False Dichotomies, True Love, and Homosexuality

This post is part of a blog tour for Daniel Kirk‘s new book, Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul?: A Narrative Approach to the Problem of Pauline Christianity.  See all the posts at the blog tour hub.

OK, I’m going to be a little tough on my friend, Daniel Kirk, in this post. Daniel is, admittedly, to my hermeneutical right. He’s a New Testament prof at my alma mater, Fuller Seminary, and I have a great deal of respect for him. But the chapter in his new book on homosexuality, while more generous than many evangelicals, falls short. It does so because it recapitulates the familiar meme, Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin.

Mason Slater has already done a fine job of summarizing the chapter as a whole, so I won’t repeat that here. The bottom line for Kirk, as Slater sees it, is this:

But the real thesis of the chapter, the theme that (rightly I think) trumps everything else, is love.

Central to our calling as Christians is love of others, and it is here that much of the church has failed spectacularly in its approach towards the GLBT community.

Jesus sums up the entire law with “Love the Lord your God with all your … and, love your neighbor as yourself” and then when asked who this neighbor might be, Jesus tells a parable which turns all the audience’s expectations upside-down and shows a hated outsider as more faithfully following the way of Jesus than the religious insiders.

There is, in Kirk’s book, the now-familiar self-flagellation that thoughtful evangelicals do when recounting how horribly they’ve treated gays over the past few decades. And that’s right, they have treated gays horribly, and they should repent. We all should.

However, it’s this paragraph in Kirk’s chapter that I think shows how he fails to embrace a truly narrative hermeneutic, and one that would free him to really love the gays who are in the church:

Indeed, if there is anything genuinely new about our situation in the twenty-first century when it comes to the question of homosexuality, it is not that our culture has more of a place for it than the prejudiced ancients, and it is nopt even that recent science suggests that we are predisposed to certain sexual preferences. The real difference is that there are Christians who are both striving to faithfully follow God and simultaneously living within committed homosexual relationships. This is part of the current-day experience of the church, and one that must be carefully weighed when we consider whether homosexuality is, as Scripture seems to indicate, a deviation from what is acceptable before God or whether it is, as its advocates would claim, a new work of the Spirit in a surprising extension of the mission of God.

It’s that last sentence, in bold, that I think presents a false dichotomy. Homosexual practice is either a deviation or a new work of the Spirit. Caught in this dichotomy, Kirk chooses the former. But it’s a false choice.

Admittedly, Kirk gets here only after quickly dismissing the many scholarly arguments for alternate understandings of the Greek words in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6 that are often translated “homosexual” and “effeminate.” (I found his dismissal of these arguments unconvincing.

Further, Kirk interprets Jesus’ silence on this issue as consent to the Jewish thinking of the day. That is, if Jesus had objected to Hebrew teaching on sexuality, he would have taught against it — as he did, for instance, regarding the Sabbath.

Here’s why the above dichotomy is false: it’s reliant upon an understanding of the Bible that allows no room for science, psychology, evolutionary biology, social movement theory, etc. As Kirk even admits in the paragraph I quoted above, the science isn’t the thing. The presence of faithful gays is the thing.

But I disagree. The reason that many of us know faithful, Christian gays isn’t that they’re suddenly here. They’ve always been here. But they’ve been closeted, often because of the church. Western society has become more tolerant — and more gays are out — not because of the moral decline of our culture, but because we’re more faithfully living the biblical — dare I say, Pauline! — mandate that we see all persons as equally children of God.

Kirk strives mightily in the chapter to state that the overwhelming narrative of scripture is one of love, love, love. He repeatedly reminds his fellow conservatives that heterosexual sex is often just as “disordered” — just as sinful — as homosexual sex. Nevertheless, by failing to allow extrabiblical to resources to amend his hermeneutic, those two passages hang like a millstone around his interpretation. For the gays I know, calling their sexuality “disordered” isn’t love.

  • Pingback: Chapter 9: Tony Jones | Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul Blog Tour

  • http://existentialpunk.com Existential Punk

    ‘For the gays I know, calling their sexuality “disordered” isn’t love.’ THANK YOU, Tony! My love for my wife is NOT sinful nor disordered.

    • jsl

      For the sake of argument, let’s the say that homosexuality is sin. *If* that were the case, is it inherently unloving to say as much? Granted, how it is said could very well be sinful, but where do you draw the line? Is it always sinful to acknowledge sin where it exists?

  • Frank

    All sexuality is disordered including homosexuality. All tainted by sin.

    God made them male and female and told them be fruitful and multiply. Sin made every other sexual expression.

    Truth=love. Lying/misrepresenting=no love.

  • Scot Miller

    It’s a shame when biblical scholars have inadequate or incomplete biblical hermeneutics. The problem of Christians ignoring non-biblical, empirical evidence isn’t new, however. Galileo was accused of heresy because his observations of nature led to conclusions that conflicted with the “clear, unambiguous teaching” of scripture that the sun moves, but the earth does not (Ps. 93:1; Ps. 104:5; Eccl. 1:5; Ps. 19:4c-6; cf. Josh 10:12-13). Galileo famously argued that God not only speaks in the book of Holy Scripture, but also in the book of nature. It was a struggle, but once theologians began to take scientific observations and theories seriously, they could correct faulty interpretations of the Bible. Science helped theologians see that these passages cannot be literally true, so they must be metaphorically true.

    In the same way, by ignoring or overlooking or minimizing the information from science, evolutionary biology, psychology, etc., biblical scholars like Kirk make mistakes on how the Bible is to be interpreted. Indeed, it is difficult to read the Bible carefully and find any single, unified teaching on sex or desire. (Here, I admit to being influenced by Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions About Sex and Desire by Jennifer Wright Knust).

    I think it was Paul Tillich who described theology as a critical correlation between the Bible and concrete human lived experience. Appeals to the Bible will always fail when they are detached from the lived experience of real human beings.

    • jsl

      If there is no evidence that it was anything other than a matter of extra-marital sex or some kind of application of the golden rule (i.e. don’t use people), then the conversation ought to continue on it’s current trajectory. However, if there were evidence that it’s not a matter of just how we treat one another, but a matter of God’s created order, that changes things IMO. We’d no longer be talking about treating people differently based on context, we’d be talking about turning over God’s created order, and arguments about a particular nuance of the work “arsenkoitai” sorta start to fall flat.

  • http://brianmaiers.wordpress.com Brian Maiers

    I don’t think a more thorough scientific description necessarily should compel the church to a different ethical prescription. What science and whose psychology do you mean and how does one bridge the gap between what we know and don’t know about homosexuality and the kind of inclusion of homosexual practice in the church that Jones almost takes as axiomatic. The “discovered nature” of certain sexual desires I don’t think is a new thing to the modern world. Science only gives us a more descriptive grammar for them. I think Tony’s post inserts a false narrative of progress and doesn’t really substantively deal with the issue at all. This is a pretty disappointing post despite what one believes about human sexuality.

  • http://jrdkirk.com J. R. Daniel Kirk

    Tony, thanks for your thoughts. These conversations are difficult, and I appreciate the challenge that you’re raising. The chapter was difficult to write, in that I wanted to not only carefully nuance a few important points, but to create an overall trajectory for further conversation that said, “The Bible says x, but we should be open to the fact that the church might need to say y.”

    That might be the point where I wouldn’t necessarily say this snippet misrepresents me, but where we might frame things differently while recognizing similar concerns.

    The dichotomy that you called false, or the choice I laid out in that bolded sentence, is how I am wrestling with the differences in time, place, and experience of the church that might lead us to say what you want to say.

    In other chapters, I acknowledge that positions I want to hold are not consistently taught in the Bible. There is a set of cultural assumptions and failure of the early Christians to recognize the magnitude of what the gospel of Jesus meant for their life together.

    It seems to me that you are wrapping up exegesis and hermeneutics together, allowing the present context to transform the reading of the text in a particular way. In the book I’m trying to hold them apart, saying, “Here’s what Paul said, and now we have to figure out what that means for us.”

    If a new set of contemporary realizations make us realize Paul was wrong, there is a way to move forward with that as an embodiment of Paul’s radical gospel, as you say. At the end of the chapter I was opening that possibility, one that it seems to me you think has already been realized.

    I think that the difference between us, as you’ve laid it out here, is how compelling we find the contemporary evidence (I still think that the way we have to deal with it in the church is “new,” which doesn’t mean “bad”!) for embracing/ affirming homosexual practice–so that for you it does, in fact, overturn the biblical picture.

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Daniel, I’m with Gadamer here: Interpretation (read, hermeneutics) goes all the way down and all the way back up. In other words, all we have is interpretation. To claim that exegesis and interpretation can be separated is, I think, a naïve stance to take. It can’t be done. you don’t get to do exegesis, and then turn your attention to your interpretation. In doing your exegesis, you’ve already been doing hermeneutics.

      • http://missional.ca Jamie Arpin-Ricci

        I think you are both right on the exegesis/hermeneutics point. Tony is right that we cannot do exegesis without inevitably doing interpretation. The very fact that we are having this discussion in English already places firmly in interpretive territory (not to mention the other dozens of layers of interpretation at play). As I am sure Daniel would acknowledge, there is no way we can fully arrive at what Paul meant apart from the layers of culture, bias, assumptions, linguistics, etc. that we bring to the table.

        That said, what I hear Daniel saying about this separation is, not so much that we can fully know Paul’s intention, but rather that we can, acknowledging the limitations, attempt to get something of a contextual (and textual) understanding of what Paul was trying to communicate prior to more explicitly looking at the implications (and applications) of that text in our own context.

      • Zach

        Does quoting Gadamer help here Tony? As far as I understand him (I like analytic stuff a lot more) his main point is that hermeneutics take place within the “horizon” of a tradition. Does the/a tradition (whatever that means) support homosexuality?

  • http://www.scriptureunscripted.com Shamgar334

    I appreciate your thoughts and the comments and I have struggled with this question as a youth minister for years. Chief to the counter of Kirk’s position is that it ignores “science and evolutionary biology.” Now I’m not a scientist, so please forgive my lack of strength in this area, but the scientific articles I have read are sadly not as conclusive as my peers seem to suggest.
    Evidence of biological affects, an increase in a certain hormone here or there in the brain, merely acknowledges a biological component (which seems fairly obvious) but does not prove cause and could just as easily show effect. Some guidance in this area would be most appreciated.

    Again, I mean no disrespect and I apologise for anyone who is offended by my opinions, I do not mean them to be insulting. But it seems to me that people are more than their sexual desires which leaves plenty of room for Kirk’s position, and the age old evangelical cry “love the sinner hate the sin (admittedly a catch phrase that has led to enormous amounts of hypocrisy).” And I agree that the Bible will always fail if they are detached from human experience but let us be careful that we do not allow our human experiences to become the chief lense to scriptural interpretations.

    Thank you for the dialogue.

  • Lock

    But it is a disorder. Just as a man dressing up in women’s underwear is a disorder of sexual behavior.

    You are working of the premise that ALL SEXUAL BEHAVIOR IS EQUAL. That’s why it has gone from gay, to gay and lesbian, to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT), to now we are seeing gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer (GLBTQ).

    How do you hermeneutically argue against pedophilia? Christ never said anything about that either.

    That is the whole difference with you Tony, the Bible is second to whatever popular science is in vogue at the time. Science moves up, you move up. Down you go down.

    • Basil

      On what authority are you calling gay people disordered? Are you a doctor? Are you the AMA- oh yeah, they already determined ( decades ago) that it’s not a medical disorder. Do you really understand how f**king offensive that is? I guess not. Bigots never get it.

      Just to correct your understanding (or lack thereof): Q in LGBTQ stands for Questioning – as in young people who are not quite sure of their orientation and wanting time to figure it out in peace (without being hounded into suicide by Christian inspired bullies). Most gay people I know don’t usually use the Q because 4 letters is enough to deal with, and we usually figure out where we are on the spectrum after a few years.

      • http://existentialpunk.com Existential Punk

        @Basil, The Q also stands for Queer, as that is how i identify. Many gay people i now use the term queer. Shows the diversity in our community! :) Queer used to be a derogatory term but many of us in the gay community, including myself, have reclaimed it as a sense of empowerment.

        @Lock, YOU seem closed-minded.

        • Basil

          @Existential – I always heard “Q” as questioning. Live and learn! I’m all for empowerment.

          As for Lock and those like him, he/she is just a typical close-minded bigot, tormented by guilt over something in his/her life, and like most evangelicals, they project that outward by attacking and marginalizing other communities. The gay community is their favorite target. Being a homophobe has become a tribal identity marker for most evangelicals. How many rabid homophobes turn out to be closet cases — it seems that the more vehement the bigot, the more likely they are just dealing with their own issues. We have Eddie Long, Ted Haggard and Marcus Bachmann as prime examples.

          The only difference is that we are not putting up with it anymore. People have a right to indulge in tortured readings of scripture to support hatred, if it makes feel good about their pathetic and hypocritical lives, but they don’t have no right to have that bigotry enshrined into civil law. We have an absolute right to equal treatment – and it will be a long struggle to get there, but eventually we will get there.

          As for debates on religious interpretation, everyone, including homophobes, has a right to their own religious beliefs. And everyone, including gay people and our friends and family, has a right to point out lies, twisted logic, proof-texting, and bearing of false witness. If that makes people uncomfortable, then they need to examine their beliefs, because religion, unlike sexual orientation, is purely voluntary and easily changed.

          • Basil

            Correction: “..don’t have a right to have that bigotry enshrined into civil law.”

          • Jordan

            There’s a longer acronym LGBTQQ2…and a few more with it too I think, but the QQ then gets both queer and questioning covered.

      • Lock

        You are such a persecuted soul by the likes of me. Everyone has sin that haunts. Your not some minority that gets oppressed for the color of your skin. If you are gay, you obviously have balls, so I don’t need to tell you to grow a sack.

        Good Lord!

        • http://missional.ca Jamie Arpin-Ricci

          Oh Lock, if you only knew how funny that last sentence REALLY is.

  • ME

    Can someone explain how exactly they believe Paul could have been wrong? I think it’s possible but I haven’t come across an argument that has persuaded me to that view.

    Bottom line, when I wonder to myself whether or not it is acceptable to God for homosexuals to marry (and have sex) I’m not sure but the conservative position seems to be “no.”

    • Scot Miller

      ME, I think that Paul has been interpreted as being opposed to homosexuality in 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10. The problem is that the word arsenkoitai, which has been translated “sodomite,” is only used in these passages, and there is some debate about what the word really means. It may mean “man-beds” or “lying with men,” but scholars aren’t entirely sure. In any case, it does appear that Paul isn’t fond of arsenkoitai.

      Let’s say that Paul really does mean “homosexual.” It is not at all clear that that Paul could have conceived of homosexuality (or being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or queer) as we understand it today. In fact, there is no mention of lesbians (women lying with women), bisexuality, or transgenders in the Bible, only “men with men”. And it’s not really clear that the problem is with “men being with men” as much as it is men using other men (and themselves) as nothing more than sex objects. It’s not at all clear that Paul (or any biblical writer) had a concept of men being in a mutually satisfying and respectful relationship with other men, women with women, etc. That understanding of homosexuality is really quite modern, probably with its roots in the 19th century. If the highest moral principle is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” then what matters is mutual respect and love, not the gender of your partner or the particular sex act you perform. So I wouldn’t say that Paul was “wrong,” just caught up in his particular culture at a particular time. (In the same way, the biblical passages where God commands infanticide or slavery is tolerated are not timeless truths, but historically conditioned expressions of particular people in particular circumstances.)

      I had a brief exchange with Frank about this at Tony’s post on Stop Saying "Faggot" . You can see for yourself what I said (and didn’t say).

      I think that Tony is correct, that careful biblical hermeneutics is required which doesn’t distinguish between exegesis and interpretation. Neutral exegesis is a myth; the meaning of the text changes over time because the readers change over time, and meaning is uncovered in the interaction between the horizon of meaning of the text and the horizon of meaning of the interpreter. Understanding takes place in a “fusion of horizons” (according to Gadamer). Interpretation is an ongoing process because we gain (and lose) perspectives through time.

      • ME

        Thanks so much for taking the time to respond, Scott. That’s surely the most in depth response I’ve ever heard.

        The part of your argument that has always made the most sense to me is that what Paul wrote more than likely was directed at men who had extra-marital sex, sex that happened to be with another man. There are issues with that argument so it’s not 100% compelling to me.

        One thing I would poke at is your comment “If the highest moral principle is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,”…”. I think obeying what God wants for us is a higher moral principle than that. Therefore, even though I personally think it’s ok to have a lot of different sex partners in my life, if done so in a respectful and loving manner, my interpretation of and obedience to what Jesus says overrules that. If someone has an honest interpretation that God does not want anyone to have homosexual sex then I don’t think the “do unto others” argument would justify having homosexual sex. But, I’m sure you are acquainted with this point of view.

        You have enlightened me on the subject and the needle of my opinion has moved as a result. But, I would still guess there’s a 65% chance God does not want homosexuals to have sex. I just don’t see how either side can know for sure.

        Thanks again.

        • Frank

          Curious as to what you base the other 35% on?

          • ME

            Frank,

            My understanding is God’s revelation is still unfolding. When Paul wrote what he wrote I assume it was in a culture where there was no idea of homosexual marriage. If there were I think maybe there would have been a little bit more explicit repudiation of it, or potentially even acceptance of it from Jesus.

          • Frank

            So in other words…nothing.

    • Frank

      ME I would suggest perusing the following link and you will quickly see how Scots argument is grasping at straws.

      Does he really think that there we no committed homosexual relationships before the 19th century? As you can see the dance they do to justify the god they create.

      http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCIQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.tms.edu%2Ftmsj%2Ftmsj3h.pdf&ei=MOcZT8atMMqbiALrgemkCA&usg=AFQjCNGjvQvIRplobd7-BG7NdZnEWo9E5Q

      • ME

        Thank you Frank.

        I don’t think either side on the issue should think of themselves as being certainly correct.

  • Ratchet

    Thanks for mentioning the strangeness of this bit: “The real difference is that there are Christians who are both striving to faithfully follow God and simultaneously living within committed homosexual relationships.”
    There’s nothing new there and it makes it hard for me to read the rest of the argument–so strange!
    Not only are same-sex couples not new in church and community, but it’s also not fair to say all these couples of yore must have been closeted. Certainly many others knew or knew about same-sex couples in their midst.
    Perhaps it would be easier to say that what’s new is that fewer church goers/church leaders are in denial about the same-sex couples in their pews and communities and now they feel like talking about it.
    Good stuff. Thanks Tony.

  • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter}

    i think you end on a sort of false dichotomy, too. interpret these passages progressively and *really* love people–or interpret them conservatively/traditionally and be a bigot?

    there has to be a third way allowing for variance in interpretation. faithful people are wrestling honestly, striving to honor God and love their neighbors, and coming to different conclusions. can’t the Church disagree and still move forward together with grace? we have much to repent of and bridges to build, but baby steps count, too.

    • Lock

      Tony will not in his lifetime divert from the narrative that conservative positions are bigotted.

      It is his life’s goal to deconstruct conservative Christianity.

    • Scot Miller

      Suzannah, since there is a dispute between believers about whether LGBTQ sex is “sin,” maybe those who think it is a sin should try very hard not to be LGBTQ themselves, but they should welcome LGBTQ believers as brothers and sisters in Christ. Since sex should be an intimate, private expression of love which does not involve anyone other than the participants, maybe the Christlike thing to do is to let private matters remain private and publicly welcome all believers into the same community of faith. As long as the sexual expressions of love are voluntary and no one is coerced or forced into sex, it’s difficult to see how this could be an issue of public interest or concern. If someone thinks something is a sin, then by all means they shouldn’t do it. But maybe it would be better if they didn’t try to interfere in the private behavior of people who don’t read the Bible in the same way.

      • http://www.somuchshoutingsomuchlaughter.com/ suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter}

        i agree with much of what you say. but then could the other side stop implying/telling conservatives that they are bigoted for holding a different interpretation? i see folks on both sides talking past one another and disagree with the false choices presented.

        there is plenty of bigotry and homophobia in the church–but holding to a traditional interpretation is not inherently bigoted. that accusation discourages the church from moving forward at all and taking any steps toward repentance/reconciliation. we shouldn’t have to agree on everything to share community.

        • Scot Miller

          I’d have to agree with you. Name calling is not very helpful for either side.

          However, there is a big difference in having one’s feelings hurt because someone calls you a bigot when you think you’re just standing up for God’s morality, and actually being marginalized and scorned and condemned for being something you think God created you to be. The LGBTQ community may not be convincing their opponents by calling them bigots, but that’s their response for being kicked out of church, marginalized, and being called “sinners.”

          It seems to me that the burden is on the traditional/conservative churches to stop their unhelpful “sin” rhetoric, and begin accepting everyone – LGBTQ – into their fellowship, just as they accept adulterers, liars, tax cheats, etc. My hunch is the “bigot” rhetoric would come to a screeching halt if conservative churches would put real, actual, living human beings ahead of their ideas about their “sins.”

          • Frank

            Actually the burden of proof is on those who seem to think that after several millennia they suddenly have the interpretation of scripture correct.

          • Scot Miller

            Frank, I’m not talking about the “burden of proof” in an argument, since I said that if you believe being gay is a sin, then you shouldn’t be gay. The Christians who argue for accepting LGBTQ people do have that burden, and they have done a successful job of meeting that burden (even though you can’t seem to follow the arguments).

            I am, however, addressing the moral and spiritual burden of so-called “conservative” Christians acting in Christ-like ways. The LGBTQ community have been the ones marginalized and outcast by the “traditional” churches. If conservative Christians want to act in Christ-like ways, they would start hanging out in gay bars and clubs with the marginalized in society (which is what Christ did). Indeed, Christ’s biggest attacks weren’t against the sinners, to whom he showed love and acceptance, but to the self-righteous religious establishment (Scribes, Pharisees), who were quick to condemn people on behalf of God.

            (It’s funny how Christians think the “gay agenda” is somehow threatening society or “the family,” but they don’t seem to be worried too much about people like Newt Gingrich who cheated on two wives. But that’s a whole different issue.)

          • Frank

            Scot please post any scriptural backing that God condones and blesses homosexual unions. You keep repeating the same mantra but never actually post anything that supports your position. Often those who have the opinion that homosexual behavior is not sinful post scripture about the treatment of individuals. How we treat others is never in question.

            I do know people who hang out and minister in gay bars.

            Good job in throwing in yet another red herring I.e. Gingrich.

            The differece is Ginrich would admit his behavior is sinful. That allows forgiveness. And anyways we are not electing a pastor in chief.

            I look forward to the scriptural proof that you base your options on.

          • Scot Miller

            Frank, I’m not wasting my time with you. In a previous post by Tony you and I had an exchange where I gave you a lengthy argument, which you either couldn’t understand or wouldn’t understand. I tried to point out that you are dishonest with your biblical hermeneutic, which apparently allows you to pick and choose scripture to back up whatever you happen to believe (e.g., about homosexuality) while ignoring other scriptures which you don’t happen to believe (e.g., about slavery and infanticide). Apparently you have some difficulty comprehending analogical arguments, and you have some difficulty in convincing me that I should buy your reading of scripture. So I’m not even going to start here, since you can’t engage in honest discourse.

            You should be pleased that I’m agreeing with you that you shouldn’t be gay because you think God doesn’t want you to be gay. But the fact that you believe that homosexuality is a sin should mean that all sinners — adulterers, tax cheaters, liars, drug addicts, spouse abusers, (and in your mind:) lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered, queers, etc. — in the same way. Surely even you want to treat the marginalized sinners in a Christlike way… which means accepting and loving them.

          • Frank

            Yes Scot loving them is a no brainer. Also telling them God’s truth is also a no brainer.

            Good job on yet another dodge. Just admit it you cannot show any proof other than your opinion. At least be honest and stop hiding behind red herrings, straw men, logical and illogical fallacies and the “wasting my time” BS.

          • ME

            Scott,

            Do you have a link to that previous argument with Frank?

            I would like to know what the arguments are for saying it’s not a sin. I’m not picking a fight, I’m simply uninformed.

            What’s interesting to me is not whether it is or is not a sin, but, how one comes to that conclusion.

          • Frank

            ME it was nothing substantive. He tried to suggest that since infanticide and slavery occurred in biblical times and God condones that behavior at times somehow homosexuality is not a sin. What he failed to realize/admit is that there is plenty of scriptural support that God is pro-life and pro-freedom and no support that God is pro-homosexual. And its me that’s “dishonest” and “pick and choose”. :rolleyes

          • Basil

            Scott

            Don’t feed the trolls (that means Frank)!

          • Frank

            Yes by all means show us that you actually only have an opinion and not any scriptural backing. As if we didn’t know already.

  • Jay

    I agree with Kirk when he comments “It seems to me that you are wrapping up exegesis and hermeneutics together” I think a honest exegesis of Paul’s comments about homosexual acts is clear enough an in line with the tradition of that time also. Tony’s hermeneutic arises after scientific research that shows that sexual orientation is biological and not a moral choice. Paul also clearly adopted the “law of Christ” which most certainly refers to Jesus’s law of love, but Paul conditions that law with another law which he calls the law of nature. This seems to be what Paul is following in Rom 1 and 1 Cor. 11. I think rather than trying to interpret Paul into saying something that he is not saying, it would be more honest to just understand that Paul is speaking from his limited cultural understanding and you just don’t agree, or do you still think that Paul’s opinion was always correct.

  • feetxxxl

    choice or innate is a rabbit whole that leads to no where .do we rely on science for our theology where todays truths are tomorrows refutations……….no. as believers we rely on our 1john1 witness of the spirit that is in the lives of those who are gay. they live the fullness of god’s love in their lives and marriages in the same way as do heterosexuals. this spiritual equality mandates that homosexuals are absolutely equal to heterosexuals.

    the cliche love the sinner hate the sin is a misquote of scripture.

    rom12:8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[a] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

    9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

    • Richard

      “choice or innate is a rabbit whole that leads to no where”

      Yes.

      While the cliche may be abused and we need to wrestle hard with what it means to love the sinner, I’m not sure that makes it an invalid principle – just misapplied. And I agree with Tony’s sentiment that the “sinner” needs to have a voice into what constitutes “love.” But I’m still not yet convinced that automatically moves homosexuality out of the realm of sin – I love and accept liars, thieves, adulterers, gluttons, materialists, etc.

      I say this while fully affirming that heterosexuality can be just as disordered (if not more in some cases) and that I support gay marriage and full civil rights in the eyes of the state. I’m just not to the point where I’m convinced yet that its not sin or the byproduct of sin (and I’m really not concerned with the individual acts and no there not somehow further from God than the rest of us). I’ve been wrestling with this issue and how to lead our congregation in this for a couple of years now and the only thing I’m convinced of at this point is loving embrace of everyone, no matter their story. If there are resources others would recommend, I’d appreciate it.

  • feetxxxl

    i am trying to respond to richard’s comment.

  • feetxxxl

    richard perhaps your struggle is because you think that we are still under the law, the regulations of the ten commandments(not the ones to love). we are not. we have died to the law in christ, and have been resurrected in christ to now be under his love(grace). because his love is and gives life and the law gives no life. there are a million reasons to obey a regulation and not one of them has to do with love. 1cor 13 says anything without love is nothing and gains nothing. under the new covenant we are under his love as in loving your neighbor as yourself, as we”love one another as i (jesus) loved you.” daily jesus shows us his love directly to us in intimate relationship in his living spirit living in us.

    being gay does not come against his love. those who are gay live the fullness of god’s love thru their being gay, in the same way as heterosexuals live the fullness of god’s love thru being heterosexual.

    this spiritual equality mandates that homosexuals are absolutely equal to heterosexuals. it is thru the worship of jesus christ, celebrating this equality, that his spirit is lifted up and magnified.

    for the record scripture has never said that homosexuality of itself was a sin.

    there is no word “only” in genesis or matt19. not all prohibitions of lev are of themselves a sin or a sin under the new covenant. romans is about the basis of all sin including shameful lust and is about the basis of all sin, not about being gay is a sin. homosexual bonding has no resemblance to shame or lust is about mutual love , devotion, affection, trust, respect for a shared committed life together, the same as with heterosexuals.

    1cor and 1tim has already been covered.

    • Richard

      I appreciate the conciliatory tone of your post. You may be right in your assessment but I don’t think so because I’m not really concerned about the Law in this matter, I think sin runs deeper than actions and that the only way sin is conquered is through grace that leads to confession and repentance (and yes that’s the order I understand it to play out).

      I’m just not convinced yet that homosexual orientation is not a byproduct/outcome of living in a fallen, sinful world. I have a difficult time saying, “People are attracted to their same sex and that’s the way God intended it to be.”

      I’m naturally inclined to lie to people to get my way on things and cover my butt. I’m a liar who lies. Some of these lies aren’t harmful to others and I believe all my lies are covered by the grace of God but I still don’t think God wants me to keep lying or that he intended me to be that way because I’m born with a tendency to lie or socially shaped to lie or that my lies didn’t do any evident harm to myself or the people around me.

    • Richard

      And I forgot to add – thank you for dialoguing generously with me in this.

      • feetxxxl

        richard

        if it isnt the law in your mind that says its a sin, then it must be some emotion ………..fear, disgust, etc.

        “being gay could not be of our god”……………………that’s right, our god………..the god that is centered around us. consider god that is the center, that does not rely on our fear, disgust,etc

        you’re welcome

        • Richard

          I’d agree with the fear/disgust/otherness approach if I didn’t have gay friends and/or support homosexual civil rights and didn’t view them as fully human, redeemed and welcome to Christ’s table and the table in my home.

          I think we’re talking past one another here.

          I don’t see homosexuals as being outside of God’s camp (because he’s pursued all of us that are “godforsaken” outside of the city) and I don’t see homosexuality as being a barrier to being a Christian or following Jesus or God’s pursuit any more than any other sin. But I still see it as a byproduct of sinful nature… Does that make sense? And I’m not entirely convinced that just because there isn’t coercion between the people in homosexual relationships doesn’t mean there can’t still be a form of enslavement to a person’s own desires (and yes can be true of heterosexual relationships as well and I think exemplified in the concerns that many raised about Mark Driscoll’s advice that anal intercourse was okay in marriage if consented to by both parties – I think there’s a dominance and dehumanizing aspect to some sexual practices that push them out of the bounds of loving service for the other).

          • Charles

            So to love someone else is a sin?!?

            Could it be that “Christians” are hung-up on the mechanics?

          • Frank

            Could it be that you just want to live your life the way YOU want?

          • Charles

            Frank, (why do I keep trying?)
            I’ve been married to the same woman for almost 46 years. I’ve been in the Christian Church since I was born, including very, very conservative, fundamentalist. I’m just following Jesus’ command to love – He said it’s what God’s all about.

          • Frank

            Congratulations Charles! The longevity of your marriage is certainly something to be celebrated and set as an example!

            No one is preventing anyone from loving anyone else.

  • http://mpzrd.blogspot.com Marshall

    No question in my mind that committed homosexual couples have as much right to be churched as anybody. That’s the narrow question, easily decided: we are all a little Queer, and we should all be a little more Questioning.

    Daniel, I’m with Gadamer here: Interpretation (read, hermeneutics) goes all the way down and all the way back up. In other words, all we have is interpretation…

    I don’t believe that is quite right, we do have the text itself. Or very nearly, give or take we don’t have the autographs. That would be the point of taking Scripture as one of the pillars of Evangelicalism: the interpretation is inevitably of an age, but it must stay somewhat connected to the text, which we must not tamper with. The current interpretation in re homosexuality as with other issues is changeable (as we learn more about God’s world).

  • Zdenek Sykora

    Greetings from Prague, Czech Republic boys. Any response to “Christian sexuality: normative and pastoral principles” Saltzman? Or Gagnon, Robert A.J., The Bible and Homosexual Practice? thanks Zdenek

  • Jay

    Evan if the bible gives you the right to be a bigot you’r still a bigot, there’s no get out of jail free card because you think the bible told you so.
    “You say
    Love is a temple
    Love a higher law
    Love is a temple
    Love the higher law
    You ask me to enter
    But then you make me crawl
    And I can’t be holding on
    To what you got
    When all you got is hurt.” ~ Bono

  • http://getoffthepew.blogspot.com EMS

    I found this blog via your twitter on the same day I made a blog post about loving the homosexual, the bullying of homosexuals, and the sad suicide of a good young man.

    I have no desire to debate homosexuality. Further, I will not debate God’s command to love EVERYONE unconditionally in exactly the way Jesus loved. We are called!

    Christians have always had more than our share of bullies walking and talking among us. They bully others to eat like they do, worship as they worship, attend church on the “correct” Sabbath Day, and on an on. When I was young I heard a speaker warn that “Jazzercise is of the devil”, and that oral sex among married couples was “abhorrent and sinful”. Bullies!

    Get off the pew and love – pure, simple, without judgment and condemnation – LOVE.

    getoffthepew.blogspot.com

  • Pingback: The Silence of Jesus (on Homosexuality)

  • Jeff Straka

    I’ve been reading a fascinating new book by Michael Wood titled “Paul on Homosexuality”. It is quite possible that translators have totally screwed with Paul’s theology by not making a critical distinction of “Justices of the Torah” (which Jesus boiled down to “love your neighbor as yourself”) and “Jobs of the Torah” (which Jesus seemed to say was superseded by that Golden Rule). Incredibly, Paul seems to align with Jesus instead of coming off as a bi-polar moralist! Properly translated, Paul ONLY criticizes abusive, self-centered relations, NOT loving, self-emptying relationships. Jesus’ apparent “silence” on homosexuality makes sense because he wasn’t teaching in the heart of the Roman sexual culture of prostitution and young male slaves as was Paul in his travels (especially in Corinth). This book is helping me fall in love with Paul!

  • Pingback: Still Gay…and No Longer Gay

  • Pingback: Christians, homosexuality, and civil discourse. « Near Emmaus


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