A Christian Support of Same Sex Marriage

Here’s a nice post from the Raven Foundation about whether and why Christians can support same sex marriage:

Can faithful Christians support same-sex marriage?

The question is coming up quite a bit these days, as states throughout the U.S. are dealing with legislation concerning the hot button issue.

I’ll go a step further in answering the question – Not only can faithful Christians support same-sex marriage, faithful Christians should support same sex marriage.

First, the can.  The Bible is often a stumbling block when it comes to this issue.  Many feel that they can’t support same sex marriage because the Bible is against homosexuality.  But what if we’ve misunderstood the Bible?

READ THE REST: A Christian Support of Same Sex Marriage » The Raven Foundation.

HT: Brian McLaren

  • Frank

    That’s only works if you mistakenly believe that we have interpreted the bible wrong. There has yet to be a compelling case made.

  • Daniel

    You know we’re not off to a good start when the opening argument is preceded by “The Bible is often a stumbling block when it comes to this issue.”

  • Michael Jordan

    Tony, I’m a relative newcomer to your blog. Thank you for providing a place for conversation on these issues!

    I really think this is a very confused and weakly argued article which rests on a commonly held idea that actually has very little scientific evidence supporting it: that 4% of the population is “naturally attracted” to the same gender, as if sexual orientation were lifelong, fixed, and immutable in the same way as race or sex. Our sense of sexual attraction is fluid and subject to a wide variety of factors. The labels “gay” and “straight” may be convenient shorthand, but they simply do not reflect reality: most of us are capable of enjoying hetero- and homosexual relationships in the right situations. Witness the phenomenon of prison homosexual relationships, for instance, or homosexual relationships between Mormon men on mission, etc.

    All this is to say that the very statements on which articles like this rest: “this is who I am…” “God made me this way, and I shouldn’t fight it” are tenuous at best. I respect and honor fellow Christians who understand themselves and their sexuality in this way, and I count them as brothers and sisters in the faith, but I think they have fallen for a very attractive lie. (As I no doubt fall for attractive lies myself sometimes, many of which I’m unaware, I have sympathy for them.)

    • John Mc

      I agree the articlemform the Raven Foundatiokn is weakly argued (the suggestion that Romans 1:26 is about Nero is especially weak). Much more powerful and reasoned arguments have been made by others such as Mel White, which compel a re-thinking of Christian attitudes towards same sex attraction and how we as a community respond to the GLBT community.

      I also have to point out that your observation that prison rape is a normative example of homosexuality is wrong and is wrong in the most reprehensible way. Rape is about power, abuse, and humiliation! It is not about love and it’s intimate physical expression. The use of such examples of coercive sex as foundational for theological argumentation is demonstrative of the poorest examples of Christian reasoning.

      And why would you lift up examples of homosexuality in the Mormon community as of any special significance in this context? Are you attempting to smear a certain presidential candidate by intimating that his faith community is inherently compromised by suggesting that it is a bastion of homosexuals? While I will not be voting for him, I can only say, shame on you!

      • John Mc

        And how should we respond to the GLBT community? With compassion and by inclusion, welcoming them for who they are and for the gifts and challenges which each brings to the Table. Non- homosexual Christians should seek to bring them in from the margins and give them seats at the Table, next to everyone else Jesus has invited.

        • Michael Jordan

          John, my sincere apologies for offending you. I’m not trying to compare prison rape with normal homosexual expression. My only point was to say that our sexual attitudes and preferences shift with any number of variables–the company we keep, the mores of our culture, our age, the churches we belong to, etc. etc. Put simply, while I might normally not find homosexual activity appealing, if that’s all that’s available to me–or if I live in a culture which convinces me it is supremely liberating–I might just feel free to give it a try.

          If sexuality is not a given, fixed, immutable identity (like race and gender), then we have no business treating it as one. I’m glad to take communion and be in a church with people who self-identify as gay, because like I say, there are undoubtedly ways that I’m confused about my own identity. So that’s fine. What is not fine is taking these dubious categories–”gay” and “straight”–and investing them with power they do not deserve in order to make ourselves feel that we are fighting for “minorities” on behalf of “justice.”

          • John Mc

            OK, then just as “gay” should not be ‘dubiously’ categorized and invested with “power” nor should it be ‘dubiously’ categorized and divested of power. As long as such people are divested of power, they ARE “minorities” and are certainly entitled to engage in the struggle for justice and their allies, both within and without the Christian community are likewise empowered if not commanded to struggle along with them for justice and inclusion and to find them a place at the table.

            Again your inability to grasp that prison rape is not just a shift of perspective but an act of violence having absolutely nothing to do with issues of sexual preference is appalling. Furthermore your suggestion that self-identifying homosexuals are merely experience confusion in their sexual identity shows a profound lack of understanding.

            I am not offended by your posts, just disturbed. On one level you seem to some degree compassionate towards their circumstances, yet on another level you seem unable to grasp exactly what it’s all about and yet you still make pronouncements about what should and should not happen in regards to them.

            I have to admit that I too am greatly in the dark, on many things, but on the scope of Christian love and inclusiveness, I feel pretty confident in asserting that it is intended to include homosexuals.

        • 9

          You had me with you until this comment. Jesus says come all, but he does not leave us as we were, especially when it opposes his ‘word’. Homosexuals, adulterers (which I had been), immorality of all sorts, coveters …etc (1 Corinth 6:10) will not inherit the kingdom of God. Not left as such. Repentance is imminent. So come all, yes, but ask for help, cleansing, and understanding.

    • Basil

      When exactly did you choose to be attracted to women over men? Have you tried out each and decided which you like better?

      • Carl

        Basil, people naturally are heterosexual, they CHOOSE to be homosexual. It’s a silly question. Kinda like asking “when did you choose to walk on your feet instead of your hands”?

        That said, it doesn’t matter even if people are born homo. We’re also born liars and all sorts of sinners. Men are born polygamists. That doesn’t make polygamy right.

        • John Mc

          Where does the Bible say that polygamy is not right?

          • Carl

            Ugh… John, if you’re going to ask stupid questions, don’t enter the discussion. But, in case you’re really just ignorant and not trying to be snarky, check out Genesis 2. Or 1 Timothy 3. Or all of the injunctions against divorce/adultery. It doesn’t take much reading comprehension to follow the line of thought.

        • John Mc

          Mostly trying to be snarky.

          But I am also trying to underscore the point that in the Bible what is and is not a sin shifts over time, from age to age, from context to context. Rarely can one put a point on an interpretation and say that it is definitive for all time. When you do that you cut off the work of the Holy Spirit and in its place substitute human judgment. As the UCC reminds us, “God is still speaking.”

          As I pointed out earlier, even Jesus and Paul wondered out loud whether marriage of any kind was all that important, allowing that its continuing purpose was to allow a safe space for people to address their most intimate sexual needs.

          It’s interesting that Catholics have always held marriage to be an institution of sacramental significance, a position which Protestants have traditionally rejected. Are Protestants now reconsidering?

  • Randy Eliason

    Professor Rob Gagnon has written extensively on the subject of homosexuality and the Bible , offering overwhelming evidence of the Bible’s unequivocal opposition to homosexual behavior. I find it hard to believe that Tony would be ignorant of Gagnon’s arguments, but I find it harder to believe that he is familiar with them and continues to post articles like this whose arguments have been shown to be without merit.

    • Scot Miller

      I just looked at some of the stuff Gagnon has available online. He’s certainly a partisan defender of tradition, and while he uses academic qualifiers (e.g., “probably,” “the evidence suggests,” etc.), I’m afraid he overuses proof surrogates (“obviously,” “without a doubt,” etc.), trying to sound like his arguments are much stronger than they are. I don’t think the evidence he offers gives as strong support to his conclusions as he thinks. (Just because Gagnon declares that someone’s argument is “without merit” doesn’t mean the argument really is without merit.)

      He also tends to insult his “opponents” in order to discredit their arguments (which really surprised me, given his academic credentials). He also tends to misrepresent the positions of the persons he attacks (i.e., instead of trying to summarize someone’s position in a way that person would recognize, he summarizes that person as a partisan would.) I think he wants to engage the “leftist” theologians in order to wipe out their errors rather than to achieve clarity or arrive at the truth. (I guess when you think you have the truth, there’s nothing else to search for.)

      I’m not sure that his arguments would really cause a serious scholar to change her or his mind, but I’m sure Gagnon is very popular with people predisposed to think homosexuality is a sin. Gagnon sort of reminds me of William Lane Craig: supremely self-confident, skilled at rhetorical tricks, but not very self-reflective or self-critical.

    • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

      I found one article by Paul Gagnon. He reviews some theories on homosexuality from Roman culture and claims it is ironic that these are not acknowledged. The theories are the usual type of made of science that comes from that time and have nothing to do with our current understanding. Later he notes that same-sex unions did occur in Roman culture and says this negates the “new knowledge” argument. The “new knowledge” is of our brains and how sexual desire works, obviously people have observed same-sex attraction forever. The new knowledge requires more than casual observation.

      Gagnon claims that Paul saw sin as something “passed on by a foundational ancestor” and concludes that “any theory positing congenital influences” would have made little difference to Paul. This is comparing our current understanding of evolution and genetics to Paul’s understanding of “passed on”, there is no comparison.

      When refuting a statement that “the Bible does not clearly endorse…” he references Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. He does use the Genesis story, but that is what we are saying, that people at the time would have seen things that way. If we say that is the end of the discussion, then we are saying that God does not want us to learn about his universe, he only wants us to accept what is in the Bible.

      With such poor arguments up to that point, I just gave up on this guy.

      • Carl

        God wrote the Bible, so yeah, He wants us to listen to Him. It all comes back to having a proper view of Scripture.

        • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

          Again, you throw around words like “proper” as if everyone knows what that means. Genesis is allegory. Using it to say two men loving each other is wrong would be improper.

          • Carl

            Genesis is allegory? Since when?

          • 9

            Right @Carl. Genesis is anything but allegory. There are time slots not mentioned.
            But Allegory = no. *See the book of Revelation.

  • http://www.sojournintoexile.blogspot.com Nithin

    Here’s a question that I’ve just started to ponder. Can a Christian who believes homosexuality is a sin still support the legality of gay marriage and equality in the sight of the law for all GLBT folks?

  • Rose

    What a shame that anyone calling themselves a Christian would even attempt to support the sin of homosexuality.

    Leviticus 20:13
    King James Version (KJV)
    13If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10
    King James Version (KJV)
    9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

    10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

    • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

      Have you looked up any of the arguments about these texts? Have you looked at their context? Did you read this article? Could you respond in any other way than quoting passages out of context?

    • http://tonyj.net Tony Jones

      Rose, you’d better stay away from shrimp.

      • Frank

        Tony that statement just shows your ignorance. Surely you have a better argument? A valid one?

    • Curtis

      So you are in favor of killing all gays then? (Lev. 20:13) Or don’t you believe the Bible? You have to admit there is much more to the issue than what these verses state on the surface. If you don’t admit that these verses are complicated, then you have to be in favor of killing all gays.

      • 9

        Old Testament versus new Testament is all Curtis. Don’t take offense to this cause this is the problem in the church as well. Uneducated and people that don’t allow God to fill them with conviction. Believing God at his word is imminent, but he is forgiving and loving to all us to learn and grow.
        Leviticus scripture – Old T. concerning the Hebrews and what they allowed among them. These types were to be put away and in some cases executed cause God’s people were the example people and were set-apart.
        UNDER NEW CONVENANT – which is the meaning of New Testament, yes sin is sin, but it is more about forgiveness than quicker judgement cause the Lamb was slain and rose again. Now there is more grace, but the penalty is still imminent according the second ‘death’ = hell forever.
        Don’t mistake God’s mercy these days for not cleaning up mess that needs cleaning.

    • 9

      Thank you Rose!

  • Keetcha

    Great article Tony. Thank you for sharing.

  • Michael Jordan

    Nithin, I think so–because I believe that government should generally not be in the marrying business. To me it’s more a question of political philosophy than personal morality. So I’m all for marriage (from a civil perspective) becoming a contract that makes sense in our culture (ie a partnership between two people where they share everything and receive certain benefits); I’m also all for protecting religious institutions’ rights to define marriage as they see fit.

    • 9

      So you coming back for a 3rd time or not? Ha couldn’t resist!

  • ToronadoBlue

    I look forward to your next article titled “A Christian Support of Adultery”.

    • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

      Try to apply the line of logic that was used in this article in the same way but to adultery and you will see why that is a silly comment.

    • Carl

      Spot on, ToronadoBlue. Or “A Christian Support for Lying”

    • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

      While we’re all waiting, here’s my try at it. Each heading is what the article said, and then my application to adultery.
      Modern concepts: Adultery is basically the same now as it was then.
      When the Bible talks of homosexuality, it is talking about the sins of gang rape and cultic prostitution or sexual humiliation: You can argue that. For adultery there are plenty of passages that are quite clear.
      God is working in the church with this question: This question is causing a lot of discussion, discernment, and prayer. I don’t see much angst or churches splitting over the question of adultery.
      Jesus sides with the powerless, liberates the oppressed: Adulterers are not oppressed or powerless.
      Do we reject them or embrace them as Jesus embraced those who were rejected? That’s the last question of the article. You decide.

      • Carl

        Good thoughts, Lausten. But the Bible says that men lying with men is wrong (and please don’t use the childish response about shellfish that Tony used). And it’s not natural, it’s not how people were created. The parts used for homo sex are not being used how they were designed (and no one can rationally claim otherwise).

        Yes, Jesus sides with the powerless, but ALL sinners are powerless to change without the Holy Spirit working in them. Adulterers are just as powerless as homosexuals (ironically, you seem to have forgotten the story of the adulteress in the New Testament). That being said, I recognize that you may mean more of a cultural powerlessness, more of what prostitutes might feel. And yes, Jesus did side with them. But note HOW he sided with them. He didn’t condone their sin or encourage them to stay in it. He showed them a better way, a way to have their sins forgiven and to live holy lives. He liberated them from their sins. Just as he offers freedom to homosexuals (or liars, cheaters, idolators, etc.) who are trapped in theirs.

        • Scot Miller

          Carl, Tony is just making the point that people who believe the Bible is so clear about homosexuality conveniently overlook equally clear passages like the prohibition to eat shellfish (Lev. 11). Tony isn’t being “childish,” but is offering a reductio ad absurdum of people who selectively quote the Bible while conveniently ignoring both the historical context of the text and other inconvenient texts. It’s actually a pretty good response which illustrates a defective interpretation of scripture.

          • Carl

            Except, Scot, as both you and Tony surely know, the “shellfish” argument has been put to bed long ago by many thoughtful scholars. So either you’re ignorant of this (which I doubt) or you’re intellectually dishonest.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Or we disagree with those scholars Carl. Would you care to name one? It is not unusual in a theological debate that both sides go away thinking they have “won”.

          • Carl
          • Curtis

            It’s always amazing to me that Bible “scholars” are willing to enter into all kinds of theological gymnastics to cherry-pick the Levitical laws they agree with, citing “moral law” versus “ceremonial law”, for example, even though this is an artificial distinction not made anywhere in the Bible. Yet when people propose other ways of reading those same laws, they are accused of some kind of blasphemy. Funny how one person’s theology can be another persons blasphemy.

          • Carl

            Curtis, it’s perfectly reasonable, PLUS it is supported by the New Testament. God tells us in the NT that all food is permissible, but He still says homosexuality is wrong. It’s not really that difficult.

          • Curtis

            All food is permissible, but not all food is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

            It is not as simple as you make it sound.

          • Carl

            What’s difficult about that?

          • Curtis

            Sometimes you shouldn’t eat shellfish, and sometimes its okay. It’s not simple.

          • Carl

            Yes it is. God lays this out pretty nicely for us in the NT. It’s about not making people stumble (or us losing self-control). We have the freedom to eat any food, but that freedom comes with certain restrictions. We can’t be dominated or controlled by anything (coffee, chocolate, beer, etc.) nor should we enjoy our freedom at the expense or offense of someone else. And we should eat and drink with thanksgiving.

            Sure, each situation isn’t always simple, but the spirit of God’s law, for those who are wise and have eyes to see (thanks to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit), is pretty plain and understandable.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Carl; You’re link seems to be a pretty good argument that the Levitical laws don’t apply and that “It calls all people everywhere—gay, straight, gossips, and the pious grandmother who trusts in her own righteousness—to repent and embrace God’s only Son.” So, we’re back to defining “repent” and “embrace”. Not much progress.

          • Curtis

            Besides, who decided that eating shrimp is not part of moral law? Certainly, for a Buddhist (or for a shrimp!) eating shrimp is a moral issue. And who decided sex was a moral issue, not a ceremonial one? In my mind, in the context of a committed relationship, sex is a ceremonial issue, not a moral issue. It seems to me that they are dividing laws into arbitrary categories that are the most convenient to them.

        • Curtis

          Are you equally opposed to unnatural contraception (condoms, pills)? Or unnatural conception (artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization). The truth is, many of us perform unnatural sex acts all the time.

          In Genesis, didn’t God give mankind dominion over creation? If man chooses to assert control over nature — to do something “unnatural” — aren’t we simply exercising God’s gift of dominion? Why are Christians permitted to be unnatural in many aspects of our lives, yet we condemn all gays because some of them perform “unnatural” behavior?

          All people do unnatural things sometimes. It is part of our God-given nature!

        • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

          I think you missed the point that we all agree that adultery is wrong. You missed some other points too. I usually don’t bother with cherry pickers.

      • Carl

        To “repent” means to turn from. It doesn’t mean we don’t still sin, but we don’t do so pretending that we are doing good. We sin despite our new hearts. Zaccheus didn’t just say “I repent.” No, he gave back what he had stolen. I’m sure he sinned plenty more later in his life (maybe even cheated someone), but he no longer looked at as a good or okay thing. And if he was regenerate, he confessed that sin. What we’re discussing here is taking sin and embracing it and supporting it. It’s one thing to lie, and then ask for forgiveness and turn from lying. It’s a whole other thing to lie and say that lying is good and God created us to be liars.

        • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

          Carl, all that depends on defining homosexuality as a sin. You haven’t done that successfully.

          • Carl

            I don’t need to, God already did. I don’t define what is and isn’t sin, that’s up to God. He gave us His word, in which He defines sin pretty well.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Nadia Bolz-Weber once said that when we say that we completely understand God’s word and the Bible is clear on everything and all we need to do is refer to it, we leave Jesus sitting in a van on corner, idling. We say to God, we got it all figured out here, we’ll come to you when we need that ride home.

          • Carl

            I didn’t say I had everything completely figured out… I’m always learning new things. That said, the Bible is clear on certain things. What you’re doing is exactly what Satan did in Eden… “Has God REALLY said…?”

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Carl; We have reached the impasse of those who are separated on the scale of inerrancy vs allegory. I don’t know exactly where you are on that scale, so sorry if I implied you were acting like you had it all figured out. Obviously you are having trouble with where I am on the scale if you think that comparing me to Satan would mean anything to me. You say homosexuality is a sin, and that it is clear in the Bible, but you don’t respond to anything that has been said about it being NOT clear. If you truly want to help others understand the word of God, I would think you could come up with something other than comparing them to Satan.

            You address the “shellfish argument” by saying you have no problem overriding the OT and saying we can eat any food, but not addictively or at the offense of others and always with thanksgiving. A homosexual relationship is not addictive or offensive and if they are thankful for each other, then it is healthy. What is the difference? You have not addressed how shellfish being an abomination is different from homosexuality being an abomination.

            You seem to be using interpretation when it is convenient for you and when we come to back homosexuality you just say the Bible is clear. Let me put it this way, I am never ever going to accept a simple statement like “The Bible is clear on homosexuality”. I know the passages, I know the interpretation of some of the Greek words, I know the cultural context. You can address those things, or we are just two radios blaring with no ability to hear each other.

      • 9

        Plus (In addition),

        Adultery in the bible is two-fold at least. Other than standard meaning, it has a spiritual meaning. I can be turning to other god’s (small g)- the world for support. It means trust issues; of which we all have had at times. Be careful of the passages around adultery.

  • http://nitecaravan.blogspot.com/ Br. Jay

    Wow. Such anger and sarcasm. Funny. It sounds similar to the attitudes and responses made by opponents of inter-racial marriage, the abolition of slavery, and the equality of women.

    Tony, thank you for posting an article that challenges people to think, to ponder and to contemplate. Thank you for challenging people to consider the effects of seeing people who are gltb as people and not just a topic to be discussed.

  • Charlie

    Here’s where I had a qualm with the Raven Foundation article. It suggested that “homosexuality” was a relatively new concept. While that may be true, homosexual behavior has LONG been an issue the bible is clear about. I think the difference is that in the 1800s we finally made that a label or identity, not just merely an act, therein creating a lifestyle centered around and associated with such a behavior. Society, in essence, made homosexuality into something more. You were now associated with this particular label, thereby giving you an identity. We then moved from that into the modern enlightenment movement which chose to impress upon people that it’s not something society labels you as, but something you truly are and have been created to be.

    Likewise, I’ve never heard the Nero argument for power hungry oppression of homosexual acts. What I have read, studied, understand and interpreted is this: early on, homosexuality was a practice of pagan cults and rituals, and Paul’s words are very much encouraging them to separate them from the culture around them, 1. because they were trying to incorporate such things into early Christianity, and 2. because it was not something God had ordained. Paul calls them “unnatural” for a reason. The concept of gay marriage did not exist back then. I find it very difficult and a HUGE slippery slope to even begin to say that the bible would condone such things. While the bible may not be clear about gay marriage, it is very clear about what God sees as acceptable marriage, one man and one woman.

    The other issue that I had with the article is this: it seeks to understand the bible through a 21st century lens. I recently read a quote I will amend for this particular instance: “The writers of the Bible, inspired as I believe they were, they were nonetheless not inspired to do 21st Century [issues].” For us to look back into history and make judgment calls on what they thought and did not think about our “modern view” of homosexuality is erroneous. We live in a time of historical arrogance, that because we know more than they did, we are the final judge and interpreter. I believe Paul and the other writers of the bible communicated exactly what they needed to: homosexual acts are wrong.

    And really…a comparison of Jesus’ suffering to homosexuals? I won’t even touch that dead argument.

    Before you write me off as heartless, I fully believe that denial of rights to anyone is horrible. I don’t want to have anyone ever stripped of well being and basic human rights. However, for thousands of years, marriage has always been defined as one man and one woman. It should stay that way. God says in the bible that’s how he set it up, and culturally different or not, as Christians, we should stick to it. Period. Don’t have to like it all the time, but we have to defend it. You can’t call it gay marriage. It simply cannot exist as such. I cannot be a lying Christian. Why on earth would a sinful adjective go ahead of my identity as a follower of Christ? You’re either a Christian or you’re not. No other identifying word or mark need go before that. That is primary. Everything else should follow. “I’m afraid we are losing our ability to think critically and Christianly about all of life,” and that scares me for a lot of churches in the world today.

    • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

      If I understand your argument, you are saying we shouldn’t be using any modern knowledge. Where do you draw the line? Unless you are reading the original Greek, you are reading someone’s interpretation of the words. There is also the interpretation of culture. The Bible is not a manual. We have to interpret to some degree. You say we should just read the plain text, but you don’t explain how that is done. Unless you can interpret Greek better than anyone else has in all of history, I don’t think you know what you are implying. The word “homosexual” does not appear in all translations. Can you explain why not?

      • Charlie

        You misunderstood my argument. Obviously everything that we assume and deduce is our “interpretation.” And by the way, the whole “you’re always reading someone’s interpretation” counter is stupid. That’s an attempt to tear down someone’s argument one way or the other to make way for a liberal interpretation of the truth. You’re arguing semantics by wanting a clear appearance of the word “homosexual” in the bible. If the bible says don’t do it, then don’t do it. And don’t try and excuse it.

        Our problem today is that we attempt to read the bible through a 21st century lens, when in reality we should look at our culture through a biblical lens. The bible shows us how to live in the fullness of God’s love here and now. We don’t attempt to live and then justify what we do by searching the bible for validation. Unfortunately, that’s what so many Christians and churches are doing today. We want inclusiveness and acceptance for all people from a cultural standpoint. The exclusivity of the message of the gospel is culturally uncomfortable. Followers of Jesus live under this premise: God continues to make us more like his son every day. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands.” That’s God speaking to us. If we love him, we will obey his commands, either the ones he himself explicitly says or through the inspiration of the Spirit through countless authors of the bible.

        Your “plain text” explanation: a typical validation for same sex marriage goes like this: “God loves us just the way we are. He doesn’t make mistakes and wants us all to be happy and treated equally. Therefore, as a gay person, I am entitled to love and marry who I want, because that’s what God wants for me.” How is that rooted in biblical truth? If you are letting the word of God guide your life, you have to follow what it says. And people of the same gener marrying is never mentioned. Moreover (and I would point you back to my original argument), the idea of the act of homosexuality being recognized as an identity didn’t come along until we decided to make it one. It was a sinful act then, it’s a sinful act now, and somehow we made it into an identifying label that we now have to cover under the blanket of marriage. Wrong.

        • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

          Charlie: The exclusivity of the message of the gospel? I think I see the problem here. If Jesus was not trying to make a world that works for everyone, then we must be reading different Bibles.

          • Carl

            Matthew 7:13-14.

          • Curtis

            Any engineer will tell you that a narrow gate can accommodate the same volume as a wide gate if you increase the rate of flow. A gate metaphor is much more rich than simply concluding that many people are locked out.

          • Carl

            Curtis, please tell me you’re joking. Read.the.text.

            “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

          • Curtis

            Yes I was joking. But you are missing the point of the gate story. The point of the gate story is not to re-assure Christians that they are right and everyone else is wrong. The point of the gate story is warn Christians from falling into self-righteousness. Very often in life, when we think we are right and are heading through the narrow gate, God will remind us that we are wrong and we’ve missed the narrow path. The first sentence in the chapter sums it up well: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

          • Carl

            Well said, Curtis, and I agree. But we can’t go around like Lausten claiming that the Gospel isn’t an exclusive message, one not meant for everyone. Matthew 7 is pretty clear on the matter.

          • John Mc

            Carl,

            And who is the Gospel not meant for?

            The one who claims to prophecy in God’s name or the one who humbly acknowledges to God that he has not quite done all that God has required?

            The one who judges? The one who is judged and despised?

            The neighborly heretic who loves his enemy? The eunuch? The one who eats shellfish because that is the only food which has any flavor for him? The adulteress against whom there are no eyewitnesses? The polygamist? The murderer? The mass killer? The one who defrauds? The thief on the cross? The one who denies Jesus? The one who betrays Jesus to fulfill a prophesy? Or the one who cannot resist his sexual urges and gets married to keep them contained to another man?

            I seriously don’t know. But I am not about to tell someone that salvation is not meant for them because it’s an exclusive club reserved only for those who merit it. I don’t think it’s about figuring out who gets in and who gets left out, but about finding it in our hearts to extend the invitation to all. After all we are messengers, and can only invite, in the end God does the sorting and, if we can believe another chapter of Matthew, the sorting will be according to how well we took care of the least among us, and not so much about how well we complied with the rules.

          • Carl

            Sorry, John, I said that poorly. The Gospel is MEANT for everyone, but not everyone is meant to believe in it (in fact, no one is capable of believing outside of the Father allowing them to). Only those to whom Jesus chooses to reveal the Father will be saved.

          • Charlie

            Hey Lausten, I just responded to John Mc below and expanded on this point a little bit more. Don’t want to repeat myself, go below a bit and check it out.

        • John Mc

          Charlie,

          Your claim that the message of the bible is one of exclusivity is belied by the message of Jesus, perhaps most poignantly in the parable of the Good Samaratin – the question to disciples was who was most neighborly and the answer was the despised, heretical, unclean Samaratin. I cannot imagine a more inclusive message, except perhaps the conversation with the unclean Samaratin woman at the well, or perhaps the invitation to the banquet extended to the unclean, unemployed, beggars, outcasts, and cripples on the street. No the message of the Gospel is not exclusive, it’s inclusive, and that’s what is truly uncomfortable!

          Also, the fact that homosexuality has carried such a stigma that it was never seriously examined by science until the last half of the 19th Century does not justify your assertion that it didn’t exist before then.

          • Charlie

            John Mc, I apologize, I meant the exclusivity of salvation through Jesus. I never meant to come across as saying that the gospel is only for certain people/types of people. I totally agree, the Good News is meant for everyone! My point is that as a culture, we hate that salvation only happens one way: through Jesus. And Jesus’ command is always “Come and die,” not “Come just as you are and I will make exceptions for you so you can continue doing something I spoke against.” Too many churches preach the gospel of individuality, that God loves you just like you are; all you have to do is invite him in and he will be the Lord of your life. That’s not what God does. We surrender and submit our lives to him, and he will continue to mold and shape us to look more and more like Jesus. He doesn’t become some badge we wear while we continue to do whatever we want. He consumes us. THAT’S where I was going with that line of thought.

            And also, I’m not saying that “homosexuality” didn’t exist before. Indeed, it did in some capacity. My point is this: In Leviticus, God says “Don’t lie with a man as one lies with a woman,” for two reasons. One, that’s not how he designed sexual relationships to go. Two, he wanted the Israelites to be set apart from the Egyptians and other peoples around them. Just before this, God says to Moses, “If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.” Forget cultural, contextual, historical, or canonical criticism for a moment. As a Christian, you believe the words of God, right? If you do, then you have to believe the reverse is true, “If you do NOT obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find death.” Fast forward to Romans. Those who don’t acknowledge God don’t have an excuse, and the signs of this Paul addresses: women with women, men with men. “As a result of their sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.” So if Paul or even God were condone homosexuality, why was there a penalty associated with it? Why are they referred to as shameful desires?

            Both times, God’s word and Paul’s writings point to the act of homosexuality. My point was that we as a culture and a modern society have turned a sinful act into an associated identity. See the difference? They didn’t necessarily live as “homosexuals” in Biblical times, but they certainly engaged in the act. Now, we have taken this act and turned it into a label and a way of life. We took a sin and made a sinful lifestyle out of it. Science or not, we perpetuated the process of making it something we are defined by. When all along, we should only be defined by one thing: Christ Jesus.

          • Frank

            Amen Charlie!

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Charlie; We have taken other things that the Bible has defined as sin and turned them into just normal things that we do, like eat shrimp and wear clothes of different fibers. That is what you need to address. The “shameless acts” are acts of passion or lust, as in non-loving acts. Besides, your entire argument rests on Paul knowing more about how sexual desire works than the entire rest of accumulated human knowledge since then. This is already addressed in the article. Come up with something new please.

            That is really the problem here. I believe God wants us to use our brains and continue to learn. You want me to accept what Paul said, even though you can’t prove that what is in the Bible is exactly what Paul thought and there is strong evidence that whole books attributed to him are not his words at all.

          • Frank

            Lauston please tell us why we should trust an atheist interpretation of holy scripture?

            Wouldn’t that be like trusting a scientists data who does not beleive in science?

          • Scot Miller

            Frank, you do realize that you’re committing an ad hominem fallacy when you draw attention to Lausten’s personal background rather than to his argument. It is logically irrelevant whether Lausten is an atheist or a theist or anything else. His argument stands or falls on its own merits; if you have a problem with his argument, then point it out.

          • Frank

            Who we are and what we believe colors our interpretations of things.

            Lauston does not believe in God self-admittedly. I did nit out that label on him, he did. So he does not see scripture as the word of God since for him God does not exist. Therefore all his interpretations are simply humanist and not Holy Spirit driven.

          • Frank

            And his claims have been dis-proven many times. He does not have a cogent scripturally based position.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Oh gosh Frank, you found me out. (That was sarcasm). Thanks for the defense Scott, but not necessary. Frank is really pointing to the difference between my line of argument and his. As he says, his is scripture based. Since he thinks my belief system is important, I assume he means that first I need to believe scripture, then I can make claims using it. So, Frank, which scripture? There are a lot of choices on Biblegateway, some of them use the word “homosexual” some don’t. Shall we both learn Koine Greek? People who do, still argue about what Paul meant by arsenokotai. Or, we can both find a pastor to tell us what they think. At the church where I met my wife, the pastor is leading the charge for United Methodists to change the language in their Book of Discipline to include EVERYONE. On the official UM website, they already explicitly state that they don’t believe in an inerrant Bible, so, according to them that doesn’t make me atheist.

            I’m pretty sure I am against your brand of theism, the kind that starts with what is comfortable for you and then says it is clearly in the Bible. The kind that requires that I first accept all of your premises. If you are not open to discovering what scripture is trying to say, why are you hanging at Tony Jones’ blog? You can call me whatever you want. I am against all of the churches that have failed me. In case you haven’t noticed, a lot of people feel that way. If churches can’t address the issues with arguments that stand on their own they will become irrelevant. It has survived changes on views of women, war and slavery. I think it can handle boys kissing.

            I’m not asking you trust me, I’m asking you to address the issues that have been raised here. It does not compare to mistrusting a scientist who does believe in science because science is not a belief system, it is a system for asking questions. Science is completely open about what premises they base their ideas on and they are open to changing those premises if they are shown to be wrong. Evidence is evidence, and the scientific method involves people checking each other’s work and discussing their interpretations because they understand that people are fallible. Isn’t that a foundation of Christianity? Yet you want me to trust that thousands of fallible human beings have somehow handed down the perfect word of God. Again, which version, which revision?

          • Rich
          • Frank

            Lauston you are guilty of the very same thing you accuse me of:

            “brand of theism, the kind that starts with what is comfortable for you and then says it is clearly in the Bible. ”

            I did not start out looking for something in the text, the text stated it first in many different passages over time.

            You have already decided that your god would condone homosexual relationships and then you try and justify it. First by trying to change the meaning of the texts. Poorly I might add.

            It is convenient playing the victim by believing that churches failed you. No, you failed yourself. Sure churches are not perfect but based on your positions, the church did not fail you. You decided to walk away. That’s fine for you, your choice. A poor one but your choice. You choose to to look at Scripture as purely man invented, once again your choice but you cannot have it both ways. You cannot reject the Word of God and then try and use it for your purposes with any credibility.

            (Hypothetical alert) I am sure you would discount a creationists dismissal of evolution. You would not give them any credibility because in your eyes they have rejected the science you believe in. So no argument for Creationism would hold water for you.

            The issue that have been raised here have been refuted over and over, on this thread and others.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Rich; More manuscript could equal more credibility, but does not guarantee that it is the word of God. In fact, the differences between the various texts makes it worse. The summarized points on the site ignore this. In all cases, with historical documents, we have to say, we only know things with a degree of probability. The site says that, but doesn’t discuss where Biblical knowledge lies on the scale, only that it isn’t absolutely certain and we shouldn’t be radically skeptic. This is how Frank and Carl are proceeding with this discussion. They are saying they don’t know everything, but for this one thing, the Bible is clear.

            It also says that the copies were made with the intention of keeping them accurate. Intentions are good, but that means nothing really. Look at this note between verses 8 and 9, here, IN A BIBLE. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+16&version=NIV. So, my Bible says that someone intentionally changed the word of God. Go figure.

            Frank; What God has revealed to me about homosexuality is between me and God. What science knows about it, I can read, but without a degree in neuroscience I can’t know for sure if they are being honest. I can tell a good argument from a bad one and I have looked up the links provided and considered everything said, and what I’m getting from you and others is that you think I am evil and have made bad choices. I explained what I didn’t like about their arguments, then what I didn’t like about how they constructed your arguments. Now you’re just repeating yourself that this has been settled.

            I do not reject arguments before they are made. I made that clear with explanation of what science is. If you can’t get that, we’re done here.

          • Frank

            Lauston you were done a long time ago.

          • Carl

            Lausten, no one argues that the Bible is EXACTLY what was originally written, that each word is the same as in the original manuscripts. But the MESSAGE is the exactly the same, and the tiny little oddities that do exist (like Mark 16) don’t affect any major doctrine in the least. The onus lies with you to prove the 5000+ manuscripts wrong that agree with each other on 99.9% of the text. No serious person actually thinks that the Bible isn’t trustworthy (I know plenty of atheists who are at least intellectually honest enough to admit this). What people can disagree with is the message therein. Homosexuality in every single translation is condemned. Deal with that, rather than making up lies about the authenticity of the text. Either God is right that homosexuality is evil or He isn’t.

          • John Mc

            Frank,

            You ask: “Lauston, please tell us why we should trust an atheist interpretation of holy scripture?” You shouldn’t. You should trust the Holy Spirit. However, you should be aware that the Holy Spirit speaks through many people, and even the Jews heralded Messiahs who did not believe in the God of the Jews – because God works through whomever God wills. For me the more important and relevant question is why should we trust a hate monger’s interpretation of Holy Scripture; or the interpretation of one who is using Scripture as a weapon of oppression and not as a recipe for neighborliness, compassion, and loving kindness? When Scripture is used to oppress, exclude, and otherwise hold people up to rejection and humiliation, that is not the Holy Spirit speaking but the hard-hearted interpretation of a hate monger.

            I don’t know Lausten but I suspect that it was not the church who failed him and drove him out but instead it was the work of hard-hearted humans who gained control and used the organs of the church for ill purposes.

          • Carl

            “For me the more important and relevant question is why should we trust a hate monger’s interpretation of Holy Scripture; or the interpretation of one who is using Scripture as a weapon of oppression and not as a recipe for neighborliness, compassion, and loving kindness? When Scripture is used to oppress, exclude, and otherwise hold people up to rejection and humiliation, that is not the Holy Spirit speaking but the hard-hearted interpretation of a hate monger.”

            John, the real hatemongers are those who love homosexuals so little that they don’t want them to experience the same freedom that other sinners can have through Christ. Why do you hate homosexuals so much (or view Christ as so weak) that what Jesus did on the cross can’t apply to them like it does to liars, prostitutes, gossips, idolators, etc.?

          • John Mc

            The bible is a collection of words printed out by men. Hopefully they were inspired and hopefully those who recorded and handed down those words were equally inspired. And hopefully the people who translated them into contemporary languages were also inspired. And most importantly, hopefully those who read the Bible are the most inspired of all, inspired to see within those words the truths of God’s message for the world. It doesn’t matter how many manuscripts say this or that, or which manuscript is oldest – unless you are an academic. For purposes of personal faith it is all about how well and how humbly we listen to the Holy Spirit as we are instructed through Scripture about how to be a neighbor, and how to love the least lovable.

            The Bible is not in and of itself anything more than paper and ink; its words the words of men. The Word, was Jesus, sent to show us how to read Scripture in a way consistent with the will of God, and that way is with an eye to neighborliness, compassion, and loving kindness and not as weapon of oppression and exclusion.

          • John Mc

            Charlie,

            You said: “We surrender and submit our lives to him, and he will continue to mold and shape us to look more and more like Jesus. He doesn’t become some badge we wear while we continue to do whatever we want. He consumes us. ”

            I absolutely agree with you, 100%.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            To the point about me failing, not churches failing me. I went to a Bible study and somebody asked about the implications of someone dying even though they prayed for them. Someone answered something to the affect of God deciding the person did not deserve to live. I said, “that’s your opinion” and was subjected to 15 minutes of BS verses like Timothy 3:16 and other “proofs” of inerrancy. The next week, someone said, “it sure is getting crowded in this class” and looked right at me. I have discussed this with the church hierarchy with no response. Tell me how I failed.

          • Frank

            Without the full details and both sides of the story I cannot comment on that incident.

            I stand by my earlier statements. You gave up your faith, your choice.

          • John Mc

            Frank,

            So you have made up your mind as to what happened to Lausten (he gave up on the church) even though you ignore the information about the triggering event (allegedly because you only have one side of the story). Your prior conclusion is preserved even though known facts call it into question.

            This sounds exactly what you do with Scripture. You make up your mind as to what it means based upon very incomplete information, and you refused to look at additional information which provides greater context and which might cause you to have to call into question your earlier conclusions. All this certainty, not because you are concerned about truth (which may or may not be all that important), but because you are wedded to your prior conclusions. Information and knowledge become risky and faith in one’s prior conclusion become all important. So then do people become less important, than those prior conclusions?

            And what if when you inquired into Lausten’s circumstances and the others in the bible study denied that they pushed him out, would that make his sense of rejection any less real, and would it compel any different reaction from you other than dismissal and rejection? And what if he really did misinterpret the signals, still dismissal and rejection? When does our response to another come to focus on where the other person is, instead of where we demand that the get to?

            Sorry Lausten to treat your circumstances as an object lesson but they are just too compelling.

          • Carl

            John, do us all a favor and READ what Lausten said. He called the verses they brought up “BS.” So he had already made up his mind and chosen an unorthodox position. He rejected sound doctrine and truth, which means those in that church were Biblically correct to remove him from their midst (whether they did so in a proper manner is not clear).

          • Charlie

            Wow. Seems like I shouldn’t go looking at houses again for a while. I missed so much good content.

            I think Lausten was the only one who directly responded to me.

            Lausten…yes, cultures shift and change over time. Things that were once one way are now a different way. That happens. HOWEVER, if you look across the spectrum, God is pretty consistent with how we are to conduct ourselves sexually and additionally how we are to treat each other. Sadly, your shellfish argument is long since resolved and dealt with.

            In addition, I would argue that yes indeed the “shameless acts” were also in a sense acts of love: the people loved to do whatever their hearts desired, and in the case of Romans, it was a corrupt desire. And no, my argument is NOT that Paul knew everything about sexuality. On the contrary, if you would have read something I posted earlier, the writers of the bible were not divinely inspired by the 21st century way of thinking.

            I’ll make a huge circle again and say what I’ve been saying all along: Paul talks about an act, the practice of homosexual relations between either two women or two men. That is sinful. Can we all agree on that? In the last 200 years, our society and culture has given this act an identity, a label, and a lifestyle. So in a sense you are right that Paul didn’t write about the way we know about homosexuality now. BUT he understood it at its basic form, attraction and acting upon desires for members of the same sex. You cannot disagree with that.

            And by the way, I agree that yes and AMEN that God wants us to use our brains and continue to learn. He gave us creativity and free will so that we could explore this thing called life and be captivated by what he has created. HOWEVER, are those thoughts and ideas being guided by the Spirit and the bible, or are we trusting what we can physically observe or quantify? Science should indeed enhance our understanding of God and how he wove things together, unless it contradicts something he has said, either directly or through an inspired author of the bible. And unless I had Paul in front of me, I could no further prove it than you could. But look at the evidence we have to support the bible’s accuracy, its historical significance and its context. If the bible were a secular writing with the same number of sources, there would be zero question of its validity and accuracy.

            Look I don’t know your story, and it saddens me to even think that a church or fellow Christian has done something to cause you to have doubts or fears. Ultimately, I pray that you again learn to trust in God and let the Spirit guide your life. I also pray that I have not added to that, but that I have offered a sound perspective, guided by the Spirit and founded in the words of life.

          • Frank

            John, Carl did a great job responding about Lauston. I have nothing more to add.

            As far as your assertion that I have not seen, studied and gave a fair shake to the view that God somehow condones and blesses homosexual acts… I have seen, studied and gave a fair hearing to those that try and reinterpret certain passages to change the meaning. Their case falls flat as does yours. It all a bunch of obfuscation around the text.

          • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

            Thanks Charlie.

            And Carl, the passages were BS because they don’t prove the Bible is inerrant, not to mention they are a circular references. None of them addressed my statement that it is only an opinion that God decides to let people die because they aren’t good enough.

          • Frank

            Lauston if that’s what they were saying they were wrong. Being good is irrelevant, its all about faith. Also God does not condemn anyone, people condemn themselves by choosing to reject Christ. The reason we die is because of a sinful world.

            So did you try a different church?

          • Carl

            Lausten, ALL arguments are ultimately circular and/or an appeal to authority, including your own. Christians ultimately appeal to God’s word, you appeal to your “logic” and understanding (or to Bart Ehrmann). Everyone has presuppositions. That’s why faith and an indwelling of the Holy Spirit is a necessity to determine truth from lies.

          • John Mc

            “… those in that church were Biblically correct to remove him from their midst (whether they did so in a proper manner is not clear).”

            Did you read his story? He heard someone argue that one who died even though sincerely prayed for passed away because “God deciding the person did not deserve to live” based upon someone’s inerrant ‘interpretation’ of scripture. I say inerrant ‘interpretation’ because there is no where in my Bible where it says such a thing – in fact the Scriptures I read suggest that God wills that should have life and have it abundantly and that if you pray, your prayers will be heard, etc.

            The BS was was in the use of the doctrine inerrancy of Scriptures as supportive of the inerrancy of their interpretation of Scripture.

            I agree with you that they were right to remove him from their midst, because his faith in the compassion and generous will of God would only serve as a stumbling block to their hard-heartedness.

            Again, my apologies Lausten.

  • John Mc

    I dont think that Jacob, Solomon or David would agree that marriage has been defined as “one man one woman” for thousands of years. Jesus and Paul suggest that doing away with marriage altogether may be the best direction for the institution to move in. But they go on to sypuggest that it appears necessary to retain the marital union as an act of compassion for those who require mates.

    So what’s desirable, whats normative, and what’s permissible have shifted over time, even within the Bible, and all according to the requirements of compassion. What does compassion require today?

  • Michael Jordan

    John Mc (not sure why I can’t reply to your post above),
    let me try to clarify. Again, I’m not saying prison rape is anything like normal homosexual relationships. We can lay aside that part of the issue if you like. Forgive me for being snide, but it seems to me you’re looking for a reason to be offended by what I am saying rather than engaging the substance of my argument. This is my argument, and I really would appreciate your reflection on it:

    1. A huge part of the progressive Christian case for acceptance of homosexuality is that people are created ‘gay’ and ‘straight’ and to be called to live in a way that is against that God-given, fixed, immutable condition is unjust and unfair to them.
    2. Yet one’s sexual orientation is actually not life-long, fixed at birth and immutable, but dependent in some significant way on a number of cultural and personal variables. Many of these variables come from a culture which we’d all admit is broken sexually.
    3. This reality is routinely ignored by articles like the ones Tony linked to, which prefer to assert that 4% of people simply “are” this way, and we “modern,” “scientific” people just “know” this to be true. This despite the fact that nothing has ever proven this, and there are mountains of evidence to the contrary. This linchpin of the progressive Christian case for the acceptance of homosexuality cannot stand up to scrutiny.

    So of course I am called on to “identify with the sufferings” of those who understand themselves to be GLBT. Truly identifying with their sufferings would be to confess my own brokenness before them, confronting them (when appropriate) with what I perceive to be their brokenness, listening to why they may disagree with me, and setting an example by opening my heart to change in the light of new evidence. Identifying with their sufferings is emphatically NOT continuing to deify the categories of “gay” and “straight,” thus perpetuating the lie that one’s sexuality is an essential, unchangeable part of who one is that dare not be defied.

    • Curtis

      Actually, for decades, most scientists, as well as progressive Christians, have recognized that people are NOT created simply ‘gay’ or ‘straight’, but rather that all people are created on a continuum somewhere between completely heterosexual and completely homosexual. That’s why it is called GLBT, not just GL. Environmental and cultural variables can move one’s position on that continuum a little in either direction, but not much.

      The premise of your argument is wrong.

  • Michael Jordan

    Curtis, I realize what you’re saying about the spectrum, but not sure how it disproves my point.

    • Curtis

      You frame your argument as being opposed to proposition that 4% of the population is just “born this way” and you disagree with accommodating the needs of that 4%, rather the those 4% modifying their sexual behavior to conform to God’s presumed standards.

      In fact, modern science does not hold that 4% of the population is gay, but rather that 100% of us are born somewhere between pure homosexual and pure heterosexual, and none of use are able to significantly change our position on that continuum. I disagree with the 4% number you are basing your argument on.

      • Michael Jordan

        Curtis–that 4% number is just from the article Tony linked. My point is not about accommodating the needs of any percentage of people.

        I agree completely that we are born somewhere between pure homosexual and pure heterosexual. Articles like this completely ignore this reality, arguing that there is a discreet category of people called “gay,” who deserve to participate in marriage because we “straight” people get to participate in marriage.

        Of course, as the spectrum reveals, this is bunk. There are no such categories. Progressive Christians believe that any God who would call a gay man not to enjoy sexual intimacy in his preferred way is unjust, not the God they worship. So at what point on the Kinsey scale does God become unjust for asking us to deny our sexual impulses? If I’m a man, and a 5 on the Kinsey scale–that is to say, almost exclusively attracted to men but with a flicker of attraction toward women–is God unjust for asking me to marry a woman? What about that very real part of myself that is attracted to men? And what if I’m a 4 on the Kinsey scale? A 3? A 2.5 (smack in the middle)? If I’m a 2.5, I’m equally attracted to men and women and asking me to marry just one seems unfair of God…if indeed he is responsible for these feelings in me. Even if I’m a 0.5 on the scale, almost exclusively attracted to women, why would God give me a capacity to respond to homosexual intimacy just to ask me to deny them?

        It seems far more likely to me that God has a specific design for sexual intimacy, which is easier for some of us to follow than others. I’m enjoying the dialogue, Curtis, and hope to keep engaging with you here or offline.

  • John Mc

    There are not mountains of evidence to the contrary. Anecdotal evidence, even a great deal of it, that some persons with gender identity confusion issues means that persons who are with a certainty gay also have gender confusion issues is not evidence. The AMA and other professional health care associations have all reached a consensus based on their professional experience and research that a person can be permanently gay and not be confused about their gender identity. It is not a disorder, and it is not caused by cultural factors, they are just created that way.

    You may beg to differ, but in doing do so you are ignoring the science and relying instead on ideology, backed up by anecdote. Its the same thing young earth creationists do: deny the science as nothing more than human arrogance and indict he scientists as heretics. Christianity is not an ideology, it is a faith in the Divine witness of Jesus and a commitment to a life of discipleship founded on love for our neighbors and compassion for all, especially those on the political and economic margins. When it becomes preoccupied with who is in and who is out, and who is a worse sinner and who should have power and who should be deprived of power it becomes an ideology.

    The question is how do we as Christians respond to this set of circumstances? With judgment, even if veiled in compassion, or with welcoming arms, acknowledging that we all struggle to make sense of the challenges in our lives and to discern the will of God for each of us.

  • Michael Jordan

    John, in the above post, you have (I think baselessly) accused me of being ideological, being preoccupied with questions of who is in/out, and dealing with others judgmentally, and ignoring science in the name of religious dogma. Please let me gently protest against this image you have of me, and let me reassure you I would love to meet you, talk with you in person, and have a (no doubt) spirited discussion over our preferred beverages.

    Let me respectfully ask you to consider whether you are the one ignoring science in the name of ideological dogma here. There is not a smidge of evidence that homosexuality is an exclusively physiological phenomenon (full disclosure: I’m not sure smidge is actually a word). There is indeed substantial evidence that homosexual orientation is a complex reality caused by a variety of factors. Two articles that illuminate this well, from two wildly divergent perspectives: http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2005/08/14/what_makes_people_gay/?page=full, and http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science .

    Like you, I want to welcome all people to the table with a genuine inclusion. I have a sense that we define inclusion differently; I am grateful for the presence of all at the table (even you!) who challenge me to understand myself differently.

  • Curtis

    Michael, I’m not sure the point you are trying to make. The first article is a summary of scientific research that concludes “the roots of homosexuality, at least in men, appear to be in place by the time a child is born.” This seems opposite of the claim you are trying to make that homosexuality is not inborn.

    The second article is not from a scientific journal, but form a Catholic issues magazine, and is written by a psychology professor at Wheaton college. It concludes that there is a “complicated interaction of nature and nurture in the causation of sexual orientation.” But it is hardly an unbiased source.

    So the two articles contradict each other. But I don’t think either one provides a solid, scientific basis to claim that homosexuality is not inborn.

    • Michael Jordan

      Curtis–I really don’t want to belabor these points anymore, at the risk of becoming “that guy” who talks these issues to death. Two quick points and then I will bow out of this discussion. First, both articles point out that the reality is extremely complicated and that no one really knows what causes homosexuality, and that most likely there is no single causal factor. Second, I hope you know better than to simply attack an article because you don’t like the biases of the scientist, as if the only people who are qualified to do research on homosexuality are people who approve of it theologically. Attack the study on its merits if you want, but you can’t just dismiss it out of hand because you don’t like the scientist. Unless, of course, you have an unassailable theological dogma about sexuality and no amount of scientific evidence will convince you otherwise.

      Anyway, I’ll leave this discussion–lots of other good thoughts on this blog to digest. Peace!

  • Justin F

    So I find it interesting that Paul talks about the church as the bride of Christ. And something like half of Christians are dudes. So the bride of Christ is composed of a bunch of dudes. Dudes in a marriage. To another dude. Forever.

    After writing this, I tried to imagine what it would sound like if Sam Elliott’s the Stranger narrated the opening to John’s Gospel.

    • toddh

      lol! love it.

    • 9

      Wow this is like – Bible 101. It amazes me on how people have gone to church -even all their lives and really don’t understand the bible and passages. Though I am still learning, I see quite a bit confusion. Could be coming from certain persons not being in church most there lives. Justin or anyone else, feel free to email me for a reasonable conversation about ‘Bible 101′. Thanks

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  • http://www.winter60.blogspot.com Lausten North

    Frank; The church I first mentioned was much better, but I moved to a small town. Things have gone downhill, theologically, since then.

    Carl; faith is nothing like logic. I’m too tired to explain that to you.

    I just re-read all my posts and I can’t find anywhere that I say I believe homosexuality is not a sin. I have problems with the arguments AGAINST homosexuality as a sin too, but we never got to those. I asked for arguments against the post in Tony’s article, I asked for explanations of how others arrived at their conclusions. I explained the details of what I found wrong with those arguments and conclusions. I get back that they know because they know God better than I do. This is what is destroying the church.

    When people ask questions they should not be told that they are listening to Satan. They should not be told that they aren’t in touch with the Holy Spirit. If, when arguing, we come to the conclusion that the person is not getting it and must be evil and must not be open to God’s love, then it is we who don’t understand Jesus’ message of compassion.

  • http://www.lambda76.us Terry Schneider

    First I would like to clarify some terms that are used incorrectly. 1.) Homosexuality is a sexual orientation determined at birth for Soul’s life experiences this time on earth. 2.) Gay or Lesbian is a life style of a person who has accepted its birth sexual orientation. 3.) A homosexual who cannot accept its sexual orientation and choose to be heterosexual because of religious or social pressures is still a homosexual by orientation but is living a false straight life style.
    Now, as for Gays and Lesbians being denied Equality, Justice and Dignity in America.
    The States and the Federal government have been a very bigoted and denier of human and civil rights. Slavery, women as property of men, women and people of color being denied the right to vote, interracial marriage was illegal, immigration slave condition laborers and criminalizing homosexuals.
    America was to be the land of freedom and fairness for all but bigoted religious values always reared its ugly head to deny Equality, Justice, Dignity and Freedom if one did not meet their litmus test.
    Through the decades a few people of Love were able to bring about less bigotry and denial of individual rights. Women are no longer property of men, women have the right to vote, people of color are being treated a little more equal as white people, immigration laborers for awhile were being treated a little better and Gays and Lesbians people starting to be equal to Straight people. Unconditional LOVE (not sexual love) from the Heart will unite America. Hate will only continue to tear America apart until it implodes and will no longer exist. The bigoted church needs to practice the True Teaching of Jesus. That is LOVE unconditionally.
    The church is destroying more lives annually than on our nation highways. The church has squander more financial and human resources by forcing governments to deny human and federal constitutional rights to Gay and Lesbians. Rick Santorum and most of the Republicans are claiming that their First Amendment religious rights are be trampled on because they are being told that what they are advocating is nothing less than Religious Fascism. We are all Americans, born in America or naturalized. No litmus test should be needed to prove otherwise. Only people of bigotry cry out for such. These people should be careful as they would not pass such a test. True America’s values are not one of bigotry and hate even though the Rush Limbaugh’s, Fox News and the Republicans have portrayed the country as such
    “Standing on the Side of Love”. What does this mean? If you are not “Standing on the Side of Love” than you are on the side of Hate. May The Blessings Be

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