right” version.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Therein lies the confusion. Protestant denominations are splinter groups of the one true, Catholic and apostolic church established by Christ that clearly teaches that homosexuality is a sin. Those who seek the unadulterated Truth will find it in the Catholic church.

          • BarbaraR

            … like I said…

          • Wayne Cook

            Now you are assuming for all of us that the RCC? is in fallible even though it is made up of fallible humans such as ourselves. I am offended by this comment. Christ never mentioned homosexuality so you are incorrect in that comment. Therefore you stand in assuming that the tradition of the church is equal to or above Scripture which begs the question is the doctrine of the “Catholic” church today the correct doctrine or that of previous ages in the church. Doctrine even within the RCC has changed it Vatican II.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I am sorry you are offended by my comments, Wayne, it was not my intention to offend. I have addressed the infallibility of the church already, in response to another comment All men are fallible, the Church is made up of men; therefore, the Church is fallible. But the interpretation of Scripture by those God has chosen to lead His flock through apostolic succession is more reliable than the interpretations of individuals, whose perceptions are affected by feelings, moods, etc., that change hour by hour. And while the doctrine of the Church may change, the undeniable Truths (dogma) do not.

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

            The interpretation of scripture is also fallible, Even the RCC has had alterations of its interpretations over the history of the denomination. The RCC, or rather, the branch of it, you seem to adhere too, has not more a corner of all that is absolutely THE undeniable than anyone else.

            So here’s a suggestion, respect the opinions and traditions of others, even if you disagree with them. If you cannot…

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            My comments are not meant to be disrespectful, I have simply offered my opinion as you and others have offered yours. Disagreement is not disrespect. As to the infallibility of the Church, I have addressed that in response to other comments. Church doctrine may change but Church dogmas do not.

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

            Dogma is merely a set of beliefs that are accepted without being questioned or doubted. Here’s the rub, not everyone in any branch of any church accepts all beliefs as dogma.

            Then consider this, if the RCC was so dead set against homosexuality, then why, during the renaissance, did it hire men who were supposedly gay to produce some of the most beautiful religious art in the world?

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            The Church loves homosexuals as it loves all fallible human beings. Homosexuals are God’s children who’ve strayed and they are welcome in the Church, as are all sinners–i.e., the entire congregation and the clergy. The Church does not deny the humanity of homosexuals, it denies the legitimacy of the homosexual act.

            I cannot speak for those who profess to be Christian believers and do not accept the dogmas of the Church, I only pray that they will continue to seek God daily and will receive, through His love and mercy, the grace to accept that which He ordains to be true

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

            How about simply saying the church loves all people, and stop singling out a particular group of people for their perceived sin, which also tends to exclude them from full inclusion. Gay Catholics have been denied communion and sometimes last rites. Yet, Every day, murderer, thieves, adulterers, etc. are willingly given communion, with no qualms

            Again I ask why?

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            “…the church loves all people.” I believe I said as much when I stated that the church is an aggregation of sinners, I only speak of homosexuality because it is the topic under discussion. I do not personally know of any gay Catholic who has been denied communion because of their homosexuality, I’d have to know more about the individual circumstances, but my guess is that they proudly celebrated it instead of renouncing it, and the priest, concerned for their eternal soul, would not allow them to take communion unworthily–that is, without prior confession and repentance. Those who take communion unworthily endanger their immortal souls, and any priest who would allow an unrepentant sinner, regardless of the sin, to partake of the Holy Sacrament would be derelict in His duty. The withholding of Holy Communion from one who is unworthy to receive it is not meant to be punitive, it is a loving act of mercy.

          • Andy

            “Endanger their immortal souls”? Give me a break.

            Take your fire and brimstone talk elsewhere, please.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I’m sorry, Andy, but denying the Truth won’t make it go away.

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

            Being disrespectful of the fact that others disagree with your version of the truth is prideful and serves no positive purpose here.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            You confuse pride with conviction, Allegro63; though, I’ll not deny the pride I have in knowing God and defending His Holy Law. Those who read my comments are free to disregard them.

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

            I easily recognize the difference, and stand by my statement.

          • Andy

            In all seriousness, there is a fine line between explaining your beliefs (especially if they are contrary to the principles this community believes) and proselytizing. You have inched over that line several times. Please try to keep that in mind, or we will take action.

            You can refer to this if you want further clarification: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/be-nice/

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I am sorry you find my comments offensive, Andy, that is not my intent; however, threatening action against those who disagree with your view does not reflect well on you or the community you represent. I was not aware this site limits discussion to a single view. I apologize most profoundly for challenging your beliefs and humbly beg your pardon.

          • Andy

            I did not say I found your comments offensive. I am fine with having my beliefs challenged. I am fine with people saying they don’t agree with my opinions. What I am not fine with is people telling us that there is only one true version of something that is highly subjective.

            Here are a couple of examples:

            “I believe the bible is 100% factual and every verse should be taken literally.”

            This is okay. Everyone may not agree with it, but we as a community respect your right to hold that belief.

            “There is only one true interpretation of every bible verse, and it is mine. It’s true whether you like it or not and you’re wrong if you disagree.”

            This is not okay and may be moderated.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I cannot in good conscience water down my beliefs to appease the sensibilities of others, Andy; you’ve succeeded in quelling any further discourse, let’s leave it at that, shall we?

          • Andy

            You can state your beliefs without insisting that either others adopt them or they’re wrong. You seem learned enough that I would think you can understand the difference.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Again, I apologize for offending.

          • Andy

            Again, you didn’t.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Peace be with you, my friend.

          • Andy

            Same to you.

          • James Walker

            there’s a tremendous difference between “watering down” your beliefs “to appease the sensibilities of others” and stating your beliefs in open-ended terms that permit others who may disagree to engage in the discussion. I hope that you can grasp that distinction.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Mea culpa.

          • Andy

            It must be nice to feel so secure in your own interpretation of 66 different writings, written hundreds of years apart, in different languages, in completely different cultural contexts from the one we live in today.

            Ever wonder why some non-Christians are so hostile to the kind of religion you espouse?

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I am secure in my knowledge that God loves me and thankful for His Law and gentle guidance that enable me to live a life pleasing to Him and receive his forgiveness when I fail. Our Father in heaven asks a lot of us and if we are willing to submit to His will and live by His precepts, He blesses us in this life and leads us to eternal joy and peace with Him in paradise.

            Hostility toward the Church and God’s Law are nothing new, Andy, so no, I don’t wonder that some unbelievers despise the Word. Thankfully, there are many, many examples of people who, having once despised the Word, have humbled themselves, surrendered their will to God’s and embraced it wholeheartedly. It is my fervent wish that all unbelievers will do likewise and in that hope, I will continue to share God’s Word and the teachings of His Holy Catholic church.

          • Andy

            Yeah, good luck with that. That’s not how the real world works.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I know you are being facetious, Andy, but I thank you for your good wishes and offer mine in return. I wish you all the best.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            One of the things I appreciate about the Catholic church is that it applies ethics consistently. The same ethic that opposes abortion also opposes the death penalty. The same ethic that prohibits gay sex prohibits oral sex and contraception.

            The rcc, however, does not insist on a rigid application of church teaching. Sometimes the fallible ethics are in conflict. For example, the church recognizes that the use of condoms can prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa; in that case, the ethic of sanctity of life is in conflict with the ethic of natural law.

            Conservative Catholics often insist (as you do) that church teaching must be rigidly imposed on parishioners and the greater society. They confuse church teaching with eternal truth. This is, I believe, moral certainty that rises to the level of sinfulness because it necessarily leads to exclusion and injustice. This rigidity represented by people like Timothy Dolan give Catholics and Christians a black eye.

            There are a great number of Catholic clergy who are quietly providing outstanding pastoral care to those in their care. The Pope is finally shedding some light on this compassionate, less dogmatic approach to Catholcism.

            The most devout Catholic friend I have is a gay man legally married to a man. They have a son together. This amazing family is embraced by the church at mass every Saturday. So are those who use contraception. All are recognized as the beloved of God. None are denied Holy Communion. That is the Catholic church that is aligned with the example of Christ.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I appreciate your calm and measured response to my comment, Ford1968. I realize that there is a tendency in some believers to put the Law before love. The Law is given in love by a God who is Love and it is to be carried out in love. Those who love God, love His Law, and because they know God’s love and are blessed by His Law, they want all to embrace God and live according to His precepts In their zeal, they come across as hateful and bigoted, passing judgment on those who simply want to live their lives as they wish.

            To unbelievers and uncommitted Christians, God’s Law seems unjust, “rigidly imposed,” as you said; but in reality, it is nothing of the kind. God’s Holy Law is liberating. True Christians do not adhere to God’s Law because they fear His wrath and punishment, they adhere to His Law because they love Him and know His Law frees them from the tyranny of their own willful fallen natures.

            I wish you well, Ford1968. May God bless you.

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

            “True Christians” are not determined by your standards. I suggest you stop.

          • Mike Barnhart

            His belief system (RCC) are the rules by which he determines what is and is not a true Christian. This is no different than how you do it (other than your belief system is not RCC).
            EVERY Christian uses their own belief system to determine who is a Christian and who is not, it is simply how humans are wired. For example, if someone believes that Mohammed is the last prophet of God, would you say that person is a true Christian? Of course not, you would say he is a Muslim. Sb0t simply has a tighter set of rules than you have is all.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Thanks for the blessing, but hold on Mr. Disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0,

            You completely evaded the substance of my comment. The RCC does not insist that it’s teaching is the same as eternal truth as you seem to. Nor does it insist that those teachings be imposed on anyone (The misguided actions of the USCCB notwithstanding).

            What you’re claiming as “God’s Laws” is not a claim even made by your church. They claim a divine revelation, but do not claim absolute certainty (hence church teaching changes over time, albeit at a glacial pace).

            Why do you think it’s appropriate or even acceptable to kick people away from the communion table for breaking what you consider “God’s Laws”? That’s completely contrary to the good news of the gospel. And it’s one of the things that’s wrong with the (big C) Church in general.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            As your original response was in reference to my comment explaining the Church’s teaching on taking communion unworthily, I will not repeat it here. It’s not a matter of what I think, Ford1968, and I’m sorry you feel the Church’s denial of communion to sinners is unfair. Partaking in Holy Communion designates our acceptance of the beliefs, doctrines and practices of the Church based on God’s Truth; those who do not accept these things are not in “communion” with the Church.

            As to your comment regarding the teaching of the Church, I did not mean to convey that the teachings of the Church are the absolute Truth. The teachings of the Church are based on God’s Truth as revealed through Scripture and prayer and interpreted by the Pope and the magisterium. Church doctrine can and does change, as you said, but the Truth, God’s Truth, remains the same today, tomorrow and forever.

            Those who love God do not consider His Law an imposition, they embrace it in love–the spirit in which it was given.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            With due respect, I think your Catholic education is lacking. You may want to go back and study the second Vatican counsel and what it said about recognizing other Christians. If you want a hint, look to the first chapter of the Lumen Gentium.

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

            I agree. Catholic history is very interesting, often political and quite diverse. Despite their failings they were quite liberal in accomadating the cultures and tastes of the populace, something that was made more apparent with the advent of the reformation and the dour Protestants who shunned the more liberal stances of Catholic culture. Just look at art.
            Of course an ascetic branch has been in the RCC, but it is hardly a majority movement.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Thank you for the advice, Ford1968, I welcome any opportunity to grow in faith and will do as you suggest. I do not profess to have all the answers and am readily able to admit when I am wrong. I maintain, however, that God’s Truth, the foundation of the Church, is firm and unchangeable. God love you.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Christ never mentioned cannibalism either…so by your logic cannibalism is not wrong. Christ not saying something was wrong does not make it not wrong is all I am saying…and that you need a new argument, yours does not work. :)

          • Bones

            The Orthodox say ‘hi’

            And they were around before you and you have deviated from Christianity with dogmas on Mary and Original Sin.

            It’s interesting talking with Orthodox Christians and how they differ from Western Christianity (Catholic/ Protestant). Evangelicalism is very much Catholicism Lite.

            Western Christianity is heavily influenced by the medieval ages with it’s emphasis on Divine Judgement and needing to satisfy God’s wrath against humanity. It’s theology influenced by the law courts which Western Christianity became.

            The Orthodox sees salvation as a form of healing for ourselves.

            There is much to be learned from Eastern Christianity.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            No one’s spiritual path is like another’s; I wish you well in your journey, Bones, and hope you wish me well in mine. God bless you.

          • Mike Barnhart

            It is interesting to note that Judaism does not believe in an original sin that everyone is born with. Since is not passed down genetically, after all. What the New Testament means by everyone is born into sin and cannot help but commit sins is that while everyone born sinless (what since have you committed the moment you were born?), we are born into a sinful society where even our parents teach us to sin from the moment we lay eyes on them. It is not impossible to live a sinless life (Jews believe the Messiah will do just that), it is so hard as to be considered impossible for all intents and purposes.

          • James Walker

            The Church, for centuries, thought that the Bible taught the Earth had to be the center of the universe and that the planets and stars were affixed to the firmament, travelling along pathways in the celestial sphere that were pre-ordained by God. The Church later realized it had over interpreted certain passages and that Church tradition had to yield to scientific evidence.

            I suspect that Pope Francis is examining Church teaching on homosexuality to see whether it’s time for another such move on the Church’s part.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Until then, James, the teaching of the Christian church is that homosexuality is a sin, and the pastor in this article would be remiss to teach false doctrine from the pulpit of his church.

          • James Walker

            yes, the pastor in the article would indeed be remiss to “teach false doctrine from the pulpit of his church”. I’m reasonably certain that’s why John advised him to begin a conversation with his congregation about this topic and about what the Bible really teaches on the subject rather than to attempt strong-arm tactics in his sermons and lessons.

          • Andy

            Not every Christian church teaches that homosexuality is a sin.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/16/us/16episcopal.html?_r=0

          • Mike Barnhart

            I suspect he is doing just that, wrt homosexuality. I would be VERY interested in hearing his reasons behind whatever he determines to be the ruling. If he reverses the ruling (which is in his power to do), the arguments need to be very compelling to convince the masses.

          • Andy

            http://i.imgur.com/Gw6zf.gif

            Well, not everyone, anyway. We all find truth in different places.

          • Bones

            Rofl.

          • Wayne Cook

            You are correct Biblical Truths are indisputable assuming we have enough understanding to know what they really mean. You are talking about doctrine that is not from the Bible but is based on what someone says they mean. Doctrine is the product of human understanding and rule making, and well some of those that people have been 100% sure of have turned out to be wrong headed.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            As a Catholic, I believe the interpretation of the Bible by the Popes (successors of the apostle Peter, who was chosen by Christ to be head of the Church) and the magisterium is the Truth. Popes are men and men are fallible but I would rather believe the Truth as determined by these ordained and Holy men of God than rely on my own musings. Individual interpretations of Scripture lead to multiple truths and multiple truths lead to confusion, misunderstanding and a falling away of the faithful, as is the case in many protestant denominations.

          • Wayne Cook

            As it would be I am a protestant Clergy, and believe in this apostolic succession of which you speak and also believe that I too am in that line of persons who have been called to ordained ministry, to study, interpret and teach the scripture. Acts 2:17 (NIV) tells us “”‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” We do not interpret apart from the Spirit if we are following Christ. I would encourage you not to be so exclusive in your thoughts. I believe Pope Francis to be a wonderful man of God and even though I am not RCC I applaud what he is doing in the church. The truth is of God not a specific group.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Wayne, I, too, think Pope Francis is a wonderful man of God. He has encouraged believers to focus more on love and inclusiveness than the social issues that divide us. But, contrary to what some believe, he does not condone sinful behavior. His approach may be more palatable to the masses than those of his predecessors but he staunchly defends the Truths of the Roman Catholic Church.

            I was not raised in the Church, I chose the Catholic Church after attending various denominational protestant churches over many years. None offered the fullness of the faith that I have found in the Catholic Church, and I cannot in good faith defend Christian teachings and church dogma that change to fit the culture of the day, as is the case in many, if not all, protestant churches. My faith, my beliefs, my life are built on the Rock of Christ in His Holy Catholic Church and my words are based on the Truths revealed therein.

            Many clergy have left protestant pulpits and embraced the Catholic church (watch “The Journey Home” on the Eternal Word Television Network), I hope you will eventually consider doing the same, Wayne, you would be more than welcome. God bless you.

          • Bones

            Yes, we’re supposed to believe Marian visitations to schoolkids at Fatima which led to the fifth Marian Dogma as Advocate, Mediatrix and Co-Redemptor.

            If you want to believe that, that’s fine. If it makes you happy and a better person.

            Doesn’t work for most others though.

          • Guy Norred

            I recently came across a quote from Thomas Merton that I find a bit extreme, but applicable. “If the you of five years ago doesn’t consider the you of today a heretic, you are not growing spiritually.”

          • BarbaraR

            I love that!

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Merton is not divine; his opinion is valid and he is entitled to it, as am I.

          • Guy Norred

            I never said he was divine. I agree both of you are entitled to an opinion. I am also entitled to my own , equally lacking in divinity, opinion that we should constantly seek God’s guidance and direction.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I agree and wish you well in your endeavors.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I think a better statement would be “If the you of today is not saddened by the ignorance of you from five years ago, you are not growing spiritually.” I know so much more than I did five years ago. I never did like the term heretic – it reeks of judgment, something we are to leave to God.

          • Guy Norred

            I agree overall. I haven’t been able to find the context of the original or even confirm it actually came from Merton, but I first heard it as a response to someone being called a heretic and have suspected the original might be similar. The judgement was already there before the response.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I do like the phrase, it makes one think. Thinking is vital. :)

          • Guy Norred

            It certainly is. I do not find it inconsequential that our mind is one of the things with which we are to love God.

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

            So because he believes that being gay is not sinful, nor is supported by scripture, he should stop teaching the heresy that being gay is a sin to his congregant, and thus resign?

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            He is a priest, he should teach the infallible Truths of Christ and the Church.

          • Mike Barnhart

            If he is part of an organized religious group, he must teach their views or else leave that group. If he is an independent pastor (though I hate to use that term since most preachers are not pastors anymore – they preach to the flock but do not tend the flock), then he should slowly reform his church, like the guy suggested.
            He can try to change church policy if he is part of an organized group, but it would be wrong of him to preach something they do not believe is correct. Just like it would be wrong of him to preach that Jesus was a sinful man.

          • Andy

            What if any 2 of the congregants don’t have exactly the same beliefs? Preaching on a given subject may cater to those that agree with the preacher whilst alienating those who don’t.

            Also, who wants a yes-man for a spiritual advisor?

          • Mike Barnhart

            If he is an ordained representative of an organization, he must teach the belief system of that organization. It really is that simple.

          • Guy Norred

            There is nothing here that said he came to the conclusion that the Word of God was wrong. What he says is precisely that he determined was that he had misunderstood it before.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            The Catholic Church, that Christ established, clearly teaches that homosexuality is a sin, there is no room for misinterpretation.

          • Guy Norred

            The Church (catholic and Catholic), at its best is still just a diverse and fallible group of people striving to do God’s will. It is not God.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            You are so right, Guy, and God loves us all in our struggle.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Sure there is, a fallible human came up with that teaching. No Pope is beyond reproach and review…no Pope is God.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I agree that no Pope is God, Mike, but a pope did not decree homosexuality sinful, the Bible, the divinely inspired Word of God, did. Also, Christianity is not the only religion that condemns homosexual relations, how do you explain their denunciation of it?

          • Mike Barnhart

            Islam is not the only religion that says Christians are worshipping a dead human named Jesus, how do you explain their denunciation of Christianity?
            In other words – an appeal to consensus is a logical fallacy.
            The Tanakh is pretty clear, but does that portion of The Law of Moses apply to non-Jews? Obviously not all of The Law applies else you would not be eating bacon and you would not do any work on Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. The Pope, who is not a Jew, made a ruling on Jewish Law?

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I respect your views, Mike, and hope you respect mine. I will repeat here what I wrote to Jan S Yoder, who also vehemently disagrees with the comments I’ve offered: It has come to my attention that this website does not welcome contrary opinions so I will offer no more, except to say that you and others may reject my comments but that does not make them any less valid than your own. I have been respectful in my words, unlike some who have been vitriolic and caustic in their responses, and I will not apologize for my views. I do, however, apologize to anyone who feels I have overstepped my bounds. I wish you all peace.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I do respect your views. Though I have many disagreements on how the RCC does things, I also find many wonderful things in it that Protestantism cast aside in its hatred of the RCC, which saddens me.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Thank you for your kind response, Mike. God bless you.

          • Mike Barnhart

            And the same to you too! Only God is the judge of our hearts. Most of what people argue over is what I liken to the window dressing color in Heaven. If I say it is blue and you say it is red, and when we get to Heaven we find out it is red, I will happy concede my error while praising God for red window coverings. :)

          • Andy

            “…how do you explain…”

            This is not an argument. There could be 100 different religions whose followers all condemn homosexual relations for 100 or more different reasons. In no way does any one of them validate another.

          • Bones

            “I know of no “strong evidence to the contrary” save that produced by fallible human intellect.”

            Hmmm

            Let’s try:

            Archaeology – no Exodus, no divinely ordered genocidal conquests, no world wide flood (which was flogged from a number of cultures), Davidic kingdom was very much conflated to be more than it was.

            Science – Sorry. No 7 day creation, no Garden of Eden or state of perfection, the Sun goes around the Earth, you cannot build a tower to God (which made God worry apparently), women have ova which are fertilised by sperm, not just implanted with the man’s seed to incubate it, no hell below us, above us only sky, evolution is a fact.

            And a freebie: Revelation has next to nothing to do with the end of the world nor anything in the future.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Nice try, Bones, but no sale. I love my God, this world came into being through His divine design and no earthly “evidence” to the contrary will dissuade me.

          • James Walker

            this idea that clinging to an interpretation despite evidence is somehow “faithful” and somehow “what God wants” is ludicrous and un-scriptural. faith does not require us to pretend that science is wrong when scientific data conflicts with something written hundreds or thousands of years before the scientific method was developed. faith requires us to understand the limitations of those men who were trying to convey in human words an experience with the Divine Presence, and to glean from their words what the Spirit teaches us will be profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, etc. for our lives today in a world where human knowledge is much more advanced but we still struggle with loving one another and being kind one to another.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            My response to Bones was written in response to his attempts to discredit my faith with specious “proof” of God’s non-existence. It was not my intention to negate the importance of science in faith.

          • James Walker

            then you’ve managed to miss the point of what Bones posted. I suggest going back and reading it again, realizing that he’s not challenging your faith but instead challenging your assertion about the nature and origin of the Bible in response to Allegro63.

          • Bones

            Galileo says ‘hi’. He knew what it was like for dogma to trump reason and evidence.

          • Bones

            The Scientologists say the same about Xenu.

            No earthly ‘evidence’ to the contrary will sway them.

            “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            You are entitled to your opinion, Bones, as am I; the difference is, I respect your right to hold and express your beliefs while you attack and deride mine. I will repeat here what I wrote to Jan S Yoder, who also vehemently disagrees with the comments I’ve offered: It has come to my attention that this website does not welcome contrary opinions so I will offer no more, except to say that you and others may reject my comments but that does not make them any less valid than your own. I have been respectful in my words, unlike some who have been vitriolic and caustic in their responses, and I will not apologize for my views. I do, however, apologize to anyone who feels I have overstepped my bounds. I wish you all peace.t

          • Mike Barnhart

            It is interesting that, in Judaism at least, the first six days of Creation are called “God days”. Until man appeared on the scene to witness the day (and therefor have them be the 24 hour man days), we cannot know how long a day was to God. He did not bother to tell us because, frankly, it did not matter at all.
            Can you show me the evidence that proves a garden (which God hid from us) does not exist – and remember that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Thanks!

          • Bones

            I gather this garden is still being hidden by God then.

            You expect us to believe events which weren’t eyewitness events which are shrouded in mythology such as talking snakes with legs (isn’t that a lizard) are historical fact.

            Fact is, our primal ancestors were nearly wiped out and spent mch of their lives surviving death by teeth, disease and wild animals.

            It’s all mythology not unlike the tribal Native American stories.

            Stories told for a purpose. Not literal history.

            I suppose you believe that God ordered genocide as well such as that committed by Moses and Joshua.

            Also myths.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I expect you to support your statements. You make direct claims and expect everyone to believe you without any direct support. I simply want you to support your claims.
            If you are taking these claims on faith, that is fine, but then they are no better than the claims of those who say the opposite of you. If you say they are fact based, show the facts – show your support.
            This is nothing you should not expect to have to do.

            I never claimed the story was literal or allegorical, I simply asked you to support your own statement. Please do so. But to answer your first question – if the story is true and the place is literal, then it would still be hidden since the story says it was to be forever hidden.

            No support your view, please.

        • Wayne Cook

          Wow we really need to talk more since you have a complete understanding of God as to be 100% sure of what God is “thinking” on topics. I would love to know more.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            I don’t claim to know all that God is thinking, that would be impossible for anyone to know, considering our limited capacity; but God has given us Scripture and the Holy Catholic church, established by Christ, I base my understanding on these.

        • Guy Norred

          This (the immediately above statement) is something I completely agree with. That said, I find it has an enormous disconnect with your first statement.

        • Andy

          Let me guess, you’re touting that “God is loving, but if you don’t love him back, you’re going to hell” schtick? Sorry, that’s not welcome around here.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            That’s not what I’m saying, Andy, but sinful behavior results in negative consequences, in this life and the next, that’s just the way it is. As a Catholic, I believe there is a place of purification where God will continue to work with us after death so that we may be of one mind and one heart with Him and enter into eternal glory. God loves all and wants all to choose to live according to His law, not out of fear but out of love. Our Father in heaven doesn’t stop loving us if we choose disobedience and separation from Him, He works all the harder to draw us near and enable us to inherit His kingdom.

          • Andy

            You’re allowed to think what you want. Just don’t tell me how to interpret scripture.

          • Mike Barnhart

            An interesting comment from someone who just said his view is “not welcome around here”

          • Andy

            Uh, no. I didn’t tell him (or her) how to interpret scripture, nor did I insist my beliefs are correct and his (or hers) aren’t.

            In general, we do not take kindly to proselytizing, especially of views that are contrary to the principles this community supports. You can believe we’re all going to hell if you want. But if you tell us we are, or insist that we repent, or anything like that, you can expect us to remove that. I believe that we are a pretty tolerant community, but, to coin a phrase, we do not tolerate intolerance.

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/be-nice/

          • Mike Barnhart

            You are intolerant of intolerance…do you not see that means you will not tolerate yourself? And yes, not tolerating something is the same as being intolerant of that something. :)
            Ah, so he can think what he wants, but he best keep his thoughts to himself! Interesting, hope you do not actually say you are open minded and tolerant while saying that type of thing.
            Remember, to have any kind of rational discussion about a topic, you cannot cast out and censor the views you dislike.

          • Andy

            You can have a rational discussion without insisting that other people’s interpretations are incorrect and that they will suffer consequences if they do not agree with you.

            I did not say he should keep his beliefs to himself. He is free to express what he believes. But there is a difference between saying what you believe and forcing your beliefs on others.

            Here are a couple of examples that should illustrate the difference:

            “I believe homosexual relations are a sin.”

            This is okay. We may not agree with it, but we respect your right to hold that belief.

            “All you gays are going to hell.”

            This is not okay. This is subject to moderating.

            Also, this:

            “If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.”

            — Karl Popper

          • Mike Barnhart

            Thank you for the clarification on moderation.

            If you are unwilling to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs, you are being intolerant. It matters not if you find the other beliefs to be intolerant…being unwilling to tolerate them makes you intolerant.
            It is the danger inherent in tolerance, you must accept those beliefs which you hate as allowable beliefs…anything less than a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one’s own means you are intolerant.

            But we have gone WAY off topic, and I apologize for it. I tend to go down the rabbit hole. :)

          • Andy

            I said it before, and I’ll say it again. We tolerate others having contrary opinions. We do not tolerate them passing judgment on us, insisting we’re wrong and we’re going to hell, etc. Do you not understand the difference?

          • Mike Barnhart

            I already thanked you for the clarification on moderation, but that you again for the clarification.
            However, none of what you just said shows that not tolerating things is the same as being tolerant. The definitions of the words are still the same as they were when I posted them 13 hours ago.

          • Andy

            You’re right, they are not the same thing. But I believe Popper had the right idea about tolerance. If you tolerate intolerance, then tolerance becomes meaningless.

            Accusations of being intolerant of intolerance are rather common responses to claims by an entity claiming they are tolerant. I have called out bigotry as I saw it, only to be told I was bigoted by not tolerating their intolerance. And I do not believe we should tolerate bigotry any more than we should tolerate murder, rape, pedophilia, or other heinous things. Diverse gender and sexual identities are not even remotely close to those, even if you happen to think they are sins (which I obviously do not). And here’s the key difference: murder, rape, and bigotry all hurt other people. I don’t tolerate that. Identifying as anything other than straight, and loving another person per that identity, does not hurt anyone. Therefore, I believe it should be tolerated.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I fully agree with you. None of us should be tolerant people, we should all be intolerant of quite many things. I was simply showing that labeling yourself (generic you, not specific you) as tolerant while being intolerant is silly. Everyone tolerates the views they agree with, but almost no one tolerates those they find abhorrent – nor do I think we should.
            So basically no one should ever call themselves tolerant when it is so easy to show they are actually intolerant of a whole horde of things.

          • James Walker

            I think the way the community that has grown up around John Shore’s writing, and around the Unfundamentalist Christians group, would agree to express the sentiment is that we embrace diversity and we embrace vigorous and challenging discussion but we do not embrace presentations that lead to “othering” or “less than” formulations of those who disagree.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I am going to have to read more things from him. Luckily, his name is plastered at the top to aid in remembering who he is. :)
            Any good items to start with?
            I have always believed if my faith cannot survive impact with knowledge, then my faith was wrong and must be revised. If God is real and is Truth, then I will simply find that my interpretation is at fault with His Truth.

          • Andy

            I see what you mean, but it almost seems like an issue of semantics. The way I see it, being “tolerant” essentially means “tolerating that which is not harmful to anyone else” in the parlance of our times. I’ve seen this happen with other words, too. I’ve heard claims that, based on a strict interpretation of the etymology of the word, anyone who is not a theist (which would include deists, pantheists, some agnostics, etc.) is an atheist, when that essentially goes against the commonly accepted meaning of the word (at least, as defined rather succinctly by a dictionary). And I don’t agree with that; in fact, some notable people who were most definitely not theists (Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson come to mind) insist(ed) they are/were not atheists. These nitpicky semantic issues really don’t serve much but to distract from the central points of a debate.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I see your point. I am just used to having tolerance, open minded, accepting, etc., used as a club to force people to accept the views of the person who claims to be those things while shutting down the views of the person labeled by them. It is a famous tactic used in politics and spilled over to religion, hence my touchiness with the term.
            I am tired of people saying I am intolerant because I do not accept their views as valid while being told my views should not be accepted. :)

          • Andy

            Yep. Just one of a number of fallacies that people like to use to avoid dealing with the central issue at hand, usually when they in the less defensible position. (As you said, I see this in politics all the time.)

            I do not think I’ve ever met a person who claims to be “tolerant” that would condone heinous acts like murder and rape. So, if someone wants to go off on that ill-advised tangent of semantics, then anyone who is actually “tolerant” of everything would probably be sociopathic.

    • anakinmcfly

      Are you so very sure homosexuality is a sin? Or are you deceived by the devil? Unless you are 100 percent sure, I suggest you leave your internet soapbox and not risk your or any of your listeners’ souls by preaching that which is contrary to the teachings of God and the church in which you serve. Jesus said to his disciples, “Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to anyone by whom they come!” (Luke 17:1).

    • Bones

      Sorry dude, but in this country the Catholic Church is under major investigation over child abuse scandals. My brother is a Catholic priest so I know how distressing this is.

      So I wouldn’t go around pointing fingers at people from other churches because you think they are ‘sinning’.

      Get your own house in order.

      • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

        And, of course, the Catholic Church is the only organization, religious or otherwise, to be involved with child abuse scandals? The percentage of priests involved in these scandals is miniscule and should not overshadow the monumental good the Catholic Church has done in this world. I’m sure your brother would agree with me.

        • Matt

          And neither should good done prevent us from confronting and healing the immeasurable harm done. What you are doing is highly dismissive and not productive at all. Evil never overshadows good unless we turn away and let it. Have more faith in your God and your Church. Be brave enough to face what doesn’t work.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            My comment was written in haste in response to a caustic and unprovoked attack on the integrity of the entire Catholic church. I am in no way dismissive of the suffering innocents endured at the hands of pedophile priests and hope to see them punished to the full extent of the law; I merely pointed out that pedophilia is not exclusive to the Catholic church. I can defend the Church without condoning sin committed by individuals within the Church.

          • Matt

            I was not just speaking of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. What’s more, I wouldn’t call these responses attacks, caustic, or unprovoked. An organization that fully understands its purpose and means what it says is not afraid of criticism, however confronting it might feel to have deep cracks unearthed. It understands that it will only grow more effective through constant reflection and evolution. It understands that while sexual abuse (for example) may not be just their problem, it uniquely undermines what it has set out to do: love and care for human beings.

            Or is that not the purpose? Is dogma, tradition, and looking spiritually proper the only important thing? Either way, better to just be honest about it and get to it. This lukewarm mush is getting increasingly hard to swallow.

          • disqus_Sb0Tz4ZxB0

            Love is the underlying message of the Christian church but that does not mean God’s Law is to be disregarded. The Law is given by God, in love, so that we may know what is sinful and thus, renounce it and strive to be holy as our Heavenly Father is holy. God offers his Law in love and I offer my comments in love. At the risk of serving up more lukewarm mush, Matt, I’ll offer the following and hope it’s not too unpalatable: God loves us too much to let us remain in our sin. And I love you and wish you all the best life has to offer. May God bless you.

          • Bones

            There’s only one Law.

            Love God, love your neighbour, love yourself.

            That’s it.

          • Bones

            ‘caustic and unprovoked’

            Stop playing the victim. The Catholic Church has caused plenty of those whether you wish to accept it or not.

            You’re the one pointing the finger at others about their sin.

            Fact is there are three fingers pointing back at you.

    • James Walker

      I am absolutely 100% sure that there is no place recorded where God said being a homosexual is a sin. There are a small handful of places in the Bible where the English translation seems to show a condemnation of male-on-male and female-on-female sexual interaction, but when those passages are examined in the original languages with an eye toward the historic and cultural context it becomes clear they cannot be referring to homosexuality as we currently understand it. Whatever those biblical writers were condemning, it wasn’t loving, consenting relationships between adult same-sex partners.

      • Andy

        Offhand I can only recall male-on-male interactions being condemned. Am I missing some?

        Also, we have no way of knowing whether or not God said that. Whether or not the bible was divinely dictated or inspired, it was almost certainly written down by man. And man is fallible.

        • James Walker

          Paul (or whoever was the author of the Epistle to the Church at Rome) includes female-on-female interactions in the “clobber passage” of chapter 1.

          and the lack of knowledge regarding whether God truly said something in the Bible or not is why I phrased it the way I did. =)

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Hi James –
            There’s a credible argument to be made that Paul was not referring to lesbianism in Romans 1:26. The early church interpreted this as having penile anal sex. And this is the only passage that even possibly refers to lesbian sexual activity. Let the concubines and multiple wives rejoice!

          • James Walker

            I, for one, would never use Romans 1:26 as an indictment against lesbian sex. I mention it as an example simply because it has been so abused by Evangelical anti-Gay Christians. It’s the only passage they’ve been able to abuse in that manner because it’s the only one of the “clobber passages” that mentions women at all.

    • Mike Barnhart

      Leviticus 18:22 condemns male – male sexually active relations. There is much debate over whether this is a universal law or a Jewish specific law (such as the dietary laws are). The Hebrew translates directly to “With mankind, not will you lie as with womankind: it is abomination.” The Hebrew is וְאֶת-זָכָר–לֹא תִשְׁכַּב, מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה: תּוֹעֵבָה, הִוא.
      Judaism applies the sexual rules to the Noahide Laws, but that does not answer the main question as to whether the sexual rules apply to non-Jews from a Christian standpoint. We know some of The Law does (do not murder, do not steal) and others do not (honor the Sabbath Day, do not wear wool and cotton together). That is the great debate and both sides of the issue have some rather compelling support.
      Suffice to say that we know, with clarity, that Jews are forbidden from having homosexual physical relations but that we cannot say with surety if non-Jews are forbidden.

      • James Walker

        I still question the “clarity” with which we can “know” what Leviticus 18:22 is discussing. I can’t help thinking it’s directly and specifically related to 18:21, but that between the Babylonian captivity and the diaspora we’ve lost some important cultural context. The earliest rabbinical interpretations we have of this passage are, if I understand correctly, post-diaspora.

        • Mike Barnhart

          They are, but the meanings of the words are pretty well known. Combined with the death sentence being historically given for all forms of sexual rule breaking and we can be sure it is anti-homosexuality (active only – if one does not act on the desires then no rule was broken). Of course, unlike today, the Jews of old executed people for having sex with someone other than their spouse as well – to them homosexuality was no different than extramarital affairs. It was all punished the same way. It was not an evil horrible sin while cheating on your spouse was just a little sin – they were both evil horrible sins.

          • James Walker

            I’m not aware of any examples in the Hebrew scriptures where that sentence was ever carried out. We’re given the law and we’re given the rabbinical interpretation (again, post-diaspora interpretation. no guarantees that was the same interpretation used in the time of the Judges), but we’re not shown how it was put into practice (if indeed it ever was). The bar of proof was set very high for many of the capital offenses.

          • Mike Barnhart

            True, but if since it is impossible to know what the interpretation was before then, we have to assume it is the same as when they wrote it down. The bar on understanding something would be set far too high otherwise.
            The only instance (in Biblical times) I can think of when a sexual crime punishment was carried out was when Phinehas son of Eleazar killed the Israelite and his Midianite wife/lover in Numbers 25. Midianites were not allowed to become wives.
            Most people point out Saddom – but that was actually about being terrible to strangers and not homosexuality.

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

            That wasn’t a sexual crime, but a political one. according to the writers, who of course wrote way after the events during the Babylonian exile , marrying a Midianite was taboo for religious, not sexual reasons,…Yet Moses, one of Phinehas’s anscestors had married one with no problems.

          • Mike Barnhart

            It would be both a sexual and a political crime (marriage without consummation is not marriage in the ancient days). Deuteronomy 23 forbids it, so we know it was forbidden. We cannot apply The Law to events that happened before it was given to man, that would be quite unfair and wrong. Phinehas was a contemporary of Moses…he was the Grandson of Aaron (the older brother of Moses).

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

            yet concubines were perfectly legal. It was political…and it was pure murder. He killed those poor people in their sleep, solely because he objected to her religion.

          • Mike Barnhart

            You do not understand what the word murder means, else you would not have used it incorrectly. You also do not understand why they were killed, but it was not solely because of the religion.
            Concubines were married to the man back then, so it does not fully meet the modern use of the term. Polygamy was allowed, though frowned upon, due to the nature of life back then. Women could not survive without men – life was too hard (not that men could survive well without women, but they could survive). An unmarried woman was at the mercy of the charity of others. Not everything that was allowed was the best way to do things.

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

            They were sleeping in their beds! They had no chance to defend themselves. Even if the Bible tries to paint it as justified, it was still premeditated murder. I know exactly why a man drives a spear through a sleeping couple…hatred, religious bigotry, a show of power, and either to instill fear or because of it. Murders like those usually contain one or more of those elements.

            And to assume that women couldn’t survive without men is laughable. To assume that women in ancient times were utterly dependent on their male counterparts does not line up with history. What did women do when their men went off to war, or died of injury or disease? They survived, raised families, earned trades.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Murder is a subset of killing. Not all killing is murder but all murder is killing. Once you learn this, you will see your error clearly.
            You also think that every man went to war when the shofars sounded. This is untrue. The world then is not as nice as it currently is, it was a far harsher era. War crimes did not exist – that is a very modern invention. Do not use the modern era as a filter by which to color the ancient world…when you do, you get the views you currently have.

          • Andy

            I’m curious if “murder” means the same thing now as it did in the time of Moses. Did they know what the term “malice aforethought” means?

          • Mike Barnhart

            I like the question (I enjoy philosophical discussions). I would say yes, since the Torah forbids the unlawful killing of people in the famous Ten Commandments but it also gives the death penalty for committing crimes and commands wars to be waged…and both of those require killing.
            Intent mattered to them. So much so that they had cities of refuge where an accidental murderer could flee and not have retribution taken upon him. For example, you are working on a roof, you slip and drop your hammer as you slip, barely catching yourself as your hammer goes over the edge…landing on the head of another man, killing him. It is murder by the old rules (manslaughter today – though you still might end up in jail for the accident) and the dead man’s family could kill you for it. But since it was an accident, you could flee to a city of refuge and be safe.

          • Bones

            So Hitler’s SS didn’t commit murder.

            It was just killing for an ideology.

            That’s OK then.

            Like God’s command to Moses:

            “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’”

            If we did that today it would be ok, wouldn’t it?

          • Mike Barnhart

            You are looking at the past through the lens of today – filtering it and coloring it with the mindset of the present day. This is not something you should do, for it makes you say things like you just said, above.
            You also took that passage completely out of context, which is what people often do when they want to try to make a point that the passage actually does not make (anti-homosexual groups often do this exact same thing – interesting parallel, eh?). WHY did they kill these people? I will let you answer that and then you will see why it was not murder. Make sure you mention the crime they committed against God.

            Murder is unlawful killing, therefor Hitler’s SS did not murder; it was all quite lawful. They simply killed.

          • Bones

            I’m quite aware of the story and why the Israelites massacred themselves.

            Why has the judgement changed though?

            If we’re to believe the story than that is the consequence of idolatry.

            Actually it’s got nothing to do with homosexuality but the question of morality in the Bible itself.

            The Bible is not a book to base your morals on. Some of it, including it’s depiction of God, is quite immoral.

            Killing others because of their religious beliefs or ‘sins’ and committing genocide is now more unacceptable than who people sleep with.

            Though you seem to disagree.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Then why did you quote it out of context and twist the event to fit your needs?
            Ah, you are one of those “God, if He even exists, is immoral” people. I understand now why you twist things to fit your agenda. You could have started with that view and saved us both a lot of trouble.

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

            To use God..”following God, pleasing God, “god said” or whatever excuse given” as the justification for murder is to us immoral.

          • Mike Barnhart

            You are still using the word “murder” incorrectly. Please use the correct word “killing” instead. The two words are not the same thing, as already explained.

          • James Walker

            no, she used it correctly. see, while we moderns do need to understand whether the participants in a story viewed their actions as murder or not we are not obligated to share that view. we are not obligated to excuse their actions on the basis of “God said it” even though we understand that’s what they told themselves and their contemporaries.

          • Mike Barnhart

            If we apply our current views on murder to the past, we change what happened. Our current views did not exist then, so they are irrelevant to that time. It is no different than saying the borders of all nations are no longer valid because they were created by war and current international law says you cannot take land in war and call it your own any more. We cannot retroactively apply that view to the past any more than we can retroactively apply our views on murder to the past. You must use the views at the time to understand why things were done.

            Logical consistency is required, which means if we decide to retroactively apply current views on one thing we logically must do it for all things.

          • James Walker

            applying our current understanding to the events of the past does not require us to alter the events of the past, Mike. it requires us to recognize that we understand those events differently than the participants did and to ask ourselves how we might behave differently if we were presented those same choices given our present understanding.

          • Bones

            Moses and Joshua would be deadset war criminals.advocating genocide, the slaughter of children and scorched earth policies. There’s no doubt about that.

            This isn’t just an account of ancient batttles like the Roman and Egyptian Empires.

            It’s divinely sanctioned extermination.

            I’m glad none of it happened and God doesn’t advocate slaughter.

            Much of the Old Testament is revisionist nation building rhetoric.

            That people are willing to still kill for it is appalling.

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

            Agreed.

          • anakinmcfly

            Just to toss this out there: while I disagree with some of your views, I appreciate your firmly logical approach, so thanks for that! I find it easier to understand and debate people who engage topics in a rationally consistent manner, which – for better or worse – isn’t always easy to find.

          • James Walker

            you’ve mistaken the phrase “depiction of God is immoral” for the statement “God is immoral”. it’s not the same thing at all.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Very true, but all we have to go by is what has been written. If we discount the Bible’s depiction of God as untrue then all we have nothing left.

          • James Walker

            I would suggest letting go of the “all or none” proposition when dealing with biblical interpretation. the Bible as a human book written with a Divine subject matter just works better for me as a foundation for my faith than a Bible supposedly written by God about Himself that doesn’t seem to jive with what I can observe about the universe and human behavior. it’s much more flexible and enduring, and does a better job of answering my questions about “How shall we then live?” when I realize it was written by people just like me trying to answer the same questions.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I agree, in most things. What I mean is, when you (generic you, not personal you – I hate English sometimes) start saying Chapter 1, Verses 1-4 are true, Verse 5-6 is not, Verse 7-10 is true…that is not a good thing to do. A topic can be literal or allegorical, but once inside the topic we should not pick and choose what we want to keep and what we want to throw away. Of course, there will always be descriptive items that are not meant to be literal (four corners of the world, for example) that are found in literal discussions – but I think we all understand that is not the same.
            So, for example, if we say the Law to not kill means no killing at all (and not just murder), then we have to say the Laws on capital punishment are all lies, inserted by man and not from God. They are in the same section, discussing the rules given to the Israelites. While some of the rules only apply to Jews, some only in the Land of Israel, and some to everyone, that is not the same as saying some are real and given by God while others are fictitious. If we toss out one rule, they all must go – if we accept one rule is right and God given, then all must be, due to being given at the same time to the same people.

            TLDR; We have to be careful about how granular we get in our picking and choosing what is literal and what is not, what is from God and what is not.

          • James Walker

            and you’re still stuck, Mike. understanding the human origin of the text does not mean that we are reduced to “picking and choosing” what to believe or not to believe. it means, instead, that we must attempt to get ourselves into the heads of the writers, into their time and culture, to understand what they were writing about, what they were trying to tell us about God and about their faith. we don’t “pick and choose”, but we do use the context to help us understand how (and if) a given portion of the text is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, etc.

          • Mike Barnhart

            So explain how it would work using an example. I agree with you when posed with portions from different areas of scripture, but what about when it is a portion of one area of scripture. Give me an example of what you mean where a few verses are not kept out of a larger set of verses (so they all use the same context, same writer, same timeframe, etc), so I can understand what you mean.

          • James Walker

            ok, by way of example that will (hopefully) bring us back to the essential topic of the blog post as well, let’s take Leviticus 18 which includes one of the famous “clobber passages” against homosexuality. leaving aside the argument you’ve made previously, Mike, that this doesn’t apply to non-Jews anyway, what impact does it have on our reading of the Law if we view it as a human document written by men who were attempting to produce an “Holy People, set aside unto YHVH”? perhaps it reduces (somewhat) the force of the document if it was not actually dictated by God to Aaron and Moses as the text claims. but since for centuries the Jewish people lived and behaved as if that’s exactly what happened, it really doesn’t matter whether we in the present time accept the Bible as a received text or a human produced one. the Bible isn’t attempting to be an historical record, it’s attempting to teach us about our faith and about its origins and the origins of that faith were a people who believed God had literally spoken to their patriarchs to found their culture as a people set apart from all the others around them. THAT is what I glean from reading the books of the Law and that is critically important to me as I explore where my faith came from and where my relationship with God is going.

            so, to those founders of the Jewish faith, sexual purity was important and there were many rules they associated with that purity. again, it’s of lesser importance whether God literally dictated these rules to a literal Moses and Aaron or whether this was an invention of the priesthood that became accepted later as “Truth” and finally recorded during the Babylonian captivity. the end result was a people who lived differently from their neighbors on purpose so that they could be acceptable to God.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Firstly, what you did was show why we cannot put our current views onto the people of the past. If we believe God did not give these laws it is irrelevant to those people who followed them believing that He did. Our view is not relevant to their actions and our moral outlook today has nothing to do with their moral outlook back then. :)
            I think the crux of the discussion boils down to whether we take it on faith that Moses did not talk to God to get The Law or if Moses did. I see now it makes a very big difference, something I did not see before.
            If God and Moses did not talk, then The Law is simply a set of guidelines to be taken or not based on need and/or desire. If they did talk, then The Law is what God wants and is therefor immutable. Our interpretation can change, as we both agree, but we cannot discount a portion because we feel it is not relevant or such.
            Your position makes sense if God did not talk to Moses but makes no sense if God did talk to Moses. I think we are at am impasse, since I believe God did talk to him and you believe (at least I think you do) that God did not talk to him. Both are equally valid faith based positions to hold – though obviously mine is the correct one ;) (I know you got it, but for others that was not to be taken seriously, hence the winky face.)
            Thanks for helping me understand your position, that is what I love about these kinds of discussions.

          • James Walker

            “If God and Moses did not talk, then The Law is simply a set of guidelines to be taken or not based on need and/or desire. ”

            I would only expand this to include “and/or what the Spirit reveals to us as important to our faith walk today”

            aside from that quibble, you’ve outlined the distinctions between our approaches pretty nicely.

          • Bones

            “If God and Moses did not talk, then The Law is simply a set of guidelines to be taken or not based on need and/or desire. ”

            Bingo!

            God and Moses didn’t talk.

            God didn’t live in an ark which had to be transported around either.

            These were Laws designed for the Ancient Hebrew community, not anyone else, and it’s debatable if they were actually enforced.

          • Mike Barnhart

            You do realize you are professing a faith based belief and presenting as a fact, right? If not, now you know.
            You are presenting personal opinion as fact and expecting everyone else to kowtow to your view. It just is not going to happen. But hey, I give you an A for effort in your failed attempt.

          • Bones

            You mean like, the Bible is infallible, inerrant, it all happened as written, that God is still hiding Eden.

            That’s personal opinion dude.

            There’s little in the way of facts to back a lot of it up. In fact it’s the contrary.

            A Fail in your attempt at whatever it is you’re doing.

            “When the facts change, I change my mind, what do you do, sir?”

            Let me guess, stick your head in the sand and shout ‘Unbeliever!’

          • Mike Barnhart

            Straw man alert! Flame thrower active! Straw man destroyed, its remains ignored!
            Now to address the portion which is not a logical fallacy:
            Your guess is as good as your logic, in other words, completely wrong. When information arises that conflicts with an interpretation, we need to critically look at both the information and the interpretation. One of the two is wrong. Sometimes, the information is not what we thought it was, sometimes the interpretation is not what we thought it was. We do not just toss out an interpretation on one data point, unless that point is massive in its effect (age of word being only a few thousand years is a good example).

            Science, operates on reasonable doubt and solid proof, in a generic sense. We can say something is true where there is no longer any reasonable doubt and can say something is not true when we have proof of it, good examples of these are the Theory of Evolution (now that saltation and punctuated equilibrium have been added) as being true and The Universal Law of Gravitation as untue (it cannot even predict the orbit of Mercury – it fails in its universality due to the failed assumption that gravity is transmitted instantly and undiminished to every object in the universe). We say something is inconclusive when we are in between those two states. Science also is designed to only be utilized on the natural world – using it on anything else is an abuse of science and is considered very bad science. Science cannot explain things of a subjective nature, such as why my entire family likes tea and I hate it. It can tell me what I hate about tea but not why I hate it.
            So using science as a guide, we need to do the same thing with our religion. The difference between science and religion is where faith comes in. Faith is what is used to say something is true or false when it is actually in the inconclusive area. Most of religion falls firmly in that area.
            So, with all that in mind, we turn to Gan Eden, aka The Garden of Eden, aka The Garden of God. After Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden, God made it such that the Garden was unable to be found by man ever again. He hid it from us. This means no footpaths, no radiation emissions, no sounds to hear, nothing. The very fabric of space and time is altered such that it appears to not exist. As such, science is unable to be used to prove or disprove its existence and it falls firmly into the inconclusive area. This is where faith steps in (since it is religion) and we either have faith it exists or faith it does not exist.
            There can be no faith used as support in science, but faith is a component of religion and therefor can be used. You do not have to like it, but you do have to accept it as true.

          • Bones

            Lol. That’s funny.

            It’s difficult to believe someone in the 21st century still believes in a garden being hidden by God though admits other parts of the story are completely wrong/allegorical/whatever. (Yet was moaning somewhere else about consistency in reading biblical accounts.) And how that interpretation has had to change with the facts.

            That’s even leaving aside the fact that they are willing to believe things happened with contrary evidence written by people who hadn’t seen it, thousands of years after the events.

            How you going with that evidence of the Exodus/Joshuan Conquest/ Davidic Kingdom?

            Conveniently ignored that bit.

            That’s what what happens when ‘faith’ comes against evidence.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Are you really trying to say you have evidence the Garden never existed? Do you really think any of us would believe such tripe?
            According to you, an all powerful God is incapable of hiding something from humanity – yet we both know humans hide things from each other all the time and we are nothing close to the power of an omnipotent God.
            But hey, I will give you the chance to fully shame yourself by letting you show us your evidence that Gan Eden never existed. Put up of accept it is all faith based like a rational person.

          • Bones

            There is as much evidence for unicorns than there is for the Garden of Eden.

            Do you have faith in unicorns?

          • Mike Barnhart

            Oh no, another logical fallacy. I will entertain this one, though and show why it would not be a good logical argument even if it was not used in a fallacious way.

            The Pinocchio Lizard was extinct, scientists agreed. That is, until they found one and realized it was not actually extinct. Thus, if the following statement could have been made in 2000, “There is as much evidence for the Pinocchio Lizard as there is for the Garden of Eden. Do you have faith in the Pinocchio Lizard?” If you answered NO, you were wrong, it was still here, just not found.

            And then on top of all that, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. I asked you to show your evidence to support your claim. You can, at any time, simply say it is a faith based belief (which is obvious to everyone but you, apparently).

          • Bones

            Oh dear.

            Couldn’t find a real unicorn, Mike?

            Or any evidence of one apart from what is written in fables?

            Well they’re real of course because it was written about centuries ago. Aren’t they.

            That’s your logic Mike.

            Try to prove the negative.

            Like believing Greek myths.

            You can’t prove their was never a half man, half horse, can you?

            The reason you can’t see them Mike is they’re hiding in a secret underworld in the fifth dimension.

            Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence and in the case of much of the OT, there’s not even evidence yet alone extraordinary evidence.

            It’s that tricky God again.

            He likes hiding things.

          • Mike Barnhart

            You have become very boring in your continued demand that the absence of evidence is evidence of absence. I will give you one last try to become interesting again, else I will stop talking about this to you.
            Again, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. You keep claiming you have evidence, but then show an absence of evidence as your evidence.
            I agree you cannot prove a negative, so why do you repeated say you have proof of the negative claims you continuously spout forth?
            So this is your last chance to actually show the evidence of your claim or else admit you are holding a faith based belief…that you actually have no supporting evidence. I know you cannot show any evidence, you know you cannot show any evidence, but since you are still making the claim anyway…

          • Bones

            Don’t you hate it when Jewish archaeologists set out to condemn their own religion?

            What was that about logical fallacies?

            Quick play that card.

            Israel Finkelstein is the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University and is also the co-director of excavations at Megiddo in northern Israel. He served as Director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University from 1996-2002. In 2005 he received the Dan David Prize.[

            Finkelstein and his colleagues are stirring controversy with contentions that many biblical stories never happened, but were written by what he calls `a creative copywriter' to advance an ideological agenda.

            Prof. Israel Finkelstein sees no contradiction between holding a proper Pesach seder and telling the story of the exodus from Egypt, and the fact that, in his opinion, the exodus never occurred. The Hebrew edition of the book by Finkelstein and his American colleague, the historian and archaeologist Neal Asher Silberman, "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts" has just been published. The English edition was published in the United States in January 2001 and a French edition appeared last year. In both countries the book spent many weeks on the best-seller lists and generated considerable public interest. The New York Times dubbed the biblical authors of the seventh century BCE "God's ghostwriters" in a lengthy review of the book.

            Next month the University of California in Los Angeles will hold an event on the archaeology of David and Solomon, with the participation of Finkelstein and Prof. Lawrence Stager of Harvard. On the same occasion Arte, the Franco-German culture channel, will start to film a four-part documentary based on the book, which is scheduled to be broadcast next year.

            What is it about "The Bible Unearthed" that has stirred such interest? Finkelstein, who is director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, observes that this is the first "comprehensive book in which archaeology is the queen of battle and not some tawdry ornament of Bible scholars." And Finkelstein is indeed ready to do battle. In addition to the periods of the patriarchs and the exodus, about which most scholars agree that there is only the most tenuous connection between the stories in the Bible and the historical reality, Finkelstein and Silberman place a large question mark over the period up to and including the time of the United Monarchy.

            "Did it happen or not?" he asks at the end of each chapter, and proceeds to explain why it did not, based on his research and archaeological findings, including the discoveries at Megiddo, a site that is considered the jewel in the crown of biblical archaeology.

            An additional innovation in the book is the reverse point of view the authors adopt. "The book does not examine the history chronologically, from earlier to later," he explains. "It goes from the later to the earlier, and at the end of every chapter there is a "punch line" that examines the authors' intentions." The authors, in this case, are those who wrote the biblical account in question, and the authorial intention refers to the theological and ideological foundation of the seventh century BCE, the period in which most of the Bible was written, according to Finkelstein.

            He deconstructs this foundation only in order to reconstruct it according to the logic that guided the ancient authors, and arrives at the conclusion that the stories about the conquest of the Land of Israel, the settlement period, the United Kingdom and the attempt to enhance the prestige of the Kingdom of Judah at the expense of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) are part of an ideological - religious and political - manifesto, a master stroke by a creative copywriter.

            The village of Jerusalem

            The Bible talks about the great and magnificent united monarchy of David and Solomon in the 10th century BCE, which split into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, because of the demand by Solomon's son, Rehoboam (Rehavam), for excessive tax payments from the tribes of the northern hills and Galilee, which thereupon angrily seceded from the united monarchy. The result was two centuries of strife, wars and fraternal hatred.

            The Scriptures treat Israel as a secondary kingdom of no importance, a place of incorrigible sinners, whereas Judah is considered the great and just kingdom whose capital is Jerusalem, where King Solomon established a splendid temple during the glorious era of the united monarchy. Finkelstein is dubious about the existence of this great united monarchy.

            "There is no archaeological evidence for it," he says. "This is something unexampled in history. I don't think there is any other place in the world where there was a city with such a wretched material infrastructure but which succeeded in creating such a sweeping movement in its favor as Jerusalem, which even in its time of greatness was a joke in comparison to the cities of Assyria, Babylon or Egypt. It was a typical mountain village. There is no magnificent finding, no gates of Nebuchadnezzar, no Assyrian reliefs, no Egyptian temples - nothing. Even the temple couldn't compete with the temples of Egypt and their splendor."

            Then why was it written?

            "For reasons of ideology. Because the authors of the Bible, people from Judah at the end of the seventh century BCE, in the period of King Josiah, had a long score to settle with the northern kingdom, with its splendor and richness. They despised the northerners and had not forgotten their dominance in forging the Israelite experience, in the competition for the sites of ritual. Contrary to what is usually thought, the Israelites did not go to pray in Jerusalem. They had a temple in Samaria (today's Sebastia) and at Beit El (Bethel). In our book we tried to show that as long as Israel was there, Judah was small and frightened, militarily and internationally. Judah and Jerusalem were on the fringes. A small tribe. There was nothing there. A small temple and that's all."

            And the kingdom of Israel?

            "The archaeological findings show that Israel was a large, prosperous state, and was the main story until its destruction in the eighth century. Its geographic location was excellent, on the coast, near Phoenicia, Assyria and Syria. It had a diverse demographic composition: foreign residents and workers, Canaanites, Phoenicians; there was an Aramean population in the Jordan Valley, and there were mixed marriages. It was only 150 years after Israel's destruction that Judah rose to greatness, becoming self-aware and developing the monotheistic approach: one state, one God, one capital, one temple, one king."

            What is the root of the tension between archaeology and the text, and what happened during Josiah's reign?

            "We think these ideas of Judah, that all the Israelites have to worship one God in one temple, and live under the rule of one king, sprang up in the seventh century BCE. If anyone had raised such ideas aloud before 720, he would have been beaten to a pulp by the northern monarchs. Everything started to come together after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, and it also had a territorial aspect: from 734 to 625 BCE the Assyrian Empire ruled here. Today's American empire is negligible in comparison, in terms of its power and its crushing strength. For example, if someone in Judah had talked about expansion into Assyrian-dominated territories in 720, that would have been the end of him. King Hezekiah tried, and we saw happened to him. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, arrived with a huge army and decimated him.

            "But a few years later, when Josiah was in power, something incredible happened. Assyria, the kingdom of evil, collapsed in front of his eyes. In the same way we saw the Berlin Wall collapse in 1989, that's what happened to Assyria. It fell apart and beat a hasty retreat from the Land of Israel. By this time the kingdom of Israel no longer existed, so Josiah woke up one morning, looked to his left and to his right, and there was neither an Assyrian nor an Israelite to be seen. And then his officials decided to put into practice their religious and territorial ideas."

            Still, why was the United Monarchy invented?

            "Because they wanted to seize control of the territories of the kingdom of Israel and annex them, because, they said, `These territories are actually ours and if you have a minute, we'll tell you how that's so. `Many years ago, one of our kings, David, reigned in Jerusalem and ruled them, and we are the only ones who have a historical claim to them' - and so the myth was created. `The kings of Israel were scoundrels,' the people of Judah said, `but as for the people there, we have no problem with them, they are all right.' They said about Israel what an ultra-Orthodox person would say about you or me: `Israel, though he has sinned, is still Israel.'"

            Nothing to conquer

            According to Finkelstein's theory, the legends about earlier periods were invented for the same purpose. "The people of Judah started to market the story of Joshua's conquest of the land, which was also written in that period, in order to give moral justification to their territorial longings, to the conquest of the territories of Israel. The story also contains a `laundering' of foreigners, which was exactly the problem Josiah faced when he conquered Israel. So they relate the story of the Gibeonites, who were terrified by the might of Joshua and his army and begged for their lives, and told Joshua that they were not indigenous Canaanites but foreigners who came from afar. Joshua made an alliance of peace with them, but when he found out they had cheated him, he did not expel them but made them hewers of wood and drawers of water - in other words, he laundered them.

            "That is the situation Josiah and his people faced with foreign deportees the Assyrians brought to the Land of Israel, and the biblical text comes and says, `Have no worry, this already happened before: there were strangers in the land then, too, and Joshua laundered them during the conquest. Our conquest is not really what it looks like, it is only the restoration of past glories.'

            So they must have had a good information ministry?

            "I don't believe that there was a department for the invention of stories in Jerusalem. There were folktales that were handed down from generation to generation, local traditions and legends, and they were the basis for the creation of the biblical narrative. Maybe there really was no conquest, and maybe there were vague memories of local events. In any case, the scribes in the period of Josiah collected these materials and forged them into a coherent story containing a message it was important for them to get across. They didn't actually care whether there ever was such a person as Joshua. Jericho and the area of Bethel, and the Shefelah and the Galilee were on the agenda of Judah. They never actually conquered many of these regions. `This was once ours,' they said, `as in the time of Joshua, and all we are doing is putting history back in its track, correcting the course of history and on this occasion renewing the glorious monarchy of David, which was the first to rule these territories.'"

            Are you saying that the story of the conquest of the land is a complete fiction?

            "It is a story which, as it is presented in the Bible, definitely never happened. Archaeology shows that it has no historical grounds. Many of the sites that are cited in the story of the conquest were not even inhabited in the relevant period, so there was nothing to conquer, there were only hills and rocks. Jericho was not fortified and had no walls, and it's doubtful that there was a settlement there at the time. Therefore, in the case of the story of the conquest of Arad, for instance, some scholars said that the war was fought against the forces of one Bedouin sheikh.

            "If one does a calculation backward from the point at which we have historical documentation, such as the external Assyrian writings about the monarchy of Ahab, it turns out that the story of the biblical conquest would have occurred at the end of the 13th century BCE. At that time the Egyptians ruled in the land, but there is no mention of that in the Bible.

            "There is a stela in a Cairo museum on which the word Israel first appears in written form. The son of Ramesses II launched a military expedition to Caanan and conquered Ashkelon and Gezer, and wrote the famous sentence, `Israel is spoiled, his seed is not.' That was in 1207 BCE - after the conquest as related in the Bible."

            If there was no conquest, where did the Israelites come from?

            "Egypt was a mighty empire that ruled here with an iron fist. In the 14th century BCE there are stories about local kings who ask Pharaoh for help against one another, asking him to send 50 soldiers - in other words, that was the number that was sufficient to impose order here. So how did a few foot soldiers from the desert conquer the land? There was certainly no orderly military conquest. According to the archaeological findings, the Israelites came from the local stock: they were actually Canaanites who became Israelites in a socio-economic process."

            Lies, no; spin, yes

            Finkelstein did not always hold these views. "I remember that when I was writing my doctoral thesis about the Israelite settlement in the hill region, I was convinced of the accuracy of the theory propounded by the German scholars - which was then dominant in the field - holding that this population came from outside in a quiet infiltration and settled here," he says. "And I remember well that in the course of the surveys I did in Samaria, at Shiloh and in the areas between Ramallah and Nablus, I began to be aware that this was not a population that had infiltrated here but groups of a local population that moved around the land in circular processes. That it was not a pool of desert nomads who then moved rapidly west, but rather a lengthy process, of hundreds of years, which had already taken place in the past, at the beginning of the Early Bronze Age and in the Middle Bronze Age.

            "For me this was something entirely new. It led me to the thought that the settlement processes in the Land of Israel were circular: in periods of crisis the tribes became nomadic shepherds, and in periods of abundance they had permanent settlements. From this I understood that these were processes that were undergone by the local population and not by a population that marched in a procession and entered the Land of Israel by means of war or peace."

            The question is why it appears in this form in the Bible. What idea is it meant to serve?

            "The answer is that in order to understand the episode of the conquest, we have to look at the kingdom of Judah in the seventh century BCE and understand that the story serves the authors of the Scriptures, because through it they resolved for themselves the territorial problems of the conquest of the then vanquished Kingdom of Israel."

            So Joshua did not exist?

            "I don't say that. Perhaps there were memories of some great commander or general. On the other hand, this text describes something that happened in the 13th century and was written in the seventh century - that is, 600 years later - by people who did not have access to newspaper archives, and at the time of the events not one letter of the alphabet had been written anywhere, so it is not reasonable to think that this story contains many early memories."

            And was there a United Monarchy?

            "A huge number of people talk about the United Monarchy; but the number of people who truly understand the matter is very small. There is a stream in the research that says that David and Solomon were not historical figures, that they are a legend. I don't think so. There is an inscription from Tel Dan from the ninth century BCE that mentions the southern kingdom by the name of `the house of David.' So it stands to reason that they existed, but the question is whether they ruled a large empire, and about that there is not the slightest hint. All the evidence is against it."

            Yet there are many archaeologists and historians who dispute your view?

            "It's true that until recently there was a great deal of opposition to this conception. Today, though, at least some of my adversaries agree with me. There is a large difference in the text between the David stories and the Solomon stories. The whole character of Solomon is that of an Assyrian king: resplendent, rich, wise, a womanizer and a great trader, a figure of ideology like someone out of a journal. David is not, precisely because he is given a complex description and there are the unpleasant stories about him that make him a human figure. And according to archaeology, there is no hint of magnificence or pomp in 10th-century Jerusalem, and in fact until the end of the eighth century BCE, until the Assyrian period and after the destruction of Israel, when refugees from the north began streaming into the city, it was a small village, remote, wretched and unfortified."

            So are you saying that the United Monarchy is a lie?

            "I don' believe in lies in history. Spin, yes; lies, no. What I am saying is that if in the seventh century BCE a strong tradition existed in Jerusalem that the temple on the hill had been built by the founders of the dynasty, I see no reason to question that. That doesn't mean it was a huge and magnificent building. On the question of the grandeur of the United Monarchy I find myself in a tough scholarly confrontation: there is still a debate over the archaeological remnants. Two magnificent palaces were found at Megiddo. [The noted archaeologist] Yigael Yadin said they were from the 10th century BCE, the period of Solomon, and could support the account of the great monarchy, whereas I think they are from the ninth century BCE, 70 years later, from the period of the northern kingdom.”

            Doesn’t it follow that if there was no United Monarchy, there was also no schism?

            “All the villages in the north in the 10th century BCE were Canaanite villages. David and Solomon ruled in Jerusalem, and probably also the southern hill region, and maybe part of the northern hill region. They did not rule in the northern valleys or in Galilee, and therefore there was no split of the monarchy. From the beginning there were two entities – northern and southern – but the Scripture story about the schism is meant to serve Josiah’s conquest in the seventh century BCE. `Now we will establish the monarchy anew,’ the authors of the Bible said to their readers, `and it will be united eternally.’”

            The Caananite connection

            If Finkelstein is ready to concede the existence of David and Solomon, albeit as kinks of a small, marginal entity, when it comes to the exodus from Egypt he is absolute in his opinion. “There is no evidence that the Israelites were in Egypt, not the slightest, not the least bit of evidence. There are no clues, either archaeological or historical, to prove that the Israelites built monuments in Egypt, even though the biblical description of the famine in the Land of Israel may be accurate. We know from archaeology that there was a migration of Canaanites to Egypt in the first half of the second millennium BCE, that these migrants built communities in the area of the Nile Delta, and that the Egyptians afterward expelled them from there. Perhaps that is the ancient memory, I don’t know. What I can say is that the story, in the form we have it, serves a later situation. It spoke to the exiles in Babylon and to those who returned from the exile. What the story told them is that exile is not the end of the world, it’s possible to return, the deserts can be crossed, the land can be reconquered. That gave them hope.”

            The stories of the patriarchs, Finkelstein says – adding that today most scholars accept this view – are folklore about forefathers that the authors of the Bible in the seventh century salvaged from the mists of history in order to reinforce their hold on the cultural heritage. Scientific searches for them have produced nothing.

            “Did these people ever exist? I don’t know. They were primeval forbears, and the goal was to create a myth saying that Judah is the center of the world, of the Israelite way of life, against the background of the reality of the later kingdom.”

            So, if there were no patriarchs, maybe we don’t have patriarchal rights?

            “I am a great believer in a total separation between tradition and research. I myself have a warm spot in my heart for the Bible and its splendid stories. During our Pesach seder, my two girls, who are 11 and 7, didn’t hear a word about the fact that there was no exodus from Egypt. When they are 25, we will tell them a different story. Belief, tradition and research are three parallel lines that can exist simultaneously. I don’t see that as a gross contradiction.”

            What about the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron?

            “The building is Herodian. It was built in the time of Herod, hundreds of years after the period of the patriarchs as told in the Bible. There are apparently ancient graves under the building. The question is what the Bible intended to express in the story of the cave’s purchase. Its genre is influenced by the Assyrian and Babylonian period, from the eighth and seventh centuries BCE. This particular chapter was probably written in the period of the return to Zion and it may have earlier foundations, from the end of the period of the monarchy, and then the goal would be to exalt the kingdom of Judah and say that the fathers of the nation are buried in “our territory” – not where the Israelites were, but in Judah. If it was written in the period of the return to Zion it is even more interesting, because when the Persians divided the land and redefined its borders, Hebron remained outside Judah. In this context, the tombs of the patriarchs are the Promised Land. They resided in Judah and saw Hebron from afar, and they could only despair over their territorial ambitions.

            “One day, at the time of the withdrawal from Hebron, I visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs with Rabbi Menahem Fruman, from [the nearby settlement of] Tekoah, as part of a television program. I explained that the structure is Herodian, and the interviewer, Emmanuel Rosen, asked Fruman what he had to say about that. He replied, `It’s very interesting. He is a man of science, so I assume he knows what he is talking about.’ Rosen was absolutely flabbergasted, he was afraid Fruman would attack me, but Fruman went on, `Do you want me to play time games here? For me it’s enough that he says Jews prayed here in the Herodian period. If he said that it’s been here since the Middle Ages, that would be enough for me, too.’

            “I identified so strongly with him that I almost embraced him, because matters of culture and identity are not measured by a stopwatch and don’t work at the pace of politics.’

            Aren’t you concerned that your theory will serve those who deny the Zionist argument?

            “The debate over our right to the land is ridiculous. As though there is some international committee in Geneva that considers the history of peoples. Two peoples come and one says, `I have been here since the 10th century BCE,’ and the other says, `No, he’s lying, he has only been here since the ninth century BCE.’ What will they do – evict him? Tell him to start packing? In any event, our cultural heritage goes back to these periods, so this whole story is nonsense. Jerusalem existed and it had a temple that symbolized the longings of the Judahites who lived here, and afterward, in the period of Ezra and Nehemiah, of the Jews. Isn’t that enough? How many peoples go back to the ninth or 10th centuries BCE? And let’s say that there was no exodus from Egypt and that there was no great and magnificent united monarchy, and that we are actually Canaanites. So in terms of rights, we are okay, aren’t we?”

            http://fontes.lstc.edu/~rklein

          • Bones

            And to think that Jewish settlers are forcibly removing Palestinians from their homes over dubious and spurious claims that God promised them the land.

            It’s as dubious as the Ancient Hebrews receiving laws from God.

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

            White evangelicals believe as much as Orthodox Jews that God gave the land of Israel to the Jews. NO other sub-groups of either faith group hold majority stances there. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/10/03/more-white-evangelicals-than-american-jews-say-god-gave-israel-to-the-jewish-people/
            And guess who is supporting Israel in this stance to remove Palestinians from their homes?

          • Bones

            Yes, that doesn’t surprise me.

            Most Jewish people don’t seem to have a literalist view of the Bible.

            That’s probably why Tel Aviv has a reputation as the gay capital of the world and Israel recognises same sex marriages (only carried out overseas) whether my own government in Australia doesn’t!

            I studied theology with a Palestinian Christian. His family was told to pack up within the day, then their house was bulldozed for settlements.

            I remember telling him I went to a rally which unbeknownst to me was an Evangelical rally promoting settlement in Palestine.

            He was quite disgusted with me for supporting the oppression of his people.

            It doesn’t seem to worry people that many Palestinians are also Christians.

            Not that that should happen to anyone.

          • Bones

            Oh and of course those Christian supporters probably also believe that when all the Jews return to Israel, then the Messiah will return.

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

            No. At least I don’t think so. From what I remember from my growing up in fundy land, what is being awaited is for the Jews to build a temple, which will be descrated by the antichrist, who’s been causing trouble for awhile. He then begins the march towards Armmageddon, which prompts a big ole battle which Jesus, of course wins. The faithful are purportedly long gone, having been divinely whisked away to safety, and get to watch things unfold, unscathed.

            Thre are variations of the theme, depending where one believes they get to escape all the hellish “fun”. I’ve been trying to get all that crap out of my memory for awhile now.

          • Bones

            Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

          • Mike Barnhart

            And yet you provide none for your extraordinary claims. Interesting.

          • Bones

            Who has made the extraordinary claim that God is hiding a garden in another dimension.

            Nice try at making shit up.

            The Exodus was not an extraordinary event?

            Yet there is no evidence.

            You can build a tower up to heaven, so high that god (or the gods) were worried about it?

            And then they had to go down to find out what was going on.

            No evidence.

            That’s all folks.

          • Bones

            The Old Testament tells us next to nothing about God.

          • Mike Barnhart

            That is untrue, it tells us a lot.

          • Bones

            No it doesn’t.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Your inability to comprehend it does not mean it is not there. Sorry.

          • Bones

            I know it’s lacking from fundamentalists but it’s called critical analysis and higher order thinking.

            Most of the accounts of the OT were written thousands/ hundreds of years after supposed events.

            There’s a reason that God doesn’t do the miraculous signs and visitations like in the OT, nor command slaughter of unbelievers. Because it never happened.

            It’s not that God changed.

            But we changed.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Nope.

          • Bones

            Yep.

            If you want to give yourself authority.

            Just say God told me.

            The Israelites learned that trick early on.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Nope.

          • Bones

            Yep!

          • Mike Barnhart

            Nope.

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

            Maybe some of us discount the Bible’s depiction of God as inadequate.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Maybe, but from what I have read of your posts you are not discounting it as inadequate but rather as untrue.

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

            Does it matter if they actually happened or not, if we can learn something from the stories?

          • Mike Barnhart

            I think the primary purpose is the message, what we are to learn from the stories. That is the big thing to get out of them, absolutely.

          • James Walker

            there’s a huge difference between something being “untrue” and something being non-factual. some of the greatest spiritual truths are explored very well in works of fiction. does that make the spiritual truths any less “true”?

          • Mike Barnhart

            Hmmm….very good point. I need to let that sink in.

            This is why I love these discussions – people with very different backgrounds and lifestyles all putting in their views. I love that people strongly defend their views – a view that cannot be strongly defended is not worthy of holding. Strongly defended views always provide such pearls of wisdom if we allow ourselves to keep a look for them. :)

          • James Walker

            sure, if we view the Bible as “received text”, then every place in the Bible where it says God ordered some people to kill other people is “justifiable homicide” rather than “murder”. but what if the Bible is not “received text” at all but the recorded writings of authors who earnestly believed they were relating what God wanted? in that case, we can apply the same criteria to those ancient peoples that we do to modern religious-based mass killers like the 9/11 attackers. they are and were murderers. using “God said it” is not now and was not then a “real” justification for violating the commandment “thou shalt not kill”. it is pretending that God granted you an exception to the rule, in order to further your own agenda.

          • Mike Barnhart

            The issue is the same set of rules that say “you will not kill” (which is understood to be murder and not the more generic kill) also prescribes capital punishment (which is killing) for certain crimes. This would mean you either violate one law or the other and both were given at the same time.
            If we start picking and choosing which laws we say were God given and which were not (when both were given at the same time), then we might as well get rid of all of them.
            The problem with murder is that it is very subjective. If the killing is lawful, it stops being murder. From the eyes of a group in which the killing was not lawful, it is murder, but by those who did the lawful (in their eyes) killing, it is not murder.
            Since 9-11 happened in the US, it was murder as US law would apply. Had it been done in Saudi Arabia, it might not have been murder (not sure how their laws apply in this type of thing).

            Over the millennia, God has slowly changed our relationship to Him. At the outset, we were a barbaric lot. Quick to kill, quick to war, quick to do what was wrong. God was harsh with us at the start since that is what we needed and what we responded to best. This is what we needed to grow closer to God. Over time, as we learned and grew as a species, God gave us new covenants with Him. These covenants slowly became less harsh, less demanding. They were what we needed to grow closer to God as we changed as a species.
            Abraham knew God would not allow Isaac to die (He had already given a promise about offspring), but He followed God’s command perfectly anyway. Today, I believe if God told any of us to do what He told Abraham, we should say “No, that is wrong” and then explain WHY it is wrong. God brought us to this point with Him and would expect (happily I think) us to do that. We are no longer the barbarians of old. What worked for them no longer works for us.
            This is also why there is no longer an unbroken chain of Semicha, which is needed to form a Jewish Religious Court. Therefor all the laws requiring one can not be enforced. Basically, God no longer wanted them to be enforced (else He would have allowed Semicha to continue unbroken – an easy thing for an all powerful being).
            God WANTS us to continue to review His rules for us, to continue to interpret them in light of our learning and understanding as a species. The basic truths will never change, but our understanding of them certainly will, and should change over time. The Bible was never meant to be a static document. :)

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

            If 9-11 had happened in Saudi Arabia, it would still have been murder. That the answer to this act of wanton destruction was to go and cause more wanton destruction, resulting in the death of many more innocents has solved nothing but a regime change in a nation not proven to be involved in the mass murder, and a continuation of an unsettled, deadly envirnoment in another nation that hasn’t seen peace in decades.
            I find us no less barbaric than the civilizations or people who lived before us, just more efficient at it.

          • Mike Barnhart

            You keep using murder as if it is a synonym for killing. It is not. Murder is a subset of killing. All murder is killing but not all killing is murder. This is akin to brothers being a subset of men. All brothers are men but not all men are brothers. Brother is not a synonym for men.

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

            To me executing a criminal is still murder. The only “killing” I feel is not murder is accidental, the honest defense which is less common as some would like us to believe and, which does happen in war. However war sets up the scenario of forcing people into that murderous setting. Then there is suicide or assisted suicide cases the person being killed desires that result.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Murder and killing both have very definite meanings which do not change because you dislike their meanings. You should instead say you find all purposeful killing abhorrent instead of trying to redefine already existing words.

          • James Walker

            try to remember that not everyone has as fixed an approach to definitions of words as you do, Mike. =) language is fluid and changes with usage. Allegro63 is a poet by nature, so she tends to use language a LOT more flexibly than you or I.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Words can, and do, change over time, that is true. Right now, the word murder has a definite meaning and it is not the one she is using. Her use of it would be no different than me saying that that murder is only when you purposefully kill a child and only if you were angry when you did it. Obviously, that is not correct and I would expect people to let me know.

            Change the meaning of words in poetry, no problem. Change the meaning of words in a discussion with others and it causes problems. That is the entire reason why we have dictionaries.

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

            Thanks James. I do tend to see more in a word than a dictionary listing, finding more depth and nuance in them. Speaking of which, I need to go home and kill a child (edit a brand new poem I just wrote instead of pretending to work)

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

            I define it according to how I understand it. It is based on my understanding on what the words mean. I don’t ask anyone to agree with me. It is just how a major empath, like me sees it.

          • Mike Barnhart

            If you do not require others to agree with you, why do you insist on using an incorrect meaning – even after being shown your meaning is incorrect. I could say my meaning of oak tree (with its broad leaves) is that of a pine tree (with its narrow leaves), but that does not mean an oak suddenly is a pine, it means I am wrong with my meaning.
            Feel free to keep using it, but understand that you detract from whatever it is you were trying to say when you purposefully use it wrong in a debate with others.

          • anakinmcfly

            But that’s not what the words actually mean, though. :(

            I’m a poet too, but I’m with Mike here because I’m just a pedant that way. From the dictionary:

            Murder = “the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.”
            Killing = “an act of causing death, especially deliberately.”

            To be noted is how one of the example sentences used for “killing” used it in the phrase “brutal killings”.

            The difference in terms is thus not a matter of morality or abhorrence, but of law. There can be horribly grotesque killings that are immoral and wrong and sickening in every way; but still not be considered murders by definition. On the flip side, there can be murders committed in the name of good. The difference is legal.

            And yes – this means that something that’s murder in one place might be considered a killing in another place, even if it’s the exact same act. This wouldn’t mean that it was worse when it was a murder and somehow less bad when it was a killing; it would just be an objective statement on the (unjust?) laws of a particular land.

          • Bones

            So if murder is made law, it cannot be murder.

            Like in Rwanda. Or Islamic extremists beheading US soldiers.

            Thanks for clearing that up.

          • anakinmcfly

            Yes. I’m not sure what the sarcasm is for. It doesn’t matter how horrible or brutal or wrong or immoral or disgusting something is; if it’s made law, it’s by definition not murder.

            The issue here is that you consider ‘murder’ to be worse than ‘killing’, or more morally apt. But saying that something isn’t a murder isn’t at all saying that it’s somehow not as bad, or “okay”, or in any way less heinous because of the different term. It’s just a statement on the act’s relationship with the law of the land. Killings can be horrific, and brutal, and cruel, and pointless, and devastatingly, soul-rendingly, wrong.

          • Bones

            The execution of Jesus of Nazareth was a legal killing.

          • anakinmcfly

            I’m with Mike here. The difference between ‘killing’ and ‘murder’ isn’t that the latter is bad and the former ‘OK’. Killings – like in the case of the SS – can be just as horrible or moreso than murder.

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

            To purposely end a life because of political, religious, personal malice is murder, be it war, or not.
            I am very aware of the cultural views of the ancient world, I’m not that stupid, mostly because I study history, and society. Just because we view things differently, does’nt mean the atrocities performed in the past were less than that.

          • Mike Barnhart

            No, it is not. Unlawful killing is murder, if the killing is lawful, it is not murder. Your individual and personal meaning of murder does not match the actual meaning. To help out, here is the most common definition of murder:

            mur·der noun

            1. Law. the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S., special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degree murder) and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation (second-degree murder)
            http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/murder?s=t

            War falls outside that definition. Yes, you can murder in war, but almost every death in war is not murder, it is killing.

            History is best studied without altering it with the views of the present. By using our current views and forcing them onto the people of the past, you alter the past. You can no longer reasonably ask why the people did things – you have already prejudged them.

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

            I look at war and see death, needless death and sorrow. I see countless victims, their lives robbed of them or forever altered because of the decisions of a few. I see this because of a quest for power, or property, or revenge, or territory, or religious zeal. I see no justification for war, I see no difference between murder and war, other than war is murder on a much grander scale. That people use wholesale destruction as a means to an end causes me sorrow.

            Yes, it is my view. I am an empath. And as one, this is how I view things. I can’t help it. To me Phineas murdering an inter-faith couple is no different then generals ordering troops into battle. The end results are the same, death, pain, chaos, weeping, destruction, loss.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Much of what you say is true, war is terrible. There are very few times when war is needed. I know you WANT war to be murder, but it really is not. War is not fried chicken either…war is definitely killing, but it is not murder.

          • Lamont Cranston

            You are a very frightening person. People like you are why I am strongly in favor of the 2nd amendment.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Please be less vague in your insult so I can understand what fears you are currently succumbing to. It sounds like you either think war IS fried chicken or that war is never needed, both of which are quite silly views, so please elaborate.

          • Lamont Cranston

            What insult? You are someone who likes to sit around and figure out what counts as killing and what counts as murder. That’s not an insult – it’s a statement of fact. Such people are inherently frightening and I am thankful that there’s an easy-as-pie way to protect my family and myself from people such as you.

          • Mike Barnhart

            “You are a very frightening person.” You simply had to scroll up a bit to see it.
            I do not have to figure it out – it has already been done so and a simple perusal of a dictionary will give you the information you need.
            You confuse understanding the difference between killing and murder with going out and murdering people. Knowledge IS power, but knowing things does not automatically make someone a murderer.
            It saddens me you live in fear of things that do not exist.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            Enough of this flippin’ discussion about murder already. You’re both right. To call something “murder” which is not recognize by the state as such is an expression of moral judgement of the act of killing. It’s perfectly legitimate to say that the death by lethal injection is murder at the hands of the state. The word “murder” is freighted with the ideas of “tragedy” and “injustice”; that’s what makes it an effective word choice for those who disapprove of any given state-sanctioned killing.

            Glad I could clear that up. Now can we drop it?! It’s not germane to the post.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Unfortunately, you are not correct. Murder is, essentially, unlawful killing. If the state executes someone, it is a lawful killing and therefor is not murder.
            Words have meaning, when we decide they no longer have meaning we lose the ability to communicate. Words are powerful and therefor their meaning is important, especially emotionally charged words like murder. Using such words incorrectly waters down the actual meaning of the word and, as we have found, detracts from what the speaker is trying to get across.

          • Andy

            It’s interesting to see how words change as they are translated into other languages and as the years go by. As you said, it can distort the original meaning.

            One interesting case is the WBC favorite Leviticus 18:22. The word tōʻēḇā is the prohibitive word in that passage. The KJV translates it as “abomination” and NIV as “detestable”, which to me seems inaccurate. I don’t speak Hebrew, but Wikipedia tells me (and I have heard elsewhere) that the word is probably closer to “taboo”, and I infer that it means something closer to “forbidden” than “disgusting”, which suggests that the NIV is doing a disservice to the original message.

            Of course, one could make a case that today people are also wrong in relying on the KJV too; when I hear people say “abomination”, they seem to mean something “evil” or, on occasion, “gross”. Such is the corruption of language, I guess. And so, many people today probably miss the true meaning.

            Of course, gay relations were not the only thing called tōʻēḇā. Among the other things so labeled are murder, stealing, and some other things we still consider reprehensible…but also, the animals they were told not to eat in Deuteronomy 14, most notably pork. That’s right, eating pork was forbidden as severely as gay relations. Pork, which the EPA claims is the most widely-consumed meat in the world. The gay-haters need to tell us if eating pork is still a hellworthy trespass, and if it’s not, why gay relations are.

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

            Now I’m craving bacon.
            For the record, I grew up in a fundy group that made eating pork part of the 147 commandments…ten was just too lawless.

          • Andy

            Upvoted for the bacon craving, not the fundy group. Now I want some myself.

          • Mike Barnhart

            There are 613 commands for Jewish men in the Torah. The first 10 are just so famous because those are the ones which were told to all the people before they became frightened and begged Moses to talk to God and then relay the info to them. :)
            But yes, I agree with Andy – bacon is one of the best tasting foods out there…and one that tastes as good as it smells!

          • Mike Barnhart

            I brought up (somewhere on this page) that same basic issue about the rest of The Law. Some of it only applies to those in the Land of Israel, some to only Jews, and some to everyone…but I have not been able to find out which of these that specific passage falls into. On the face of it, it would appear to belong into the Jews Only category. The New Testament makes no mention of homosexuality specifically, so that cannot be used.
            I suspect the KJV used abomination to describe the items which were given the death penalty – a very serious punishment indeed. And you are right, most people use it to mean disgusting, which is certainly not what abomination means at all. All of the words used are negative in nature, at least, though in varying levels of negativity.
            So while I can say it is a rule that Jews cannot engage in homosexual activity, I cannot say with any type of certainty that non-Jews are prohibited from it. I CAN say that I will not engage in it…but I also will not engage in skydiving, so my personal view is irrelevant. :)

          • Andy

            Well it might have been more helpful if the authors of the writings that became the Bible had put footnotes so we’d know which ones we can disregard in this day and age. Like:

            * This applies to everyone for all time
            ** This applies to the Levites, until the events that take place in the book of Daniel (coming soon!)
            *** This applies to left-handed gentile blacksmiths born on Tuesdays in March, but only in odd years

            Unfortunately, they didn’t do that, and so some people have decided they have the authority to decide which ones we should keep and which ones we can disregard, and expect the rest of the world to follow their arbitrary decisions.

          • Mike Barnhart

            :D I like that last one, made ma laugh.

          • Bones

            It’s totally irrelevant what rules the Ancient Hebrews gave themselves in the Old Testament. And no, they weren’t given by God to a mythical Moses.

            Like the laws of Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans it has absolutely no relevance at all to modern society.

            You don’t see people going around demanding that we keep Ancient Egyptian laws.

          • Mike Barnhart

            And that is where you are wrong again. You are wrong in your first paragraph and wrong in your second. You might be wrong in the third too, but I have not researched it at all. I suspect you are also wrong there as well as I a cursory understanding of humanity would say there must be some people who want a return to ancient Egyptian law.

          • Bones

            Well there’s those who want to live under sharia which is close to OT Law.

            We all know how Christians feel about that.

          • Mike Barnhart

            They are allowed to if they so wish. Why do you want to deny people their religious beliefs?

          • Bones

            I like the way it comes back to denying religious beliefs.

            Help I’m being persecuted!

            These are the same religious beliefs that wants the world to conform to fairly spurious ancient texts and deny rights to others on the basis of those texts.

          • Mike Barnhart

            If you do not want to wear that label, stop doing the actions that gain you that label. When you say people should not follow the rules of their religion because you personally do not like them, you are saying they should not practice their religion. Why do want to force your views onto others? Shouldn’t others get to follow their own religion if they wish? Why are you the sole arbiter of what should be allowed?

          • Bones

            Lol

            A religious person saying that you shouldn’t force your views on someone.

            How funny is that!

            And whining about being arbiter.

            Most Christians are judge, jury and executioner when it comes to gays because the Bible says. Or anyone else they don’t like. Muslims, Liberas.

            All because Paul wrote something 2000 years ago or it was mentioned in Leviticus.

            Actually it’s those religious rules which our society finds immoral.

            Like justifying slavery or bigotry against gay people.

            You can be a Nazi if you like. But be prepared to cop a lot of shit over it.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Wow you do love watching your strawmen burn! So ignoring all your logical fallacies, I will address what little remains.
            It is irrelevant if someone else did something wrong, when you are doing something wrong expect to be called out on it. You are trying to force your opinions onto others by pretending they are facts and are all upset that someone called you out on it. Give it up, accept you were discovered, laugh at your loss, and move on.

          • Bones

            Lol.

            You obviously need a hug, you poor thing.
            Oh and its called education.

            Where you try to illuminate the ignorant mind.

            Seems to me you’re forcing your opinions on others in this thread but then cry like a big sook when someone does it to you. Like most fundamentalists and Evangelicals do.

            If it makes you happy believing in a genocidal divine being as fictitiously depicted in ancient manuscripts then sure go for it.

            I don’t.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Please show me the syllabus for the course that teaches you to use logical fallacies as a method of successful debate. It sounds like an interesting class. You must have taken it, since you claim your education is what makes you use logical fallacies and that I am ignorant for calling you out on them.
            Also, it is at an accredited university?

          • Bones

            Lol.

            There’s no debate here Mike.

            I’m giving my opinion based on the evidence.

            You seem to have a problem with that.

            You seem to be running around finding as many red herrings as you can find.

            It’s proverbial red herring-a-thon.

            Now is religious genocide moral?

          • Mike Barnhart

            You are correct, because logical fallacies are not used in actual debates.
            You keep using the absence of evidence as your evidence. That does not work. Still waiting for you to show your evidence that Gan Eden does not exist. Come come, you made the claim, you say it is not a faith based belief, so show your supporting evidence.

          • Bones
          • Mike Barnhart

            Gan Eden, not The Kings. I am going to blame a very powerful ADD for your actions and recommend you see a doctor to get help.

          • Bones

            Hey Mike!

            They’ve found the Garden of Eden.

            Who’d a thunk it.

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

          • Bones
          • Bones

            Because their religious beliefs attack/contradict what our society is based upon.

            Equality. Civil liberties.

            Which religion teaches these?

          • Mike Barnhart

            So you DO think YOU should be the final arbiter as to what people are allowed to believe and what religions they can worship. Hubris, they name is Bones.
            Nah, I think I will allow you to be the impotent anonymous Internet flunky you are and show you that you have to power to decide what others are allowed to think and who others are allowed to worship.
            That feeling you have right now…it is you starting to realize you are insignificant and irrelevant to well over 7 billion people.

          • Bones

            You poor thing. Must be hard unable to provide answers when you’re locked into an almost cultic mindset. Especially when you try to make yourself appear so intelligent. So you have to deflect, condemn.

            You can worship a cardboard box if it makes you happy and helps you get through life.

            Just don’t go telling us that your cardboard box thinks we should all live a certain way or your cardboard box will damn us.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Bones, Bones, Bones – condemning those who say they should be the one who decides what others can think is a good thing. That condemnation got you to finally admit people can worship as they choose. Now I just have to get you to realize that if you want others to not tell you that you should live a certain way you should also not do it…you should not tell others they should live a certain way or that they are [insert pejorative here].

          • Bones

            Lol. This is so hilarious and hypocritical from the guy who condemns homosexuals as sinners. How selective of you. Or is it God? Or maybe Mike-God?

            And now playing the victim card, you poor thing. Now you can go and feel good about being persecuted for your ‘faith’.

            Top marks for arguing against something I’ve never said as well. You really won that one.

            Beat that strawman, Mike!

            Go on give him a real thrashing!!

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0uxVLLG5MA

          • Mike Barnhart

            Ah, another logical fallacy. You are on a roll, I bet you can use them all if I give you enough time.
            So far, you use the absence of evidence as your evidence, make false claims, create false arguments and then attribute them to others, and all the while say I am the one doing it.
            It reminds me of the Obamites who blame Bush for every bad action Obama takes. There is some odd reality disconnect going on there, and the same type of thing is happening with you.
            If it was not so predictably boring, I would be intrigued.

          • Bones

            ‘There is some odd reality disconnect going on there’

            Lol. I’ll say.

            Let us know when you come into the real world.

            Not quite sure what Obama has to do with it.

            Maybe he’s hiding the garden?

            Hey Mike, was Mohammad the prophet of God?

          • Mike Barnhart

            Yep, you are predictably boring in your inability to show your evidence, yet try to ignore the need for it.
            You have proven yourself too boring to continue a conversation with.
            You should not be ashamed to have faith based beliefs, everyone does.
            Oh well, you can have the last word (since I know you have to have it), though I know you will use it to continue to NOT show your supporting evidence while pretending you do not need to support your own position.

          • Bones

            So I take it you don’t know if Mohammad was the Prophet of God?

            Must be too hard a question.

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

            Yeah, I’m a bit confused what US presidents have to do with this topic, myself.

          • Bones

            I wasn’t aware that equality and civil liberties were insignificant and irrelevant to over 7 billion people.

            I suppose they must be far more interested in what the mythical Moses might have madly mused.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Your red herring has been noted and ignored. Please address why you think you should be the one to say which beliefs people can hold and which they cannot.

          • Bones

            Yes. Fundamentalists/ Evangelicals only want civil liberties and equality for themselves and no one else.

            Be honest, Mike.

            Does your God believe in equality and civil liberties?

            Or are such qualities a red herring?

            ‘Please address why you think you should be the one to say which beliefs people can hold and which they cannot.’

            Actually that’s the role of the religious.

            I’m just telling you what the evidence and facts say.

            Which I know is a pointless exercise.

            Bit like casting pearls before swine you might say.

            It’s weird. I feel so much better knowing that God isn’t a genocidal maniac.

            Some people get off on that I suppose.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Claiming the absence of evidence is evidence of absence, after being repeated told it is not true, is perplexing to me. You claim evidence and then say a lack of evidence is your evidence. I have to wonder what makes someone say such a thing when he knows it is untrue. Can you explain that?

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            The current debate in USA politics and in another measure the world at large is not, “should one be allowed to follow one’s own beliefs?”, but “should many be penalized for not following a group’s beliefs?”

          • Mike Barnhart

            True, but a great host of laws are based on the beliefs of a specific group of people, so it is not a surprise to find them. The age of consent for sex varies from state to state, as an example, all based on moral beliefs of one group of people (which changes per state, apparently). Being able to kill in war at 18 but not being able to drink liquor until 21 is based on the moral beliefs of only a group.
            Homosexual issues (and all the alternative groups, such as polygamy, incest, etc). are just more of the same.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            Today we cannot say that anyone’s religious beliefs are being violated when we grant marriage licenses to interracial couples (my uncle is one such person who believes they might still go to hell). For Christians of different races whose beliefs have a vested interest in not getting marriage licenses with each other in order to not hinder getting into heaven, they can follow their belief and still preach to others to follow that belief. One day this could be true for gay people: that gay people of the same gender whose beliefs have a vested interest in not getting marriage licenses with each other in order to not hinder getting into heaven can still follow their belief and still preach to others to follow suit (hopefully, societal acceptance of LGBT youth will lessen the mental blow portion of that preaching that festers and leads to all sorts of risk-taking behavior). Notice in both situations I did not mention racists or straight/”ex-gay” people because neither have vested interest in either issue (OK, I guess they do fear that if they don’t stop their respective issues Jesus will confuse them as “supporters of sin” and torture them in hell and do creepy things with their children ten generations down the road).

            PS: If Jesus did decide to haul himself down to the USA supreme court, angry that all Americans confer their tax dollars for the good and equal treatment of interracial couples they already show to each other via rights and responsibilities of marriage licenses, we have plenty of people now to echo what conservatives feared the message of interracial marriage was back in the day: “We know better!”

          • Bones

            Oh and maybe we should look at returning to Ancient Sumerian Law as defined in the Code of Ur-Nammu.

            Actually has a lot of similarities to the OT and predates it.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Ur-Nammu

          • Mike Barnhart

            Maybe we should get rid of all laws altogether, since they all have similarities. That is the ticket, eh?

          • Bones

            Should we be taking any notice of what the Ancient Sumerians thought of homosexuality?

            Nope!

            Totally irrelevant to us!

            Same with the Ancient Hebrews.

          • Mike Barnhart

            There you go, telling other people they cannot follow the religious rules of their choice. Why do you want to deny people their religious beliefs?

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            If words have meaning, what does the word “therefor” mean?

            Do you have any question what anti-abortion protesters mean when they call doctors “baby murderers”? Of course not. That’s not a watered down usage of the word.

            See what I did there? I allowed you to get me to continue to derail the conversation.

            Sorry. I’m done.

          • Mike Barnhart

            The dictionary was invented so you would be able to find the meaning of words. Words must have known meanings so that a conversation can take place and those having it can understand what each other are saying. Answering your question is easy, I just used http://www.dictionary.com and looked it up and found a typo – should have been therefore (imagine that, a typo, who ever heard of such a thing!):

            there·for adverb

            for or in exchange for that or this; for it: a refund therefor.
            Can be confused: therefor, therefore
            http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/therefor?s=t

            I will let you follow the link to therefore on your own. It seems you actually did not know therefor was a word. Interesting.

            The anti-abortion protestors are wrong in their use of the word murderers. Are you trying to say anti-abortion protestors are perfect and never do anything wrong and therefor everything they do must be correct? That appears to be your stance if you are using them as your proof that the incorrect use of a word must be the correct use. Odd stance, and also wrong, but if that is how you feel, more power to you.

          • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

            So…how about them secretly gay affirming pastors…
            I didn’t mean to engage in a pissing contest – especially over something so inconsequential. I’m sincerely sorry.
            My best to you
            David

          • James Walker

            well, no, we don’t have to assume the interpretation was the same pre-diaspora as it was post-diaspora. there is a presumption in the rabbinical tradition that it was always the same and that each generation of Rabbis was careful never to deviate from the teachings of their predecessors. I would question that presumption.

          • Mike Barnhart

            We must either assume it was the same, or assume it was not the same. If we assume the latter, then everything we believe falls into the unknown category of “it might have been different in the past and no one can ever know”. This would cause chaos in all systems, from religion to science. When the past is unknowable, it is more reasonable to assume things are the same now as before than to assume things were different. This is how it works in science as well.

          • Andy

            Why is it more reasonable to assume things have not changed in absence of knowledge to the contrary? It seems like it would make the list of assumptions shorter, but I don’t see any other benefits and that one seems disingenuous. But I am not a scientist, theologian, or historian, so I don’t know. I am not putting you on; I’m genuinely curious why you think that.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Because if you assume things changed then you must determine what their prior state was. When this is not possible, as it would be here, we are left with a problem. Why did the ruling change? What caused the major shift in view and interpretation of a well known religious law? Why is there no record of the law being reinterpreted?
            In science (which I know is not religion) this type of an assumption is called an axiom. As Isaac Asimov said (snagged from Wikipedia) “…it is incorrect to speak of an assumption as either true or false, since there is no way of proving it to be either (If there were, it would no longer be an assumption). It is better to consider assumptions as either useful or useless, depending on whether deductions made from them corresponded to reality…Since we must start somewhere, we must have assumptions, but at least let us have as few assumptions as possible”

            So making the assumption that the ruling was different with no explanation as to why it changed so radically is not useful at all. It creates questions while answering none.

            If this was a minor item like if a specific animal’s fur is wool or not, sure, but this is a major ruling – one that warrants the death penalty. It is not one lightly changed.

          • James Walker

            the problem, Mike, is that in the absence of information it’s not safe to make the assumption either way. the Jewish priests and lawyers COULD have faithfully maintained the oral history exactly as later rabbis claimed that they did or it’s also possible they did NOT faithfully maintain them, whether through deliberately making changes to suit an agenda or through accidental alterations over the course of centuries. the scientifically safer statement is that we simply do not know whether the oldest texts we have of the Hebrew scriptures are a faithful reproduction of the oral histories that preceded them.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I understand, but if we look at it logically, assuming they stayed the same works far better than assuming they did not. The assumption they changed is less useful than if they did not change. Might as well assume a day was not 24 hours long, that it changed but we have nothing to show why or how it changed.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            When the Bible says Jesus was in the earth for three days, it really means two and a half days going by 1 day=24 hours. The Hebrew day was from after sunset to sunset, and as long as Jesus was entombed sometime on the first day counted and raised sometime on the third day counted Jesus was said to be in the earth three days.

            Also, I just found this article via Google:

            http://robinhl.com/2012/05/10/unasked-questions-who-was-buried-3-days-and-3-nights/

          • Mike Barnhart

            It is a very good topic – the amount of time in the tomb. So many have it wrong because they were taught wrong.

            The problem comes in because the Jew hating Christians who translated the Bible into Latin long ago did not understand there is more than just the weekly Sabbath day. They refused to consult Jews in their translation and did not know that the major holidays also were Sabbath days. This is why they claim He died on a Friday…when He actually died on a Wednesday. Here is the explanation:

            Jesus died on Wednesday shortly before sundown. His followers begged to get Him off the cross and into a tomb before sundown because it was about to be Passover – and Passover is a Sabbath day. They quickly put His body in the tomb without preparing it for burial. The next day was a Sabbath day and no work could be done, which included making the burial oils, etc. Now it is Thursday after sunset and the Sabbath is over, the women make the oils, etc. It takes about two days to make them properly. They finish, but there is not enough time to go and do the burial rituals before the weekly Sabbath hits at sundown, so they must wait. Friday after Sunday to Saturday after sunset passes. Jesus arises shortly before sunset on Saturday. Yes, it happened on the Sabbath day, but saving a life (or restoring it) was always allowed on the Sabbath, so no problem there.
            Now the women were ready to go out and perform the burial rituals, not knowing Jesus was already risen. Saturday night, the tomb is opened, the boulder rolls away, and the soldiers flee. The women do not go out at night to do the burial rituals – it is too dangerous for women to go out alone at night and the burial rituals are done by women. They wait until morning – Jesus is dead they think so there is no harm in waiting for the light. The arrive at the tomb and it is empty.
            Three days in the tomb, but four days until the people knew. This aligns with what we know about the timing of the Passover with regards to the crucifixion.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            Interesting. Google found me this very detailed two-part essay about it. Enjoy:

            http://ad2004.com/prophecytruths/Articles/Prophecy/3days3nights.html

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            What is being discussed is judicial interpretation of Jewish laws, not really historical events or science in this case. As an example, it would be an egregious lie to say the courts have always interpreted laws, the USA constitution, state constitutions, etc the same way throughout the history of the USA.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I agree, but when the Supreme Court (which is analogous to what we are talking about) interprets a law in a different way than it did in the past, it always explains why it changed its ruling. If there is no explanation as to a change, we can know there was no change.
            The Jews have been very good about writing volumes upon volumes as to why they interpret rules the same – and even more writing is done when the interpretation changes. We can be very confident that, since there was no writing explaining that an interpretation changed, that it did not actually change.
            If there was ever to be a time when this specific interpretation would have changed, it would have been when the Greeks controlled the lands and it would have changed to having homosexual acts being permitted – since that was the view of their new rulers. The Jews ALMOST assimilated and vanished from the Earth during that time. Had it not been for the stupidity of sacrificing a pig on an alter to God, it most likely would have been successful in a few more decades. Yet, even then, the interpretation did not change.

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

        That many in the Jewish community have been more accepting of the LGBT community for some time, tell us that they long ago ceased making a big deal out of people’s sexuality.

        • Mike Barnhart

          Agreed, though it is still against The Law of Moses. They are also more accepting of men cheating on their wives (and vice versa) than in the past as well.

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

            Than in the past?? Like that is a new thing.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Yes, but when I say past I am including a few thousand years…and present is only a decade or so. The Reform movement does not actually believe The Law is anything more than a set of suggestions and that Moses might never have lived and certainly did not actually talk to God…so I take their view as a bit suspect. :)

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

            Yeah. and a few thousand years ago during the Roman occupation, Jewish women had zero rights, men were divorcing them for such strong reasons as she only birthed daughters not suns, she was too old, she got sick, there was another woman with a better dowry. Gentile women in the region had more rights, with the ability to own property, businesses. They still couldn’t testify in court, partially because they lacked the testicles of which one would swear, by the gods, their oath of honesty, Lovely Roman ritual there. Gentile women also couldn’t vote. They did have more abilities in religious life being priestesses, novices and financial supporters, in the various temples.

            As for the reform movement, they may not be wrong. Depending on only the Bible for history of the time and region, is asking for disappointment.

          • Mike Barnhart

            You are confusing the Romans with the Israelites, they were not the same people group. They had very different customs and laws. This is not to say there was no bleed over of cultures, but they were certainly very distinct people groups.
            As for voting, in the theocratic monarchy of Israel, NO ONE voted. You are correct in that women could not vote, but neither could men.
            If you remove the foundations of a religion, you no longer have that religion. This would be like saying you are Christian but you do not believe Jesus ever existed. Simply will not work – to be a Christian you must, as a minimum, believe Jesus existed.
            Why not just say there is no God at all then, if you are going to cross deep into the line and say Moses never existed?

          • Bones

            Moses was most definitely a mythological figure. It would be like claiming Ulysses was a historical figure.

            The Exodus was impossible as described by the Bible.

            Do you believe God orders the slaughter of other cultures and religions?

          • Mike Barnhart

            Please show your supporting evidence about Moses, thanks!
            What about Exodus is impossible?
            Since I do not believe God is a myth, then the answer is an easy yes.

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

            The archeological record has no support. The fact that his story was written a thousand years after the supposed events, makes the odds of it being factual quite thin.

          • Mike Barnhart

            Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

          • Bones

            The sites of the Joshuan conquest have been excavated.

            They weren’t captured by Joshua at all.

          • James Walker

            unless one counts cultural absorption as conquest and, well, it’s questionable which culture actually did the absorbing. =)

            but it doesn’t make nearly as engaging a story to say “you see, there were all these Canaanite villages and towns, many of whom worshiped El and His wife, Asherah. Later, this guy Joshua came along who was from the Jewish offshoot of the Canaanite peoples and the prophet he followed, Moses, had said God had no wife, so Joshua wanted to chop down all the groves for Asherah.. and, you know, trees grow back so we kinda let him…” ;)

          • Mike Barnhart

            Again, you need to support your statement. I am still waiting for you to support your LAST statement like this. Come on, you really do not expect anyone to blindly trust a random anonymous Internet poster, do you?

          • Bones

            From Ariel: The Israel Review of Arts and Letters – 1996/102, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

            The saga of the Israelites, as told in the Bible, was designed as a morality tale to prove the importance of faith in the One God. The stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Joshua demonstrate that the Israelites were rewarded when they obeyed God, but were punished when they strayed.

            The historical evidence to back up these events is sparse, and, in some cases, contradictory. In particular, the account of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan is inconsistent with the archaeological evidence. Cities supposedly conquered by Joshua in the 14th century BCE were destroyed long before he came on the scene. Some, such as Ai and Arad, had been ruins for a 1000 years.

            The Book of Judges, which directly contradicts Joshua, and shows the Israelites settling the land over a prolonged period, is nearer historical reality; but even it cannot be taken at face value.

            The archaeological surveys conducted over the past two decades in the hills of Menasseh, Ephraim, Benjamin and Judah, on the west bank of the River Jordan, indicate that the origin and development of the Israelite entity was somewhat different from either of the rival accounts in the Bible. The survey was conducted by more than a dozen archaeologists, most of them from Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology. Their conclusions were published in “From Nomadism to Monarchy,” edited by Prof. Israel Finkelstein and Prof. Nadav Na’aman.

            Around 1200 BCE, semi-nomads from the desert fringes to the east, joined by elements from Anatolia, the Aegean, and the south, possibly including Egypt, began to settle in the hill country of Canaan. A large proportion – probably a majority of this population – were refugees from the Canaanite city states, destroyed by the Egyptians in one of their periodic invasions.

            The conclusion is somewhat startling to Bible readers who know the Canaanites portrayed in the Bible as immoral idolaters: most of the Israelites were in fact formerly Canaanites. The story of Abraham’s journey from Ur of the Chaldees, the Patriarchs, the Exodus, Sinai, and the conquest of Canaan, all these were apparently based on legends that the various elements brought with them from their countries of origin. The consolidation of the Israelites into a nation was not the result of wanderings in the desert and divine revelation, but came from the need to defend themselves against the Philistines, who settled in the Canaanite coastal plain more or less at the same time the Israelites were establishing themselves in the hills.

            http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/davidjer.html

            The Jews beg to differ with you.

          • Bones

            According to Prof. Ze’ev Herzog who teaches in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, in “Deconstructing the Walls of Jericho”, states as follows:

            “This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom…… Most of those who are engaged in scientific work in the interlocking spheres of the Bible, archaeology and the history of the Jewish people – and who once went into the field looking for proof to corroborate the Bible story – now agree that the historic events relating to the stages of the Jewish people’s emergence are radically different from what that story tells.” (in an article in the Jewish magazine Haaretz, as republished on):

            http://individual.utoronto.ca/mfkolarcik/jesuit/herzog.html

          • Bones

            Israel Finkelstein is the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University and is also the co-director of excavations at Megiddo in northern Israel. He served as Director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University from 1996-2002.[1] In 2005 he received the Dan David Prize.[

            Finkelstein and his colleagues are stirring controversy with contentions that many biblical stories never happened, but were written by what he calls `a creative copywriter' to advance an ideological agenda.

            Prof. Israel Finkelstein sees no contradiction between holding a proper Pesach seder and telling the story of the exodus from Egypt, and the fact that, in his opinion, the exodus never occurred. The Hebrew edition of the book by Finkelstein and his American colleague, the historian and archaeologist Neal Asher Silberman, "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts" has just been published. The English edition was published in the United States in January 2001 and a French edition appeared last year. In both countries the book spent many weeks on the best-seller lists and generated considerable public interest. The New York Times dubbed the biblical authors of the seventh century BCE "God's ghostwriters" in a lengthy review of the book.

            Next month the University of California in Los Angeles will hold an event on the archaeology of David and Solomon, with the participation of Finkelstein and Prof. Lawrence Stager of Harvard. On the same occasion Arte, the Franco-German culture channel, will start to film a four-part documentary based on the book, which is scheduled to be broadcast next year.

            What is it about "The Bible Unearthed" that has stirred such interest? Finkelstein, who is director of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, observes that this is the first "comprehensive book in which archaeology is the queen of battle and not some tawdry ornament of Bible scholars." And Finkelstein is indeed ready to do battle. In addition to the periods of the patriarchs and the exodus, about which most scholars agree that there is only the most tenuous connection between the stories in the Bible and the historical reality, Finkelstein and Silberman place a large question mark over the period up to and including the time of the United Monarchy.

            "Did it happen or not?" he asks at the end of each chapter, and proceeds to explain why it did not, based on his research and archaeological findings, including the discoveries at Megiddo, a site that is considered the jewel in the crown of biblical archaeology.

            An additional innovation in the book is the reverse point of view the authors adopt. "The book does not examine the history chronologically, from earlier to later," he explains. "It goes from the later to the earlier, and at the end of every chapter there is a "punch line" that examines the authors' intentions." The authors, in this case, are those who wrote the biblical account in question, and the authorial intention refers to the theological and ideological foundation of the seventh century BCE, the period in which most of the Bible was written, according to Finkelstein.

            He deconstructs this foundation only in order to reconstruct it according to the logic that guided the ancient authors, and arrives at the conclusion that the stories about the conquest of the Land of Israel, the settlement period, the United Kingdom and the attempt to enhance the prestige of the Kingdom of Judah at the expense of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) are part of an ideological - religious and political - manifesto, a master stroke by a creative copywriter.

            The village of Jerusalem

            The Bible talks about the great and magnificent united monarchy of David and Solomon in the 10th century BCE, which split into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, because of the demand by Solomon's son, Rehoboam (Rehavam), for excessive tax payments from the tribes of the northern hills and Galilee, which thereupon angrily seceded from the united monarchy. The result was two centuries of strife, wars and fraternal hatred.

            The Scriptures treat Israel as a secondary kingdom of no importance, a place of incorrigible sinners, whereas Judah is considered the great and just kingdom whose capital is Jerusalem, where King Solomon established a splendid temple during the glorious era of the united monarchy. Finkelstein is dubious about the existence of this great united monarchy.

            "There is no archaeological evidence for it," he says. "This is something unexampled in history. I don't think there is any other place in the world where there was a city with such a wretched material infrastructure but which succeeded in creating such a sweeping movement in its favor as Jerusalem, which even in its time of greatness was a joke in comparison to the cities of Assyria, Babylon or Egypt. It was a typical mountain village. There is no magnificent finding, no gates of Nebuchadnezzar, no Assyrian reliefs, no Egyptian temples - nothing. Even the temple couldn't compete with the temples of Egypt and their splendor."

            Then why was it written?

            "For reasons of ideology. Because the authors of the Bible, people from Judah at the end of the seventh century BCE, in the period of King Josiah, had a long score to settle with the northern kingdom, with its splendor and richness. They despised the northerners and had not forgotten their dominance in forging the Israelite experience, in the competition for the sites of ritual. Contrary to what is usually thought, the Israelites did not go to pray in Jerusalem. They had a temple in Samaria (today's Sebastia) and at Beit El (Bethel). In our book we tried to show that as long as Israel was there, Judah was small and frightened, militarily and internationally. Judah and Jerusalem were on the fringes. A small tribe. There was nothing there. A small temple and that's all."

            And the kingdom of Israel?

            "The archaeological findings show that Israel was a large, prosperous state, and was the main story until its destruction in the eighth century. Its geographic location was excellent, on the coast, near Phoenicia, Assyria and Syria. It had a diverse demographic composition: foreign residents and workers, Canaanites, Phoenicians; there was an Aramean population in the Jordan Valley, and there were mixed marriages. It was only 150 years after Israel's destruction that Judah rose to greatness, becoming self-aware and developing the monotheistic approach: one state, one God, one capital, one temple, one king."

            What is the root of the tension between archaeology and the text, and what happened during Josiah's reign?

            "We think these ideas of Judah, that all the Israelites have to worship one God in one temple, and live under the rule of one king, sprang up in the seventh century BCE. If anyone had raised such ideas aloud before 720, he would have been beaten to a pulp by the northern monarchs. Everything started to come together after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, and it also had a territorial aspect: from 734 to 625 BCE the Assyrian Empire ruled here. Today's American empire is negligible in comparison, in terms of its power and its crushing strength. For example, if someone in Judah had talked about expansion into Assyrian-dominated territories in 720, that would have been the end of him. King Hezekiah tried, and we saw happened to him. Sennacherib, king of Assyria, arrived with a huge army and decimated him.

            "But a few years later, when Josiah was in power, something incredible happened. Assyria, the kingdom of evil, collapsed in front of his eyes. In the same way we saw the Berlin Wall collapse in 1989, that's what happened to Assyria. It fell apart and beat a hasty retreat from the Land of Israel. By this time the kingdom of Israel no longer existed, so Josiah woke up one morning, looked to his left and to his right, and there was neither an Assyrian nor an Israelite to be seen. And then his officials decided to put into practice their religious and territorial ideas."

            Still, why was the United Monarchy invented?

            "Because they wanted to seize control of the territories of the kingdom of Israel and annex them, because, they said, `These territories are actually ours and if you have a minute, we'll tell you how that's so. `Many years ago, one of our kings, David, reigned in Jerusalem and ruled them, and we are the only ones who have a historical claim to them' - and so the myth was created. `The kings of Israel were scoundrels,' the people of Judah said, `but as for the people there, we have no problem with them, they are all right.' They said about Israel what an ultra-Orthodox person would say about you or me: `Israel, though he has sinned, is still Israel.'"

            Nothing to conquer

            According to Finkelstein's theory, the legends about earlier periods were invented for the same purpose. "The people of Judah started to market the story of Joshua's conquest of the land, which was also written in that period, in order to give moral justification to their territorial longings, to the conquest of the territories of Israel. The story also contains a `laundering' of foreigners, which was exactly the problem Josiah faced when he conquered Israel. So they relate the story of the Gibeonites, who were terrified by the might of Joshua and his army and begged for their lives, and told Joshua that they were not indigenous Canaanites but foreigners who came from afar. Joshua made an alliance of peace with them, but when he found out they had cheated him, he did not expel them but made them hewers of wood and drawers of water - in other words, he laundered them.

            "That is the situation Josiah and his people faced with foreign deportees the Assyrians brought to the Land of Israel, and the biblical text comes and says, `Have no worry, this already happened before: there were strangers in the land then, too, and Joshua laundered them during the conquest. Our conquest is not really what it looks like, it is only the restoration of past glories.'

            So they must have had a good information ministry?

            "I don't believe that there was a department for the invention of stories in Jerusalem. There were folktales that were handed down from generation to generation, local traditions and legends, and they were the basis for the creation of the biblical narrative. Maybe there really was no conquest, and maybe there were vague memories of local events. In any case, the scribes in the period of Josiah collected these materials and forged them into a coherent story containing a message it was important for them to get across. They didn't actually care whether there ever was such a person as Joshua. Jericho and the area of Bethel, and the Shefelah and the Galilee were on the agenda of Judah. They never actually conquered many of these regions. `This was once ours,' they said, `as in the time of Joshua, and all we are doing is putting history back in its track, correcting the course of history and on this occasion renewing the glorious monarchy of David, which was the first to rule these territories.'"

            Are you saying that the story of the conquest of the land is a complete fiction?

            "It is a story which, as it is presented in the Bible, definitely never happened. Archaeology shows that it has no historical grounds. Many of the sites that are cited in the story of the conquest were not even inhabited in the relevant period, so there was nothing to conquer, there were only hills and rocks. Jericho was not fortified and had no walls, and it's doubtful that there was a settlement there at the time. Therefore, in the case of the story of the conquest of Arad, for instance, some scholars said that the war was fought against the forces of one Bedouin sheikh.

            "If one does a calculation backward from the point at which we have historical documentation, such as the external Assyrian writings about the monarchy of Ahab, it turns out that the story of the biblical conquest would have occurred at the end of the 13th century BCE. At that time the Egyptians ruled in the land, but there is no mention of that in the Bible.

            "There is a stela in a Cairo museum on which the word Israel first appears in written form. The son of Ramesses II launched a military expedition to Caanan and conquered Ashkelon and Gezer, and wrote the famous sentence, `Israel is spoiled, his seed is not.' That was in 1207 BCE - after the conquest as related in the Bible."

            If there was no conquest, where did the Israelites come from?

            "Egypt was a mighty empire that ruled here with an iron fist. In the 14th century BCE there are stories about local kings who ask Pharaoh for help against one another, asking him to send 50 soldiers - in other words, that was the number that was sufficient to impose order here. So how did a few foot soldiers from the desert conquer the land? There was certainly no orderly military conquest. According to the archaeological findings, the Israelites came from the local stock: they were actually Canaanites who became Israelites in a socio-economic process."

            Lies, no; spin, yes

            Finkelstein did not always hold these views. "I remember that when I was writing my doctoral thesis about the Israelite settlement in the hill region, I was convinced of the accuracy of the theory propounded by the German scholars - which was then dominant in the field - holding that this population came from outside in a quiet infiltration and settled here," he says. "And I remember well that in the course of the surveys I did in Samaria, at Shiloh and in the areas between Ramallah and Nablus, I began to be aware that this was not a population that had infiltrated here but groups of a local population that moved around the land in circular processes. That it was not a pool of desert nomads who then moved rapidly west, but rather a lengthy process, of hundreds of years, which had already taken place in the past, at the beginning of the Early Bronze Age and in the Middle Bronze Age.

            "For me this was something entirely new. It led me to the thought that the settlement processes in the Land of Israel were circular: in periods of crisis the tribes became nomadic shepherds, and in periods of abundance they had permanent settlements. From this I understood that these were processes that were undergone by the local population and not by a population that marched in a procession and entered the Land of Israel by means of war or peace."

            The question is why it appears in this form in the Bible. What idea is it meant to serve?

            "The answer is that in order to understand the episode of the conquest, we have to look at the kingdom of Judah in the seventh century BCE and understand that the story serves the authors of the Scriptures, because through it they resolved for themselves the territorial problems of the conquest of the then vanquished Kingdom of Israel."

            So Joshua did not exist?

            "I don't say that. Perhaps there were memories of some great commander or general. On the other hand, this text describes something that happened in the 13th century and was written in the seventh century - that is, 600 years later - by people who did not have access to newspaper archives, and at the time of the events not one letter of the alphabet had been written anywhere, so it is not reasonable to think that this story contains many early memories."

            And was there a United Monarchy?

            "A huge number of people talk about the United Monarchy; but the number of people who truly understand the matter is very small. There is a stream in the research that says that David and Solomon were not historical figures, that they are a legend. I don't think so. There is an inscription from Tel Dan from the ninth century BCE that mentions the southern kingdom by the name of `the house of David.' So it stands to reason that they existed, but the question is whether they ruled a large empire, and about that there is not the slightest hint. All the evidence is against it."

            Yet there are many archaeologists and historians who dispute your view?

            "It's true that until recently there was a great deal of opposition to this conception. Today, though, at least some of my adversaries agree with me. There is a large difference in the text between the David stories and the Solomon stories. The whole character of Solomon is that of an Assyrian king: resplendent, rich, wise, a womanizer and a great trader, a figure of ideology like someone out of a journal. David is not, precisely because he is given a complex description and there are the unpleasant stories about him that make him a human figure. And according to archaeology, there is no hint of magnificence or pomp in 10th-century Jerusalem, and in fact until the end of the eighth century BCE, until the Assyrian period and after the destruction of Israel, when refugees from the north began streaming into the city, it was a small village, remote, wretched and unfortified."

            So are you saying that the United Monarchy is a lie?

            "I don' believe in lies in history. Spin, yes; lies, no. What I am saying is that if in the seventh century BCE a strong tradition existed in Jerusalem that the temple on the hill had been built by the founders of the dynasty, I see no reason to question that. That doesn't mean it was a huge and magnificent building. On the question of the grandeur of the United Monarchy I find myself in a tough scholarly confrontation: there is still a debate over the archaeological remnants. Two magnificent palaces were found at Megiddo. [The noted archaeologist] Yigael Yadin said they were from the 10th century BCE, the period of Solomon, and could support the account of the great monarchy, whereas I think they are from the ninth century BCE, 70 years later, from the period of the northern kingdom.”

            Doesn’t it follow that if there was no United Monarchy, there was also no schism?

            “All the villages in the north in the 10th century BCE were Canaanite villages. David and Solomon ruled in Jerusalem, and probably also the southern hill region, and maybe part of the northern hill region. They did not rule in the northern valleys or in Galilee, and therefore there was no split of the monarchy. From the beginning there were two entities – northern and southern – but the Scripture story about the schism is meant to serve Josiah’s conquest in the seventh century BCE. `Now we will establish the monarchy anew,’ the authors of the Bible said to their readers, `and it will be united eternally.’”

            The Caananite connection

            If Finkelstein is ready to concede the existence of David and Solomon, albeit as kinks of a small, marginal entity, when it comes to the exodus from Egypt he is absolute in his opinion. “There is no evidence that the Israelites were in Egypt, not the slightest, not the least bit of evidence. There are no clues, either archaeological or historical, to prove that the Israelites built monuments in Egypt, even though the biblical description of the famine in the Land of Israel may be accurate. We know from archaeology that there was a migration of Canaanites to Egypt in the first half of the second millennium BCE, that these migrants built communities in the area of the Nile Delta, and that the Egyptians afterward expelled them from there. Perhaps that is the ancient memory, I don’t know. What I can say is that the story, in the form we have it, serves a later situation. It spoke to the exiles in Babylon and to those who returned from the exile. What the story told them is that exile is not the end of the world, it’s possible to return, the deserts can be crossed, the land can be reconquered. That gave them hope.”

            The stories of the patriarchs, Finkelstein says – adding that today most scholars accept this view – are folklore about forefathers that the authors of the Bible in the seventh century salvaged from the mists of history in order to reinforce their hold on the cultural heritage. Scientific searches for them have produced nothing.

            “Did these people ever exist? I don’t know. They were primeval forbears, and the goal was to create a myth saying that Judah is the center of the world, of the Israelite way of life, against the background of the reality of the later kingdom.”

            So, if there were no patriarchs, maybe we don’t have patriarchal rights?

            “I am a great believer in a total separation between tradition and research. I myself have a warm spot in my heart for the Bible and its splendid stories. During our Pesach seder, my two girls, who are 11 and 7, didn’t hear a word about the fact that there was no exodus from Egypt. When they are 25, we will tell them a different story. Belief, tradition and research are three parallel lines that can exist simultaneously. I don’t see that as a gross contradiction.”

            What about the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron?

            “The building is Herodian. It was built in the time of Herod, hundreds of years after the period of the patriarchs as told in the Bible. There are apparently ancient graves under the building. The question is what the Bible intended to express in the story of the cave’s purchase. Its genre is influenced by the Assyrian and Babylonian period, from the eighth and seventh centuries BCE. This particular chapter was probably written in the period of the return to Zion and it may have earlier foundations, from the end of the period of the monarchy, and then the goal would be to exalt the kingdom of Judah and say that the fathers of the nation are buried in “our territory” – not where the Israelites were, but in Judah. If it was written in the period of the return to Zion it is even more interesting, because when the Persians divided the land and redefined its borders, Hebron remained outside Judah. In this context, the tombs of the patriarchs are the Promised Land. They resided in Judah and saw Hebron from afar, and they could only despair over their territorial ambitions.

            “One day, at the time of the withdrawal from Hebron, I visited the Tomb of the Patriarchs with Rabbi Menahem Fruman, from [the nearby settlement of] Tekoah, as part of a television program. I explained that the structure is Herodian, and the interviewer, Emmanuel Rosen, asked Fruman what he had to say about that. He replied, `It’s very interesting. He is a man of science, so I assume he knows what he is talking about.’ Rosen was absolutely flabbergasted, he was afraid Fruman would attack me, but Fruman went on, `Do you want me to play time games here? For me it’s enough that he says Jews prayed here in the Herodian period. If he said that it’s been here since the Middle Ages, that would be enough for me, too.’

            “I identified so strongly with him that I almost embraced him, because matters of culture and identity are not measured by a stopwatch and don’t work at the pace of politics.’

            Aren’t you concerned that your theory will serve those who deny the Zionist argument?

            “The debate over our right to the land is ridiculous. As though there is some international committee in Geneva that considers the history of peoples. Two peoples come and one says, `I have been here since the 10th century BCE,’ and the other says, `No, he’s lying, he has only been here since the ninth century BCE.’ What will they do – evict him? Tell him to start packing? In any event, our cultural heritage goes back to these periods, so this whole story is nonsense. Jerusalem existed and it had a temple that symbolized the longings of the Judahites who lived here, and afterward, in the period of Ezra and Nehemiah, of the Jews. Isn’t that enough? How many peoples go back to the ninth or 10th centuries BCE? And let’s say that there was no exodus from Egypt and that there was no great and magnificent united monarchy, and that we are actually Canaanites. So in terms of rights, we are okay, aren’t we?”

            http://fontes.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/grounds.htm

          • James Walker

            I don’t consider Wikipedia to be proof, but this article does link several good references documenting that there is no archaeological evidence to support the Exodus as being an historical narrative.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus

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

            I find Wikipedia is a good place to start, as there are often references on the bottom of the pace.

          • Mike Barnhart

            I will look it over, thanks!

          • Bones

            So Jesus orders ethnic cleansing?

            That god isn’t a god. More a demon.

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

            I think the Old Testament is more a portrait into the dysfunction that is humanity. We see amazing people, and some really fucked up ones. We see beautiful examples of tenacity faith and courage, and we see the worst that man can do to one another. It is all painted in a frame that has the elements of a strange and ancient view of the divine..at least to our distant perceptions.

            For eons, people have been giving the gods credit for victories or successes, and blaming them when things turn to kaka, using the divine to hurl epithets and curses, and praising them when they don’t fall on our shoulders.

          • Bones

            I was thinking the same but you say it so much better than I could.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            I always wondered why Jesus would “raise up foreign nations against Israel” even though he is all powerful (thus, what does he need from those people?). Plus, why would Jesus use a method that sounds so much like after-the-fact scapegoating of heretical Jews for Israel’s genuine losses?

          • Bones

            The notion that God raises up armies is the same understanding that volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and natural disasters are the result of God’s displeasure with humanity and their disobedience..

            It’s a primal view of the ancient world seeking to understand WHY these things happened.

            Bad things have to happen for a reason!

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            “Bad things have to happen [because of YOU]!”

            Fixed that for you (it seems that a lot of Christians believe in “everything [good] happens for a reason” but “this [scapegoat] is why we can’t have nice things”)

          • Bones

            ???

            Not quite sure I understand.

            The idea that bad things happen for a reason is a primitive idea.

            The earthquake at Lisbon in 1755 put paid to any thoughts that God has control of disasters, etc.

            The earthquake, fire and subsequent tsunami wiped out churches which were packed with worshippers while leaving the red light districts and brothels untouched.

            It started a whole rejection of a sovereign God by thinkers such as Voltaire.

            It’s seen in the Bible that if a person is afflicted it’s because of a sin or epilepsy caused by demons or nations invade because of the sinfulness of others.

            It was their way of understanding the world.

            Which was primitive.

          • Giauz Ragnarock

            Sorry, I didn’t mean any offense or to comment about why the beliefs are held. I was more going for captain obvious by stating that Christians usually equate the “reason” bad things have to happen with some “you” (person or group of people. At other times I have heard them confusingly equate some horrendous things with, “Jesus is chastening us because he loves us and wants to bring us through stronger”). Years of hearing stuff like that have just left me “Uh- Argh…”

          • Bones

            No problem, Giauz.

            All cool, bro.

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

            No, I am comparing the Jewish culture and the Roman culture of the turn of the millenium. True Jewish culture did not have a democratic structure, considering they’d spent much of their history following the exile as occupied people.
            I believe God exists, I believe Jesus existed, but in what capacity, I waffle between divine and not as I find more value in his life than his death. Moses? not so much.

            Mythos was a common formulation in the ancient world. The actual existence of people or events was not the point of those stories, but the lessons gleaned from them.

          • Mike Barnhart

            The lessons from His life are certainly of great value. I wish more Christians actually acted like the Christ they are named after! This world would be a much better place if this was the case.
            The Chabad view of the Messiah is that He must be 100% man and 100% God (yes, 200%, but that does not matter when we add God to the mix), so that He can act as an intermediary between God and man – basically that He has a vested interest in both sides. The God part would be that He puts his full faith and trust (in all things) in God and therefor His spirit is lifted up by God to become a perfect spirit – that the animal soul is fully overpowered by the man soul. This Messiah would be born perfect (as all humans are) and then never fall into the traps of sin.
            So is the Messiah divine? Yes and no, both true at the same time. Interesting, no?

      • Mike Barnhart

        I just wanted to make clear that, in Christianity at least and probably other religions as well, it would be a sin to look down upon homosexuals. Regardless of it being a sin or not, it is NOT up to us to judge people – that is fully in the hands of God. We are to love them, God really does not need our help in any judgments He makes. :)
        I can say homosexuality is a sin (as an example) and still love homosexuals. I can do this in the same way I can say that speeding is a sin (which it is – we are to obey the laws of man provided they do not violate the laws of God) and still love people who speed. Not saying homosexuality is a sin – just giving an example.
        Besides, through Christ all sins are forgiven. If we find homosexuality is a sin, we can discuss how wrong we were while worshipping God in Heaven. If we find homosexuality is not a sin, we can discuss how wrong we were while worshipping God in Heaven. Such a minor issue should never come between us and leading people to a believe in the saving power of Christ.

      • anakinmcfly

        “Suffice to say that we know, with clarity, that Jews are forbidden from having homosexual physical relations ”

        We don’t, actually. The translation of that verse is still disputed. If anything else, the use of the word ‘qadesh’ (‘holy one’) – in reference to the mankind doing all that lying – is suspect, and tallies much more with the interpretation that this was a condemnation of male shrine prostitution, rather than ‘regular’ sexual relations between gay men.

        • Mike Barnhart

          I posted the Hebrew. We know what those words translate into in English. We really can know. Kodesh (holy one) קֹדֶשׁ is not in the verse I quoted (nor is haKodesh).

          • anakinmcfly

            Sorry about that; wrong verse. What’s your take on this, though: http://www.stjohnsmcc.org/new/BibleAbuse/Leviticus.php?

          • Mike Barnhart

            Not a problem about the wrong verse, happens to all of us from time to time.

            I think the biggest problem with translating Hebrew to English is the decided lack of “a” “an” and such in Hebrew while such words add a lot of clarity in English.

            The Jews in exile in Babylon still spoke Hebrew, as well as Aramaic (the shift to mostly Aramaic did not happen until after the Jews returned to rebuild the Temple and the Persians actively encouraged the use of the language). Since they spoke Hebrew as their primary native tongue, they were fully aware of what the words meant in The Law and already had a good thousand or more years of following it as their guide. As such, I would trust their translations of the Tanakh over those of Christians whose primary tongue is a language other than Hebrew.

            Add to it that it is considered a grave sin (one which the fires of Gehenna cannot burn away) for a religious teacher to purposefully teach incorrectly or to purposefully translate the Tanakh incorrectly. This is why the scribes and translators work so diligently to get it right. Sometimes errors do creep in accidently, but nothing to big as to completely alter the meaning of a command so important its violation means death.

            The reason I am sure this one item does not only apply to temple prostitutes is because it is in with all the other items…to make it only apply to temple prostitutes would mean all the others in the same section only apply to temple prostitutes as well and we know that is not the case.

            Hebrew has the word “the” (the hei is added as a prefix to the word – hashem is The Name, for example) so there is no need to add it like the writer of that article does.

            The word תּוֹעֵבָה can translate to:
            abomination, shameful deed, profanity, scabrousness, villainousness, anathema; idols, idolatry
            Depending on its use, of course. In the way it is used in this sentence, I would say “shameful deed” is the most proper translation. Abomination works as well, due to the punishment for the act being death, but I would lean towards the shameful deed one. Though saying “it is idolatry” words as well, since the punishment for that is death. You do not have to be actively worshiping a known idol to be engaging in idolatry.
            From everything I have read, this rule only applies to Jews – unless you also consider the Noahide rules to be in force. They are for all descendants of Noah, which would be everyone, and this prohibition is listed amongst the prohibited things.

    • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

      If anyone of any sort places themselves before God, what power can this devil business have?

      Ignorance of union in God is the only sin that matters, and quibbling over nuances of behavior, is smoke and mirrors; the ego scrambling for more time.

      • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

        brmckay –
        I’m so happy to see you here! I enjoy your perspectives a lot.

        • http://brmckay.wordpress.com/ brmckay

          Thank you. This is a good place.

    • Kevin Osborne

      God may appear as the devil or the deep blue sea. It is up to you to know God by personal observation, not predilection. God ain’t predictable.

  • usingmyvoice

    Thank God for you, John. I’ll be sharing this in the hopes that some minister somewhere will read this and ‘get it’. And be inspired to lead his or her congregation.

  • Jon Wilson

    This pastor is stuck, and however he now handles his new beliefs, he will lose his job, at this particular church. It’s unfair to judge how he is handling it right now, since he is not where he needs to be yet. If his change of mind is the right thing, he will do what is right for him, which is really all he can do. It’s a lack of both understanding and compassion to simply condemn him. To change one’s mind from a previously, strongly held belief is hard enough, but to publicly “own” it among those with whom one is still associated is very tough. And unless someone has done it, then such a person needs to be restrained in judgment. This pastor WILL do what is right, I really believe.

  • Josh Magda

    Dear John and John’s readers:

    Thank you for your unequivocal support for LGBT people. My small Christian circle has begun a series of direct actions against the Patheos blog “Love is an Orientation” after they posted a particularly egregious article suggesting it might be OK for gay people to date straight people, in an effort to appease DoomGod. They have spent years coming to our communities under false pretenses of reconciliation, when really what they seek is to keep us in a state of permanent second-class citizenship in God’s Queendom, as part of a self-serving attempt to keep their conservative theology impervious to substantive change.

    If you have the time, and as a Lenten discipline of saying “no” to domination systems in hard and soft forms, your activism there would be much appreciated. Be forewarned, they have banned and deleted my comments on five separate occasions over the last 3 days, and have sent me massive emails, even offering to fly me to Chicago for a tour of their “facility,” in an effort to buy my silence.

    But the way you methodically go about making your point without being incendiary, something that is not my forte with homophobes (its more like Jesus), may just get past their radar. Or it may not.

    Love Josh

  • Bones
  • Bones

    “Wolves in sheep’s

    clothing, those who would approve what God calls an abomination, ”

    Yeah you’re right, I don’t like shellfish either.

    • Don Ledbetter

      bones, you speak with forked tongue, maybe you can give me the scripture that would prove Johns point????????? do you want to be serious or do you just want to wisecrack?

      • Bones

        Seriously Don, do you like shellfish?

        • Don Ledbetter

          I am seriously wondering if there is a right or wrong answer – but answering seriously, no, I do not!

          • Bones

            Don, do you support the right of people to eat shellfish?

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

            Now I’m craving crab cakes.

      • Bones

        Btw my wife likes shellfish and thinks it’s right and good.

        I try to tell her that it’s abomination of God but she doesn’t care. I’ve asked her to back it up with scripture but so far, no cigar. She’s obviously a wolf in sheep’s clothing approving of that which God would call an abomination.

        She’s also started wearing my clothes!!! (Deut 22:5)

        • Don Ledbetter

          Bones, you need to read scripture, like most of those who comment they know not what they do. It’s like those who love to take one line and go with it. Hey, if the clothes fit……

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

            To assume that people who contribute, either articles, or as commenters do not read and understand scripture is merely your opinion, and not necessarily the correct assumption. I strongly suggest a change of tone and temperment on your part.

          • Don Ledbetter

            Good morning Madame, you are exactly right, almost nothing should be assumed and we certainly should not judge as only God can see a human heart! So many folks tho obviously confuse O.T with the N.T and it really requires no assuming at all, it is quite literally in black and white. Allegro63, all I wanted and all I asked for was a scripture, undefiled, that proves Johns position. Where in scripture can you draw the conclusion that perversion is right and good? When I get that scripture I am for sure out of here. Thank you. d

          • Bones

            There’s no magic scripture that will end the debate sadly.

            Just as there’s no scripture saying you shouldn’t have slaves nor multiple wives.

            So that’ll keep you happy till you die or come to your senses that your just choosing verses which support your bigotry.

            That’s not what scripture is for.

            Nor is scripture a Law.

            There is no Law.

            There’s no black and white in life, Only grey.

            50 shades of it.

          • Don Ledbetter

            Bones, final comment….The Bible is black and white, some folks choose to make it grey because they do not want it to actually say what it actually says. Many folks simply don’t understand the difference between the OT law and the NT. and the reason that God sent His son to change it all. In regards to eating shellfish or certain foods, the following scripture comes from the NT.
            I can promise you that if you will read the entire Bible everything will become Chrystal clear…
            Acts 10:9-16
            King James Version (KJV)
            9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
            10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
            11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
            12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
            13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
            14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
            15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
            16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

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

            Again. Stop assuming that Bones hasn’t read the entire bible, nor has anyone else.

            As for the passage in question, its also a debatable one. Is it about what we eat, or is it about culture, and looking past cultural norms that tend to divide us, and seeing the neighbor instead…or is it something else all together? The supposed vision is philosophical in nature, intended to have more than one clear meaning, meant to have people ponder over and see the possible meanings, of which there are several

          • Bones

            Hi Don.

            Nice verse and yeah I know when the killer verse comes out that ends the debate but I’ll carry on.

            It doesn’t say much about my wife wearing my clothes though.

            She is definitely a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

            I thought Romans 6:14 or Gal 5:18,22 or 2 Cor 3 :6-7 (the letter kills but the Spirit gives life)

            In reality what Paul is saying is that liberty, grace and mercy have replaced the Law.

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

            John has written extensively on the topic, including several books. He and his wife also recorded a video for the NALT project that can be viewed from this site. If you go to the top of the page you will see tabbed categories. There is a tab for what you are looking for. I suggest looking there for what you seek.

            As for the bible being black and white. only if white paper and black lettering is used. It is a many layered work with poetry, personal opinions, philosophy, ancient civil codes, dysfunctional family stories, theological views, etc. Many of its contents have been hotly debated for centuries. Some of the books that made the final cut were themsevles hotly debated as to whether they should be included or not including Ruth, Song of Solomon and Revelations. There are probably some that should have been that werent’, and vice versa.

            What one takes from scripture is not what someone else will. We can and should respect that.

          • Don Ledbetter

            Allegro63, all I’m getting here is double talk. You guys maintain that homosexuality is ok. I ask you to show me one, just one scripture that says anything other than it is an abomination and you simply cannot. I say that God’s Word is easy to understand, you say that it is not. Do you ever wonder why simple folk can understand it and highly intelligent folk cannot seem to understand it without adding their own interpretation to it? It really does make it difficult to understand when you do this. The Bible means what it says and says what it means. It is written so that all can understand it. It is only when we add to it or take away from it that it becomes debatable. So, you guys believe what you want to believe and I’ll stick with God’s simple plan and I will accept God’s Word at face value and not try to change it. Bones says’ there is no magic scripture that will end the debate and I say that if you will simply believe what The Word says the debate is ended, but you cannot do that. It’s been enlightening.
            This is my last post in this regard.

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

            I pointed you to where you could find our position, and the backing to show clearly why. You’ve opted not to look at it. I’m not going to do your work for you. Either you are interested in learning about how other people view things or you aren’t.

            Your accusations demonstrate a mind that wants to remain firmly closed and that dismisses with derision anyone who accepts that there is more to see and learn and do. You are allowed to do that. Some of us prefer the broader, more expansive view, in order to learn how better to demonstrate God’s love through our interactions with each other.

            You can use the Bible as a deific talisman against the world if you choose. None of us wishes to stop you. Some of us just think God doesn’t fit into a book.

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

          I love wearing my husband’s t-shirts. Especially when I don’t feel good, or to sleep in. Currently I am wearing a pair of his shoes. They are a bit big, but very comfortable.

  • Bones

    Btw evangelicals have bullied World Vision into renouncing it’s new stand on accepting same sex married Christians in it’s workforce.

    Churches like the Assemblies of God urged its members to stop supporting World Vision and back charities which had biblical standards of morality.

    http://groupsects.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/world-vision-sparks-christian-gay-panic/#comment-30286

    By biblical morality I gather that means those who endorse slavery, polygamy and levirate marriages.

    Biblical morality obviously has nothing to do with caring for the poor but what you do with your genitals and who you do it with.

  • Derek

    I belong to a welcoming congregation that has done same sex marriages. A week ago, our minister spoke to the congregation about the difference between welcoming and affirming and why we should go there http://www.trinityunitedottawa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Reflection-140323.mp3

  • MrPuzzleBox

    G00GLE g0ys and get your paradigm adjusted. There is a MASSIVELY different way to view the entire “Same-Sex” concept. It’s called “G0Y” – spelled with a zer0.

    • James Walker

      perhaps you could try posting comments that are actually related to the topic?


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