This is a big deal: UK evangelical leader Steve Chalke endorses same-sex marriage

Steve Chalke, a Baptist minister and popular evangelical leader/author/speaker in the UK, has endorsed same-sex marriage, making his case in an article for Christianity magazine — a mainstream evangelical publication that’s kind of the UK version of Christianity Today.

Chalke writes:

I feel both compelled and afraid to write this article. Compelled because, in my understanding, the principles of justice, reconciliation and inclusion sit at the very heart of Jesus’ message. Afraid because I recognize the Bible is understood by many to teach that the practice of homosexuality, in any circumstance, is “a grotesque and sinful subversion,” an “objective disorder” or, perhaps slightly more liberally, “less than God’s best.”

Some will think that I have strayed from Scripture – that I am no longer an evangelical. I have formed my view, however, not out of any disregard for the Bible’s authority, but by way of grappling with it and, through prayerful reflection, seeking to take it seriously. My prayer, in writing, is therefore to encourage a gracious and mature conversation around an extremely important pastoral and theological issue that impacts the lives of so many people.

… Some argue that any talk of rethinking our response to homosexuality is to compromise with the secular preoccupations of the West. In my view, however, it is the task of all those worldwide who take the Bible’s text seriously and authoritatively to grapple constantly with what it means to recognize our neighbor and to love them as we love ourselves.

… Christ-like love calls us to go beyond tolerance to want for the other the same respect, freedom, and equality one wants for oneself. We should find ways to formally support and encourage those who are in, or wish to enter into, faithful same-sex partnerships, as well as in their wider role as members of Christ’s body.

He includes a meaty discussion of the clobber verses and of what he sees as his pastoral imperative. This is not an article or an argument that Chalke’s peers in the evangelical leadership — in the UK or here in the US — can easily dodge or dismiss.

This is a big deal.

Brian McLaren notes that Chalke has been called “the Billy Graham of the UK.” A bit hyperbolic, perhaps, but it gets at his status as an esteemed figure in the evangelical establishment there. Chalke is sometimes described as “controversial” due to his critical views of violent theories of atonement, but his evangelical bona fides are not disputed.

Tony Campolo describes this as a bombshell that will:

… cause reverberations far and wide. His statement represents the first time that a major evangelist and leader in the evangelical community has come out in support of same-sex relationships. Discussions about what he has done will reverberate from churches, youth groups, seminaries, Bible schools and denominations. Both those who support same-sex partnerships and gay marriage as well as those who oppose such developments will look upon Steve’s declaration as a watershed. It is one more evidence that a major shift is taking place on this controversial subject, not only within mainline Christianity, but among evangelicals.

In light of the recent hubbub over Louie Giglio, it’s noteworthy that Chalke is, like Giglio, active in the movement against human trafficking. And if you go back to the 1990s, I’m sure you could find Chalke making statements similar to those Giglio made back then. But the difference is that Chalke has been thinking, engaging and growing since then.

Ekklesia describes how Chalke’s views came to change:

He has been reflecting on the issue for some years, it seems. Back in 2001, Chalke wrote an article for the same magazine (then called Christianity and Renewal) entitled “What might Jesus say to Roy Clements about the Church and the Homosexual debate?”

The Rev. Roy Clements was a major leader who resigned his pastoral role and was ejected from the Evangelical Alliance, following two decades of high profile ministry, when he revealed that he was gay, left his wife and began a relationship with another man.

Clements continues to practice “solidly Bible-based expository preaching,” and he and Chalke, whose views then echoed the majority evangelical position against gay relationships, engaged in a correspondence.

Yesterday I described the frustration of dealing with those who never see reaching out as a waste of time. I imagine that the Rev. Clements was at times frustrated, too, during his 12 years of correspondence with his friend Steve Chalke. But sometimes such patience and faithfulness is rewarded. (And for those of us who spend much of our time writing or reading or commenting on blogs, it’s heartening to be reminded that sometimes this is how the world is changed — by “engaging in a correspondence.”)

Ekklesia also says:

With his latest comments, Chalke will now be numbered among a growing number of significant evangelicals on both sides of the Atlantic who are arguing that commitment to the Bible and traditional Christian belief is not incompatible with recognising faithful gay relationships.

“Numbered among a growing number” is a bit awkward, but it conveys the momentum that the good guys have in this struggle — and the momentum we just gained from Chalke’s public support.

This is a big deal.

  • Charltonlaw

    Interesting as the article is Steve Chalke does not explicitly endorse same sex marriage – he says thats for others to decide. 

  • Splitting Image

    Not in so many words, but he says that faithful same-sex relationships are something to be encouraged.

    Marriage is simply the most commonly employed form of encouragement. So it is kind of a big Bidening deal.

  • Münchner Kindl

    Yesterday I described the frustration of dealing with those who never
    see reaching out as a waste of time. I imagine that the Rev. Clements
    was at times frustrated, too, during his 12 years of correspondence with
    his friend Steve Chalke

    Fred,
    1. There’s quite a difference between talking with a friend – where you can assume good faith – and talking to people who have shown bad faith (by wallowing in the persecution complex). With a friend, you can at least assume they will actually spend time reading your stuff, instead of outright dismissing it because of the source, or insulting the source.

    2. There’s a limited amount of time for everybody, so the first priority, esp. of pastors and similar counselors and multiplicators, needs to be stand up and protect those who are attacked. Offering an olive branch of reconciliation can come after that, not first.

  • Johnny

    Had to interpret this in 1 Cor 6-9: Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

  • Johnny

    I meant misinterpret …

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    What’s your point?

  • ElectricChimp

    Would anyone disagree that heterosexuals can be wrongdoers too and therefore not inherit the Kingdom of God?  Tolerance is very different than inclusion. The church may tolerate heterosexual sin in hope that one will seek God and grow out of it, but the church is not always doing this with homosexuals. They are excluding them from the start, perhaps more in action than word. How we justify this as Christians?

  • Mike Helbert

    Are you saying that homosexuality is a sin? Or, that homosexuals sin just like heterosexuals?

  • Carstonio

    While I welcome Chalke’s move out of principle, this would have been a bigger deal if he were a US evangelical leader. Evangelicalism originated in Europe but it has been strongly associated with this nation for a very long time, well before  became a political vehicle for white resentment. My perception is that evangelicals organizing politically against homosexuality has either been limited to the US, or else the overseas issues have simply been their proxy wars like in Uganda.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    I think the biggest success of secular thinking is tricking theists to believe that secular values (inclusion, equality, reason, etc.) are biblical values.

  • Mike Helbert

     Purgatory…is that a comedy club in Atlanta?
    Actually, inclusion, equality, reason, etc. are biblical values. We just don’t practice them very well. But, I think we’re learning. Baby steps, you know.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    That maybe a club in Atlanta.  To respnd to my response I humbly bring up Romans 1: 25-27:  They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

  • Mike Helbert

     Let’s not stop there. Continuing through the next few verses, Paul includes a litany of other issues that don’t get included often enough. But, that aside, I think that Paul’s main point has to do with his take on idolatry, not necessarily moral behaviour. Perhaps a discussion for a different time and place. As far as theists go, however, we are learning to take the biblical position on inclusion and egalitarianism more seriously. Especially, since that’s how Jesus lived. Please, indulge us and take a look at Rachel Held Evans’ blog: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/torn-chapters-1-5-what-happens-when-god-boy-is-gay
    thanks!

  • Foreigner

    Is this a big deal? I never heard of the guy.  (And I live in UKia).

  • vsm

    At least in Europe, these kinds of Evangelicals* do oppose gay marriage just as much as their American brethren. They usually just don’t have enough supporters to have much of an impact.They do their best, though: a few years ago, the Christian Democrats managed to block the legalization of same-sex marriage in Finland by agreeing to join the government, despite being the smallest party in parliament.

    *In a European context, ‘Evangelical’ isn’t a very good term for this tendency. The largest Lutheran churches in Northern Europe in particular call themselves Evangelical and tend to be pretty liberal on social issues. The Swedish Church has been performing same-sex marriages for a couple of years now.

  • http://twitter.com/sparticus Mark Walley

    As an Evangelical living in the UK Steve Chalke’s definitely a name I’m familiar with, but to be honest, I’m not sure anyone thinks of him as an “evangelical” leader anymore. A leader? Maybe, but more in the realm of social action, not of the evangelical church.

  • Carstonio

     True. My point was about evangelicals organizing politically against homosexuality, and the situation in Finland comes closest to this. 

  • The_L1985

    “Men who have sex with men” is an attempt at translating the word arsenokoitos, which only appears in that one sentence.  There is literally no other surviving example of that word anywhere, so we can’t know exactly what it means.  And considering that the “men having sex with men” interpretation dates back to King James, at the earliest (“abusers of themselves with mankind”), I doubt this is what the FIRST-century Paul actually meant.

    There wasn’t even a separate category for men who were attracted to other men until the 19th century and the invention of the word “homosexuality.”  Before that, gay men, castrated men, and celibate men were generally referred to using the term “eunuch.”

  • vsm

    As I understand it, most historically Protestant European countries have similar small Christian Democratic parties, focused on opposing same-sex marriage, abortion and all that. At least the Finnish party used to have a wing that was more interested in helping the poor, but they were drummed out.

  • Carstonio

     So what do you see as the key differences politically between European evangelicals and the US ones? It’s tempting to assume that the former’s focus on abortion and homosexuality is largely an influence from this side of the Atlantic, since the culture war here is largely about the ending of specific types of hegemony.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (shrug) Speaking as a big fan of secular thinking, I have no interest in “tricking” dedicated sectarians into valuing inclusion, equality, reason, etc. If they choose to do so, I welcome them as allies. If they instead choose to value exclusion, inequality, and unreason, I don’t.

    That said, I do have an interest in making the world I live in one that implements values like inclusion, equality, and reason. So if they choose to oppose that process, then we’re in opposition.

  • AnonaMiss

    Pff. We don’t need to pay attention to this Chalke fellow, he’s from Britain. No True Christian would remain in a country with that godless socialist healthcare system.

  • Jim Roberts

    I love how people who are on a blog that’s talked about them before, that links to people who’ve talked about them before, in a blog post that links to an article responding directly to them, continue to attempt to use the clobber verses as “proof” that the Bible’s anti-gay. It says so much about how people work.

  • vsm

     I’m really not very knowledgeable about the subject, especially outside the Nordic countries, so please take all
    of this with a grain of salt. Also note that this only applies to small parties in traditionally Protestant countries. Italian and German Christian Democracy is a whole different beast.

    Essentially, Christian Democratic parties aren’t as batshit as their Ametican counterparts. They don’t oppose contraception, the teaching of evolution or the United Nations, though parts of their base would probably like to. Calling them Evangelicals in the American sense is problematic, because aside from Pentecostals and Charismatics, they also have supporters from more traditional churches. The current leader of the Finnish Christian Democrats is a member of the generally moderate-to-liberal Lutheran church. She’s also a woman, so they aren’t hugely sexist, though they still like complementarian rhetoric. Opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage is mandatory, and I’d imagine the same about support for Israel.

    The biggest
    difference is that there isn’t an alliance between the moneyed classes
    and right-wing Christians, at least like in the US. This is, of course, because railing against
    abortion or same-sex marriage* would only fire-up a very small portion
    of the population. Consequently, ours are more independent
    and sincere in their politics, which doesn’t really make them any more pleasant. There are also groups that essentially copy the talking points and propaganda of their American brethren, but they have little political influence.

    *That
    isn’t to say homophobia is uncommon here, just that our homophobes don’t
    usually turn it into a defining part of their politics.

  • konrad_arflane

     

    And considering that the “men having sex with men” interpretation dates
    back to King James, at the earliest (“abusers of themselves with
    mankind”), I doubt this is what the FIRST-century Paul actually meant.

    Interestingly, Luther translates it as “Knabenschender”, which appears to me to mean “child molesters”. Although he does have the other Pauline clobber verse (Romans 1: 27) disapproving of homosexuality as much as most other translations, so meh, I guess.

  • Katie

    My response to the clobber verses is basically ‘so what’.  We’ve found ways to work around the Bible’s endorsement of slavery, largely based on the Golden Rule, so why not use the Golden Rule to find a way to work around the cobbler verses on having sex with a member of the same sex.  I phrase it that way because Paul wasn’t starting with the understanding that sexual orientation is innate, or that same sex relationships could be long term, monogamous commitments where people loved each other and raised a family.  What Paul is preaching against are exploitative male/male relationships and orgies that are associated with worshiping a Greco-Roman deity*.  I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say that neither of these things are as much of an issue today.    So its possible that if Paul was looking at what is the dominant model of homosexual behavior in modern Europe and America, where people are looking for a long term partner with whom to have an egalitarian relationship, he might have something different to say.

    It occurred to me, after I’d written the above, that its also worth considering that Paul also had lots of things to say about how celibacy was the best option, and that marriage was acceptable only for those too weak to be celibate.  Modern Evangelicals seem to also do a pretty good job of ignoring or explaining away those verses. 

    *I’m not saying this in order to take a swipe at modern  people who have a religious practice that includes such things, I’m just observing that I think you’d have trouble finding enough modern people who would be into the idea to make a decent orgy.

  • Carstonio

     

    We’ve found ways to work around the Bible’s endorsement of slavery,
    largely based on the Golden Rule, so why not use the Golden Rule to find
    a way to work around the cobbler verses on having sex with a member of
    the same sex.

    Are you talking about how Christians should address the clobber verses, or how a society should address sexual ethics?

  • Lunch Meat

    What Paul is preaching against are exploitative male/male relationships and orgies that are associated with worshiping a Greco-Roman deity*.

    I’m not disagreeing with your main point, but I think it’s important to note that in none of these “clobber verses” is Paul “preaching against” the sins listed. Paul never, ever tells Christians not to be gay or not to sleep with people of the same sex. (He does, in other situations, preach against sexual immorality, which is an incredibly vague word.) The only times Paul mentions the words that have been translated homosexuality are when he’s talking about people outside the church. Look at the context:

    Romans 1-2: Paul tells the Roman church to stop thinking of themselves as better than those outside just because they are of the church.

    1 Corinthians 6: Paul tells the Corinthian church to stop involving outsiders in lawsuits.

    1 Timothy 1: Paul tells Timothy to avoid “teachers of the law,” because the law is not for those inside the church but for those outside.

    Paul takes it for granted that the Christians see all of these things (including gossip, slander, greed, deceit, etc) as wrong and not associated with righteous behavior. But that’s not his point. His point is always to tell the church to quit worrying about that other stuff and worry about themselves.*

    Now whatever arsenokoitos means (which is immaterial to my point here) the context does not tell me that Paul thought it was the best thing ever and was totally okay with it. But it does tell me a couple of important things:

    1. Paul was not especially concerned about same-sex activity in the church. If he was, he would have not hesitated to mention it and tell them to shape up.

    2. Paul was not especially concerned about same-sex activity outside the church. He was not especially concerned about anything those outside were doing. He thought that people were going to do what they would do, and the responsibility of Christians was to live right anyway. He never in his letters told Christians to try to get outsiders to stop sinning.

    3. 1 Corinthians 6 suggests that there was no one in the church who was trying to be Christian and arsenokoitos. Paul says that is what some of them were, but it appears that when they converted, they immediately recognized this activity was wrong and stopped doing these things. It was no longer an issue. If anyone had trouble with it, the Spirit “washed, sanctified, and justified” them, and they no longer had any difficulty with it. Again, if it had continued to be an issue, Paul would have addressed it.

    4. The above suggests to me that “arsenokoitos” is not the same thing as people who are gender and sexual minorities today. Whether they convert or grow up in the church, it is not immediately apparent that to live in righteousness, one must stop being queer. They do not immediately stop. They do experience tremendous difficulty and psychological, spiritual, and emotional torment if they try to change themselves. The Spirit does not remove their identities.

    My interpretation is 1) that arsenokoitos, whatever it was, was something different than the way it’s translated today, 2) that Paul had no experience with loving, committed, equal same-sex relationships or with GSM people today, 3) that if he did, he might have some trouble accepting that it would be okay, but he would not regard it as the worst thing ever and something that would get you kicked out of heaven.

    *Related is Galatians 5, which is not included in these discussions because it does not mention arsenokoitos. But it really ought to be because it is the same style of writing: a list of sins used to describe those outside. Again it is not polemic against his readers.
    He’s telling the Galatians to stop worrying about all those things, stop
    worrying about breaking the law, and focus on keeping the Spirit,
    because if they have the fruit of the Spirit there is no law against
    what they are doing.

  • Katie

     I was talking about the former.  “I don’t want anyone to outlaw my opposite sex marriage, therefore, I’m not going to try to outlaw someone else’s same sex marriage”

  • Lizzy L

    Lunch Meat, thanks for this. Most helpful comment.

    I want to recommend a book by Sarah Ruden, Paul Among the People. She goes to original sources to describe what sexual mores and practices actually were in the Roman world at the time Paul wrote his letters. It provides a necessary context to any discussion. Should be required reading for all the folks out there who want to base their and others morality on Paul’s statements.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    I disagree that Paul would approve of modern same-sex relationships. He didn’t know the concept of homosexuality as it exists today, but he did knew the concept of same-sex intimate friendship (David/Jonathan etc). And he could very well contemplate that some people would like to consummate their friendship by having sex. Despite that, he didn’t offer any exceptions in the “clobber verses”. He was a man of his time, and homosexuality was not approved of by Judaic tradition of the day – and neither would Christian tradition approve of it.

    Lunch Meat’s argumentation basically starts with the assumption that Paul was not a what we would call a “bigot”. Using her argumentation, you could turn every even most hateful screed to a plea for tolerance (every hateful screed crudely stereotypes its victims as evil + the actual victims are not at all like these crude stereotypes => that screed is actually a touching sermon against evil that is not directed against “actual victims” at all).

    Your overall argumentation is inconsistent. On the other hand, you insist that the Bible is not the ultimate source of authority (and that’s great, BTW). So, it shouldn’t matter what the Bible says about gays, right? (and I agree that it shouldn’t). Why then go to quite a lot of length to proclaim that the Bible isn’t actually against gays at all? The logical inconsistency in all that can be easily used by the fundies, despite them being even more inconsistent then the (politically) liberal Christians.

    Just claim that Paul was wrong or mistaken (which is just a variation of wrong, anyway), period, instead of the whole “Paul was wrong, but he totes wasn’t”! shtick.

    In Russian, the direct translation of “arsenokoitos” have been used to refer people who engage in male same-sex acts, for what it’s worth.

  • Lunch Meat

    I did not say that Paul would “approve” of same-sex relationships among Christians. I said he had no personal experience with it, and while I can’t say for sure, my guess based on my reading of him is that if he had the chance to get to know a same-sex couple, he would probably not regard it as the worst thing ever. He definitely would not act against same-sex relationships outside the church.

    My argumentation is based on my own close reading of what Paul says throughout his writings. Of course it may be biased and flawed, but I think that it fits with his overall characterization and I don’t think I’m making assumptions.

    And “not the ultimate source of authority” does not mean “does not matter at all.” Reading passages in their context is hardly going to quite a lot of length. You can take my interpretations or leave them, but I’m just arguing for respecting the text as a text.

  • Lunch Meat

    Since you edited:

    Why does it have to be either “Paul was totally wrong/mistaken and bigoted” or “Paul was totally right and hating gays is the moral thing to do”? Why can’t I try to approach what Paul actually said, and evaluate it as it stands? Why is attempting to respect the text so wrong?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    “My guess based on my reading of him is that if he had the chance
    to get to know a same-sex couple, he would probably not regard it as the
    worst thing ever. He definitely would not act against same-sex
    relationships outside the church.”

    Quite a lot of Christians were perfectly willing to enforce laws against homosexual acts, despite not being a horrible, amoral people in general. I fail to see why Paul wouldn’t. He probably would see same-sex love as a gross perversion of Agape.

    Some people posit that the culture in which Paul lived prevented him from contemplating anything close to monogamous non-pedophilic homosexuality at all, but I disagree (see my first post).

    “Why is attempting to respect the text so wrong?”

    I don’t think you’re respecting the text – just the opposite. If I see a text which treats heterosexuality in a mixed, but generally positive way, while associating every mention of something homosexual as evil or depraved, I conclude that the author has something against gay people, whether of malice or ignorance. Doing otherwise would not respect the text at all.

    It’s sort of like taking the text of (I’m exaggerating here, but the principle is the same):

    “Kill the evil Jews! Don’t allow Jews who are coming to destroy your children to win! Oppose the evil, money-obsessed Jew when you see him!”

    And conclude the following:

    “We know from experience that Jews are, largely, are not more evil or money-obsessed then any other people. Therefore, that text can’t really be talking about Jews. Instead, it just condemns being evil, destroying children and being obsessed with money. There’s nothing anti-Jewish in this text”.

  • P J Evans

     Was it actually talking about homosexuality, or is that the translator’s word for it?
    That’s one of the problems: we weren’t there and we don’t really know what was being discussed.
    If you want to claim that you know what Paul meant and that everyone else is wrong, please use your time machine again and bring back a recording (preferably with video).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    He certainly was talking about something pretty close. There’s a reason why the direct translation of “arsenokoitos” became the way to refer to people who have gay sex in old Russian, for instance.

     

  • Lunch Meat

    Quite a lot of Christians were perfectly willing to enforce laws against
    homosexual acts, despite not being a horrible, amoral people in
    general. I fail to see why Paul wouldn’t. He probably would see same-sex
    love as a gross perversion of Agape.

    Because he never argued for any laws against non-Christian acts at all. He never suggested that Christians should attempt to prevent people outside the church from doing things they wanted. This is what I mean by reading Paul in context. I’m not assuming he wouldn’t just because I think he was a nice person.

    It’s possible he would have seen same-sex love as wrong. But I also believe that people can change. And it’s my faith, part of which I received from Paul, that convinced me to accept and love all queer people. If my faith could change me, why couldn’t it have changed him?

    Some people posit that the culture in which Paul lived prevented him from contemplating anything close to monogamous non-pedophilic
    homosexuality at all, but I disagree (see my first post).

    Just because he would have been able to contemplate monogamous non-pedophilic homosexuality doesn’t mean he did. I don’t see any evidence that he did, and if he did, he didn’t talk about it.

    If I see a text which treats heterosexuality in a mixed, but generally
    positive way, while associating every mention of something homosexual as
    evil or depraved, I conclude that the author has something against gay
    people, whether of malice or ignorance. Doing otherwise would not
    respect the text at all.

    Didn’t I say that Paul was ignorant of loving, committed same-sex relationships? But that doesn’t mean he automatically hated them. As I said, it could mean he was just not especially concerned about it.

    It’s sort of like taking the text of (I’m exaggerating here, but the principle is the same):

    “Kill the evil Jews! Don’t allow Jews who are coming to destroy your
    children to win! Oppose the evil, money-obsessed Jew when you see him!”

    And conclude the following:

    “We know from experience that Jews are, largely, are not more evil or
    money-obsessed then any other people. Therefore, that text can’t really
    be talking about Jews. Instead, it just condemns being evil, destroying
    children and being obsessed with money. There’s nothing anti-Jewish in
    this text”.

    Your example fails because no one knows what arsenokoitos means. If someone had translated that above text including the word “Jew” when it was a word that no one else had used and that the writer had appeared to make up, and if it didn’t appear to fit with the other things the writer had written about Jews, I would see no problem with concluding that the writer was not talking about Jews.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    “It’s possible he would have seen same-sex love as wrong. But I also believe that people can change. ”

    You very well could have changed Paul, if he appeared here right now. That’s irrelevant to the actual position on the issue.

    “Because he never argued for any laws against non-Christian acts at
    all. He never suggested that Christians should attempt to prevent people
    outside the church from doing things they wanted” .

    Fair enough, he could have been a “homosexuality is grossly immoral, but should not be illegal” type of guy.

    “Just because he would have been able to contemplate monogamous non-pedophilic homosexuality doesn’t mean he did”.

    Makes him either irresponsible or just not thinking it though. And the latter pretty much means “mistaken”.

    Some bigotry comes from inability to contemplate the Other outside of stereotypes about them. It’s possible that Paul’s anti-gay sentiment was of that category. Relatively well-spread non-healthy homosexuality in Antique society (if it indeed was widespread) may make it even more forgiveable for him – but that doesn’t make him less wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Quite a nice-sounding word, that.

    “As I said, it could mean he was just not especially concerned about it.”

    Since the words he used are easily interpreted as anti-gay, that makes him hugely irresponsible. Like I noted, people closer to Paul in time and mentality then both we and culture war fundies genuinely believed these verses to be against all same-sex, well, sex.

    Your example fails because no one knows what arsenokoitos means.”

    Not exactly, but it was, however, interpreted as “homosexual act-committer” by quite a lot of people relatively close in time to Paul. If Paul didn’t consider such a possibility at all, he’s guilty of sever irresponsibility at the very least.

  • Lunch Meat

    So Paul was irresponsible with his words and ignorant of loving, committed same-sex relationships. Happy now? I’m still not going to stop pointing out that we don’t know what he meant by arsenokoitos, that he never preached that Christians should try to change those outside the church, that he was pretty heavily on the side of love versus law, and that it doesn’t make any sense to me to interpret arsenokoitos as queer people, given how Paul talks about them.

    You seem to not want me to have a nuanced view of the Bible. Either I must take it as my sole moral authority, or I must regard it and its writers as completely wrong. You seem to think that because I disagree with the anti-gay interpretation of these verses, that means I think Paul was never wrong. That’s incorrect.

    Paul was wrong that men should have short hair and women should have long hair. Paul was wrong that all non-Christians are evil and hate God. If Paul wrote 1 Timothy, he was wrong to teach that women shouldn’t teach. I have no problem saying Paul was wrong. What I have a problem with is saying things that don’t seem to me to be supported by the text.

  • Darkrose

    “I’m just observing that I think you’d have trouble finding enough modern people who would be into the idea to make a decent orgy.”

    *thinks back to certain Beltane rituals invoking Aphrodite and Pan*

    *sighs nostalgically*

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    “I’m still not going to stop pointing out that we don’t know what he meant by arsenokoitos”

    Considering its interpretation though the ages, a more uncomfortable version is more probable.

    ” it doesn’t make any sense to me to interpret arsenokoitos as queer people, given how Paul talks about them.”

    I fail to see why not. If Paul was ignorant about committed same-sex relationships, he could have said more ignorant things about the queer folk – including his stuff about the arsenokoitai. Just like someone ignorant of  “the real Jews” can

    Admittedly, Paulian authorship of 1 Timothy is dubious. Heh.

    Well, it all comes down to this: if Paul was wrong, should we still follow him? Biblical infallibility is the entire point. When you start arguing with fundies about the meaning of the verses, rather then about Biblical infallibility, you’ve already given up the key ground.  Chalke has certainly given it up in his argumentation.

  • Lunch Meat

    I fail to see why not. If Paul was ignorant about committed same-sex relationships, he could have said more ignorant things about the queer
    folk – including his stuff about the arsenokoitai. Just like someone
    ignorant of  “the real Jews” can.

    Because if there were queer people who wanted to be Christians and didn’t want to stop being queer, I think Paul would have talked about them–either to affirm or condemn. He mediated between dozens of other controversies. As I said, there is no biblical evidence of anyone continuing to be arsenokoitos after being converted. Arsenokoitos wasn’t something they had a problem giving up. Queer identities are.

    Bash the concept of Biblical infallibility, and the exact intention of the clobber verses wouldn’t even matter.

    You seem to be saying it doesn’t matter what someone thinks if they weren’t omniscient. Really? Can’t I want to know what Paul thought, even if I’m not going to uncritically follow him?

    You can argue all you want about whether or not the Bible is fallible. I’ll be right there with you on some passages. I just disagree about this one.

  • Lunch Meat

    Disprove the concept of Biblical infallibility, and the exact intention
    of the clobber verses wouldn’t even matter. But some Christians, like
    Chalke are understandably wary to do this. They dance around the whole
    issue, but actually saying the phrase “It doesn’t matter even if Paul
    was anti-queer, since the Biblical writers aren’t infallible” can scare
    the nice old ladies in the pulpits.

    Stepping back for a moment, it’s not that I disagree with you here, but I think this is not a good place to have that battle. I don’t think you can prove the Bible’s fallibility by simply showing that the moral principles therein do not agree with modern moral principles of equality, fairness, and consequentialism–because moral principles are not testable and provable in the same way that other principles are. RTCs would just respond that you’re obviously deceived and just love sin if you say that the Bible’s moral principles are not perfect. I think there are other ways to show fallibility–internal inconsistencies, inconsistencies with science or history, etc.

  • Lunch Meat

    (Sorry, hit submit too soon)

    I think there are other ways to show fallibility–internal inconsistencies, inconsistencies with science or history, etc. Then once you’ve done that, then you can come back and question the moral principles. In the meantime, I think it helps to show that modern moral principles are at least not completely inconsistent with a) some of the specific clobber verses, and b) the overall love ethic of the NT.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

     I am arguing that the whole “arsenokoitai” passage is already
    condemnatory. In fact, Paul might have been fairly close to an “ex-gay
    movement supporter” – considering that
    homosexual-orientation-as-opposed-to-homosexual-acts distinction had
    been clearly articulated only recently. You become a Christian, you
    abstain from gay acts, you’re not an arsenokoitos, fine. If you don’t
    quite manage to abstain – well, you’re a Christian sinner just like any
    other, repent.

    “You seem to be saying it doesn’t matter what someone thinks if they weren’t omniscient”.

    Huh? I’m talking about Biblical infallibility. Since when I’ve said anything like what you’re putting in my mouth?

    There’re
    a lot of articles around the Web that agree with you that Paul didn’t
    mean to condemn people we would characterise as “healthy queer”, and
    then triumphantly conclude that Christians should not persecute gays
    because of that, hooray! They’re quite sinister, really, since they
    implicitly concede that yes, Christians should persecute gays if Paul
    really meant something anti-gay. Especially considering that I think
    that the possibility of Paul being “anti-gay” in that passage is harsh.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Paul also said women should not speak in church. Paul can bite me. Well, no, I only let my friends do that.

    There’s an Agatha Christie novel in which the heroine says she’s Christian, but can’t stand the Christian church because “it’s all cluttered up with Pauline nonsense.” Ding ding ding. Paul was just a powerful priest with his own agenda. A large amount of his teachings go directly contrary to what Jesus and his apostles said. Why the heck does any Christian think they should follow Paul instead of Jesus or someone whom Jesus knew and approved of personally?

  • Lunch Meat

    “You seem to be saying it doesn’t matter what someone thinks if they weren’t omniscient”.

    Huh? I’m talking about Biblical infallibility. Since when I’ve said anything like what you’re putting in my mouth?

    You said, “Disprove the concept of Biblical infallibility, and the exact intention of the clobber verses wouldn’t even matter.” So it doesn’t matter what Paul intended if he was fallible. I disagree. I can still think that Paul’s beliefs and ideas mattered, even if I don’t think them as authoritative.

    I understand what you’re saying – but as long as you don’t follow it
    with a discussion about infallibility, your whole argument will rest on
    quite a shaky base.

    And if I DO follow up with a discussion about infallibility, any amount of convincing I’ve done immediately disappears, because they know I’m an evil post-Christian liberal that they were warned against and if they even think about possibly considering the possibility that I might have a point, they’ll go to hell. Once they realize I’m not arguing from the same moral foundation they are, they stop listening and the conversation shuts down, often permanently. I know how this works. I grew up in this culture. I have had people stop talking to me because they think I’m a bad influence who’s going to lead them astray.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

    Well,  the biblical accounts aren’t written by anyone whom Jesus knew and approved personally. :p 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Николай-Крутиков/100002311958508 Николай Крутиков

     Sure – but

  • EllieMurasaki

    if Paul was wrong, should we still follow him?

    On the things where he said things worth following him on, yes. On the things where he said things not worth following him on, no. What’s the difference? Well, that’s why we each have a conscience of our own. Might be we’re wrong on something that he’s right on and ought to follow him when our conscience says no. Might also be that we’re right on something he’s wrong on and ought not to follow him though our religion says we should.
    In any event, knowing what he actually thought is a good place to start when evaluating what he said.

    Biblical infallibility is the entire point.

    Nobody on this site actually believes in Biblical infallibility, which makes trying to argue us out of it…odd.


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