Tim Keller on Homosexuality and Biblical Authority: Different Crisis, Same Problem.

In a recent Ethics and Public Policy Center forum, Tim Keller spoke to a group of journalists and was asked about his views on gay marriage and homosexuality.

Keller’s response included the following prediction of how evangelicals will make peace with this issue:

 “Large numbers of evangelical Christians, even younger ones…will continue to hold the view that same-sex marriage runs counter to their faith, even as they increasingly decide they either support or do not oppose making it the law of the land.”

As he often does, Keller has his finger on the pulse of  evangelical culture. My own experience is admittedly more limited than Keller’s, but my ear to the ground picks up the same sort of distant rumbling.

In the world of public prominent evangelicals voices, there aren’t many like Keller who seem genuinely interested in finding a third way between a polemical theological tradition and practical realties of contemporary life. Some, I know, call him a compromiser, but that is an unfair assessment. He is trying to work things out, and is often called to do so in public settings.

But what really caught my eye was Keller’s observation concerning evangelical biblicism, which has far wider implications than for homosexuality:

“If you say to everybody, ‘Anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin is a bigot, … [y]ou’re going to have to ask them to completely disassemble the way in which they read the Bible, completely disassemble their whole approach to authority. You’re basically going to have to ask them to completely kick their faith out the door.’”

Here, too, Keller is right. To change their views on homosexuality will require evangelicals to “disassemble the way in which they read the Bible, completely disassemble their whole approach to authority.”

This raises two questions: “What’s wrong with some disassembling?” and “Why does disassembling  have to be tied to having or not having faith?”

Leaving aside the specific issue of homosexuality, Keller’s observation about evangelical notions of biblical authority is correct but also concerning. In my opinion, Keller has, perhaps unwittingly, put his finger on the entire problem evangelicals face when confronted with any issue that runs counter to evangelical theology: “You’re asking me to read my Bible differently than my tradition has prescribed, and so I can’t go there. If I do, my faith is kicked out the door.”

What drew my attention to this comment is the fact that I regularly hear the very same response with respect to many other issues–like evolution. The big impasse for evangelicals is that accepting evolution requires them to rethink how they read their Bible, specifically the story of Adam and Eve. Reading that story as fundamentally historical is “the way in which [evangelicals] read the Bible” and to ask them to do otherwise “complete dissemble[s] their whole approach to biblical authority.”

To me this raises an obvious question: Maybe the way in which evangelical read the Bible and conceive of its authority is the problem in the evangelical system that needs to be rethought, rather than being the non-negotiable hill to stand and die on for addressing every issue that comes down the road?

This isn’t about evangelicals accepting or rejecting the Bible. It’s about thinking self-critically about how they read it and their approach to biblical authority.

The problem, though, is that the evangelical view of the Bible as God’s inerrant authority for the church is its ground floor raison d’etre. Evangelicalism exists, at least intellectually, to defend and promote this view. To ask evangelicals to do a critical self-assessment of how they read the Bible is in effect to ask them to assess the entire system.

Here is where I feel Keller’s ear should be closer to the ground. I see this sort of re-assessment happening now all over the place–evangelicals looking for an alternate “explanatory paradigm,” other than an tradition that rests on an inerrant Bible, for how to live on this planet.

The only real question I see is whether this process will continue as part of the evangelical experiment or will have to move wholly outside of it.

 

open letter to the apostle Paul from a concerned reader
another article on inerrantist biblical scholars and "protective strategies"
inerrancy, historical criticism, and the slippery slope
what would the apostle Paul think about evangelicals and the conflict in Palestine?
  • John

    Reading and interpreting Genesis would have to be different for an evangelical simply because of the genres to which the first chapters of Genesis belong. However, evangelicalism really stands by according to the scriptures an authority that other traditions did not. While the acceptance that the scripture is the word of God requires a certain epistemological judgement on the part of the believer, a believer stands under its judgement for his life and conduct. Otherwise, one can believe anything and justify it based on the basis that we retain the right to interpret the way we want. This is precisely what evangelical Christianity has tried to avoid.

  • TA

    Actually his comments are quite valid and must have struck a nerve for you to fly off the handle like you did.

    • Stevestack

      Yeah man. We don’t change the way we read scripture because a temporal, carnal, and perishing culture requires we do in order not to be criminalized. Being a Christian really is radical, the Word really is infallible, and Christ really is our ultimate treasure. These aren’t traditions. This is the definition of a Christian.

      • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

        Interesting topic on infallibility: What is your definition of infallibility? Do you mean all Scripture is true, or that all Scripture is factually correct?

        • Steven

          I mean its true, perfectly true and inspired by God Almighty. There are different literary styles to be interpreted according to the style or genre. If its giving a geneaology or historical account, I believe its factual and accurate, as archaeology continues to reveal. God also uses parables, prophecy and poetry, like in the psalms for example, to speak Truth to us. Good question. Is that what u mean? The fact is, it still requires faith to accept that it is the living, inspired, Word of God. But its accuracy is uncanny, especially considering its a collection of 66 books by 40 or so authors from 3 continents over a span of 2000 years, with one common overarching theme and zero contradictions.

          • Daniel Katyl

            “zero contradictions” considering right off the bat there are two creation stories that do not match up, I tend to disagree with you there. Also, you use Archaeology as a support to your claims? I am no archaeologist, but I have no idea how you can make that claim without ignoring an incredible amount of data.

  • Marty Fields

    Dr. Enns- as one who has appreciated your work I think your “self-assessment” notions result in a reductio ad absurdum. It will only result in subjectivism.

  • John Richard

    WOW! Thanks Tim Keller. Perfect place to find Volunteers!

    We need homophobic Christian volunteers to undergo “heterosexual conversion therapy” in order to make them homosexual. This would provide definitive scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.

    We know from science that “gay conversion therapy” does not work and that you cannot “pray the gay away” yet it may be possible to change heterosexual homophobic Christians to homosexuality as that has not yet been attempted.

    “Heterosexual Conversion Therapy” would have steps such as:

    (1) Participate in art museums, opera, symphonies, etc.

    (2) Avoid activities considered of interest to heterosexuals, such as sports activities.

    (3) Avoid men unless it is for romantic contact.

    (4) Increase time spent with homosexual men in order to learn to mimic homosexual male ways of walking, talking, and interacting with other homosexual men.

    (5) Avoid church and join a gay community group

    (6) Attend heterosexual reparative therapy group to discuss progress, or slips back into heterosexuality.

    (7) Become more assertive with men through flirting and dating,

    (8) Begin homosexual dating,

    (9) Engage in homosexual intercourse.

    (10) Enter into heterosexual marriage (when it becomes legal in your country).

    • Kennyd23

      That is some strange thinking.and way too many stereo types and cliches.
      The Gay community used to say just leave us alone. now that is not enough, society must affirm their lifestyle choices.
      Sin is Sin but there is a difference from a struggling and practicing.
      Jesus died for sinners ,meta noya

  • Kelli

    As an evangelical, I don’t see myself reading the Bible in a certain way. I also don’t ever use “the Bible said it, therefore it is exactly that way” mentality. This doesn’t include rational thought and pursuit of truth. I do believe 100% that the Bible is true and that we have to be very careful of not inserting our own feelings and experiences into the Scripture. However, we also don’t just allow common culture to influence our views either. If you are uncertain about something in particular, study, study, study! Let’s take evolution: study the Scriptures, study pro-evolutionary science, study anti-evolutionary science. See what is really out there and then pray that God gives you a peace about your pursuit of truth. I know what I believe and when asked, I can defend what I believe. At some point, people will disagree with you and this is the way it will always be. But hopefully they will respect that you haven’t formed an opinion willy-nilly.

  • Stevestack

    Dude, Jesus believed in the authority of the scriptures, as did his disciples. If u believe in a sovereign God who doesn’t make mistakes then u should believe in the innerancy of His Word. If not you’re a heretic. It’s not complicated. Yes the Spirit lives in us and guides us but only when his promptings are put through the sift of the Bible can we be certain they are from Him. The devil himself masquerades as an angel of light, or is that idea passé as well?

    • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

      Trying to call someone a heretic is something only God should do.

      • Steven

        I think Paul would disagree.

      • Steven

        The fact is that all this business of not adhering to the authority of the Bible is all human pride. It is difficult to humble yourself, to be submissive to the Bible, and sometimes it feels contrary to our nature. But whats wrong with that? Our nature is fallen, and no man is righteous. If God exists, why do we have such a problem with his moral absoluteness? No, any thought outside of the Bible is mere human speculation, driven by our emotion, or shaped by our culture. We are only motivated by our own happiness, even those of us who hang ourselves. God is NOT as interested in our happiness as he is in our character. What he thinks of us is infinitely more important than what we think of him. What we think of him is only as important as it relates to what he thinks of us. He gave us the Bible to understand him as far as he wants to reveal himself. He has spoken. To ignore it is to reject God.

  • valoreem

    Steven, I’m finding this 7 months after you have written it. What you have written should be burned in all our “Christian” brains. Well written, what I have been thinking but unable to express so clearly. Thank you!!!!

  • http://ryangear.com/ Ryan Gear

    Great point, Doug. I think you’re right. In some strains of evangelical theology, the Bible has replaced the Holy Spirit, which is of course, bibliolatry.

  • http://ryangear.com/ Ryan Gear

    This is a fantastic article.

    Keller assumes that evangelicals’ opinions on same sex marriage and toward people who are gay are static. They are not. The percentages depend on the poll, but over the past twenty years, an increasing percentage of evangelicals are supporting same sex marriage and do not condemn people who are gay. The change of mind is happening slowly, but it is happening.

    It is difficult for me to believe that 25 years from now, a majority of evangelicals will condemn people who are gay as sinners. Like opinions on slavery, science, women’s rights, and the right of African Americans to vote, evangelicals will change their minds about same sex marriage over time, as well.

    Conservative evangelicals desperately need to reexamine the way they interpret the Bible, or they face an uncertain future in American culture. Even in the past couple of years, evangelical faith is being increasing tethered to Tea Party politics (“Teavangelicals”), and this does not bode well for the future of evangelical faith.

    Read literally, the New Testament instructs slaves to obey their masters and to be content in their slavery (Ephesians 6v5, 1 Corinthians 7v21), wives to obey their husbands as their “head” (Ephesians 5v22-23) and wives to wear veils in worship as a sign of their husbands’ authority over them (1 Corinthians 11v2-16).

    In 2013, these social customs are already more at home in Saudi Arabia than in the United States. In the eyes of Americans, the view of people who are gay in both the Old and New Testaments is also quickly moving in that direction. Any Christian who chooses to live by ancient Middle Eastern or Greco-Roman social customs will have an increasingly difficult time living in the United States of America in the 21st century. Conservative evangelicals can disagree with this assessment, but they still have to live with this reality.

    I consider conservative evangelicals to my brothers and sisters in Christ, and love for brothers and sisters demands honesty. As Peter writes:

    “Maybe the way in which evangelicals read the Bible and conceive of its authority is the problem in the evangelical system that needs to be rethought, rather than being the non-negotiable hill to stand and die on for addressing every issue that comes down the road?”

    • http://ryangear.com/ Ryan Gear

      I need to clarify my statement above. Tim Keller states that evangelicals are becoming more open to same sex marriage while holding their view that same sex marriage is a sin. I think Keller is correct on that point.

      In addition, my comment above was meant to assert that an increasing number of Christians I know no longer condemn persons who are gay as sinners. This is a change, not just regarding same sex marriage but regarding how Christians view persons who are gay.

      I think this change of mind toward persons who are gay comes from a way of interpreting the Bible that springs from understanding the biblical books within their cultural context. In other words, what was Paul thinking when he wrote Romans 1? When Paul speaks of persons in a same sex relationship in Romans 1, is he thinking of same sex relationships the same way that 21st century Americans do?

      This requires study of the Greco-Roman culture in which Paul lived and wrote. If 2,000 years ago, Paul thought of same sex relationships as something different from 21st century Americans, that should influence our interpretation.

      This is true of all biblical interpretation. We cannot assume that the biblical author held our cultural assumptions. To do so is so commit eisegesis.

  • Mick Miller

    Wow – just trying to get my head around all of this!

    So, would I be correct if I summarised (UK English) that – on one ‘side’ – we have a group of Christians (described as ‘conservative evangelicals’ or simply ‘evangelicals’) who believe that everything in the Bible is 100% true – even if our growing understanding of the world we live in may suggest otherwise. They also believe that the Bible was basically dictated word for word by God (inerrancy???) through men (even though we may have very little/no direct knowledge of where books like Genesis originally came from). And this group are determined to stick with this belief no matter what, otherwise they fear that too much/any questioning of the Bible’s authority may lead to … chaos?

    And on the other ‘side’ we have some people that are suggesting the Bible is a mix of: men’s thoughts and writings about their experience of God and their history with God (that may well be influenced by the culture/circumstances they lived in); + some of God’s absolute truth/wisdom; + some historical documentation about things that took place. And it is for us to try and work out which is which, with the help of God’s Spirit within us – even though this may lead to a lot of confusion and disagreement about what is ‘right or wrong’ (although, from what I’ve experienced, it’s hard to imagine much more disagreement and confusion among Christians than already exists).

    Would this be a fair summary or am I over simplifying things/missing stuff – which is very possible (sorry if I am).

    • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

      You have summarized (US English) this very accurately. This is the unfortunate stance of theology in the United States today. There are, however, progressives like myself who view Scriptures in the light of your second statement.

  • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

    Peter, it is fair for you to ask Evangelicals to be willing to re-think the way they read the Bible. However, when you do this without offering them a viable alternative, you do not serve them well.

    To say, as I’ve heard you say, that reliable history in the Bible begins around the time of Omri (Randal Rauser’s podcast) requires an Evangelical to give up much more than inerrancy. This would still be true even if the only history you were asking them to give up was in Genesis. If you were clearer about what you wanted Evangelicals to shed and what you’d encourage them to retain, you might find more takers.

    • John Richard

      I would recommend a few good books. God is not a Homophobe by Philo Thelos and Divine Sex: Liberating sex from religious tradition. Same Author. Other good reads would be The poisoning of Eros by Raymond Lawrence and Dirt Greed and Sex by William Countryman. If you believe in sola scriptura then these books will be enlightening.

      • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

        I do believe in sola scriptura, but nothing about your book titles gave me hope of being enlightened. Then I looked up their descriptions on Amazon and became even more discouraged.

        The spirit of this age has pulled many Evangelicals in its drift. I feel bad enough for those who have succumbed to sensual temptation, but even worse for those who have corrupted their understanding of the Bible in order to justify the capitulation.

        • John Richard

          Its the other way around. The church corrupted the teaching on sexuality from the time of Augustine on. You should read the books and then form an opinion. Divine sex is just a bible study on what the BIBLE says about sex. I see lots of Bible Gymnastics when people see that the bible talks quite differently than what is taught today after centuries of sex negative doctrine.

          • http://blogforthelordjesus.wordpress.com Mike Gantt

            I don’t need to wallow in the mud to know that it is mud.

            The Scriptures are clear and Jesus is clear: sex is for marriage, and there is no such thing as “same-sex marriage.”

            When the church repents and returns to the purity of Christ then the world will see some light. The great moral decay we see in society today can only be resisted if those who call themselves Christians return to their first love: Jesus Christ Himself.

          • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

            Unfortunately, the Scriptures aren’t clear on that. In the Old Testament, polygamy and incest were allowed and condoned (Abraham and Sarah (brother and sister) and Hagar and Keturah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob’s 2 wives & 2 concubines).

            Jesus is silent on anything that we would consider to be homosexuality and Paul’s view on it are from an era where pederasty was common.

          • j

            Neither polygamy nor incest was ever condoned. It’s an imperfection and part of man’s fallen nature. No great man or woman of Yahweh in scripture is perfect including Abraham and Lot.

            God explicitly created one man (Adam) for one woman (Eve).

            Plus Paul also mentions female homosexuality:
            Romans 1:26-27 – “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful
            lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.
            In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and
            were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts
            with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their
            perversion.”

          • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

            Polygamy was also never condemned, unless you take Paul’s requirement for bishops out of context.

            Plus, the Scripture passage you have shown does not deal with homosexuality as we understand it today. It’s very easy to look at these Scripture passages in today’s context without looking at it in its historical context.

        • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

          I prefer the Wesleyan Quadrilateral to “sola scriptura.” However, that’s my own opinion.

  • Guest

    Dr. Purdom I was surprised to see your comment here! You’re a celebrity in my eyes. Thanks for standing up for the truth :]

  • Darius Beckham

    This response was completely unwarranted

  • Kennyd23

    Porn is the largest money makers on the internet
    and one of the most destructive.
    God hates Sin because it hurts us.and he loves us.
    For the Christian who struggles with porn, or alcohol, drugs
    Gambling understanding Grace is a good thing
    Right believing will lead to right living.

  • Apologist

    If Jesus was asked the same question that Tim Keller was asked Jesus would not beat around the bush he would tell them like it is, Homosexuality is a sin, and they will go to hell if they dont repent.

    • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

      Yeah, that sounds just like Jesus. Gee, why don’t you write a gospel.

  • Apologist

    If God approved of homosexuality he would have made two men or two women in the garden. God is not confused. There is not need to get into intellectual arguments and dig up scientific evidence. Do u see animals mating their own kind? Even the animals know better. God didn’t make an error when he created man for woman. It is a sin just like, stealing, fornication, adultery etc. Let us not be self deceived let us therefore repent and ask him to help us in our weakness of the flesh.

    • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

      Actually, many animal species have been documented in scientific studies displaying homosexual behaviors. My grandfather complained every year about the sheep and goats on his farm that mated with the wrong sex.

      • j

        Give your point though Scripture speaks of an all encompassing fallen creation

        • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

          “Give your point”? I’m not sure what you are trying to say.

    • http://progressivesalvationist.blogspot.com Timothy McPherson

      This is very interesting. You are doing exactly what Keller says here. It appears to me that you are having a hard time with viewing the Bible anything other than historical. There are some Christians who do not view the Genesis story as historical because they cannot accept scientific fact for how things were made. (I am one of these.) The main thing I understand from Genesis is that God created the cosmos and why He did. I also understand that God was trying to explain this to a people who believed the Earth was flat and that there were oceans of water above them that would come crashing down if it weren’t for a firmament.

  • ctrace

    “practical realties of contemporary life” = sin.

    By the way, try giving up your naive reading of science at some point.

  • Mike

    The third way is holding to various types of sexual misconduct is a sin in God’s sight but respecting the law of the land and respecting people’s rights to make their own mistakes and life investments, good or bad.

  • Mike

    You can criticize the word or you can let the word criticize you. I prefer the latter.

  • StriderMTB

    Dr. Enns, I realize your blog post aims at broadening the specific context of homosexuality Keller was addressing. However I think you owe it to your readers to state your own position as to whether the Bible affords believers today sound hermeneutical reasons to ground one’s opposition to homosexual marriage. Obviously you don’t believe believers can or should “disassemble” their approach to scripture to justify EVERY current trend in society.

    You stated, “This isn’t about evangelicals accepting or rejecting the Bible. It’s about thinking self-critically about how they read it and their approach to biblical authority.”

    So in the spirit of your own counsel, when YOU, Peter Enns, read the Bible, how do you “read it” in relation to God’s approval or disapproval of homosexual marriage? To quote Keller within the specific context of evangelical interpretations on the matter of homosexual marriage and then extrapolate outwards by putting on notice the entire Evangelical interpretive approach WITHOUT first offering your own position on how Peter Enns “approaches biblical authority” concerning homosexual marriage doesn’t wash. How does Peter Enns “re-assemble” biblical interpretation concerning homosexual behavior after it has gone through your needed disassembling?

  • http://www.kurtjohnson.info/ KurtJohnson

    good comment here Kevin. Maybe some of the trouble is, generally speaking, evangelicals don’t seem to want to engage in very much self-critical reflection… so far as my EXPERIENCE goes…

  • http://altarwalk.wordpress.com/ Jim Robertson

    ‘The cosmic range of Christ’s crucified lordship means that,
    on the hand, he may be found and followed in every society, and his gospel and
    his church live in symbiosis with every culture; and on the other hand, that no
    culture whatsoever may be sanctified or idolized, identified as the embodiment
    of truth on which his church depends.’

    ‘The Spirit may inspire any and every generation to truthful articulation of
    the mystery of Christ through its own worldview and forms of thought and
    speech. But no language, philosophy or epoch can comprehend the Trinity itself,
    any more than the Holy Spirit may be identified with the spirit of any age or
    culture. That is why, however distasteful, unfashionable, or perilous the task,
    the church, for the sake of the world it serves and addresses, cannot refuse
    the imperative to reform and purify its preaching in every generation and be
    prepared to draw fresh lines between falsity and truth, heresy and gospel,
    authenticity and apostasy,’

    Both the above from ‘Between Cross and Resurrection: a Theology of Holy
    Saturday’ by Alan E. Lewis at page 354. Lewis, BTW, was a Presbyterian.

  • gapaul

    Yes, but it is still more complicated. Evangelicals have bought the same natural theology hoohah that Roman Catholics have. They don’t just believe the Bible condemns homosexuality, they believe this is self-evident –that the mechanism of reproduction is some sort of proof of how sexuality is to be expressed. Roman Catholicism doesn’t rest on biblical literalism, but it can be every bit as conservative.

  • Vince

    I think that a discussion about how we read the Bible is the back door to almost all controversial topics within evangelicalism (or perhaps the front door). There needs to be more talk in this area, because I’m not sure any other discussion is worth having until we can agree, or disagree, on how the BIble is to be read.

  • Darach Conneely

    Evangelical should be critically reassessing how they read the bible. Otherwise they are just following the traditions of men rather than the the word of God. There is nothing in the story of Adam and Eve that say marriage has to be between a man and a woman. We have the authority of Jesus to read it as teaching the permanence of marriage, but Jesus said noting about Adam and Eve teaching against same sex marriage. That is a man made idea. In fact teaching against same sex marriage, and insisting on either life long celibacy or heterosexual marriage to a woman they are not attracted to, goes against the reasons God chose Eve for Adam. God said it wasn’t good for the man to be alone yet we insist homosexuals remain single, or we insist they find a partner unsuitable for them, and that they be an unsuitable partner for the person they marry, when God chose a suitable partner for Adam, a helper meet for him.

    • StriderMTB

      I’m assuming you consider yourself a believer Darach. That said, you have read the words of Paul on the matter haven’t you? There are a host of sinful issues Jesus never addressed which we understand to be wide of the mark and outside the orbit of God’s sacred and creative ideal (i.e. sin). I’m assuming you have read Paul’s summation that “God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Rom. 1:26-27).

      Do you just dismiss this out of hand as being “man made” because Jesus didn’t specifically address the issue of homosexuality? Darach it simply wasn’t a question in Christ’s day. Neither was incest! So should we assume we have some flexibility on that issue today in 2014? There was no need for Christ to reiterate moral prohibitions that 1st century Jewish culture was not questioning.

      Lastly our Christian brothers and sisters who find themselves honestly struggling with same-sex attraction should take heart in knowing that carrying their cross for the sake of Christ by not being sexually active is an act of selflessness that will be honored in the age to come. The end goal is not finding a suitable partner or marrying…or ending all loneliness. Rather it is seeking God’s kingdom first. Jesus says the same to those who decide to refuse sex and marriage for the sake of God, saying, “There are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” (Matthew 19:12).

      • Darach Conneely

        Yes I am a believer, I love the Lord and his word. If you read my last post I am not describing scripture as man made, but the traditional interpretations that are read into the text, but the text never teaches us. Have you noticed how the heterosexual sex in Romans 1 is condemned before Paul gets to homosexuality? Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonouring of their bodies among themselves? The context is idolatry and the use of women for sex in pagan temples leading to using men for sex in idolatrous worship. We are talking temple prostitution here both female and male prostitutes. That has noting to do with loving a faithful same sex marriage. In fact Paul isn’t even talking about homosexuals here, he is talking about heterosexuals who go beyond their natural desires female prostitutes being led by their passions to experiment in male prostitution. It is taking the passage way beyond the context Paul is speaking about here to use it to condemn same sex marriage.

        Don’t forget Paul was speaking to Gentiles as well as Jews here, and that one of Paul’s highest priorities was teaching that OT regulations don’t apply under the new covenant. Paul would have been aware that there were people who were by nature attracted to the same sex, it was recognised in the ancient world, his Roman readers would have understood it too. Paul simply didn’t address the issue. Do we make rules for people the bible does not teach and bind these heavy loads on people’s backs? Jesus wasn’t very keen on that. Do we ‘forbid marriage’ to people God hasn’t called to celibacy? Remember the eunechs passage was only for for those who can bear it. Matthew 19:12He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.

        Seem to me God is much more concerned about love and faithfulness in a marriage than sexual identity of the partners, which will will simply pass away. Matt 22:30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

        • StriderMTB

          God is most concerned about grace and truth, of which Christ is the embodiment. It seems you want to have grace and love at the expense of truth. You sir are advocating that persons do exactly what Romans 1 warns us all not to do– which is to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” and “exchange the truth for a lie.” Romans 1 is a general summation of mankind departing from God’s creational intention and turning inward to worship his own degrading passions and the creation rather than the Creator. Paul is using broad brush strokes to define human history as a mass exodus from God’s moral knowledge and creational intentional. Part of God’s wrath is to judicially surrender people over to their own fleshly desires leading to further regression. It is all idolatry because we are now serving something created rather than the Creator. This covers worshipping images that resembled mortal man, worshipping images that resembled animals, lesbianism, homosexuality and onwards into the list of sins Paul mentions in verses 29-31 which stem from a “worthless mind.” It does not mean the people are worthless. Rather their thinking is futile, debased and worthless because they have exchanged God’s creational intention for a lie.

          Your interpretation is so far removed from the text I can only assume extremely biased presuppositions lent by others is driving your “disassembling” of the text (to borrow Enns term). Lets note the key words you use to frame your argument that are glaringly absent from the text: “pagan temples”, “temple prostitution” and “male prostitution.” What’s even more astounding is you say:

          “In fact Paul isn’t even talking about homosexuals here…”

          I mean no offense sir but I appears you are unfortunately exchanging God’s truth for something else that is more preferable to your liking. Paul explicitly speaks of homosexual behavior in the passage right after declaring that lesbianism is “unnatural.” He doesn’t say it is unnatural because it was occurring through temple prostitution. He declares it to be unnatural because it is counter to “the truth of God.” Moreover Paul clearly has homosexual behavior in view when he denounces “men who left the natural use of the woman and burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful…” (1:27).

          “Men with men” sir. Paul could not be clearer. He does not say men with children, men with boys or men with pagan prostitutes. And YES to borrow your own phrase, “Paul was aware that there were people who were by nature attracted to the same sex. However HE CONDEMNED IT AS A PRODUCT OF A SINFUL NATURE that must be repented of not justified! To then say, “Paul simply didn’t address the issue [of homosexuality]” when he JUST DID is very telling as to how closed off you are to simply letting the text speak for itself.

          Lastly sir, Christ did not come to abolish the sexual morals of the Torah, he explicitly states the opposite. He declares he came to fulfill the Torah by taking certain prohibitions (like adultery, murder, etc) to a higher level–thereby revealing that the real issue is not simply outward law-keeping but a heart that is committed to God’s Kingdom ideal. True there will be no marriage in heaven per se, but that doesn’t mean we can “get it on” here on earth any way we see fit. There will be a great many activities and current spiritual realities (like tongues and prophecy) that will cease in heaven, but that doesn’t mean we have not been given strict boundaries on how we are to be a good steward of our bodies, hearts and minds in the here and now–we have!

          In three separate places Christ implicitly forbids gay marriage simply by affirming marriage itself and upholding God’s intentions for marriage. 1) He affirms the sexual morals of the O.T. (which we all know denounce homosexual behaviors). 2) He states sex outside marriage is defiling, and 3) God intended marriage as a man and a woman being united to each other for life. (see Mt. 5; 15; 19) Christ did not need to explicitly reiterate the sinfulness of homosexual behavior because it was not being questioned by anyone in the 1st century.

          That being said, no one is truly forbidding marriage to anyone sir. You only assume so because you reinterpret “marriage” to fit a pre-conceived invention in your head of what you want it to mean. Since the dawn of time across all cultures “marriage” has always been synonymous with the reality of a man and a woman being joined. In some cultures and at sometimes it meant a man with more than one woman and in rare cultures even a woman with more than one man. But it has always been understood to be male + female.

          What I believe you are really protesting against is the fact that the Church prohibits men and women from finding sexual refuge and enjoyment in a same-sex context. You are concerned for them because you don’t want them to be lonely or isolated. That is understandable and the Church has a far way to go to embrace and affirm our brothers and sisters with admitted same-sex attraction, yet who recognize such desires, no matter how natural they feel, must be denied for the sake of following Christ. We all have our own crosses to carry. I am 37 and still a virgin. Trust me–it is not because I haven’t had opportunities. It is because at this time I feel called to singleness for the sake of ministry. Every day of my life I have “natural” biological desires and lusts towards women. But the mere fact that I have those desires does not justify or warrant fulfilling them. I choose to deny them for the sake of Christ.

          My mentioning of Christ’s words in Mt. 19:12 was greatly missed I’m afraid. May God bless you sir.

          • Darach Conneely

            I agree Paul is using broad brush strokes to show all humanity stands condemned before God. But once you leave the examples Paul gives, you are simply making up your own rules to bind up people with. Jesus said some people are born eunuchs, do they stand condemned for sexual immorality too? Paul condemns both heterosexual and homosexual acts in Romans 1, do we agree with some Gnostic sects that all sex is immoral? Paul only uses the (very common) example of heterosexuals going beyond their heterosexual nature experimenting with homosexual acts in idolatrous worship. You cannot go beyond that to condemn people homosexual by nature in a same sex marriage.

            Lets note the key words you use to frame your argument that are glaringly absent from the text: “pagan temples”, “temple prostitution” and “male prostitution.” What’s even more astounding is you say:
            It doesn’t matter much if the idolatrous orgies Paul describes were taking place in private homes or in pagan temples, it is just that the main form of immorality associated with idolatry in the classical world was temple prostitution, both heterosexual and homosexual and the ready availability of homosexual prostitutes along with the heterosexual ones is the ideal opportunity for heterosexuals to experiment.

            Paul explicitly speaks of homosexual behavior in the passage right after declaring that lesbianism is “unnatural.” He doesn’t say it is unnatural because it was occurring through temple prostitution.
            No it was unnatural because it went against the heterosexual nature of the people engaged in those activities. his says noting about people for whom homosexuality was their nature.

            He declares it to be unnatural because it is counter to “the truth of God.”
            No what Paul says was against the truth of God was worshipping “images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” v22 and “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator” v25.

            “Men with men” sir. Paul could not be clearer. He does not say men with children, men with boys
            I didn’t say anything about men with boys, though that would be wrong too, what we would call sexual abuse.

            However HE CONDEMNED IT AS A PRODUCT OF A SINFUL NATURE that must be repented of not justified! To then say, “Paul simply didn’t address the issue [of homosexuality]” when he JUST DID is very telling as to how closed off you are to simply letting the text speak for itself.
            Careful Strider, Paul isn’t saying anything about sinful nature here, or that the homosexual acts were the product of their sinful nature. He says the acts went against their nature. Their nature was heterosexual though the “lusts of their hearts” in v 24 led to sinful heterosexual acts, Paul isn’t saying their heterosexuality is sinful nature either, just their natural sexuality.

            Lastly sir, Christ did not come to abolish the sexual morals of the Torah, he explicitly states the opposite. He declares he came to fulfill the Torah by taking certain prohibitions (like adultery, murder, etc) to a higher level–thereby revealing that the real issue is not simply outward law-keeping but a heart that is committed to God’s Kingdom ideal.
            And the kingdom ideal that replaces all these laws is sacrificial love. Galatians 5:14 “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.” Jesus said the same thing. Adultery, prostitution, lust, murder and hate are all condemned by this higher law. But sex within the context of a faithful, loving, lifelong marriage fulfills the higher law, whether it is between partners of the opposite sex or the same sex.

            Christ did not need to explicitly reiterate the sinfulness of homosexual behavior because it was not being questioned by anyone in the 1st century.Jesus used Genesis to condemn divorce, anything else you want to read into this passage is making up you own laws, which is fine if that is what the passage means to you and how you want to follow Christ yourself, but not if you want to take things Jesus didn’t say to bind other people up with. That is something Jesus really wasn’t keen on.

            Since the dawn of time across all cultures “marriage” has always been synonymous with the reality of a man and a woman being joined. In some cultures and at sometimes it meant a man with more than one woman and in rare cultures even a woman with more than one man. But it has always been understood to be male + female.
            So each culture made up their own rules about what marriage meant, including polygamy, or the divorce certificates the Israelites borrowed from the Egyptians?

            You are concerned for them because you don’t want them to be lonely or isolated. That is understandable and the Church has a far way to go to embrace and affirm our brothers and sisters with admitted same-sex attraction, yet who recognize such desires, no matter how natural they feel, must be denied for the sake of following Christ. I am glad you recognise the need to churches that think homosexuality is wrong to be much more open and welcoming to homosexuals. But we also need to be very sure the texts used to say all forms of homosexuality are wrong, even within a faithful lifelong marriage, really say what we think they are saying.

            I respect and honour your commitment singleness in following Christ, it is a difficult calling. But you were called by Christ to that and made the sacrifice willingly. It is very different to make that demand on homosexuals who haven’t been called to singleness. Making it a demand for becoming a Christian seems very wrong.

          • StriderMTB

            Darach, as well-intentioned as I am sure you are, you are merely re-asserting baseless claims that have already been refuted. You are building your entire case on the radically absurd presupposition that Paul did not have homosexual men in view when he denounced homosexual acts. Rather he must have only had HETEROSEXUAL men in view who somehow got carried away with strange, homosexual passions and starting having sex with men. You have no scholarly basis for this claim and to continue to repeat it is frankly silly. We can’t repeat our way to truth now can we? If you don’t trust the mainstream, scholarly consensus you might as well hear unbiased scholars who, while admittedly gay, also recognize that integrity to the text rejects smuggling in the very insinuations you suggest.

            In Robert Gagnon’s great article on rebutting gay-scriptural arguments, he quotes two gay scholars as follows: http://enrichmentjournal.ag.org/201103/201103_092_hom_understnd.cfm

            “It is hardly surprising, then, that even Louis Crompton, a homosexual scholar, acknowledges this point in his massive work, Homosexuality and Civilization: “However well-intentioned,” the interpretation that “Paul’s words were not directed at ‘bona fide’ homosexuals in committed relationships … seems strained and unhistorical. Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstance. The idea that homosexuals might be redeemed by mutual devotion would have been wholly foreign to Paul or any other Jew or early Christian.”9

            Bernadette Brooten, a lesbian New Testament scholar who has written the most important book about lesbianism in antiquity, also acknowledges this point. She states that, “Paul could have believed” that some persons attracted to members of the same sex “were born that way and yet still condemn them as unnatural and shameful. … I see Paul as condemning all forms of homoeroticism as the unnatural acts of people who had turned away from God.”11

            Furthermore you have either missed or sidestepped the critical points raised about cross-cultural definitions of marriage always reflecting male and female, and how that buffers Christ’s rejection of any sexual behavior outside the covenant of marriage. Christ’s affirmation of God’s creational ideal of male and female united in covenantal marriage, is consequently a rejection of any foreign notion of gay “marriage.” I recognize you don’t want to deal with the implications of this obvious fact.

            You seem to ground everything back in “nature.” Nature, sir, is not a license for free expression. We are all sinners and have a proclivity towards self-fulfillment by nature. Following Christ is the decision to live a life contrary to what comes “natural” when such passions and desires are contrary to God’s creational ideal. If nature was the last court of appeal, well meaning gay marriage advocates would not have a leg to stand on to deem pedophiles as having morally perverse sexual desires. They insist they are attracted to children by their NATURE. Moreover bi-sexuals insist they are attracted to both male and female by nature, and thus should be allowed to marry both. If you think nature = right and is the final court of appeal, who are you to dare deny such people their sexual identity and tripartite love, sir?

            But more to the point I mentioned earlier, Paul’s referencing of “nature” is specifically in terms of God’s creational intention, wherein God’s truth is “clearly seen through the things he has made.” He condemns lesbianism (and thus homosexual acts) within the broader context of a creation gone awry in both vertical and horizontal dimensions. Paul was also operating out of Jewish milieu that categorically and absolutely condemned all homoeroticism as being unnatural (See the article). Adding in the fact that even in the Greco-Roman world the secular moralists (like Plato, Plutarch, etc) considered lesbianism and all homosexual acts (even loving relationships) as being “contrary to nature,” definitively closes the door on your inventive interpretation that Paul would never condemn homosexual acts as being sinful and unnatural if he thought such acts stemmed from a “homosexual nature.”

            Moreover you keep mentioning “binding heavy burdens” on people as if obeying clear commands to put to death passions that war against our soul’s advance towards holiness is to somehow lay upon people an uncalled for burden. There is nothing more burdensome, sir, then the entanglement of sin, which always starts with self-acquittal and self-justification that eventually leads to “futile thinking” and being “handed over to vile passions.” Moreover all followers of Christ are called to carry a burden, or have you never considered Christ’s words that the “cross” we are burdened to carry is specifically defined as a “denial of self.”

            Lastly you mention “Love for one’s neighbor as yourself” is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s law and Kingdom. However you oddly and tellingly left out the preceding phrase “To love God with all your heart, mind and soul.” To love God requires that I not jettison his truth in order to affirm my brother or sister caught in sin. You assume any opposition to gay marriage must be unloving by definition, and that is your key error. Indeed the opposite is true. My love for God and my brother is a lie if I play any part in encouraging them to fulfill rather than deny desires that miss the mark of God’s ideal. To be an advocate of twisting scripture towards that end is quite troubling no matter how well intentioned.

            To summarize, you seem to think homosexual sex would not be sinful if it could only occur in a context of marriage. Marriage does indeed provide a recognized context of faithfulness and commitment and I have no doubt that there exists many in the gay community who are committed to each other, but commitment alone cannot change the sinfulness of that which defines the very nature of the commitment.

            Peace to you, sir. I’m sure you will want the last word.

          • Darach Conneely

            You are building your entire case on the radically absurd presupposition that Paul did not have homosexual men in view when he denounced homosexual acts. Rather he must have only had HETEROSEXUAL men in view who somehow got carried away with strange, homosexual passions and starting having sex with men.
            It’s what the text says. Rom 1:26 “their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature…27 the men likewise gave up natural relations with women.” Paul chose for his ‘broad brush strokes’ to describe ordinary heterosexuals drawn so far in to sexual excess they engage in homosexual acts. If you want to claim Paul was talking abut people born homosexual, you need to show it from the text rather than claiming it is absurd or that I have been refuted. Don’t just claim the scholarly consensus say Paul was talking about people born homosexual. Show it form the text.

            In Robert Gagnon’s great article on rebutting gay-scriptural arguments, he quotes two gay scholars as follows:http://enrichmentjournal.ag.or

            “It is hardly surprising, then, that even Louis Crompton, a homosexual scholar, acknowledges this point in his massive work, Homosexuality and Civilization: “However well-intentioned,” the interpretation that “Paul’s words were not directed at ‘bona fide’ homosexuals in committed relationships … seems strained and unhistorical. Nowhere does Paul or any other Jewish writer of this period imply the least acceptance of same-sex relations under any circumstance. The idea that homosexuals might be redeemed by mutual devotion would have been wholly foreign to Paul or any other Jew or early Christian.”9
            That’s not addressing the text either. Whether faithful same sex marriage was foreign to Paul and other Jewish writers or not, doesn’t change the fact Paul doesn’t address people who were by nature homosexual, nor is the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to speak about genuine homosexuals rather than heterosexuals indulging in homosexual acts.

            Bernadette Brooten, a lesbian New Testament scholar who has written the most important book about lesbianism in antiquity, also acknowledges this point. She states that, “Paul could have believed” that some persons attracted to members of the same sex “were born that way and yet still condemn them as unnatural and shameful. … I see Paul as condemning all forms of homoeroticism as the unnatural acts of people who had turned away from God.”11
            Does Booten show where Paul condemns all forms of homoeroticism in the texts or is it simply her assumption of what Paul wold have thought? And is she assuming what she thinks Paul would have though has the authority as the scripture the Holy Spirit inspired him to write?

            So far you haven’t shown any scholar demonstrating from the text Paul is condemning natural homosexuals in Romans 1. Paul may well have assumed all forms of homoeroticism was wrong, but unless he specifically faced the issue and wrestled with the implications of OT law vs freedom in Christ as he did with circumcision and meat sacrificed to idols, you don’t even have a Pauline theological response to homosexuality just the assumption of Saul’s rabbinical background.

            Furthermore you have either missed or sidestepped the critical points raised about cross-cultural definitions of marriage always reflecting male and female, and how that buffers Christ’s rejection of any sexual behavior outside the covenant of marriage. Christ’s affirmation of God’s creational ideal of male and female united in covenantal marriage, is consequently a rejection of any foreign notion of gay “marriage.” I recognize you don’t want to deal with the implications of this obvious fact.
            I have pointed out that every culture comes up their own definition of marriage. The modern view that includes same sex marriage is as valid as the Egyptian divorce laws adopted by Israel or the Mesopotamian polygamous model of marriage adopted by the patriarchs.

            You seem to ground everything back in “nature.” Nature, sir, is not a license for free expression. We are all sinners and have a proclivity towards self-fulfillment by nature… well meaning gay marriage advocates would not have a leg to stand on to deem pedophiles as having morally perverse sexual desires.
            Except that wasn’t my argument at all. Eph 2:3 “you were by nature children of wrath” is hardly saying nature is an excuse. My point is that Paul doesn’t discuss people who were homosexual by nature in Romans 1, not that Paul was excusing them because it was natural. I Paul wasn’t discussing natural homosexuals Romans 1 then you simply can’t it that to condemn them.

            But more to the point I mentioned earlier, Paul’s referencing of “nature” is specifically in terms of God’s creational intention, wherein God’s truth is “clearly seen through the things he has made.” He condemns lesbianism (and thus homosexual acts) within the broader context of a creation gone awry in both vertical and horizontal dimensions.I pointed out that “God’s truth is ‘clearly seen through the things he has made’ .” referred to God eternal power and divine nature that people exchanged for images of animals. People going against their heterosexual nature was the result of orgiastic idolatry of birds and reptiles. You are taking it out of context.

            Adding in the fact that even in the Greco-Roman world the secular moralists (like Plato, Plutarch, etc) considered lesbianism and all homosexual acts (even loving relationships) as being “contrary to nature,” definitively closes the door on your inventive interpretation that Paul would never condemn homosexual acts as being sinful and unnatural if he thought such acts stemmed from a “homosexual nature.”Check out
            http://facultyblog.eternitybiblecollege.com/series/review-of-god-the-gay-christian/ for a discussion of classical writers including Aristotle who recognised some people were homosexual by nature.

            Moreover you keep mentioning “binding heavy burdens” on people as if obeying clear commands to put to death passions that war against our soul’s advance towards holiness is to somehow lay upon people an uncalled for burden. Demanding a life of singleness and loneliness from people who haven’t been called to celibacy is a very heavy burden. Jesus never commands celibacy as a price for salvation, it was only ever a call given to those with a choice whether that can bear it or not.

            Lastly you mention “Love for one’s neighbor as yourself” is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s law and Kingdom. However you oddly and tellingly left out the preceding phrase “To love God with all your heart, mind and soul.” To love God requires that I not jettison his truth in order to affirm my brother or sister caught in sin. You assume any opposition to gay marriage must be unloving by definition, and that is your key error. Indeed the opposite is true. My love for God and my brother is a lie if I play any part in encouraging them to fulfill rather than deny desires that miss the mark of God’s ideal. To be an advocate of twisting scripture towards that end is quite troubling no matter how well intentioned.It is the laws how we treat other people that are fulfilled by love you neighbour, including all the moral laws. If same faithful and loving sex marriage does not offend loving your neighbour, it does not offend loving God who gave his commands that way.

            To summarize, you seem to think homosexual sex would not be sinful if it could only occur in a context of marriage. Marriage does indeed provide a recognized context of faithfulness and commitment and I have no doubt that there exists many in the gay community who are committed to each other, but commitment alone cannot change the sinfulness of that which defines the very nature of the commitment.

            Peace to you, sir. I’m sure you will want the last word.We are under a new law as Christians it is a law of sacrificial love, “against which there is not law”. Sex within a faithful committed same sex marriage isn’t sin.

            Cheers Strider, it has been good talking to you.

          • StriderMTB

            That you so dismissively and repeatedly ignore the HISTORICAL and TEXTUAL scholarly consensus of Romans 1, even of those who are admittedly gay and have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and opt for your own inventive, far-fetched interpretation, reveals a creative mind, but not a teachable mind set on rightly dividing the word of truth. I have never seen the power of a presupposition unpacked on the scriptures as you have displayed. Your entire assumption rests on Paul excusing persons who are homosexual and only condemning heterosexuals who decided to dabble in homosexual acts. However as has been repeatedly brought to your attention and which you have failed to interact with on any level, is the scholarly consensus that Paul subsumes all homoerotic behavior as being contrary to God’s creational intentions, as are the lists of sins he later goes on to highlight. You can continue to believe as you do, but you ought to at least have to courage and integrity to admit your view is rejected by virtually all scholars on a TEXTUAL basis–not some personal, biased whim. You strangely say: “Don’t just quote me the scholarly consensus, show it from the text.” Darach–are you serious? Scholars arrive at their interpretations specifically BECAUSE OF THEIR CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE GIVEN TEXT! It’s not like they are interacting with Moby Dick or Tom Sawyer.

            Finally you continue to miss the point that all cultures– ESPECIALLY Jewish culture understood marriage to be a pairing of two sexes. For example the Jewish historian Josephus, who wrote in the first century to an audience of Romans stated: “The law [of Moses] recognizes only sexual intercourse that is according to nature, that which is with a woman. … But it abhors the intercourse of males with males” (Against Apion 2.199)

            Your statement about Torah divorce law borrowing from Egyptian custom is a red herring and irrelevant. The point is we have every reason to believe Christ affirms Torah condemnation of all homosexual acts given that He: 1) upholds God’s creational ideal of male and female leaving mother and father to be united in covenantal marriage, 2) subsequently condemns sex outside marriage as defiling, 3) affirms Torah parameters and boundaries for sexual conduct by saying, he did not come to destroy the Torah but fulfill it, 4) and condemns those who break Torah commandments and teach others to do so.

            Thanks for the article link. It was informative. I concede that some Greco-Roman moralists and writers (like Aristotle) may have concluded that homosexual desires could be a result of a natural orientation (due to astrological alignment, etc). So thanks for that correction. However they all, including Aristotle, considered all homosexual acts as intrinsically shameful. But even that point is irrelevant to the larger issue of Paul’s view– which was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

            In the very article you cite the author sums up the reason why, saying, “Maybe Paul did not have any concept of sexual orientation, or maybe he did. In any case, we cannot appeal to the absence of such a view in his cultural environment and then project it upon Paul as Vines does. When Paul therefore says that ‘men…gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another’ (Rom 1:27), he is not revealing ignorance about sexual orientation.” http://facultyblog.eternitybiblecollege.com/series/review-of-god-the-gay-christian/

            Peace out.

          • Darach Conneely

            That you so dismissively and repeatedly ignore the HISTORICAL and TEXTUAL scholarly consensus of Romans 1, even of those who are admittedly gay and have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and opt for your own inventive, far-fetched interpretation, reveals a creative mind, but not a teachable mind set on rightly dividing the word of truth. So far you haven’t provided any scholarly analysis about what Paul says in Romans 1, the references you have provided on Paul’s personal opinion of homosexuality I have addressed and you haven’t answered.

            Your entire assumption rests on Paul excusing persons who are homosexual and only condemning heterosexuals who decided to dabble in homosexual acts. No, I’m not saying if Paul was excusing or not excusing homosexuals. I am saying that in Romans 1 Paul only addresses heterosexuals dabbling in homosexuality. It is what the text describes.

            the scholarly consensus that Paul subsumes all homoerotic behavior as being contrary to God’s creational intentions, Yes, you have tried to back up the claim Paul was describing homosexuality as a violation of God’s creation in Rom 1. I took the argument apart and you weren’t able to respond. You scholars aren’t here to defend the claim, if you thnk it is a good argument, you should defend it from the text. But as I have shown it isn’t what Paul is saying.

            You can continue to believe as you do, but you ought to at least have to courage and integrity to admit your view is rejected by virtually all scholars on a TEXTUAL basis–not some personal, biased whim. You strangely say: “Don’t just quote me the scholarly consensus, show it from the text.” Darach–are you serious? Scholars arrive at their interpretations specifically BECAUSE OF THEIR CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE GIVEN TEXT! It’s not like they are interacting with Moby Dick or Tom Sawyer.
            Scholars all have their biases. It is what can be shown from the text that matters. However, block capitals notwithstanding, you haven’t come up with any scholarly critical analysis of the text showing Paul was talking about people who were by nature homosexuals.

            Finally you continue to miss the point that all cultures– ESPECIALLY Jewish culture understood marriage to be a pairing of two sexes. For example the Jewish historian Josephus, who wrote in the first century to an audience of Romans stated: “The law [of Moses] recognizes only sexual intercourse that is according to nature, that which is with a woman. … But it abhors the intercourse of males with males” (Against Apion 2.199)
            What is the relevance of what Jewish culture or other cultures think about homosexuality. Slavery was universally accepted in the past. We are Christians, we need to search the scriptures and seek God on this question.

            Your statement about Torah divorce law borrowing from Egyptian custom is a red herring and irrelevant.My point is that cultures have always been free to make up their own definition of marriage. Divorce is certainly not God’s ideal, yet Egyptian culture allowed it and Moses allowed the Israelites keep it. Societies are free to make up its own views on marriage.

            The point is we have every reason to believe Christ affirms Torah condemnation of all homosexual acts given that He: 1) upholds God’s creational ideal of male and female leaving mother and father to be united in covenantal marriage, 2) subsequently condemns sex outside marriage as defiling, 3) affirms Torah parameters and boundaries for sexual conduct by saying, he did not come to destroy the Torah but fulfill it, 4) and condemns those who break Torah commandments and teach others to do so. Since Jesus never spoke on homosexuality, or same sex marriage, your opinion of what he affirmed about the Torah, has no authority, especially when the Torah was fulfilled in the cross and is no longer binding the the Gospel he commanded to be preached to the nations.

            Thanks for the article link. It was informative. I concede that some Greco-Roman moralists and writers (like Aristotle) may have concluded that homosexual desires could be a result of a natural orientation (due to astrological alignment, etc). So thanks for that correction. However they all, including Aristotle, considered all homosexual acts as intrinsically shameful. But even that point is irrelevant to the larger issue of Paul’s view– which was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

            In the very article you cite the author sums up the reason why, saying, “Maybe Paul did not have any concept of sexual orientation, or maybe he did. In any case, we cannot appeal to the absence of such a view in his cultural environment and then project it upon Paul as Vines does. When Paul therefore says that ‘men…gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another’ (Rom 1:27), he is not revealing ignorance about sexual orientation.” http://facultyblog.eternitybib

            Peace out.
            Vines was using a different argument. My point was that if homosexuality was considered natural in the classical world, then Paul’s statement about people going against nature to engage in homosexual acts only referred to people who were heterosexual by nature.

            Cheers

          • StriderMTB

            Thanks for the response. I am enjoying the discussion.

            “So far you haven’t provided any scholarly analysis about what Paul says in Romans 1, the references you have provided on Paul’s personal opinion of homosexuality I have addressed and you haven’t answered.”

            Quite the opposite. I have repeatedly called your attention to the historical, cultural and textual context which grounds Paul’s “personal opinion of homosexuality.” You simply sidestep them because they don’t fit your subjective narrative which you offer without evidence other than personal assertion. Please feel free to address the further points below rather than reassert assumptions that have already been refuted. Assertion is not an argument.

            “I am saying that in Romans 1 Paul only addresses heterosexuals dabbling in homosexuality. It is what the text describes.”

            No, it is what YOU assume the text describes, and last I checked “you” by itself doesn’t stand for much—especially when the scholarly consensus thoroughly rebuts you.

            “Yes, you have tried to back up the claim Paul was describing homosexuality as a violation of God’s creation in Rom 1. I took the argument apart and you weren’t able to respond.”

            There is a difference between refutation and assertion. Saying it is so doesn’t make it so. I’m still waiting for your textual evidence that a broad spectrum of textual scholarship missed, and which overturns their interpretive consensus. Maybe you would like to specifically share where you “took the argument apart.” Or is that just another bare assertion? As of now it still stands waiting for a challenge greater than mere personal opinion that flies in the face of Paul’s language and cultural-religious context which in turn grounds his “personal view” as concurrent with 1st century Jewish condemnation of all homosexual acts—not just heterosexuals experimenting with male prostitutes. You again don’t even attempt to deal with this pertinent fact, calling it “irrelevant.” Your aversion to relevant historical, cultural and religious contexts says much about your bias. Your avoidance is somewhat understandable since if you were to concede Paul’s language concerning “unnatural” sexual function was informed by his 1st century Jewish affiliation, which in turn was grounded in Mosaic sexual prohibitions, your argument falls flat.

            “Scholars all have their biases. It is what can be shown from the text that matters.”

            Yes and no. Scholars can have biases but good scholars don’t let them become controlling. The fact that even prominent gay scholars have put aside their own personal prejudices and rebut your fanciful interpretation is quite telling. Moreover that you flippantly dismiss even these scholars as being controlled by bias is even more telling and reveals how your personal bias is the dominate, controlling factor governing your interpretation.

            What is the relevance of what Jewish culture or other cultures think about homosexuality. Slavery was universally accepted in the past. We are Christians, we need to search the scriptures and seek God on this question.

            What is the relevance of Jewish culture when it comes to linguistic and textual analysis? I’m astounded that you even ask. Um—how about because the writers of the N.T.—you know those first Christians like Paul– were Jewish!

            “My point is that cultures have always been free to make up their own definition of marriage. Divorce is certainly not God’s ideal, yet Egyptian culture allowed it and Moses allowed the Israelites keep it. Societies are free to make up its own views on marriage.”

            Right—secular societies in rebellion against God are free to make up their own views on marriage and a host of other issues as well. And they will be judged for it–which is a central theme of Rom. 1. That said followers of God are not “free to make up their own views on marriage.” Rather we understand marriage to be more than just a cultural arrangement or social construct. We understand marriage is sacred and ordained by God and therefore not free to be reinterpreted or repackaged according to the whim of created beings. That is another form of idolatry. Furthermore Jesus makes it clear divorce was allowed reluctantly because of hardened hearts—that is to say it was not God’s ideal. It had nothing to do with God saying, “Well gosh–look what they borrowed from Egypt. I guess I’ll just let them keep it.” At any rate are you now conceding gay marriage is not God’s ideal as neither is divorce? But it really makes no difference since there is zero reason to believe that Christ’s fulfillment of the Law means Christ overturns Mosaic prohibitions on sexual perversions and begins to allow, affirm and celebrate incest, bestiality and homosexual acts.

            “Since Jesus never spoke on homosexuality, or same sex marriage, your opinion of what he affirmed about the Torah, has no authority, especially when the Torah was fulfilled in the cross and is no longer binding the the Gospel he commanded to be preached to the nations.”

            Once again you habitually ignore the implications of the arguments presented. Christ did not need to explicitly reiterate God’s denouncement of homosexuality, incest or bestiality in the Torah because it wasn’t being questioned by anyone within the Jewish culture. What Christ does do is reiterate God’s creational ideal that man and woman are to leave father and mother to be joined to one another. Secondly he declares all sexual acts outside that very creational context of marriage between man and woman is defiling. Consequently gay marriage is outside the orbit of God’s creational ideal. To say Christ fulfills the Law is not to say we are liberated for bestiality and incest is it? Given your logic you would have to say “yes” since the N.T. does not repeat Torah prohibitions on those acts.

            “My point was that if homosexuality was considered natural in the classical world, then Paul’s statemtent about people going against nature to engage in homosexual acts only referred to people who were heterosexual by nature.”

            Alright lets unpack this repeated assertion more thoroughly to show why it is misinformed and thoroughly in error.

            1. Paul is concerned primarily with morality not modern concepts of sexual orientation. If Paul was ONLY concerned about people not violating their sexual orientation and not burning in lust for what is against their orientation, then he no doubt would have denounced homosexuals burning “unnaturally” towards women and vice-versa during temple orgies. That he does not is strong evidence your view is wide of the mark.

            2. If Paul thought homosexuals should follow their natural, same-sex desires, then it means Paul’s entire condemnation of homoeroticism is directed towards heterosexuals who mutually and simultaneously fall into homoerotic passion and “burn in passion toward each other.” Truly an absurd claim you offer no substantive evidence for within the text. You tried to make the argument before that Paul must have had in mind heterosexuals who were visiting male prostitutes in pagan temples. When I pointed out to you the text affords you nothing to make your claim override the considerations of scholars across the spectrum, I notice you simply repeat it without adding any additional evidence beyond your own subjective opinion. The burden is clearly on you to provide more. Strangely you tried to bring up 1st century pagan-temple culture to substantiate your view. Hmm—so I guess you can choose at whim when cultural context is relevant to textual exegesis? But it makes no difference since Paul’s condemnation of homosexual acts IS NOT mentioned within some localized, narrow spectrum of Mediterranean, pagan temple life. Rather it is grounded in GENERAL revelation that covers all history and culture as departing from God’s truth and creational intentions. The general rebellion of man has given rise to specific rebellions such as worshiping aspects of God’s creation rather that the Creator, homosexual acts, coveting, hatred, envy, murder, strife, etc. But he noticeably and specifically holds up homosexual acts as being evidence of trading in God’s truth for a lie, declaring it to be: 1) A degrading passion that’s unnatural (v29), 3) An indecent act (v27), 3) Shameful and 4) The product of a depraved mind (v28).

            3. Earlier on you asserted that Paul’s denouncement of homosexual acts was given within a context of such acts being committed in concert with pagan worship mixed with temple prostitution. But Paul goes on to list numerous other sins as specific examples of mankind’s general departure from God’s creational intention, truth and knowledge, such as fornication, envy, murder and disobedience to parents. If we were to follow your line of logic, we could say such acts are not really sinful unless they are committed in concert with pagan idol worship. But obviously that is absurd and weakens your position further. What have you to say? Moreover Paul is not stating that idol worship directly leads to sexual misconduct or any other sin. He is stating that man’s general rebellion against God’s truth, which is evidenced in trading in the material creation for the Creator, results in God judicially handing people over to a debased mind, which in turn is evidenced in homosexual acts, fornication, coveting, envy murder and strife, etc.

            4. Now lets deal specifically with what Paul had in mind when he said, “in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire towards one another.” When Paul opts for the word “function” we need to seriously consider the implications of that word (kreesis). That word has a rich and broad history in the literature of that time period and scholars are in complete agreement that it means, “use or function, especially in relation to sexual intercourse.”

            Paul is not talking about natural passions, feelings or desires. He is talking about natural function in terms of the way the human body was designed to function bodily and sexually with a counterpart. Therefore when Paul speaks of persons going against “nature” he is not referring to natural desire but natural mechanics and their proper use and function in the context of sex. So to be doubly clear, in Paul’s thinking, “natural” is not a reflection of what one wants or prefers sexually, but how the body was meant to function sexually. And honestly, just stand up a naked woman next to a naked man and one can easily see what is meant to fit where, and how God designed such a union for human flourishing. So in sum Paul understood that natural sexual desire was intrinsically linked to natural sexual functioning for intercourse—not sexual attraction or preference, which is why he condemns homosexual acts as an aberration that exchanges God’s truth (i.e. creational ideal) for an act of sexual functioning he deems as “unnatural functioning.”

            5. And if there is any question left as to what God deems as a “natural” and proper sexual context for intercourse, Christ banished all such lingering doubts when he declared, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh [i.e. sexual functioning as intercourse] (Mt. 19:4-5).

            Look forward to your response. Shalom.

          • Darach Conneely

            Quite the opposite. I have repeatedly called your attention to the historical, cultural and textual context which grounds Paul’s “personal opinion of homosexuality.” You simply sidestep them because they don’t fit your subjective narrative which you offer without evidence other than personal assertion. Please feel free to address the further points below rather than reassert assumptions that have already been refuted. Assertion is not an argument.
            “Quite the opposite” would suggest you were contradicting me. I said you hadn’t provided any scholarly analysis about what Paul says in Romans 1. Talking about history and culture is not an analysis of the text. I have addressed your arguments from history and culture too, calling them sidestepping and personal opinion does not addressing the points I made. Is there any point going on to look at further points, if you haven’t been able to address the replies I have already given?

            No, it is what YOU assume the text describes, and last I checked “you” by itself doesn’t stand for much—especially when the scholarly consensus thoroughly rebuts you.
            I have shown you from the text what Paul says and you haven’t been able to answer me. Calling on scholarship when it doesn’t address the points I made, and you cannot answer the problems I have shown in the scholarship you quote, is simply a fallacious ‘argument from authority’.

            There is a difference between refutation and assertion. Saying it is so doesn’t make it so. I’m still waiting for your textual evidence that a broad spectrum of textual scholarship missed, and which overturns their interpretive consensus. Maybe you would like to specifically share where you “took the argument apart.”
            You could look back to where you made this argument and look at my replies. However to go over it again:

            (1) Our authority is scripture inspired by God, not Paul’s personal opinion on homosexuality. Paul was keen enough to distinguish between his own view “I not the Lord” and what the holy Spirit was saying. How much more so, we we are not even talking Paul’s personal opinion he wrote in his letters, not even Paul’s personal opinion, but what we imagine Paul’s opinion would have been. Even if Paul was vehemently anti homosexuality, his personal views are not scripture and have no authority over us.

            (2) If Paul was vehemently opposed to all forms of homosexuality because of his Jewish background, as the scholars argue, that is his Jewish background and tells us nothing about the place of homosexuality and same sex marriage under the new covenant. The gospel changes our relationship with the old testament laws. Saul’s view of homosexuality as a Jewish rabbi tells us nothing about what Paul’s view of same sex marriage would be if he wrestled with what it meant under the new covenant in Christ. He probably never thought about it and only considered the much uglier versions that were so prevalent in ancient society, male prostitution, pederasty and arsenokoites, Simply saying Paul as Jew would have been against homosexuality is no different from saying it was against the Levitical law.

            You again don’t even attempt to deal with this pertinent fact, calling it “irrelevant.”
            I didn’t just say it was irrelevant, I showed you why.

            Your avoidance is somewhat understandable since if you were to concede Paul’s language concerning “unnatural” sexual function was informed by his 1st century Jewish affiliation, which in turn was grounded in Mosaic sexual prohibitions, your argument falls flat.
            The word natural phusis does not come up in the Mosaic law, Paul was using a Greek concept. You need to look at how Paul uses the Greek concept and what he says about it rather than assume because you think Paul was anti homosexuality, he must have considered it unnatural (although you previously argued our nature is fallen) and that when he used the word natural in reference to heterosexuals indulging in homosexual acts it must somehow mean he was also saying people who weren’t by nature homosexual were also unnatural. He wasn’t. The text simply addresses heterosexuals experimenting in homosexuality.

            Yes and no. Scholars can have biases but good scholars don’t let them become controlling. The fact that even prominent gay scholars have put aside their own personal prejudices and rebut your fanciful interpretation is quite telling. Moreover that you flippantly dismiss even these scholars as being controlled by bias is even more telling and reveals how your personal bias is the dominate, controlling factor governing your interpretation.
            It is very difficult for scholars to deal with new ideas and arguments that go against strong denominational traditions. Traditions are very strong and going against something as strongly held as the traditional view on homosexuality is very costly. If tradition wasn’t controlling you wouldn’t have so many scholars each arguing for their denomination’s views. If it is a new idea, there is no point quoting older scholarship that hasn’t addressed the particular questions. More liberal scholars who don’t hold scripture as authoritative often assume the claims about Paul being (from a modern pov) sexist and homophobic and simply dismiss it as Paul being tied up in his patriarchal culture. Which is why we need to examine the arguments scholars bring up and see if they hold water, not simply revere them as scholarship.

            What is the relevance of Jewish culture when it comes to linguistic and textual analysis? I’m astounded that you even ask. Um—how about because the writers of the N.T.—you know those first Christians like Paul– were Jewish!
            Yet we certainly use out knowledge of Jewish culture to understand what is being written in the NT. It is really important when words used are translations of OT concepts in the LXX. But ‘nature’ is a Greek word not a Jewish one, and you cannot simply read Jewish concepts into a text when the writer isn’t talking about it. Paul describes people who were by nature heterosexuals going against that nature to indulge in homosexual acts, no matter how much you think Paul was against homosexuality, he wasn’t talking about people who were homosexual by nature.

            Right—secular societies in rebellion against God are free to make up their own views on marriage and a host of other issues as well. And they will be judged for it–which is a central theme of Rom. 1. That said followers of God are not “free to make up their own views on marriage.” Rather we understand marriage to be more than just a cultural arrangement or social construct. We understand marriage is sacred and ordained by God and therefore not free to be reinterpreted or repackaged according to the whim of created beings. That is another form of idolatry.
            Either you argue against same sex marriage on the basis of other cultures’s view of marriage, or you can say secular societies are in rebellion against God. You can’t have it both ways.

            Furthermore Jesus makes it clear divorce was allowed reluctantly because of hardened hearts—that is to say it was not God’s ideal. It had nothing to do with God saying, “Well gosh–look what they borrowed from Egypt. I guess I’ll just let them keep it.”
            God still allowed Moses to set up a divorce law in Israel, which means nations are allowed decide the view of marriage they think best.

            At any rate are you now conceding gay marriage is not God’s ideal as neither is divorce? But it really makes no difference since there is zero reason to believe that Christ’s fulfillment of the Law means Christ overturns Mosaic prohibitions on sexual perversions and begins to allow, affirm and celebrate incest, bestiality and homosexual acts.
            I certainly think churches that allow remarriage and welcome remarried divorcees should welcome same sex married couples. But no, I argue that Jesus only said divorce wen’t against God’s original plan, he said nothing about homosexual unions and people who try to read that into either the text of the gospels of of Genesis are making up their own interpretation. I have already shown how a suitable partner, ‘a help meet’, for a homosexual man is a homosexual male partner, and perfectly in keeping with Genesis.

            Once again you habitually ignore the implications of the arguments presented. Christ did not need to explicitly reiterate God’s denouncement of homosexuality, incest or bestiality in the Torah because it wasn’t being questioned by anyone within the Jewish culture. What Christ does do is reiterate God’s creational ideal that man and woman are to leave father and mother to be joined to one another. Secondly he declares all sexual acts outside that very creational context of marriage between man and woman is defiling. Consequently gay marriage is outside the orbit of God’s creational ideal. To say Christ fulfills the Law is not to say we are liberated for bestiality and incest is it? Given your logic you would have to say “yes” since the N.T. does not repeat Torah prohibitions on those acts.
            Basically you are saying: here is how you think Jesus interpreted Genesis, you are going to try to do the same with the question of homosexuality. That is your interpretation not Jesus’. I have shown you the basis behind God’s choice of Eve for Adam, that wasn’t good for the man to be alone and finding a partner suitable for him. That takes precedence over the fact that the suitable partner for the man Adam was as in most marriages, a woman. As for bestiality, I suspect you could draw some point about becoming one flesh with a warthog. It certainly isn’t the loving and faithful covenantal relationship that the bible teaches as the the only holy place for sex.

            1. Paul is concerned primarily with morality not modern concepts of sexual orientation. If Paul was ONLY concerned about people not violating their sexual orientation and not burning in lust for what is against their orientation, then he no doubt would have denounced homosexuals burning “unnaturally” towards women and vice-versa during temple orgies. That he does not is strong evidence your view is wide of the mark.
            You may have a point that it is wrong to try to make homosexuals change their orientation, but Paul didn’t actually say that there. We have only Paul’s condemnation of the majority heterosexuals going against their natural heterosexuality in indulging in sexual excess, to make a general illustration of how far mankind turned from God, which only condemns experimenting heterosexuals, not natural homosexuals. You can’t take take it any further than that, or argue from a vacuum, because he neither condemns homosexuals for homosexuality or for indulging in heterosexuality.

            2. If Paul thought homosexuals should follow their natural, same-sex desires, then it means Paul’s entire condemnation of homoeroticism is directed towards heterosexuals who mutually and simultaneously fall into homoerotic passion and “burn in passion toward each other.” Truly an absurd claim you offer no substantive evidence for within the text.
            No, I am not say he wrote it because he thought homosexual should follow their desires. my point is simply that Paul simply wasn’t talking about homosexuals there.

            You tried to make the argument before that Paul must have had in mind heterosexuals who were visiting male prostitutes in pagan temples. When I pointed out to you the text affords you nothing to make your claim override the considerations of scholars across the spectrum, I notice you simply repeat it without adding any additional evidence beyond your own subjective opinion. The burden is clearly on you to provide more.
            I have shown you the idolatry that is woven through Paul’s discussion of the sexual immorality in Romans 1. You never answered my point.

            Strangely you tried to bring up 1st century pagan-temple culture to substantiate your view. Hmm—so I guess you can choose at whim when cultural context is relevant to textual exegesis?
            Where it fits the text.

            But it makes no difference since Paul’s condemnation of homosexual acts IS NOT mentioned within some localized, narrow spectrum of Mediterranean, pagan temple life. Rather it is grounded in GENERAL revelation that covers all history and culture as departing from God’s truth and creational intentions. The general rebellion of man has given rise to specific rebellions such as worshiping aspects of God’s creation rather that the Creator, homosexual acts, coveting, hatred, envy, murder, strife, etc. But he noticeably and specifically holds up homosexual acts as being evidence of trading in God’s truth for a lie, declaring it to be: 1) A degrading passion that’s unnatural (v29), 3) An indecent act (v27), 3) Shameful and 4) The product of a depraved mind (v28).
            Come on Strider, you keep repeating points I have addressed, that you don’t answer. Paul isn’t describing the homosexuality as exchanging the truth of God for a lie was worshipping idols of animals. Rom 1:23 “and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”

            3. Earlier on you asserted that Paul’s denouncement of homosexual acts was given within a context of such acts being committed in concert with pagan worship mixed with temple prostitution. But Paul goes on to list numerous other sins as specific examples of mankind’s general departure from God’s creational intention, truth and knowledge, such as fornication, envy, murder and disobedience to parents. If we were to follow your line of logic, we could say such acts are not really sinful unless they are committed in concert with pagan idol worship. But obviously that is absurd and weakens your position further. What have you to say? Moreover Paul is not stating that idol worship directly leads to sexual misconduct or any other sin. He is stating that man’s general rebellion against God’s truth, which is evidenced in trading in the material creation for the Creator, results in God judicially handing people over to a debased mind, which in turn is evidenced in homosexual acts, fornication, coveting, envy murder and strife, etc.
            No I never said those homosexual acts were wrong because they were in concert with pagan idol worship, I said the idol worship led the heterosexual into homosexual acts, which makes sense in the orgiastic context of temple prostitution. Is Paul saying idolatry further corrupts society into, envy, murder and disobedience to parents or that it is a more general result of turning from God? Interesting point, but Paul certainly weaves the sexual debauchery into the idolatry context.

            4. Now lets deal specifically with what Paul had in mind when he said, “in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire towards one another.” When Paul opts for the word “function” we need to seriously consider the implications of that word (kreesis). That word has a rich and broad history in the literature of that time period and scholars are in complete agreement that it means, “use or function, especially in relation to sexual intercourse.”

            Paul is not talking about natural passions, feelings or desires. He is talking about natural function in terms of the way the human body was designed to function bodily and sexually with a counterpart. Therefore when Paul speaks of persons going against “nature” he is not referring to natural desire but natural mechanics and their proper use and function in the context of sex. So to be doubly clear, in Paul’s thinking, “natural” is not a reflection of what one wants or prefers sexually, but how the body was meant to function sexually. And honestly, just stand up a naked woman next to a naked man and one can easily see what is meant to fit where, and how God designed such a union for human flourishing. So in sum Paul understood that natural sexual desire was intrinsically linked to natural sexual functioning for intercourse—not sexual attraction or preference, which is why he condemns homosexual acts as an aberration that exchanges God’s truth (i.e. creational ideal) for an act of sexual functioning he deems as “unnatural functioning.”
            http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/morph?l=xrh%3Dsis&la=greek#lexicon
            The word has a range of meanings, but in the context of sex it’s meaning is intimacy rather than mechanics.

            5. And if there is any question left as to what God deems as a “natural” and proper sexual context for intercourse, Christ banished all such lingering doubts when he declared, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female and said ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh [i.e. sexual functioning as intercourse] (Mt. 19:4-5).

            Look forward to your response. Shalom.
            “…6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
            So if two men in a same sex marriage have become one flesh, it is God who has joined them together and the church shouldn’t try to separate them?

          • Andrew Dowling

            Wow Darach, you have more patience than I do . . .you are completely owning this debate.

          • StriderMTB

            No need to be a spectator from afar Andrew. Feel free to participate and share some of those “wow” points for discussion.

          • Andrew Dowling

            Frankly. I’m quite tired of the overall debate. I find it a little befuddling that so much effort is spent on a topic which is mentioned in only a few lines in the Bible and which the Church fathers along with its theologians/leaders of the church’s first 1900 years felt was so important it was practically never mentioned in their writings and commentaries.

            But at the same time, I understand the issue really isn’t about gay sex; it’s all about how one views the Bible, one’s conception of God’s character, and how one views the general scientific evidence (regarding human sexuality and gender) and whether that can override some of the knowledge and frameworks of the ancients.

          • StriderMTB

            You bring up some good points. I think one reason it is not mentioned to a great extent by the Church Fathers, is it was not an issue of debate–at all. It was understood by all that Scripture was quite clear on the issue and could not be reinterpreted. That also goes against Darach’s view. If Paul thought homosexual acts were appropriate for followers of Christ with a homosexual orientation, we would no doubt see that reflected in early church history. But we only find the exact opposite whenever the issue is raised. There was no distinguishing between homosexual acts committed constitutional homosexuals and those committed by experimenting heterosexuals.

            Personally I don’t think the issue is so much about gay sex either. I agree in a generalized sense the issue is about “how one views the Bible.” More specifically the issue is whether or not we consider marriage and sex to be of sacred origin (divinely inspired) and whether humanity’s rejection of the sacred in order to embrace secular culture’s replacement is appropriate, wise or valid for followers of Christ. We live in a day where people progressively believe to possess certain desires is all the reason one needs to justify the fulfillment of those desires. The call of Christ stands against this trend, saying, “Deny yourself, pick up your cross and follow me.”

            Since Christ said no one can be his follower unless they be of that very mind, I think the stakes are high. I have quite a few gay friends who are dear brothers in the Lord and who have chosen to deny the fulfillment of that part of their lives for the sake of Christ. I admire them greatly as the whole church should. They are true saints who will be honored in the age to come as faithful and true.

            I also believe the ruin of a nation begins with its families. Adultery, pornography, increasing divorce, delinquent fathers, gay marriage–all of these issues attack the family as God intended it. I serve in a 3rd world nation where 70% of the social ills stem from a breakdown in the family.

          • StriderMTB

            Hi Darach, thanks again for the response and the time you have put forward to explain your interpretation. Sorry for the delay. I have been traveling from one side of the world to the other—literally. I fully appreciate that you are trying very hard to defend your position in the hope that it have a place at the table for discussion and scholarly consideration. However, and I mean no offense, you need to offer substantive rebuttals to arguments. You keep repeating assertions that are grounded in subjective assumptions that run counter to interpretations derived from historical – critical methodology. In other words your interpretation is contrived and the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate otherwise. I have substantiated my points by bringing attention to the cultural, historical and textual evidence that undergirds Paul’s particular use of words and gives needed context to understand his condemnation of all homosexual acts as being a product of man’s departure from God’s truth and loss of true worship.

            You repeatedly say, “I have shown from the text” when you have done nothing of the sort. Smuggling in one’s presuppositions and unpacking them on the text in order to arrive at a preconceived conclusion is not “showing from the text.” In my last response I asked you, “Where is your textual evidence that a broad spectrum of textual scholarship missed, and which overturns their interpretive consensus?” Let’s examine your assertions and assumptions.

            1.You write, “It is very difficult for scholars to deal with new ideas and arguments that go against strong denominational traditions.”

            Well I’m sorry Darach, but that’s not an argument. It’s like saying, “Well—no one agrees with me because they are just too afraid to consider my new ideas.” In actuality Darach mainstream textual criticism is much more rigorous, critical and integrous than that. I’m afraid your disenchantment with scholarly methodology reveals the insecurity of your own position being able to withstand scrutiny.

            2. You write: “Our authority is scripture inspired by God, not Paul’s personal opinion on homosexuality. Paul was keen enough to distinguish between his own view, “I not the Lord” and what the holy Spirit was saying. How much more so, we are not even talking Paul’s personal opinion he wrote in his letters, not even Paul’s personal opinion, but what we imagine Paul’s opinion would have been. Even if Paul was vehemently anti homosexuality, his personal views are not scripture and have no authority over us.”

            For starters, Darach, we don’t have to guess at Paul’s opinion on homosexual acts. He clearly denounces them as being contrary to the natural function of the body for intercourse. You have yet to offer any compelling reason beyond personal assumption to the contrary. Secondly Paul in Roman 1 does not say nor even hint at the idea that he is speaking from personal opinion and not from the Holy Spirit. When Paul did wish his audience to be aware of that possibility he was always careful to note it in the text. That he does not in Romans 1 makes your point another red herring. Thirdly we are not arguing over Paul’s whimsical opinion. We are arguing over Paul’s denouncement of homosexual acts in the context of his original, intended meaning or sensus literalis historicus. In other words we are discussing SCRIPTURE; and scripture always has relevance and authority over how we view homosexual acts or any act for that matter.

            3) You write: If Paul was vehemently opposed to all forms of homosexuality because of his Jewish background, as the scholars argue, that is his Jewish background and tells us nothing about the place of homosexuality and same sex marriage under the new covenant.”

            Your argument is somewhat self-refuting. If you concede “Paul was vehemently opposed to all forms of homosexuality, as the scholars argue,” then it clearly serves as evidence that Paul had “all forms of homosexuality” in view when he denounced, “males lusting after males committing what is shameful.” Thus he would undoubtably hold it has no place in marriage under the new covenant.

            4) You write: “The gospel changes our relationship with the old testament laws.”

            Again Darach, I think you err in not carefully thinking through the implications of your statements. You keep repeating this in various forms even though I have addressed your theological confusion on this matter and asked you to answer if you think incest and bestiality are acceptable in the new covenant today since Christ “fulfilled the law” and didn’t explicitly repeat O.T. condemnations on incest and bestiality. It appears you chose to largely circumvent this point (as we will see,) but I shall give you another opportunity to be more clear.

            5) You write: “Saul’s view of homosexuality as a Jewish rabbi tells us nothing about what Paul’s view of same sex marriage would be if he wrestled with what it meant under the new covenant in Christ.”

            Except you forget that we aren’t dealing with an unconverted Saul in Romans 1. We are dealing with a fully informed, new covenant Paul in Romans 1 condemning “men with men.”

            6) You write: “He probably never thought about it and only considered the much uglier versions that were so prevalent in ancient society, male prostitution, pederasty and arsenokoites. Simply saying Paul as Jew would have been against homosexuality is no different from saying it was against the Levitical law.

            “Probably never thought about it” is probably not a good starting place, Darach, to assail scholarly consensus. Furthermore to suggest that Paul’s denouncement of homosexual acts was only concerned with “uglier versions” is of course nothing more than another one of your assumptions without evidence. Moreover I would be more than happy to share with you why “arsenokioites” is best translated as “homosexual sin.”

            It could be you are a disciple of Mel White who has thoroughly been debunked on the meaning of that word. In short Paul was a Hellenized Jew or better put a Greek speaking Jew who was ministering to Greek speaking converts. It is no surprise then that Paul often quoted from the Greek LXX. And the LXX Septuagint in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 unmistakably forbids a man (arseno) to lie with (koites) another man (arseno). The words “arseno” and “koites” are side-by-side in the LXX and Paul uniquely but understandably joins them together in 1 Cor. 6:9 in the form of “man-lier” to clearly denote he is denouncing men (arseno) who lie with (koites) men. This is made all the obvious since in Rom. 1 Paul condemns homosexual acts in the context of “men with men” (arseno en arseno). Unless one is so blinded by his controlling bias, it is clear Paul denouncement of “arsenokoites” or “man-liar” is a reiteration of the enduring condemnation of the same homosexual acts in Lev. (arseno koites arseno).

            7) You write: ‘Nature’ is a Greek word not a Jewish one, and you cannot simply read Jewish concepts into a text when the writer isn’t talking about it.

            I’m sorry but this makes very little sense Darach. EVERY word in the N.T. was written in Greek! And the majority of authors were Jews. You repeatedly forget that Paul-the JEW was also Paul- the GREEK, speaking, Hellenized Jew. Surely Paul and other Jewish N.T. writers were more than capable of using Greek to make cogent, relevant pronouncements without their intended meaning being lost on either Jewish or non-Jewish audiences. Unfortunately you’re the only one reading extraneous, unfamiliar concepts into the text, and it why even prominent gay scholars reject your interpretation.

            8) You write: Paul describes people who were by nature heterosexuals going against that nature to indulge in homosexual acts, no matter how much you think Paul was against homosexuality, he wasn’t talking about people who were homosexual by nature.

            Here again is another contrived assertion built on another unproven assumption. Paul is describing MEN in general who are by nature MALE abandoning the natural function or employment of the body OF WOMEN in order to have intercourse with men. Paul’s use of the word “nature” in Rom 1 is grounded in his understanding of God’s creational order and wisdom. That is why Paul says earlier, “What may be known of God is… seen through the things He has made.” You wrongly assume without any supportive evidence that when Paul spoke of “men leaving the natural use of the woman, burning in lust for one another” (v.27) he couldn’t possibly be talking about homosexual acts being committed by homosexuals. Since this is your assumption we have yet to see what evidence you can produce from the text (that is itself not just another unproven assumption) that can overturn scholarly textual criticism.

            It is debatable whether Paul was aware of modern concepts of sexual orientation as we are today, but even if he were it is irrelevant because it is clear from the flow of Rom. 1 and the specific words Paul employs, he is condemning homosexual acts in general, irrespective of orientation, on the basis of it being contrary to God’s ordained natural order for sexual functioning. Keep in mind he does not condemn male homosexual acts because it goes against something within THEIR OWN constitution or desire, but rather because it goes against “the natural function of the woman” as man’s sexual compliment. Your argument simply falls apart on this point alone because you wrongly assume Paul is saying men are forsaking something within their own constitution. He is not. He is saying they are forsaking something inherent in the opposite gender.

            Earlier I wrote explained that when Paul opts for the word “function” we need to seriously consider the implications of that word (kreesis or chresis depending on your lexicon). The word Paul employs has a rich and broad history in the literature of that time period and scholars are in complete agreement that it means, “use or function, especially in relation to sexual intercourse.”
            You again sidestep the force of the argument and strangely reply:

            “The word has a range of meanings, but in the context of sex it’s meaning is intimacy rather than mechanics.”

            You then link a Greek-by-internet site with a definition (“employment, use”) and examples of sexual intimacy that only reaffirms what I have said and nothing you have said. It does not refer to a sexual state of mind or orientation but rather love-making or sexual intercourse in the context of two opposite genders employing each others bodies for sex. Of course bodily intercourse can include a romanced idea of kissing, foreplay and warm fuzzy feelings of intimacy and passionate desire—but that is not the primary sense of the word “kreesis” / “chresis.” Since textual, linguistic analysis reveals that Paul is not talking about a sexual state of mind or desire, but rather the natural use, function or employment of the body in the context of intercourse, the premise of your argument is defeated. Once again Paul is NOT declaring that women and men have jettisoned their own, personal natural desire for same-sex intercourse, but rather they have jettisoned the natural function of their OTHER sexual counterpart.

            (9) You write: “Either you argue against same sex marriage on the basis of other cultures’s view of marriage, or you can say secular societies are in rebellion against God. You can’t have it both ways.”

            It seems you have missed my point again, Darach. From the very beginning I was not arguing against gay marriage “on the basis of other culture’s view of marriage.” I was highlighting that gay marriage proponents ought to concede that gay marriage is a total re-definition of the word “marriage” and therefore would be both an alien AND unacceptable concept to a 1st century Jewish Christian like Paul, since his own views on homosexual acts would be informed by his knowledge of everlasting moral prohibitions in the Old Testament. Furthermore I was making the point that secular cultures have always traded in God’s sacred ordinations and truth for lies and distortions, (and are now attacking marriage as God intended) BUT we who call ourselves followers of God are not free to do so. However that is exactly what you are doing. I could not have been clearer, but again it seems you avoid the weight of the argument.

            (10) You state, “God still allowed Moses to set up a divorce law in Israel, which means nations are allowed decide the view of marriage they think best.

            The question, Darach is, are we, as followers of God, allowed to decide a view of marriage we think best? Are we free to make allowances in marriage where God does not provide any allowances? God specifically says he allows divorce. Your point is irrelevant because the scriptures give no allowance for homosexual acts since they are specifically condemned in God’s everlasting moral law as are murder, theft, lying, idolatry, adultery, bestiality, incest, etc. These prohibitions are not “fulfilled in Christ” such that they are now liberated behaviors for new covenant Christians to enjoy—which your view logically infers. You sidestepped this point as well, but I will give you another go at it below.

            (11) You wrote: “I have already shown how a suitable partner, ‘a help meet’, for a homosexual man is a homosexual male partner, and perfectly in keeping with Genesis.”

            I’m afraid you haven’t “shown” anything Darach. I think you are confused as to what “show” means. It means “to demonstrate” not simply “to assert.” God is the one who “showed” what his ideal was for men and women to partner in life sexually and bring forth life from their union when he created them as sexual, bodily compliments. Christ affirmed all of this in Mt. 19:5 and Paul in Eph. 5:31. You have yet to “show” or demonstrate otherwise.

            Secondly if we adopt your idea of marriage being whatever partner one deems “suitable” as a helper, there is no longer any reason to restrict individuals who are firmly convinced their sister, brother, father, mother or donkey is best suited to meet their needs for companionship and sexual desire. Suffice it to say your assertion that two homosexuals marrying is “in perfect keeping with Genesis” is demonstrably false. It completely ignores as irrelevant God’s ordained order that marriage is the union of two different sexes in Genesis 2:24, repeated by Christ is Mt. 19:5 and reaffirmed by Paul in Eph. 5:31.

            God declares that woman is a suitable partner for man on the basis that woman is man’s sexual, psychological, emotional and physiological counterpart; and when they are “united as one flesh” the evidence of God’s creational wisdom is seen in the new life their union has the potential to produce. I understand that men with admitted same-sex attraction do not see or desire a woman as a partner and many feel they were born that way. But that is beside the point. We don’t dictate to God how his created order ought to function to meet our personal preferences. At most it would only be further evidence that sin has infiltrated God’s created order and something has gone wrong in their development. The choice issue then becomes whether or not they, as followers of Christ, will seek to fulfill passions that can lead to sin or “pick up their cross and deny themselves” for the sake of Christ. My earlier reference to our “sinful nature” was in this context. But I admit I could have been clearer.

            12) I asked you, Darach if you thought incest and bestiality were sexual options available to followers of Christ given your view that “Christ fulfills the law” and did not explicitly repeat Torah prohibitions against homosexual acts, incest and bestiality; and if they aren’t, why not? It was a simple question; but you again chose to avoid the main thrust of the query with the following response:

            You wrote: “I have shown you the basis behind God’s choice of Eve for Adam, that wasn’t good for the man to be alone and finding a partner suitable for him. That takes precedence over the fact that the suitable partner for the man Adam was as in most marriages, a woman. As for bestiality, I suspect you could draw some point about becoming one flesh with a warthog. It certainly isn’t the loving and faithful covenantal relationship that the bible teaches as the the only holy place for sex.”

            Sorry, but I didn’t ask you, Darach, if you thought incest and bestiality qualify for a “holy place for sex” or one flesh union. I asked you on what scriptural basis you think incest (very common in 3rd world countries where I work) and bestiality are condemnable even though such Torah prohibitions are not repeated in the new covenant and Christ did not re-address them? Would appreciate you exploring this question more thoroughly and specifically. After all you’re the one who thinks what Christ did not reiterate in the Law is no longer binding on us. Thanks.

            (13) Lastly you repeatedly attempt to make the case that Paul’s condemnation of homosexual acts is ONLY targeting heterosexuals having sex with contemporary temple prostitutes of the same sex—and not homosexual acts in general. You think because sexual orgies occurred in 1st century Greek and Roman temples, this is specifically what Paul had in mind and serves as the historical backdrop of his denouncement. In point of fact you write,

            “The idol worship led the heterosexual into homosexual acts, which makes sense in the orgiastic context of temple prostitution… Paul isn’t describing the homosexuality as exchanging the truth of God for a lie, it was worshipping idols of animals.”

            It is not a critical point to address because your view has already been discredited textually and linguistically. But let me go on to share why your view is further weakened. I have no problem seeing that Paul is tying in “vile passions” (vs 26) to idolatry and a rejection of true worship. The first example he offers up is homosexual acts, but he then goes on to say God not only gives them up to vile passions but also a “debased mind to do things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, etc” (vs. 28-30).

            Indeed all of this is a systemic sign that persons have not “retained God in their knowledge” and have trading in worship of God for worship and allegiance to the creation—which includes serving one’s own depraved lusts.
            Here is your problem: Paul specifically mentions the worship of “four-footed animals and creepy things” immediately prior to tying in “lusts of their hearts to dishonor their body.” But in Corinth (where Paul is writing Romans) the obvious candidates for temple orgies were Greek-Roman fertility goddesses, Cybele and Venus (Aphrodite). However they were not “four-footed animals and creepy things.”

            Paul, being Jewish, is undoubtedly thinking back to the Israelites golden calf experience, and is not zeroing in on Corinthian temple deities. Of course Paul also includes “images like mortal man” which tells us he is viewing idol worship across the spectrum and across the ages— and not just ancient Israel or one locale in Corinth. Furthermore Paul’s mentioning of “mortal man” would be more in line with masculine deities like Greek Zeus or Roman Jupiter, not one of the female Aphrodite goddesses of love and sex where orgies would have occurred.

            More can be said on other points, but I think they sufficiently stand on their own because your attempted answers are founded on assumptions that have already been discredited. Of course future readers can decide that for themselves.

            I will be posting this on my blog because I believe it demonstrates the interpretive gymnastics advocates like you must adopt and can be informative for those interested in the current debate. I appreciate your cordial responses and look forward to your next reply.
            Shalom, Matt

          • Darach Conneely

            Hi Darach, thanks again for the response and the time you have put forward to explain your interpretation. Sorry for the delay… you need to offer substantive rebuttals to arguments. You keep repeating assertions that are grounded in subjective assumptions that run counter to interpretations derived from historical – critical methodology. In other words your interpretation is contrived and the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate otherwise. Hope you had a good journey :) I would think if you want to claim people’s relationship is intrinsically sinful then the burden of proof is on you. Hopefully in this post you have addressed the points I have been making.

            You repeatedly say, “I have shown from the text” when you have done nothing of the sort. Smuggling in one’s presuppositions and unpacking them on the text in order to arrive at a preconceived conclusion is not “showing from the text.” In my last response I asked you, “Where is your textual evidence that a broad spectrum of textual scholarship missed, and which overturns their interpretive consensus?” Let’s examine your assertions and assumptions.
            You need to address the points I have made from the text, rather than just claiming I am smuggling in presuppositions.

            Well I’m sorry Darach, but that’s not an argument. It’s like saying, “Well—no one agrees with me because they are just too afraid to consider my new ideas.” In actuality Darach mainstream textual criticism is much more rigorous, critical and integrous than that. I’m afraid your disenchantment with scholarly methodology reveals the insecurity of your own position being able to withstand scrutiny.
            It just means I am not going to take scholarship as infallible. Argument from authority is a fallacy. You need to back up the claims of the scholars you quote and show tat they apply.

            For starters, Darach, we don’t have to guess at Paul’s opinion on homosexual acts. He clearly denounces them as being contrary to the natural function of the body for intercourse.
            No, he only talks about people who are naturally heterosexual who ‘exchanged’ and ‘gave up’ their natural intimate relations with the opposite sex for homosexual act. I have addressed your misunderstanding of the word use (‘function’).

            Secondly Paul in Roman 1 does not say nor even hint at the idea that he is speaking from personal opinion and not from the Holy Spirit. When Paul did wish his audience to be aware of that possibility he was always careful to note it in the text. That he does not in Romans 1 makes your point another red herring.
            My point about Paul’s personal opinion wasn’t about what he wrote in Romans, but your use of scholars claiming that Paul as a Jew would have been anti homosexuality. Even if they are right, that would only be Paul’s personal opinion.

            Thirdly we are not arguing over Paul’s whimsical opinion. We are arguing over Paul’s denouncement of homosexual acts in the context of his original, intended meaning or sensus literalis historicus. In other words we are discussing SCRIPTURE; and scripture always has relevance and authority over how we view homosexual acts or any act for that matter. Yes and Paul only denounces people giving up and exchanging their natural use of females for homosexual acts in Romans 1, he only denounces heterosexuals who engage in homosexuality.

            Your argument is somewhat self-refuting. If you concede “Paul was vehemently opposed to all forms of homosexuality, as the scholars argue,” then it clearly serves as evidence that Paul had “all forms of homosexuality” in view when he denounced, “males lusting after males committing what is shameful.” Thus he would undoubtably hold it has no place in marriage under the new covenant.
            No that doesn’t follow at all. Paul could have been vehemently opposed to all forms of homosexuality and still written Romans 1 as the text shows, condemning heterosexuals engaging in homosexual acts. Paul’s purpose in Romans 1 was to show how far both Jews and Gentiles fall short of God’s standards. heterosexual indulging in homosexuality in temple prostitution was an illustration of that. It wasn’t meant as a treatise on the evils of all form of homosexuality.

            Again Darach, I think you err in not carefully thinking through the implications of your statements. You keep repeating this in various forms even though I have addressed your theological confusion on this matter and asked you to answer if you think incest and bestiality are acceptable in the new covenant today since Christ “fulfilled the law” and didn’t explicitly repeat O.T. condemnations on incest and bestiality. It appears you chose to largely circumvent this point (as we will see,) but I shall give you another opportunity to be more clear.
            I have addressed bestiality, incest is usually a form of abuse to vulnerable family members which is hardly in line with the law of love, the danger of serious genetic diseases in children born of the incest is another reason it goes against the law of love. You need to give a theological basis for you legalistic version of Christianity when the New Testament is very clear we are under a new law.

            Except you forget that we aren’t dealing with an unconverted Saul in Romans 1. We are dealing with a fully informed, new covenant Paul in Romans 1 condemning “men with men.” You keep mixing up my response to you scholars saying Paul as a Jew was anti homosexual with my discussion of Romans 1. Paul is talking about people who gave up their natural relation with women for homosexual acts, not people who were naturally homosexual.

            “Probably never thought about it” is probably not a good starting place, Darach, to assail scholarly consensus. Furthermore to suggest that Paul’s denouncement of homosexual acts was only concerned with “uglier versions” is of course nothing more than another one of your assumptions without evidence. Moreover I would be more than happy to share with you why “arsenokioites” is best translated as “homosexual sin.”
            Paul’s denouncement in Romans involved homosexual acts in the context of worshiping pagan idols, probably male prostitutes in pagan temples. Arsenokoites in 1Cor and 1Tim involved violence and exploitation. I am not assailing scholarship here, I am showing you how far the scholarship brings us. Saying Paul must have been anti homosexual because he was a Jew simply doesn’t how homosexual marriage would fit under the New Covenant, only that it was the baggage Paul brought with him from Judaism. The main versions he was familiar with in Greek and Romans were very very ugly so, as I said, he probably never thought about not exploitative loving homosexuality. And if Paul had thought about homosexual in a loving consensual and faithful relationship, and how it related to the New Covenant, he never told us about it. Simply showing the Levitical laws in Paul Jewish background doesn’t tell us where homosexuality fits in Christianity.

            It could be you are a disciple of Mel White who has thoroughly been debunked on the meaning of that word. In short Paul was a Hellenized Jew or better put a Greek speaking Jew who was ministering to Greek speaking converts. It is no surprise then that Paul often quoted from the Greek LXX. And the LXX Septuagint in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 unmistakably forbids a man (arseno) to lie with (koites) another man (arseno). The words “arseno” and “koites” are side-by-side in the LXX and Paul uniquely but understandably joins them together in 1 Cor. 6:9 in the form of “man-lier” to clearly denote he is denouncing men (arseno) who lie with (koites) men. This is made all the obvious since in Rom. 1 Paul condemns homosexual acts in the context of “men with men” (arseno en arseno). Unless one is so blinded by his controlling bias, it is clear Paul denouncement of “arsenokoites” or “man-liar” is a reiteration of the enduring condemnation of the same homosexual acts in Lev. (arseno koites arseno).
            Except there is no evidence Paul coined the term arsenokoites rather than using a Greek term that was already familiar with his readers. The term crops up in Greek astrological texts, were the pagan writer reading Paul’s epistles and picking up his word for homosexuality when the Greeks had more than enough of their own? It is coined like quite a few other Greek -koites terms. If it is a Greek term for homosexuality, then we have to do more than make up a meaning from the etymology, we need to understand how the word was used because that can be quite different from the etymology. For example, do you understand what ‘understand’ means? You couldn’t tell that from ‘under’ and ‘stand’. And if we do not know the context and connotations of arsenokoites, we can’t make up laws turning people away from Christianity or condemning them to lives of loneliness and isolation, based on an obscure word we don’t understand.

            I’m sorry but this makes very little sense Darach. EVERY word in the N.T. was written in Greek! And the majority of authors were Jews. You repeatedly forget that Paul-the JEW was also Paul- the GREEK, speaking, Hellenized Jew. Surely Paul and other Jewish N.T. writers were more than capable of using Greek to make cogent, relevant pronouncements without their intended meaning being lost on either Jewish or non-Jewish audiences. Unfortunately you’re the only one reading extraneous, unfamiliar concepts into the text, and it why even prominent gay scholars reject your interpretation.
            Paul uses plenty of Hebrew concepts, o nomos the law, hilastérion propitiation, lutroó</i to ransom or redeem. These are all word from the OT translated into Greek in the LXX, and when Paul uses these terms he is using the Hebrew concept. But nature is a Greek concept, not a Hebrew one, when Paul used the term he was talking in terms of the Greek meaning. The Greeks understood that there were people who were heterosexual by nature, that people who were heterosexual nature could engaged in homosexuality for different reasons, but that there were also people who were homosexual by nature. When Paul talked about people giving up their nature to engage in homosexuality, he was talking about heterosexuals, not people who were naturally homosexual.

            Here again is another contrived assertion built on another unproven assumption. Paul is describing MEN in general who are by nature MALE abandoning the natural function or employment of the body OF WOMEN in order to have intercourse with men. Paul’s use of the word “nature” in Rom 1 is grounded in his understanding of God’s creational order and wisdom.
            No. He says the Ephesians used to by nature children of wrath Eph 2:3. That is talking about their sinful nature deserving God’s wrath, or perhaps how wrathful and vengeful they were by nature. 2Peter 2:12 talks about people who are ‘natural brute beasts’. Nature and natural do not refer to some sort of created perfection, but the nature people actually have.

            Rom 1 is grounded in his understanding of God’s creational order and wisdom. That is why Paul says earlier, “What may be known of God is… seen through the things He has made.”
            I have addressed the idea you idea Paul is talking about of ‘creation order’ in Romans 1 and shown you he is talking about what we can see about God’s nature, and people exchanging that to worship images of animals and birds. You didn’t address it.

            You wrongly assume without any supportive evidence that when Paul spoke of “men leaving the natural use of the woman, burning in lust for one another” (v.27) he couldn’t possibly be talking about homosexual acts being committed by homosexuals. Since this is your assumption we have yet to see what evidence you can produce from the text (that is itself not just another unproven assumption) that can overturn scholarly textual criticism. My evidence is what the text says. I have shown you and you haven’t addressed it

            It is debatable whether Paul was aware of modern concepts of sexual orientation as we are today, but even if he were it is irrelevant because it is clear from the flow of Rom. 1 and the specific words Paul employs, he is condemning homosexual acts in general, irrespective of orientation, on the basis of it being contrary to God’s ordained natural order for sexual functioning. Keep in mind he does not condemn male homosexual acts because it goes against something within THEIR OWN constitution or desire, but rather because it goes against “the natural function of the woman” as man’s sexual compliment. Your argument simply falls apart on this point alone because you wrongly assume Paul is saying men are forsaking something within their own constitution. He is not. He is saying they are forsaking something inherent in the opposite gender.
            If Paul wasn’t aware of people who were were homosexual by nature, then he wasn’t condemning then when he condemned people giving up their natural relations with women. But Paul was well educated in Greek culture and would have understood that ‘nature’ covers both the people we describe as homosexual, naturally attracted to the same sex, and heterosexuals who are attracted to the opposite sex. And he still only talked about heterosexuals giving up their natural relations with woman to engage n homosexual acts. When the word nature is used in the NT it is always referring to a persons own nature. We can see it here in Romans when it their own nature they ‘gave up’ and ‘exchanged’. You are still trying to twist the meaning of chresis use or relations ignoring the Greek Lexicon I showed you. Nature never meant something inherent in someone else.

            Earlier I wrote explained that when Paul opts for the word “function” we need to seriously consider the implications of that word (kreesis or chresis depending on your lexicon). The word Paul employs has a rich and broad history in the literature of that time period and scholars are in complete agreement that it means, “use or function, especially in relation to sexual intercourse.”

            You again sidestep the force of the argument and strangely reply:

            “The word has a range of meanings, but in the context of sex it’s meaning is intimacy rather than mechanics.”

            You then link a Greek-by-internet site with a definition (“employment, use”) and examples of sexual intimacy that only reaffirms what I have said and nothing you have said. It does not refer to a sexual state of mind or orientation but rather love-making or sexual intercourse in the context of two opposite genders employing each others bodies for sex. Of course bodily intercourse can include a romanced idea of kissing, foreplay and warm fuzzy feelings of intimacy and passionate desire—but that is not the primary sense of the word “kreesis” / “chresis.” Since textual, linguistic analysis reveals that Paul is not talking about a sexual state of mind or desire, but rather the natural use, function or employment of the body in the context of intercourse, the premise of your argument is defeated. Once again Paul is NOT declaring that women and men have jettisoned their own, personal natural desire for same-sex intercourse, but rather they have jettisoned the natural function of their OTHER sexual counterpart.
            You dismiss the Persus website as a “Greek-by-internet site”, but it is the best online resource classical texts and the page I linked to had the LSJ the Liddell Scott Jones is one of the best Greek lexicons going.

            It seems you have missed my point again, Darach. From the very beginning I was not arguing against gay marriage “on the basis of other culture’s view of marriage.” I was highlighting that gay marriage proponents ought to concede that gay marriage is a total re-definition of the word “marriage” and therefore would be both an alien AND unacceptable concept to a 1st century Jewish Christian like Paul, since his own views on homosexual acts would be informed by his knowledge of everlasting moral prohibitions in the Old Testament. Furthermore I was making the point that secular cultures have always traded in God’s sacred ordinations and truth for lies and distortions, (and are now attacking marriage as God intended) BUT we who call ourselves followers of God are not free to do so. However that is exactly what you are doing. I could not have been clearer, but again it seems you avoid the weight of the argument.
            That is simply trying to bolster your argument from culture with your argument from scripture (which doesn’t stand). But you are still trying to argue from culture, which you say is in rebellion against God. You can’t have it both ways.

            The question, Darach is, are we, as followers of God, allowed to decide a view of marriage we think best?
            Yes, obviously or we wouldn’t be having this discussion. It is not just that we are allowed, it is our responsibility.

            Are we free to make allowances in marriage where God does not provide any allowances? God specifically says he allows divorce.
            Jesus said that it was Moses who allowed it.

            Your point is irrelevant because the scriptures give no allowance for homosexual acts since they are specifically condemned in God’s everlasting moral law as are murder, theft, lying, idolatry, adultery, bestiality, incest, etc. These prohibitions are not “fulfilled in Christ” such that they are now liberated behaviors for new covenant Christians to enjoy—which your view logically infers. You sidestepped this point as well, but I will give you another go at it below. A loving consensual same sex marriage fits the new law of loving our neighbour. So does allowing a woman divorce her abusive husband, which was never given as an allowance in scripture. If you want to try to argue that murder, theft, lying, idolatry, adultery, bestiality, incest, etc. are also consistent with the new royal law that is up to you. They seem pretty contrary to law of love to me.

            I’m afraid you haven’t “shown” anything Darach. I think you are confused as to what “show” means. It means “to demonstrate” not simply “to assert.” What you need to do is refute the point I made, not just assert that I didn’t demonstrate it.

            God is the one who “showed” what his ideal was for men and women to partner in life sexually and bring forth life from their union when he created them as sexual, bodily compliments. Christ affirmed all of this in Mt. 19:5 and Paul in Eph. 5:31. You have yet to “show” or demonstrate otherwise.
            Eph 5:31 is using marriage as a symbolic picture of Christ and the church. But symbolic pictures are not the meant as the basis of rules regulations. Bread and wine are a picture of Christ death on the cross, it doesn’t mean we can’t eat pizza and coke. Do you also argue men cannot be in the church because it is the bride of Christ and the Genesis quote only talks of men and women getting married?

            Secondly if we adopt your idea of marriage being whatever partner one deems “suitable” as a helper, there is no longer any reason to restrict individuals who are firmly convinced their sister, brother, father, mother or donkey is best suited to meet their needs for companionship and sexual desire. Not sure your argument works very well there since animals were rejected animals as Adam’s life companion, but he did marry his sister.

            Suffice it to say your assertion that two homosexuals marrying is “in perfect keeping with Genesis” is demonstrably false. It completely ignores as irrelevant God’s ordained order that marriage is the union of two different sexes in Genesis 2:24, repeated by Christ is Mt. 19:5 and reaffirmed by Paul in Eph. 5:31.
            I have showed you how a woman is not a suitable life partner for a gay man, and that the gay man is certainly not the suitable companion for a heterosexual woman. what you need to show is that man and woman is God’s ordained and exclusive order, from the simple fact he chose a woman for Adam. Marrying your sister isn’t God’s ordained order, which Adam did. But I have shown you God’s purpose was to to answer Adam’s loneliness and to find a suitable companion for him. Our understanding of marriage in the church should do the same.
            I asked you, Darach if you thought incest and bestiality were sexual options available to followers of Christ given your view that “Christ fulfills the law” and did not explicitly repeat Torah prohibitions against homosexual acts, incest and bestiality; and if they aren’t, why not? It was a simple question; but you again chose to avoid the main thrust of the query with the following response:

            You wrote: “I have shown you the basis behind God’s choice of Eve for Adam, that wasn’t good for the man to be alone and finding a partner suitable for him. That takes precedence over the fact that the suitable partner for the man Adam was as in most marriages, a woman. As for bestiality, I suspect you could draw some point about becoming one flesh with a warthog. It certainly isn’t the loving and faithful covenantal relationship that the bible teaches as the the only holy place for sex.”

            Sorry, but I didn’t ask you, Darach, if you thought incest and bestiality qualify for a “holy place for sex” or one flesh union. I asked you on what scriptural basis you think incest (very common in 3rd world countries where I work) and bestiality are condemnable even though such Torah prohibitions are not repeated in the new covenant and Christ did not re-address them? Would appreciate you exploring this question more thoroughly and specifically. After all you’re the one who thinks what Christ did not reiterate in the Law is no longer binding on us. Thanks.I have addressed incest, your didn’t reply to it. My comment about becoming one flesh with a warthog was a reference to Paul’s condemnation of a member of the body of Christ becoming one flesh with a prostitute 1Cor 6:16.

            I think I will leave it there. Your post is very long and I’m running out of time :D

          • StriderMTB

            Thank you Darach once again for the effort you have put into trying to explain your views further. I do appreciate the exchange. Of course, it is no surprise that I remain unconvinced by your interpretive revisionism and replies. It is apparent you have firmly convinced yourself and so will probably remain unmoved until you recognize that fanciful, unproven assumption is a poor excuse for mainstream, textual scholarship—which is probably why mainstream scholars reject your view across the spectrum as being inaccurate and baseless. I recognize that you try to explain away this formidable challenge as nothing more than scholars—including prominent gay scholars—being “too afraid” to consider new ideas. As I stated before, mainstream scholarship is much more rigorous, exact and integrous to textual and linguistic analysis than you feel comfortable admitting to yourself. Please don’t take any of that as being personally disparaging to you. I consider you to be quite intelligent and thoughtful, just misled.

            It is unfortunate the discussion has been stymied because you continue to think assertion alone counts as an argument or rebuttal. You fudge on critical points when you most need to be exact and prove your assumptions can override scholarship to the contrary. Let’s look at some examples:

            In my last response I pointed out that Paul does not condemn males committing homosexual acts because it goes against something within THEIR OWN constitution or desire, but rather because it goes against “the natural function of the woman” as man’s sexual compliment. Your argument simply falls apart on this point alone because you wrongly assume Paul is saying men are forsaking something within their own constitution. He is not. He is saying they are forsaking the use of something inherent to the woman–i.e. her sex organs!

            Strangely you avoid this critical, textual element and continue to assert the same mistaken assumption, saying:

            He wasn’t condemning them [homosexuals] when he condemned people giving up their natural relations with women.

            No, he only talks about people who are naturally heterosexual who ‘exchanged’ and ‘gave up’ their natural intimate relations with the opposite sex for homosexual act.

            No, he only talks about people who are naturally heterosexual who ‘exchanged’ and ‘gave up’ their natural intimate relations with the opposite sex for homosexual act. I have addressed your misunderstanding of the word use (‘function’).
            Paul only denounces people giving up and exchanging their natural use of females for homosexual acts in Romans 1, he only denounces heterosexuals who engage in homosexuality.
            He still only talked about heterosexuals giving up their natural relations…
            We can see it here in Romans when it is their own nature…

            Do you see a common theme running through all your comments, Darach? You wrongly assume Paul is saying men have abandoned something intrinsic to THEIR OWN nature or constitution. He is not. Paul is talking about men rejecting the natural function of the WOMAN’S body for sex in exchange for a man’s. Please note that Paul explicitly states, “men, abandoned the natural use of the woman…”

            In other words Paul is not saying what you assume and repeat over and over, Darach. He is NOT saying, “men, abandoned THEIR nature” or men denied something intrinsic to THEIR constitution. He is saying men abandoned the “use of the woman’s [body]” for sex. Paul is saying men having intercourse with men is “unnatural” because it goes against how “nature” has fitted the sex organs.

            It is understood by all that Romans 1 is the principle text that underscores “natural revelation” or as Paul states, “God’s truth and attributes are clearly seen by what he has made.” In other words Paul is purposely tying in the order of nature (as Greeks commonly understood “physis”) as owing its order to God. Nature is not to be deified. It has a Creator. God’s created order is Paul’s definitive frame of reference for his usage of the word “nature” in Romans 1. So when Paul says men abandoned the natural use/function/ employment “chresis” of the woman’s body for sex, and burned in lust for one another, he is declaring that very abandonment as being a rejection of God’s truth reflected in natural order—thus “unnatural.”

            The Greek word for “nature” (physis) and its adjective had about 8 meanings depending on the contextual clues given in the text. It often meant “the regular or normal order of nature” or the “universal order of things” to Greeks. Another meaning was a propensity or disposition stemming from growth or origin. As you note it was used by Paul in Eph. 2:3 in this sense to refer to our “sinful nature.” But that does nothing to change the fact that Paul’s context in Romans 1 is in reference to the order and design of created nature as to how things ought to be or should function. Paul uses it in a similar way in Rom. 11: 21 when he identifies Jews as the “natural branches” that need no outside intervention to grow and Gentiles as “unnatural” because they need to be grafted in “contrary to nature.”

            So your assertion, “When the word nature is used in the NT it is always referring to a persons own nature” is simply untrue. Paul’s analogy in Rom 11:21-24 which includes his comment “contrary to nature” is referring creational nature, just like in Romans 1.

            “Physis” is never once mentioned in Greek literature to refer to homosexual orientation as if “this is natural to ME.” So your view is anachronistic on that point alone and ultimately untenable. It is interesting to note that when homosexual acts are in view in Greek literature they are repeatedly and overwhelmingly condemned as being a violation of the natural “physis” order. I suggest you read the following article that thoroughly traces the use of “physis” in Greek literature and explores its context in Paul’s day. See: http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/31/31-4/31-4-pp429-441_JETS.pdf

            Let’s move on to “arsenokoites” or “man-lier”/”man-bedder” because it is incontestable that Paul had “homosexual acts” in view with the term. First lets note the argument I made and then your reply. I wrote that Paul was a Hellenized Jew or better put a Greek speaking Jew who was ministering to Greek speaking converts. It is no surprise then that Paul often quoted from the Greek LXX. And the LXX Septuagint in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13 unmistakably forbids a man (arseno) to lie with (koites) another man (arseno). The words “arseno” and “koites” are side-by-side in the LXX and Paul uniquely but understandably joins them together in 1 Cor. 6:9 in the form of “man-lier” to clearly denote he is denouncing men (arseno) who lie with (koites) men. This is made all the obvious since in Rom. 1 Paul condemns homosexual acts in the context of “men with men” (arseno en arseno). Unless one is so blinded by his controlling bias, it is clear Paul denouncement of “arsenokoites” or “man-bedder” is a reiteration of the enduring condemnation of the same homosexual acts in Lev. (arseno koites arseno).

            In reply you write: There is no evidence Paul coined the term arsenokoites rather than using a Greek term that was already familiar with his readers.

            I believe you are incorrect on this point as well. Paul’s use of the term “arsenokoites” appears nowhere in the Greek record prior to Paul’s use. It does appear in Greek literature in later centuries after Paul and some, like Dale Martin, (who I think you are parroting) try to claim we cannot know what Paul meant and therefore we are left helplessly adrift in obscurity or ambiguity. You too opt for this approach, asserting that “arsenokoites” is “an obscure word we don’t understand.”

            Some try to argue it must be restricted specifically to pederasty or male prostitution. However there exists no good reason to restrict the word in such a narrow sense. On the contrary, we have every reason to believe Paul has in view males lying with male partners in the broadest sense possible, encompassing all forms of homosexual acts, which would necessarily include pederasty and male prostitution. This is only reinforced when we understand Paul is making a compound word out of two words in the LXX where all general acts of homosexuality, irrespective of age, purpose or context, are banned. Paul is certainly not making up a new word without a referent!

            Given that the term “arsenokoites” is not seen in Greek literature prior to Paul, we have even more reason to believe Paul’s use of the term is informed by his awareness that the two words “arseno” and “koites” are contiguous in the LXX within a context that denounces all forms “men lying with males as with a female.” For a Hellenized Jewish Christian, like Paul, “arsenokoites” or “man-lier” was a very apt description of homosexual acts. The LXX both inspires its formation and informs its meaning. Simply saying, we don’t know and can’t know what Paul meant, is not a viable, scholarly position in light of the facts above. Any hermeneutical approach towards scripture that wants to argue towards ignorance rather than understanding is another sign of controlling bias, my friend.

            You write: The term crops up in Greek astrological texts, were the pagan writer reading Paul’s epistles and picking up his word for homosexuality when the Greeks had more than enough of their own? It is coined like quite a few other Greek -koites terms.

            Actually there was no precise Greek word that literally meant “homosexual.” But homosexual activity is denounced in many ways and forms across the spectrum in Greek literature as being contrary to nature. Paul includes his own choice of words to refer to homosexuality in Roman 1 to say the same. You are right to note Greek had other terms connected to “koites” to make a compound word. But what is interesting to note is that in all similar compound words where “koites” is used in a bedding or sleeping context, it’s antecedent word provides the context for the compound word. That is to say in all these similar contexts the words “koites” and its root functions in a verbal sense and its antecedent first-half functions in the adverbial sense to denote the object of what is being lied with. For example, “doulos-koites” means slave-bedder or one who consorts with slaves sexually; deuteron-koite” means “two-bedder” or one who has a bed fellow/partner; “poly-koitos” means “many-bedder” or promiscuous sex. We cannot be so dismissive of etymology.

            You dismiss the nature and force of etymology in this issue without reason when you stated, “If it is a Greek term for homosexuality, then we have to do more than make up a meaning from the etymology, we need to understand how the word was used because that can be quite different from the etymology. For example, do you understand what ‘understand’ means? You couldn’t tell that from ‘under’ and ‘stand’.

            Of course, Darach, we don’t automatically assume the meaning of every compound word is necessarily the sum of its two parts. But it is naïve and unwarranted to ignore etymology too—especially when it just makes sense! If I talk about a “warship” an “airport,” “grandmother,” or “moonlight” the meanings are directly tied to the etymology of the root words. So it is when “koites” is used in a bedding context with an antecedent word like “arseno” operating in an adverbial sense.

            This is all the more apparent when we discover that “arsenokoites” as well as “arsenokoiteo” and “arsenokoitia” were terms adopted by early Church fathers from Eusebius to Chrysotom to condemn all forms of homosexual activity. Moreover the Church Fathers undergirded their own condemnation of homosexual acts by appealing to Paul’s condemnation of the same in 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 wherein Paul uses the term “arsenokoites.” Your view that the meaning of the term is lost in obscurity is invalid.

            You accused me of dismissing your Greek internet link. I was not, but I admit I could stated my reply better. That being said I thought I was clear enough that I agreed with its lexical definition and clearly denoted its examples as being nothing less than a clear reaffirmation of what I already stated—which is that “chresis” in a sexual context refers to the “use, function or employment of the body in intercourse.”

            All of this works against your assumption that Paul was talking about sexual preference, desire, attraction or orientation. He was not—he was talking about the function or employment of the woman’s body in the context of sex. Your assumptions simply don’t hold up under scrutiny, my friend, just like your assertion that “it means intimacy in the context of sex, rather than mechanics.” Obviously “intimacy” is assumed in sexual intercourse, but it is demonstrably incorrect to think “chresis” (in a sexual context) does not specifically refer to the use and function of sexual organs for sex.

            You write: I have addressed bestiality, incest is usually a form of abuse to vulnerable family members which is hardly in line with the law of love, the danger of serious genetic diseases in children born of the incest is another reason it goes against the law of love.

            I’m sorry Darach, but you have not addressed this issue as requested twice. I asked you for a SCRIPTURAL reason the new covenant condemns bestiality and incest. You never did give a scriptural reason. You gave your opinion that it was not a “holy place for sex” reflected in the scriptures. Well the N.T. scripture does not reiterate the O. T. injunctions against bestiality. That was the whole point of the question Darach. You don’t think the O.T. “counts” as binding scripture today. Again you duck and dodge when you most need to be direct.

            Remember my friend you have argued whatever the scriptures say in the O.T. is done away with in Christ and since Christ didn’t explicitly reiterate O.T. prohibitions towards homosexuality, there no longer remains a reason to condemn it. So again, what is the SCRIPTURAL foundation for bestiality to be prohibited as sinful under the new covenant? Concerning incest you again sidestep the specific request to provide a scriptural injunction and opt for a subjective “law of love.” Well many people literally and mutually love their incestuous partner. Who are you to deny persons consensual, incestuous love, Darach?

            Simply saying, “Well their children could have genetic diseases” is not an answer. What if they use a condom or the man gets a vasectomy? How about lesbian incest? No danger of a child there. Your comment about Adam and Eve is simply another red herring. I am talking about specific O.T. mosaic prohibitions which are signature pieces of God’s everlasting moral law and which are not explicitly reiterated by Christ in the N.T. Please try again.

            Much more can be said especially in relation to your attempt to narrowly tie in Paul’s condemnation of homosexual acts to a specific temple context in Corinth. You chose not to reply due to time constraints, which I can understand. Maybe in the future you will be able to respond. I will repeat it here in case that possibility arises:

            Paul specifically mentions the worship of “four-footed animals and creepy things” immediately prior to tying in “lusts of their hearts to dishonor their body.” But in Corinth (where Paul is writing Romans) the obvious candidates for temple orgies were Greek-Roman fertility goddesses, Cybele and Venus (Aphrodite). However they were not “four-footed animals and creeping things.”

            Paul, being Jewish, is undoubtedly thinking all the way back to the Israelites golden calf experience, and is not zeroing in on Corinthian temple deities. Of course Paul also includes “images like mortal man” which tells us he is viewing idol worship across the spectrum and across the ages— and not just ancient Israel or one locale in Corinth. Furthermore Paul’s mentioning of “mortal man” would be more in line with masculine deities like Greek Zeus or Roman Jupiter, not one of the female Aphrodite goddesses of love and sex where orgies would have occurred.

            I continue to enjoy the exchange, Darach. I hope it has been profitable to us both. Have a great weekend.

            Shalom, Matt

    • Jeremiah Henson

      1 Corinthians 6:9-10
      Dont you know that the unrighteous will not inherit Gods kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, 10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit Gods kingdom.

      Does this mean that all of the sins in this list don’t mean what the plain reading means? Or is it only the ones we want to allow don’t really mean what the plain meaning is? Are we calling evil good…allowing the evil in our hearts to call our sinful nature good? I guess idolatry only exists if we agree upon the sin? I really feel x should be okay therefore I find a desperate way to explain x away? “Did God really say…?” Ohhhh our hearts are soooo wicked!

      • Darach Conneely

        It may seem plain in your English translation, but the Greek word arsenokoites that translated homosexual is pretty obscure. It is related to same sex acts, but the Greeks had loads of different words describing different aspects and context of homosexual behaviour. For 1Cor 6:9 to condemn a loving faithful same sex marriage arsenokoites would have to be a term that either referred to a consensual same sex relationship (which is pretty unlikely), or be a broad term that covers every context of homosexual sex. The limited evidence we have from its use in Greek texts suggest is that it was distinct from the Greek practice of pederasty, older man/teenage youth relationship, which we would consider abusive but was consensual and freely entered into. In other words it isn’t a catch all term covering every form of homosexuality. Instead where the word arsenokoites is used suggest it was non-consensual homosexual sex obtained through violence, extortion or coercion. A later Greek inscription praises the emperor because the people no longer fear “the swords of barbarians, or homosexuals.” But what Paul is describing in 1Cor 6:9 is not talking about the consensual sex of homosexual couple.

        • JH

          My friend, even in the Greek it is extremely plain. Paul even anticipate such a response by describing homosexual acts in romans without using the word “homosexuality”…thus defining for us the way in which Paul uses the word. I believe you are giving in to deception, my friend. See Paul’s words below. How can we be loving Christians when we endorse a behavior that brings the wrath of God. I want to see my gay friends in heaven by loving them enough to encourage them NOT to engage in their deadly behavior (physically and spiritually). My cousin, Kenneth Henson, just passed from HIV and it devastated his body…how could you endorse that? In Pauls own words…(please read the passage carefully). You are being guilty of verse 32. Please, please, repent.

          For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

          28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

          • Darach Conneely

            It is not enough to claim the Greek in 1Cor 6:9 is extremely plain, you need to show it refers to loving gay couples, not just the violent and abusive acts the word’s use in other Greek texts suggests.

            Romans 1 isn’t about loving and faithful gay relationships. The lust and impurity Paul describes is in the context of pagan idolatry: Rom 1:23 exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things, 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts….
            25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator… 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonourable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations.
            This may have included idolatrous pagan revelry and orgies in peoples homes, but the most obvious context for sex and idolatrous worship in the ancient world were the male and female prostitutes in the pagan temples.

            Rom 1:26 For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women … Paul isn’t even talking people who were homosexual only ever attracted to the same sex, either. The people he talks about were heterosexuals going from engaging in heterosexual sex, then ‘giving up’ or ‘exchanging’ their the natural attractions to indulge in more exotic sexual activities available in pagan idolatry, men going from using the female prostitutes in the local temple to trying out the male prostitutes there too.

            Sorry to hear about your friend who died. But if you want to keep protect gays from HIV the safest way is monogamous gay marriage.

  • ejeff

    Biology is destiny. The way we were created shows the way we are to live and express our sexuality. Scripture speaks of and is aligned with God’s creation. Homosexuality is clearly condemned in scripture and nature. It is very simple. The fact that one must become a verbal gymnast to excuse or support homosexual union is evidence in itself- Try Occam’s razor approach. However, it is hard to have this discussion in this kind of forum and convey continued love and acceptance, and a lack of judgment, toward those who are trapped in sexual sin. If homosexuality is OK, then the vast spectrum of human sexual expression, all of it, is also OK. There is a place and a Person where true freedom is found for everyone.
    I guess Darach is arguing that scripture teaches that homosexual expression is OK for those who are homosexual, but not OK for heterosexuals who would like to try it out. I think he’s trying to jump the Grand Canyon on a bicycle. And Progressives would say, “Why not? You try it first!”

    • Darach Conneely

      For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. H. L. Mencken
      There are simple answers to the meaning Roman 1 that ignore the context read things into the text Paul simply wasn’t saying, there are simple translations of 1Cor 6:9 and 1Tim 1:10 that ignore the difficulty interpreting arsenokoites and the ugly contexts we find the word in in Greek texts. Occam’s razor is not meant to validate oversimplification of complex questions or basing your answers on simplistic assumptions. In fact the assumptions you read into the text are the very things Occam’s razor is designed to cut out. Paul simply doesn’t address people who are homosexual by nature, who are not engaged in abusive sex.

      • ejeff

        Sorry Darach- I’m not buying it nor should anyone be persuaded by this argument. You are reading an entire context into the scriptures that is just not there. What you are speaking of is nowhere in scripture. Not one mention of same sex relationships being a normal God-intended coupling. It is clearly condemned as one behavior that results when people go there own way and give into their lusts. It’s really a silly exercise to try and argue otherwise. And it is not loving to support conduct that is condemned and is a masquerade of normality.

        • Darach Conneely

          It is clearly condemned when heterosexuals give themselves to idolatry and lust and end up indulging in homosexual acts. There is no mention of people who were homosexual to start with. Paul doesn’t say homosexual act are “God-intended coupling”, but then I never claimed he did. What you are ‘not buying’ is an argument I never made. My whole point is that Paul never condemned loving faithful same sex relationships, nor does anywhere else in the New Testament.

          • http://www.uncommonsensecommentary.blogspot.com/ BlueDeacon

            That’s because the Bible never, ever addresses the concept of “orientation” — that is, it’s what you DO, not what you are. Furthermore, marriage in that day, time and culture was about not personal fulfillment but community and family ties, which is one reason marriages were arranged. And those were by definition between opposite genders.

          • Darach Conneely

            Paul describes people giving up and exchanging their natural attraction to the opposite sex to engage in same sex acts in Romans 1. It is heterosexual experimentation with gay sex, probably in the context of female and male temple prostitution (all the references to idolatry in the passage). Paul simply isn’t talking about people who were never naturally attracted to the same sex in the first place. It doesn’t matter whether Paul understood the concept of orientation or not, though it is quite possible he did. Paul uses the same word ‘nature’ that Greek writers (whom Paul was familiar with) used to describe people who were by nature attracted to same sex as well as those naturally attracted to the opposite sex.

    • Andrew Dowling

      “but not OK for heterosexuals who would like to try it out.”

      LOL, if you are a heterosexual who wants to “try homosexuality out” tsk tsk . . you’re, if not gay, at the least bisexual. It’s this bizarre belief that homosexuality is “giving into sexual temptation” that supports the assertion that a majority of those who are so strongly anti-homosexuality possess latent homosexual desires themselves. This is shown again and again when politicians and pastors who are vehement about gay sex=sin are found with their pants down with a male prostitute. I almost feel sorry for their psychological delusion.

      “Homosexuality is clearly condemned in nature.”

      I’m not sure what this even means, but tons of mammals engage in homosexual sex and this has zero effect/relationship on whether they “survive” or not.

      “If homosexuality is OK, then the vast spectrum of human sexual expression, all of it, is also OK.”

      What other consensual sexual activity between adults are you referring to?

  • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com/ Howard Pepper

    You are exactly right, Pete! This is as good and succinct of a statement of the core issue for evangelicalism (and most forms of orthodoxy) as I’ve seen.

    And I also observe, as you have, that many HAVE taken on this major challenge, as I myself did around 20 years ago. I have found that the best alternative paradigm–a broad, deep and highly explanatory one–is process theology. As far as I can find among major theological/philosophical systems, it is by far best able to make sense of the Bible, the existence and role of Jesus, and ALSO the often-valid results of natural science, reductionistic as it is, conversely to classic supernaturalism.

  • americanreal

    Um, there is no physical evidence of evolutionism — that is, of one species evolving into another. zero. No fossils, no nothing. Evolutionism was refuted by Darwin himself, who stated this could be a theory IF scientific evidence was found….and there is none.

  • johnwyp

    After reading the post and MOST of the comments here, and can’t help but think that we are straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

  • Jennifer Jonsson

    Isn’t it possible to be an evangelical and believe that homosexuality is a sin without being against same-sex marriage or gays in general? The U.S. is a secular democracy and we don’t use religious tracts of any faith in writing our laws. Therefore, couldn’t an evangelical say, “From where I stand, homosexuality is a sin and I will not commit any acts which fit under that label because I believe they would be sinful; however, this is fundamentally a religious belief, and I live with lots of people who don’t believe this, so I’m not going to tell other people what to do nor am I going to tell my country/state/city what laws it should and should not enact.” Because to me, that’s just logical.

    I’m a Buddhist and in Buddhism it’s considered very, very bad to kill or to allow other people to kill. However, I live in a secular democracy full of people who don’t share that belief. So, for example, I’m not going to say, “It should be against the law for people to kill animals for food; therefore I will put pressure on my elected officials to make the killing of animals for food illegal.” What I have here is essentially a religious belief, and I can believe it and act accordingly without thinking that everybody else has to believe it, too. So, are evangelicals capable of holding such a position? Or does the very definition of evangelical mean that one HAS to try to impose one’s religious beliefs on others?

    • jeff

      Yeah, it seems like a lot of people believe that liberty and freedom should be just for them. I’m a follower of Jesus, but I usually support libertarian candidates because I believe that liberty should be for everyone, and that the way I can most effectively bring people into my faith is to imitate Christ and live my personal life centered around self sacrificial service. I don’t have a need to have everything I do be some kind of statement against those I disagree with.

  • http://www.atheismandthecity.com/ The Thinker

    In the not to distant future the vast majority of Christians, even evangelicals, will support gay marriage. It is inevitable. And those of us who are secular will be waiting there, when they finally come around to it, saying, “See. Religion does hinder moral progression. And the fact that it took you so long to evolve on these kinds of issues surrounding homosexuality because of your religion proves the point.”

    • http://southridge.cc/ mjk

      I’m not convinced that rushing to judgment, rather than taking a slow, methodical, thoughtful approach, is truly a virtue. (Sadly, Christians, and others, have been slow, but not often methodical and, even less so, thoughtful.)

  • Altarofego

    Tying the reason for an evangelical’s dismissal of evolution, to a view of homosexuality as sin is just silly. One can, and many have argued that a scholarly reading of the Bible does not exclude acceptance of evolution, but does require and promote a traditional understanding of sexual behavior. This author would characterize all evangelicals with a high view of Scripture as fundamentalists. Nonsense! This one was a swing and a very big miss.

  • Michele Archambault

    We need to ask if God supports same sex marriage. God wrote a book, his answer
    is, no.

  • Toni Brown

    To anyone supporting Tim Keller:

    I was involved in a church plant where I heard many troubling, unbiblical ideas form the pastor and his wife- I noticed that they were constantly quoting a guy named Tim Keller and they heavily recommended all of his books. As the troubling teachings continued I decided to research Keller to see if this was the source of their false ideas…BINGO! After 150+ hours of reading and listening to Keller I was stunned- he is an extremely dangerous false teacher but he is far different than the average wolf in that he is so effective at presenting himself as a Bible believer…”just like us”. He does this in an effort to win us over, all the while undermining the Bible at every turn and planting his false ideas as he goes. Understand this, Keller is not interested in standing on a stage to debate a Bible believer- he plans to infiltrate and change the way we think so as to advance a very progressive political agenda that involves income redistribution, population control, radical environmentalism etc…And his political agenda is not the worst of it…his theology is a travesty; theistic evolution, social justice, Jesus the social revolutionary, an un-offensive gospel that virtually eliminates God’s law, a church that caters to unbelievers, heavily recommends mystical practices of the catholic mystics, downplays the seriousness of sin especially homosexuality- even going so far as to redefine sin for us in his book The Prodigal God, and I could go on and on…The sad truth is that the average “professing” Christian is too biblically ignorant to know they are being led further and further from the Truth of the one Holy God.
    Did I mention that I am in rural S.C.? and there is another church plant across town that is equally devoted to Keller. Yeah- he is everywhere. Wake up church.

    • peteenns

      I have my own disagreements with Tim, but your estimation of your own ability to pronounce such a sentence on Keller is its own refutation. Examine your heart.

      • http://christopherhopper.com Christopher Hopper

        Well said, Peter.

    • Linda

      Peter, I agree with Christopher — Well said!

      Toni, what about Matthew 7? “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

      • eyegorilla inc

        We are to judge other believers and measure them by the Bible, we are judged and increase Biblical scrutiny of ourselves by holding others accountable to God’s word. Read the whole book of Matthew vs. quoting it out of context.We can’t condemn but we are to judge. I read a few pages of Tim Kellers Reason for God and got the same feeling to review his opinions and the “judging” opinions of his comments.

        • peteenns

          Where does Matthew 7 say anything about “holding others accountable to God’s word”?


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