What I've Learned about Gays and the Church…

…since last week.

  • Bob

    This is exactly why I converted to Catholicism. This was the problem I had with Protestant denominations. Every individual is looking for A truth acceptable to their own personal preferences, which they have already settled on, rather than THE truth, which is actually quite easy to find in both scripture and tradition.
    I can’t believe how often in the video you recited an argument and then responded to it with a line like, “I just don’t find it compelling.” People quoted scripture, the Word of God to us Christians, right? But you didn’t find that compelling. Strange.
    People brought up natural law, which was good enough for Aquinas, a man of towering intellect, but not good enough for you. Also strange.
    You seem to have your mind made up already, and you’re just looking for something to back you up. Good luck with that.

  • Mac

    Tony,
    A couple of thoughts….
    First, I think the reason why the conversation keeps coming back to the biblical passages that mention homosexuality is because many people do not find your particular interpretation of those passages all that compelling. So even though you want to move the discussion beyond those passages–because you have already reached a decision with regard to their interpretation–others feel like you are ignoring the most authoritative voice on the issue.
    Second, I think the direction you are aiming for in this dialogue would be more fruitful if you started with the premise that we will probably not result interpretive issues surrounding homosexuality in the Bible. The fact that you openly support an interpretation that permits homosexuality makes the question feel quite biased.
    Maybe we could just rephrase the question: Since we will most likely not resolve the hermeneutical complexity surrounding homosexuality in Scripture, are their reasons we can think of outside of the Bible that would prohibit a person in a long-term monogamous homosexual relationship from fully following Jesus?
    I think phrasing the question this way puts people at ease. It recognizes that people disagree and that we probably won’t resolve the complexity of interpretation over a blog. It also removes your bias from the question. It makes readers feel like your conclusion with regard to interpretation (namely, that homosexuality should not be prohibited) is not what is driving the question.
    Last, I think you should stop using the line that you just don’t find certain arguments compelling without giving a reason why. That type of response is pretty frustrating. It is frustrating because you do not provide a legitimate explanation for why you find it unconvincing. But it also makes people feel like discontinuing the discussion. It comes off as close-minded. It seems like you will never find an argument that is opposed to your view compelling. I am pretty sure you would not be satisfied with that kind of response to your intellectual arguments. There are obviously plenty of people–people who are just as educated and well-read on the issue–that do not find your arguments compelling. What if they responded to your arguments by saying they have looked at the arguments and studied them and they do not find yours compelling? So lets just stop using that line of reasoning. It fails to engage the argument and only provides an illusion of a substantive response.

  • Panthera

    Thank you, Tony.
    I withdrew from the discussion after people started justifying torturing gays and slavery.
    It seems to me, when your best tools for advancing your version of Christianity are torture and enslavement, you’ve pretty well abandoned any pretense of truly following God’s will.
    What your question has shown, clearly, is that the Bible can be perverted to justify even the most hateful behavior. You aren’t going to get any sound arguments as to why my marriage is keeping me apart from God, there are none.
    Which is the best reason of all for the whole discussion.
    Bob, now that we have conclusive proof that homosexuality is not contra naturam, your natural law arguments just might have to be re-drawn. Assuming you posses the ability so to do. Probably not, else you had not ended your comment thusly:
    “You seem to have your mind made up already, and you’re just looking for something to back you up. Good luck with that.”

  • http://www.virtuphill.blogspot.com phil_style

    I think Mac is on to something. I would rephrase the initial question:
    “Assuming that the Bible DID NOT make any clear statements about the morality of homosecual relationships (or their infringement on our relationship with Christ) what arguments could be made to show that a homosexual relationship was damaging to one’s relationship with Christ”
    I think this phrasing is much more neutral, and does not presuppose any text which MIGHT actually say something on this issue.

  • Dan Hauge

    Tony, I respect your views, but I share the frustration of how frequently you will respond to an argument with “I just don’t find that compelling” (both on this issue, and others), and then assume that suffices as a counter-argument. Why don’t you find it compelling? Make alternative points instead of just making the assertion.

  • Nathan
  • http://www.oliviathemagicalgourd.com Ellie Dee

    What I find about many gays, is that they wish to make God in their likeness,rather than in His. You mentioned pro-creation and left out God’s true purpose if His design. Where the church sees purpose in all of Gods children, it realizes that the only TOOLS HE MADE FOR PRO-CREATION on the physical plane were of a man and a woman..they ALONE have the tools to create life. To use the argument or the choice of , if they want to use those tools or not, isnt the issue. Purpose was given to all Gods children. Becuase one is gay, in no way means He cant have a real relationship with God. What some fail to understand, is many people who even have those tools, dont choose to use them, and perfer celebacy even within a marriage, to completely devote themselves and their focus to something more than our physical pleasure.Priests as well as nuns in the Catholic Church take that vow for the very same reasons..it has nothing to do with how God sees us, but how devoted we our to the purpose He gave each individual..

  • kbeliever

    I believe anyone can have a relationship with God. Ultimately everyone will face judgement. In the bible though it clearly shows that God is against homosexuality. If you read it correctly he destroyed cities that we practicing homosexuality. in the end it will be God that is the judge of all people.

  • Adam

    kbeliever,
    Those cities (assuming your are referring to Sodom) were destroyed because of arrogance, affluence, and indifference to the needy. (cf. Ezek 16:48-50).

  • Ted Seeber

    It also does not help to simply label another person’s views as irrational- you need to show them HOW their views are irrational if you want change.
    After all, from my point of view, your intollerance of conservatives is extremely irrational.

  • http://ouremergingthoughts.blogspot.com Bobby Ray Hurd

    Alright,
    I’m excited to get to present some thoughts here.
    First of all, it should be important to understand up front that I write from an Emerging, Quaker, Messianic Jew, Mennonite, Christian Anarchist point-of-view (in the tradition of John Howard Yoder, Jacques Ellul, Greg Boyd, Stanley Hauerwas, Shane Claiborne, and David Stern) that does not see the Bible as the Word of God, but rather, understands JESUS as the Word of God. If you closely look at the patterns by which God gives revelation to his people than you will see that God DOES NOT reveal through philosophy, moral code, or metaphysical construction. God enters human history and accompanies people. This is in the same notion as Jesus saying that he is “the way”- the notion that he’s not TELLING you the way but is saying that you and he will actually perform a sort of “spiritual piggyback” whereby he will CARRY you as a road carries those who tread upon it. He HIMSELF is the way- not the Bible. Jesus also says, “I am the truth.” He doesn’t say, “I will tell you the Truth.” Jesus says that he himself IS truth. Therefore, any conclusions that you draw can only be formed in relationship to “the truth” and “the way”; Jesus.
    Therefore, whenever you look at the Bible, you absolutely cannot read it as if it were a philosophical construction or a system of knowledge. The entire Bible- from Genesis to Revelation- should not be viewed as a veiling and unveiling of abstract and objective truths. The stories of the Bible should be viewed as one HISTORY of a continuing conversation about what it means to live “optimally human” in accordance to this history; the history of God’s agreement and disagreement with his people. Biblical law is only true because it is God who speaks it.
    All law gets its worth because of who it draws truth from.
    If you detach it from its speaker (from its relationship to God and his people) than any conclusions that you draw are only a mere subject for discussion with some acceptable elements.
    This is what is meant whenever “emergents” talk about the relativity of the Bible. It isn’t a renunciation of truth. It is an embrace of truth from which it draws its conclusions that are dependant upon one’s understanding of the RELATIONSHIP by which the word was spoken. Nor does relativity suggest that there isn’t anything timeless about the Bible. But “truth” regarding homosexuality has to be viewed in RELATIONSHIP to the Word of God (this would be JESUS!). Therefore, anything that is said outside of the Word of God-Jesus- has to be put into prospective to HIS teachings. “The law” is the point of the covenant and the starting point of a new history. It is never some sort of frozen code abstracted from existence. God sent a MAN to do his work and not Gnostic revelations, books of metaphysics, or a perfected wisdom.
    Therefore, EVERY ethic should be viewed in relationship to Jesus. You have to be able to take very seriously the teaching that is the most pervasive and definitive of Jesus’ ministry; the Kingdom of God.
    Moving to homosexuality…
    Like I said, every conclusion that you draw about an ethic has to be viewed in relationship to Jesus. PAUL is not Jesus. Timothy is not Jesus. The writers of the Torah are not Jesus. The writers of the Bible are not Jesus. Therefore, I adhere to Tony’s point-of-view that suggests that the most widespread understanding of homosexuality in the church conflicts with Jesus’ teachings on relationships in accordance to the Kingdom of God/Heaven.
    Therefore, the notion that, “God said it, therefore its good enough for me” is not entirely true. The Bible is the God-inspired reporting of those events…not truth itself. PAUL and Timothy are not truth in themselves, but anything that they write or say has to be viewed as it is RELATIVE to Jesus. (HAVE I SAID THAT ENOUGH TIMES!?!?)
    I believe that the Bible teaches that sin is the essence of human destruction. Sin, in the bible, is defined as “missing the mark” or HAMARTIA. Therefore, yes, I consider sin to sell short the notion of God’s ideal for humanity as the scriptural evidence shows this belief to be consistent with the first Christians AND the first Jews. With this being said- if you take Jesus’ teachings of relationships seriously- sin shouldn’t be handled as if it were taboo. One should not be prudish, resentful, or indignant of gays. Nor is ministry to them any different than how you would minister to any other sinner. In fact, it irritates me that I even have to single them out! If you take the scriptures as literally as they are generally presented, than you must assume that gays should be PUT TO DEATH as this is what the three scriptures in the Torah suggest is a “just” consequence. Juxtapose this to Jesus’ example, you will reach a very different conclusion.
    Therefore, if you’re going to be a literalist, be an honest literalist.
    Hence, this only proves my point further. This shows the relativity of the original “law” of Israel. Its not that the law was bad, poor, or foolish. It’s that it was relative to the time it was written and the relationship that God had to Israel in an ancient time. Therefore, put into prospective that these are HUMAN writings about their take on Israel’s relationship with God. This is what it means to be “God-inspired.” Also consider that “the law” is also relative to Moses’ role as a leader to an ancient people without an identity, where superstition and idolatry was rampant, and people needed some structure to their obliviousness in regards to their own humanity.
    Jesus was a friend of the “worst” types of culturally taboo sinners. In our American culture, homosexuals are among these culturally condemned sinners. Therefore, I believe that Jesus- if alive today- would have MADE SURE to befriend homosexuals just to spit in the face of cultural Christianity and their system of morality just as he spat in the face of cultural Judaism and their frozen code of morality.
    Jesus befriended the “worst” types of sinners not to convert them to a religion or to even change their behavior…he was after changing their heart. Jesus is a living testament that if you turn people’s hearts toward recognizing that they are divine creations of the LIVING God that they will naturally rearrange their lives. Any system of morality that is adopted is then God-inspired and, therefore, a self-choice brought on by one’s relentless commitment to their discipleship to “the way.”
    Therefore, ministry to gays is NO DIFFERENT than ministry with any other sinner. If you shoot for their heart, they naturally reorder their lives once they’ve had an encounter with the resurrected Christ. If homosexuality is truly immoral- which is the debate here- than their encounter with the resurrected Christ will change them as they are honest about their own humanity. Its not for YOU or ANYONE to change there behavior! Judgment is God’s. This is what separates man’s judgment from God’s judgment.
    It is, therefore, the role of a Yeshuine disciple to not judge what is “acceptable morality” but to shoot for changing the heart of people so that they may reorder their lives in relation to their relationship with Jesus.
    For an example, I recently became a vegetarian. Not because of some system of morality or because I somehow think I’m earning spiritual brownie points for not eating meat, but because an encounter with the resurrected Christ does weird things to you. You do things that you would never imagine were feasible; let alone practical! No one tried to convert me to their religion, no one gave me a guilt trip, and I’m not a member of PETA. Whenever you have an encounter with the resurrected Christ, you continually ask yourself, “what does it mean to live optimally human?” In response to this question I became convicted that the my dependence upon meat is an aspect of fallenness… and I just naturally gave it up. My decision to be a vegetarian is relative to my relationship with Jesus. I’m not the only one who’s had this conviction.
    Therfore, doing anything- whether it be abstaining from homosexuality or veganism- should be viewed as something in relationship to one’s relationship to Christ AND NOT a relationship to a frozen moral code.
    Adhereing to a frozen code is like using an instruction manual to “operate” your spouse. You would be using instructions that are relative to the writer’s experience. They may offer some “true” elements, but, fundamentally, the manual is not an end in of itself. If you want to understand how to “work” your spouse, BE with your spouse. Just like if you want to know Jesus, BE with Jesus.
    Therefore, don’t start with morality. Start with Kingdom relationships and lose the mentality that ministry is somehow helixed with attempts to change behavior. Jesus never modeled that!
    Moving on…
    There are a number of scholars who dispute that the six passages (3 in OT and 3 in NT) are not as explicit in condemning all forms of homosexuality as they may seem. Some indicate that the word Paul uses in I Timothy 6 and I Timothy 1 is usually translated as “homosexuality” (arsenakoitai) is very indefinite. It’s never used before Paul says it and it has historically been translated in a wide variety of ways. Martin Luther translated it “masturbation.” Some also argue that the kind of homosexuality Paul had in mind when writing Romans 1 would have been the kind typically practiced by Romans and would not have included loving, reverent, monogamous committed relationships. I am not totally persuaded by these arguments, but neither should ANYONE dismiss this debate.
    Secondly, there is nothing in the Bible that suggests two people of the same gender can’t share a love for one another that is as profound as a love between a man and a woman. David and Jonathan had this kind of affection for one another. At one point scripture says: “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘May the LORD call David’s enemies to account.’ And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself” (I Sam 20:16-17).
    Later, in 2 Samuel, David says to Jonathan:
    I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
    you were very dear to me.
    Your love for me was wonderful,
    more wonderful than that of women (2 Sam. 1:26).
    So it seems two people of the same gender can share a deep, godly, profound love for one another. The Bible is against homoerotic behavior, but not against same gender love itself. Nor is the Bible against homosexuals anymore than it is against any other sinner- as if Jesus were against ANY sinner!
    Third, it’s my opinion that homosexual behavior goes right along with the other sins that Paul lists as what I am calling the “degenerative sins”; or the sins that are fundamentally worsening as they become habitual lifestyles. Paul cites drunkenness, cheating, being miserly, idolatry, foulmouthed revilers, and sexual immorality as these “degenerative sins” (this is my term not the bible’s). Take a close look at each and every one of these Pauline citations. What is the common thread? Every single one of them are lifestyles of degeneration/destruction. Notice none of these are religious taboos, but they are lifestyles that essentially lead to one’s annihilation. Paul nails it whenever he condemns these lifestyles, because they, all-in-all, degenerate people into a failing existence and lead to a disintegration with God (is this not the DEFINITION of damnation as well?).
    It’s my opinion that trying to reinterpret Paul and Timothy’s words is not the way to go. Rather, embrace what they have said for the mere reason that their words are relative to their relationship to Jesus. It was adopted within the Hebrew tradition and moral thought of that day that homosexuality was a sexually degenerative act. Therefore, the point of what Paul and Timothy are articulating is a warning to not sell short your own sexuality because it is intended to be a reflection of God’s love and it is, therefore, ingrained into the biology of human beings (“honor God with your body”). Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:15, “Do you not see and know that your bodies are members (bodily parts) of Christ? Am I to take the parts of Christ and make [them] parts of a prostitute?”
    Paul is giving a warning that it is ESSENTIAL that you are honest about one’s sexuality because the LAST THING human beings want to do is cash in their sexuality for something shorter than its fullest fulfillment. (Rob Bell has the best commentary on sexuality I have ever read).
    Perhaps a more contemporary metaphor would help…
    Am I to take gold and forge it into a toilet or a dumpster?
    Am I to take diamonds and grind it up into rat food?
    Am I to take a BMW Roadster for a demolition derby car?
    Notice that Paul is accentuating the unending worth of human beings and, therefore-when we participate in lifestyles of degeneration- are going against divine common sense (and being downright asinine) whenever we take something with never-ending splendor/value and co-opt it with a less-than-beautiful principle.
    Being able to be honest about our design is central to living a life in integration with God.
    THEREFORE…
    The question that is raised for me is:
    “Are there elements of the human experience that people are incapable of BEing in any true, honest, or genuine sense?”
    Is this a question that can be answered with any sense of organization?
    Is the answer simple “relativity?” (which to be intellectually honest, you have to consider).
    Perhaps the human experience is compromised of universal AND relative truths?
    Perhaps our most modern Christian ethos has denied relativity or, at the very least, been very irresponsible with its application.
    Perhaps the Christian ethos has deemed “universal” what is certainly “relative?”
    Perhaps we have called “relative” what is certainly “universal?”
    What is the full extent that one may live out the truth, “Unto thyself be true”?
    Whenever we can honestly distinguish between the God-sculpted elements of the human experience and the man-sculpted elements of the human experience we will fundamentally be able to answer this question that not only creates hostility and division in the church, but has saturated the human conscience since the beginning.
    As reasonable, loving, Jesus-focused people, let us continue the discussion.
    To be “true to thyself” is central to living in integration and abundance of the eternal life of YHVH.
    How may one be “optimally connected?”
    or better…
    How many one live “optimally human?”
    Ask and answer these questions with a loving heart, judgment aside, and an open mind.
    Remember that above all, Jesus says that “love wins” because love leads to truth- or where there perhaps may be a lack of it.
    Love never fails because love leads one to the truth.
    Because, above all, love is the drum major in the marching band of truth.
    Shalom!

  • Your Name

    Adam,
    You probably should read Genesis 19:4-17. And I do have friends that are homosexual but i pray for them daily and do not judge them. As I said before we will all stand before God and judgement.

  • Charles Cosimano

    One thing someone learns from reading these comment boxes, aside from being able to type while laughing one’s head off occasionally, is why sensible people avoid religious discussions.
    Seriously, you get folks who are all in favor of stoning gay people with stones but they can’t do that. Not only is it impolite but other people would become very angry with them. So, ok, just because the Bible says cities with large populations should be nuked does not mean anyone is actually going to do that because they don’t have the nukes to do it with the folks who do aren’t going to.
    Ok, we can’t kill them and God won’t nuke San Franscisco, in spite of the fervent prayers of the congregation so the battle becomes how to relate to gays in real life. And this is a problem because the next door neighbors are a gay couple! Now, for this, Aquinas should be the perfect source because if anyone had experience living with gays it would be a monk! But Aquinas was a medieval nutcase who is really impossible to take very seriously if you actually read him.
    So along come the dueling Bible verses. And after a bit that one realizes why God created gays in the first place, to demonstrate why one should not take religious reasoning too seriously but rather view it as a peril to civil peace and safety. First they throw verse, then they throw theology, then they throw rocks and finally someone is trying to get his hands on a nuclear warhead and throw it at San Francisco!
    We are not safe with these people running around loose.

  • Benjamin Burgess

    Hey Tony.
    You are indeed correct when you mentioned (in more or less words) that this is a touchy issue and have obviously struck alot of heartchords.
    It seems that you have already made up your mind about how scripture isn’t clear about homosexual relationships. Indeed there are VERY confusing passages in scripture that can and do leave even the most leading scholars scratching their head. In those cases we use the doctrine of perpetuity, “All scripture is equally inspired but not equally understandable”. In which you take a confusing part of scripture and use OTHER scripture that is straight forward to help interpret. A couple short examples. Polygamy, Holy wars (extermination of the Canannites), Wine at weddings. Paul even seems to ban women from ministry/teaching in 1 Timothy 2:12. (And that is onl a handful) What we must NOT do is use confusing scriptures as unmoving, rigid doctrines (legalism) yet in the same time that does not permit us to label everything as “relative truth” that pertains to how one chooses to perceive so-called truth.
    For my own life struggle…the bible doesn’t explicitly tell us to stay away from pornography yet will I continue to justify my addictions under the banner that “scripture is not clear”? As a leader of my family will I seek out my personal interests first rather than leading them through my actions? Pornography is damaging on multiple levels, it can quite literally alienate families from each other and even pass on to future generations. Am I to justify my actions by what feels good or right? [Jeremiah 17:5-6,9] By no means!
    Everyday I have to wake up and remind myself that I did not get married to satisfy my everlasting itch for sexual pleasure…but I serve a purpose that is GREATER than myself and my own personal interests…
    God is not some cosmic killjoy waiting to zap you at the first sign of sin. If that were the case no of us would exist. But he has set standards in His Word that would be to yours and EVERYBODYS benefit to live that way. Not for the sake of somehow making yourself righteous and thus once again avoiding the imminent hammer of justice. But rather to live a life to the FULLEST, with the MOST purpose and the MOST pleasure.
    I tell you this because I love you…do believe me…

  • ryan

    Nathan great video post. I would be more more helpful, and honest on Tony’s part, to interact with arguments like in the video you posted rather than just repeating a mantra of “I don’t find it compelling.” Its this easy dismissal which allows us to shape God in our image instead of us being shaped into his image.

  • Nathan

    Ryan,
    I am glad you got something out of the video. What I like about Dr. Brown is that he’s very clear that we cannot use the Bible to target our hatred towards any group of people. Being Jewish by birth (like myself), he knows how utterly dangerous it can be for groups that become stigmatized when people use the Bible to pre-condemn anyone before God has His say on judgment day. We must show love, compassion, and understanding and offer our genuine loving friendship to LGBT people as we would any other sinner in society; but unlike Tony seems to do, that cannot also mean we abandon the clear teachings of Scripture in the process. In fact, training the Church to be less (negatively) reactive against LGBT-persons becomes more difficult when they see compromise in sound doctrine go hand-in-hand with building such tolerance.

  • Panthera

    Speaking of being shaped in God’s image, I find it fascinating that the conservative Christians cherry-pick science just as they do the Bible – to justify their own actions and rationalizations.
    It is 2009. Since the earliest 1970′s, even the Americans – the least modern of all industrial countries – recognize that homosexuality is not an illness, nor a choice.
    How do you conservative Christians choose which scientificaly grounded evidence to accept and on what basis? Obviously, you accept quantum physics if you are reading this. Why do you then reject decades of well documented, neutral research which conclusively shows that homosexuality is universally present in all high order mammals? Why do you keep chanting “in God’s image” then reject those of us Christians who are gay?
    Could it be you do so because it is easier to attack us then to concentrate on all those things Jesus left us to work on?

  • Andrew Murray

    Tony,
    Here is a line of reasoning that I have found to be compelling… let me know if there is anything missing or if it is taking anything without proper regard to context:
    When I look at the story arc of the Bible, here is what I see: in the beginning, before sin-brokenness-alienation from God enters the biblical narrative, God creates a man and a women to be in a committed, monogamous, heterosexual, covenant relationship. Whether or not this is taken as literal-historical, mytho-historical, or something else seems beside the point to me. What we have in the story is still something God calls “good,” something coming before sin-brokenness-alienation enters the story, something that it seems God is setting up as a kind of ideal.
    As the biblical narrative continues, God tolerates other types of relationships (e.g. polygamy in the lives of Abraham, Solomon, etc.), but these relationships are never presented as an ideal.
    Then we get to the NT. Here, in the qualifications for elders and deacons, we again see the committed-monogamous-heterosexual-covenant relationship set up as a kind of ideal.
    Finally, taking an eschatological standpoint, the committed-monogamous-male/female-covenant relationship (though not sexual in this case) is used as the illustration for how Christ and his Bride will be in relationship with one another in eternity (presumably we can think the new heavens and new earth here). Can there be any doubt that this is being set up as an ideal?
    So what I see when I look at the Bible is that committed-monogamous-heterosexual-covenant relationships are displayed as the ideal, the desire, the goal. Homosexual relationships are presented in this way. You might argue that they are neither prohibited when Scripture is properly exegeted (and some would agree while others would disagree)… but if we know what the ideal is, then why would we aim for anything else?
    What do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts.

  • Andrew Murray

    P.S. I have not read all of the comments on your post from last week, so if this basic line of thinking has already been share, I apologize.

  • Panthera

    Andrew Murray,
    I do have a question for you. Given that science and medicine are – and have been for decades – in agreement that homosexuality is neither a disorder nor an illness, neither a choice nor mutable, why should my marriage not be willed by God?
    Twenty-four years of monogamy, being true and faithful, a committed and loving, giving partnership. Our marriage is neither a temporary convenience nor purely recreational sex. We support our community, we try to give back from the considerable financial bounty we are lucky to have…what on earth is the reason for all these attacks on us?

  • ArtBoy

    Tony: “Still looking for a reason……”
    Who ultimately decides if someone is wholeheartedly following Jesus? Is it not Jesus?
    The bottom line is, ALL of us who call ourselves disciples of Jesus come to him, receive his gift of grace, and then do our best to love God and love people. But how do we know love? John says, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.”(1Jn 5:2, 3.) Similarly, Jesus said, He who has my commandments and keeps them, He it is who loves me…” So the scriptures are key to wholeheartedly following/loving Jesus. It is a question of authority.
    For me this means, if it is not according to the commands of Jesus, then it’s not loving, and it’s not “following.” If it looks to me like God’s design for human sexual behavior is narrowly defined in scripture, who am I to deviate? What else can ANY of us do but live according to our understanding of God’s will as revealed in his revelation?
    However, at the risk of stating the obvious, for the follower of Jesus, reaching a different conclusion from someone else on the question does not amount to hatred of that person.

  • Darren

    Andrew Murray,
    I follow your line of reasoning. But let’s take it to it’s natural conclusion. Why would someone who is gay aim for what you call the “ideal” situation, given that this would no doubt lead to a life of difficulty and misery for both partners? The “ideal” is not achievable for the grand majority of gay people, and even when gay people force themselves into these types of relationship, rarely do they experience the powerfual life-changing force that marriage can be, b/c they have no “natural affection” for the one whom they’ve partnered.
    Let’s look at this another way. We know that God’s ideal (before any great “Fall”) was that man should have faculty of all his appendages. And yet, we have people who are born with all kinds of physical/neurological conditions that render their appendages useless. So let’s say that someone is quadriplegic. Should our aim be to give them false hopes for an ideal life of full control of their body, or should we aim to give them the best quality of life possible given their condition?
    LET THE RECORD SHOW, I do not personally believe homosexuality to be any sort of illness or disorder, and so I’m wary of making analogies to physical ailments like quadriplegia. I am simply trying to show you that even if your line of reasoning were true, it would still not make much sense to deny gay people an opportunity to enter into the joyful, challenging, redemptive, life-altering, life-long types of relationships that marriage offers.

  • Alex

    Panthera, have been considering this comment since the last post, but feel it is important for me to share. Let me start by saying that I am a gay Christian, so we are coming from the same place (more or less).
    While I appreciate your passion and zeal over this issue, your attitude towards and stereotyping of all “conservative Christians” makes you come across as little better than many of those you are criticizing.
    Consider how your tone and posture undermines your point. Truth differs from the facts in that it is gracious, patient and redemptive. Something to consider.

  • Panthera

    Alex,
    You have a valid point. I’ve been participating here at beliefnet for quite a while now and have pretty much reached the end of my patience with the conservative Christians.
    In the last month, alone, I have been told my marriage is not real, that I should be tortured, that I should leave my husband (after nearly 25 years!), that I am not a Christian, that I am going to hell, that I am perverted, that I am worse than a pederast!
    It is very hard at this point to feel anything but contempt for them.
    Doesn’t change the validity of your point.

  • Arthur

    Darren,
    I find that 1 Cor. 9:24-10:13 to be helpful in your contemplation of what Andrew posted. I also like somewhat of the principles involved with 1 Peter 2:18-25.

  • Benjamin Burgess

    Will no one answer my question? Sure I may have posed them in a slightly rhetorical nature, but I still would like to see them answered…

  • Arthur

    Panthera,
    In your references to slavery, could you explain the meaning of Galatians 3:26-29?:
    26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s pseed, and heirs according to the promise.
    @book{The New King James Version.}, publisher = {Thomas Nelson}, address = {Nashville}, year = {1982}, pages = {Ga 3:26-29}

  • Arthur

    Bobby,
    From these words of Jesus, what can you gather about the teachings of Jesus?
    12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
    @book{The New King James Version.}, publisher = {Thomas Nelson}, address = {Nashville}, year = {1982}, pages = {Jn 16:12-13}
    And consider these verses as well,
    5 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.
    @book{The New King James Version.}, publisher = {Thomas Nelson}, address = {Nashville}, year = {1982}, pages = {2 Pe 3:15-16}

  • ArtBoy

    FOR TONY – In order for the discussion to move forward, I think we need to hear from you on one point. Last week someone asked if there is ANY type of genital contact that you would define as morally objectionable. You gave a couple of examples and said that you had theological/philosophical reasons for defining them as such, but you didn’t say what those reasons were. I think we need to hear what kind of reasoning you personally find “convincing” in order to answer your question to your satisfaction.
    If I could, somewhat sheepishly, pose a question that begs to be asked:
    (And while this is on topic, it has nothing to do with homosexuality, so everyone can relax.)
    Let’s say there is an animal rights activist (male or female) who is really ugly, smells bad, and has an annoying personality to boot. None of this is their fault. Let’s say they own a dog (maybe a big, male, fluffy St. Bernard named Earnest,) who loves the person unconditionally, as dogs are wont to do. Let’s say one lonely night the person discovers that he/she can derive sexual pleasure from the dog, and Earnest seems more than willing to go along with this. So they begin to practice an intimate sexual relationship. They’re not hurting each other or anyone else, and they’re not sleeping around.
    Who are you to tell this person that they are wrong? Who are you say that warm, furry animals are not God’s provision for ugly, smelly people who have sexual needs? (Because, apparently, a life without sex is a fate worse than death.) I get that it’s maybe not as good as the ideal of a faithful, loving, monogamous human sexual coupling, but it is still a live possibility for some people.
    Is there anything INHERENT in the activity that would prevent this person from wholeheartedly loving God and following Jesus? Any reasons compelling enough that, as a pastor, you would have the confidence and even the obligation to say to them, “You cannot practice this behavior and continue to call yourself a follower of Jesus”? The argument gets more difficult with pedophilia/”underage” sex, and even more difficult with incestuous relationships. I think you are barefoot on a field of broken glass. I’m curious to see how much of Western civilization you’re willing to deconstruct.

  • Your Name

    Tony, I must admit to having found your question a bit bemusing, being that a) of course there is a strong ‘non-biblical’ case, that’s how the ‘orthodox’ view of marriage has been maintainted – it’s called the Western tradition (ignoring the Orthodox Church for now, but that’s a different story). I’m afraid the burden of proof is very much on you here! b) As Scott McK pointed out, it’s a little mischievious to ask Evangelical Christians to build a case against same-sex marriage (I presume marriage is what we are talking about and that we haven’t decided to totally go awol from Scripture and Tradition) given that their epistomology is built on a high view of Scripture (not to say that you don’t have one to).
    Still, you asked the question, and I think I know what you are driving at. In response I recommend you read a fellow luminary at Princeton University, Professor Robert P George, defending marriage as union between man and woman. You may disagree with him, but surely you will take his reasoning seriously. Presumbably you will ‘not find his arguments compelling’ :).
    You could also read N. T. Wright’s recent comments on gay ordination and post-modern misunderstandings of ‘rights’.
    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/07/what-marriage-is-and-what-it-isnt

  • Bobby Ray Hurd

    BTW,
    This isn’t just for Tony-as I generally agree with Tony on about 95% of what he teaches- it is for anyone.
    First of all, whenever you desacrilize sex to as simple terms as “genital contact” than you have quite possibly lost the the trully mysterious gift that “sex” is. I belive that Rob Bell would agree (though perhaps Tony could ask him…LOL!).
    Now, with this in mind, being true to the Biblical view that sex is something that is a HUGE deal to God and the writers of the Bible. Therefore, its absolutely essential that whatever conclusion that you draw concerning an ethic here, you cannot hope to reach any Christ-centered conclusion belittling sex to the point of calling it “genital contact.”
    I, for one, am still wrestling with this whole ordeal quite a bit being that I ABSOLUTELY lament and indenify with ALL GAYS that have been belittled, marginalized, and condemned. Therefore, either way you look at this debate, you cannot hope to reach a Christ-centered conclusion if you take a belittling approach to sexual ethics because sex is VERY CLEARLY a big deal to God.
    Conservatives: Open your mind a bit. Tony has only asked that you form a broader hermaneutic than simply six verses in the entire Bible. He’s right and absolutely justified in asking those that are “critical” to do this. Make your decisions relative to the Word of God- Jesus.
    Liberals: Some of the traditional arguments probably aren’t “compelling” for the reason that we’ve heard them time and time again. Revistit some of them as painstakingly ignorant they tend to be sometimes. But understand that relativity only goes as far as God’s reign. Don’t allow your love for sinners to protect you from the realities of sin. Your ministry does not change whether you conclude that “gay sex” is out of agreement or in agreement with God, because your goal is not to change their behavior.
    I applaud more liberal-minded people for asking the questions necessary to keep our legalisms in check.
    I applaud conservatives for keeping in check our honesty as it pertains to the Word of God.
    Shalom!

  • panthera

    Arthur,
    Surprise, surprise, you can be gay and a Christian and even have read the Bible.
    My comment on slavery was provoked by a conservative Christian who posts here regularly justifying slavery, based on some of Paul’s writings.
    As best I can tell from reading the postings here, the conservative Christians are willing to cherry pick both the Bible and science to build their absurd, hate-filled, nasty case that my love is somehow not pleasing to God. Well, maybe not to their cherry-picked version of God.
    Who cares? Some day, we will be free. And some day soon, you hateful people are going to have to answer to God for your spite towards us.

  • http://www.grizzbabesden.blogspot.com Angela Richards

    Tony,
    I am delurking to make a comment. I agree with you on your stance regarding homosexuality, but I think it would be helpful to those on both sides of the issue if you went into a little greater detail as to why you find certain arguments not compelling. I think that might spark some interesting (and hopefully valuable) dialogue.

  • http://eyesofhope.wordpress.com Theresa Seeber

    Benjamin Burgess, what are you hoping to see answered? You are talking about the negative effects of your pursuit of pornography on your family, and we are talking about what Tony has learned about gays and the church. What do you want to know that is about gay people and their ability to be part of the Kingdom of God?

  • Mordred08

    ArtBoy: “I’m curious to see how much of Western civilization you’re willing to deconstruct.”
    I didn’t realize not having same-sex intercourse was such a big part of Western civilization.
    And as for the bestiality thing…come on, people! Until the dog starts speaking English, it’s really not the same thing. Give up on making that argument work; it only makes us less likely to listen to you.

  • RJohnson

    An interesting discussion. I’m curious about one direction that has been taken, that being the introduction of the animal activist and his predilection for intimacy with his dog. I find it a compelling argument.
    But I would take it a step further and ask the collected group that if this “slippery slope” argument is valid to use against same-sex relationships, is it not also valid to use against interracial relationships?
    Leon Bazile, in authoring the decision for the state of Virginia that affirmed the laws in that state against interracial marriage, wrote the following:
    “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
    He was referring, of course, to the account given in Genesis 11 where God confounded the speech of the various groups who had assembled to build a great tower, thus attempting to declare their independence from God. This has long been viewed as the event that led to the creation of the various races, as cited by Judge Bazile.
    Today we point to the many verses both OT and NT where it is declared that there is a universality among the children of God and that those who made this earlier argument were clearly mistaken.
    How do we know that? We have the same Bible, the same Scripture that they had. How can we say that our view of interracial marriage is more in line with the Bible today than it was when Bazile issued this decision?
    If, as many argue, Bazile and others were mistaken and misinterpreting Scripture in their view of interracial marriage, what is the evidence of that from Scripture? Or are we using our observation of society around us to drive our interpretation of Scripture with regards to interracial marriage?
    If, as the poster posits, it is difficult to draw a line between justifying same-sex intercourse and bestiality, I would be interested in seeing the poster draw a line between interracial sexual relationships and bestiality in light of the passage from Genesis 11 and the interpretation of Bazile (and others).

  • Arthur

    Panthera,
    Seeing as how I have not seen this other poster and have had enough atheists try to bring up slavery in the Bible, I hope you accept my apology as to my assuming certain things.
    However, I find it fascinating as to how people like to categorize people who disagree with them to the category of hateful. For instance, Gore comparing those who disagree with Global Warming to Hitler. Or the media trying to automatically show those who disagree with health care reform as rambunctious and rowdy. I have seen more hate from the LGBT side of things than I have shown them including an attempted “rape” of me as a kid.

  • Arthur

    RJohnson,
    I have seen direct reference to bestiality in the Bible; and, though others try to dispute it, I have seen direct references to homosexuality. Where are the direct references to skin pigmentation other than diseases such as leprosy?

  • churchmouse

    Tony all scripture is God breathed. You can’t take some out if you find them offensive.
    You said that you have to read Leviticus in appropriate contexts……that they don’t prohibit the kind of relationships that you have been advocating in my blog , Then I ask you ….why were they included in the bible for what reason?
    You said that your gay friends are trying to embrace Jesus Christ and the church while living in long term monogamous committed relationships.
    So? Does longevity make a relationship right? So if someone was in a short term sexual relationship that is wrong? And how long does a relationship have to last for it to make it right? Your friends should take what Christ said to heart. What about these scriptures?
    Along with all other kinds of sexual immorality, sex before marriage / premarital sex is repeatedly condemned in Scripture (Acts 15:20; Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13,18; 7:2; 10:8; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). The Bible promotes abstinence before marriage. Sex before marriage is just as wrong as adultery and other forms of sexual immorality, because they all involve having sex with someone you are not married to. Sex between a husband and his wife is the only form of sexual relations that God approves of (Hebrews 13:4).
    You said that you wanted to challenging us to think more broadly…… more than using those six verses. I challenge you to use those verses and explain why they are in the Word?
    Those six are not the “clobber verses. There are enough scriptures in the OT to make a solid case against same sex marriage and sex before marriage.
    You also said that the bible leaves all sorts of questions about the sexual relations in the very early days. Our questions won’t all be answered to our satisfaction, that’s where faith comes into the picture. But the plan of salvation and the things we need to know are obvious and clear. And so is sin and what sin is. Sin prohibit’s a close relationship with God. Sin and God do not mix.
    You mentioned that you did not believe that Genesis happened. Then you said for those of us who do believe it literally that we have a lot of questions to answer. How so? You made some absurd comment…..where did the women come from? The entire race came from Adam and Eve. But you obviously have to denounce them because that would blow your case for same sex unions.
    How can you tell people not to take the Bible literally? Do you know with 100% certainty that they are false? And what proof do you have? You are saying that the Genesis account did not happen. Did Jesus walk on the water? Did He raise the dead? Did he make water into wine? Was He really crucified? What is to far fetched for you to believe?
    You keep saying loving committed sexual relationship…………You seem to think that sex is good and right and moral if you have it with one person for a long time. So would God condone a woman who is having a long term affair with a man who is married? What if they loved each other, would that make a difference? What if the mans wife was paralyzed and he used that as an excuse for sex? You are saying a person deserves sex and you are trying to come up with all sorts of scenarios for excuses.
    God instituted sex for more than procreation. Read Song of Solomon. He meant sex to be fun and something to be intimate. But for whom did He created sex for? He said one man and one woman. He made a woman so a man would have a mate. Why didn’t he make a man for a man? Or why didn’t He make Eve first and created a woman for her. And why did he say for a man to leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife and they should become one. No where Tony in the entire Bible is there a case for anything different than this. Why did God exclude mentioning that He condones sex outside marriage?
    Anyone can follow Christ. I believe there is only one sin that keeps someone from heaven and that is denying Christ. But I also believe that sinning is mocking God, Christ and the Holy Spirit and it prevents someone from an intimate relationship with God. Why would God want to bless someone who was in disobedience to His Word? We are His children and when we sin and do wrong, I believe He disciplines us. I believe He spanks those in disobedience. That is why one should not take communion if they are actively sinning and their heart is not right. God knows what is in someones heart and He is the final judge.
    My son is living with his fiance and they are due to get married at Thanksgiving. They are both believers but living in sin. God will not bless them while they are mocking Him. Does their sin affect their salvation? I don’t think so but they are still in error. I had an abortion when I was younger and twenty years later realized what I had done. I became suicidal and it almost ruined my life, my family. God drew me in and I accepted Christ as my personal Savior. I had to change a lot…from what I read to what I watched on television. He changed me inside and out. I had to face my actions for what they were and the Bible help me do that. It was not about what I believed should be true it was about what God, my Father said was the truth.
    Panthera said, “Who cares? Some day, we will be free. And some day soon, you hateful people are going to have to answer to God for your spite towards us.”
    You are the one who is hateful. I do not hate you just because I believe you are sinning. You hate me because I wont cave into your lifestyle, your worldview. I love my son and his fiance. THEY ARE SINNING. It does not change my love for them. But you just do not get this because your to happy playing the victim. Woe is me………..
    Tony make your case with scriptures for same sex marriage.

  • panthera

    Tony,
    You are dealing with two sets of Christians, I think.
    The first set could care less that they selectively interpret both the Scriptures and science to fit their fear-driven needs.
    The second set are trying very hard to do what Christ asked of us.
    For the fear-driven, no amount of explanation as to why they are cherry-picking verses, interpreting texts out of context and ignoring firm science will change their minds. Rather the opposite. The clearer it becomes to them that things aren’t as they need for them to be, the more their fear drives them to the hateful acts towards gays and transgender we experience in the US every day.
    The other group is split into many subsets.
    Some, gay Christians like me, are failing so miserably at Christ’s command to love our neighbor and practice charity, we don’t have time to worry about that speck in our brother’s eye which only an electron microscope could find.
    Others, straight Christians, are trying very hard to do the same.
    Yet others, gay or straight, are trying to have a serious dialog.
    The hard part for me is to engage the serious Christians and not lump them in with the hateful and fearful ones. This is not easy.
    Please keep at it, your work here is important.
    Churchmouse, just a little note. God and God alone is my God. Science and medicine reveal His natural world to us in far more detail than do texts which were written thousands of years ago. Of course I am happy that science confirms that homosexuality is normal. I would not, ever, abandon my husband even if science were to have concluded differently. In this, we are similar.
    Jesus never once limited marriage to a man and a woman. Given his very firm words on so very many topics, it is absurd to suggest he just had to set priorities on the various ‘sins’. He didn’t. That is not what he came for. Had God seen homosexuality as a sin, He most certainly would have had his only Son, sent to die for us, to redeem our souls, talk about it. Yet, not one word.
    Were homosexuality to be a sin (and it is not) then, and if we were to apply the same absurd ‘literalistic’ standards of the conservative Christians to the Bible, the fact that Jesus doesn’t mention it relegates it to very minor sins, indeed.

  • panthera

    Sigh.
    Sorry, this abominable interface put a comment of mine from another thread in instead of what I had just written.
    We really, really, need to find a way to help Beliefnet get a better comment interface. This one is horrible.
    Here is what I tried to say. Hopefully!
    Arthur said:
    Panthera,
    Seeing as how I have not seen this other poster and have had enough atheists try to bring up slavery in the Bible, I hope you accept my apology as to my assuming certain things.
    However, I find it fascinating as to how people like to categorize people who disagree with them to the category of hateful. For instance, Gore comparing those who disagree with Global Warming to Hitler. Or the media trying to automatically show those who disagree with health care reform as rambunctious and rowdy. I have seen more hate from the LGBT side of things than I have shown them including an attempted “rape” of me as a kid.
    end quote.
    Arthur,
    I have gotten things wrong around here more often than I can count – misread a comment or seen it quoted out of context. Apology accepted.
    Anyone who attempts to rape anyone is acting out of very base, very perverted motives, rape is an act of violence, not sexual expression. I truly regret you had to suffer that.
    There is a lot of anger and fury – on both sides – of this issue. I live between Europe and the US, for me, the American position on denying my husband’s and my marriage is wrong and makes me very angry. When our love is compared to pederasty, to making love to animals, to loving a stone (!) to only being recreational, it does make me furious.
    This is the man who, when I was attacked and lying on the ground, covered me with his own body. He nearly died from the merciless attack upon us by good Christians.
    When you have suffered physical violence and it has been done to you in the name of Christ, you do have trouble believing the conservative Christians when they say to you: We love you. We don’t hate you.
    My cowboy caps and fuzzy vision together with my husband’s rebuild bones tell me another story.
    The focus upon us by the conservative Christian leaders is driven by hatred, even if individual conservative Christians don’t see it. That is one of the greatest weaknesses of such extremely authoritarian systems.
    Fundamentalism in America is driven very strongly by extremist, with-me-or-against-me, only one way is right, all others are totally wrong mentality.
    We see this on so very many issues of justice. Torture – nearly all non-conservative Christians reject it. Nearly 2/3 of all conservative Christians embrace it. Death penalty, ditto. Opposition to health care for all is actually being organized around the argument that Christ never said for us to be charitable through the US government! Acts of violence and exclusion towards gays are, sadly, just a small part of this.
    Arthur, did you know that many serious studies have shown that somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the teen-age children kicked out of their homes by their families and living in the streets in the US were thrown away because they were either gay, transgender or pregnant?
    That is hatred. When you encounter strong words from gays and transgender, yes we are furious. Being oppressed (the US is the only Western democracy left which still oppresses us legally) will do that. There are, however, over 1500 hate driven rapes, beatings, murders every year of us and the transgender in the US.
    None of conservative Christians by us.
    Zero.
    FBI statistics, not mine.

  • Bob

    “Aquinas was a medieval nutcase who is really impossible to take very seriously if you actually read him.”
    Well Charles, Western civilization disagrees with you on that one. St. Thomas Aquinas is seriously studied in even the most secular universities.
    You know, I get the feeling that YOU haven’t actually read him.

  • ArtBoy

    CLARIFYING THE QUESTION…
    //Mordredo8: “And as for the bestiality thing…come on, people! Until the dog starts speaking English, it’s really not the same thing. Give up on making that argument work; it only makes us less likely to listen to you.”//
    I ‘m not saying it’s the same thing as homosexuality. I’m asking Tony if there is SOMETHING INHERENT in such a consensual relationship, wherein no one is being hurt or exploited, that would prohibit the person involved from wholeheartedly following Jesus. (Without referencing the 6 verses.) C’mon…be open-minded.
    When I hear a good answer, I’ll give up on asking the question.
    //RJohnson: “… if this “slippery slope” argument is valid to use against same-sex relationships, is it not also valid to use against interracial relationships?…Bazile…wrote…
    ‘ “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” ‘//
    No, it isn’t valid. Bazile was a product of his time, mishandling scripture to justify his views. But scripture simply doesn’t say what he says it says.
    1) God didn’t create the races and place them on separate continents. He did not “separate the races.” He created male and female in His image, and within those two people, the genetic information necessary for all existing races was present. At Babel, the fallen world was “one people”, God confused their language, people separated, migrated, and formed nations. As Arthur correctly stated, there is no Biblical prohibition against interracial marriage. In fact, the Biblical vision ultimately has all nations coming together in complete unity, in Christ, as opposed to God returning humanity to a homogenous “brown racial state”. The event at Pentecost in Acts foreshadows this, reversing events at Babel. ALL human beings bear the image of God.
    2) Furthermore, homosexuality is not a race. Contrary to Panthera’s assertions, all of science and medicine, (including the APA,) do NOT agree that homosexuals are born homosexual. Most research shows that environmental factors play a greater role than genetics. Environmental factors can easily explain, for example, how certain families can tend to produce homosexuals over several generations.
    The implication of Tony’s question is, if there is nothing INHERENTLY wrong, (apart from the authority of scripture,) with homosexual behavior, then we should condone it. I need to see that test work with OTHER forms of “deviant” sexual behavior. Otherwise, we’re simply talking about personal distaste and emotional reaction.

  • Arthur

    Panthera,
    would it help you to know that I gave a good coat to a fellow transgender employee who couldn’t afford one, was walking home in the winter in 35 Degree weather, and that my own financial status wasn’t (and still isn’t) that far off from that person’s status?

  • panthera

    Artboy,
    False witness is a sin, or doesn’t that count (being OT) for conservative Christians?
    Sure, there are literally one or two members of the APA who disagree, just as there is a tiny minority of scientists who still think homosexuality is environmentally determined.
    The vast, overwhelming and conclusive body of scientists and doctors disagree. The more recent the studies, the more conclusively they show that homosexuality is not a choice.
    There is a strong case of natural selection to be made for a certain percent of mammals being gay. Certainly, we would not see homosexuality tolerated by lions, wolves and dolphins if such were not so – three species very similar to us which are notorious for culling defective members of their groups.
    You may not like the science, I could care less. But you will not tell lies to propagate the hatred against us. God forbids that.
    Every single conservative Christian comparing my marriage to bestiality here needs to remember that they will answer to God for their hatefulness.

  • panthera

    Arthur,
    That is what being a Christian is really all about.
    Helping those less fortunate.
    One of the worst aspects of this discussion is the tendency of the conservative Christians to overlook one factor and to focus exclusively on the other.
    If we stipulate that homosexuality is a sin (and I do not, it isn’t) then we have to acknowledge that all sins are equal before God’s eye and ask why the exclusive focus on us and not on all the sins the conservative Christians themselves commit?
    That is the factor the conservative Christians so eagerly ignore. Jesus made very clear that even thinking lustful thoughts about a woman was equal to adultery…yet how many of the hateful, spiteful gay-bashing conservative Christians posting here acknowledge that?
    None.
    The factor which is truly demeaning and hate-based, is the nonsense spewed forth by many – churchmouse, you are among those, sadly, who cast gays and transgender into the same group as pederasts, rapists, those who practice beastiality, murderers…in short, because my husband and I are gay, our Christianity is denied, our love for each other is denied, our attempts at good works are ignored.
    This is hatred, pure and simple.
    This is the core of the problem.
    If the conservative Christians really took the Bible literally, they’d be focusing on the beam in their eyes and not the mite in others’. But they don’t they cherry pick to justify ignoring their own failings.
    The National Socialists used exactly these factors to their benefit. I see no difference to the conservative Christians posting here who advocate the dissolution of my marriage and our torture.

  • RJohnson

    Arthur: “I have seen direct reference to bestiality in the Bible; and, though others try to dispute it, I have seen direct references to homosexuality. Where are the direct references to skin pigmentation other than diseases such as leprosy?”
    The best discussion of it that I can find in short order is on the following webpage: http://www.h-net.org/~south/archives/threads/biblical.html. It is part of an exchange that began with a person requesting information regarding the use of the Bible to justify segregation. One poster gave the following response:
    —-
    Date: Wed, 15 May 1996
    From: Henry Kamerling
    Subject: Re: sources on biblical defense of segregation (2 posts)
    >From James Miller, Emory University
    This may be a bit earlier than you are looking for, but journals like the southern Presbyterian Review, Southern Review, and Presbyterian Quarterly have quite a lot of discussion of the movement of black and white christians into separate churches in the years after the Civil War. These contain quite a lot of discussion of how race and religious relations should be ordered in te absence of slavery.
    Separation of the races seems to have presented a dilemma for many whose defense of slavery had been premised on the benefits for both slaves and society of the proximity of black and white people. A further problem was that while one could make a case that the Bible did show that slavery (although not necessarily race-based slavery) was “ordained of God” it required the most inventive exegesis to discover support for racial segregation (as Prof. Carlton’s post suggests). The biblical defense of slavery included references to such things as the divine blessings often bestowed upon slaveholding patriarchs, the inclusion of “manservants and maidservants” as property in Mosaic Law, and advice to the fugitive slave Onesimus to return to his master. Implict support was infered from Jesus’s and the Apostle’s lack of condemnation for the widespread slavery of the Roman Empire.
    After the war, without specific chapter and verse to bolster their arguments, one-time paternalists were reduced to reliance on the kind of vague “spirit of the Bible, God would have wanted it that way” interpretation that they had once roasted infidel abolitionists for employing as a substitute for specific references to the Word of God. For example, the Rev Benjamin Palmer, leading proslavery advocate before the war, in 1887: “The color line is distinctly drawn by Jehovah himself; it is drawn in nature and in history in such a form as to make it a sin and a crime to undertake to obliterate it. Pointing to the confusion of tongues at Babel as a divine measure to “restrain sin within tolerable bounds,” Palmer suggested that “race distinctions were probably developed at the same time, and for the same purpose.” Quoted in C.R. Vaughan, “The Southern General Assembly,” Presbyterian Quarterly 1 (1887-88).
    Based on my limited research in this area I have the impression that biblical arguments for black subjugation declined after the war, and were superceded by, or blended with, many of the kinds of arguments – based on “science,” “nature,” etc – that in some ways the biblical defense of slavery had once kept in check. For example, Nashville publisher Buckner Payne, writing under the name of Ariel, argued that The Flood was divine punishment for human amalgamation with “beasts” and claimed that black people were not descended from Adam and Eve and were therefore not human. Instead they were part of pre-Adamic creation and, “like all beasts and cattle, they have no souls.” See Ariel, “The Negro: What is his Ethnological Status? Is he the progeny of Ham? Is he a descendant of Adam and Eve? Has he a soul? Or is he a beast in God’s nomenclature? What is his status as fixed by God in creation? What is his relation to the white race?” (Cincinnati, 1867) Ariel was probably a bit ahead of his time. Such views were still pretty much anathema to religious whites who nevertheless considered black people inferior. Robert A. Young, “The Negro A Reply to Ariel (Nashville, 1867) is one rebuttal.
    You might also look at Hinton Rowan Helper, enemy of slavery and slaves and friend to the working white man, who wrote “Nojoque: A question for a Continent” (New York, 1867) which contained a chapter on “A score of bible lessons in the arts of annihilating effete races” which Helper claimed presented the biblical case for that sincerest of all forms of segregation, genocide. Prompted by such attitudes and increasing talk of race war, some one-time paternalists turned to presenting segregation as being for black southerners’ own good and safety, some even going so far as to argue for colonization in Africa – another extreme form of segregationist thinking. Methodist Albert Bledsoe, for example, claimed that the slave had been but a “sojourner” in the South for “educational purposes only.” It was “the mission of the African in the United States … to civilize a continent and to redeem an entire race from heathenism to Christianity, a work for which he, and he alone, is the fittest agent.” “The African in the United States,” Southern Review 14 (1874.) That once-coherent religious defenders of slavery ended up sounding like born-again Harriet Beecher Stowes suggests, perhaps, the confusion of those who could not find the biblical support for racial segregation that they had found for slavery.
    As I say, this is based on limited research in a limited time period, so it may be that more sustained attempts to provide scriptural support for segregation were out there or emerged later. Charles Carroll’s “The Negro a Beast or In the Image of God,” written in 1900 and republished in 1968, is one later polemic that might be worth a look. The works of George Fredrickson and Joel Williamson, among others, would presumably be good starting points in search of further primary and secondary material covering a wider timeframe, while Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene Genovese have written several articles on the religous basis of the proslavery defense, and argue the point that I have repeated here, namely that the Bible provided far better support for slavery than for segregation. I hope this is of some help.
    James Miller
    —-
    The account of the Tower of Babel seems to be the grounding point for those who taught the separation of the races. That, combined with the reference in Acts 17:26 (given here from the KJV, as would have been used in that time): “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”, the latter phrase being the key to the argument.
    I do agree with you…many do disagree that there are references against committed, monogamous same-sex relationships in the Bible. Your acknowledgment of that likely echoes a similar acknowledgment that one of the earlier Biblical segregationists might have made. I think that the important part of this discussion is that just as we reject the segregationist argument due to our better understanding of Scripture (both the text as well as the culture in which the text was written), we are seeing an evolving rejection of the anti-homosexual argument for exactly the same reason.
    Arthur, you look at Scripture and see clear prohibitions against committed, monogamous same-sex relationships. Segregationists looked at the same Scripture and saw clear prohibitions against interracial relationships of any kind. Both you and they used the same “slippery slope” argument (strangely enough, both using bestiality as the first stop on that slope).
    They say that people are known by the company they keep. I don’t always believe that applies. Do you, Arthur?

  • Andrew Murray

    Panthera,
    Thanks for your reply! I am sorry for this delay in posting my response; I have been away from the blog all weekend.
    You said:
    “I do have a question for you. Given that science and medicine are – and have been for decades – in agreement that homosexuality is neither a disorder nor an illness, neither a choice nor mutable, why should my marriage not be willed by God?”
    That’s a great question. I’m not sure I have a good answer. To be honest, you are probably more well-read on those subjects of science and medicine than I am. However, I am confused by the form of the question: do science-medicine-choice-immutability play a role in determining the will of God? Is this a kind of natural law line of reasoning, that these things shed light on the will of God? I would love to understand better what you are asking.
    Really, though, the line of reasoning I presented is an argument for heterosexuality, not against homosexuality per se. When I look at the biblical narrative, it seems to be the case that committed-monogamous-heterosexual-covenant relationships are what God has set up as the ideal for humanity. I am honestly just trying to learn from the biblical narrative as best I can. Is there something you think I have missed?
    Unless I become honestly convinced that my reading of the Scriptures is not correct, I would be living a lie if I “changed my mind” just to make others happy. Likewise, unless you become honestly convinced that homosexuality is not acceptable, you would also be living a lie if you were to “change your lifestyle” just to make others happy.
    At the end of the day, I’m guessing that I won’t change your mind and you probably won’t change my mind. So the question then becomes, how can we live in charity despite our differences?

  • Andrew Murray

    Darren,
    Thanks for your response! You bring up a great analysis. However, covenant relationships are a nurture issue; biological defects are a nature issue. We are talking about categorically different things here, so I don’t think your analogy holds up. I don’t see that it follows naturally from my line of reasoning.
    Or, if my nature-nurture distinction does not hold up (and it may not), them think of it this way… if someone is quadriplegic (whether from birth or due to an accident), that is not a morality issue on their part. It is just the reality of living in a broken world that needs to be redeemed. Certainly, then, we should aim to give them the best quality of life possible given their condition, as you said.
    However, in the Scriptures, covenant relationships ARE consistently presented as a morality issue. So if we reason that committed-monogamous-heterosexual-covenant relationships are shown in the biblical narrative to be the ideal, God’s design and humanity’s pathway to flourishing, then are there ramifications involved in deviating from this ideal?
    I would love to hear what you think, and I hope I dealt with your response fairly.
    Thanks!

  • panthera

    Andrew Murray,
    I doubt that I am better read than you, tho’, mayhap, my knowledge in certain areas of the natural sciences might be a tad bit more in line with the state of the art?
    Regardless, you raise several interesting questions. I’m the one short on time right now, so just a brief comment or two.
    First, we have firm, conclusive evidence that homosexuality is prevalent among all high-order mammals. It has clear advantages for survival of the species. Why would God not chose this for humans?
    Second, no, you are right – my mind won’t be changed nor yours. The real issue is, how do we live with this difference. Personally, I have no problem in Europe with those members of our congregation who disagree with our marriage. They neither torture nor beat nor rape nor murder us, nor attempt to throw us out of the church. With only a few exception, no Christians tried to overturn the government’s recognition of our human rights.
    Here in the US, we are tortured, beaten, raped, murdered and legally discriminated against. I think that might be a very good place for us to begin a discussion on tolerance. As might, how shall we maintain Christian community?
    I am very much enjoying your civility. It is a very rare characteristic amongst conservative Christians. Are you sure you aren’t an orthodox Jew?

  • Swit75

    I am a first time poster. This discussion is consistent with both internal and external conversations I have had recently about the issue of homosexuality and Christianity. Let me share one point.
    The argument about homosexuality being an innate part of one’s identity and also mirrored in nature is a tough one for me. Just because something is “natural” doesn’t make it right.
    My nature is selfish, envious, lazy, and vain. Jesus (and Paul) had opinions and suggestions about those traits. My nature is inconsistent with God’s will for me, but with His guidance and strength, I deal with my innate nature every day. It is part of being a higher order animal and child of God. It is also painful and constrains some things I find pleasurable.
    My attitude toward the LESGAB community isn’t hatred, but an identification as a fellow human who falls short of God’s ideal.

  • churchmouse

    Andrew you gave a really well thought out response. I believe especially with this statement you made.
    “Unless I become honestly convinced that my reading of the Scriptures is not correct, I would be living a lie if I “changed my mind” just to make others happy. Likewise, unless you become honestly convinced that homosexuality is not acceptable, you would also be living a lie if you were to “change your lifestyle” just to make others happy.”
    And I would also be living a lie if I caved into what society said today about this subject. I can’t do that to make someone happy. My son is living with his fiancé and I love them both. They knew how I felt about their living arrangements. The wedding date has been changed from next June to November because she is pregnant. I love them but they know how I feel. They have mocked God and are not living according to the Word. They are doing the right thing by getting married and I pray that they start walking right so that God can bless their union. I adore them and do not nag or throw this in their faces, but I do not lie if the subject comes up pr if they ask me questions. I put Christ’s Word above everything else.
    The thing is now Panthera will hate you for disagreeing with him. You are a hateful person if you don’t live according to his interpretation of the Word. He has yet to make a case scripturally for same sex marriage and sex outside marriage.
    “So the question then becomes, how can we live in charity despite our differences?”
    You put Christ first and you live according to His commandments and you do it with love in your heart.

  • Husband

    Andrew Murray,
    “if we know what the ideal is, then why would we aim for anything else?”
    I don’t “know” that heterosexual marriage is “the ideal”. It certainly isn’t for me – because I am not heterosexual. Why would I “aim” to live a lie?

  • Husband

    Artboy,
    Your ‘question’ comparing consenting adult (ahem) HUMAN relationships with beastiality is not only repugnant, it is absurd. And the answer is, animals cannot give consent. Ditto for your utterly vile comparison to child molestation. In our society, children likewise cannot give consent. Pedophilia is NOT what is being discussed here and you know it.
    No wonder your side is considered disgusting. It certainly isn’t an intelligent argument, nor a Christian one. I’m also pretty sure that such comparisons are against Beliefnet’s Rules of Conduct.

  • panthera

    The argument that one’s sexuality is comparable to such base motivations as being “selfish, envious, lazy, and vain” is inherently flawed.
    It is a typical error on the part of the conservative Christians attacking gays and transgender to assume that sex is the only defining characteristic of our relationships.
    We build the exact same loving, caring, faithful, true and lifelong partnerships as do heterosexuals.
    The limited knowledge and the pre-assumptions of many conservative Christians here is appalling

  • Husband

    Arthur,
    “I find it fascinating as to how people like to categorize people who disagree with them to the category of hateful.”
    Let me clarigy: we do not believe all people who “disagree” with us to be “hateful”. We find people that compare our consenting, adult, human relationships to beastiality, child-molestation, incest and rape to be hateful. Those things are not what is under discussion. There, does that help clarify things?
    “I have seen more hate from the LGBT side of things than I have shown them including an attempted “rape” of me as a kid.”
    Again, you are speaking of rape, not consenting relationships. Sorry someone tried to rape you as a kid, but we aren’t discussing child rape. We are discussing consenting adult relationships. Sorry you consider it hateful when we denounce hateful, false comparisons constantly hurled at us by the “Christian right”. We’re sick and tired of such uncharitable, un-Christian attacks, so if we speak out against such, believe me, whatever we say in defense of our true, actual lives is not meant as “hate”; it’s probably more self-defense than anything else.

  • Husband

    Churchmouse said:
    “Tony all scripture is God breathed. You can’t take some out if you find them offensive.”
    You mean we have to put the victimes of incest to death? You mean we have to make rape victims marry their rapist? You mean we have to deny communion to the disabled? You mean we have to put homosexuals to death? You mean we have to put disobedient children to dath? You mean we can’t eat the “abomination” that is lobster?
    If this Scripture is “God breathed”, maybe God needs an inhaler.
    “How can you tell people not to take the Bible literally?”
    Because of the above examples, for starters.
    “Sex before marriage is just as wrong as adultery and other forms of sexual immorality, because they all involve having sex with someone you are not married to.”
    Of course, we are discussing sex within marriage. Panthera is married to his husband. I am married to mine. You just don’t happen to like it. Too bad.
    “the things we need to know are obvious and clear”
    If they were “obvious and clear”, this debate would not be happening.
    “You made some absurd comment…..where did the women come from? The entire race came from Adam and Eve.”
    Tony’s comment/question is hardly “absurd”. If the women the first 2 sons “married” came from “Adam” and “Eve”, then they’re guilty of incest, no? Your conjecture is what is absurd. Tony’s question remains a valid one, and one that will never be answered since The Bible (TM) doesn’t tell us.
    “would God condone a woman who is having a long term affair with a man who is married?”
    We aren’t discussing adultery (the breaking of a covenant); we are discussing marriage – the making of a covenant. Do try to stay on track.
    “God instituted sex for more than procreation.”
    Tell that to Ted Seeber (and the other selectivists).
    “My son is living with his fiance and they are due to get married at Thanksgiving. They are both believers but living in sin. God will not bless them while they are mocking Him. Does their sin affect their salvation? I don’t think so”
    Hmm, now that’s odd, considering Tony’s original question was about our walk with God/Jesus. You don’t think your son and future daughter in law’s “sin” affects their salvation, but you think our “sin” does. Churchmouse, that does not compute.
    “I had an abortion when I was younger and twenty years later realized what I had done.”
    Not that the topic is abortion, but it took you twenty years to realize what you had done? That’s simply not credible.
    “I do not hate you just because I believe you are sinning. You hate me because I wont cave into your lifestyle, your worldview.”
    If you do not hate us, you would stop lying about us. If you do not hate us, you would stop and denounce the vile, untrue comparisons of our relationships to incest, beastiality, rape and child-molestation.
    We do not hate you; we hate the vile, untrue things you say about us. We hate the fact that you will not extend freedom of religion to our religious beliefs.
    P.S. We don’t have “lifestyles”; we have lives. Until they are snuffed out by the selective literalists who indeed do believe that we should “surely be put to death”.

  • Husband

    Artboy,
    CLARIFYING THE QUESTION…
    Quoting Mordred08, who asked: “And as for the bestiality thing…come on, people! Until the dog starts speaking English, it’s really not the same thing. Give up on making that argument work; it only makes us less likely to listen to you.”
    You then replied:
    I“I’m not saying it’s the same thing as homosexuality.”
    Perhaps not “the same thing”, but clearly (in your mind) comparable.
    Then you said: “I’m asking Tony if there is SOMETHING INHERENT in such a consensual relationship, wherein no one is being hurt or exploited, that would prohibit the person involved from wholeheartedly following Jesus. (Without referencing the 6 verses.) C’mon…be open-minded.”
    Sorry, but “such a relationship” is NOT “consensual”. Animals cannot give consent, no matter how many times you repeat that malicious slander. The animal is, indeed, being exploited.
    “When I hear a good answer, I’ll give up on asking the question.”
    If you keep on asking this question, you will continue to be dismissed for bringing in irrelevant ‘arguments’.
    Sorry, but you have failed miserably to “clarify the question”.

  • Sacramental Bea

    Arthur talks about “including an attempted “rape” of [him] as a kid”.
    Is anyone else curious as to the use of the quote marks around the word rape? Quote marks are generally used to indicate something that is believed not to be true, as when conservatives describe gay “marriage”.
    Hmmmm…

  • Sacramental Bea

    Andrew,
    “Unless I become honestly convinced that my reading of the Scriptures is not correct, I would be living a lie if I “changed my mind” just to make others happy. Likewise, unless you become honestly convinced that homosexuality is not acceptable, you would also be living a lie if you were to “change your lifestyle” just to make others happy.”
    Odd that heterosexuals have a “life” (as in “living a lie”) while homosexuals have a “lifestyle” (that apparently needs to be “changed”. Would you prefer homosexuals to live a lie, Andrew?
    And what is easier to “change”, a “mind” or a life?

  • Sacramental Bea

    “So the question then becomes, how can we live in charity despite our differences?”
    That’s an excellent question. I would suggest that if the “Christians” would stop making the beastiality/rape/incest/child-molestation comparisons, the homosexuals would cease to have any ammunition with which to charge the “Christians” with un-charitable, un-Christian (i.e hateful) slander.
    It will be up to the “Christians” to stop making those comparisons though. Until they cease and desist with the bearing of false witness, they will continue to earn the label.
    The other way we can “live in charity” is to allow people with whom we disagree to have their own freedom of religion (or from religion). “The Church” is not of one accord on this matter. So, to “live in charity” we will have to agree to allow me to go to my Church (if any) and you to go to yours. That will of necessity entail a ceasefire of the malicious, slanderous, untrue charges against God’s gay and lesbian children.
    Until then …

  • Sacramental Bea

    Andrew,
    “covenant relationships are a nurture issue; biological defects are a nature issue.”
    That you see homosexuality as a “defect” explains a lot. Most of us do not agree.

  • Sacramental Bea

    Churchmouse,
    “The thing is now Panthera will hate you for disagreeing with him. You are a hateful person if you don’t live according to his interpretation of the Word.”
    Panthera has never said anything remotely close to that, cm. That is yet more bearing of false witness on your part.

  • Arthur

    Sacremental,
    Actually, I put quotes because usually rape is usually associated male sexually assaulting a female. How much thought nowadays is really given an older female having sex with a younger boy? Sure if it is a teacher, they’ll go after you; but, isn’t a prevalent idea that the boy is getting “lucky”? Whether you agree with this line of reasoning or not, these were my thoughts when I included the quotes.
    As to rape being about violence, well… without certain lustful desires, I doubt the body parts involved in such an action would work. And the desire to do the same sex had to been a part of this guy’s makeup. Isn’t that what has been actually argued by your side. That you have no control over your desire?
    But, I did use “you people” deliberately. Is it right to group everyone under one heading? A lot of those who hold with the same gender lifestyle seem to me to spout off hate themselves.
    And yes, the incident is true and has had effects on me that I would rather not personally reflect too much on.

  • Arthur

    Rjohnson,
    There is no slippery slope involved; and frankly, the biblical passages are clearly defined in the matter. You can even hie back to Genesis 2 and see why bestiality and same sex relationships including marriage. God said it was not good for man to be alone. God paraded all the animals before Adam and showed Adam that animals were not the true companion (hence a true argument against bestiality). the God put Adam to sleep and made Eve, a woman. Not another man. He didn’t include all the reproductive organs in a man; and, create man like worms who have it all but still come together to mate. And then a SINLESS Adam made instituted marriage without contradiction from God.
    Note also words used such as “helper comparable to him”(NKJV).
    And then there is leviticus 18:23 for bestiality. Show me a verse as clear cut for interracial marriage. Note that at the tower of Babel, there is no mention of how many languages God used or who was actually targeted.
    Actually, I believe the slippery slope belongs to the another side. If one is now comparing the behavior of animals in nature to their own behavior, why is it wrong to cross the line? Why is bestiality wrong? Why is it repugnant? And “because the animals don’t have the ability to choose” is not a compelling reason for the last question.

  • Husband

    “And the desire to do [rape] the same sex had to been a part of this guy’s makeup. Isn’t that what has been actually argued by your side. That you have no control over your desire?”
    No, Arthur, that is not what we actually (or otherwise) argue. We do argue that our orientation is innate, and that we believe acting on that orientation in a committed, loving, consenting, adult, human relationship does not hinder our walk with God. (Isn’t it odd that we have to add 5 adjectives to ensure you people understand what it is we are talking about, which is NOT rape, NOR beastiality, NOR incest, NOR child-molestation.)

  • Arthur

    Panthera,
    I appreciate the effort it takes to tone down after what you have experienced and thank you for it; and, yes, there are different sins; however, lets take a look at a few verses:
    18 When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.
    20 “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul.”
    @book{The New King James Version.}, publisher = {Thomas Nelson}, address = {Nashville}, year = {1982}, pages = {Eze 3:18-21}
    If I see it as sin in the Bible, then I must make the stand and warn you about it; however, this does not mean I have to join a mob and beat you to death or commit any other sort of violence against you.

  • Panthera

    Arthur,
    Before you continue along this line, please do pay attention to the FBI stats on whether heterosexuals ‘better’ control their sexual desires relative to children or we, homosexuals, do.
    Or shall I simply post the stats?

  • Arthur

    Husband, This is a quote from Panthera (Note: I capitalized a word in the quote):
    “I do have a question for you. Given that science and medicine are – and have been for decades – in agreement that homosexuality is neither a disorder nor an illness, neither a CHOICE nor mutable, why should my marriage not be willed by God? How is my assertion about choice off?”

  • Darren

    Andrew,
    Firstly, I do disagree that the categorical difference b/w quadriplegia and homosexuality makes much of a difference here in this case, because it seems to me that you’re real point is about the concept of ideals. If the Bible holds this concept of “one man, one woman covenants” as the “ideal covenant” (something I feel you’ve made a rather weak argument for, but I’ll grant it to you for the moment), why would that then mean that we should EXCLUSIVELY aim for that in all people?
    Just as in quadriplegia, clearly God’s ideal for man would be to use all his faculties, so our response to the quadriplegic isn’t “well, since you’re not made ideally, we won’t let you go anywhere, b/c God’s ideal is for man to use his legs.” No, instead, we find every way possible to improve that person’s quality of life.
    In like manner, why would you tell someone who is rendered ineffective in sexually relating to the opposite sex that they are somehow disqualified from all of the benefits that a covenant relationship allows? Is there no redemptive benefit to granting an exception to the ideal to those who can never achieve it to begin with?
    In other words, I’m not really arguing that your premise is incorrect (that the Bible holds hetero covenants as being the ideal) . . . I’m questioning your suppositional premise that a Biblical ideal must be absolute, and anyone who can’t achieve it is SOL.
    You even mention God’s allowance of polygamy. In your line of thinking, polygamy isn’t “ideal”, yet God seems to make allowances for it (for instance, the Bible nowhere speaks against the practice, in fact, God seems to have extraordinarily blessed many who practiced it, without any condemnation).
    So I’d want to know from you why pursuit of the ideal can be the ONLY pursuit, and what does this mean for people who can never achieve it?

  • Arthur

    Panthera,
    Actually, it would be probably be a good idea to post the stats anyways. Facts are a good thing. Seeing how I have a degree in math (though I have not had a job that would allow me to totally use it), I have an academic interest in it as well.

  • John Davies

    Tony, thank you. Your thinking on this issue, along with what you have shared in this forum and others, represents some of the most challenging engangemnent witht this issue that I’ve found in the Christian community – right or left. I REALLY appreciated your blog a while back on the “ick” factor, something that rarely comes up in this discussion but undoubtedly informs a huge amount of the discourse directed against granting LGBT people full sacramental equality in the church. It is my conviction that homosexuality arose through the evolution process as a mechanism of population control. This makes enormous scientific and philosophical sense, but it is an argument that a Creationist could never engage. Whether homosexual behavior would occur in a “perfect” universe is moot. This is not a perfect universe, and everyone has his or her individual responsibility to live the Gospel the best he/she can. To deny LGBT people this opportunity is anti-life, anti-love, and anti-Christ

  • RJohnson

    Arthur: (With regards to bestiality) “And “because the animals don’t have the ability to choose” is not a compelling reason for the last question.”
    Why?

  • http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html Panthera

    Arthur,
    I won’t say gladly – the details in this study are pretty unpleasant. Personally, I have no problem with the death penalty for child molesters.
    The link has several references to studies around the world. Being an academic site, you’ll have to wade through the first few thousand words to get to the actual data.
    Basically, all these studies just confirm what we already knew: The safest stranger to leave your kids alone with is a dog.
    Failing the dog, a lesbian. Failing the lesbian, a gay man or straight woman.
    We have gone through all these topics again and again over the years here and it seems very little changes.
    Kind of sad, really. When Pluto was no longer considered a planet, I stopped teaching that it was. By the lights of the conservative Christians here, I should have rejected our more detailed knowledge of God’s good creation and stuck with telling a lie.
    For those who get so upset about the term ‘conservative Christian’, well, get over it. I used to try to differentiate between the literalists, the fundamentalists, et cetra. Finally, after reaching seven nomen for these people and still having a conservative Christian complain that I was grouping them with the wrong-headed fundies when they were literalists…I gave up.
    The same applies to all these conservatives who scream when you call them a Republican. They only vote Republican, have never voted nor ever will vote anything but Republican, yet may Heaven forbid one call them that which they are.

  • Dashell

    Well, I am looking at this debate; and would like to answer the question whether a long term committed monogamous realtionship is an overriding factor when it comes to not engaging in homosexuality. I have to say that it is irrelevant; and, I am sure Paul would tell you the same.
    So the question would be how do I support this position from the Bible? Is there an example of long term committed relationships being dissolved because God had earlier commanded that such relationships should not be entered into? And the answer to the second question is that there is an example. It is chronicled in Ezra 9-10 which takes place around 60 years after Cyrus made the decree that the Jews could return to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity.
    What happened is that the people had taken wives from the heathen nations around them which was prohibited by Deut. 7:3 and Exodus 34:12-17. What finally ends up happening is that at the end of Ezra; the people divorce the foreign wives and even put away the children of the that union as well. If this could happen to long term committed heterosexual relationships, how much more would this apply to homosexual relationships especially considering certain verses in Romans?
    On another note considering the subject of “love”, even the feelings of heterosexual love are tainted by man’s sin nature considering such verses as:
    Genesis 6:5 Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
    Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    And in sin my mother conceived me.
    Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things,
    And desperately wicked;
    Who can know it?
    Ephesians 2:1-3 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
    Fortunately, what reconciles us to God and saves from His wrath for this and all other sins is that He sent His son down to us and died for us so that if we repent and place our faith in Jesus who was sacrificed in our place on the Cross and was resurrected from the dead, we can be saved. This is the glorious message of the Gospel. That God even in His wrath loved us so much that He gave us a way to be saved from it.

  • churchmouse

    HUSBAND have you ever eaten a piece of meat or fish? If you have then I would assume it was dead when you ate it. Did the animal you ate give consent for you to eat it? Do you think the animals in our slaughter houses ever give consent for their throats to be slashed? Of course not. So why would you say they would need consent to have sex?
    I am sure if given the choice any animal would choose sex over being slaughtered anyway. So that point is ridiculous.
    Why bestiality is brought up is not to compare it to sex outside marriage, it’s to show that it is a sin. There is a long list of sins that God reveals in the book of Leviticus. If people say that the homosexual sin listed should be thrown out, then the rest should be as well. That includes having sex with your mother, your sister, a mother and her daughter, an animal, or someone of the same sex.
    How can you throw one out and leave the others?
    It’s no use discussing this with you HUSBAND because from what you have said here you do not have a clear understanding what the Law was about and how Jesus’ death changed everything.
    Let’s leave Leviticus out of the debate. You say it was cultural. Make your case using the NT then. Show me scripture that condones sex outside marriage and same sex couples. Please list those scriptures.
    PANTHERA said, “We build the exact same loving, caring, faithful, true and lifelong partnerships as do heterosexuals. The limited knowledge and the pre-assumptions of many conservative Christians here is appalling.”
    Who says that you don’t? I am sure you do. My friend that was having an affair adored her lover. But the love was not based on what God commands. Sin is sin and she was in error.
    I believe that you are ignoring certain scriptures to justify your actions. Many people use “Gods love, and understanding” to justify their sins. There is more to the Word than just love.
    The Bible says love your neighbor do you do that? Doesn’t matter what people say to you, how they treat you, do YOU follow that commandment like you should? You are the one here who hates those that disagree with you.
    “Of course, we are discussing sex within marriage. Panthera is married to his husband. I am married to mine. You just don’t happen to like it. Too bad.”
    I do not believe that your marriage is condoned by God based on scriptures. And it’s not about what I think, you are right there. You will have to answer to God for your actions.
    “If they were “obvious and clear”, this debate would not be happening.”
    I remember having the debate about abortion with friends and family. I believed it was moral, no one could convince me otherwise. But it was wrong and I finally stopped avoiding the scriptures that convicted me. I did not want to face what I had done so I did what I had to do to feel good. I was in denial. IMO we are having this discussion because some people won’t face what the scriptures really say about this. Show me scripturally where I have it all wrong.
    About Adam and Eve. God tells us all we need to know. The NT backs up the OT that God created woman for man, so that he would not be alone, so that he would have a helpmate, so that they would have children. He commanded them to have children that would populate the world. If they had incest to start the population then they had incest to start the population. Who knows how many children Adam and Eve had, that much is not recorded. But the entire worlds population came from them. God did not prohibit this at this time. It was much later when he stopped the practice. What does that have to do with the topic here? Tony does not believe Genesis….I wonder how he would answer this question based on scripture.
    I asked you a fair question as to whether God would condone someone who was having an affair. You avoided it by telling me to stay on track. Where does God talk about covenants? And who are the people He says can enter into covenant marriages? Men and women.

  • churchmouse

    HUSBAND…..don’t you read or can’t you comprehend anything here? I have said OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN…………that there is only one sin that scriptures talk about that keeps someone from eternal life and that is denial of Christ. Now please try to get it this time. I have said I do not believe that gays, tran-gendered, murderers, alien abductors can’t accept Christ and have eternal salvation with Him. That has nothing to do with this discussion but you guys are so full of hatred for me that you do not get it, you do not listen. This is about an act…..like swearing, taking the Lords Name in vain, stealing, lusting. You are saying I said something that I DID NOT SAY. GAYS CAN BE SAVED AND HAVE ETERNAL LIFE WITH CHRIST. But God will discipline them as He does anyone who sins.
    About abortion. I was young and I did not know scriptures. I was a feminist and was pro-choice. In 1977 Planned Parenthood did not give me the facts. They still don’t today. I did not know that the heart starts beating 20 days after conception. I knew NOTHING about fetal development.
    Nevertheless I had an abortion, I married and a few years later had two children. I started going to church and reading the Word. My sister had a child at 23 weeks and they called us into the NEO Ward to see her before she died. She was smaller than a telephone receiver and had no bridge on her nose. You could see the blood traveling through her veins. It was unreal. A nurse walked up to us and said in a soft whisper……and they abort babies this late. I had my first panic attack right there and then. I started pretending.
    My sin about destroyed my life. It affected my family as well. A few years later I accepted Christ and became a believer. I avoided what I knew was the truth all along. And today I work in this field with Right to Life in my state.
    “We do not hate you; we hate the vile, untrue things you say about us. We hate the fact that you will not extend freedom of religion to our religious beliefs.”
    I believe some do hate those that won’t condone the lifestyle. I believe in my heart what God says and I believe scripture backs it up. Am I supposed to compromise what I believe in my heart that God says? I can’t tell my son that living together is right no more than I can condone the homosexual lifestyle or anyone having sex outside marriage.
    Tony claims he is a Christian and so do others here. I have a right to question them on their viewpoint and ask for scriptural references that back up their position.
    BEA……the sins are in Leviticus. They are not comparisons. I did not write the book. It is not bearing false witness, it is quoting a book that is God Breathed.
    “The other way we can “live in charity” is to allow people with whom we disagree to have their own freedom of religion (or from religion).”
    Well then the KKK which might interpret the Word differently ……should they be allowed to practice their faith the way THEY SEE IT?
    Should Muslims be allowed to follow Sharia law in America? How about Satanists? Polygamists? Should they be allowed to have marriages that included multiple partners?
    Surely you are not suggesting that they be denied what they believe is right. In that case groups should be allowed to marry? You wouldn’t be that intolerant to say no would you?
    And BEA Panthera has been a very hateful person to me and to others who simply disagree with him.
    I totally agree with ARTHUR. “If I see it as sin in the Bible, then I must make the stand and warn you about it; however, this does not mean I have to join a mob and beat you to death or commit any other sort of violence against you.”
    People told me what I did was wrong and I am glad they loved me enough to tell me. Like I said this is about actions, not hearts. And certainly hate and violence is not the answer.

  • panthera

    Dashell,
    For your comment that it is fine to dissolve a long standing marriage between two people – regardless of man-woman, woman-woman or man-man, I must complement you.
    Not since a poster here advocated our torture (for our own good, of course) has any conservative Christian even come close to such hatefulness.
    And then you folks wonder why we are terrified you will once again gain political power?

  • churchmouse

    panthera you love to play the victim don’t you?
    I’ll give you the stats on violence against gays in the United States.
    Sexual-orientation bias
    In 2007, law enforcement agencies reported 1,460 hate crime offenses based on sexual-orientation bias. Of these offenses:
    â– 59.2 percent were classified as anti-male homosexual bias.
    â– 24.8 percent were reported as anti-homosexual bias.
    â– 12.6 percent were prompted by an anti-female homosexual bias.
    â– 1.8 percent were the result of an anti-heterosexual bias.
    â– 1.6 percent were classified as anti-bisexual bias. (Based on Table 1.)
    Out of the entire country only 1,460 acts were committed. And this includes verbal threats not only physical ones. Our population……..307,242,717. Boy 1400 is a lot of crimes isnt it? Violence should never happen against anyone. But to say that we hate gays in our country and as a whole is wrong and a lie.
    http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2007/victims.htm
    You think our entire country is out to get you…….what a lie.
    Here is a list of television shows that feature gays.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_television_shows_with_LGBT_characters
    Oh we really hate gays here don’t we.

  • Artboy

    A SECOND TRY – CLARIFYING THE QUESTION:
    //Panthera: “…you will not tell lies to propagate the hatred against us…Every single conservative Christian comparing my marriage to bestiality here needs to remember that they will answer to God for their hatefulness.”
    Husband:”Your ‘question’ comparing consenting adult (ahem) HUMAN relationships with beastiality is not only repugnant, it is absurd. ..Ditto for your utterly vile comparison to child molestation. …Pedophilia is NOT what is being discussed here and you know it
    …disgusting… isn’t an intelligent argument, nor a Christian one…such comparisons against Beliefnet’s Rules of Conduct, etc”//
    Ummm…Wow. This is bizarre.
    When I posted my question (to Tony) in response to his question directed to me and people who share my view of scripture, I specifically stated that my question had “nothing to do with homosexuality.” I chose the example of bestiality precisely BECAUSE it is not comparable to homosexuality, yet it is an example of an existing sexual behavior that (I hoped) everyone would find morally objectionable. I asked Tony to cite SOMETHING INHERENT in the behavior that would prohibit the person involved from wholeheartedly loving God and following Jesus (without referencing the clobber verses.)
    I’m tossing Tony a big, fat, softball and inviting him to hit it out of the park. You guys keep stepping in front of the pitch so that you’ll get hit and advance to first base, all the while demonizing the pitcher for being hateful. I am actually willing to come over to “your side”, but I need some rational reasons for doing so.
    If Tony’s question can’t disqualify even deviant sexual behavior at the very bottom of the list, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that it doesn’t disqualify superior types of sexually deviant behavior such as homosexuality, (deviant meaning, “deviating from the norm of heterosexuality.”) Maybe his isn’t an illuminating question after all.

  • Artboy

    Husband at least attempted to address the question:
    //”And the answer is, animals cannot give consent.”//
    Why not? Because they can’t speak? I suppose we can’t hold animals to human legal standards, but most pet owners are quite adept at understanding what their pets want and don’t want. In my example, I stipulated a loving relationship, and that Earnest seemed more than willing.
    //”The animal is, indeed, being exploited.”//
    The animal is being exploited? The animal is the property of the pet owner, who dearly loves the dog. There need not necessarily be any exploitation (“making use of, unjustly, for one’s own advantage”) involved at all. In fact, I stipulated that the pet-owner is an animal rights activist. Some people purchase animals in order to fatten them up and eat them. Others “steal” honey from animals that they don’t even properly own. I think the example I gave is far less exploitive. In fact, if one has a high view of humanity and life in general, one could argue that it is extremely respectful to animals to include them in loving sexual relationships with humans.
    The question is, is there SOMETHING INHERENT in such behavior that would disqualify the person involved from loving God, and wholeheartedly following Jesus?

  • Andrew Murray

    @Husband, you said: “I don’t ‘know’ that heterosexual marriage is ‘the ideal’. It certainly isn’t for me – because I am not heterosexual. Why would I ‘aim’ to live a lie?”
    That’s a great question. Here’s one thought I had: do I get to decide what the ideal is for myself? Do you get to decide what the ideal is for yourself? I think the biblical narrative shows that this is not the case. Would you agree? Why or why not?

  • Andrew Murray

    @Sacramental Bea, you said: “Odd that heterosexuals have a ‘life’ (as in ‘living a lie’) while homosexuals have a ‘lifestyle’ (that apparently needs to be ‘changed’.”
    Thanks for your question, Sacramental Bea, though I think you may have misread what I wrote… I actually applied the phrase “living a lie” to both heterosexuals and homosexuals, so I was not trying to make any sort of qualitative distinction. I do apologize if I wrote in a way that was unclear.
    The issue at hand is that homosexuals typically want conservative heterosexuals to “change their mind” on the issue (would you disagree with this characterization?), while conservative heterosexuals typically want homosexuals to “change their lifestyle” (this is the parlance that is often used). I was simply try to frame the debate as I have seen and heard it, hence the use of quotations. I’m sorry if this was unclear; sometimes it is hard to get things just right on the internet.
    You also asked: “Would you prefer homosexuals to live a lie, Andrew?” Certainly not, which was my whole point in writing. I don’t wish anyone to live a lie, neither you nor myself. But since you will likely not change my mind and I will likely not change yours, what are we to do? Are we at an impasse, or is there another way?
    In another comment, you said: “That you see homosexuality as a ‘defect’ explains a lot. Most of us do not agree.” I think you may have misread my comment. I used the term “biological defect” in reference to paralysis and other amoral kinds of things that might inhibit a person’s quality of life. This was in response to an analogy raised by Darren. “Biological defect” was not used in reference to homosexuality; I’m sorry if that was unclear. Thanks!

  • Andrew Murray

    @Darren, great questions, thanks for your response!
    I think another way of saying what I was trying to say is this: covenant relationships are a moral issue (I think this is pretty clear from the Scriptures…what do you think?), while quadriplegia is an amoral issue. Totally different categories. Do you see the distinction I am making? If so, would you disagree that covenant relationships are a moral issue, or that quadriplegia is an amoral issue? Why or why not?
    “So I’d want to know from you why pursuit of the ideal can be the ONLY pursuit…” Because that is an integral part of being God’s people: pursuing his will, his design, his best, his ideal for us in all things. The notion of conforming our will to God’s, having his will be our only pursuit, is part and parcel of the redemptive story.
    “…and what does this mean for people who can never achieve it?” To be honest, I’m not sure I have a good answer at this point. What do you think?

  • Panthera

    Andrew,
    Given that virtually all scientists and medical professionals are in agreement (remove the fundamentalist Christians and Islamic fanatics and you can strike the “virtual”) that homosexuality is neither a choice nor a defect, neither a debility requiring cure nor a perversion and that law enforcement studies have universally confirmed that we are less likely to be pedophiles than heterosexual men and that all neutral studies of gay families show that our children ‘turn out’ just as happy if slightly more successful academically as children in heterosexual families…why on earth should we maintain an argument that something is “God’s will” when the basis for the argument is an entirely different culture lacking both modern understanding of sexuality?
    God’s will is to love and to follow Him. Everything else is secondary.
    My love for my husband is valid and good. Nobody except for the fundamentalist Christians believes that homosexuals can choose to love people of the opposite sex. There is, however, a great deal of hard evidence showing that all high order mammals which build social groups benefit through a certain percentage of the population being gay.
    I don’t believe God made the earth in six days. I don’t believe Jonah was actually in the whale nor that the flood was precisely 40 days…
    I do believe that if Jesus had felt homosexuality was wrong, he would have spoken directly to it. He didn’t. He did, however, address several sins which especially American conservative Christians commit at a far higher rate than the ‘norm’. Divorce, out-of-wedlock-childbirth, adultery, internet pornography use, advocating torture of the innocent.
    I understand that you are trying to follow God’s will. That separates you from most of the hateful people here who advocate our torture and deny us even the most basic of human rights. Given that no scientist and no doctor (apart from the fanatically religious) supports any other position but recognizing that we are normal and there is nothing to cure, wouldn’t it make sense to work on accommodating us in the Church?
    One aspect which gets very lost in these discussions is that Husband and I are both Christians. To listen to the people passing judgment on us here, we are worse than the very worst minions of Satan. And yet, I have yet to hear one conservative Christian address the fact that Jesus said even looking at a woman with lust in your eye is the same as actually committing adultery…so that is ok, but my loving, committed, true, loyal and monogamous marriage is not?

  • Artboy

    Panthera,
    I have avoided directly addressing you for the most part because I have watched you restate, garble, and mischaracterize the comments made by myself and others here countless times. (I would be happy to provide examples, though I would hardly know where to begin.) I understand that you personally have a great deal at stake in this discussion, whereas I do not. I was excited to join a discussion including gay Christians for the purpose of hearing opposing viewpoints and learning something new. I stated early on that I don’t personally care one way or another whether God condones monogamous homosexual sex or not, (and was subsequently made fun of for saying it.) As a Christ follower I simply want to know the truth, as I assume all Christ followers do. I am fully willing to be persuaded on the issue, but I need Biblical and rational reasons. I did have reservations before joining the discussion because I wondered if the gays in the discussion would be too emotionally invested in the topic to discuss it rationally. You have demonstrated that to have been a valid concern, I don’t see a way around offending you, as you take non-affirming questions and arguments as personal attacks against you and your spouse. If you have any suggestions on this I would be open to hearing them. For now, I will accept that you will be offended and take the insults and slander that you dish out. May God continue to bless your life.
    In the spirit of addressing all difficult questions head-on I’ll put in my two cents on the following, as no one else has yet. I’m not really asking a question here:
    //Panthera states: “I have yet to hear one conservative Christian address the fact that Jesus said even looking at a woman with lust in your eye is the same as actually committing adultery…so that is ok, but my loving, committed, true, loyal and monogamous marriage is not?//
    A valid point…I stated earlier that my sexual orientation includes a promiscuous attraction to 16 year old girls and married women whom I happen to find appealing, so I’m a good candidate to answer this.
    During my high school and college years I was already a Christ follower, so I duly remained celibate. However, being a flaming heterosexual, I would often fantasize about and masturbate over mental images of women I had seen throughout the day. (I’m an artist with a vivid imagination.) One day as I was on my way to school, God convicted me about this, (Interestingly enough, at a time when I was drawing and painting nude models six hours a day.) So there was a definitive moment of surrender and “considering myself dead to” this particular sin. I eventually decided to remain celibate because I wanted to fully pursue my art, and I suspected my future life would be accompanied by poverty. I continued to be tempted on a daily basis, but the lust issue had been decisively dealt with.
    The simple answer is, there is a difference between being tempted versus giving into temptation (i.e. entertaining sin, making a provision for sin, giving oneself over to sin, and/or practicing sin.) We can know this because Jesus was tempted yet without sin.
    I believe I rarely knowingly do the latter anymore. Since I became sexually active, (my awesome wife messed up my plans to remain celibate,) in some ways the temptation to lust after other women has increased, but it remains an issue of renewing and disciplining my mind. As it is, we’ve been married for 25 years, we are raising five children together, and my marriage, by God’s grace, is everything I ever wondered if a marriage could be, on every level, (except that poverty has indeed dogged us most of the way.)

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/churchbasementroadshow/ Tony Jones

    Artboy,
    That is a fine, reasonable response, and I thank you for it. It is not hateful.
    Panthera is surely guilty of unreasonable language on occasion, and so are his ideological adversaries. But that’s no reason for you or anyone to walk away from the conversation, so I’m glad you haven’t. These are difficult topics, which is why so many avoid them, so we should afford one another some latitude with our emotions.
    Bottom line: I know that thoughtful, reasonable people disagree with me on these issues. You’re one of them.

  • panthera

    Artboy,
    I wish artists didn’t have to suffer for their abilities. It’s no better in Europe, really, as those who get state sponsorship are nearly always those who are skilled craftsmen, repeating but not creating.
    Anyway, you are quite right – there is an enormous emotional investment here. I was nearly beaten to death, my husband in defending me by covering my body when I was down on the ground was kicked so severely they punctured his lung, broke countless bones…
    When my parents were in a very bad car crash in the US several years ago, it looked like both would need kidneys. My charming fundamentalist Christian relations told the hospital I must have Aids, because I’m gay.
    Well, I am Hiv negative, but the hospital wouldn’t even consider me after that. Had both parents needed a kidney, one would have died.
    I could go on for page after page about the very real violence and discrimination gays face from conservative Christians in the US.
    I mean it when I say I don’t care what conservative Christians believe and practice in their church. I very much do object however to their imposing their views on the secular world.
    In Europe, we are married. Here, we had to go to court to have our legal, recognized powers of medical attorney acted upon – the Christians in the hospital we were in flat out refused to accept the legal documents, executed right down the street, until a judge forced them to.
    Am I overly touchy? Yes.
    Is the position of many conservative Christians posting here one of refusing to even consider what science has taught us? Yes.
    Basically, as soon as we have human status in the US, I think you will see these discussions fall by the wayside just as with interracial marriage. I am just barely old enough (and living between Europe and the Deep South I had plenty of opportunity to compare views in my childhood) to remember that conservative Christians used exactly the same arguments against interracial marriage they do against homosexuals being granted full human status and thus civil rights.
    It’s really that simple.
    I won’t deny the fury I feel because of the personal attacks I have suffered. It is fair to bring reality to this discussion.
    Ultimately, it is up to God. If you really believe He will look at both our marriages and say yours is good and mine is bad, well I can’t change that. I do think, tho’, that conservative Christians like you need to directly address and actively engage the hateful acts of violence and violations of civil rights gays suffer from the conservative Christians in the US. Is it really necessary to stand on the sidelines when injustice is being done?

  • Husband

    churchmouse,
    “have you ever eaten a piece of meat or fish?”
    What on earth has that to do with this topic?
    “Did the animal you ate give consent for you to eat it? Do you think the animals in our slaughter houses ever give consent for their throats to be slashed? Of course not. So why would you say they would need consent to have sex?”
    Um, because we – the informed and the intelligent – are discussing consenting, adult, human relationships. NOT sex with – or eating – animals. You, otoh are discussing nonsense. You keep bringing up incest as well, but it too is NOT what we are discussing.
    First you say, “There is a long list of sins that God reveals in the book of Leviticus.”. Then you say, “Let’s leave Leviticus out of the debate.”
    Make up your mind.
    “My friend that was having an affair adored her lover.”
    We aren’t discussing adulterous relationsihps either, cm.
    “I do not believe that your marriage is condoned by God”
    And, once again, we really don’t give a fig what you believe – we believe differently. And you just can’t stand it. Tuff.
    “And it’s not about what I think, you are right there. You will have to answer to God for your actions.”
    so why does it seem that we have to answer to you? Who died and made you The Judge?
    “About Adam and Eve. God tells us all we need to know.”
    I don’t think we, any of us, “need to ‘know’” about an allegorical figure and his equally allegorical second wife.
    “He commanded them to have children that would populate the world. If they had incest to start the population then they had incest to start the population.”
    This gets more bizarre by the post. Did “Adam” and “Eve” have female children? Or were the female children the offspring of “Adam’s” first ‘wife’, Lillith?
    “Who knows how many children Adam and Eve had”
    Clearly you don’t.
    “God did not prohibit this [incest] at this time. It was much later when he stopped the practice.”
    Bizarrer and even more bizarrer.
    “What does that have to do with the topic here?”
    Nothing. Which is why we keep asking why you keep bringing it up.
    “don’t you read or can’t you comprehend anything here?”
    Unfortunately, I read every lying word you type, cm. As for comprehending the incomprehensible, sorry, but you’d need to make much better sense for that to happen.
    “This is about an act…..like swearing, taking the Lords Name in vain, stealing, lusting.”
    No, it isn’t about an act; it’s about real live people – God’s gay and lesbian children. But, since you brought up 3 of the Ten Commandments, please show me which one says ‘Thou shalt not be a fag, let alone a married fag!’. Sorry, cm, but homosexuality didn’t make it to the ‘top 10′, and it sure didn’t make it to Jesus’s Two – love God and love your neighbour.
    When I said, ““We do not hate you; we hate the vile, untrue things you say about us. We hate the fact that you will not extend freedom of religion to our religious beliefs.””, you replied …
    “I believe some do hate those that won’t condone the lifestyle.”
    We aren’t asking you to condone anything. (And, P.S. a hint – we don’t have “a lifestyle”; we have lives. Get at least that straight.) We’re asking you to stop saying the vile, untrue things. We are asking you to extend to us the freeedom of religion that you enjoy. Our religion teaches us differently (as in, God speaks to our hearts differently) than yours.
    “the sins are in Leviticus”
    Again with the Leviticus, even after the “Let’s leave Leviticus out of the debate” plea. ???
    “Well then the KKK which might interpret the Word differently ……should they be allowed to practice their faith the way THEY SEE IT?”
    Um, they are allowed to do just that, just so long as they don’t harm anyone.
    ” Panthera has been a very hateful person to me and to others who simply disagree with him.”
    No, cm. He – and I – treat with great disdain those that make the comparisons you do. To those that merely “disagree”, we say, Believe what you want. We believe differently. Now go in peace. Or, better yet, say exactly what Jesus said about us – which was not one recorded word.

  • Andrew Murray

    Panthera,
    You cite research from science, medicine, and law enforcement. As I said earlier, you are no doubt more well-read in these areas than I am, so I’m not sure how well I can interact with your question. One thing I wonder, however, is this: what role do these play in helping show us God’s will? I would be interested to hear what you think about this.
    The Scriptures are indeed ancient texts written in another time in another place in another culture. Yet we also have today some of the finest biblical scholarship and hermeneutics to help us navigate these complexities. Furthermore, Jesus promised that the Spirit would help his followers understand these writings.
    So I see the Scriptures as a valid source for knowing/understanding God’s will. It is not yet clear to me what role research from science, medicine, and law enforcement play in helping us know/understand God’s will. I’m not saying that this research has no role (it may or may not), simply that its role is not clear to me. Can you say more about this?

  • Dashell

    Panthera,
    The greatest commandment says that we are to love God with everything we have and Jesus himself says we are to love Him above all others including spouse. Therefore, if God says we are not to do something, then we should do what He wants regardless of what “love” we have for each other or others.
    Anyways, whether you think it hateful or not, has no bearing on whether it is true or not.

  • Arthur

    Quote from Panthera,
    “I do believe that if Jesus had felt homosexuality was wrong, he would have spoken directly to it. He didn’t. He did, however, address several sins which especially American conservative Christians commit at a far higher rate than the ‘norm’. Divorce, out-of-wedlock-childbirth, adultery, internet pornography use, advocating torture of the innocent.”
    Panthera, wouldn’t that be a good reason why He might have addressed those sins rather than homosexuality and left it to his duly appointed representatives to address? How common do you think was the sin of homosexuality among the Jews with the legalistic Sadducees and Pharisees in charge?

  • Arthur

    Rjohnson,
    It is because the manner in which the objections makes it clear that it is because it is an animal and not about the animals right to consent. Ickiness rather than moral outrage objections.

  • panthera

    Of course it is possible for me, Ken.
    I find it sad that you needs must imprison God by limiting Him to your interpretation of the Bible. And that is what you do.
    Calling my marriage fornication is absurd. Do you really think I would abandon my husband just to satisfy your mumbo-jumbo?
    Not going to happen.
    There is little charity amongst you fundamentalist Christians, little indeed if you can call a faithful partnership of 25 years a sin.
    Oh, and, yes, I am a Christian. You can be a Christian and gay. Even a Christian and gay and married.

  • panthera

    Sigh. This gotcha interface is just awful. Sorry ’bout that, folks. It posted a comment from a different thread. Here’s try number two:
    Arthur,
    Come now. That is just plain silly. The things which really upset Jesus, He spoke about. Loudly. Plainly. Clearly.
    Why on earth, if homosexuality were such a great sin, would He have not mentioned it?
    Simple, because it wasn’t and isn’t a sin per se to be gay.
    By the by, one of the few things we all have agreed on up until now was that homosexuality was very well known throughout the OT, I rather doubt Jesus, a rabi, would not have known of it.
    So, no, that horse won’t race with me. Jesus made a big deal about divorce, about adultery (including straight men lusting after women in their thoughts, tho’ the only conservative Christian here to even admit to it did so in claiming he’d mastered it and no longer finds women sexually attractive.) He described, in detail, our responsibilities to our parents. Every aspect of family where one could transgress against God’s will, Jesus covered. Yet no single, solitary word on my marriage.
    Dashell, it must be a wonderful feeling to actually know exactly and totally God’s complete will for us. Which translation of the Bible do you base this upon? I’d like to know so I can have you clear up the various confusions and conflicts in the text for me.
    Andrew,
    I see the Bible as a very useful guide. I don’t take all of it literally. After all, as a teacher I am clearly instructed to whale the living you-know-what out of my students when they disagree with me, and when they show up drunk – as freshmen sometimes do of a Saturday morning seminar – to take them out in front of the town and stone them to death.
    Actually, were we to take the book literally, you should be stoning me to death.
    So, while I see the Bible as a great instrument to try to find God’s will for me, I long ago came to the conclusion: When something in the Bible does not jive with God’s natural laws then I shall resolve the conflict thus and so:
    The natural laws are immutable and given to us by God.
    The books of the Bible were written by men and selected by a committee of men who cherry-picked to fit their needs.
    The current versions of the Bible are translations which, again, were re-worked to fit the needs of those doing the translation. See, for instance, the way conservative Christians use the term ‘homosexual’ in their perverted texts. The word is not to be found in Koine or pre-Church Latin. Nor in the Luther text.
    Given that the natural laws are revealed to us through science and stipulated that they are mirrors of God’s will, in conflict, I chose science over the Bible.
    Sorry if that is not the clearest answer, I’ve boiled it down over the years.
    Really, tho’ – one can measure the fruits of a relationship, whether it be a body of Christians or a family fairly easily. The overwhelming majority of conservative Christians in America advocate torture. All current studies of gay families agree that the children grow up just as well as in straight families, except they tend to do better in college.
    I know not all conservative Christians are monsters, but when you look at the names I am called on these threads, you have to ask yourself – are these people seeking to reach my heart or are they just downloading their hatred? My side of the debate is pleading for live and let live. Big difference.

  • josh mcalister

    I scanned looking for the six verses that everyone keeps referencing (clobber verses?), but can’t find them. I’m obviously showing my ignorance, but can someone list those for me real fast or point me to where I can find them? Fascinating discussion to me.

  • Artboy

    ‘Sorry, bro, but you did it again…
    //PANTHERA: …Jesus made a big deal about divorce, about adultery (including straight men lusting after women in their thoughts, tho’ the only conservative Christian here to even admit to it did so in claiming he’d mastered it and no longer finds women sexually attractive.) //
    I can’t figure out how you so thoroughly misunderstood my comment.
    If I no longer found women sexually attractive, I wouldn’t have the remarkable marriage that I have. I even said that since becoming sexually active in marriage, the struggle to not lust after other women, (including 16 yr old girls and other married women,) is actually WORSE. BECAUSE I HOPELESSLY DO find women sexually attractive.
    I said there is a difference between being tempted versus GIVING IN to temptation. Were I no longer sexually attracted to women, there would be no temptation.
    I say this by way of explanation, not to insult you, but this is the reason I cannot accept your comments at face value. If you consistently misunderstand and mischaracterize comments in this discussion which are in plain view for all to see, (and you do,) then how can we be expected to accept your perspective on scientific data, the meaning of the language in Biblical translation, or even the comments of fundamentalist Christians?

  • Artboy

    Panthers,
    First let me say that I am grieved for the beating(s) and abuse that you and your partner have suffered.
    In wading through the comments here, there is an important concern of yours that I don’t believe has been touched on yet, embodied in this comment of yours:
    “I mean it when I say I don’t care what conservative Christians believe and practice in their church. I very much do object however to their imposing their views on the secular world.”
    On a practical level it seems that we could be at peace here, as you can (and presumably have) found a gay-affirming church, and I think both sides are happy to let God sort this all out at the end of this age. As for the secular world, everyone views, yours and mine, inform how we vote. I have yet to meet a single fundamentalist Christian who is hoping to establish a human theocracy. Once again you have us confused with fundamentalist Muslims.
    So I say you are in no danger from fundamentalist Christians. Somebody may be torturing and killing gays, but, by definition, it cannot be fundamentalist Christians. That’s like saying every week 3 gays are killed and eaten by vegetarians. Or that another Mormon housewife sets up a meth-lab in an innercity neighborhood every half hour. Hating people and killing people out of hatred is “not allowed” in fundamentalist Christianity. Jesus forbids it, and he is Lord. (Greatest commandment,…can’t love God and hate your brother,…let none of you suffer as a murderer, etc,etc,etc) If someone is killing gays out of hatred, they are, by definition, not a born-again, fundamentalist follower of Jesus the Messiah. It’s that simple.
    For me this has been the most irksome of your boatload of irksome comments. Once again I ask for clarification from you. You stated, “2 to 3 homosexuals are raped or murdered by fundamentalist Christians every week in the US.” You’ve repeated some version of this statement at least 7 times since I’ve been reading. Somebody (rightly) asked you to document the statement, and you sent us to http://www.fbi.gov/ucr/ucr.htm#hate. I thought, “OK, maybe I’m wrong.” I checked the site. I couldn’t get anything ending in “ucr.htm#hate” to come up, but what I did find did not remotely support your claim:
    For 2007, the most recent year for which there is complete hate crime data, a total of five (5) homosexuals were murdered. There were zero (0) rapes. (www.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2007/table_04.htm) I couldn’t find any data from the “known offenders” data to identify fundamentalist Christians as perpetrators in any of the 5 murders.
    This is pretty bad Panthera. 5 dead gays is still 5 too many, but it is a freaking UNIVERSE away from “2 to 3 gays are raped or killed every week by fundamentalist Christians.” If you can’t show me where my reading of the data is incorrect, and actually document your extremely disturbing factoid, then I think it fair to say you add little to this discussion but hysteria. If you can provide documentation for your statement, then I, at least, will stand by you on it.

  • panthera

    Artboy,
    I decided to leave this group of threads yesterday. The entire focus across all the threads had pretty much narrowed down to me fighting with the conservative Christians and there wasn’t much opportunity for anybody else to contribute anything of value.
    There will be other threads on which we can continue our discussion.
    I did, however, say rape, murder, torture and beatings. Add in the beatings and you will find that sad number. If I left out ‘beatings’ in one mention, I do apologize.
    Oh, and URLs get beaten up on this system frequently. Don’t know why, either I enter them incorrectly of the gotcha! messes with them.
    We will never agree, but I do appreciate that you are capable of reasoned discourse. When people who say they love me back constitutional limitations on my rights (gays are the only group to ever have their constitutional rights stripped from the in the US!) it is very hard, indeed, to consider that love.
    But enough, when I leave a thread, I leave it. Just logged back in to do you the same courtesy you have done me.
    Oh, and for the idiot saying I am a sock-puppet for Tony Jones: Wrong. Tony is an honorable man who doesn’t resort to such games. Nor, for that matter, do I. What a wonderful display of Christian charity that was. Not.


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