Does Leviticus Only Condemn Idolatrous Homosexual Practice? – An Open Letter from Robert Gagnon

When the biblical argument is made that human sexuality was designed for male and female, and the Bible condemns homosexual relations, one of the responses for the defense is that those portions of the Bible that appear to condemn homosexual relations are not really condemning homosexual relations in general but only a particular kind of gay sex — say, gay rape or gay sex associated with idol worship.  Robert Gagnon, author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice, responds to this argument in part in the guest post below, responding to Justin Lee, executive director of the Gay Christian Network and author of Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate.

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An Open Letter to Justin Lee, Author of Torn: I Do Not Believe Lev 18:22 and 20:13 Indict Only Idolatrous Forms of Homosexual Practice

by Robert A. J. Gagnon

Dear Justin,

I would like to bring to your attention a matter that has come to my attention.

In your book Torn, you make a grand total of one reference to my work on the Bible and homosexual practice (unfortunately ignoring all the other arguments and evidence that I bring forward). In that one reference I believe that you are misleading. You write on p. 177:

Some scholars, arguing that the Bible doesn’t condemn modern-day gay relationships, maintained that this passage was actually intended to condemn ritual cult prostitution, a form of idolatry in that culture that involved male-male sex. But hey, they were arguing in favor of accepting gay relationships, so they might be biased. What did the other side say? Pretty much the same thing, it turned out.

You then cite me as allegedly agreeing with this point:

On Leviticus, Gagnon writes: “I do not doubt that the circles out of which Leviticus 18:22 was produced had in view homosexual cult prostitution, at least partly. Homosexual cult prostitution appears to have been the primary form in which homosexual intercourse was practiced in Israel” [The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville: Abingdon, 2001), 130].

To this you add: “So scholars on both sides of the argument agreed that this probably had something to do with cult prostitution. That made sense to me….”

Where you mislead readers is in not letting them know that this remark of mine comes in the context of a three-page section entitled, “The Connection with Idolatry” (pp. 129-32), whose whole purpose is to make the case that the Levitical prohibitions of man-male intercourse are NOT limited in their indictment to cultic prostitution. Indeed, the very next set of sentences (same paragraph, no less), which you fail to mention to readers, is (emphasis added):

However, male cult prostitution was not the only context in which homosexual intercourse manifested itself in the ancient Near East generally. It was merely the most acceptable context for homosexual intercourse to be practiced in Mesopotamia, certainly for those who played the role of the receptive partner. In our own cultural context we think that the banning of male cult prostitution does not take into account consensual, non-cultic, loving homosexual relationships. In the cultural context of the ancient Near East the reasoning has to be reversed: to ban homosexual cult prostitutes was to ban all homosexual intercourse. In any case, the authors of Lev 18:22 could have formulated the law more precisely by making specific reference to the qedeshim [= ‘the consecrated ones,’ an ironic reference to these cult figures] (as in Deut 23:17-18), if it had been their intent to limit the law’s application. That they did not do so suggests that they had a broader application in mind. Moreover, the Levitical rejection of same-sex intercourse depends on Canaanite practices for its validity about as much as the rejection of incest, adultery, and bestiality.

Prior to my remarks that you quote, I state (emphasis again added):

Few today give this argument [i.e. that the Levitical prohibitions of man-male intercourse were prohibiting only cultic or idolatrous forms of male homosexual practice] much credence and for good reason. The repetition of the prohibition against homosexual intercourse in 20:13 does not follow immediately upon the references to child sacrifice in 20:2-5, but rather is sandwiched in between prohibitions of adultery and incest (20:10-12) and prohibitions of incest and bestiality (20:14-16). The link with child sacrifice in Lev 18:21 probably involves nothing more than threats to the sanctity of the Israelite family….

I continue:

There is also the inconsistency in the application of 18:21 on the part of those who use it to limit 18:22 to cultic contexts. Those who contend that the broadly worded proscription against same-sex intercourse should be confined to cultic prostitution do not contend that the narrowly worded proscription of child sacrifice to Molech had no implications for other forms of child sacrifice. It is not likely that 18:21 was formulated as narrowly as it was in order to leave the door open for child sacrifice to other pagan gods besides Molech, or even to Yahweh. Clearly the authors and framers had in mind all kinds of child sacrifice—indeed infanticide of any sort. By what rationale, then, is a narrow proscription to be taken broadly but a broad proscription only narrowly?

The paragraph above comes immediately before that part of my book that you cite as confirming your view that “this passage was actually intended to condemn ritual cult prostitution” and only ritual cult prostitution.

Elsewhere in the book I make clear that in the history of the interpretation of these Levitical prohibitions they are never construed as indicting only homosexual acts in the context of cult prostitution. On the contrary, they are taken in the broadest possible sense. For example, the first-century Jewish historian Josephus explained to Gentile readers that “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). There are no limitations placed on the prohibition as regards age, slave status, idolatrous context, or exchange of money. The only limitation is the sex of the participants. According to b. Sanh. 54a, the male with whom a man lays in Lev 18:22 and 20:13 may be “an adult or minor,” meaning that the prohibition of male-male unions is not limited to pederasty.

You do acknowledge in your book that, according to the interpretation of some, Paul’s indictment in 1 Cor 6:9 of “men who lie with a male” (arsenokoitai) refers back to the Levitical prohibitions: the Greek words for “lying” sexually (koite) and “male” (arsen) are found in the Septuagint (i.e., the standard Greek Old Testament) translation of Lev 18:22 and 20:13. Yet you consider the allusion only possible and ignore the array of other arguments that I bring forward to show that Paul didn’t limit the term to acts involving cultic prostitution or pederasty (312-32).

It seems to me that fair citation of my work would have required you to note these facts and deal with the half dozen or so arguments that I raise rather than give your readers the false impression that I support your conclusion that Lev 18:22 and 20:13 are taking aim only at homosexual activity performed in connection with idolatrous worship. To be sure, you go on to express some doubt about whether the Levitical prohibitions condemn only cultic forms of homosexual practice. Yet you leave readers with the impression that while such an argument is not fully conclusive, it is probable.

So unjustifiable is the claim that Lev 18:22 and 20:13 reject only idolatrous forms of homosexual practice that even a Bible scholar who is strongly supportive of homosexual relationships and who has written more on the issue of sexuality in ancient Judaism and Christianity than any other scholar acknowledges that the Levitical prohibitions are absolute. According to William Loader, while some argue that these prohibitions refer only to “male cultic prostitution in Canaanite religion,” “the wider context … goes beyond the cultic, as does the verse about bestiality which follows. Most [scholars] conclude that Lev 18:22 does condemn same-sex anal intercourse between males in general and is not restricted to particular settings” (The New Testament on Sexuality [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012], 25]). Loader accepts this consensus. He also notes that while “the texts almost certainly envisage anal intercourse … the texts can hardly mean approval of every other form of same-sex engagement apart from anal intercourse” (ibid., 23).

I could go on and easily show that your reading of other biblical texts, including the story of Sodom in Gen 19:4-11 (see now for this http://www.robgagnon.net/homosex7thDayAdvArticleSodom.htm) and Paul’s indictment of homosexual practice in Rom 1:24-27 (to say nothing of, Jesus’ teaching on a male-female requirement for marriage), ignores numerous weighty counterarguments against your claim that Scripture only clearly indicts specific cultic or exploitative forms of homosexual practice. Why would you bother to write (or a publisher to print) a book on the subject that systematically ignores the mountain of evidence from historical and literary contexts that challenges your prevailing perspective?

I find it puzzling that in your book you say that you were “disappointed” that the Bible didn’t “clearly answer” your question about the rightness or wrongness of committed homosexual relationships between consenting adults (187-88). As it is, I see no indication in your study of the most relevant biblical texts that you ever gave careful consideration to the biblical witness. One would think that for such an important issue you would have done so, all the more since you even wrote a book about your wrestling with this and related issues. It is not too late to do your homework on the subject; a belated enterprise, certainly, but not too late.

I would be happy to discuss in person and publicly with you what the Bible says about homosexual practice. I’m sure that some church or churches out there would be willing to sponsor such an event and defray the costs. If you are confident in your view that Jesus and Scripture generally give no clear guidance about the kind of homosexual relationship that you want to be in, then such an event will give you ample opportunity to advance your cause.

Blessings,

Rob

Prof. Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

About Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.
 
In all his work he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering

  • http://middletree.blogspot.com James Williams

    Robert, thanks for this very clear explanation. While Justin has every right to make an argument and assert his position, he loses credibility when he misleads the reader about what someone else has said. In fact, such misleading comes across as an admission that he doesn’t have any real ammunition to support his position.

    On another note, I do wish that Christians who consider same-sex sex a sin would stop relying on Leviticus, because it doesn’t really shed light on why it’s a sin to us, the modern non-Israelites who are not under the Mosaic Law. Seems to me that Jesus’ statements about dying to self are much more applicable to any modern Christian who wants to engage in sinful sexual practices.

    • David B.

      Leviticus is important to Christians. When the question of what parts of the Mosaic laws should be applied to non-Jewish converts, the council of Jerusalem gives this answer in Acts 15:28-29:
      “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.”
      All four of these prohibitions are defined in Leviticus.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

      James, thanks for your comments.

      I must disagree in part, though, with your second observation. I agree that the Levitical prohibitions are not the only texts to which a Christian should make appeal. One needs also to look at Genesis 1-2, Jesus (especially Mark 10 par. Matt 19), Paul (esp. Rom 1 and 1 Cor 6), and the fact that every time Scripture addresses a matter of sexual ethics (narrative, legal material, paraenesis, poetry, proverbs, metaphor, eschatological oracles, etc.) it always presupposes a male-female requirement to sexual relations. A male-female requirement is part of the fabric of the entire witness of Scripture on sexual ethics.

      But within this broader discussion the Levitical prohibitions do play an important role since they are explicit prohibitions. Nor is quite true to say that they give no indication about what is wrong with homosexual practice. They indicate that such relations are wrong because woman, not another man, is the true sexual counterpart to a man (“you shall not lie with a male as the lyings of a woman”).

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

        The Levitical prohibitions are about ancient politics of identity. As Lev. 18 makes unusually clear for the Bible, “Don’t do as the Egyptians and Canaanites do.” Then it lists what they allegedly did.

        However, since they don’t do that anymore, worship fertility gods like Moloch/Baal, then Lev. 18 can be thought of as an historical stepping stone to the present, much like the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. It’s not law, but it’s important in understanding the Constitution.

        Do you really want to reference Matthew 19? This is the chapter where Jesus is discouraging men from marrying at all by his radical redefinition of divorce. This is the chapter where Jesus encourages men, because of the reign of the heavens, to live like a minority community of men which the conservative religious people of the day looked down upon. That minority community of men, some of whom are born that way, were stereotyped by Jesus’ contemporaries as being uninterested in sex with women (which was likely true), as being effeminate, as being “passive” sex partners for other men… and as influential, powerful servants to the aristocracy, which didn’t exactly endear them to the average man, who could barely afford to buy one wife, let alone a harem.

        So, do you live like those men, the eunuchs, because of the reign of the heavens? If you do, I wouldn’t recommend going as far as Origen did. What did John Milton say about biblical literalism and Origen’s knife?

        Or perhaps more likely, are you one of those men who try to forbid to other men what you allow for yourself… love, marriage, intimacy, family?

        • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

          Gregory, this is what, the 4th or 5th time that you have repeated yourself with the “politics of identity” line? It was bad argument when you first made it and is no less a bad argument for your constant unreflective repetition of the point.The fact that Lev 18 instructs not to do as the surrounding nations do does not make the prohibitions within irrelevant to other contexts. Otherwise (and obviously) we could dismiss the prohibitions of incest, adultery, and bestiality as well. Ancient Israel already had a long-standing affirmation of a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations. Do you think that it was only when the Israelites came into contact with the Egyptians and Canaanites that they realized that they shouldn’t be engaging in incest, adultery, homosexual practice, and bestiality?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Lev. 18 doesn’t mention other contexts, but of not doing what others do. I picked up the “politics of identity” from

            A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity, by Daniel Boyarin. I read it when it came out in 1997. Really should reread it.

            One can expand upon what is in Lev. 18 to other contexts ourside of fertility cutlism, of course, but…that would involve identity and politics.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            You don’t need the Bible to be moral…and you sort of prove that the morality you bring to your reading of the Bible is the morality you extract, as a living Islamic scholar who’s name I’ve forgotten, has pointed out about the Koran and sacred text in general.

            When were the Israelites not in contact with Egypt? They were in the crossroads of the continents.

            Bestiality…lets see, I’m guessing there was bestiality in the cult of the Golden Calf. The various syncretistic Jewish cults were doing what the Egyptians and Canaanites were doing, which Lev. condemns in chapter 18. They did things differently there.

            Lev. 18 probably condemns bestiality because it was what idolators were doing in their sacred rituals, symbolically and not symbolically. There may have been other prohibitions not preserved, in contexts which we, of course, likely couldn’t then know, but the preserved condemnations of bestiality are about the theo-politics of identity…of not doing as others were doing… and which Jews were actually doing anyway. Syncretistic Jewish fertility cults was long lasting and very difficult to end, as the Bible illustrates, even though God was a jealous god.

            Adultery was not as it is today. The victim of adultery of back then was the cuckolded husband. His property, his bought and paid for wife, was illegally used by another man. Her vagina didn’t belong to her, but to her husband for his exclusive use. Adultery was a serious property crime.

            The ancients didn’t do “homosexuality.” That’s a modern era social construct. Single gender love was understood with the contexts of other social constructs. Your abuse of the word “homosexuality” to defame a minority group today is unacceptable.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            You’re definitely presuming what is not in the text. Why is that?

        • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

          Gregory, if you read carefully Jesus’ eunuch words in Matthew 19 you would note three things that your comments get wrong: (1) Jesus does not require celebacy but only recommends it for “those to whom it has been given”; (2) Jesus posits a male-female prerequisite in the context which is foundational and non-negotiable, irrespective of innate desires to the contrary; and (3) Jesus presumes that the “born eunuchs” who have no interest in other-sex intercourse are not to have any sexual relations outside the context of marriage between one man and one woman, whatever their innate urges might be. Otherwise the analogy to “men who makes themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven” doesn’t work, since the point is to say that these Christians are abstaining from all sex. So Jesus gives us the principles that abstinence from all sexual relations is preferred and that it is no sin to marry so long as the marriage abides by the foundational male-female prerequisite given in creation and the extrapolated standards of monogamy and indissolubility. In short, Jesus’ words here are very much like Paul’s words on the subject of marriage in 1 Cor 7 (which is to say that Paul was a good disciple of Jesus).

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            I think you’re the one who is presuming. I’m presuming that Jesus was being deliberately provoking in exalting a looked down upon minority group of “effeminate” men, especially just after the provoking divorce teaching, and also last few verses of Matthew 19. I really distrust the “except for whoredom” escape clause for divorce…it’s hardly thought provoking, and doesn’t encourage you to look at the motivations for your dealings with sex, love, forms of family, identity and God.

            Paul teaches celibacy for the strong; marriage as a prophylaxis for the sexual desire of lesser men,

            I don’t think a modern woman would like to think that you married her because you don’t think you can deal with your sexuality otherwise…which when I was young, was exactly what was told to many single gender loving men. People in the Gay and Black community often prefers to use Single Gender Loving.

            My late, much missed, longtime internet penpal friend, essayist, photographer, journalist, Taylor Siluwe’ had a website called the SGL Cafe. May he rest in peace, though come to think about it, I don’t think he would like doing that as long as there is injustice against the SGL in the world. One of his themes is how high control religion encourage the development of dangerous anomie in non-conforming minority men and women. I recommend that you don’t read, Dancing with the Devil, as he was not reticent in the least about homoeroticism and politely understated in his criticism of high control religion. SGL Cafe had the slogan, Lasciviously political.

            I don’t find Jesus as teaching celibacy, or when sex is permitted for other adults, but of bringing the Golden Rule into your life as one in the One God, celibate or not, married or not, eunuch or not.

            Of course, it’s unsubstantiated tradition built upon a wish that Jesus was himself celibate. I don’t know if he was, and I don’t care if he wasn’t.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

      Yes, do those who use Lev. 18:22 as a clobber verse with which to abuse their Gay neighbors, also carefully attend to every jot and tittle of Leviticus in their own lives. Because if they don’t, they would be shameless hypocrites, right?

      However, if salvation is not by works, but by faith alone, then Lev. 18, which is about the “works” of the politics of identity (don’t do as the Egyptians and Canaanites do), does not apply to the regulation of those “homosexual” fellows.

      It’s the Golden Rule, then, to which we must look on how to live with our Gay, and other minority neighbors. You know, the ones in working in the ER, on the battlefield for your country, teaching your children math, history, literature.. The Gay neighbors on the police force. The ones keeping your city habitable by refuse removal. Gay people designing and maintaining your parks and libraries. Your GLBT neighbors helping to keep the streets lit, the water safe to drink. The ones who own your favorite coffee shop. Your Gay colleagues, and perhaps relatives.

      Who the hell self identifies as a “homosexual” anyway? As near as I can tell, “homosexual” is the name of the religious right’s currently favorite scapegoat, suitable for public beatings; diverting attention from their compulsive masturbating to their little dominance and submissiveness patriarchal role playing fantasies.

      • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

        Gregory, your opening paragraph shows no understanding of hermeneutics. No one is arguing that everything in Leviticus is for us today, nor is it “hypocritical” to recognize such. But there are plenty of good reasons for understanding the prohibitions of homosexual practice in Leviticus, like those of incest, bestiality, and adultery, as part of the legislation that has ongoing relevance for new covenant formulations.

        It is true that no one merits salvation on the basis of works. At the same time it is absurd to argue from this that such freedom entitles believers to engage in behaviors that the united witness of Scripture prohibits as a violation of core values. Jesus himself treated a male-female prerequisite for acceptable sexual behavior as foundational for extrapolating other principles of sexual ethics (including the ‘twoness’ of the sexual bond).

        It is precisely in not supporting homosexual practice that we apply the Golden Rule. I wouldn’t want society to endorse a behavior of mine that dishonors the person God has made me to be and puts me at risk of not inheriting God’s kingdom and is unhealthy for society as a whole. To oppose adult-consensual forms of incest or of polyamory is not to violate the Golden Rule but to affirm it. The same applies to the analogically related practice of homosexual behavior.

        Your reference to “public beatings” can only be taken metaphorically, since no one is supporting the use of violence or anything other than love. When it comes to such “public beatings” today a person who is not on board with homosexual practice is more likely to experience such today than a bombastic proponent of homosexual unions, such as yourself. You are your own case in point. Much of your tone and content is abusive.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

          I”m not a conservative, a Calvinist or an Evangelical, all of which I don’t much respect, all of which reminds me of Frederick Douglass and his critique of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church which had ordained him “It consented to the same spirit which held my brethren in chains.”

          I was a conservative when I was young and gormless, such an embarrassment, that.

          I’m an eccentric, aging, eccentric artist of little note with a developing interest in the social constructs of identity. New covenant formulations superficially sounds an evolution of the old politics of patriarchal identity. I’m going with Jesus’ few simple rules for complex people, as someone wrote.

          “I wouldn’t want society to endorse a behavior of mine that dishonors the
          person God has made me to be and puts me at risk of not inheriting
          God’s kingdom and is unhealthy for society as a whole.”

          I, of course, have heard that when I lived in the Bible Belt as a young man, though in a different context….miscegenation. Why am I suppose to respect someone who would even write that about yet another a generally law abiding group dealing with unjust minority stress?

          Which reminds me of the conservative, proslavery Evangelicals’ self serving, paternalistic interpretation of the Golden Rule, as opposed to the interpretation of the more radical abolitionists (though most of them were racists as well).

          Frankly, conservative Evangelicals don’t make me want to inherit the kingdom of God. Since you’re referencing Paul, that reminds me again of Peter Gomes’ story of a recently freed from American bondage woman who promptly ripped Paul out of her Bible.

          But, I won’t do that. I like Paul, for starters, despite the dubious historical fiction of Acts, and parts of the equally dubious Pastorals.

          Which somehow reminds me of “A Radical Jew: Paul and the Politics of Identity (Contraversions: Critical Studies in Jewish Literature, Culture, and Society) by Daniel Boyarin 1997. I’ve been meaning to reread that.

  • Matthew B

    Very interesting, helpful discussion. I hope Mr. Lee takes the author up on it.
    But.
    “I see no indication in your study of the most relevant biblical texts that you ever gave careful consideration to the biblical witness…” Must Dr. Gagnon accuse his opponent of not carefully considering the issue? Why not take Mr. Lee at his word? Even if Dr. Gagnon is right that Mr. Lee does not do a good job at considering the evidence, that does not mean that Mr. Lee’s study was not conducted with care. (And, of course, a memoir is not typical a genre in which one lays out one’s research.)

    Christian disputants must stop causally accusing one another of bad faith. It hurts our dialogue and our witness.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

      Matthew, please reread my statement. It is factual as stands: Justin gives no indication in his book that he had given careful consideration of the biblical witness. None. He repeats the same tired old claims about the biblical witness as if multiple strong arguments to each of his claims did not already exist. There is no reason not to make a better case than he did, even in the format that he choose.

      Part of my job as a seminary New Testament professor is to evaluate and grade papers for whether they have adequately engaged the relevant counterarguments to their position. To write something like, “I see no indication that you have given careful attention to this work or to that argument” is not an insult but a correction that lets the writer know what he or she needs to know in order to improve as an interpreter of the biblical text.

      Moreover, why cite in a misleading way a single line from my book while ignoring all the counterevidence immediately before and after the quote?

      Finally, if Justin can make a credible argument against each of the half dozen points that I raise now would be a belated but still good time for him to do so. And he can take me up on the offer of debating the matter in a public forum. But I can assure you that he won’t.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scot.miller.547 Scot Miller

    Gagnon’s problem is that he wants to have it both ways in his argument. (Believe me, I not only slogged through his massive book, but I blogged my review of the book for a week at Tony Jones’ blog.) He wants to be a good, careful scholar and admit that matters of interpretation are never absolutely conclusive, especially about ancient texts. When Lee quotes Gagnon, he’s drawing attention to the good, careful, balanced Gagnon. On the other hand, Gagnon is absolutely certain that God can’t possibly tolerate even loving, monogamous same-sex practices. The problem for Leviticus is that the text almost certainly refers to (abusive) cultic practices, but it’s a stretch to include loving, monogamous same-sex relationships (which Justin Lee is talking about). It is possible that Gagnon’s interpretation is right, but it’s implausible given the evidence.

    • http://www.facebook.com/scot.miller.547 Scot Miller

      I’m sure that Gagnon thinks he could win this “debate” with Lee, who isn’t a biblical scholar like Gagnon. But even if Gagnon wins this debate on a minute point of biblical interpretation, he’s still on the losing side on the larger issue of acceptance of same-sex relationships. Not only will same-sex marriages be legal in every state within the next 10-20 years, even some Evangelicals today are growing more accepting of same-sex relationships. That’s what must really gall Gagnon. And no debate is going to change this, anymore than a debate about the Bible’s defense of slavery could ever lead rational people to reinstate the practice of slavery.

      • Scot Miller

        To be clear, I am not arguing that cultural acceptance of same-sex relationships is somehow a moral or theological justification for accepting same-sex couples. I think the culture has changed because the moral and theological arguments against homosexuality have demonstrably failed, just as they failed in regard to slavery in the Antebellum South. Natural law arguments were used to defend the practice of slavery, and appeals to the Bible did more to support the institution of slavery than to the abolition of slavery. There are explicit scriptures on how Christian masters should treat their slaves, but not a word in scripture about the abolition of slavery. How did the abolitionists win the argument? By pointing out the implications of the biblical command to “love you neighbor as yourself.” (See my blog post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tonyjones/2012/04/03/scot-reading-gagnon-two-more-prejudices/)

        • C.J.W.

          Dr. Gagnon addressed the issue of the slavery analogy failure in his discussion with Dan Via in Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views. You mix apples and oranges relying on this analogy as if the cultural context of slavery in first century Greco-Roman world and slavery of the 18th century were exactly the same. They were not by any stretch of the imagination. I find nothing in your posts that demonstrates you really were able to look beyond your presuppositions and be informed by Gagnon’s at all. The fusion of horizons did not take place, as you seemed to learn very little from the book, because you seemed to have not followed Gadamer’s advice, namely to read humbly and allow the text to shape you. On the issue of the Levitical texts, you say they most definitely refer to abusive cultic pratice. What evidence do you offer? Even, Dan Via, another NT scholar says that Scripture supports a complete prohibition of homosexual practice and so he must move away from the biblical text to support homosexual practice. It seems you are trying to convince people about that there are simply other interpretations of the biblical text on the issue. Sure there are. I will grant you this, but Gagnon has offered one of the best overall interpretations of the bible and homosexuality.

        • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

          Scot, you say: “I think the culture has changed because the moral and theological arguments against homosexuality have demonstrably failed, just as they failed in regard to slavery in the Antebellum South.”

          To establish that point you have to make the case that the authors of Scripture had no greater vested interest in preserving a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations than they had in preserving the institution of slavery–a claim that you must know is manifestly absurd.

          In general, culture since the 1950s and especially in the last decade or two has been trending away (and radically away) from the understanding of sexual purity that we find in the New Testament (including the witness of the earthly Jesus). The latest radical trend away has to do with homosexual practice. Before that it was divorce and fornication. In years to come (and indeed already started) culture will move in the direction of affirming sexual unions involving three or more persons concurrently. After that culture will reexamine its “prejudices” and “animus” against adult-committed incestuous unions. And then we’ll move to lowering the age of consent further.

          So the shift toward accepting homosexual relations is hardly proof that the arguments for viewing a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations as foundational throughout Scripture have proved unconvincing. It is rather proof of the ongoing corruption of the culture (that’s the scriptural way of looking at things, as opposed to your way of looking at them). People want to do what they want to do, especially sexually. To give others a pass to engage in what Scripture clearly regards as immoral sexual behavior is to give a pass to our own desires to engage in behaviors that Jesus and the witness of Scripture generally deem immoral.

          Add to all this a full-court press by the secular media and entertainment industry to promote a homosexualist view, an attendant suppression of information to the contrary, and accompanying name-calling and general hostility to those who remain faithful to Jesus’ ethic, and it is not surprising that we are where we are.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Scot, as I’ve noted in my published work, an appeal to an alleged slavery analogy is simply a bad case of analogical reasoning. Such an appeal even contradicts the use of an exploitation and orientation argument that you adopt. If the Bible does not intend to indict committed homosexual unions entered into by homosexually oriented persons (as you erroneously believe), why make an argument from analogy that is grounded on the need to depart from Scripture’s stance?

            As it is, the alleged slavery analogy actually has little in the way of substantive correspondence with the Bible’s view of homosexual practice. The Bible shows no vested interest in preserving slavery. In a society without a social welfare net slavery is sometimes the only alternative to starvation; otherwise it serves as a penal institution in place of standing prisons or as a means of processing prisoners of war. At a number of points Scripture exhibits a critical edge toward that institution: mandatory release dates, right of kinship redemption at any time, injunctions not to treat Israelites as slaves, protection of runaway slaves, the exodus from Egyptian as a symbol of Israel’s release from slavery, Paul’s letter to Philemon promoting the release of Onesimus, and so on. Relative to the surrounding cultures of the ancient Near East and of Greece and Rome, the biblical witness on slavery moves in the direction of curtailing that institution. Finally, there is no creation mandate for slavery. Slavery is not imaged as part of the pre-Fall structures of the world.

            Scot, compare this certainly non-enthusiastic and often critical attitude toward the institution of slavery in Scripture with the Bible’s strong witness in favor of a male-female prerequisite: There is a strong creation mandate for such a prerequisite; the pages of Scripture show strong revulsion for homosexual practice and absolutely no accommodation; and ancient Israel, early Judaism, and early Christianity had the most rigorous opposition to homosexual practice of any known culture in the ancient Near East and Greco-Roman Mediterranean basin. Jesus in Mark 10 (parallel in Matt 19) treated a male-female prerequisite for marriage (and thus all sexual relations) as foundational for sexual ethics, including the limitation of sexual unions to two persons.

            The only connection that homosexualist interpreters can make between the Bible’s critical tolerance of slavery and its deliberate abhorrence of all homosexual practice is that we have changed on the institution of slavery; therefore, they argue, we should change our position on homosexual practice. Yet that argument can be used arbitrarily for any and every belief and practice promoted in Scripture, for it takes no account of whether substantive points of correspondence exist apart from the desire of the interpreter to deviate from Scripture.

            The better analogy is between slavery and support for homosexual practice, for those who argue for the latter on the basis of a “born that way” philosophy are promoting slavery to the desires of the flesh. And still better analogies are the Bible’s stance on incest and the New Testament opposition to polygamy since the reasons why these behaviors are proscribed are related to, or derived from, a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations. As you must know, when one uses remote analogues (here, slavery) and ignores more proximate analogues (incest and polyamory) one shows poor analogical reasoning.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            The Bible has no “vested interests” in anything. The Bible is not a person. People have vested interests, and the elite of antiquity certainly had a vested interest in slavery, which is reflected in the biblical regulations of slavery, which even extended to the Ten Commandments. (Which also treats wives like property to be coveted.)

            The conservative Evangelical proslavery apologists used biblical slavery regulations to justify their claim that God has ordained the institution of slavery as one of His more beneficial, providential designs for America. Which of course, should not be abolished unless America wanted to bring God’s judgment down upon it.

            See, for starters, “When Slavery was Called Freedom: Evangelicalism, Proslavery, and the Causes of the Civil War” by John Daley, 2002.

            Given the Civil War, of which an immigrant great grandfather fought to preserve the Union and overthrow the illegal, evil regime of the blood soaked, slave holding traitors… Why should we even be listening to conservative Calvinists on matters of civil rights?

            You are the one who has tried to turn the so called Curse of Ham, which
            evangelical proslavery apologists used as “proof text” clobber verses to
            legitimate race slavery, into anti-homosexual clobber verses with which to
            abuse your Gay neighbors.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Gregory, another repeat of your bad arguments. I’ve already responded to Scot above as to why the alleged slavery analogy doesn’t work. Since you have dealt with none of these arguments you are just blowing smoke. You emitting heat without light. Anyone can attempt to use Scripture to support this or that cause. That doesn’t make all analogical appropriation of Scripture equal.
            As for the Bible having no “vested Interests” I’m surprised that you couldn’t pick up the obvious, namely, that I was using “Bible” as a ciipher for the people and communities that produced these texts.
            As for Ham text, as I have noted, already in the early rabbinic period, homosexual incestuous rape was a suggested interpretation of this story (long preceding the erroneous use for pre-Civil War racism and slavery). Gunkel and von Rad both adopted this interpretation, the 2 greatest OT scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries respectively. Martti Nissinen, a Finnish OT scholar who wrote a seminal book on Homoeroticism in the Ancient World that was making the case for homosexual unions, understands the text as a story of Ham raping his father Noah. So are all of these using the text to “abuse your Gay [sic] neighbors”?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            The ancients didn’t have the modern era’s changing social constructs of “homosexuality.” To use the word in the way you used it, is very much using modern day social constructs, like “race” both of which have a lot of baggage, to reinterpret and twist historical contexts for one’s own “agenda.”

            Not to mention that father raping isn’t homoeroticism, it’s violence to bring the father into submission. This has nothing to do with adult, loving consensual relationships; nothing to do law abiding people. It’s just defamation for defamation’s sake.

            I’m reminded of “Sex and the single Savior: gender and sexuality in biblical interpretation” by Dale B. Martin, Woolsey Professor of Religious Studies, Director of Graduate Studies at Yale. Now those are rather impressive credentials, aren’t they?

            I should dig that out again. He wrote an essay on your work. Somehow, he has more authority for me, despite your own impressive credentials.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Dale Martin didn’t write an essay on my work. He took a few snipes based on distortions of my actual argument and then never responded to those parts in my work that rebut his 2 or 3 articles on Paul. He refuses to debate me publicly on the subject. You can see my email correspondence with him on my website. His arguments are terribly weak.

            Sorry to burst your bubble, Gregory, but committed homosexual relationships were known in the ancient world; and both Jews and Christians and even some Greco-Roman moralists rejected these.

            With regard to likely allusion to Ham raping his father in Gen 9, of course there are differences between that and a consensual relationship. The question is whether this would make a difference to the indictment. If you hear a story about a man raping his father or mother, do you say to yourself, “If only it had been a caring and loving consensual relationship, surely that would not have been indicted.” No, you realize that such a story is being told to communicate multiple offenses, not just rape, but incestuous rape, where the aspect of incest is a compounding, not coincidental, offense. The same applies to the Sodom narrative of the attempt to rape male visitors.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            They weren’t committed “homosexual” relations because they were other kinds of single gender loving relations, built upon the sexist, submission/domination model of other-sex relationships. Somebody had to be “the woman.” Even the obsolete, excessively clinical social construct of “homosexuality” doesn’t insist that somebody has to be the woman.

            The Greek etc moralists didn’t reject them for the same reason you are rejecting them…because they couldn’t, They weren’t operating on the reprehensible American conservative Evangelical model of defaming minorities that you are using.

            The intellectual moralist elite aren’t necessarily representative of the morality, concepts, religion and social constructs of most everyone else in their societies… as the OT shows quite well with with the mostly unsuccessful campaign to end synergistic Jewish fertility cults.

            In antiquity, and until recently most everywhere, and unfortunately still being done in some places where the Gay egalitarian revolution has not yet taken root, “passive” men were disparaged, “active” men were not.

            They also likely weren’t based upon modern concepts of consenting adults either, however much they loved each other. The single gender loving social constructs of the past are history, important to understand the evolution of societies, but are not the same as those in the Gay community’s egalitarian, mutually consenting relationships. For dealing with Gay, you need to have good will and respect for the Golden Rule. I see neither reflected in your life’s work.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Why would any moral person debate you publicly? With your reputation?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Starting to read your Martin chronicles. You start reprehensibly by putting “gay man” in quotes. Shame on you.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            He wrote: “I do not, in fact, believe you
            present other people’s work accurately and fairly.” He’s being excessively polite there…but I’m from Viking stock…lol.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Dale writes: “I focused on your method
            and rhetoric (which is not at all Christian and kind as you seem to
            think). ”

            Indeed, as this conversation has revealed.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            You write: “…to note the
            disproportionately high negative side effects of homosexual activity
            (due largely to the absence of a sexual complement, not to some special
            perversity of homosexual persons).

            This is an utterly reprehensible statement in a passive/aggressive way. Shame on you.

            Pay no attention to the destructive effects of unjust minority stress, the very thing you are encouraging with your life’s work.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Dale Martin writes: “…my main point is to argue that the
            foundationalist position is bankrupt as it is…”

            I can’t remember what he wrote about the foundationalist postion off the top of my head. I really should take philosophy 101 some day, but if that is your position, it’s hard to disagree with Martin.

            The excessively handy wikipedia on Classical foundationalism references ” Laurence BonJour
            has argued that the classical formulation of foundationalism requires
            basic beliefs to be infallible, incorrigible, indubitable, and certain
            if they are to be adequately justified.”

            What do I know about philosophy, but…any belief based upon a claim of infallibility or inerrancy is not to be trusted in my book. The Bible may be inerrant (I see no need for such a claim of being inerrant, given its antiquity), but it’s not likely that anyone who claims it is so could possibly know that it is so without being God.

            I’ve seen very little godliness in those making that claim…it seems to be mostly correlated in my observation with the politics of privilege and resentment. However, personal experience and perceptions are not universal experience and perceptions..so I’m sure there are exceptions to my observation.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            What do you mean when you wrote: [My] book…does not speak on its own”?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Being an eccentric, little noted artist, some of the email conversation is over my head, of course. I do compositions with a camera, not theology, literary criticism and philosophy.

            But I do have to commend you for bravely putting on the web something that must be embarrassing to you.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Are you doubting that he is a “gay man?” I suspect that in a passive/aggressive way, you are. Putting “gay man” in quotes is suggesting he isn’t what he says he is, a Gay man. You seem to be suggesting that he’s …gasp, clutch pearls… a homosexual!

            You don’t get to define what he is or is not, he does. He’s a Gay man because he says so and he’s man of integrity.

            Art is what I say is art, because I’m an artist. You don’t have to like it, but it’s still art because I have pointed it out to you and identified it as art.. It may not have been art to anyone else until that very moment…but it is art after that. I made it art. Artists make art. I usually do that with a camera these days, because of health issues, but it is art unless I say it’s not.

            Gay is what Gay people make it, not you. We, the GLBT, friends, loving relatives, allies, people of good will such as Bishop Tutu, have made it a worldwide egalitarian minded, hospitable, generous community and movement…no thanks to you.

            Gay is a declaration of a certain sort of integrity, integrity which you don’t seem to understand, and therefore apparently fear those who command it. That certain sort of integrity is why a male prostitute can destroy the career of a famous religious right activist. The prostitute had integrity, morality and concern for community. The famous preacher didn’t, didn’t know what morality was, and wasn’t concerned about the dangerous anomie he was encouraging in others (of which he himself was a victim, a victim created by himself, his conservative Evangelicalism and our America.)

            Gay really should be written uppercase, like Norwegian or Black or Presbyterian, or New York.

            Well enough of this. Goodbye.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1176355049 Scot Miller

            Robert, as I said last April in my review of your book (http://tinyurl.com/bvox5ks), you seem to be very confused about the analogy with slavery. I don’t know if you’re just being obtuse, or if you intentionally misconstrue the analogy, but it’s not that hard. The analogy isn’t between slavery per se and homosexuality per se (though you certainly go to great lengths to try to make this the issue.) The analogy is between the way you interpret scripture (in this case, about homosexuality) and the way Southern Baptist Christians in the Antebellum south interpreted scripture (in their case, about slavery). So all of your gyrations about slavery entirely miss the point. The world of the ancient near east both condemned male-male homosexual practice and embraced the practice of slavery. (And the defense of slavery and the condemnation of same-sex practice are both morally justified on the basis of natural law theory, since by nature some people should be slaves and same-sex practice goes against nature.) Southern Baptists had a good, Bible-sourced arguments in support of slavery. And you have good, Bible-sourced arguments to condemn the sin of same-sex practices.Having good, Bible-based arguments may be necessary for Christians, but it obviously isn’t sufficient for adequate Christian belief.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003507967305 Neal Lindberg

            Care to explain how William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King Jr. were both inspired by the Christian faith to fight for the abolition of slavery and equal rights of African-Americans, brother?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1176355049 Scot Miller

            Neil, they were inspired by scripture in the exact same way that Justin Lee and other Christians who are open and affirming toward the LGBT community. They are inspired by the larger arc of scripture, which affirms justice and universal brotherhood. Or, to paraphrase Paul, “In Christ there is no male or female, slave or free, straight or gay…” The “Christian” case for slavery is exactly like the “Christian” case against same-sex practice: they can quote chapter and verse to support their case. The abolitionist and the supporters of LGBT persons can’t point to specific verses; they have to appeal to the message of grace throughout scripture. The Christian abolitionists and Christian supporters of same-sex couples have the better interpretation of scripture, since their interpretation does not entail such morally dubious positions as slavery and condemnation of homosexuality.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003507967305 Neal Lindberg

            -In 1 Cor 7:21, Paul encouraged slaves to gain freedom if they can.

            -1 Tim 1:8-10 condemns slave trade/kidnapping

            -In Paul’s time, Christians were persecuted minority. They weren’t in a position to challenge the Roman gov’t to ban slavery as an institution.

            -Slavery in OT was akin to indentured servitude & people often willingly put themselves in slavery because their masters had to provide for their needs. God had strict laws that govern the master-slave relationship and the kinds of slavery committed in the modern era would’ve been punishable by death even by OT standard (Exodus 21:16). Christians of the past committed huge errors because they put their own selfish needs above the word of God. They forced the Bible to fit their despicable desires, rather than being edified by Scripture.

            -Galatians 3:28 doesn’t even mention “straight” or “gay.” With all due respect, please don’t put words in the apostle’s mouth.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1176355049 Scot Miller

            Neil — Once you start qualifying the idea that the concept of slavery in the Bible is somehow different from our contemporary understanding of slavery, then to be consistent you have to be open to the idea that the concept of homosexuality in the Bible is somehow different from our contemporary understanding of homosexuality. In other words, the Bible isn’t really condemning the contemporary understanding of loving, fulfilling, mutually respectful same-sex relationships at all.

            And your argument about Christian’s “not being in a position to challenge the Roman gov’t…” is nothing but an argument from silence: there is more evidence that Christians were slave holders (and slaves) than abolitionists – 1 Cor. 7:20-24, Eph 6:5-9, Col. 3:22-25. The Southern Baptist ministers who defended slavery found that God not only sanctioned slavery (Gen. 9:18-27), but it was slavery was a legitimate and necessary segment of the social order.

            As for Gal. 3:28 or Col. 3:11), Paul is arguing that the standard social divisions which we recognize have been transformed by Christ: religious divisions (Jew/Greek), economic divisions (slave/free), sexual divisions (male/female). Paul didn’t repeat the same list twice (in Col. 3:11, he added circumcised, uncircumcised, barbarian, and Scythian), but it’s implausible that this was an exhaustive and exclusive list. The point: “all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (or “Christ is all and in all”). Now, you may not believe that “all” really means “all,” but that’s what the scripture says. And unless you think that homosexuals aren’t human, then they’re also part of the “all” who are one in Christ.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003507967305 Neal Lindberg

            I’ve no problem believing that some people are born predisposed to experience same-sex attraction, but this is a result of the Fall & its expressions in thoughts & conducts are sinful. In Christ, people are not defined by their sexuality, gender, economic status, ethnic identities, etc. Still, God expects us to grow to be more Christ-like and leave sin behind. To act on the homosexual feelings is to sin. You may ask why would God allow such people to be created if acting on those feelings are sinful. I don’t know. Why are we born with self-serving arrogance & selfish desires and yet God still asks us to put Himself first & our neighbors second above all else? Why are we predisposed to lie and yet He has the audacity to ask us to not lie?

            As far as Genesis 9 is concerned, I can’t believe you think it’s a good Bible-supported argument for the Southern Baptists to use. Good argument my foot. The rambling of a drunken old man? Please. The Canaanites still made the sinful choices they made to earn God’s severe punishment, Noah’s curse or not.

            1 Cor 7:21-24 clearly indicates slavery is not an ideal situation. In verse 24, Paul encouraged the readers to stay where they are, but also told them to be free, if they can, and not to be slaves owned by human beings (verse 23) because they were bought at a price by Christ. That the modern Christians kidnapped the Africans to be their slaves, once again, is punishable by death even by the antiquated OT standard (Ex 21:16). It was also clear that God didn’t see masters and slaves with partiality. Paul also urged Philemon to take back Onesimus as a brother in Christ, not as a slave. If slaves worked for a master, then I agree with Paul’s advice that they should listen to their masters obediently, just as employees these days do what the boss says. Still, it’s not like the master could abuse the slaves, because there is a bigger Master in heaven. If Paul told the masters not to threaten the slaves, do you think he’d be okay with them kidnapping, mistreating, and beating them up? Would God be okay with it? This is not argument from silence, this is plain common sense.

            “Once you start qualifying the idea that the concept of slavery in the Bible is somehow different from our contemporary understanding of slavery, then to be consistent you have to be open to the idea that the concept of homosexuality in the Bible is somehow different from our contemporary understanding of homosexuality. In other words, the Bible isn’t really condemning the contemporary understanding of loving, fulfilling, mutually respectful same-sex relationships at all.” It was God himself who EXPLICITY qualified the instances by which slavery was permissible back then, by extensively regulating how the masters should treat the slaves, going as far as treating them like like extended families. If you want consistent logic applied to homosexuality, then I’d like to see God qualifying that homosexuality is permissible in the context of monogamous, loving same-sex relationship. If He made EXPLICIT regulations for slavery, He should’ve done it for homosexuality too. But yet, all of the clobber passages prohibited homosexuality.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1176355049 Scot Miller

            Neal – I wish that God had EXPLICITLY called for the abolition of slavery, but he did not. Instead, Christian abolitionists had to argue indirectly for the abolition of slavery from passages like Matt. 6:26, Matt. 10:24-31, and Luke 15, where Jesus taught the essential worth of every human soul, and from Gal. 3:28, Eph. 6:5-9, and Col. 3:11, which reflect the recognition by the early church of the brotherhood of all Christian believers.

            I wish that God had EXPLICITLY condemned genocide. Instead, the Bible claims that God commanded the death of entire populations (Deut. 3:3-6, 1 Sam 15:1-3), and of the babies of God’s enemies (Psalm 137:8-9). The text says what it says, but rational persons would question the moral justification of such action.

            I also wish that God had EXPLICITLY endorsed loving, mutually fulfilling same-sex relationships, but that is not the case. (To be fair, the Bible seems to endorse a range of relationships including polygamy. 1 Timothy 3:12 even suggests that some Christians may have had multiple wives.)

            All of these “biblical” positions — even the explicit ones — require interpretation. The meaning can’t be arrived at mechanically, but (for those of us who are Christians) must be seen in light of the supreme revelation of God in Christ. That leads me to affirm and accept my LGBT brothers and sisters.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003507967305 Neal Lindberg

            Regarding genocide. YOU said it YOURSELF that God commanded it right? I agree with you b/c that’s what the Bible says. And you know what, as hard as it is for me to digest, I fully understand that it is the prerogative of the God of the universe to give and take lives away in whatever methods He likes, even if He chooses other people as the instruments of His punishment. God justly judged nations based on their (communal) sins, and even God’s chosen nation of Israel couldn’t escape a tragic fate (Babylonian exile, though maybe it wasn’t technically a “genocide”). If I were God, I wouldn’t have dealt with the Canaanites, Amalekites, whateverites that way, but I also might not have sent my only spotless, blameless, and sinless Son to die for the rest of humanity.

            Now, anyone with a basic knowledge of logic should know that it cannot be applied to the Holocaust or the Rwandan genocide. Hitler and the Hutus found their respective race to be superior to others based on a combination of laughably baseless myths and pseudoscience. No solid evidence that God suddenly spoke to them audibly & commanded them to kill the people they massacred. Zero biblical support for these horrible crimes. Remember, it’s HIS prerogatives, NOT ours!!

            It’s interesting that 1 Timothy 3:2 and 3:12 use the singular form of “wife,” not “wives.” It’s interesting also that in Titus 1:6, the footnotes in NLT version says that an elder must be the husband of one wife. Maybe you’re not convinced, but I’m just saying.

            Now, this will appear like arguments from silence, and maybe they are. But, I’m not surprised one bit that God patiently tolerated & made concessions for sins in OT like e.g., no-fault divorce. Even when God allowed for a human king in Deut 17, Samuel & God judged the Israelites guilty of rejecting their own Creator when they actually asked him to anoint one. One can argue that God allowing slavery & polygamy may be endorsements for those practices, but it’s also plausible to make the case that He was being tolerant of these practices the way He did with no-fault divorce.

            “Instead, Christian abolitionists had to argue indirectly for the abolition of slavery from passages like Matt. 6:26, Matt. 10:24-31, and Luke 15, where Jesus taught the essential worth of every human soul, and from Gal. 3:28, Eph. 6:5-9, and Col. 3:11, which reflect the recognition by the early church of the brotherhood of all Christian believers.”
            Indirect arguments that are solidly good enough & explicitly written in the Scripture. Plus, by the time the abolitionists fought for their cause, I think society had advanced itself enough to get rid of slavery as a once socioeconomic necessity. Back in the OT & NT eras, societies just weren’t advanced & “smart” enough to think of something to replace slavery.
            I think that if the ancient Israelites could view the modern era slavery, they would’ve found the way the European/the southern slavers treated & abused the African-American slaves to be abhorrent. The way they illegally obtained the slaves (kidnapping) itself was punishable by death by the standard of Exodus 21:16 & despicable by 1 Tim 1:8-10 to begin with. If Paul dared to advise slaves to be free when they can, & for people not to be slaves to other human beings, I think those are good enough indications that the institution of slavery is not ideal.

            The authors of the Bible might not have understood that there were people involuntary experiencing same-sex attraction in (what I think stems from) their sinful nature. The omniscient God would’ve known, though, He’s not naive. An infinitely smart God like ours knows that two same-sex attracted people of the same gender could’ve thought of monogamy. Still, the “clobber passages” in the Scripture made no clear, direct, & explicit exceptions of acceptable homosexual practices unlike the case with slavery. OT & NT at least regulated slavery, not the case w/ homosexuality. Paul said in his letter to the Ephesians that marriage is a profound mystery reflecting the covenant b/w God and His bride the church. For something so fundamental in how 2 people commit to each other, it would be more plausible for me to believe the pro-gay theology had God explicitly allow monogamous gay relationships in Scripture. Maybe this is an argument from silence, but if I err, I believe I’m erring on the side of caution.

            If the pro-gay theology is correct, the “worst pain” inflicted by the traditionalists is the request to be celibate. I can’t imagine how difficult celibacy is when one doesn’t personally feel called to it, but it’s survivable. (By “pain,” I mean a naturally righteous consequence of following the traditionalist Bible interpretation, I’m NOT talking about the verbal abuse, physical harassment, & ostracism committed by truly bigoted Christians against gay people because such aggression is 100% unacceptable). If the traditionalists are right, brother, you have deceived same-sex attracted brothers and sisters into sexual immorality.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Scot, you state: “Once you start qualifying the idea that the concept of slavery in the Bible is somehow different from our contemporary understanding of slavery, then to be consistent you have to be open to the idea that the concept of homosexuality in the Bible is somehow different from our contemporary understanding of homosexuality. In other words, the Bible isn’t really condemning the contemporary understanding of loving, fulfilling, mutually respectful same-sex relationships at all.” The problem with your argument, Scot, is that I have shown that committed adult-consensual homosexual unions were both within the conceptual framework of the Greco-Roman milieu and known to exist in actual cases. In fact we have both Church Fathers and rabbis commenting on marriages between men and marriages between women and still rejecting such unions as “against nature.”

            We also know that both Jesus and Paul appealed to a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations given in Gen 1:27 and 2:24. We know that Paul’s indictment of homosexual practice included an indictment of lesbianism (not known for being typically exploitative in the ancient world) and an acknowledgment of reciprocal affections among males (“males inflamed with their yearning for one another, males with males”). We have debates between proponents of male homosexual love and proponents of heterosexual love in which the latter acknowledge the existence of caring/committed homosexual unions and yet still reject them.

            Contending that if Jesus (a Jew) or Paul were approached by 2 men who stated that they wanted to be in a “loving, fulfilling, mutually respectful same-sex relationship” Jesus or Paul would have approved of such a union is historically ridiculous. Equally ridiculous is your claim that Gal 3:28 can be read in complete disregard for Gen 1:27 and 2:24, as understood by Jesus and Paul and early Christians generally. That we are “all one in Christ” provides absolutely zero grounds for eliminating all prerequisites for sexual unions, including kinship otherness, number of persons in a sexual union, and gender otherness.

            BTW, 1 Cor 7:20-24 says nothing about Christian slaveowners. In the letter to Philemon, Paul is clearly trying to get Philemon to release Onesimus from slavery (we don’t see Paul or any other positive figure in Scripture discouraging a male-female requirement for sexual relations). And your claim that the Pastoral Epistles imply Christian polygamy is just bad exegesis and wishful thinking on your part. If “husband of one wife” implies polygyny among non-leaders than the requirement that enrolled widows had to have been the “wife of one husband” would imply polyandry, which is absurd because we know polyandry never occurred in ancient Israel.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            No, Scot, you are missing the whole point that the writers of Scripture and Jesus clearly had no vested in the preservation of the institution of slavery but just as clearly displayed a strong vested interest in a male-female foundation for sexual ethics. To ignore that crucial difference makes all the difference in evaluating whether the abolitionists and the homosexualists are making an equally valid case for being “inspired by the larger arc of scripture.” It is precisely because Jesus and the writers of Scripture do not laud the institution of slavery but repeatedly qualify the institution of slavery and disparage the treatment of people as tools that abolitionists can make a valid case for the rejection of slavery. This comes across clearly in warnings not to treat fellow Israelites as slaves and all the indictments that I already laid out, which you have summarily ignored.

            It is precisely that kind of critical edge to the institution of slavery that we find utterly lacking toward the institution of marriage as exclusively a male-female bond. And it is not just a few specific verses that speak to a male-female prerequisite but the entire fabric of Scripture whenever it deals with the matter of sexual ethics. As for your obvious misuse of Gal 3:28, why stop yourself at “there is no straight or gay.” Continue on: There is no monogamist or polyamorist, there is no teleiophile or pedophile, there is no exogamist or endogamist, right? The church from the days of Jesus and Paul on into the centuries that followed understood “no ‘male and female’” when applied to sexual relations (and not just male-female equality before God) as the end of all sexual relations. When male-female differentiation ends as a force in creation so too will all sexual relations; hence Jesus’ statement that in the world to come people do not marry but are like the angels. As long as there are sexual relationships, according to Jesus, a male-female requirement is foundational.

            Neither “the message of grace” nor “justice and universal brotherhood” justify the elimination of this foundation in the view of Jesus or in any of the witnesses to him in Scripture, including Paul. On the contrary, homosexual practice dishonors and degrades the imprint of gender stamped on God’s creation, where the participants treat their maleness or femaleness as only half intact in relation to their own sex, their “sexual complement or counterpart” as the sex that they already are, attracted erotically to the essence of the gender that they already are. Affirmation of this is not a manifestation of love or grace or brotherhood or justice but complicity in acts that degrade the self created by God as “male and female.”

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            To see just how silly Scot’s arguments are, consider the following. According to Scot, appeals to Scripture and nature arguments to reject homosexual practice must be rejected because slaveowners in the antebellum American South also made appeals to Scripture and nature arguments. Never mind that the latter were bad appeals based on misunderstandings of Scripture and the former are good appeals that are based on correct understandings of Scripture understood in its historical and literary context. Scot goes with the view that if a certain type of argument can ever be used badly then all such types of argument must be bad. So let’s apply Scot’s principles and see what we come up with.

            Scot argues that homosexualist arguments are like abolitionist arguments: they both are good because they make general appeals “inspired by the larger arc of scripture,” “the message of grace” and “justice and universal brotherhood.” But hold the fort: modern polyamorists, proponents of “big love,” argue on the basis of the same types of principles. So the Unitarian Universalist Polyamory Awareness group which even the president of the main UU seminary (Starr King) has endorsed. By Scot’s reasoning since polyamorists use the same types of argument, but do it badly, then all such types of arguments, irrespective of how equal and accurate their general appeals to scripture and justice/love are, must be rejected. That’s how bad Scot’s reasoning his.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Scot, in talking about my obtuseness I think that we have a classic case of projection on your part. You are talking in non sequiturs. The fact that poor use of Scripture was made by some in history does not make all use of Scripture as a normative guide poor. All types of arguments, not just Bible-based arguments, have been misused at various points in history. To use your standard, no one could ever make an argument about anything, pro or con, or make any reasonable decisions because all types of arguments have been misused and misplayed throughout history, including all the types of arguments used by you and the one that you are currently using about slavery. I laid a number of differences between the appropriation of the biblical text to support slavery and the appropriation of the biblical text to justify a male-female requirement for sexual relations. You have not refuted any of these points. That’s the whole ball of wax. The fact that for two entirely different matters appeal was made to Scripture and nature arguments is irrelevantn and intellectually vacuous as a debate point if the relative quality of the arguments is not assessed on historical, literary, and logical grounds. Presumably you reject bestiality on the basis of a nature argument (one could only hope) in spite of the fact that you don’t accept the kind of nature argument employed by white racists to justify race-based institutional slavery. I guess that just makes you inconsistent. To claim that Jesus’ view on the foundational character of male-female relations is no different than some alleged endorsement of slavery on his part is morally, spiritually, and intellectually bankrupt. The bottom line is that you don’t care really what Jesus thought about the matter because you believe that your flawed recourse to your own pet ideology trumps everything else, including what our Lord thought essential.

          • Tim Mitchell

            “Southern Baptists had a good, Bible-sourced arguments in support of slavery. And you have good, Bible-sourced arguments to condemn the sin of same-sex practices.Having good, Bible-based arguments may be necessary for Christians, but it obviously isn’t sufficient for adequate Christian belief.”

            You use the same “mistakes” you accuse others of making. In defending same-sex relationships, supporters call on natural law when they state that homosexuals are “born that way.” Same argument that the pro-slavery forces used to promote their view that Africans were inferior to the white race, therefore justifying their enslavement. Same-sex supporters also accuse others of forgetting the Biblical injuctions to “judge not” and to “love your neighbor,” while THEY themselves either forget or ignore the context of sexual purity and holiness clearly stated from the beginning to the end of the Bible. “Love” without holiness is self-imposed slavery to the passions of this world. Holiness without love is slavery to self-imposed slavery to arrogance and self-righteousness. The Bible is clear that BOTH love and holiness are important to living right.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            There aren’t patriarchs in the Bible? Of course they had an intense interest in maintaining an authoritarian system of dominance and submissiveness…as do the men today who have their nasty, tawdry little fantasies of a patriarchal status quo ante. Egalitarian movements, such as the feminist movement and the word wide Gay community movement, are threats to such dreams of unearned, God anointed male dominance.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Yes, Gregory, I’m shaking in my boots about the threat that the homosexual movement poses to male dominance! Really, are you intending to be comic? That is how you are coming across. Obviously a smokescreen argument on your part. I’m all for equal rights for women (understanding of course that abortion is not an “equal rights” issue since it kills female humans). I’ve already dealt above with your false-start misogyny argument.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Oh…so you believe it’s “equal rights” for conservative Christian men like you to overrule all woman’s own judgments about their pregnancies? You also don’t seem to support Lesbian equal rights to legal recognition of their marriages to their ‘Alma de me Alma,’
            as the lovely old Mexican song goes.

            Clever of you to say “kills female humans,” however. Disingenuousness is one weapon for a devout conservative Christians exercise of spiritual warfare, right? (I’m paraphrasing from Rousas John Rushdoony’s utterly depraved, “Institutes of Biblical Law,” but that’s for another day.)

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            No, Gregory, I don’t believe that a woman has an equal right to kill distinctly different human life just because that life is in her womb. Just as I don’t believe that a parent has a right to kill a newly born baby or starve such a child through neglect or in any other way inflict injury on this distinctly different human life. There is nothing disingenuous about pointing out that there is nothing “feminist” about females deliberately killing other female life that happens to be in their womb. I regard your support of such killing as superstitious (because you can’t see the baby in the womb [though now with ultrasound one can see the baby] you have a right to kill that human life?] and barbaric. Sugar coating such gruesome acts with the terminology “equal rights” is a classic instance of disingenuousness though. I’m surprised that you missed it.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Right…conservative Evangelicalism is a feminist movement…right…if you say so.

      • Todd Nuccio

        Scot, what really matters to you and other gay marriage advocates is not the facts or proper interpretation of the Bible, but to win. Your spiking of the football (“Not only will same-sex marriages be legal in every state within the next 10-20 years, even some Evangelicals today are growing more accepting of same-sex relationships. That’s what must really gall Gagnon.”) only proves my point. What’s wonderful about believing in a loving and just God is that we can have faith that He will decide who is right and who is wrong while we just try to live by truths, those of which are constantly changing on the Left because of knee-jerk relativism.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

      Scot, you say: “Gagnon’s problem is that he wants to have it both ways in his argument…. He wants to be a good, careful scholar and admit that matters of interpretation are never absolutely conclusive, especially about ancient texts. When Lee quotes Gagnon, he’s drawing attention to the good, careful, balanced Gagnon. On the other hand, Gagnon is absolutely certain that God can’t possibly tolerate even loving, monogamous same-sex practices.” This is an inconsistency of your making and transposed onto me. I never say, and it would be a dumb comment for me to say, that “matters of interpretation are never absolutely conclusive.” We can be absolutely conclusive when we say, for example, that Paul did not require circumcision of Gentile converts (otherwise there is little point to the letter to the Galatians); that an adult-committed incestuous relationship would have been included in Paul’s indictment of incest in 1 Cor 5 (i.e. if we read Paul’s remarks contextually); that Jesus was not in favor of pedophilia when he said, “Let the little children come to me”; and so on. There are some things that we can say with confidence with regard to matters of interpretation of biblical texts.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

      Scot, you say: “When Lee quotes Gagnon, he’s drawing attention to the good, careful, balanced Gagnon.” No, Lee is quoting me out of context. I make this very clear in the context of the statement that Lee lifts from the book (and you should know this if you had my article carefully). Just a few paragraphs before the lifted quotation I state quite clearly: “Few today give this argument [i.e. that the Levitical prohibitions of man-male intercourse were prohibiting only cultic or idolatrous forms of male homosexual practice] much credence and for good reason.” I then proceed to give a number of reasons why this is the case. “The good, careful, balanced Gagnon” is someone who is going to say that the evidence is overwhelming in one direction when that is in fact the case. I would be lying to say that the evidence is such that one can reasonably suppose that the Levitical prohibitions did not have in view every act of homosexual intercourse.

      You say: “The problem for Leviticus is that the text almost certainly refers to (abusive) cultic practices, but it’s a stretch to include loving, monogamous same-sex relationships (which Justin Lee is talking about). It is possible that Gagnon’s interpretation is right, but it’s implausible given the evidence.” That is precisely the point that I address in the post, providing a half dozen arguments why those prohibitions are not limited to cultic prostitution. In looking at your response I see a grand total of zero arguments and/or rebuttals. To say that “it’s a stretch to include loving, monogamous same-sex relationships” makes about as much sense as saying that the prohibitions of incest in the same context do not include loving, adult-consensual sexual relationships between close kin. Do you really want to argue the absurdity that if two men came to the author(s)/compiler(s) of the Holiness Code and said, “We want to be in a committed sexual relationship where we are not exploiting one another and we’ll do it while continuing to be exclusive worshippers of Yahweh,” said author(s)/compiler(s) would have responded, “Sure, that would be acceptable to us”?

      As I noted in the response to Justin, even William Loader, a prominent New Testament scholar and an advocate for homosexual unions, acknowledges that “most [scholars] conclude that Lev 18:22 does condemn same-sex anal intercourse between males in general and is not restricted to particular settings,” himself agreeing with this consensus. When you raise no effective arguments to support your contention but claim in spite of such that your position is the right one, you simply show that you are an ideologue imposing your own meaning on the text. At least a biblical scholar like Loader (though he has other blind spots) is willing to admit what most have viewed as historically obvious.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

        Comparison with incest… Back when I was young, the make believe “unnatural sin of miscegenation” was almost always compared with incest. How come conservatives can’t seem to not talk like the segregationists of my youth? What are they conserving?

        See, for starters Eva Saks in:

        Interracialism : Black-White Intermarriage in American History, Literature … edited
        by Werner Sollors, The Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English
        Literature and Professor of Afro-American Studies at Harvard University.

        • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

          Gregory, rather than put forward a coherent argument you try to tar and feather by false association. There is nothing unnatural (i.e. structurally incongruent) about a mixed race marriage. The body parts fit. The physiology of procreation works. The psychology of the two brings forward the strengths and weaknesses of each given sex, with one sex moderating the extremes and filling in the gaps of the other. Totally unlike homosexual unions. The analogy with incest (which you are incapable of debunking) is much superior to any analogy with mixed race marriages for the problem with incest is too much structural sameness (here on the level of kinship) and not enough complementary otherness, which is exactly the problem with homosexual practice (here on the level of sex or gender).

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Conservative Evangelicals say that now, but I’m old enough to remember “yesterday.”

            I went to a university in the Bible Belt…I know what conservative Evangelical believed…”whiteness,” and I have access to a large research library and the time to use it to refresh and check my memory.

            If conservative Evangelicals still talk as they did back then, only about a different minority group, why should I think they are different in substance and morality?

            Gay couples bring strengths and weaknesses to their marriages. Their body parts “meet” and they find it satisfactory.

            The analogy with incest, which is about a perversion of familial dynamics, and not really fully consensual at that, is simply defamation, then and now.

            What is the difference, really, between your “incest is too much structural sameness,” and their, “miscegenation is like incest in that both are about “unnatural” structural characteristics?” Your assertion is “too much sameness.” There’s was “too much otherness.” Both are about defending conserving conservative Christian privilege against egalitarian movements.

            See Eva Saks in:

            Interracialism : Black-White Intermarriage in American History, Literature,” edited by Werner Sollors Henry B. and Anne M. Cabot Professor of English Literature and Professor of Afro-American Studies Harvard University.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            You call the incest analogy defamation because you claim that incest is always “a perversion of familial dynamics.” Odd that you should use the word “perversion” since you don’t like anyone using it of homosexual unions; yet you have no aversion of using it for a woman who just happens to fall in love with her adult brother, even if they want the relationship to be “egalitarian.” Face the facts: you find incest a perversion because it involves sex between two individuals who are in their embodied existences are too much alike on the level of kinship. Higher rates of abnormalities produced in offspring confirms the fact of excessive structural sameness (the gene pool is insufficiently differentiated). The degree of embodied sameness is felt even more keenly in a homosexual union since gender is a more constituent part of sexual relations. And whereas incest makes healthy procreation more difficult (though far from impossible and who are you to deny two people who love each other?), homosexual practice makes procreation impossible, not as regards a defect in the “equipment” but as regards a complete absence of a true sexual counterpart. Sounds to me like a much more effective analogy, more proximate, than your alleged mixed race analogy. And what about the cases of “genetic sexual attraction” reported in the press?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Incest is a perversion because it’s likely not truly consensual but psychologically coerced, given family dynamics. Unrelated Gay adults are not doing that.

            Sure single gender loving couples are “infertile” together, but not infertile separately. Which allows them to do what couples with infertility issues have done since antiquity…surrogates, donors, adoption. And when they do that, they’re doing healthy procreation.

            In any case, Christianity isn’t a fertility cult, as Matthew 19 makes fairly clear..

            I’m guessing that it’s rare for both individuals in a relationship to be infertile. In any case, the ancients didn’t seem to think that men could be infertile. Impotent yes, infertile, no. So a non-impotent man could always blame women and circumstance for his lack of male heirs.

            Oops, got to go. Nice chatting with you. Repent and go forth and practice the Golden Rule…that’s is my condescending advice to you.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Conservative Evangelicals say that now, but they didn’t say that then.

            How difficult is it to get tab a into a suitable sized slot? Hold out your hand. Gasp, God “designed” your hand to wrap around your own penis!!! Give me a break already. We are not designed… but if so, where can I file a lawsuit for the design negligence that has resulted in considerable expense for me.

            So, you’re presuming that women, because of their sex, have weaknesses and extremes which needs a man to control. (You’ll condescending throw in male weaknesses and extremes…because a pretense of egalitarianism is expected in the 21st Century, despite the best efforts of conservative Evangelicals. You do know that you’re talking about responsible adults, don’t you?

            “Homosexual unions.” I know lots of people from all walks of life, from all over the world, but I haven’t met one single person who is a homosexual…whatever they were. So, if you’re worried about homosexual unions, you probably needn’t worry. Homosexuals seemed to have disappeared about the same time as the Negroes.

            The analogy of incest doesn’t need debunking because it’s a shameful, sleazy, desperate and immoral attempt at the defamation of minority relationships…one which has been oft done before…for the same reasons.

            Incest was compared with mixed-race relationships because they had excessively incompatible structural characteristics to be complimentary to each other…like oranges and bowling balls or something. Both are round, but…one helps keep you healthy, and the other breaks bones if you drop it on your bare foot.

            How is that all that different from your proclamations of an alleged doctrine of not enough complimentary otherness. Both are nonsense…pernicious nonsense.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

        Lev. 18:22 isn’t about condemning “homosexuality,” a modern era social construct. It is, as Lev. 18 says in its introduction, about the politics of identity. Don’t do as the Egyptians and Canaanites do.

        However, it’s likely to have been part of the reason for the evolution of a long and shameful tradition of scapegoating and defaming the “passive,” penetrated like a woman man in same-sex relationships….just as they had a long and shameful tradition of scapegoating and defaming the “passive,” dominated, submissive sex, women. A free man did not lay with an equal (or would admit to it) …someone had to be the submissive “woman,” even in loving same-sex relationships. See the story of the Centurion and his gravely ill, much loved lover/slave, which Jesus healed for the Centurion.

        Patriarchal systems had a strong antipathy towards equality, in or out of the bed chamber…which is why in ancient sexual activity, someone had to be the submissive, passive “woman,” in both other-sex or same-sex relationships.

        However, the worldwide Gay Community Movement is yet another egalitarian movement, inside and outside of the bedroom, if you want to know why the movement has people like Dr. Gagnon all upset.

        • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

          Gregory, I’m not in the least upset about egalitarian
          marriage. I happen to be in such a union. That you make such an ad hominem comment only underscores your ignorance of my work. What you have above is mostly a rehash of the erroneous claims that you made in your post above. Restating yourself doesn’t make the claims any more true.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            If you have an egalitarian marriage, you must know than God about the proper role for women….submissiveness to men. (I’m being sarcastic at your boastful hypocrisy here.)

        • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

          Gregory, earlier you had claimed that the Levitical prohibitions were limited to idolatrous contexts (ignoring my arguments to the contrary). Now you claim that they are just misogynist. But those two arguments are contradictory. If the issue is misogyny then a cultic context is irrelevant. But, when one is looking for any reason to dismiss biblical texts that are inconvenient for one’s lifestyle, I suppose any argument will do, even if it contradicts earlier claims (your FB page shows pictures of scantily clad men at a “gay pride” parade).

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Leviticus is blatantly misogynist by today’s standards…and I live in the “today,” not in antiquity. Since a literal interpretation of Lev. 18:22 condemns MSM “as with a woman,” it is reasonable to think that it’s about the “…as with a woman” part that is upsetting even outside of cultic ritual.

            In any case, I don’t care if a man lays with a man as with a woman, as long as both are consenting adults…though I hope they use safer sex techniques as part of that Golden Rule thing.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Gregory, I think we know that you don’t care if a man regards another man as a sexual complement to himself. Tell us something that we don’t know (and reflects a reasoned and informed presentation). I’ve already given a number of reasons why misogyny is a bad explanation for the prime motivation behind the prohibition of man-male intercourse in Leviticus and elsewhere in Scripture but you continue to maintain your stance in spite of your inability to respond to these arguments. Why let evidence get in the way of one’s imposition of ideology on the text. What it comes down to for you is that you want to do something that is viewed as a grievous offense in Scripture so what Scripture says has to be for bad reasons (actual evidence be damned) so that you can dismiss that witness to God’s will.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Gay is not about a finding a “sexual compliment” to one’s self. That’s your bizarre theo-fetish. Gay is about personal integrity, community, hospitality, generosity and hopefully… finding a soul mate to help one get though this sometimes cruel world… cruelty you are encouraging in your expensively educated, high brow way.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            I was writing about the historical context that developed after Lev. 18 was put together. Sorry if I didn’t make that clear. Lev. 18 was about idolatry as the chapter makes fairly clear, as ancient Biblical writings go. Verse 22 then evolved into being less about idolatry, and more about condemning submissiveness in free men… though a disdain for “seductive, weak, submissive and passive” femininity would seem to have informed all of Leviticus

            My photographs of the Gay Pride parade have been much appreciated, but apparently not by you. I had a lot of fun taking them, and the Gay Pride parade, which is one of the largest events in my city, is very festive. Who doesn’t like to see scantily clad young men and/or women? Your dismissive use of “one’s lifestyle” suggests a lifestyle of stereotyping and dismissing minorities, doesn’t it?

        • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

          Gregory, even a “misogyny theory” has to presuppose some notion of gender complementarity. Otherwise, why would Lev 18:22 and 20:13 identify the one who is penetrated as taking the place of a “woman”? To put it bluntly, the fact that a woman’s vagina is the appropriate receptacle for a man’s penis must have something to do with this identification. Indeed, in a holistic sense, God has designed woman as the “counterpart” or “complement” of a man (kenegdo), the missing element of a once indivisible sexual whole (so Gen 2:18-24 [J]; J attributes a husband’s rule over his wife to the Fall [3:16]). Those who argue that the Levitical prohibition is possibly in support of the command to be “fruitful and multiply.” This too speaks to some baseline notion of male-female sexual complementarity, certainly as regards procreative function, which in turn presupposes anatomical fit.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            The priestly notion of creation “according to its kind” (Gen 1:11-12, 21, 24-25) also speaks to an understanding of structural conformity, as does the Holiness Code’s prohibition of breeding animals, sowing seed, or putting on a garment “of two kinds” (Lev 19:19). Although the prohibitions in Lev 19:19 strike us as quaint, the interdiction of incest and bestiality in Lev 18 and 20 does not. The latter shows concerns both for too much structural identity in a sexual merger (in the case of incest having intercourse with the “flesh of one’s flesh”; 18:6) and for too little structural identity (in the case of bestiality an invalid sexual “mixing” of humans and animals [tebel]; 18:23; 20:15-16). Neither of these two sets of prohibitions primarily has in view the maintenance of male hierarchical authority, which you now posit as the prime motive for the prohibition of man-male intercourse. Instead, structural
            considerations are primary. The same applies to the prohibition of sex with a menstruant, construed as a discordant mix of physiological functions (Lev 18:19; 20:18).

            Thus issues of structural congruity appear to be paramount
            in the prohibition of man-male intercourse, with any misogynistic overlay subsidiary at best. Certainly Gen 1:27 rejects any attempt to lessen the humanity of women since it affirms that women too are made fully in God’s image. If surrendering a dominant male social status were the real issue behind the proscriptions of Lev 18:22 and 20:13, we would expect the legislators of the Holiness Code to have made subversion of male hierarchy punishable by death, not just the “symptom” of homosexual intercourse. If status were the main concern rather than structure, we might wonder why the legislators did not permit, as The Middle Assyrian Laws seem to have done, high-status men to have sex with low-status males. If the main concerns were the dominance, exploitation, and humiliation of the penetrated partner, we might wonder why the legislators did not permit consensual acts rather than condemn to death both parties. It seems, then, that the primary motive behind prohibiting man-male intercourse was the view that gender dimorphism was absolutely inviolable. A male is not, and never can be, a sexual complement to a man. To pretend otherwise is to commit sacrilege against God’s creation as “male and female.”

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Even more problems arise in a NT context for a misogyny argument. Briefly: (1) Even among Greco-Roman moralists arguments based on structural compatibility were used and not only arguments predicated on male dominance. (2) In the Greco-Roman milieu opposition to male homosexual practice intensified, not lessened, as appreciation for women’s capacity for moral and intellectual discernment grew. (3) Since opposition to homosexual practice was more intense in early Judaism and early Christianity than anywhere else in the Greco-Roman world, and since too the misogyny theory presupposes that the prime motivation for such opposition was a desire to protect the sanctity of male superiority over women, the misogyny theory requires the absurd corollary that the NT writers and even Jesus were among the biggest misogynists of the Greco-Roman world. This corollary flies in the face of significant evidence that women in the first-century church were being given more significant roles than were generally accorded them in non-Christian society.

            The fact that we don’t find in ancient Israel, early Judaism, and early Christianity the kind of accommodation to male homosexual
            practice within a broader misogynistic bent that we find generally everywhere else in the ancient Near East and in the Greco-Roman world—specifically the right of men to penetrate socially inferior males such as youths, foreigners, and slaves—indicates that for the subcultures of ancient Israel, early Judaism, and early Christianity gender differentiation was a far greater concern than gender stratification. The misogyny argument is, at best, highly reductionistic.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Many would agree with what you have denounce. Conservative Evangelicals have made St. Paul one of the most despicable villains of American history, and they’re still doing him a grave disservice.

            I remember reading in a book by Peter J. Gomes, when after the Civil War, a newly freed woman promptly tore Paul out of her Bible. I can very much understand the action, though it wasn’t Paul who made him America’s foremost proslavery apologist, but his conservative Evangelical bibliolators.

            I would generally agree with you that “women in the first-century church were being given more significant
            roles than were generally accorded them in non-Christian society,” or at least, I really would like to at this time. However, pay no attention to the fact that such a situation didn’t really last all that long, as the Pastorals themselves show (whomever wrote those probably after Paul had died), and which wasn’t restored until very recently… sadly, not universally.

            in any case, while however interesting increasing antipathy toward homoerotic relationships in the late Greco Roman world is, and however much Aristotle’s conjectures on sex influenced Aquinas etc, they are hardly the last word on sexology, psychology, sociology, identity formation, and what is, and is not, “natural.”

            We have learned a thing or two about those things in the last few millennium… for that matter, most of it in the overlapping lifetimes of my grandfather and me.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Gregory, not a whole lot of light shed in this post. The appeal to Paul to justify slavery represents a misreading of the Pauline text. The appeal to Paul and Jesus and the rest of the united witness of Scripture represents as I have shown an accurate understanding of the biblical witness. As for your claims that we have radically new knowledge that allows us to dismiss what Jesus and the writers of Scripture regard as a core value in sexual ethics, well, that is precisely what you have not demonstrated. Indeed, it is what I have shown cannot be demonstrated since already in the ancient world they are aware of equal-age reciprocal sexual relationships between persons of the same sex; and since too there were many theories circulating in antiquity that posited some degree of congenital influence on social development and various nature-nurture theories. Differences with modern theories are not great enough to justify throwing out the biblical witness.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            You’re saying what conservative Evangelicals say now about Paul and slavery, but not what they said when they were arguing for slavery. Paul and Jesus simply condoned slavery, pure and simple, and Paul inexcusably used other people in real bondage to puff up his oh so humble, I’m a slave to God schtick. Disgusting and pathetically manipulative…by today’s standards…but not by the ancients’. They do things differently in antiquity.

            The stereotype of slave traders was similar to the stereotype of louche and manipulative used car dealers. It was respectable to buy used slaves, just not to deal in them…though perfectly legal.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Same gender love is not like incest or bestiality, and reminds me of what the racists of my youth said about “the unnatural sin of miscegenation.” You’re furiously rationalizing, and not very well.

            As the proslavery Evangelicals of my great grandfather’s day pointed out repeatedly, Galatians 3:28 does not mean being made equal on Earth after “The Fall.” Which is why the allegedly divinely willed submissive status of some people must not be abolished or divine regulations challenged until Jesus himself comes again and refurbishes creation, or something like that.

            A providential God knows what is best for us in this time of the Total depravity of Man, so we must not think we know more than God about why some people are willed to be submissive to others (probably inherited sin…disgusting moral idiots), yet still one in Christ Jesus….which also can be read as those who aren’t Christian, aren’t quite human, or they would also be all one with Christ. (I can’t remember what they said about Gen. 1:26, but I imagine it was much the same.)

            Laying with a man as with a woman in fertility cult rituals subverted monotheistic patriarchy, just like being with a man who wasn’t enslaved or a eunuch subverted patriarchal dominance. Hence, “passive” sex partners had to be defamed and controlled. That sort of thing is immoral today, when I was a kid, when my great grandfather was growing up, and it was immoral in antiquity, even if they didn’t think about that aspect.

            However, changing times allows for fresh insights into the practice of the Golden Rule, which means learning from the past, not pining for a status quo ante built upon dominance by elites and the submission of “those people.”

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Gregory, you can talk about an incest analogy “reminding you” of miscegenation arguments but none of this shows the intellectual rigor of actually assessing the merits and demerits of analogies. It is your usual tar-and-feather approach, which I guess suffices for you in lieu of a reasoned analysis. You continue to presume the cult-only interpretation of the Levitical prohibitions in spite of the fact that you haven’t refuted a single one of my arguments in the article. Arguing that tyrannical patriarchy is the “father” of every notion of a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations is absurd in view of many facts, not least of which is Jesus’ support for such a prerequisite as foundational and the fact that in ancient debates between proponents of male-male love and proponents of male-female lover it is the latter that have the highest view of women, not the former. Opposition to homosexual practice, as I have already demonstrated to you with multiple pieces of evidence (none of which you refute), is not in the first instance due to a desire to keep women down but rather due to a recognition that the true sexual complement for a man is a woman and for a woman a man (a position that is self-evident in terms of anatomy, physiology, and psychology), not to mention the problematic dimension of being aroused sexually by the essence of one’s own gender or sex.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            There are may ways a couple complement each other, and Tab A and Slot B still works just fine for the intimate bonding of two soul mates.

            God didn’t “design” man and woman. Humans “design,” and as a former graphics artist, I know design when I see it. If humans are designed, where do I go file a lawsuit for damages from my badly designed chromosome? Not to mention my nearsightedness and, and and and…etc. God could have done a better job of it.

            God empowered creation allowed for the evolution of humans. I would rather think that evolution is responsible for my genetic disease, rather than God, but…that’s just me, I guess.

            As an intensely social species, and, to various degrees, rather a bisexual one at that, “homosexuality” is just a natural variation on the theme of being a human looking for a soul mate.

            An “active” men with a same sex love orientation did procreate, because their father bought them a wife and he expected his son to make male heirs to the family’s position in the social hierarchy. You did as the patriarch ordered.

            Given the double standard, a man could always find a soul mate outside of marriage…as long as his soul mate was a submissive “passive” man/unmarried woman. It wasn’t adultery.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Gregory, thanks for the helpful correction of Jesus. I’ll remember the next time that I read about how Jesus indicated that God designed sex for sexual complements or counterparts: “God made them male and female” (Gen 1:27) and “for this reason a man may … be joined to a woman and they [the two] become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). Up till now I thought Jesus was my Lord and that if Jesus declared this to be the foundation for sexual ethics, a design established by God in creation, that Jesus probably knew what he was talking about. But now since you have told me that you understand God’s design in creation better than Jesus does, that you have more of an inside track into God’s will, I’ll know to turn to you instead. By the way, the fact that the material structures of creation bear the marks of corruption at various points doesn’t mean there is no observable divine design. To argue that the complementary character of male and female is no more evidence of divine design than an inherited disease shows how far your mind as strayed from the truth, requiring you to suppress the obvious and make remote and unlikely analogies.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            I’ll write about the above and the below.

            God made Gay people female and male, so what? Gender is an ever evolving social construct which is different in different times and places. Some societies have more than two sexes. Some societies believe that a child can have more than one father. Life is interesting.

            Gen.2:24 always makes me smile. It’s funny. “therefore doth a man leave his father and his mother, and hath cleaved unto his wife, and they have become one flesh”

            We’re talking about two people who had been one flesh before they were uncleaved into two people. They had no mother and father to leave. Not to mention that there was never a time when humanity consisted of just one man and his genetically modified clone.

            Gen. 2 is also funny in that God sees that it’s not good for Adam to be alone…though one would sort of expect God not to have to discover that. So…first God molds mud sculptures and brings them to life. Will this beast which you have named (and therefore have made your own) cure your loneliness, Adam? This fowl of the air?

            Finally God gets a clue… Adam wants something like himself, a fellow human. And so God genetically modified a clone of Adam. Adam and Eve then invent sexual attraction, and it was good. The man commends God for finally getting it right and pronounces Adam and Eve as the Gardens hot couple… and though the man has no parents himself, he somehow knows that future humans will…even Gay people.

            Jesus refers to Gen 2 in Matthew 19 to argue for his radical redefinition of divorce… redefined to discourage men from marrying at all.

            Of course your referencing Gen 1:11-12, 21 reminds me that those long time clobber verses were frequently used to justify anti-miscegenation laws…two “kinds” of humans should not mix…apparently just because they were desperate to justify their own unjust state of caste privilege. (Remind you of someone?) The suite and tie racist Evangelicals of my youth…for that matter, the proslavery Evangelical clergy/laity of my great grandfather’s youth, also used your accusation that their critics knew better than God. Really, do come up with something new and entertain me.

            Gay people don’t have intercourse with “the flesh of one’s flesh.” They have sex with consenting, unrelated adults. There can be reason to think that true consent is not really possible with incest, given family dynamics and structures.

            Incest was apparently used in Israel’s neighboring Egypt for dynastic reasons. Since polygamy was legal for the patriarchs, it was a status symbol, a prohibition of incest would keep the already probably unstable familial dynamics from escalating, even in an authoritarian patriarchy.

            The primary reason for same gender loving is the same for other sex loving.

            Women too are made in God’s image. How condescending of you to agree with God. Gay people have XX or XY chromosomes, which would make them in God’s image just like everyone who has XX or XY chromosomes. Of course, the ancients didn’t know about that.

            We don’t know what God or Jesus looks like, though conservative American Evangelicals usually picture the Son, a person of three persons of the one God, as being as Nordic looking as my own once younger Norwegian self. I’m not flattered by that, I’m appalled. As a medieval rabbi who’s name I’ve forgotten pointed out: “If I could know God, I would be God.”

            Why are you supposing that it’s human sex/social constructs that are made in God’s image, and not something else?

            The ancients didn’t seem to have the concept of “consenting adult.” So, we should go back to that glorious age, because then those nasty homosexual creatures could be taken out and stoned to death?

            I haven’t extensively studied Middle Assyrian Law, unlike yourself, but since “homosexual sex” wasn’t invented until when my grandfather was a kid, I’m pretty sure the Middle Assyrian’s didn’t outlaw it. (My oldest grandfather was born when slavery was still legal in parts of the United States.
            “Homosexuality” was conceptualized just after slavery was abolished in this country…now go do something with that),

            The Middle Assyrians apparently did outlaw raping another man, even a lower status man. They also outlawed gossip mongering about what a MSM whore the neighbor guy is… and the penalty seems to have been the same as gossip mongering about what a whore his wife is….very unpleasant, as penalties were back in those good old days.

            Gender dimorphism is about the differences of appearance between sexes. I have no idea why you think that Gay males look the same as Gay females. I guess you see what you want to see.

            The main concern of Lev. 18 is just what the writer says it’s concerned about…Not doing as the Egyptians and Canaanites do. It’s about not doing Egyptian and Canaanite rituals; rituals apparently similar to the ones that pagan Jews were doing with their version of Baal, Moloch. Egyptians, Canaanites and non-practicing Jews no longer do those things.

            It’s the historical context that has developed after Lev. 18 was first put together that I’m commenting about…and that’s the context of using Lev. 18:22 to defame “passive like a woman” men. Active like a “real” man, however, well then, that sex is just sex under the rule of the double standard.

            Speaking of Assyrians, I think it was Assyrian, I remember a Victorian illustration of an excavation which had uncovered a very well done Assyrian stone carving of bearded warriors in a battle, being lead by a cross dressing, clean shaven warrior on a chariot.

        • danallison

          “Homosexuality is a modern construct” — ROLFMFAO!!! If you had actually studied ancient Greece instead of “Gay Studies” or whatever it is universities teach now, you’d know what laughable nonsense that is.

      • Deborah

        I’m curious. If Loader is a prominent new Testament scholar who agrees that Lev. 18:22 condemns same sex intercourse, yet is an advocate for homosexual unions, how does he square the two?

        • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

          Deborah, he uses a combination misogyny/orientation new knowledge argument, two points that incidentally stand in tension. I will be responding to his work next Fall at the SBL/AAR meeting in (of all things) the GLBT section.

  • duane

    Scott: your claim the Bible has a defense of slavery is wrong. Ex. 21:16 for a start. The kind of slavery you speak of was punishable by death.

  • http://www.robgagnon.net Robert Gagnon

    Scot, I must admit to being surprised to see you cite your blogging about my book as some sort of responsible critique. To be frank, it was so badly done that I didn’t think anyone paid attention to it, so I didn’t bother to respond. But perhaps now I will. It too is full of misreads and ignores the main lines of evidence, as does your posting here. You say: “The problem for Leviticus is that the text almost certainly refers to (abusive) cultic practices, but it’s a stretch to include loving, monogamous same-sex relationships (which Justin Lee is talking about). It is possible that Gagnon’s interpretation is right, but it’s implausible given the evidence.” That is precisely the point that I address in the post, providing a half dozen arguments why those prohibitions are not limited to cultic prostitution. In looking at your response I see a grand total of zero arguments and/or rebuttals. To say that “it’s a stretch to include loving, monogamous same-sex relationships” makes about as much sense as saying that the prohibitions of incest in the same context do not include loving, adult-consensual sexual relationships between close kin. Do you really want to argue the absurdity that if two men came to the author(s)/compiler(s) of the Holiness Code and said, “We want to be in a committed sexual relationship where we are not exploiting one another and we’ll do it while continuing to be exclusive worshippers of Yahweh,” said author(s)/compiler(s) would have responded, “Sure, that would be acceptable to us”?

  • http://www.robgagnon.net Robert Gagnon

    As I noted in the response to Justin, even William Loader, a prominent New Testament scholar and an advocate for homosexual unions, acknowledges that “most [scholars] conclude that Lev 18:22 does condemn same-sex anal intercourse between males in general and is not restricted to particular settings,” himself agreeing with this consensus. When you raise no effective arguments to support your contention but claim in spite of such that your position is the right one, you simply show that you are an ideologue imposing your own meaning on the text. At least a biblical scholar like Loader (though he has other blind spots) is willing to admit what most have viewed as historically obvious.

  • http://www.robgagnon.net Robert Gagnon

    An appeal to an alleged slavery analogy is a bad case of analogical reasoning. Such an appeal even contradicts the use of an exploitation and orientation argument that you adopt. If the Bible does not intend to indict committed homosexual unions entered into by homosexually oriented persons (as you erroneously believe), why make an argument from analogy that is grounded on the need to depart from Scripture’s stance? As it is, the alleged slavery analogy actually has little in the way of substantive correspondence with the Bible’s view of homosexual practice. The Bible shows no vested interest in preserving slavery. In a society without a social welfare net slavery is sometimes the only alternative to starvation; otherwise it serves as a penal institution in place of standing prisons or as a means of processing prisoners of war. At a number of points Scripture exhibits a critical edge toward that institution: mandatory release dates, right of kinship redemption at any time, injunctions not to treat Israelites as slaves, protection of runaway slaves, the exodus from Egyptian as a symbol of Israel’s release from slavery, Paul’s letter to Philemon promoting the release of Onesimus, and so on. Relative to the surrounding cultures of the ancient Near East and of Greece and Rome, the biblical witness on slavery moves in the direction of curtailing that institution. Finally, there is no creation mandate for slavery. Slavery is not imaged as part of the pre-Fall structures of the world.

  • http://www.robgagnon.net Robert Gagnon

    Scot, compare this certainly non-enthusiastic and often critical attitude toward the institution of slavery in Scripture with the Bible’s strong witness in favor of a male-female prerequisite: There is a strong creation mandate for such a prerequisite; the pages of Scripture show strong revulsion for homosexual practice and absolutely no accommodation; and ancient Israel, early Judaism, and early Christianity had the most rigorous opposition to homosexual practice of any known culture in the ancient Near East and Greco-Roman Mediterranean basin.

  • http://www.robgagnon.net Robert Gagnon

    The only connection that homosexualist interpreters can make between the Bible’s critical tolerance of slavery and its deliberate abhorrence of all homosexual practice is that we have changed on the institution of slavery; therefore, they argue, we should change our position on homosexual practice. Yet that argument can be used arbitrarily for any and every belief and practice promoted in Scripture, for it takes no account of whether substantive points of correspondence exist apart from the desire of the interpreter to deviate from Scripture.

  • http://www.robgagnon.net Robert Gagnon

    The better analogy is between slavery and support for homosexual practice, for those who argue for the latter on the basis of a “born that way” philosophy are promoting slavery to the desires of the flesh. And still better analogies are the Bible’s stance on incest and the New Testament opposition to polygamy since the reasons why these behaviors are proscribed are related to, or derived from, a male-female prerequisite for sexual relations. As you must know, when one uses remote analogues (here, slavery) and ignores more proximate analogues (incest and polyamory) one shows poor analogical reasoning.

  • http://www.robgagnon.net Robert Gagnon

    James, thanks for your comments. I must disagree in part, though, with your second observation. You said: “I do wish that Christians who consider same-sex sex a sin would stop relying on Leviticus, because it doesn’t really shed light on why it’s a sin to us, the modern non-Israelites who are not under the Mosaic Law. Seems to me that Jesus’ statements about dying to self are much more applicable to any modern Christian who wants to engage in sinful sexual practices.” I agree that the Levitical prohibitions are not the only texts to which a Christian should make appeal….

  • http://www.robgagnon.net Robert Gagnon

    One needs also to look at Genesis 1-2, Jesus (especially Mark 10 par. Matt 19), Paul (esp. Rom 1 and 1 Cor 6), and the fact that every time Scripture addresses a matter of sexual ethics (narrative, legal material, paraenesis, poetry, proverbs, metaphor, eschatological oracles, etc.) it always presupposes a male-female requirement to sexual relations. A male-female requirement is part of the fabric of the entire witness of Scripture on sexual ethics. But within this broader discussion the Levitical prohibitions do play an important role since they are explicit prohibitions.

  • http://www.robgagnon.net Robert Gagnon

    Nor is quite true to say that they give no indication about what is wrong with homosexual practice. They indicate that such relations are wrong because woman, not another, is the true sexual counterpart to a man (“you shall not lie with a male as the lyings of a woman”).

  • http://www.robgagnon.net Robert Gagnon

    Matthew, Justin repeats the same tired old claims about the biblical witness as if multiple strong arguments to each of his claims did not already exist. There is no reason not to make a better case than he did, even in the format that he chose. I grade papers on biblical texts at Pittsburgh Seminary. To write something like, “I see no indication that you have given careful attention to this work or to that argument” is not an insult but a correction that lets the writer needs to know in order to improve as an interpreter of the biblical text. And why cite in a misleading way, as Justin does, a single line from my book while ignoring all the counterevidence immediately before and after the quote? If his study had been done with care, as you apparently believe, some of that should have come through in his chapter-long discussion of the biblical witness. It doesn’t. Finally, if Justin can make a credible argument against each of the half dozen points that I raise, now would be a belated but still good time for him to do so. And he can take me up on the offer of debating what Scripture has to say on the matter.

  • Frank

    Excellent work Dr Gagnon. I happen to have read through Scots work on Tony Jones blog as he worked through your scholarship. He never even came close to being able to refute what you laid out and was never able to scripturally support his own opinion.

    And again here he proves that he still is unable to respond with anything compelling.

    Keep up the great work!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

    A word does not necessarily mean what the parts of the word mean. Translating a word’s meaning comes from context. I’m told that arsenokoitai is a very rare word which seems to have had, maybe, some sort of economic context…. and that because the word is so rare, it’s pretty much untranslatable today.

    These days, one can properly question the morality and motivations of someone who would even want to translate arsenokoitai as the excessively clinical, near pejorative “homosexual.” I mean, who self identifies as a “homosexual” these days? What kind of person would even think to identify a community and it’s people with a label they have rejected? There use to be homosexuals…but now there are Gays.

    As for Josephus… however brilliant he was, a man from almost 2000 years ago is hardly the last word on sexology, a science founded within the lifetime of my grandfather. Or, as the last word on what is, or is not, “natural.” If it’s possible, it’s “natural.” The “unnatural” is impossible, and people who use that as an obscenity to attack other people, are vicious verbal thugs out to destroy the human dignity of other people…if I may be excessively understated.

    About something I know more about than ancient, very obscure Greek words: “Homosexual” is a modern-era social construct, like “race,” with a history of discredited scientific baggage. The characteristics of those social constructs are chosen to classify and label people. The ancients had their own social constructs, which don’t necessarily have exact modern counterparts.

    The story of the Centurion and his gravely ill, much loved lover/slave, which Jesus heals, probably illuminates ancient same-sex relationships in a general way, I think. They were the same as with other-sex relationships. One person had to be in a state of submissiveness. Someone had to be a woman, or like a “woman,” passive, submissive, penetrated, to the dynamic, active, free man, who penetrates, but is not penetrated (or at least, would not admit to it.)

    That is what is different between antiquity and now. Gay is an egalitarian movement. Nobody has to be the “passive” woman or the “active” man. A Gay man doesn’t lay with a man as with a woman, but with his consenting equal.

    Lev. 18:22 does not condemn such relationships, even in the most self serving, clobber verse “literal” reading. The context of Lev. 18 seems to be what the opening sentences say it’s about, the politics of identity, of not doing as the Egyptians and Canaanites did…worship fertility cult gods like Moloch…perhaps with rituals like a seed sacrifice, where a man laid with a cross dressing priest to facilitate and accept the man’s “seed” sacrifice for the god he served. As L. P. Hartley wrote, “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.” They also did not write for us today, but for ancient, very long dead audiences.

    Gay hasn’t been the only egalitarian movement around in my lifetime. Other-sex or same-sex, relationships are formed by mutually consenting adult equals, equal in the bedroom and equal outside of the bedroom. Individuals in other-sex or same-sex relationships, don’t have legally “traditional” assigned gender roles, unlike with the Centurion and his lover/slave. Instead, as consenting, equal adults, they negotiate their relationships’ course in a changing world.

    Now where in the Bible, where virgins were sold by their fathers to other men as wives for exclusive sexual and servant purposes… sold to men to produce “legitimate” male heirs to a family’s social standing, are regulations for those kind of egalitarian relationships?

    I can tell you where, in the Golden Rule; Rabbi Hillel’s central biblical moral principle, which Jesus endorsed as well.

    We should keep in mind that Dr. Gagnon has shamelessly took “the curse of Ham,” and reinterpreted it from clobber verses which were much used to justify the oppression of Black people, into clobber verses to use against Gay people. How white of you, Dr. Gagnon.

    Dr. Gagnon is furiously trying to forbid for other law abiding adults what he allows for himself, intimacy, love marriage, family. What’s the word today for those kind of people? I knew what we called them when I was a kid in the 1950s, when, if memory serves, Dr. Gagnon’s own marriage would have been illegal in many states.

    Which reminds me… I believe that Mildred Loving had endorsed marriage equality before her death.

    I think that “homosexuality” is the new “miscegenation,” convenient scapegoats to abuse in the politics of resentment…resentment for the erosion of white male privilege. Of course, other men are also attracted to the thought that God wants them to dominate those that God allegedly wills to be submissive to them. You ever notice that it’s pretty much only religious conservatives and the sexually kinky who talk about submission in relationships?

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

      Greg, you might take the time to read my work since all the claims that you spout off about are addressed copiously therein, including the meaning of arsenokoitai. If you had you would know, for example, that I don’t translate arsenokoitai “homosexual” but accurately as “men who lie with a male”; that the uses of arsenokoitai subsequent to the New Testament include but are not limited to exploitative forms of homosexual practice; that the understanding of the Levitical prohibitions in early Judaism was absolute; that the rabbis of the Talmud used a parallel phrase for the related abstract noun (mishkav zakur) and applied it absolutely to all male homosexual practice; that both non-egalitarian and egalitarian homosexual relationships were known in the ancient world; that the idea that the centurion’s “boy” (in Luke a slave but in John a son) was his “boy toy” and that Jesus was affirming this relationship when he healed the “boy” is historically untenable at every turn; and that, as Thomas K. Hubbard puts it in his magisterial book “Homosexuality in Greece and Rome: A Sourcebook of Basic Documents” [(University of California Press, 2003), 386] “Homosexuality in this era [i.e., of the early imperial age of Rome] may have ceased to be merely another practice of personal pleasure and began to be viewed as an essential and central category of personal identity, exclusive of and antithetical to heterosexual orientation.”

      You continue to repeat the false claim that the Levitical prohibitions were addressing homosexual practice only in the context of cultic associations without bothering to refute any of the arguments that I put forward in my books or in this Patheos article.

      You villify me for understanding Ham’s offense against his father Noah as same-sex incestuous rape and yet the two greatest Old Testament scholars of the 19th and 20th century, Hermann Gunkel and Gerhard von Rad, both understood the text in this way, as did some rabbis in the Talmud, as has Martii Nissinen in his book Homoeroticism in the Biblical World (Nissinen is an OT scholar who argues in support of homosexual practice), and many others.

      Comparing miscegeneration laws to a male-female requirement in marriage is a bad analogy. There is nothing unnatural (structurally incongruent) about a male and a female from two different races uniting sexually in a marital bond. But it is obvious that a man is not the sexual complement of another man, or a woman of a another woman. Men are not half males needing to unite sexually with another male to become sexually whole as a male, nor are females half females in relation to their own sex. Men and women are each halves of a whole sexual spectrum comprising two primary sexes; their counterpart or complement sexually speaking is found in a person of the one other sex that exists, not in the same sex. If the logic of a heterosexual union is that two halves of the sexual spectrum, male and female, unite to form a single sexual whole, the logic of a homosexual union is that two half males become a whole male and two half females become a whole female. That, in the view of Scripture, is self-dishonoring and self-degrading, inherently so, because it treats one’s gender as only half intact in relation to one’s own sex rather than to the other sex.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

        “Men who lie with men” is how the religious-right usually defines “homosexual,” and you are the one who just wrote that a man who lies with a man as with a woman, referring, or course, to the religious right’s favorite clobber verse, is a “homosexual.”

        But, why would you think that a Gay man lies with a man as with a woman, just because you would?

        The animus towards homoeroticism, which is not the same as identity and community, probably can be traced in part to it’s connection with the fertility cult practices of Lev. 18, but that is about the origins of a tradition of antipathy. A tradition of antipathy is not a divine condemnation.

        A Gay person in America likely does not self identify as a “homosexual,” but as Gay, Lesbian, SGL, Bisexual etc. They may deal with “their homosexuality,” but that is not whom they are. Sexual orientation is a part of a Gay identity, but it is not the whole of a Gay identity, nor is a single gender love orientation a requirement to be part of the worldwide, evermore coming on line Gay community (which could have a population about equal to the United States).

        Jesus wasn’t affirming the Centurion’s relationship with his beloved slave, that was a given. Jesus was affirming the Centurion’s faith in Jesus. That Jesus didn’t condemn that relationship, however, might be something to consider. While the couple very likely had an intimate love relationship, it was still likely in the heterosexual model of ancient relationships, of dominance and submission, “passive” and “active.” How could it not be when one man was a Centurion and the other man was his slave (or “boy.”)

        Which reminds me (I’m kind of ADD)… I read about an elderly Japanese single gender love couple of fifty years together or so, wish I could remember the source. They weren’t “Gay,” which is fairly recent egalitarian movement to Japan, or “homosexual,” a western social construct and label. Though both were quite elderly and still deeply in love with each other (aw…how sweet, right?), they interestingly had a relationship based upon the heterosexual relationship power imbalance, active/passive, man/boy models. One elderly man was still “His boy” in that relationship.

        I haven’t read the Hubbard book, thanks for the recommendation…I’m just finishing a book on the shameful race segregationist structure of my own Methodists after it’s union with the Southern Methodists, until it’s merger with one of my Grandmother’s EUB. Then the latest Sci Am, then a book on the neo-Confederate movement, then Hubbord? I’m quite sure that I have it in the large research library with which I have access.

        However, your Hubbord quote isn’t necessarily all that relevant to Lev. 18 and ancient Jewish teachings, though it could be in regards to the Centurion and his lover/slave (which can hardly be “egalitarian”). The Greeks may have been developing something similar to today’s egalitarian minded Gay community, but were the pre-Greco Roman era Jewish sages of Lev. all that much influenced in the shape of their understandings of causation of sexual behaviors and social constructs by much later Greco Roman culture?

        Is Paul’s Talmud filtered life in his Greco Roman world, both of which apparently had an antipathy, to understate, of the “passive” same gender loving man, a reliable guide to the single gender love relationships of his age? How much influence would the Greco Roman culture have had

        In any case, the online Chapter 5 of Hubbard suggests that “egalitarian” single gender love still needed much more evolution, which if it did come, didn’t much influence other-sex relationships, did it? In the time period of Chapter 5, (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics), “passive” men were still being defamed, but not “active” (and not excessively so) men. (The elite boys of the older elite men likely were not penetrated, if memory serves from somewhere, though sexual activity is still sexual exploitation, dominance/submission, and not especially consensual, except maybe for the “boys” in their twenties and their love smitten mentors.)

        “Passive” men were defamed because the were “laid” with as with a woman, even by an “active” men who needed a relationship with a man, because of his sexual orientation. However, a Gay man today doesn’t do that. He lays with an equal…they consensually negotiate their lives together. Clobber verses don’t apply, the Golden Rule does.

        • Tim Mitchell

          “A Gay person in America likely does not self identify as a ‘homosexual,’ but as Gay, Lesbian, SGL, Bisexual etc.”
          I was watching a show on PBS the other night and it had a LOT of great songs from the Broadway shows of the 1950s and 60s. Two songs they sang used the word “gay” and it clearly did NOT mean “same-sex attraction.” And I thought how far we have gone astray that we can no longer associate the word “gay” with its original meaning of carefree and happy. I was teaching my elementary students a traditional American song a few weeks ago (When Johnny Comes Marching Home) and there were chuckles and comments when we got to “…and we’ll all feel gay…” Sad.

          “Homosexual” is a correct and accurate word. “Homo” meaning “same”; “sexual” meaning “sexual.” Prefer “gay” if you must but don’t pretend that “gay” is any better than “homosexual” or that “homosexual” is the equivelant of using a slur. I am a heterosexual and you can say that I am; it does not offend me because it is the truth. The term “Gay” is also a western culture construct; that by itself doesn’t make it inappropriate to use. Either term you use singles yourself out as one who prefers same-sex sexual relationships. You may cry that there is more to your identity than that, and indeed there is, but as long as you focus on your right to be who you are in all your “gay” glory, you will be setting yourself up as one whose primary identity is “gay.”

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            There were “homosexuals” back then. There were also “Negroes.” But, both of those communities decided about the same time that they would define themselves and not let people with a disdain for the communities tell them what they should call themselves and what their identities and communities were or were not.

            Now in the 21st Century, there aren’t homosexual or Negro communities. There are GLBT and Black communities. It’s very offensive to deliberately keep calling a person or community a word which they have rejected.

    • Tim Mitchell

      “The story of the Centurion and his gravely ill, much loved lover/slave…”
      Where on earth do you get “lover” from that passage??? You are reading something into the text that IS NOT THERE… and ONLY to support your weak argument!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1174815915 Kathy Verbiest Baldock

    Just as important as what someone says, I hold as a value HOW they say it. On controversial topics such as this one, I would also look at the heart of the speaker towards the intended hearer.

    Aside from the many issues I have with the way in which Gagnon views Scripture, I see his constant disdain for all-things-gay. He may keep somewhat of a lid on it to be the good boy in dialogue, but are somethings that SCREAM out.

    The sustained, persistent, non-compassionate attitudes towards LGBT people and the adherence to ABSOLUTELY trashy psychology as to what is gay, why people are gay and how they inherently behave are the filter thru which he views Scripture.

    If the base and core are tainted, the heart dismissive and the attitude contemptuous –WHY OH WHY would I ever value the message?

    http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/gagnon-love-or-contempt/

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

      Kathy, wow, this post says more about you than it does about me: namely, that you are someone who, lacking a credible case and unable to contribute in terms of rational discussion, turns to repeated verbal abuse. Part of what it means to love persons enslaved by their same-sex attractions (or any other innate desires to do what God expressly forbids in the strongest possible terms throughout Scripture) is to care enough to tell them the truth. In this instance it is the truth about how an attempt to unite sexually with what one already is as a gendered person is self-degrading. This is precisely what Paul does in his remarks in Romans 1, consistent with the creation texts that Jesus espoused as normative for sexual ethics. One speaks the truth out of a desire to recover the lost and in the recognition of one’s own need for God’s grace (remembering that grace does not mean accepting behavior counter to the core values of the biblical witness). I offer 4 pieces of advice for you that would help your presentations in the future, should you choose to take said advice: (1) Learn how to write grammatically correct sentences. When combined with an intellectually vacuous presentation bad grammar simply confirms deficient thought. (2) Learn how to mount a constructive case for your own position, which you obviously haven’t done here. (3) Avoid use of all caps; screaming out your statements only underscores the poverty of your own case. (4) In allegedly calling for love and scorning contempt, it doesn’t help your case that you come across as a bitter and spiteful person.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1174815915 Kathy Verbiest Baldock

        Oh, okay.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

        “persons enslaved by their same-sex attractions…” “how an attempt to unite sexually with what one already is as a gendered person is self-degrading.

        You really have no shame whatsoever with defaming a generally law abiding minority group, do you? Gay people are not enslaved by their sexuality or your unsubstantiated assertion of what is degrading. However a minority person can be pushed by unjust minority stress into a state of dangerous fatalism and anomie…which you have just encouraged.

        That is not precisely what Paul does in Romans 1, in my reading. Do not do as some of the pagan Romans do, let idolatry push you into anomie. Reminds of today’s bibliolatry.

        You are good at deflecting criticism, however. Write about her link, not her slightly florid writing style.

        • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

          Gregory, there is nothing worth responding to in the link, no substantive criticism, so there is no need to write anything about the link. I think, Greg, that you should go back and read Romans 1. There is nothing in my post that is inconsistent with that message. The two quotations that you make from my comment are precisely drawn from the argument in Romans 1: God hands people over to preexisting desires to do what God has forbidden and yet which they want to do, thereby being enslaved by these desires. Moreover, Paul refers specifically to the self-dishonoring, self-degrading, and shameful character of homosexual practice which seeks a sexual complement or counterpart in a person of the same sex rather than in a true sexual complement of the other (complementary) sex. So then when you say, Gregory, that “That is not precisely what Paul does in Romans 1″ and tell me “you really have no shame,” you only underscore that you have misappropriated Paul. Your comment that homosexual persons are “generally law abiding” with respect to other areas is entirely beside the point since I made no comment otherwise. Paul’s understanding is that anyone who continues in egregious behaviors to do what God prohibits is by definition enslaved by that impulse. To say that someone who is engaged in homosexual practice is enslaved by an erotic attraction to persons of the same sex follows axiomatically. That doesn’t mean that the person will go out and rob banks or murder people. But in that area of sin they are enslaved. As for the action of attempting to unite sexually with what one already is as a sexual being, Paul’s evaluation that such is self-degrading or self-dishonoring also follows as a matter of course from treating one’s own gender as only half intact in relation to one’s own sex. If a person engages in adult-consensual incest even of a committed sort the same sorts of points follow: they are enslaved by erotic attractions for a close kin and in engaging in sexual intercourse with someone who is too much of a same on a familial level they dishonor or degrade their own person by definition. It doesn’t mean that they howl at full moons or otherwise become morally depraved in all areas of life. Instead of engaging my presentation, Kathy launched a bombastic personal attack. I called her on the vacuous nature of her post and that, as they say, is that.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

            Or to put it another way… “To say that someone who is engaged in heterosexual practice is enslaved by
            an erotic attraction to persons of the other sex follows axiomatically.
            That doesn’t mean that the person will go out and rob banks or murder
            people. But in that area of sin they are enslaved.”

            I think not.

            And the incest thing again… Incest, as near as I can tell, is largely about dysfunctional family dynamics and sexual predation…which is not the same as “erotic attraction.” Gay is about erotic attraction, like straight is about erotic attraction, but Gay is also about an egalitarian movement, self-identity, personal integrity and community.

            I think that many people share with Kathy her observation of you as having a “constant disdain for all-things-gay.” You also aren’t a psychologist, a field where a disdain for all-things Gay is, apparently unlike your own, quite unprofessional.

      • Guest

        These words sound more like those that might be uttered by an arrogant anarcissistic bully than a respected Christian theologian. Please keep the discussion civilised and reasonable.

        • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

          Kevin/Guest, that is precisely my point to Kathy who, rather than engaging my points, launched a personal attack. I noted that and gave her some advice about how better to carry on a meaningful discussion. Nothing uncivilized or unreasonable about that. However, I do see something uncivilized and unreasonable in the comment “an arrogant anarcissistic [sic] bully.”

          • Kevin Browne

            The tone here, while I’m sure not intended, comes across as quite condescending or patronising superiority over the writer. I’m sure that you did not mean it to be so. However, many viewing here would see it that way and that is unfortunate.

          • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

            Kevin, I think that you are missing the whole point here: namely, that Kathy’s post was indeed an unhelpful offensive personal attack that addressed in no way the thesis of the article but was instead by any measure intellectually vacuous. In your not addressing this point and in your pejorative characterization of me as “an arrogant anarcissistic [sic] bully” you show your absence of impartiality on the matter and, indeed, unknowingly condemn your own comments.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1174815915 Kathy Verbiest Baldock

            in lieu of italics, I used CAPS. mea culpa for breaking the rules.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.h.browne Kevin H. Browne

        The tone here is not helpful. Please keep the discussion civilized and reasonable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003507967305 Neal Lindberg

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” 2 Tim 4:3-4

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

    I would disagree with you. As slavery is illegal today, but wasn’t then, Jesus had no reason to upset the dynamics of the love match. As for “boy,” as any elderly Bible Belt man can tell you, using that word is not necessarily dependent upon maturity as it is today, but is instead, about the rhetoric of submission and dominance.

    I’m happy that you’re in an egalitarian marriage…as with many of my Gay friends, in both state legally, and not legally recognized marriage. America’s enslaved ancestors have shown us that no legal recognition of a marriage does forbid jumping the broom. Marriage equality is about legal reform for greater economic justice, and to honor loving, stable relationships, same sex and other sex.

    I’m happy that you’re in a legally recognized marriage, so I would be even happier if you didn’t seem to be trying to forbid for other law abiding loving adults what you allow for yourself.

    I don’t need to have memorized your vast and ever growing work to make an educated guess about what your “agenda” might be…which is pretty much exposed just by the way you have used “homosexual” here.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

      Gregory, you might want to read my historical and literary context arguments about why Jesus cannot be commending an alleged sexual relationship between the centurion and his “boy” (which, again, in John [unlike Luke] is his son) before you “disagree.” But, in your last paragraph, you have already exposed your refusal to read any of the arguments that I raise that my demonstrate your own preconceived notions about the bad motivations behind scriptural denunciations of homosexual practice. I have no apologies for using the term “homosexual”; it is a far more accurate description of the phenomenon than “gay” or “lesbian” because it describes “sex with a same” (Greek homoios). And since you think that as long as relationships are egalitarian then you must have no objection to adult-consensual incestuous unions or polyamorous unions, so long as they are egalitarian, right?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

        I have read some of your arguments, but since they’re built upon using them to try to silence a minority peoples and make them invisible, I dismissed them…and properly so.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

    I would disagree with you, but I’m an artist who just has broad interests and no credentialed authority about what I’m writing about here.

    However… here is someone is not an artist, and who footnotes you, so I presume he has some familiarity with your work. The abstract says what I have reached an understanding about from other sources over the years. It’s also handy, so I’ll let it speak for me. I’m getting tired.

    Koepnick doesn’t have your impressive credentials, he has just started graduate school when this was published. but this has intellectual integrity and was vetted by Dr, Corley.

    “She completed both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in religion at the Claremont Graduate School. She is a member of he North American Association for the Study of Religion and the nationally known Jesus Seminar.” (I can just imagine what you might think about that)

    The Historical Jesus and the Slave of the Centurion: How
    the Themes of Slavery, Sexuality, and Military Service
    Intersect in Matthew 8:5-13
    Erik Koepnick, author
    Dr. Kathleen Corley, Religious Studies & Anthropology, faculty adviser

    pp. 82-92
    Oshkosh Scholar, Volume III, April 2008

    Abstract
    When the identity of the slave in the Gospel narrative of “The Healing of the Centurion’s Slave” is studied through historical-critical research, the written and earlier oral traditions of the story indicate that the miraculous act is true to the historical Jesus. Also, by exploring the slave’s identity as a slave, same-sex love interest, and military recruit—and the 1st century C.E. implications thereof—the author concludes that the historical Jesus understood the sexual relationship between the centurion and his slave, and healed the latter based on the faith of the former. Jesus never spoke negatively
    about homosexuality and never offered sociological or theological discourse pertaining thereto.”

    Of course, I have issues with the use of the word “homosexuality,” a modern era social construct with a lot of discredited scientific baggage and scapegoating. However, context makes the word acceptable, or a pejorative.

    • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

      Gregory, Jesus did talk about a male-female requirement for sexual relations and based his view of limiting the number of partners in a sexual union to two on such a requirement. That’s as good as saying: same-sex intercourse is not allowed. Jesus didn’t have to get more specific than that because no Jew was advocating for such relations, let alone known to be engaging in homosexual practice. The centurion in Luke (the only account that explicitly declares the “boy” to be a slave) portrays the centurion as a God-fearer who built the Capernaum synagogue (much like the image of Cornelius in Acts). The idea that Luke in telling the story believed that the centurion was in a homosexual relationship with his slave is historically untenable. John’s version of the story presents the pais (boy) as the royal official’s son, so obviously no sex was going on in that version; and that, for various reasons, is most likely closest to the actual historical event. Matthew keeps the identity of the pais (boy) ambiguous (as does the prior Q account). The idea that Matthew thought that he was passing on an account supportive of homosexual unions (the author is clearly a Jewish believer whose views on the law are closer to James, the Lord’s brother, than to Paul’s, and thus more conservative) is ridiculous. That means that none of the earliest interpreters saw what you and Erik Koepnick (who does not yet have his scholarly credentials) claim to see, which suggests that you are seeing incorrectly.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

        No Jew advocated for homosexual practice in antiquity because it didn’t exist then. Same-sex sexual practice was the same as other-sex sexual practice…someone had to be the woman… “passive,” in a state of submissiveness.

        Gay practice doesn’t operate under that model. Someone has to be the other consenting adult.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gregory-Peterson/1608524690 Gregory Peterson

    Interesting, thanks!

  • Guglielmo Marinaro

    Why all this preoccupation anyway with the meaning of a couple of clauses in a semi-barbarous moral code of uncertain provenance written several thousand years ago? That was then; this is now. The world has moved on, and our attitude to the whole matter has become more enlightened. Let us rejoice for that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1176355049 Scot Miller

    Duane, I’m simply reporting the historical fact that Christians in the Antebellum South used to Bible to defend the practice of slavery. They could quote chapter and verse that reflected the fact that God sanctioned slavery (Gen. 9:18-27), and that good Christians could own other human beings as property, so long as they treated their slaves properly (1 Cor. 7:20-24, Eph. 6:5-9,. Col. 3:22-25).

  • http://www.facebook.com/domy.domy.79 Domy Domy

    there is anything in the ANE as ‘male cultic prostitution’ and so this discussion begins with a question that does not exist.
    If someone has a primary source from the ANE (not the Bible of course) that proves its existence I’m ready to change my mind.

  • danallison

    Wow. Can you guys slice the baloney just a little thinner?

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56 Robert A. J. Gagnon

    Thanks, Holly.

  • Tone Loc

    Robert – thank you for your courage and perspicuity on this matter. It’s expected in today’s culture that anyone disagreeing with the gay rights agenda would get flogged. Please don’t lose heart. Truth is always difficult. Though we may disagree with the popular lifestyle in this country and the license people take to reinterpret Scripture to fit their personal preference, that does not mean we love people any less. God only knows I myself am the greatest of sinners. But for the grace of God ….


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