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.

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  • 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?

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/SirWinstoneChurchill Winston Blake

    Religious faggots….

  • 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?

  • 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 

  • Hope

    If this truly be the case, the kingdom of God is going to have few members….how many are there among us that have not been one of these at some time, to some degree?  Was it not for these that Christ died?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Carstonio

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

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

    It isn’t something that secular people do. Rather, the effect is from the cognitive dissonance that the religious experience between religious bigotry and  Enlightenment values

  • Foreigner

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Tricksterson

    Except for the ones who wanted to pledge allegiance to Queen Elizabeth when the Supremes upheld Obamacare.  or to move to Canada or Australia  if Obama was reelected (which they show a conspicuous lack of doing btw).

  • arcseconds

     Given all three of those countries (especially the UK) have much more ‘socialistic’ health services than the USA, that seems a rather strange thing to do, assuming the point was to avoid socialistic health care.

    The thing to do would be to move to a less regulated country…  which limits one’s options a little, if you’re also wanting a developed English-speaking nation.

    (anyone know of *any* developed country with a less regulated system than the USA? )

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Given all three of those countries (especially the UK) have much more ‘socialistic’ health services than the USA, that seems a rather strange thing to do, assuming the point was to avoid ‘socialistic’ health care.

    Competetive against the UK mode

    Does the UK have a atheist, childless, unmarried, female PM living in sin with her hairdresser partner? Or a left wing Asian lesbian Christian as Finance Minister? No way is the UK more objectionable to the Tea Party than Australia!

    Close competetive against the UK mode

  • arcseconds

     You’re just sore because you lost the Ashes :]

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    That’s right. Our arms got sore from carrying them around for si long.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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”

  • 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.

  • 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*

  • Mary

    “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 am not arguing at all with your conclusions, but as a side note I want to mention that Paul was down on marriage because he felt that the primary goal was to spread Christianity before the second coming, which was expected within the lifetimes of the apostles. It is harder to evangelize with a wife and children in tow. At least that is the explanation that I have heard.

  • Katie

     “I am not arguing at all with your conclusions, but as a side note I want
    to mention that Paul was down on marriage because he felt that the
    primary goal was to spread Christianity before the second coming, which
    was expected within the lifetimes of the apostles.”

    I also agree with your point here, and its a perfect illustration of what  I (and then Lunchmeat and other people came in and did it better) were suggesting should be done with the anti-gay clobber verses.  That is, to say that Paul was giving advice to a particular group of people in a particular set of circumstances, and with a particular understanding of how the world worked.  Since we, being modern people, have a different set of circumstances, and a different understanding of how the world works, we don’t have to be bound by Paul’s advice.  If it works for explaining why marriage is no longer a poor second place compared to celibacy, why can’t it work for explaining why same sex marriage is ok?

  • Mary

    “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”

    The way people have gotten past the bible’s endorsement of slavery, aside from the Golden Rule, is to recognize that the bible was written by fallible men. On the same note, do we really think that Paul always had it right? He was a victim of his own societal predudices and it is evident that he struggled with that a great deal. For example, he had to overcome many of the strict and unnecessary rules that had been part of his training as a traditional Jew and reconcile this with his new faith. Even so, i think he probably considered himself to be a theologian or a philosipher, rather than a mouthpiece for God and I wonder if he would have ever considered the idea that his thoughts should be taken without question. It seems to me his biggest concern was to keep the fledgling church afloat and to keep divisiveness in the church to a minimum.

  • 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?

  • Baby_Raptor

    We continue arguing what the Bible doers/doesn’t say about homosexuality because there are so many people out there who completely ignore that their version of gawd cannot be the basis for laws. They believe that what they think the Bible says is the ultimate authority and have no qualms about forcing other people to live by those dictates. 

    Just telling these people “Laws can’t be based on what your Bible says” does no good. So you have to argue with them and show them that they’re wrong about what the Bible says to get them to be capable of basic decency. They won’t show it if they think the Bible says not to.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I agree that were Paul to apply his same thinking and methods today, he would not approve of same-sex relationships. Or, for that matter, most opposite-sex ones. Paul was pretty generally anti-sex.

    That said, I think that once Paul noticed that the world was still here two thousand years later he would very probably come to the conclusion that half of everything he said was based on some faulty assumptions.

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

     That, definitely true. I guess that could result in his de-conversion :p

  • 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).

  • 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

    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.

     

  • 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.

  • Kubricks_Rube

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

    I don’t think it is. It comes down to spirit of the law versus letter of the law. The letter of the law (ignoring translation disageements for now) reflects Paul’s time. The spirit need not be so limited. It’s possible to find Paul’s philosophy sound but its application impared by significant gaps in his knowledge and experience, and to ourselves apply Paul’s ideas about abusive power dynamics and preying on the weak to our more complex understanding of human sexuality instead of his incorrect one.

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

    “application impared by significant gaps in his knowledge and experience”

    Which does mean that Paul was mistaken on that issue. It’s fine, but you pretty much have to admit it, instead of attempting to prove that the Bible isn’t anti-gay at all.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You say that as though those are mutually exclusive things.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

     Sure – but

  • Ruth Riggan

    Quite understandable, but that only explains why the base is shaky.

    The
    base of my argument is shaky because my opponents have been
    well-trained not to listen to anyone who might change their minds?

    Why should gays enjoy the rather sinister argument of “sure, sure, if
    the Bible dissaproves of homosexuality, it is to be condemned -soothing
    noises-, but it doesn’t”?

    I have never in my
    life made an argument anything like that. If I thought being a Christian
    or respecting the Bible required me to disapprove of GSM people, I
    would immediately stop being a Christian and respecting. I am arguing
    what I’m arguing because I honestly think it does not and because I
    honestly think this is a good way to convince people.

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

     “The base of my argument is shaky because my opponents have been
    well-trained not to listen to anyone who might change their minds?”

    In a way, yes – since I think that any kind of attempt to make these verses “non-gay” is logically shaky.

    “If I thought being a Christian or respecting the Bible required me to disapprove of GSM people”

    I am not saying that you think such things, rather that any attempt to argue about the morality of gay people on sorely Biblical basis, without touching the “I” word results in that. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

     Exactly.  Since when has being infallible been a requirement to giving consideration to what a person is saying?  I don’t think Fred is infallible, but I’m still reading this blog, aren’t I?

    If we held everyone to the standard “either infallible or irrelevant” then everything anyone said would be irrelevant.

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

    Irrelevant in regards to a particular question.

  • 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.

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

     I’m insisting on its importance in the argument, rather then attempting to argue it of you. Basically, I think that a pro-gay clobber verse argument that attempts not to touch the whole infallibility thang is intellectually dishonest.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Would you care to expand on that point? Because I see nothing wrong with an argument that says ‘if this verse does not mean what it has been commonly taken to mean, then it is not applicable in the way that it has commonly been applied; here are all the reasons why it does not mean what it has been commonly taken to mean’. Infallibility doesn’t even come into it.

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

    So far, nothing wrong. But if the conclusion is, “and, therefore, we shouldn’t follow the conventional understanding of the verse in your lives”, the conclusion does accept Biblical infallibility pretty much automatically.

    Furthermore, like you already know, I regard these reasons to be ambiguous at best, dubious at worst, thinking that yes, Paul came as close to condemning gays as his Antique mindset allowed.

    On a side note, an anti-gay Christian who considers the clobber verses not to be anti-gay, but is himself anti-gay for other reasons, would be an… interesting creature.

  • EllieMurasaki

    You are failing to explain a significant step in your logic.

    If the verse does not say what it has been commonly held to say, then either the Bible is infallible but has been interpreted by fallible people, or the Bible is not infallible and has been interpreted by fallible people. Biblical infallibility is immaterial.

    And, funny, I always heard that the best guess for the actual meaning of ‘arsenokoites’ was ‘temple prostitute’.

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

    “either the Bible is infallible but has been interpreted by fallible people”

    And it very well may be that the defenders of pro-gay interpretations are the fallible people here. That’s the entire point.  In fact, I say that yes, pro-gay interpreters of that verse are mistaken.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yes, it may be that we are. It may also be that you are. And your evidence that you’re right relies on the definition of ‘arsenokoites’, and I have not seen you present any evidence other than the common translation itself that indicates that the common translation is right. You’ll understand if we don’t take that as authoritative.

    Whereas we are asserting that we have no way of knowing what the definition is, and need present no evidence supporting that claim beyond the fact that it’s a fucking hapax legomenos. Which somebody did upthread.

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

    “Whereas we are asserting that we have no way of knowing what the definition is”

    Knowing definitely? Yes. Asserting probabilities based on our knowledge of the era? Why not?

    Oh, and my arguments have been more then just that. Here’re two of them:

    1. Antique Judaism was anti-gay. Late Antique Christianity was anti-gay. Paul’s mentality is much closer to these two religions rather then to XXI century liberalism. Therefore, he was also likely to disapprove of homosexuality.

    2. The very concept of gay marriage is, like quite a lot of concepts regarding homosexuality are late. Since Christianity in all times, including in Paul’s times, disapproved of extramarital sex, then…

    In fact, the whole “holy chastity” mentality, something that Paul seemed to have supported, is connected to various prudishness, anti-homosexuality included.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Yeah, and the best guess for the word’s actual meaning is still ‘temple prostitute’.

    [citation needed] [citation needed] Point. [citation needed]

    Agreed, but that makes it kind of stupid to use Paul to argue against something that Paul had no conception of, doesn’t it? Particularly given–wasn’t it Paul who said better to marry than to burn with sexual desire, that only some are called to be chaste?

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

    Re late antiquity – Late in night, but something that comes to my mind – Leo III the Isaurian’s Ecloga prescribed death punishment for homosexual acts. Not quite late antique, but historically fairly close – only a hundred years after its end. Admittedly, his motivation in introducing such a law was the Old Testament.

    What do you mean “against something Paul had no conception of”? I am talking about the debate on the morality of homosexuality, rather then about gay marriage as such – the latter is only the extension of the former.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If Paul was okay with married sex, then why (other than having no idea that marrying someone the same gender as oneself) would he not be okay with married gay sex?

    On the flip side, if Paul was not okay with gay sex, why would he be okay with married gay sex? But that’s not a flip side that comes into play when discussing Paul’s intentions, because Paul’s only knowledge of gay sex involved adult-teen male couples (that being the culturally appropriate way for male types to do m/m sex) and the adult-teen part of that makes it obligatory to condemn it.

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

    Well, I think that Paul could contemplate a sexual relationship between two same-sex people of the same age. He probably didn’t, but that makes him careless. Which means, goodbye infallibility.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    Why do you keep bringing up infallibility? Don’t I keep telling you that it’s not relevant to this discussion?

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

    The thing is, I don’t think that it’s irrelevant at all!

  • EllieMurasaki

    You have yet to show how it’s relevant.

  • arcseconds

     Yes, incredibly careless of him not to think through all possible forms of society and human interaction and how sexuality might feature, rather than commenting on the institutions actually present in his society.

    Fortunately, we live in a much more enlightened age, where every comment on actual behaviour is embedded in an extended commentary on all possible behaviour.  

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

     I do think that he would disapprove of healthy gay relationships, like other Christians after him.

  • arcseconds

     I do think that he would disapprove of healthy gay relationships, like other Christians after him.

    This is completely speculative, though, and I wonder how relevant it really is. Paul’s writings were taken as being important for the Church, and as has already been pointed out they’re mainly letters sent to encourage various fledgling Christian groups in how they should run themselves.  These writings don’t clearly condemn homosexuality.   There’s actually a lot of assumptions that have to be bought to bear to make that interpretation (I suspect the main one bought by many Christian readers is that homosexuality is clearly wrong, so of course Paul would be condemning it).  On the contrary, it’s not really clear what they mean. And it’s these writings that were included in the New Testament, not opinions that Paul may have had if he’d had access to a time machine. As for speculating what Paul might think of modern innovations like homosexuality if he was suddenly transported to the modern day, well, we could speculate that he’d be horrified by many things, including motorcars, television, and the frequency at which people bathe.  I’m not sure why Christians should take their best stab at time-travelling Paul fan-fic as being normative for them. But seeing as we seem to be going down this path anyway, perhaps a more interesting question than Paul’s knee-jerk reaction when he first steps out of the time machine is what he’d think after a similar experience to Chalke: if he travelled to a society that had modern-style homosexual relationships, lived there for 10 years, and found them wanting to join the Church, and then one of his friends discovers he’s gay.  What would he think then? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s obvious he’d stick to his  (presumed) guns about this.  He’s already played fast and loose with the Old Testament, and he’s not going to have the same attitude to his own writings as contemporary Christians do.  He’s not going to be saying “well, it’s in the Bible! That settles it!” — he totally has the possibility of saying “well, I know what I wrote, but I changed my mind since then”.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You make a perfectly fine argument for why Paul would probably not be a fan of gay rights.

    But if that’s what this particular passage is about, then why didn’t Paul use one of the many fine words that contemporary Greek had for homosexuality?, instead using a word that, so far as we can tell,  he made up.

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

    Well, the fact that direct translation from this word to old Russian meant “homosexual” for quite a long time makes me dubious that people of the time would not have connected it with homosexuality in general.

    Plus, there’s the “thou shalt not lie with a man as you do with a woman” verse.

    I agree that we can’t definitely proclaim that Paul’s anti-gayness based on the verse alone.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Old Russian being how old?

    Pointing out that the common translation in another language matches the common translation in English doesn’t actually do anything to show that either common translation is correct. Just that they match, which, if they’re wrong, means both original translators made the same mistake.

  • arcseconds

    Well, the fact that direct translation from this word to old Russian
    meant “homosexual” for quite a long time makes me dubious that people of
    the time would not have connected it with homosexuality in general.

     EllieMurasaki has already made a good point about this, but I have some further questions.

    How do we know it meant ‘homosexual’?   Is it cognate with the modern Russian word for homosexual?

    Not that it being cognate proves anything, as the meaning may have shifted over time.

    Frankly, I don’t see how it can mean ‘homosexual’ in anything like the modern sense (i.e. related to a deep-seated sexual attraction to the same sex, in this case someone who has such an attraction) because that sense is quite modern – only been around for a 150 years or so.  

  • Mark Z.

    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.

    I understand the argument you’re making but–does anyone really say to themselves, “Hmm, now that I’ve been convinced that the letters of St. Paul are not the infallible word of God, I guess gay people are not the Scary Other after all”?

    I’ll tell you what changed my mind: Going to a church where a member introduced himself to me at coffee hour and started talking about his partner in the same way that I talked about my wife. Here’s this guy, Bill, who helps me set up tables when we serve meals, and Bill’s partner is Dave, who sings in the choir, and they’ve been together for five years, and they’re not scary, they’re just regular guys. And they don’t hate God, either. What’s the deal there? I thought gay people were supposed to hate God?

    IOW, the key ground isn’t the concept of Biblical infallibility. The key ground is the church sanctuary. Make that a welcoming place for LGBT people and the theology will adapt.

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

     Well, there’re a bunch of former fundamentalists and members of other sects that are now atheist activists who give logical reasons for their deconversion (John Loftus, for instance). 

  • Mark Z.

    You’re talking about how people become atheists; I’m talking about how people stop being bigoted jerks. There’s very little correlation between the two.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Well, it all comes down to this: if Paul was wrong, should we still follow him?

    Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

  • 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.

  • Hilarykoe

    What is needed is endorsement of marriage *equality*, not ‘same sex marriage’. When was the last time you described a heterosexual couple as being in an ‘opposite-sex marriage’? If you want to deny equality to gay people, you need to explain why their love, commitment, mutual support should be regarded as less valuable simply because of the sex of their partners. More importantly, you need to be able to explain why the love, commitment and mutual support of straight people should be defined as more valuable sunny because of the sex of their partners.

  • Ruth Riggan

    But if the conclusion is, “and, therefore, we shouldn’t follow the
    conventional understanding of the verse in your lives”, the conclusion
    does accept Biblical infallibility pretty much automatically.

    You’re characterizing this as my argument: “sure, sure, if the Bible dissaproves of homosexuality, it is to be condemned -soothing noises-, but it doesn’t.” My argument is simply this: “It doesn’t.” My conclusion is therefore not that we shouldn’t follow the conventional understanding, but that we don’t have to. (However, I do and have argued that we shouldn’t follow the conventional understanding by reason of fairness, logic, secular principles, in other places. The argument upthread is not the only pro-gay argument I have ever made.) If someone believes in Biblical infallibility, they can make their own conclusions about what they should then do.

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

    Then your argument – just laying the reasons for your position on the text – is honest. I, however, was talking more about Christian pro-gay positions in general. Chalke seems to uncomfortably hang between admitting Biblical fallibility and the argument I parodize.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Still not seeing the intellectual dishonesty in the positions you say are intellectually dishonest. In fact it almost sounds as though you’re saying they are in order to make us knee-jerk away from those positions, without any need for you to actually consider whether we might be right.

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

     “Sure, sure, if the Bible dissaproves of homosexuality, it is to be condemned -soothing noises-, but it doesn’t” isn’t dishonest, or, at least, sinister?

    Keep in mind, I now acknowledge that Lunch Meat’s position isn’t it.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Wait, back up the broomstick–are you actually asserting that people who say the clobber verses aren’t anti-gay would be anti-gay if the clobber verses were anti-gay?

    If you are, support that assertion right the fuck now. If you’re not, I apologize for misconstruing, kindly explain what you do actually mean.

  • Lunch Meat

    Wait, back up the broomstick–are you actually asserting that people who say the clobber verses aren’t anti-gay would be anti-gay if the clobber verses were anti-gay?

    If you are, support that assertion right the fuck now. If you’re not,
    I apologize for misconstruing, kindly explain what you do actually
    mean.

    I think he’s saying that by arguing on their terms, we’re pretending that we would be, which is dishonest. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) Which I can see that, although I’m not sure if I agree.

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

    I am not, but I am saying that  some (only some) people indeed build their arguments like that, hoping to provoke a “after I realized that the clobber verses in the Bible really aren’t that clobber at all, I am no longer anti-gay” reaction in those whom they are conversing with.

    Furthermore, some Red-Letter Christians do think that they would have to condemn gays or to leave Christianity if the Bible depicted Jesus personally condemning gays.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I’ve never encountered anyone who actually believes that if the Bible were anti-gay then they would have to be anti-gay but fortunately the Bible is not anti-gay. We’re trying to provoke the realization that the Bible is not anti-gay in people who insist on being anti-gay because the Bible is, but the corollary to that realization is that the people who insist the Bible is anti-gay were wrong, and crash goes most of the construction that these folks’ churches have so carefully built.

  • Lunch Meat

    I think another part of it is, if we can show that although there are verses in the Bible that are not sympathetic to GSM people, we can also show that accepting GSM people is consistent with the inclusiveness and the love ethic of Jesus and other passages of the NT. At that point, many people realize–without having it beaten over their head that the Bible is fallible–that the Bible is ambiguous, and they can choose whether they want to believe God is mean or not.

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

     Sneaky. I like it.

  • Madhabmatics

    It’s pretty cool how most of the ethical systems of Abrahamic religions have scripture as perhaps the smallest part. The scriptures are generally so vague (or, to use a softer phrase, not-so-fully-covering) that the meat of our rules comes from attempts to wrestle with the scriptures afterwards, and THOSE attempts are colored by whatever ethical values we hold already.

    Someone reading a scripture in the bible with a Utilitarian view will probably come up with a whole different range of religious regulations + suggestions than a person who approaches it with a view based on virtue ethics, even when they are starting from the same verse. (“We must feed and cloth our neighbor. This is because God wants us to do whatever is good for the greatest amount of people – including humanity. So our solution is to maximize what good we can do in the community – we should use the government to take care of the poor.” vs. “We must feed and cloth our neighbor. That is because doing good things influences the very state of our soul – in order to be worthy of heaven we must be virtuous, personally. So using government to feed and cloth the poor would be bad because it would be removing our opportunity to do it.”)

    (this is the paragraph where I nerd out about Islam) This is what I enjoy about my religion, because we straight up know that is what happens and people are going to disagree based on how they approach the test, so we have the Madhabs so people with similar frameworks can do “Yeah we tend to approach the scripture with this view and we get these rules, you approach differently and get those rules”

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    (this is the paragraph where I nerd out about Islam)

    Mate, you nerd out about Islam right from your user name, which gives me twinges of envy for not having come up with anything as clever ;)

  • arcseconds

    What you call ‘virtue ethics’ sounds more like egoism to me.

    There seems to be something pretty warped in creating situations to practice one’s virtue (“I know! I’ll create a race of violent, man-eating land sharks so I can  employ my bravery!”).  I’m not sure how, say, Aristotle would respond to this, but I’m fairly sure he wouldn’t agree with it :]

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I’d say Madhabmatics provided an inaccurate (and loaded) description of virtue ethics.

  • Lunch Meat

    What the hell, Disqus? Why is my real name showing up on the recent comments sidebar? Aren’t email addresses kept private?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I don’t get what infallibility has to do with this.

    One, we already know Paul isn’t infallible.  He thought that the second coming of Christ was going to occur in his lifetime.  Yet here we are, almost 2000 years later.

    Two, at the time Paul wrote those letters, that’s exactly what he was doing.  He didn’t know that later generations would take his surviving letters as scripture.  (For one thing, he didn’t think there were going to be later generations: see point one.)  I think taking them as the final word for all time as opposed to what they were — addressed to specific people in a specific time and situation that is NOT our time and our situation.  That doesn’t mean they’re automatically irrelevant, but it does mean we need to read them with that in mind.

    Three, Paul’s contemporaries didn’t think he was infallible.  He and Peter apparently had quite an argument in that regard, actually.

    Four, it’s always worth remembering that not everything “written by Paul” was in fact written by Paul.

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

    I am more talking about people like Chalke, then about that community. He kinda hangs in between two arguments.


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