Comment of the Day

Mike Morrell got off his ROM long enough to serve up this beauty under Announcing Queermergent:

Well, I’m coming in on this discussion late – which is probably
merciful. I think that, before posting on such things, we need to do a
quick blood-pressure check. If its too high, then it’s probably not the
Holy Spirit, no matter *what* our views on Subject XYZ are!

For some reason as I write this comment, Preson Phillips is the one
most on the forefront here. I feel like yours was one of the most
pained responses, like were having to give up a good friend because
they messed up your parents house while partying for the last time. But
I have to ask: Why is *this* of all things the Conversation-killer? We
all agree that human sexuality is God-given and very important…so
let’s stay engaged. (Oh, and everyone knows that ‘Valkyrie’ toward the
top was being very sarcastic and just trying to stir the hornets
nest…right? I feel like s/he got these comments started on combative
terms with some hyperbolic statements in Tony’s ‘favor’)

What follows is not an attempt to change anyone’s mind about the
sinfulness or blessedness of homosexual orientation and practice. We
all have our perspectives, and they change like glaciers, not ice
cubes. Rather, I want to lay out in as concise a manner as possible my
own readings, prayer, and reflection in this these past few years,
showing essentially four different options people of faith have in this
regard. I’m pretty sure we all fall into one of these four
understandings. My goal in showing them in a descriptive,
matter-of-fact manner is to humanize all four perspectives, so that we
don’t demonize one another.

By way of a quick prelude: I will not be handling any Old Testament
passages that describe or seem to describe homosexual activity as an
‘abomination.’ That is because these very same passages (as
GodHatesShrimp.com humorously points out) describe many other things as
‘abominations,’ our English translations belying the fact that this
word simply denotes that which is cultically unacceptable to the ritual
purity of set-apart Israel. So I will exclusively look at the three New
Testament passages, which all happen to be by Paul (Jesus doesn’t
mention homosexuality in the Gospels). I’m not even going to go into
Paul’s passages in-depth, but they’re the ones in I Corinthians 6,
Romans 1 and 1 Timothy 1:10.

The four options, as I’ve seen them, are as follows:

1.) Paul *is* addressing contemporary homosexual orientation/practice and this *does* matter

2.) Paul *is* addressing contemporary homosexual orientation/practice and this *doesn’t* matter

3.) Paul *isn’t* addressing contemporary homosexual orientation/practice and that *does* matter

4.) Paul *isn’t* addressing contemporary homosexual orientation/practice and it *doesn’t* matter

1.) This is the standard view in most evangelical churches as well as
the official Roman Catholic and East Orthodox perspective. In essence,
our English translations of ‘homosexual’ in the NT are to be trusted
and affirmed as addressing precisely the same kind of homosexual
orientation and activity as we see today among monogamous and
non-married homosexual persons. Because Scripture is inspired and
profitable for teaching, we should see this as prescriptive for moral
and Godly living today, teaching it accordingly.

2.) Paul is talking about contemporary homosexual
orientation/action, but it’s up to us, the Church, to decide whether
this is binding for today. Now lest you think this is an option only
for hippie-dippy liberal revisionists, think again: The church *always*
interprets Scripture for today. The evangelical church, for instance,
decided that was Jesus told one guy (Nicodemus) about being ‘born
again’ was binding on all people everywhere, whereas what he told
another guy (the rich young ruler) about selling all possessions and
giving them to the poor was virtually never applicable! We’ve also
decided that Peter’s admonition of women not to wear braids or jewelry
because of sinful pride was culturally-conditioned and temporary, as is
Paul’s admonition of women to wear head-coverings, even though he seems
to appeal to some pretty cosmic and universal principles for doing so.
In the same manner, some good Christian people (and churches) conclude
that Paul was simply mistaken about homosexual orientation &
practice, or that his teaching was culturally-appropriate for his era
but actually harmful and contrary to the Gospel for ours. We the Church
are always ‘binding an loosing’ interpretations of our Holy Writ…an
awesome and wonderful responsibility.

3.) Many biblical scholars puzzle over the actual meaning of
arsenokoitai, the Greek word Paul used which is translated from King
James on as ‘homosexuals.’ (See explanation) In short, many think that
Paul is writing about pedastry – man-boy love – and temple prostitution
where otherwise ‘straight’ people become ‘gay for a day’ (only not
really) to engage in debasing pagan rituals. So Paul is in fact,
according to this perspective, writing about the primacy of love and
consideration, and against harmful idolatry. 2,000 years of translation
later and we lose sight of context and original intent. Most
sociologists agree that contemporary loving, monogamous homosexual
orientation didn’t even exist until relatively contemporary
times…therefore we are dealing with, strictly speaking, an
‘extra-biblical’ phenomenon that should, perhaps, be looked at through
a different lens than seemingly ‘obvious’ passages in Scripture. We
should instead appeal to Jesus and Paul’s clear teaching on love,
freedom and liberty of conscience, while upholding healthy Christian
standards of monogamy and sexuality that we’d encourage anyone of *any*
orientation to keep as best as possible.

4.) Number 4 is a bit of a non-sequitur, as I think you can see. : )

My personal .02: I think it’s possible to hold any of these four
(really three) perspectives with love and integrity, shining Christ’s
life into everyone we meet. I also think it’s possible to hold any of
these with pride, fear, and hostility, using them as battering rams to
force those who disagree into feeling marginalized, sinful, and ‘less
than.’ One of the things I’ve appreciated about certain trends emerging
expressions of faith is that people who hold to all three of the above
(and yes, there are plenty of ‘emergers’ who hold to #1) can peacefully
coexist and even encourage one another. Thanks Tony for your
(sometimes-seemingly futile) attempts to create a spiritually
hospitable place for everyone.

  • http://jonathanstegall.com/ Jonathan Stegall

    Fantastic comment, indeed. Mike is awesome. I sit alongside Mike on this one, I think. One of the things that seems to help people hold one of the three perspectives with love and integrity, in my experience, is when they hold their perspective a big lightly, recognizing that this is a complex issue that, regardless of its complexity, is best expressed when it is not a core part of one’s belief system.
    If I believe that modern-day homosexuality is a sin, and that is at the core of my belief system, I may come to the common conclusion that homosexuals will go to hell if I don’t intervene, and thus turn myself into a person who holds that belief with pride, fear, and hostility.
    Vice versa, if I hold that it is not a sin and believe that people who do see it as sin are bigots who cannot possibly love homosexuals (as the treatment of Rick Warren indicates, regardless of whether that treatment is deserved), I may come to the conclusion that I need to intervene in their lives and turn myself into the same kind of person.
    Holding it lightly and out of the core of my belief system allows me to accept that I could be right or wrong, and either way I can recognize that those of differing opinions can sit at least as close to the heart of God as I can.
    I remember a couple of years ago there was a vastly debated post that Brian McLaren wrote at Out of Ur, recommending that we take a five-year moratorium on making pronouncements. There was a lot of wisdom in that, I think, though it too led to people on both sides talking past each other.

  • http://moffou.blogspot.com Amy

    Oh thank God for this. Clear, calm, and thoughtful. Thanks, Mike! and thanks Tony for pointing this out.

  • Panthera

    A very nice commentary, I do think those four positions are useful.
    I might suggest two more aspects.
    First, those who accept history, science and medicine.
    Second, those who refuse to accept any scientific, medical or historical research which they don’t ‘like’.
    I am a gay Christian and find the hatred with which many hefe pretend they speak for God appalling. If calmer voices such as Morrell’s were to prevail in the Christian community, it would be a good thing.
    After months of reading and participating in these fora, the unanswered question remains: Where do these Christians find the basis for their hatred of us?

  • http://kristibennett.blogspot.com kristi

    thanks so much, mike. i’ve never seen a clearer explanation of this than the one you wrote here.
    it gives me much to think about.

  • A Walker

    Hey Panthera,
    Last I checked, gays were allowed to practice their sexual acts without any resistance in the Christianized U.S. (but certainly not in the Middle East and elsewhere). It’s only when gays recently began trying to co-opt heterosexual marriage law that heteros began noticing how gays were on the warpath as aggressors.
    And when we saw children’s books being written to propagandize our K-6 kids in public school, we got even more frustrated.
    The new gay aggression is beginning to backfire. Christians are quite tolerant, but all tolerance has limits. And then there is the constant threat of HIV and such to think about.
    There’s definitely something not right with anyone who refuses to partner with the opposite sex to procreate and raise children but steals their eggs and sperm to do such without them. It’s such backwards and unnatural behavior that it’s nutty to even think about. It’s too deviant from the norm to be embraced by the pack. I’m sure you can see that.

  • http://www.rudetheology.com/ Mike Croghan

    Mike and Tony, thanks for this. It’s an exceedingly thoughtful and helpful map of the Christian landscape on this issue.

  • A Walker

    One more thing. The author says: “I will not be handling any Old Testament passages that describe or seem to describe homosexual activity as an ‘abomination.’ That is because these very same passages (as GodHatesShrimp.com humorously points out) describe many other things as ‘abominations,’ our English translations belying the fact that this word simply denotes that which is cultically unacceptable to the ritual purity of set-apart Israel.”
    Yikes. The “God Hates Shrimp” defense is ignorant. Nearly everyone knows that the Old Testament Jewish ceremonial/Temple law was abrogated via the New Testament law. But the moral law was *not* abrogated.
    For example, St. Paul positively cites aspects of the moral law that continued to be in force: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is just. Honour thy father and thy mother, which is the first commandment with a promise: That it may be well with thee.” (Ephesians 6:1-3). We note there that St. Paul is citing an Old Testament commandment that remains in effect under the New Testament. Hello?
    Likewise 1 Timothy 1:8-11 re-affirms the use of the O.T. moral codes as guides against murderers, fornicators, kidnapers, liars and perjurers, and more.
    I can’t believe how many Christians fall for the “God Hates Shrimp” polemic. It’s an educational crisis.

  • MattR

    Well said Mike!
    Thank you for your clear-headed thinking on this…
    Would that Christians who hold all three of these positions enter conversations in such a Jesus-like way.
    I guess my one question, a bit of a push back, is…
    What if you ARE gay? I think of some of my gay friends, who are Christian, who endure these conversations with people who are much more heated and accusatory… For them, this is a core issue, because it’s not an ‘issue,’ it’s about their real life!

  • Bob

    Unfortunately, without a whole lot more work, # 2 just doesn’t hold.
    While there may be cultural aspects to a command not to go around with braided hair or gold jewelry, the principle of modesty is as universal and binding today as then.
    Same sex eroticism is what Scripture prohibits, both in the OT and the NT (effectively laying to rest the, uh, red herring of *shrimp* as they are specifically let off the hook by Jesus, Paul and the rest of the NT)
    The jump from braids/gold being a changing cultural indicator of a deeper principle is a small one.
    The jump for same sex eroticism is a bit tougher to make- and while I know it was beyond the scope of Mike’s well-stated and thoughtful comment, it just has to be said: Saying “Paul said it, but it doesn’t apply to us” is something of a far cry from making that argument in an intellectually coherent, hermeneutically sound, and Scripture honoring way.
    By the way- I haven’t followed the whole conversation here- but when the original commenter said “I’m out” I didn’t take it to mean that the conversation was over for him and he would no longer be in relationship or have as conversation partners people who were “Emergent.” He meant, I believe, he would no longer affiliate himself with the movement of the Emerging Church.
    You can parse all day long the difference between a conversation and a movement and try to convince people that “It’s just a conversation, folks.”
    And I think, say that long enough, and it will become true.

  • Jonathan Stegall

    MattR, it’s probably a bit naive of me but I think if people who are not homosexual and hold one of positions 1-3 would hold those positions lightly and with humility, homosexuals would be much more accepted and would feel much more accepted.
    Hopefully we would then be more willing to worship, fellowship, and dialog with each other and actually get to know each other a bit if we stopped holding on so tightly. You’re right, though: we cannot separate this from real people by calling it an “issue”. Apologies for my doing that.
    An example of all this might be Ikon in Belfast. Many of us have probably heard/read about it, and the ways they try to create a safe space for people who disagree, so they can be in that space together.

  • Mike Erre

    Hello All!
    I just want to add my two cents. I know these arguments have been rehashed a thousand times over, and I grieve the lack of civility and compassion that can often accompany arguments in favor of position #1 above, but I do want to simply point out that these discussions do not necessarily need to revolve around Paul’s teaching and/or the OT purity codes. I am often surprised to find little discussion around
    Genesis 1 and 2 where (it seems to me) male/female sexuality is clearly presented as normative as part of God’s good creation. Jesus also seems to affirm this understanding in Matthew 19 while discussing the issue of divorce.
    I would love your thoughts!

  • panthera

    Mike Erre,
    I think that is an excellent idea – the biblical perspective on nominate behavior. Let’s go all the way here and see just exactly how you fundamentalist/evangelical/conservative/literalistic/followers-of-ancient-creeds’ Christians have applied that ‘nominative’ over the years, shall we.
    We all know that Adam and Eve and all the other ‘real’ people(not to mention Jesus who was red-haired with green eyes and milk white skin) were blue-eyed, white skinned blonds. This being ‘nominative’, you had the wonderful excuse to persecute dark-skinned people. Impose slavery in the US with the justification that the Bible said it was fine to do, their dark skin making them an inferior race.
    Oh, gosh – silly me. Nearly all the human race is brown skinned, dark-haired and brown-eyed. Whoops! By your lights, that means we have an unending slave pool. Yee-haw!
    Oh, and let’s do look at marriage, shall we? No, not my SSM, but your undoubtedly nominative marriage. I won’t tell the cops how many wives you have…what? Only one wife? But the Bible clearly speaks of men having many wives…you’d better get your behavior in line with what the Bible clearly considers nominate right fast. Can’t wait to hear what your wife has to say about it…oh, right, forgot. She won’t be taking part in this conversation or asking questions in church. Her role is to shut-up and let you do all the thinking.
    Medicine has established that homosexuals are neither sick nor in anyway in need of treatment. Science has conclusively shown homosexuality in all high-order mammals. There is overwhelming evidence (I consider it conclusive) that homosexuality goes hand in hand with a genetic combination which leads to women bearing and raising their children to puberty more successfully than those families with no incidence of homosexuals.
    But, hey – if you want to play the nominative game, I have just begun. Advantage of a classical education, I can pull out all sorts of ‘nominative’ behaviors and prescriptions from the Bible…especially the OT, which you grant literal authority. Let’s take a look at Lot next, shall we? Or Noah and offspring…

  • Mike Erre

    Panthera,
    For someone who seems to oppose *judgements* you are very quick to make them. I don’t believe Jesus was white, and my wife actually speaks up in church:)
    One question, when you use the word “nominative” are you meaning the word “normative?” I just wanted to be sure I understand you.
    I am sure you are familiar with the response to the argument you seem to be making above:
    1. the bible describes all sorts of behavior that it condemns. As you point out, polygamy, sexual sin, incest, etc. show up regularly in the OT. I don’t debate that point in the slightest. I just want to suggest that simply because it is mentioned it is not condoned (most often, it is condemned explicitly elsewhere). The Bible seems, in this way, to be much more honest than its followers.
    2. It seems the bible does make normative (or prescriptive) moral statements quite often. You and I may disagree as to how best to understand them, but it seems at minimum, that this is what it intends. Would you agree with this, or do you see it differently?

  • panthera

    Sorry, ‘normative’ and ‘nominative’ did get turned around – my browser is not English, when I make spelling mistakes they are all my own fault.
    I meant ‘ normative’ in the same sense you did.
    Obviously, I do not believe that the Bible is the single, solitary word of God and I was trying to point out how absurd it is for fundamentalist/evangelical/conservative/literalistic/followers-of-ancient-creeds’ Christians to attack us, homosexuals – despite the fact that the Bible never says one word about homosexuality – and yet to ignore those passages which are inconvenient to them.
    To put it simply. Medicine and science have confirmed that there is nothing wrong with our relationships. We are just as capable of lasting, monogamous, committed life-long loving relationships as are heterosexuals. We are neither pedophiles nor any of the other horrid things you call us.
    We didn’t pick this fight, you did. You base your hatred and oppression of us on cherry-picked passages and thought games drawn from what you ‘find’ in the Bible.
    Am I judgmental? Well, let’s see. Outside of the US, I am and have been legally married to a wonderful man for years. He and I enjoy the same rights you and your wife do. In the US, we have been physically attacked (cracked ribs, broken teeth, one eye which despite having the money for the best specialists in the US will never work quite right again). I was a candidate to replace my father’s failing kidneys with one of my own…until one of my relations lied to the hospital that because I am gay, I must be HIV+. I am not, nor is my husband (partner under your hateful conditions).
    Let’s see, oh yes – been taken to court by the family because, as a gay man, I was morally incompetent to hold power of attorney for my parents. Won that one. Had to take the Catholic hospital where there were in treatment after a horrible accident to court because they took my fundamentalist Christian relations’ side and forbade me to visit my parents…
    In California, you hateful people destroyed over 18,000 marriages. In Florida, despite now two courts determining that gays are intrinsically fit to be parents, you are trying to take two young children away from the only loving parents they have ever loved – two gay men in a committed relationship.
    Yes, I pass judgment on you. You have chosen us to focus your hatred.
    Ultimately, right will prevail.
    Now here’s one for you. When you die and stand before God, how are you going to justify having driven so many gay and transgendered away from Christ’s love and His forgiveness?

  • herb

    Panthera,
    But Christ’s forgiveness for what? I’m not sure that people disagreeing and saying something is wrong is hate. How they say it, of course, but what they say, I dunno.

  • Mike Erre

    Panthera,
    Thanks for responding. A couple of thoughts:
    1. Yes, one’s view of the Bible is at issue here; obviously I appeal to it as an authority (and I do think it speaks to the topic at hand) while you heartily disagree. My original post was intended to get into some of the discussions that presupposed the authority of the bible; since you don’t grant that point, I can see how we could go around and around about this.
    2. I am ashamed of what many have done to the homosexual community in the name of Jesus. I am not intending to add to the vitriol/hatred here. I am sincerely sorry for what you have had to endure – certainly much of what you have experienced is not of Jesus. The church’s hypocrisy on this issue is astounding.
    3. Yep, I will stand before God and give an account for my many sins. But I think part of receiving Christ’s forgiveness and love has to do with recognizing one’s need for it.
    No more responding for me; my non-silent-in-church-wife is putting me to work around the house.:)

  • panthera

    Mike Erre,
    You are quite right – I accept God’s authority, find much of value in the Bible but reject utterly the nonsense that a book specifically put together of texts selected to enforce the status quo of a select group of people is God’s exclusive word. We won’t get anywhere on that, you are right.
    I am glad to hear that you disagree with violence towards homosexuals. While this is all a pretty little intellectual debate for you – do we grant a group of mammals human status or no – for us, it is a matter of being permitted to love whom we choose, marry whom we choose, raise children if we so choose and live the same lives as our Christian brethern who are heterosexual.
    It is exactly the same conflict as blacks endured in the American Christian community not all that long ago. Sadly, many of the appeals to biblical authority are the same.
    By not strongly speaking out against the physical violence, torture, rape, beatings and murders of gays and transgendered, the American Christian community is enabling this horror.
    I feel strongly about this, obviously.
    One last question. How do you reconcile your views with science and medicine? Do you just reject what doesn’t please you?

  • Kelly Deppen

    Mike!
    Great News! Your .02 as you present it is the best investment currently possible. Soon to pay dividends.
    My .02 for all interested:
    I have 3 sons. Each of these young men is a gift to the world in his own right. Christ, me and their father Love them all UNCONDITIONALLY….
    …anyone can extrapolate where this is going…
    Opinion and dogma are real easy in the absence of relationship and experience!
    To even intimate that one of my sons is unwelcome to freely worship and seek God is thin ice and nothing like Jesus.
    I appreciate the Love of the Body of Christ and His Grace—since I am entirely flawed and workin’ out my own stuff. Can I be any less gracious to anyone else?
    Love and Jesus to Everybody,
    Kelly Deppen

  • http://darrenbrett.wordpress.com/ Darren King

    Panthera,
    I would like to humbly offer an observation, as one brother to another. It seems to me that often you build some credibility with the strength of your reasoning, and then turn around and undermine that very credibility by labeling everyone on the other side of the issue from you as being “haters”.
    Perhaps you are attempting to shame people into changing by using the word “hate” – and variations of it – as many times as you possibly can. The problem with such a term is that it suggests you are aware, almost omnisciently so, of people’s motives. And I think that’s a bit much for any of us to assume. And honestly, you just polarize people all the more – almost as much, ironically, as the far Right does in its own labeling, when you resort to these methods.
    My encouragement for you would be to continue to calmly, peaceably, make your points, without resorting to “hate-goating” – a word I just made up, that seems rather to the point.
    Peace.

  • panthera

    Darren King,
    You have a valid point. Having just spent the Christmas from hell (my brother offered to have the family feast at his house, we flew over from Europe to spend what may well be the last Christmas with my parents…and he waits until it is too late to change things to announce that he won’t sit at table with f…gs like us. Then we had the joy of spending several ten thousand on lawyers to make sure my partner is not kicked out of his own home should I predecease him…with lots of nastiness added in over the last weeks.)
    So my tolerance for fundamentalist/evangelical/conservative/literalistic/followers-of-ancient-creeds’ Christians right now is somewhere between zero and -1.
    You’re right, I should try harder. Just, I am so tired of being called all the nasty names, subject to all the hatred couched as deep Christian concern that I find it very hard in myself to do anything but to label them what they are.
    Thanks for mentioning this…I will try to discern more precisely between those who merely wish to destroy my marriage and those who truly wish to torture, beat, rape and murder us. All in the name of Jesus, of course.

  • Joel

    Panthera,
    Don’t you realize you’re just as judgmental as the people you hate? What good is there in that? Notice how you lump all conservative Christians into this irrelevant box you have made for them, where not all followers of creeds and evangelicals are Biblical literalists (they are Biblical inerrantists, but that’s different than a literalist).
    I’m just saying, if you’re going to talk about the grace and forgiveness of Christ, it often helps to show it to those you consider enemies.

  • Mordred08

    Panthera,
    I honestly have to say I don’t know how people like you manage to be gay and Christian. You don’t seem to get any respect from the rest of the many varieties of the faith (off the top of my head…Methodists, Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics, Orthodox, LDS, Fundamentalist LDS, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science…Rastafarians, maybe?), and all over maybe 5 or six verses.
    I’ve had some experience with family problems, but not to your extent. I dated a transsexual girl for about two years, but I couldn’t even have one civil conversation with my mother about it, so I can’t imagine what the rest of them would do. I went from Pentecostal to Methodist to a local branch of the MCC. I’m not actively going to church at this point in time, but that’s over more issues than just LGBT (for one, the eternal damnation thing, but let’s not get into that).
    What I think aggravates me most right now is when people criticize us for using the word “hate”. Sorry, but I call it like I see it. If some guy calls you the f-word and beats you up, I think it’s safe to say that he hates gay people (or maybe he’s just trying to fufill Leviticus 20:13 and how dare you question his beliefs). If someone thinks that same-sex couples shouldn’t have the opportunity to express their love for each other the exact same way that opposite sex couples are allowed to with no hassle whatsoever, at the very least it suggests this person has something against same-sex couples.

  • panthera

    Joel,
    I do pass judgment on you. You want to dissolve my marriage, you would take away my children if I had any and you clearly delight in your hope that God will send us to hell.
    You reject modern science, except when it serves your narrowly defined needs.
    Biblical inerrantists – Thank you. Obviously, you didn’t understand that I was trying to incorporate all the flavors of hatred amongst ‘your’ side of our Christian belief…the slashes mean: and/or.
    But I will be sure to ad Biblical inerrantists to the ever growing list. No doubt, soon enough someone else will arise, just as the Baptists are ever doing, to insist that they are not in one of the above categories, but represent another flavor of nasty, spiteful hatred.
    Mordred 08, I left the US several decades ago because there is no way to deal with these hateful people. They don’t change my being a Christian, but after the physical attacks and legal battles against my brother’s family, I had had it.
    Unfortunately, we have to return, and it is saddening, after all these years of living in real Christian community to see how little things have changed.

  • Joel

    Panthera,
    I pointed this out in a previous topic, but you didn’t respond. The only way you’re arguing against people is by attacking them and ascribing motives to them. You’re not actually dealing with the issues. That’s a logical fallacy (abusive ad hominem) – this means your argument is illogical. Furthermore, you’re taking leaps of logic saying that our arguments can only be based off hatred and nothing more. This is another fallacy (non-sequitur), showing further that your argument is illogical. I’m not arguing from a basis of hatred; I’m arguing against an illogical position.
    Now, do I want your children taken away, your marriage dissolved, and God to send you to Hell? No, yes, and no. I don’t think your children should be taken away just because you struggle with a sin, that’s absurd. That means any parent who struggled with any sin should have their children taken away. I do, however, think your marriage should be dissolved. If I knew a man and woman were having an affair with each other, I’d want their relationship dissolved. Sin is sin, no matter how emotionally attached to it we are. Finally, I don’t want anyone to go to Hell and I take no delight in the thought of someone going to Hell. Hell is eternal separation from God – why would I want that for anyone? If I delighted in seeing you go to Hell, do you think I would take the time to write to you?
    Finally, can you please show me how my beliefs are formed out of hatred? Can’t I say the same about you? Can’t I say that the only reason you deny the inerrancy of the Bible is because you hate God and hate Christ? Can’t I say that you respond to me the way you do because you hate me? Of course I can’t, because there’s no justification for it. So I ask you, where’s your justification?
    For all you’re complaining about hateful people, you fail to realize that you are (unfortunately) one of the most hateful people I’ve ever met. All my friends who struggle and engage in homosexuality know where I stand on the issue, but they know that I love them and that I’m there for them. They can see past their hate. Can’t you?

  • panthera

    Joel,
    Since my previous post was deleted, let me put this to you in the simplest possible terms.
    First, my marriage is legal in my country. There is nothing, short of murder, you can do to end it.
    Second, your desire to actually end a marriage is so far out of alignment with Christianity, there is no basis for any discussion.
    You, and people like you started this by attacking us. Call me hateful, say you want to end my marriage, do what you like. I am no longer willing to have anything to do with you or any of your ilk on this site.
    Thank God, I live in a Christian country and am not subject to your hatred.

  • http://thegreycoats.com Nathaniel

    Mike, Tony, and all,
    Please know although my guns may be blazing here, they are firing bullets aimed at ideology, philosophy, and interpretation…not at any of you as individuals. While I know for some who so closely bind sexuality with identity that is almost impossible to understand, please know that it is true.
    First, sound biblical study eloquently dismantles categories 2,3, and 4 of your taxonomy. I encourage you to check out http://www.robgagnon.net/
    For instance, while ’sociologists (which ones I’m not clear on) may agree that contemporary loving, monogamous homosexual orientation didn’t even exist until relatively contemporary times’, this view has been widely discredited within academic circles from a historic position (Robert A. Gagnon’s “The Bible and Homosexual Practice” will provide you with plenty of lurid details concerning ‘committed’ homosexual relationships from anitquity).
    Oh, plus you missed one glaringly current fashionable argument: Homosexuality has a genetic component that biblical writers did not recognize. Even so, correlation has suggested genetic predisposition toward alcohol abuse…but does this make drunkenness any less sinful? Furthermore, by proffering the genetic defense one must then deny that heterosexuals can become homosexuals to be consistent with the orientation argument. Ultimately, scientific research reflects what Scripture and common sense have already told us, which is that human behavior results from a complex mixture of biological desires, family, environment, and individual choices.
    It is interesting that emotivism (all ethical choices are based on preference) claims that the world is ahead of the church in regard to a compassionate spirituality of freedom. By this token God is doing a new thing in the way of progress. His truth is not tethered to the printed words of dead men. Unfortunately, emotivism fails to notice that the historically standard orthodox position actually does know more about human liberation through the application of real repentance and soteriological forgiveness. Jesus came to justify sinners not sin.
    Finally, it is funny that the liberal churchmen who are normally addicted to pragmatic symbolism so quickly become hermeneutically conservative when it comes to the issue of homosexuality in the Bible. I find it most ironic and not a little dishonest when they look for authoritative proof for a behavior in a Bible which they’ve already concluded is errant, edited, and archaic. Why bother? I greatly prefer the person of homosexual orientation who openly mocks the Scriptures as opposed to those who purport to twist them.
    Even so, I believe that one should (as Descartes demands) define one’s terms.
    Mike believes that, “it’s possible to hold any of these four (really three) perspectives with love and integrity.”
    Question 1: Does real love justify unrepentant sin or does it justify repentant sinners?
    Question 2: Are you speaking about an integrity based on a lifestyle lived openly in reliance upon the righteousness of Christ or one which is lived openly in reliance upon one’s own self-acceptance?
    Mike has directly described the positions as he sees them. Now, after asking these two questions I would assert that challenging dialogue and disagreement do not make for demonization. And, on the front end I don’t believe that neither the tone or content of my prior assertions nor these sincere questions are demonizing or meant to demonize (at least in this time and place….I don’t think I can always be honest about that).
    What a topic. As someone who has committed the sin of homosexuality I must say that the unbridled forgiveness of Jesus Christ brought an experiential deliverance via faithful repentance. The gospel is not intimidated by the guilty.
    While Christ is in the business of rescuing and restoring people who struggle with homosexuality I would not hesitate to say that most Evangelicals are homophobic. Furthermore, the sins of gossip or slander (which are spoken of just as directly and often as homosexuality in the Bible and which I have a tendency to practice from time to time) are often nearly ignored in Romans 1. We must be consistent in our hatred of sinful lifestyle. Many a nosy elder’s wife will prime up little gossip parties just as slimy as any Amsterdam bathhouse, “We should really pray for Mr. Jones, I mean you know he never puts a dime in the plate and I heard from Larry all about his tax issues..but that thing with his daughter…oh yeah, she came out of the closet. I always knew it, I can spot ‘em, she was always just such a little tomboy.” I truly believe that these ones will be held just as accountable as Ellen Degeneres for embracing and promoting a lifestyle centered around specific sin. Even so, Paul does include the particular sin of homosexuality as a direct result of idolatry. I believe that the nature of this idolatry is self-worship, psychological egoism, and a moral solipsism stemming from humankind’s total pollution by sin.
    Jesus did not come to teach humans how to accept themselves, live authentically out of their innate identities, or discover the key to self-esteem. God chose to show humans that he accepts us because his Son lived authentically out of His innate identity as a sacrificial Lamb. This man Jesus identifies with humans by taking our sin and handing us rightness, to give us a NEW identity. His perfect obedience, even to death on a cross, is a torture that human negligence deserves. Redemption accomplished and now applied. Ah, not fair, not fair! True…Grace isn’t fair…no…its better than fair.
    But, this substitution now gives humans a key to (instead of self-esteem) Christ-esteem. This key opens a union with a Savior. This union makes possible a lifestyle which pulls our eyes off of our idols. This is a holistic way of living that just quits attempting to justify whatever sort of activity that we think makes us who we are. Liberty to admit helplessness in the face of sinful temptation effects healing. An individual’s fear of a condemning God and a driving need to justify oneself gives way to rest in an ever enfolding freedom of forgiveness. Instead the repentant individuals are carried along by faith…not some nebulous, non-specific belief, but an active philosophy based on a Person…..a Person who constantly and consistently tells us, reminding us, that He makes us who we are. Beloved.

  • Joel

    Excellent post Nathaniel. I couldn’t agree more with what you said.
    Panthera,
    Mazel tov on having a legal marriage. What I’m arguing, however, is that anthropological laws do not always hold up against the laws of God. For instance, in certain Inuit cultures it is acceptable for the children of an elderly man to kill the elderly man when his age begins to diminish his hunting skills. The reason for this is they believe that once they die, their bodies go as is into the afterlife. If they cannot hunt “as is” now, then they won’t be able to in the afterlife. Inuit custom allows for this form of euthanasia.
    Now, this is allowable in tribal law, but not in God’s law. God holds humanity to a higher standard, to respect the dignity of humanity. He is not some passive, far off, out of reach, transcendent “other” (though He is transcendent and immanent). God is constantly involved in human affairs and judging us, holding us accountable (whether now or later).
    My point is, your marriage might be legal in your country, but what does that matter if it’s not legal before God? A man who leaves his wife for another woman can – if legally divorced – marry that other woman, but what does the legality of it matter if his marriage is not legal before God? If his legal action is found immoral before God, does the legality really matter?
    That is the point I have been trying to make to you. The legal status of your marriage is not what I’m contending – it’s your status before God. Now, before you (and others) begin to say, “Well, that’s between Panthera and God” let me stress this – if you claim to be a Christian, then you are accountable to the community of believers. I am accountable for my sins and so are you. Our goal is not to judge one another in sin, but to help restore one another. If you claim Christ, then you are my brother in the Lord (as much as that might bother you) and as my brother I love you like a brother. This means that I don’t want to see you committing an act that puts you under the judgment of God.
    Does this make sense?

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