You keep calling yourself a “Christian”, I do not think it means what you think it means

Some days, ok most days, I am beyond grateful for my calling to make room at my table for a myriad of disparate voices.  Most days I feel blessed to serve spoon-fulls of of love, generous dollops of peace, steaming bowls of slow-cooked reconciliation and a sweet slice of Grace.

And then there are days like today. A day where the charred and bitter Brussels sprouts of plain truth are all that’s left to serve.  It might not taste good but it is good for what ails ya.

“Christian” trolls…

Stop dropping random and disjointed scripture in blog comments, on my Facebook wall, and in private messages.  Please stop reading this blog, really – don’t comment anymore,  hell, go on and block me on Facebook if you worship a god who you truly believe rewarded Lot for offering his daughters to be raped instead of the male guests in his house.

I have no interest in what you say if you stride around confidently throwing Leviticus 18:22 as if it applies to all people today but you, well, sorta skip over other verses in Leviticus because, well that was only for the people of Moses’ time so they don’t really apply to us now.

Leviticus 19:19
19 You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; nor shall you put on a garment made of two different materials.

Leviticus 19: 33-34
33 When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. 34The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Leviticus 25: 36-37
36Do not take interest in advance or otherwise make a profit from them, but fear your God; let them live with you. 37You shall not lend them your money at interest taken in advance, or provide them food at a profit.

 

You really are not brining anything of value, love or grace to the conversation (and you sure as hell a’int bring anyone closer to Jesus) if you’re armed to the teeth with every jot and tittle credited to Paul as if  they are literal and to be applied to all people, everywhere for all time but you read the Luke 6:20-26 as, well, metaphorical.

20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:‘Blessed are you who are poor,   for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 ‘Blessed are you who are hungry now,   for you will be filled.‘Blessed are you who weep now,   for you will laugh.
22 ‘Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man. 23Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for surely your reward is great in heaven; for that is what their ancestors did to the prophets. 24 ‘But woe to you who are rich,   for you have received your consolation. 25 ‘Woe to you who are full now,  for you will be hungry.‘Woe to you who are laughing now,   for you will mourn and weep.
26 ‘Woe to you when all speak well of you, for that is what their ancestors did to the false prophets.

I know right? Luke is like way harsher than Matthew, but of course Luke didn’t mean like, the actual poor and for real rich, today, in Uhmericuh did he?

Stop saying you follow Jesus if you are obsessed with 5-7 bible verses that you believe speak to same-sex, mutually loving, relationships but don’t give a rats ass about over 300 verses that speak directly to caring for the poor.

If you call yourself a Christian (and relate to God and your neighbor) primarily through the lens of Leviticus and Paul rather than the ONE who we as a country are forsaking by leaving Him hungry, thirsty, alienated, naked, sick and solitary in prison (Matthew 25:21-46 in case you were wondering) - then I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

Oh, and while I’m on a roll, I might as well throw this’n in for good measure – if the “right to bear arms” is sacrosanct but believing in and striving for a day when we can all beat our swords into ploughshares is some hippy-freak crap to be ignored  (and if you have no idea what I’m talking about, try reading your bible rather than chucking it at people), stop misrepresenting yourself as one who sets the guideposts of your life by the bible.

If this is what you bring to the table, I experience you not as a follower of Christ in whom we are free, but as a hard hearted, biblically illiterate, superstitious, idol worshipper who wouldn’t know Jesus if you were nailing him to the cross yourself.

 

About Kimberly Knight

Kimberly has a long history of back-pew sitting, Wednesday night supper eatin' and generally trying God’s patience since 1969. She's lucky enough to have made her technology addiction a career and serves as both the Director of Digital Strategy as a southern liberal arts college and Minister of Digital community with Extravagance UCC.

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  • yewtree

    I love this post :)

  • David

    “wouldn’t know Jesus if you were nailing him to the cross yourself”- spot on! I’ve been saying for years, some of these folks keep nailing Jesus back up on the cross, again & again! I believe in a resurrected Jesus Christ, you know manifestation of God’s love and all that sort of “soft”, “liberal” crap!

  • http://www.insightsofamemaw.com Sally Ronald

    Thank you, Wonderfully said.

  • acchokiefan@gmail.com

    Well, I made it back 8 minutes later and I’m feeling a little wordy, so here goes my testimony. I befriended a gay person before I knew he was gay. Like I said, I live in Tennessee and this was 1992 so there weren’t a lot of gay people exactly “coming out” around here, follow? Now, he had an extreme drinking problem and when I say extreme, I mean he was killing himself. Well, Christ said that there is not a greater love than he who would give up his life for his friends? helping him was far short of killing me. I’m no saint, YET. Well, Gary and I got to getting him sober and out of some very minor legal issues. That was another miracle. The Holy Sprit told us what to tell the judge, and Gary did and the judge took the $100 as court cost an WE walked out of there free. See there is no me, there is only WE. Gary was super reluctant to tell me that he was gay because of the UGLY NASTY stigma that tends to be associated with Christians as OctoberFurst eludes to below. But see, after knowing The Lord and being sober for some time and getting to know me, he did the Nobelist of things. He struggled, but he said that if we were going to be friends that he felt like I had the right to know. Honestly, I was shocked. I’ll tell you this and I even told him, I knew there was something that he wanted to tell me and I said when The Spirit leads you, then do it. Otherwise don’t. After the initial shock. Forgive me, I’m human. We continued and we talked about it and it was that which was causing his drinking. Listen, he thought God hated him. And he had begun to hate himself. Even listen to some of these “pastors” of today they will say “most of the time when you meet a gay person he hates himself because of his lifestyle” LIARS. he hates himself because you and Satan have him convinced that he can change himself from a fig tree to an orange tree. Oh, don’t get me started. I saw what these “Christians had done to this brother of mine and I’m a man of war anyway, with a temper. Well, it was a lot worse when I was younger. You know they say Peter’s ministry wasn’t so hot until he got a little older. He whacked the ear off remember. Well, he hated the fact that he was gay and here I was without a clue what to do, but I sure enough knew somebody who did, right? And The Lord laid on me the questions to ask him. Paraphrased, they sounded like this. “Is there anything or anyway that you think that you can somehow be changed to heterosexual? And he said, NO. And The Lord said then you had better start working on accepting the fact that you are gay and that you were made that way. Listen, he was 30 years old and never in his entire life had he ever once even considered accepting it. Not once. He had struggled with it like a ball and chain. You know how these FAKE Christians will say “He was set free of homosexuality”. Well, he was set free of homosexuality alright. Satan will have us carry sins that aren’t there. Whatever He can use. Happy ending time. Gary never took another drink, and it was a very short process for him to deeply accept himself as a fig tree and he grew so close to The Lord that at times I got envious that The Lord Loved him more than me. Lol. Did I mention I was human. He was on fire for The Lord. And after he had been sober about three years, he met whom Christ had made for him. And darned if they didn’t have a relationship that the southern baptist association would envy (you know they lead the world in divorce at 28%). They are still together, still happy and the center of their relationship is God. They don’t even live here anymore and sure wish they did. And you know what concerns me the most in the gay arena, because Christ is winning there. THERE WILL BE EQUAL RIGHTS. but the poor teenagers that kill themselves. The Lord has never put another one before me. Perhaps I should seek them. Any thoughts? Do I sound qualified? I’m done. It’s been some time since I’ve shared that. God Bless and Good Night. Watch Rachel Maddow tonite at 9pm to find put how Satan got us into Iraq. It’s a documentary called. WHY WE DID IT. I LOVE EVERY SONGLE ONE OF YOU AND I WILL MEET YOU IN THE KINGDOM. ILL BE THE ONE WITH ALL THE WATCHES.

  • acchokiefan@gmail.com

    As all of us, I have a unique testimony to share after this post, because My King sent me first with this message. 1Corinthians 10-13. Says that there is no sin that isn’t common to man. Out of the Ten Commandments, I think I can honestly say that I have not coveted my neighbors donkey, YET. But, with every sin comes a temptation, does it not? I’ve stolen. I saw something that wasn’t mine and I took it. Other things too. All those things that are “common to man”. Can we agree that with all sin first comes a temptation? I mean I don’t end up with a man’s watch in my pocket without having first suffered a temptation that’s common to man. Then why haven’t I ever, never had my very first homosexual temptation? Do you mind if I answer that since nobody’s saying anything? Because it isn’t a sin. Do not call unclean what I have cleansed. Please see OctoberFursts post below. It’s black and white. Christ would never have us so confused that we didn’t know which ship to get on. Look at their wickedness and be joyous that they hate you. They hate me with all the desperation of a drowning man. Thy rod and thy staff, it comforts me. If it interests anyone, see Brainyquotes.com and see quotes from Hitler. ( I know that’s a name being used liberally these days, but I’m using it with permission) If you didn’t know who they were coming from, you’d swear it was the Tea Party Platform. I live in upper East Tennessee, one of the “reddest” areas of the country. And I’m struggling. Because Satan is so tricky, he has turned me into a hater too. See, I find myself hating them. OUCH ! That’s a sin. I was tempted first to hate them, and then gave way to the hate. I’m working on it. It’s a small price to pay in light of Calvary. There isn’t any question in my mind that they don’t know Christ at all. It’s like they’ve never even read the bible. Of course you can read it all you want, but if you don’t have ears to hear. Why do they even go to church? So they won’t feel so alone? I should be praying for them instead of hammering them like I do sometimes. Anyway, I’d like to come back here and give this site a testimony about my experience with the first gay person I ever knew. In any event, if I don’t make it back, I send encouragement and hope. It’s not being on the right side of History that we seek. It’s being on the right side of The Lord. And If he is with us, who can stand against us. Peace and Love and Strength.

  • http://www.themadjewess.com/ The Mad Jewess

    We are supposed to love the stranger in our midst. We are not supposed to CHANGE law. God is not a law breaker.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      From your Disqus handle I assume that we relate to the Hebrew Scriptures differently. I also relate to the Christian testament differently than more than half of my sisters and brothers in Christ. I do not believe that all laws recorded in the canon as we now have it are Divine mandates as much as they are cultural norms and taboos established as we as humans seek to understand our relationship with God and one another.

      As a Christian, if and when I hang my hat there, I believe that Jesus is the Incarnation of God come to reveal the truth – that we are not bound by laws that dehumanizes us but that we are liberated by grace, love and compassion that fully humanizes us.

      Thank you for taking a seat at this table – your presence is a gift.

  • forgiven

    Kimberley, I understand that you are angry but try not to return evil for evil.

    Please do not get defensive about this post – we are on the same team trying to perfect our faith and offer ourselves as holy sacrifices.

    The fact is no one can follow all the Law – our righteousness is as filthy rags. But that does not abrogate it – that’s why we need Jesus to fulfill it.

    We are ALL hypocrites.

    And as you remind us, Paul is in fact the chief of sinners.

    Is there not a difference between repenting when I lie (which I do) and saying that lying is not a sin. Even if we sin we must not call sin right.

    Does another’s sin/hypocrisy cleanse me of mine? Can I purchase another’s sin/hypocrisy as an indulgence?

    If I love another must I also love their sin (which we all have)?

    Don’t be hurt by these questions ….. the Truth will set us both free.

  • StRalph

    This might sound silly, but I believe that people can disagree with me and still be Christians.

    • melissia

      But this isn’t about merely two people disagreeing. This is about people who do nothing but use the bible as a weapon to hurt others.

  • diverdown1

    Agreed Kimberly. Leviticus says a lot of things. No tattoos for instance…but if we truly followed the Old testament, literally, we would be gouging our eyes out etc. I am reading a book, right now, called ZEALOT, the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” It is great. Jesus hung out with men and Mary M. And what about the Gnostic Gospels. We don’t hear about those much and there is no telling how many books were taken out over the years. I applaud you and the work you are doing. Jesus said to love our neighbors as ourselves… and judge not, lest ye be judged. Ironically, most “Christians” I know are all about judging everyone else. These are scary times to me. God bless you.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank you so much – yes, these are scary times indeed. I am grateful for your heart in the world that can see and name the things that are out of synch with love.

      • diverdown1

        I just wish others could see it. It is almost as if the ones calling themselves “Christians” are the ones that are the farthermost from being Christians. Liberals are being called “socialists”. Jesus preached kindness and love. He had empathy and compassion, none of which I see in a lot of the Tea Party folks. Some of the things that come out of their mouths really blow my mind. And the 700 Club? Pat Robertson for instance…He is so out of touch with what he thinks. I could go on and on, but I won’t. Thanks again for what you are doing.

    • forgiven

      You quoted the ‘judge not” verse but you omitted Jesus’ directive of ‘go, and from now on sin no more’ to the woman. So He never said that she was not a sinner.

      That’s not me saying it but Jesus.

      We both agree – we need to leave the judging to Jesus.

  • Lawrence Mckechnie

    most of what the fundamentalists say comes from what I like to call a “Pauline misread”

  • Lawrence Mckechnie

    Brilliant :) Thought “yes!” when I read that

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thanks!

  • The_L1985

    *applause* That’ll preach.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank you :)

  • CG

    My own two cents.

    I ran across a passage the other day, Hebrews 7:12 “For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also.”

    I thought about how many different ways the context of this phrase can be interpreted. My initial reaction was was an interpretation in what some would consider a “progressive” (I am not fond of labels it seems to political to me) Christianity viewpoint in the context of a “evolving church” I’m sure there is another viewpoint/interpretation to counter that.

    So now one becomes locked in a battle of trying to decide who is right, and in the grand scheme it becomes even harder to studiously figure out “rightness” in Christianity when there are over 2,000 Christian denomination in America alone.

    At this point in my life I honestly feel if someone is sincere in love/belief in God and they’ve embraced Christ as their savoir/redeemer they are a Christian in my eyes. That might not be enough for some and it might be too much for others but I’ve two fundamental truths in my heart, a belief in God and Christ as representation of God in flesh. The rest I am still figuring out.

    I understand the more “conservative” side of the fence will argue that I am attempting to sugarcoat the Christianity with relativism. And at times I’ve found this argument compelling not for myself but because I’ve never wanted to put across a false view of Christianity. It’s one thing for me to have my beliefs its another to lead others “astray.” While I currently disagree with a few issues with the conservative sides (especially when it becomes a political battle) I do see the tremendous compassion in intent (ideally, I know some people can just be jerks or ignorant) on both sides of the argument so I am open to hearing from all.

    However it seems to me whether reading of the Scripture leads you to the conclusion of for example celibacy or not in the case of homosexuality, phrases such as God is Love and the words of Christ himself do not advocate walking into a conversation with condemnation, contempt or condescension in your heart. Who am I to judge that someone else who is seeking God and Christ is not a Christian? In fact with an honest look at myself I am sure quite a few people would condemn me for not being Christian. There might not be any true modern Christians with some of the arguments thrown around.

    In the end IMO God and God only is and will be the only judge.

    • Ron

      amen. If only we would understand what Hebrews is saying in regard to Jesus being the fulfillment of the ceremonial laws of the OT and realize that the civil laws in the OT were intended for a specific geo-political group of people that were only a foreshadow of the kingdom of God that includes all peoples of the earth…then maybe, the lobbing of Leviticus and Deuteronomy passages at gays would stop. Great comment here CG and great article Kimberly.

  • bean701

    What a great post Kimberly. How true, so many Christians should really be calling themselves Leviticans and Paulinians…when it doesn’t apply to them….

  • JIMMYPALMIERI

    A 2 THE MEN!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      :)

  • Octoberfurst

    I find it appalling that most of the politicans who call themselves “devout Christians” and “followers of Christ” are the same ones who want to slash the social safety net, go to war, promote torture, love the death penalty, demonize gay people and kowtow to the rich. Jesus would have done NONE of that. I honestly don’t understand the disconnect. Do they understand the Gospel at all? I see more racist, misogynistic and hateful comments on Facebook from people who call themselves “Christians” than from anyone else. It truly boggles my mind. It seems to me that many people have no clue what being a “follower of Christ” means. Love, compassion and mercy should be a Christians main focus. But that seems to be forgotten by many of todays “Christians.” Thank you for your article. It hits the nail on the head.

    • swampcrone

      This

    • gimpi1

      Yet I’m fairly sure that those same “Christians” would be surprised if those of us on the outside turned away from their church based on their actions. Actions speak louder than words, people. If you act hateful, you make the group you front for appear hateful. It’s pretty simple.

      • tatortotcassie

        Based on what I’ve heard and personally observed, I think those same “Christians” would be surprised that those of us on the outside turned away from their church based on actions that they consider good.
        There’s a fear in the stricter fundamental circles that the littlest action could ruin their “life testimony” — i.e, being seen in or even near the liquor section of the grocery store could make us outsiders question their testimony because “Good Christians don’t drink.” So the stricter observers will twist themselves into pretzels to present a “Christian” image at all times.

        • gimpi1

          I would then refer those folks to the title of this article: “You keep calling yourself a ‘Christian,’ I do not think it means what you think it means.”

          Being judgmental, war-like, greedy and selfish do far more to harm a person’s life-testimony than picking up a bottle of wine to serve your guests for Thanksgiving dinner.

        • melissia

          Those who are more concerned with image than deed are very far from Christ indeed.

        • David

          seems to me that I sure read/hear a LOT of stories of these so-called “Christians” engaging in extra-marital affairs, clandestine same-sex encounters (men’s restrooms are still in vogue w/ these types- at least the males) to outright illegal, truly despicable, behaviors/actions: child molestation, rape, trafficking in child porn. Now, don’t get me wrong, liberal Christians are guilty of some of the same offenses, but it just seems to me the fundies seem to be doing it a LOT more!

  • ysabet

    Excellent post! Me, I’m not a Christian; I’m Wiccan. Why am I here? Because I believe in my faith and it says that there are many rivers and one sea; Christianity is one of the rivers too. I’ve met far too many so-called ‘Christians’ who embodied all the bigotry, deliberate ignorance and self-righteous hatred that bubbles up in Mankind at their worst; I’ve met excellent ones too, like yourself, and I wish there were more of you.

  • Sandy Rogers

    Well written, beautiful, but oh, please don’t beat up on Leviticus. Remember, that’s also where Jesus gets the whole “Love your neighbor” thing from too!! There’s also a LOT about social/economic justice in Leviticus that tends to get ignored.

  • Aydan_Selby

    This is a terrific post. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=734862248 Dan Hydar

    Just curious – who *exactly*, in this country, is being left “hungry, thirsty and naked”?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      If you truly don’t know that there are people in real and dire need in this country then I am truly astonished and sorry for your limited awareness.

    • gimpi1

      Check any soup-kitchen or homeless shelter. I live in Seattle. Google “Nicklesville.” It’s a homeless camp that the city is trying to dismantle. If you don’t see people who are hungry and hurting, I must assume you are blind and deaf.

  • Steve

    Does one have to make a choice between the two? Can a Christian both try to incorporate Paul’s letters AND the Sermon on the Mount into their understanding of Christianity?

    It seems that a person can say that murder is wrong, and that’s fine. He can say that animal abuse is fine, and everyone nods. He can say dishonest is wrong, and people give a thumbs up. But suggest that Christian morality also applies to sexuality, and people scream, “You are cruel and care nothing of the poor!”

    Forgive me, but I can’t but wonder why that is.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Steve,

      Thank you for lifting up this fantastic question. Let me try to respond in two ways to unpack what it is I am doing here with this one post. (I have many posts where I am a bridge-builder, all are welcome kind of gal, just ask the conservative folks who hang around and know how to engage in gentle yet firm dialogue)

      First, and unfortunately foremost in this post, are my deep frustrations with “Christians” who do NOT know how to behave in conversations where we are theologically disparate. This post, as is stated plainly, is directed toward the troll species (and their scads of brethren) who are vehemently hyper focused on HOMOsexuality, not all sexual morality. This post is directed toward the kind of people who ARE only slinging disjointed scripture that obsesses over a handful of texts while ignoring many other laws that they no longer feel are applicable. I have experienced SO many of these types of “Christians” – the ones who are not following the call to walk in the beatitudes, care for the sick and poor and instead ground their “faith” only in haranguing others for their sexual lives. These are not the kind and gentle folks you propose in the first part of your comment. They are often mean. They frequently resort to personal attacks. And, I have NEVER been able to extract one example of how they are living according to ALL “laws” recorded in the Bible.

      Second, in no way do I “scream” about all conversations regarding sexual morality. I am in a monogamous relationship. I firmly believe that sexual behavior can be either sacred and life giving or can be degrading and soul crushing. I also believe that these trajectories can be found equally in homo and heterosexual people. What I do resist, what I will counter in my boldest voice (not screaming) is the notion that a. my sexuality is immoral just because I am created to love a woman b. that the religious beliefs of SOME Christians have the right to define the laws of this nation (separation of church and state) for all people.

      Kimberly

      • Steve

        I am certainly with you that the ol’ “Pull the log out of your eye before pointing out the speck in the other’s” rule is one which many Christians are apt to forget. However, I wonder if the preponderance of feedback you get on the subject of homosexuality has something to do with it being a topic you address. If I was a Christian writer who frequently recorded thoughts on a particular subject, I’d expect much of my feedback (pro or con) to along those lines.

        I’m curious about how you’d answer this question: I’m a married man. I know that God wants me to address all of my affection toward my wife. But I still feel desires toward other women – monogamy often feels like a burden which runs counter to my inbuilt desires. But I know that God has said about staying true to one’s spouse. So I’ve discerned that despite having those desires, I must show obedience to God and to my wife by ignoring them.

        Have I discerned wrongly?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

          Steve,

          Point taken in that the anti-gay folks are going to be drawn to my blog since that is the crux of my content. The thing is, they are not just drawn to my blog and for many that I have encountered they speak of this “cause” being their fundamental mission of faith. Seems a bit askew give the totality of the biblical narrative, which is the part of the point of this faithful rant of mine. Another point of this post is that people who can not conduct conversations like you and I are here, with grace and integrity, intelligence and wit, then they are not behaving in a Christ-like manner with their personal attacks, willful ignorance and throwing around 5-7 bible verses as if there are no other verses by which we are to orient our lives AND they are not welcome here.

          I also fully and faithfully reject literal/factual reading of the bible so those arguments have no weight here with me anyway – Folks who bring that interpretation here are spinning their fundie wheels with me (and MANY other faithful, thoughtful Christians) as well as, with all their vitriol, giving conservative but compassionate, intelligent Christians a bad name.

          To your second question, you are sorta posing a bit of a straw man by the implication of comparing homosexuality with infidelity. They are not the same thing any more than heterosexuality is the same as infidelity. I believe in covenantal marriage that is a bond between you, your wife with God as the witness and binding agent. I believe the same for my own marriage. Sure, monogamy can be a burden, but once the holy covenant has been entered we are more than our individual desires, we are a responsible to and for one another. Infidelity causes pain and suffering for one or many (extended families, children) whereas my orientation, as lived out in a loving, committed, responsible, kind and giving way is not only NOT harming anyone it is bringing love, light and wholeness to the people in our lives.

          K

          • Steve

            Well, I was getting at something a little more subtle than
            that. I was motioning toward an underlying concept of how one defines himself/herself. For instance, a no one would say, “God oriented me toward hoarding cash. That
            is what is good for me.” Or perhaps, “I find it hard to forgive. Therefore not forgiving is simply what I’m designed for.” We recognize that not everything we feel a deep desire about is
            necessarily what God wants from us.

            However, in the area of sex, our subjective experience seems to be the great unshakable absolute. “Whatever I desire is what I am, and that shall be my good” seems to be the ethos. So in asking about how monogamy feels like an ill-fitting glove, I’m asking if my immutable sexual desires define what is right for me.

            If not, why?

            • Seth

              Steve, I think this comes down to a difference in what one thinks of Gods commands. If Gods laws were given for humanity to flourish, then I think there’s a stronger case for gay marriage. But if they were given as a test of obedience, then I think it’s a weaker case. What do u think?

              • Steve

                Your question presupposes the answer to mine. What I am asking is whether God has ANY laws at all regarding sexual behavior between human persons. Or if that area is unique among all others – in that it is up to each individual to decide what is good for himself/herself based on his/her desires.

                • Seth

                  I don’t think it necessarily presupposes anything. Although perhaps what I mean is actually the difference between no laws (only the greatest commandment itself) and hundreds of actual real laws. Is that a better delineation? I agree that whatever the case is, sexual conduct cannot be held to a different standard than other issues.

                • Steve

                  And that’s what I’m driving at. We cannot say, “This is what I desire. Therefore that is what I am made for. This shall be my good.” We must seek out God’s intended desire for sexuality, the same as we would anything else. We have to be willing to accept when God tells us to something that runs contrary to our desires. All of us do.

                • Seth

                  I think you’re mis-characterizing one side of the discussion. Just because one believes that love of God and fellow man is the only real commandment, doesn’t mean that feelings guide every decision.

                • MichaelPHoltz

                  I would also suggest that, when considering same-sex unions, you understand that the sexuality nature of them is just a component. I am sure your decision to marry your wife was driven by considerably more than a desire to have sex. The same holds true with same-sex marriages. It is not about desire as much as it is about fulfillment and completion. My husband and I have been together over 25 years, and what we have built is not about desire but about traveling down the road of life together, sharing and caring and supporting each other. In that light, maybe you will see how devolving same-sex relationships to “desire” is, albeit unintentionally, insulting.

                • Seth

                  I thought the same Michael, but didn’t want to respond as I’m not gay. I haven’t ever had a conservative tell me what he/she thinks of non-sexual aspects of long term gay relationships. I’d be curious if there was a response to this.

                • Steve

                  Desire can be multidimensional, as can its fulfillment. I’m certain you find your relationship fulfilling in multiple ways. The question I was asking was related to what Ms. Kim said when she stated she was “created to love a woman.”

                  “Upon what evidence does this conviction rest?” I wondered. What it boils down to is personal desire. That doesn’t necessarily dumb it down to a sexual desire, but the conclusion is based on desire nonetheless.

                  What I was point out throughout this thread is that merely desiring something does not mean it is morally licit. In fact, in many areas we recognize the opposite is true. But when it comes to sexuality, we make an exception. “I desire X. Therefor I am made for X. That shall be my good.”

                • Frank Sonnek

                  Try this Steve:
                  Gpd has written his Divine Moral Law in the Reason of all men. This is how I read St Paul in Romans 2:15.
                  in that case the test of morality is “love your neighbor as yourself”.
                  Sexually that would look like this:
                  In a positive sense: How would you want your daughters or wife treated by other men? How would other men treat your daughters in a way that would truly honor and value them as a complete person sexually?
                  how would you want to be treated sexually? is that healthy? do you really love your own self? Does it honor the entire you as a person?
                  In that case, you would judge sexual morality in the same way you would judge morality by any of the rest of the second table commandments.
                  Lust and covet are the same word in Greek.
                  That suggest that the root of all sin is to want what belongs to our neighbor and to seek to get it in a way that is contrary to the will or best interest of that neighbor,
                  Looked at this way, you have complete congruence and the same reason for judging all human behavior between you and your neighbor. the moral test for sexual conduct then becomes the same test for every kind of conduct:
                  1) do not hurt or harm your neighbor and…
                  2) help and befriend your neighbor in every need.
                  I am just fleshing out what loving ones neighbor demands. It demands not only to refrain from doing, it demands that we do certain things as well. That also applies to sexuality. It is a good gift of God that is to be used to increase the true and enduring happiness of our neighbor.
                  I know… if you are roman catholic that means we need to consider the “natural purpose” of sex as being procreation only, or, more recently in roman theology, the “one flesh union” … so for that reason any sex that doesn’t potentially serve procreation is wrongedy wrong wrong wrong. That’s a long long rabbit hole that I wont go down with you if that is where you would want to take it. I will kindly assume you don’t :)
                  And you don’t even need to be a Christian to know or do morality. Which explains why lots of pagans are way more moral than most Christians and that morality
                  which , in turn, explains why our Lord tells us that morality , as far as we can judge it in others, is not what separates the biblical sheep from goats or wheat from the looks-identical-to-wheat tares,
                  I hope this helps, or at least can help you see that others who don’t share your view are not simply moral relativists who think that everyone should follow a “roll-your-own” moral code.
                  I suspect you wont agree with what I proposed if you are roman catholic or a devotee of one of my personal favorite theologians St Thomas Aquinas, but it might helo you avoid attacking a strawman.
                  I observe that most folks, both religious and none, simply think of the Golden Rule in its various expressions (love your neighbor as yourself, do unto others….) and evaluate fairness, justice and mercy by that yardstick. What would be the reason we could not use that rule as the common basis for discussing what is moral and what is immoral.
                  one more thing: I suggest that morality, to be that, must always involve more than one person and the conduct between them. Virtue is, of itself, not morality that means. Virtue is only morality insofar as it bears the fruit of morality between us and others , which are summarized in the points above that I numbered 1) what we are to not do and 2) what we are obligated to do.
                  I will be most interested in your response Steve.

                • Steve

                  To the best of my knowledge, the Catholic Church doesn’t teach that the purpose of marriage is “procreation only”. Rather, procreation is “a” purpose of sexuality. The intimate union of the spouses is another purpose, but the two purposes cannot be set against one another. The natural ‘ends’ of sexuality must be respected with each act. [CCC 2360-2372]

                  If you are a student of Thomas Aquinas, you will know that to love someone means to seek their good for their own sake. If we recognize that union with God is our ultimate good, then there is no contradiction between loving your neighbor and urging him (gently) to conform his sexuality to God’s will. Quite the opposite, genuine love compels us to help our neighbor follow God.

                • Frank Sonnek

                  I agree that your writing is a more precise lay out of Roman teaching. But what you presented reinforces what I said as the main point I was making:
                  ***
                  Morality is determined, according to Roman Scholastic teaching , requiring some sort of Divine special and natural revelation beyond merely Ruled reason pondering the Golden Rule. that was THE point I intended to make.
                  ***
                  You made the same point I was trying to make, and did so in a more authoritative and authentic way. Thank you.

                • Frank Sonnek

                  Lutherans would disagree by saying that God’s unitary purpose in moral, second table, Law is to make Goodness and Mercy and not the opposite of that, happen , horizontally, between men. God does not need such obedience. It is our neighbor who needs it.
                  Rome says , according to what you your self just said, that Morality is one man helping another man work in conformity to his Telos, which is conformity with the Law of God , which Telos is the restoration in full of the Image of God. This conformity results in Aristotelian “flourishing.” The Law, both Natural and Specially revealed (through apostolic writings and the Roman magisterium) is the revelation of the very Mind of God.
                  Thomas is certainly the most brilliant interpreter of both Aristotle and St Augustine. His Summa can be described as the most exquisite and reasonable harmonization of the teachings and logical framework of both of those men. I love the Summa. I disagree with parts of it. I don’t throw out baby with bathwater. St T Aquinas was the most brilliant theologian who ever existed perhaps.

                • Frank Sonnek

                  If you would be so kind, please tell me, in your very own words, what I said that would be categorically contrary to Roman teaching. That would be most helpful to me. Thanks Steve.

                • Steve

                  Frank, I think you mistake me for someone who is educated. There isn’t much I can say. The purpose of following God’s will isn’t to fullfill something God lacks, or even to make our neighbors happy, but to become saints.

                  God had a beautiful idea in mind when He made you. He imagined the person you could be – Saint Frank. If you live out God’s grace and cooperate with His will, you will become that person. It may not be easy, but that’s the goal.

                • Frank Sonnek

                  So Lutherans say that the Moral Law is embedded in the reason of all me. Nothing therefore can be demanded beyond the ethics of [pagan ] Aristotle. Ergo: Morality is , completely so, vectored horizontally, even if it is governed by God through ruled reason parsing the Golden Rule, ie Conscience.
                  Rome turns ethics and morality into a religious exercise that is primarily vectored vertically. Morality = religion. Religion = morality. Morality is the point of religion. the point of morality is a religious one primarily. Horizontal as a fruit of the vertical being actualized. True religion will naturally result in mans “flourishing” because of the fact that Man will then be acting in conformity to his Divine Design.
                  Its sort of like a toaster “flourishing” when it makes the toast it was designed to make and not so well as when it tries to be a blender.

                • gimpi1

                  “We have to be willing to accept when God tells us to something that runs contrary to our desires. All of us do.”

                  As your personal choice, sure. I take exception to your “All of us do,” You know not everyone believes in God, right? You know many people follow different paths to God, right? If your “All of us do,” means you want to pass laws to control people who don’t share your beliefs, I have a problem with that.

            • gimpi1

              If I may jump in, I think Kimberly answered that with her statement about the harm caused by infidelity. If you give into what you describe as immutable desire and cheated on your wife, it would hurt her deeply. It would do damage to your kids (if any), it could sever your extended family and it would shatter your sense of your own honor. Lots of pain to go around.

              Kimberly and her wife cause no such harm by their marriage. You know that, right? So how does your desire to cheat relate to her marriage at all?

              As an aside, I’m curious. If you really feel monogamy is so stifling, why did you marry in the first place? Lots of people who don’t consider themselves cut out for a monogamous relationship stay single and date around. It’s an option.

              • Steve

                Mr. Gimpi1,

                I think you should spend some time with my reply to Kim’s answer and really think about the deeper level of what I’m asking. The question is not, “Should I cheat on my wife?”

                Rather, the question is, “Does my immutable desire for more than one woman mean God made me for more than one woman? If not, why?”

                To answer your question: Monogamy does feel stifling and runs counter to my desires at times. I got married because I recognize that God’s plan for human sexuality trumps mine.

                • gimpi1

                  I thought I read it over well, but I’ll look again. I still feel that causing harm trumps what you may believe is God’s will. You can (and should) live your life around what you think is God’s will. However, you have no right to control anyone else’s life. They must follow their own beliefs. You can’t lay down an “God’s will” ace and expect conformity. Kimberly seems to have her own understanding of God, and it looks pretty good from my viewpoint.

                  I wonder if your wife is happy with you feeling stifled. I know I wouldn’t be. My husband and I talked this over before we decided to marry because we wanted to be sure we were ready to commit to one person, hopefully for the rest of our lives. Frankly, no idea of divinity entered into it, however. We made the decision for ourselves and our families, not because we believe God required it of us.

                  It’s actually Ms. Gimpi, by the way. So many people think I’m a man. I wonder why…

        • Dragoness Eclectic

          Adultery is a betrayal of trust and love; it hurts the betrayed partner, and damages the love between the two. It violates the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself”–betraying and hurting someone who loves you because of selfish desires is the essence of evil. That’s why God told people not to do that. It’s not an arbitrary rule.

          Loving someone who is the same gender as yourself (when you are not already married, or we’d be talking about adultery) hurts.. whom? No one. Helps? Yes, because you love them. Love is not just a good thing, it is the best thing, it is the highest commandment. Love is more important than ritual purity rules; Jesus reminded us of that repeatedly. Paul reminded us of that. The prophets reminded us of that. Etc, etc, etc. This should not be hard.

          • Steve

            Ms Dragoness. You, like the others who have responded, have missed what I was really asking. I’m not sure if this was accidental or intentional. I will copy/paste my response to Gimpy1:

            “I think you should spend some time with my reply to Kim’s answer and really think about the deeper level of what I’m asking. The question is not, ‘Should I cheat on my wife?’

            Rather, the question is, ‘Does my immutable desire for more than one woman mean God made me for more than one woman? If not, why?’”

            That deeper question is the one that Kimberly, Gimpi1, Seth, and Frank did not answer. Nor will you answer it. Good day.

            • gimpi1

              Steve, I thought I did. Your belief in what God wants only affects you. It has no bearing on what Kim, Dragoness, myself or anyone else believes God wants for them. You don’t speak for God. To my knowledge, no one does.

              • Steve

                Ms Gimpi1

                I saw your reply and didn’t think it addressed the
                substance. Let’s line up the question with your answer and you can decide if one answers the other.

                Me: “Does my immutable desire for more than one
                woman mean that God made me to love more than one woman? If not, why?”

                You: “Who are you to speak for God?”

                That reply seemed more appropriate to give to a pontificating fundamentalist. But it didn’t follow as a reaction to someone asking a question about discernment. Forgive me, but it seemed like you fell back on that response out of either habit, reflex, or presumption.

                • gimpi1

                  I’m sorry you feel my reply was inappropriate. I feel, however you missed my point. Your “immutable desire for more than one woman” would cause harm to your wife, your family, and yourself if you acted on it. Kimberly’s desire to live faithfully with her wife causes no harm to her wife, her family or herself when she acts on it. When you compare harmful activities with harmless ones, apparently because you regard the harmless ones as sinful, you appear to be applying God’s judgement. That’s why I feel you are trying to speak for God.

                  Also, again, if you really feel as you describe, the most important person to talk about this with isn’t Kimberly, it isn’t me, it’s your wife. If you feel as you describe, your marriage is at risk, and she should know.

                • Steve

                  Ms. Gimpy1,

                  Then if it would help you, I suggest you imagine me as a
                  hypothetical male bachelor who is discerning his sexual orientation. Now you can put aside my personal situation
                  and address the real question.

                  But, forgive me, I doubt you will. Rather, you will continue to ignore the question regarding the discerning one’s sexual orientation and focus on the non-question of adultery. So unless you intend to address the matter directly, I’m afraid – for both of our sakes – I must exit this exchange.

                • gimpi1

                  If you were single, I would say your sexual behavior is between you and your partner or partners. If you haven’t made a commitment to be faithful, you aren’t breaking your word. Many single people have open relationships. (Some married people do, as well.) If you aren’t lying, if everyone in the situation is open and aboveboard, and no one is being hurt, then no harm, no foul.

                  Frankly, however, an open relationship like that is difficult to pull of, and that’s why after a certain point in a relationship, most people prefer to make a commitment and at least plan on being faithful, especially if there are kids involved. Again, for me, the only thing I worry about is weather or not a behavior is hurtful.

                  I don’t understand your use of the word “discerning” in this context. Do you mean your hypothetical bachelor is not sure if he’s gay or straight? That he doesn’t know if he’s ready for a commitment? That he doesn’t know if his hypothetical partner is right for him? Perhaps this is why we are speaking past each other.

                  Since, to me, the “real question” is weather or not your behavior hurts anyone, I have addressed that. If I’m not addressing your “real question,” it’s because I honestly don’t know what it is. We appear to speak two different languages. So, perhaps you’re right. We’re accomplishing nothing here.

                • Ron

                  I am entering this discussion/conversation at a late stage but Steve, I can’t resist replying when you say that Ms Gimpi’s reply didn’t follow as a reaction to someone asking a question about discernment. I agree. Few, if any, are willing to acknowledge in all the discussion on this site that there exists a fundamental, underlying difference between between commenters who agree or disagree with each other. And I am not including or considering those who comment with hate, anger and constant judgement. I am one who voices all of my comments out of an underlying belief in what the christian church taught as the doctrine of original sin. i.e. that we are a flawed creation/creatures, that we live with desires and discernment that is bent, and flawed. That in order to understand “the facts” correctly, the facts need to be interpeted by revelation from outside of ourselves. I believe that a correct understanding of the teaching of original sin puts the idea of “salvation” on a trajectory of restoration and new creation at Christ’s return rather than a focus on heaven and hell. We are in need of redemption from what we are, not just what we do. I also believe that what I have just said is not only gurmane to what you are discussing here but at the very center of what you calll the “non answers”. There are those on this site who agree with what I have just said, and they are those who strongly disagree with it. There is no middle or common ground here. Yet, there is so much we can learn from each other. And I wish, as you do , that your question could be answered without even addressing the issue of homosexuality, nor are my stated beliefs mentioned above directed toward or formed directly toward my view and belief about homosexuality.

            • Samir Dawlatly

              Hi Steve

              I first read this excellent article about 2 weeks ago and I’ve come back to it as I was interested to see what the comments were like. I think the post is great. I think your question is really interesting, but can also understand why it would upset progressive/non-fundamentalist Christians. They may take your question to mean “How is my desiring other women than my wife different from same-sex attraction?” Perhaps that IS what you are asking (though I don’t think so)? And I share the response that sexual lust is not the same same-sex attraction and fidelity.

              It struck me that perhaps there was another underlying question, and please correct me if I am wrong, that is based on how we are made and what is our nature. Did God make me desire women? Did God make Kimberly gay? Did God make you desire more than one woman? Teasing that out a bit further, are you asking:
              1. Did God create our desires? And by that, do you mean lusting as well? Where do we draw the line…?
              2. Did God create some people “hardwired” as homosexual?

              Now I am sure that the people who are gay are much better placed to answer the second question. But here in the UK we seem to have moved from the belief that homosexuality is an illness that needs curing, to something that is part of our personality, as immutable as our gender or ethnic origin. I for one believe it a mixture of genetics and environment, with probably much more genetics, but that is just a hunch.

              As I can’t prove it either way, I suppose my default position is to err on the side of grace, forgiveness, love and acceptance. As I have a feeling that that is what Jesus would do. Perhaps that pragmatic approach, without answering your philosophical/theological argument, is to apply the question “Is this the way of grace, love kindness and acceptance?” to your question about desire.

              Peace x

              • Steve

                Mr. Samir,

                I think you’ve teased on the implication well enough. Allow me to show you what lies behind the curtain.

                What the question drives at is: 1) Does God have an intended purpose for human sexuality? 2) Does that purpose apply differently at an individual level? 3) Can one discern what that personal sexual purpose is based on their own subjective experiences, attractions, and desires? 4) Or is it possible for a person’s perception of their orientation to lead them into something which is objectively immoral?

                I broach this question by proposing my own personal experience of feeling oriented toward more than one woman. Does this experience prove that I am created for more than one woman? A person’s answer to that question will have implications for those four underlying questions stated above.

                However, extrapolating out the implications of those answers will lead the good people of this forum to one form of cognitive disobedience or the other. That is why I’m confident no one will answer the question. Hence, all of the non-answers.

                The origin of homosexual desires is irrelevant to the matter at hand. We could reduce almost all aspects of human behavior down to DNA and environment, but we still place moral expectations of people. Except in areas involving sex… that seems to be the exception to every rule. Still it is an interesting question.

                You mentioned “acceptance” twice. Christianity calls Christians to accept people, not behaviors. Christ did not accept pride, hatred, greed, or theft. True kindness and love might entail following Christ’s example and warning people away from these things, right?

                • Samir Dawlatly

                  Hello again Steve

                  Please call me Sam. Apologies with the delay in replying – must be the time difference to here in the UK. I’ve been thinking about your questions, which are, as you say, interesting. I’m not a philosopher or a theologian. I’ve not even been a Christian for a very long time. I am interested in other people’s points of view, which is why I read blogs and often the comments too.

                  In your last paragraph you allude to “loving the sinner, hate the sin”? Or at least that’s how I read it. I’ve found that I am not very good at that, I tend to be judgemental (it’s one of my major character flaws) so I just try to stick to “Love the sinner”. Until I know that I really love them and see the sacred in them then I don’t want to risk judging them, even if I could convince myself that I am doing it “as an act of love”. Because for me, anyway, most of the time I am not, I am judging and making myself superior, which is kind of why I have drifted away from charismatic evangelical Christianity (but that’s another discussion). So you’re right, but just at this moment in time I am not a good enough person to be able to “love the sinner, hate the sin”, so I’m going to stick with part 1, instead of part 2.

                  So your other four questions:

                  “1) Does God have an intended purpose for human sexuality? 2) Does that purpose apply differently at an individual level?
                  3) Can one discern what that personal sexual purpose is based on their own subjective experiences, attractions, and desires?
                  4) Or is it possible for a person’s perception of their orientation to lead them into something which is objectively immoral?”

                  I’m going to think about them a bit more, but I’d be interested to know if you have come up with any conclusions? Also, are the questions important? Do we need to have the answers to these questions in order to follow Christ? Half the time I don’t really understand the trinity or half the bible, but I ask questions and still try to follow Christ.

                  I do think that perhaps an approach to your question is one of what part of our nature is God’s design and what part is fallen. Paul of Tarsus seemed to think that most of his nature was sinful, yet described us “God’s workmanship”. He also said that Jesus’s power was made perfect in his weakness. That comforts and challenges me all the time. It says to me that perhaps those questions don’t matter, because if we are acting on desires that God created then great, if we are acting on desires that are our weakness then God’s power can be made perfect through them: win-win.

                  Maybe that is what grace is? Or maybe I am just trying to avoid answering your tricky questions…? ;-)

                  But as I said, I’d be interested to know what your answers would be (or anyone else for that matter).

                  Peace x

                • Steve

                  Mr. Sam,

                  If you had a brother who was dying with cancer, you
                  would hate the cancer. Why?

                  Because if you truly love your brother, you will hate all that harms him. All sin harms sinner. Pride, wrath, envy, sloth, gluttony, greed, and lust – all are poisons to the soul.

                  Legitimate love for the sinner compels you to hate the
                  sin. You cannot do one without the other. Hate for sin without love for the sinner reduces a person to a pious, hypocritical, self-righteous referee. Love for the sinner without hatred for sin reduces love to a sort of polite sentimentalism.

                  Love isn’t always “nice”. When Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites and white-washed tombs, He was indeed loving them. Just as much as He loved the woman caught in adultery when He pardoned her and told her to sin no more. You must do likewise.

                  Those four questions matter because they involve
                  discerning God’s will for our lives. Insofar as a person finds that important, having good answers to those
                  questions are important. I will not share my answers in this venue, however. My goal is not to proclaim my answers, but to invite people into considering them. A task which seems to be a combination of pulling teeth and herding cats.

                  If, however, you will to discuss matters privately, I’m
                  willing to do that.

                • Samir Dawlatly

                  Hello Steve

                  If you insist on addressing me formally, then you may as well use my correct title. Most of my patients call me Dr Sam… But that is a minor point. Thank you for being so polite.

                  I think your answer makes a lot of sense. I can see how truly loving someone will make you hate what harms them. But you know what? I’m not a good enough Christian or person to be able to love people “legitimately” as you put it. I am so prone to judgement that I find it easier to love someone if I allow their sin to be dealt with by God and allow them to be convicted by the Holy Spirit. If God wants to use me then, I’ll do my best, but I am pretty hard of hearing when it comes to hearing God. As I said I am a beginner in all this… I sense perhaps that you have been a Christian a long time, and perhaps you are in a position of leadership within a church and thought about these things a lot.

                  So my lover for others is imperfect, because so am I. I strive to love like Jesus does, but I fail constantly. Now Jesus warned against the plank in my own eye, so I try hard to not judge people and the best way I feel to do that is to love them unconditionally. I do not find it so easy to separate a sinner from his sin. I do not see that it is my job to do so. Perhaps one would say that I lack discernment or wisdom. If so, guilty as charged. So if I can’t have legitimate love (nice or otherwise) for others, not yet at least, then I will try just to love, and see where that takes me.

                  So although Paul has plenty of advice to give various churches on how to deal with sinful brothers and sisters, I would prefer to work on loving, than judging their sin, lest I fall into the trap of judging them. Perhaps I am not cut out for “ministry” but I am fulfilled enough as a doctor.

                  So back to your four questions. I respect your decision to publicise your thoughts here, though it is a little unfair to criticise others for not directly answering them, when you won’t in the same forum. And you point out that the questions hinges on the ability to discern God’s will for us – and as I have pointed out earlier I don’t see discernment as one of my strengths. As the people of the Simple Way, Shane Claiborne’s organisation say, their goal is simply:

                  “Love God, love others, love ourselves and give it our best shot.” And actually, there are lots of interesting theological discussions to be had, but for me it is helpful to come back to the Greatest Commandment of them all and to give that my best shot.

                  In fact my own personal theology would be something along the lines of “Love God, Love Others, Love yourself, everything else is all relative. The only absolute is the love of God.”

                  But, I digress. I thought I would have a go at answering your four questions honestly, so here goes…

                  1) Does God have an intended purpose for human sexuality?

                  Honestly – I don’t know. If you look at Genesis chapter 2 it says that when God created woman, she and man became one flesh, but they were not ashamed of their nakedness. I wonder whether Adam and Eve had a sexuality? Later after the fall and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden my version of the bibles says they made love and had a child. Does this mean that sexuality is a result of the fall, or did Adam and Eve still have a sexual attraction for each other in the Garden of Eden? Again I don’t know. Perhaps there is a theologian with an argument. Where I don’t know I prefer to err on the side of grace, which means for me it is simpler t o believe that either all types of sexuality are God-inspired or a result of the fall. Either was I am compelled to love others, so it actually doesn’t matter to me. As for the purpose of sexuality – perhaps one group of people would argue it is for the purposes of procreation, but like the orgasm, I prefer to think of it as a gift, a depth to special relationships, but I am just thinking out loud.

                  2) Does that purpose apply differently at an individual level?

                  Not sure I understand this question. Perhaps I have already answered it? Perhaps it is because I have misunderstood the first question? Are you asking if different people can have different sexualities created by God? Or are you asking could the purpose of sexuality is different in each person?

                  Psychologists would argue that sexuality and the desire for sexual intimacy is about the desire for connectedness, more than for procreation or please. So perhaps the purpose of sexuality if to enable us to have connectedness with others?

                  3) Can one discern what that personal sexual purpose is based on their own subjective experiences, attractions, and desires?

                  This is a very clever question. Some modern strains of Christianity seem to fit into the “I feel it, therefore it’s true” mentality. I am skeptical of those who claim a tangibility over the presence of God in a room (crowd dynamics?) and I think your question is raising a similar issue. Is it correct to say that your question could be paraphrased: If sexuality is defined by feelings and if we are the only ones who can feel those feelings, then how do we know they are correct? It’s almost an impossible question. Satre would say “I think, therefore I am” and would therefore answer yes. How do you know you are attracted to a woman? Because you are. How do you know your desires? Because you desire them. The only way, I would conclude to discern your personal sexual purpose is through your own experiences and feelings. You cannot be told what your favourite colour is, or what type of women you like, or what makes you angry or what makes you scared. I think some emotions, responses and attitudes are “hard-wired”.

                  4) Or is it possible for a person’s perception of their orientation to lead them into something which is objectively immoral?”

                  I can’t answer this question because I have difficulties with categorising things that are in the grey areas of morality as objectively moral or immoral. Perhaps the liberal cowards escape clause. It’s up to God to decide what is objectively immoral, not me. Having said that I see it perfectly feasible that someone would believe that God created them homosexual, that the Creator intended for them to be created like that and that his purpose was for them to experience love and connectedness to others that way and that it would be correct for that person to assume that God had made them homosexual because of their homosexual experiences, attractions and desires and that the fulfilment of their orientation would lead them into something that SOME PEOPLE (perhaps yourself?) would consider to be objectively immoral. To me personally, it’s no big deal. What you or they do is between them and God and the people they love. I’m not going to judge them, just going to try to love them and if I ever manage to love someone so much that what hurts them, also hurts me and compels me to tell them about their sins, then I will do my best to show them or tell them in a way that is patient, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonour them, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, and keeps no record of wrongs. In a way that does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. In a way that protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

                  I’m a long, long, long way from being able to do that. So I just need to practice being a better lover.

                  Happy to carry on the discussion here, or in private. Not sure what protocol is on DISCUS about contacting people, as I don’t use it much. Feel free to take a look at my sporadic blog (www.samirdawlatly.wordpress.com) to get an idea of my thoughts. You could even order my book (Google “Parabolic Parables”) You can contact me through my blog or on twitter (@sdawlatly) or Facebook – I am Sam D’Lattlee there.

                  Peace x

                • Steve

                  Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Dr. Sam. Although I’m afraid I’m just an uneducated Irish layman. An engineer.

                  I will check out your blog.

                • Samir Dawlatly

                  Thanks for taking a look at my blog. I had a feeling that the phrase “herding cats” was peculiar to this side of the Atlantic. I had another thought as I went to bed.

                  It struck me that the four questions that you posed and I attempted to tackle are very logical. But for logic to work our presuppositions have to be the same, otherwise the discussion falls apart. I suspect that your presuppositions are different to those that follow and agree with Kimberly and perhaps different to mine?

                  I would like to ask a favour – would you mind if I took a screen shot of our discussion and put it on my blog? I have found it really helpful and it has given me a lot of food for thought…

                  Thanks

                  Peace x

                • Steve

                  Indeed, presuppositions are everything. This is why I try to get at those rather than go straight to dissecting Bible verses.

                  Feel free to screen-cap this conversation. I’m glad we’ve had a fruitful exchange.

            • Arakasi_99

              “Does my immutable desire for more than one woman mean God made me for more than one woman?”
              Perhaps. The answer to that question is really between you and your god.
              However, since there is another person involved, namely your wife, you do have an obligation to act without harming her. Cheating on her definately would be causing harm. Entering into an open relationship may be an option, depending upon the people involved.

  • Lazarus

    The phrase ‘Christian millionaire’ should be an oxymoron. Jesus was very clear- “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven’. So where are all the Christians ‘preaching the truth in love’ to millionaires? Why all the focus on gay people, when Jesus never even mentioned them? How can there be pastors with their own private jets? Surely they are antichrists! You can’t really be a Christian and care about making lots of money. ‘You cannot serve God and mammon’.

    • Hollywood

      The Founding Fathers never mentioned an amendment protecting the flag. Why? Because it was commonly understood that burning the flag was akin to treason and punishable by death. They never could have imagined the citizens of our country acting in such a way (and then hiding behind the protections they’re seemingly burning) – but alas we’re here! Could the same be true for Jesus? Considering that God made woman from Adam’s side to make a perfect complement for him and make him whole? Perhaps Jesus didn’t think it was necessary to speak about such things that were, perhaps, common sense?

      Not a sermon, just a thought.

      • Scott

        Ya, the fact that you compared compared the founding fathers to Jesus kinda makes your argument irrelevant. Just think about what it means when you put the two of them on the same stage. You have elevated them to the state of Godliness. And frankly, at one point in time it was common sense to offer your daughters up to be raped (the story of Lot), to kill someone if they killed a family member of yours (the code of Hammurabi and Exodus), to kill anyone who didn’t agree with church teachings (the Catholic church’s original response to dissenters, such as the Anabaptists) etc. So, arguing that something was common sense at some point in time doesn’t make it OK to do that thing to day.

        • Hollywood

          Thanks Scott. My point was that a person can be making a really bad assumption if they are only going by what Jesus said explicitly.

      • Octoberfurst

        “It was commonly understood that burning the flag was akin to treason and punishable by death”??? Are you serious? Where did you get that idea from? You honestly think that back in colonial times that people would have gotten the death penalty for burning a flag?

        • Hollywood

          Any History professor worth his weight will tell you the same thing. I also said it was “punishable by death.” We have the same sentence now yet most people convicted of this crime are put in prison for life.

          • LivinginVA

            No, actually, burning the flag is not illegal, nor was the penalty ever death.

            The Flag Protection Act of 1989 (Oct. 28, 1989) imposed a fine and/or up to I year in prison for knowingly mutilating, defacing, physically defiling, maintaining on the floor or trampling upon any flag of the United States. The Flag Protection Act of 1989 was struck down by the Supreme Court decision, United States vs. Eichman, decided on June 11, 1990.

            The United States Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989), and reaffirmed in U.S. v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990), has ruled that due to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, it is unconstitutional for a government (whether federal, state, or municipality) to prohibit the desecration of a flag, due to its status as “symbolic speech.”

            • Hollywood

              I understand that flag burning is not illegal. My comment was to the sentencing for treason (and the fact that the Founding Fathers never considered including protections for flag-burning in the Constitution because it never occurred to them that patriots would do such a thing.)

              As an aside, IMO, the Flag should be protected by an Amendment and not simply a law passed by Congress.

              • Octoberfurst

                But you just stated in a reply to me that flag burning is an offense that carries a life sentence. But now you say that you understand that flag burning is not illegal. Methinks thou art a bit confused and doth not know what thou are talking about.

                And I strongly disagree that flag burning should be illegal. It is just a piece of cloth and people have the right to burn it as a political statement if they so choose.

                • LivinginVA

                  Besides, how do you write the law in an enforceable way? What if someone burns a picture of a flag? What if someone makes a flag, but only puts 12 stripes and burns it? What about a t-shirt with the flag on it?

                • Octoberfurst

                  Excellent points!

                • Hollywood

                  That’s why we have the Reasonable Person statute. We don’t have to write the law explicitly stating every nuance of flag-burning. We could write the obvious and use a reasonable standard test for the outliers.

                • LivinginVA

                  Reason, however, quickly flees the justice system – have you never seen the articles about 10 year olds handcuffed and arrested for doing things like drinking from a water bottle in places where there are “no open beverages” laws? Or parents arrested for allowing their children to play outside by themselves?

                  As soon as someone creates a flag with 12 stripes, even if s/he burns it while screaming obscenities, s/he cannot be charged with “burning an American flag,” because it is not an American flag.

                • Hollywood

                  With all due respect, your response is rather silly. There is no perfect system of justice and for every incident you cite where ours has failed – I can show you a thousand cases in which it succeeded.

                  As far as someone intentionally making a close but not exact replica? Again, I’ll leave that to a jury to decide.

                • LivinginVA

                  If they are found guilty, it goes all the way to the Supreme Court. I just don’t understand why we should spend that much time and money to amend the Constitution for something that just doesn’t happen all that often. Seems like a waste to me.

                • The_L1985

                  Not to mention that the respectful way to dispose of a worn-out flag, according to the US Flag Code, is….to burn it!

              • LivinginVA

                The post you replied to started out with “”It was commonly understood that burning the flag was akin to treason and punishable by death”??? Are you serious? Where did you get that idea from? ”

                The fact that you replied “Any History professor worth his weight will tell you the same thing.” in no way conveys the notion that you even vaguely understood.

              • gimpi1

                Hollywood, I think you’re extrapolating on the founders a bit. They were rebels, right? They led an armed revolution, one of the most successful in history. Those sort of people tend to be less caught up in the trappings of authority than most people. I very much doubt that they held any icon in the kind of reverence you suggest.

                • Hollywood

                  Of course I am Gimpi! If we simply accept the collective-memory approach to history that we were taught in school and that is portrayed as a fait accompli, we would miss out on our sometimes pockmarked, divisive, volatile, and contradictory past.

                  All that remains is the residue of documents, notes, diaries, postings, pictures, and the many stories investigators have told about them. And while I haven’t come across specific language to the fact, I think it’s pretty clear that they would have held this view. And a number of historians and professors I’ve talked to feel the exact same way.

              • Queen Alice

                I get what you are saying by using the founding fathers analogy, let me reply to it in a different way. Unlike the founding fathers, who were awesome men, Jesus was God on earth. Also, the writers of the Word were divinely inspired. Therefore, it is safe to say that what was included and not included in the Word is, from God’s perspective, perfect for our life here as His followers. Therefore, by Jesus saying “Love one another, even as I have loved you” He meant exactly that. Had He meant to issue a disclaimer or list of exceptions, it would have been included. Remember, brother, the law is our schoolroom to get us to grace. Love you!

          • Arakasi_99

            This is completely false. The Founding Fathers never had the reverence for the flag that you are claiming here. It didn’t start picking up the symbolism you are claiming until the Civil War.

  • heather blair

    I love your whole blog entry, but have a particular affinity for where you talk about reading your Bible vs. chucking it at people. The issue of sexual orientation/Christianity is not one that I have really been in-touch with until the last couple of years when I started attending a very open and affirming church. Seeing and hearing people’s stories of how they have been treated by ‘Christians’ really hurt my heart. It made me ashamed of how unaware of how I had been previously, especially having belonged to a denomination who historically hasn’t treated these people that I love and worship with in an honoring or respectful manner. I am so very grateful for now belonging to a faith family that is very open and affirming to EVERYONE. This last year I walked with my church in the PRIDE parade. I was horrified at the ‘Christians’ who lined the street as we went through the parade route. I saw people holding signs that had horrific things written on them, yelling awful condemnations with megaphones, and even coming off the sidewalk to approach and yell at people marching. This isn’t the Christ-like behavior that I have heard about and read about in the Bible. It does feel like they were chucking the Bible at people and some of those being hit had already been beaten down by others doing the same thing. This is supposed to be Christ like? This is supposed to draw people into a relationship with God how??
    Love that phrase and image; so fitting.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Heather,

      Thank you so much for sharing so openly about the journey of the opening of your heart. Thank you for walking along side and bearing witness to love in the face of hate.

      Peace sister,
      K

  • Tell-the-truth

    What about when Jesus said in Matthew 19:4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Let no one separate, marriage or sexual activity is for a faithful husband and a faithful wife, but you don’t want what Jesus is saying to you because you promote homosexuality. Stop hating Christians who are only trying to help save souls. People are angry at saints and happy for sinners. What is the world coming to when you tell a person the truth and they hate you for it, and you are only saying what Jesus said.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Oh sweetie, bless your heart and thank you for chiming in and helping me make my point here.

    • Lazarus

      You left out the context. Jesus was asked a question about divorce. The answer you quote is his reason why no man may divorce his wife, except for in a case of adultry. Why don’t you go and tell this truth to the thousands of men who have divorced their wives, you hypocrite? This verse has nothing to do with gay people. Jesus never spoke about homosexuality. But who made homosexuals, apart from God? God gives us all our natural sexual inclinations- straight, gay or bi, or even asexual, like the natural eunuchs that Jesus goes on to mention, after the passage you quoted. If God has decided to make people gay, who are you to argue with him?

  • Pat Root

    Why do you think Sodom and Gomorrah
    were destroyed?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      If you read any of my other posts you will know what I think. Here’s just one http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/2013/06/yo-pat-the-sin-of-sodom-and-gomorrah-was-not-about-homosexuality/

    • Lazarus

      As I live, said the Lord GOD, Sodom your sister has not done, she nor her daughters, as you have done, you and your daughters. Behold,
      this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread,
      and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did
      she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. …

  • PurplePagan

    For whatever my view as an outsider may be worth, a lot of very dodgy arguments are “supported” by quotes from Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Whenever I come across one of those moments online, I automatically scale down the veritas and gravitas of the commenter.

    Like any text, selective quotes can be used to back any argument and, taken out of context, can make things worse.

    Peace. :)

  • aar9n

    That was awesome. Stay strong, Kimberly.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thanks!

  • Montanna Jones

    Thanks for this. I have always wondered about Luke 6: 22. When Jesus was telling his disciples this they were not yet being hated, “exclude you, revile you, and defame you on account of the Son of Man.” Could that have been a reference to the way people would use the name of Jesus to persecute others in the future? It certainly seems like how history played out. Now when people ask me if I am a Christian, I have to ask their definition of Christian. I don’t want to be associated with the Christians I hear today in public discussion. Thanks again for your thoughts.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      And thank you for your words and work in the world.

  • Mike Mayer

    Like!

  • Michael

    Kimberly, I am greatful for your voice. Recently I came out in support of same sex marriage. There were lots of good arguments on both sides of the issue. Lest this make me appear noble, I struggled with this for a long time and to confess I was originally in favor of prop 8 here in California. It has not been easy but I am so thankful for the perspectives that you offer. All I can say at this point is that “Love Wins” and I rejoice in what you bring to the conversation and The Journey.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      I am grateful for YOUR voice and for sharing your journey with us here!

    • MichaelPHoltz

      Michael – I don’t mean to sound argumentative, but I have yet to have heard a good argument supporting restricting the rights of marriage (both civil and religious) to same-sex unions. On the civil level, there is no legitimate reason to bar the contracting between two committed individuals. On the religious, there are plenty of religions that include same-sex marriage in their rites.

      • Hollywood

        If by “religious” you mean Christian, than the arguments are fairly straight-forward. Granted, there are denominations that affirm same-sex marriage, but I’m guessing that they represent maybe 2% of the total Christian population? I have no clue what the exact number is but I’m pretty sure it’s quite low.

        I found it interesting that the U.S. government would step in and redefine a term that has been around longer than it has. I would be okay with extending the same federal/state benefits but defining it legally as a union instead of a marriage.

        • MichaelPHoltz

          You would be wrong on the 2% figure, at least if we’re talking about the US population. Google for a few recent polls, and you’ll find that the majority of most Christian sects support marriage equality. Additionally, very sizable Christian sects (to include the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church) include marriage equality as part of their doctrine, As they say, don’t assume.

          Please give the whole “redefinition” argument a rest. If you want to look at it critically, marriage has been redefined every quarter century or so, in terms of rights, spousal expectations, equity, property benefits, parental preference, etc. All that the recent decisions have done is removed gender from a requirement; the rest of marriage is still the same.

          Additionally, check the Judge Walker Proposition 8 decision regarding the “separate but equal” approach of “civil union” or the like. Judge Walker lays out much more capably than I how the use of a separate term is unequal and therefore contrary to American views of law and justice.

          • Hollywood

            I can only assume until I’m shown convincing scholarship to the contrary. Polls are nice for conversations by the water cooler, but they offer little to no support for an argument.

            We’ll have to disagree about the definition of “redefinition.” It seems to me that most of the issues you mentioned are simply adjustments to the institute. The foundation of marriage is one man – one woman. Certain provisions within the institute have been erased and redrawn, but the constant has been one man – one woman.

            I will look into what Judge Walker had to say. There might be some valid points he brings up that I might not have taken into consideration.

            • MichaelPHoltz

              Actually, professional polling is relatively accurate. Certainly more so than a personal assumption.

              I would argue that the foundation of marriage is two people building a life together. You are fixated on gender, but that has been tradition, not foundation.

              • Hollywood

                Relative to what? In the context of supporting policy, it should rank near the bottom.

                LOL. So the institution of man and woman/women that has been around for thousands of years is “tradition” but not “foundation”? That’s one mighty strong tradition!

        • The_L1985

          Really? How about when the US redefined marriage 40 years ago as something that could be legally performed between two individuals of different ethnicities?

          Or when people redefined marriage as a lifelong bond of love and commitment, rather than as a property transfer of a woman from her father to her husband?

          Or when people redefined marriage to get rid of arranged marriages for political or economic gain, and instead allowed young people to choose their own spouses?

          Seems to me that marriage has been “redefined” an awfully lot since ancient times, and gay people had nothing to do with it!

          • Hollywood

            Agreed. The institution of marriage between man and woman/women has been redrawn on the blackboard at least a hundred times. However, at no time has the cornerstone of that institution (again, man/woman) been altered.

      • Michael

        Hi Michael! Thank you for your thoughts. I understand what you say and don’t see it as argumentative at all (even though we are discussing arguments pro & con. Ha!). It is difficult to explain but l kind-of “Spock-out” in an objective analytical way, trying to see things from both sides of the issue, taking into account many factors. (Drives my wife nuts!) I do believe there was soom good & sincere arguments against ssm BUT the one thing I became aware of in the con side of things were certain “gaps” . . . over-sights you might say. Not taking in the big picture. I then began to see the bias; theirs and my own. That’s when I tangled with the log in my own eye. That’s when I said “Yes” to marriage equality. To some this makes me a heretic. I can live with that. Love Wins! Thanks again. Shalom & Blessings.

  • Don Sbragia

    Wow. Just wow. And that word does mean what I think it means. Wow. Thanks for putting it so…. wowly….

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      wow right back at you!

  • hippiewill

    Kimberly, you are indeed a blessing. Thank you for speaking the truth with such conviction and passion. May God richly bless you and yours.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank you and may God’s blessings find you and yours as well.

  • Deacon Don

    Kim…I just love the way that you write how I feel (as if it’s really about me – LOL). I sometimes avoid reading blog comments simply because I believe (and perhaps I’m naive), that blogs, websites and any internet place that offers a vehicle where people can share feedback somewhat anonymously, just attracts the lowest common denominator of those who disagree with us. At least I really do hope this is the case. Because the alternative — that perhaps these “trolls” actually represent the consensus of opinion from our conservative friends is really disturbing and unthinkable.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Indeed Deacon Don, indeed. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment here :)

  • James_Jarvis

    Kimberly, I am praying for you, and all our brothers and sisters in Christ. God do not let those who preach hate harden our hearts, and let your perfect love open the hearts that are closed to us. Amen.

  • thesamim

    Amen and Thank you: Well put.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thank YOU.

  • Rev David Huber

    Darn right.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      :)

  • Ellen Witko

    Thank you for saying it so well!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Pass it on :)

  • Tracy Spencer-Brown

    Amen and Amen! And I *love* the reference to “The Princess Bride!”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thanks Tracy!

  • Robin Wahl

    Yes! And a hearty thank you, Kimberly. Well said.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Thanks!

  • http://www.emergentfaith.org/blog R. Jay Pearson

    Excellent, Kimberly! And it’s worth noting that the ONLY passage Jesus saw fit to quote from the book of Leviticus was this one: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18).

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/kimberlyknight/ Kimberly

      Indeed R. Jay!


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