The Christian right and pornographers: brothers in arms

We’ve all heard the anti-gay vitriol spouted by Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, and all the other right-wing Christian leaders who make their fortunes hectoring and persecuting LGBT people.

What, really, makes such Christians tick? What defines their ethos? What is the true taproot of anti-gay Christianity? Underneath all of their posturing and hyperbole—even underneath their belief that they are only being true to the Bible—what core conviction is really informing the Christian right’s condemnation of homosexuality?

It is that human sexuality can exist separate from the human spirit.

In the mindset of the anti-gay Christian right, same-sex relationships are about nothing but soulless bodies engaged in animal acts. Such relationships must have everything to do with sex, and nothing to do with love.

When’s the last time you heard any anti-gay Christian so much as mention love between two gay people? You never have, because they cannot afford to go there. Doing so would be like flipping on the light switch in a darkroom. Everything would be ruined.

Foundational to the Christian condemnation of homosexuality (and, indeed, of all sexuality) is the conviction that it is possible for a person to divorce their sexuality from their soul—from their heart, from their emotional core, from the very locus of their awareness of who they are.

You know who also bases everything they do and are upon that same assumption? Pornographers. Without the belief that a person’s sexuality can exist separately from their heart and mind, pornographers would also be out of business.

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  • R Vogel

    Touche! (I don’t know how to add the accent) Brilliant point! Nothing I love more than to see people false beliefs traced back to an uncomfortable conclusions. Religion makes strange bedfellows (pun very much intended!)

    • Sven2547

      I don’t know how to add the accent

      ALT + 0233 (use the number pad on the right side of the keyboard)
      :)

      • Peter Lake

        Gotta try that. Touche …. nope. Is there a way to do it without a number-pad?

        • Sven2547

          In Windows, the “Character Map” application will work. It’s under Start > System Tools. I forget the Apple equivalent.

          Apologies to John Shore for getting so off-track in the comments.

          • http://coolingtwilight.com/ Dan Wilkinson

            No worries…these are important things! Another way is to look up the word online and then copy & paste it with the accent.

  • Dan England

    If
    you do not believe in God and expect nothing but this life then you are
    free to believe that love binds you together and you can force society
    to accept your lifestyle without persecution. But the moment you bring
    Jesus into your reasonings you must change your lifestyle to the one God
    ordained in Genesis :
    “Genesis
    2:24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and
    be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
    If
    you choose to reject God’s definition of relationship then that is your
    choice and you must live with the consequences. Or rather go to that
    place of forgetfulness. You won’t even be able to remember any good or
    any love or any life. Only those who trust Him for salvation will enjoy
    the love and life and good that comes after a person breaths God’s air
    for the last time.

    • AtalantaBethulia

      So you take a literal interpretation of Genesis? Genesis outlines God’s plan for humankind?

      • Dan England

        Yes. No. Genesis just outlines why humankind is so very dysfunctional and where sin came from and why mankind is depraved and needs a savior. The New Testament outlines God’s plan for humankind in the gospel of His Son Christ Jesus. His life, His death and His resurrection. Believe for eternal life and allow Him to make you new.

    • Peter Lake

      You think that being gay is a lifestyle, Dan? I take it that you are, therefore, gay or bisexual.
      I could not choose that “lifestyle”, especially, given the way our society still treats gay people. The idea of sex with a man is physically impossible to me. If you could make that choice, you’d be well advised to come ‘out’.
      PS. The earth is more than 6,000 years old.

      • Dan England

        Peter, Peter, Peter, wow lol. Do you think everyone who disagrees with you is homosexual? Oh my lol.

  • americanwoman343

    Kind of interesting when you consider they are the ones who taught me that when I have sex, I am joining Jesus to my partner, and that it is always a spiritual act.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      I just read this and got completely creeped out, by the imagery of adding a third partner into that mix.

  • Michael Zimmerman

    So close, OP. So very close. You’re certainly a lot further along in this than a lot of the fundamentalists you criticize. Chastity is certainly a lot more than “no sex until marriage, straight couples only”. All that’s missing is for you to recognize that chastity is “the successful integration of sexuality within the person”, and is the virtue of honesty in every last aspect of ourselves, both physical AND spiritual. Once you see that the equipment is not an accident, you will be swiftly progressing towards the Catholic position on Chastity as a whole.

    • Elizabeth

      Hello Paul, Augustine, and Luther. Chastity isn’t a successful integration of sexuality within a person. It’s the sacrifice of it. I was chaste until very recently. I reclaimed what was mine. I, um, don’t recommend it. Unless you’re going for sainthood, sex is OK. Do it with your whole heart. Take the risk.

      • Michael Zimmerman

        Once again, you fall to the trap of thinking celibacy is the same thing as chastity. An obscenely common misconception. In marriage, sex is wholly chaste. It liberates me to give myself wholly and completely to my partner (to “do it with my whole heart”, as you say). I can’t do that if I’m preoccupied by worries over what will happen the morning after, what kind of diseases I might be getting, whether she’ll get pregnant and what to do then, etc.

        And yes, I AM going for sainthood. You should be, too. We all should be. That is the only reason we exist, is to become saints. Do you think all saints were celibate?

        • Elizabeth

          I’m named after three queens and four saints. I’m unmarried. That makes me no more or less chaste than you. It means I haven’t settled yet. I deserve someone worthy of three queens and four saints. There are methods to avoid both disease and pregnancy. We’re not living in the Dark Ages. The morning-after guilt is your own problem.

          • mezimm

            Whether one is married is unrelated to whether one is chaste; there are, however, different ways of living out one’s chastity depending on one’s marital status. Chastity is a form of honesty. Since I am not prepared to deal with the responsibilities of raising a child, it would not be chaste – that is, honest – of me to engage in activity in which producing a child is not merely a side-effect, but the intended biological end (it’s called the “reproductive system” for a reason). If I were to artificially sterilize myself (whether temporarily – through the use of contraceptives – or permanently – through self-mutilation) I would be degrading the myself and marital act even further, turning what was originally the awe-inspiring act of producing new life into a cheap plaything for my own amusement. In the process, I would have to lie about myself and what I was capable of, and deny the reality of my partner and what SHE was capable of.
            One need not be Catholic to appreciate this. Much of this is derived from Aristotlean virtue ethics, which sees the objective of morality as producing the “flourishing life.” Virtues aren’t just lofty ideals that stoic, boring religious people aspire to; they deal with each person at whatever state of life they are in and contribute to their life’s overall flourishing.

          • https://elizabeth-fullerton.squarespace.com/resume Elizabeth

            I did chastity for three years. It’s… not a hard concept. There are ways around getting pregnant before one is ready. I wouldn’t consider a vasectomy or whatever you’re alluding to “self-mutilation” any more than taking a pill is abortion.

            More to the point, sex is an act of love. You don’t waste it with people you don’t care about. That doesn’t hinge on religion; that’s being human.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Playing catch up here.

            “In marriage, sex is wholly chaste”….Sorry dude, but what a crock of greasy cow doodoo. Ever heard of marital rape? You know when someone forces someone else into being violated against their will, even though they share a marriage license? If that is chaste, then my alter-ego is a velociraptor. I should know, being on the recieving end of that kind of “chasteness”

            As for the only reason we exist is to become saints, I have to ask…”huh?” I exist, because my parents were idiotic enough to allow me through the gestational period, and then thought I was cute enough to keep…well that and I suspect I serve the universe by being quirky, clumsy and just a bit snarky, to keep things from getting too depressing or boring.

            And then the sex is for producing “flourishing life”. There is nothing wrong with deciding to delay parenthood, cause trust me, once that kid is born, then you better get used to being able to handle poop in every consistency and odor, someone is always hungry, and it ain’t you, (which lasts when they finally move out), your bare feet become immune to what it feels like to step on matchbox cars and barbie shoes…and that’s the short list.

            BUT

            to have no sex until you want kids? What is hilarious about that, is that you’ll be too damned tired for sex once the kids start showing up, and by the time they’ve all moved out of a crib AND can sleep through the night, you’ll have to buy a karma sutra book, just to remember the mechanics.

            Then of course there are people like me. I’ve done the whole having kids thing. I also divorced the bastard I was married to when I was having kids. Now I’m remarried, minus a uterus, and I’m one of two middle aged people in my house who have sex, with no worries about having kids, just fun, companionship and snuggling afterwards.
            No, marital sex is not chaste, its just sex, and can be enjoyed freely and unabashedly, whether making future people is on the agenda or not, just like sex between any two consenting adults, in any partnership they feel suitable.

  • f_galton

    You don’t worship God, you worship the male anus.

  • wlad

    John,
    I agree with you assessment about pornography.

    But there is no such thing as homosexuality. There are things that males do with males that are pleaurable, as well as females with females. But are they sexual?

    Consider.
    Sexuality–the uniting of a male and female to form offspring, was the result of evolution finding the best way for reproduction, and making it very pleasurable to ensure it happening.

    Eating–the ingesting of nutricious food to allow male and females to stay alive, resulting from evolution finding the best way for males and females to stay alive, and making it very pleasurable to ensure it happening.

    What if scientists were able to come up with subsances that looked like food, looked like steak and potatoes and vegetables, tasted immensely good, but had absolutely no nutritional value. Would you call it ingesting them eating? If you did, when you asked your anorexic daughter if she ate her supper, and she said yes, would you accept her answer, or would you check is she REALLY ate? Such “eating” might be called “faux eating,” or “fake eating,” but would never be mistaken for real eating, and just called eating.

    Males (or females) engaging in certain pleasurable acts with each other are not engaging in real sex, just pretending, just as the anorexic ingesting nutritionless substances is not really eating, but just pretending.

    • Sergei Kuznetsov

      According to this logic, males and females who use condoms are not engaged in real sex, since no reproduction happens.

  • JT

    It would help this argument if the writer would avoid the “always” or “never” approach, as that seems to be exactly what he is poking at with his opposition.

    I would characterize myself as an evangelical, Anabaptist Christian who believes that homosexuality is not what God intended for human sexuality. I also believe it is a mistake to make anti-homosexuality a priority – if homosexual behavior is sinful, it is not MORE sinful than anything else the Bible calls sin.

    I would NOT characterize myself as holding the view that being gay is all about sex and not at all about love. Just as sex is not simply an animal act, love is not a ditch you fall into by mistake. What would it mean for both sides of this argument if we could agree that love is a choice? Would that idea not be entertained because of the possibility that gay love is a choice just like straight love is?

    The discussion is more complex than so many people on the extreme sides of the argument want to make it.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Love is a choice…Is it really? We cannot help who it is we end up falling in love with, as it almost always takes us by surprise. There is just something about that other person, that clicks a switch inside us. For us that are straight, its going to be someone of the opposite gender, for those of us who are not, well, that switch clicks differently.

      We do not go out and decide. “I am going to fall in love with thier particular person, or type of person.” Our psyche will just laugh, think, “oh you think you are so smart.” and have us fall in love with someone we’d never expect.
      What is the choice, is deciding to act on that falling in love thing, to pursue a relationship, to work with the person of your heart…(who hopefully had the same thing happen with them) to build something that lasts.

      • JT

        Sorry, I disagree. Initial attraction may take us by surprise. But love is an action, borne out by the way we treat a person. It is not “fall in, fall out.” I am married, and I can choose to love my wife or not. That isn’t simply a choice of feeling, it is a choice of action. One I must make every day. Choices lead and feelings follow. In a nutshell I will tell you that there was a point about a year ago when our marriage almost ended and my feelings for her were not there. But through a lot of hard work (choices), we now have a stronger marriage than ever and the feelings are strong as a result. If love were not a choice, our marriage would be over. But the good news is, we don’t have to be a slave or unwitting accomplice to our feelings no matter what they are. Emotions can lie to us and lead us down an unhealthy path, as they did for me for years – but making the right choices in loving action is what makes love last.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          Can you really choose not to love your wife? Do you really have to choose every day whether to love her or not? I find that idea incredibly sad, and completely unatural.

          • JT

            You can indeed, and it is indeed sad. But it is the way many people are with their spouse. It is not unnatural – it is the natural result of not doing the work it takes to nurture your relationship. It is the reason many marriages fall apart, because we make choices to put something or someone else ahead of our spouse and our marriage. We think they should just fulfill us automatically, and we become disillusioned when they do not in some way.

            Anytime I would choose not to make my wife the priority, I would be choosing not to love her. Sadly, I did this many times. Whether that was in my actions, my words, or my thoughts, I didn’t give her the place of respect and honor she deserved. That has changed for us now, but it takes ongoing work to have a healthy marriage, especially when one or both spouses deal with a selfish attitude about any aspect of marriage or life.

            It is through seeking God, receiving counseling, and making consistent loving and healthy choices together that we have the best marriage we’ve ever had. Don’t misunderstand me – I am not saying my default mode is unloving, but for a time it was. I needed to develop new habits, and appreciate my wife for the perfect gift from God that she is. Every day I face the choice many times about whether I will build or hurt our marriage, and I choose to build it. Because God has been showing us how to grow our marriage this way, I know solidly the difference between choosing love and not choosing love.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            You are fortunate. My first one failed, and I worked like hell to try to make it work, but it was still doomed…abuse and alcaholism tend to do that. With my second spouse, it was almost love at first sight, something I was honestly trying to avoid, having been badly hurt, yet fate deemed otherwise.

            Our marriage is effortless, even though we come from very different backgrounds, have opposite views on politics, culture and faith. It just works.

          • JT

            I’m glad that you are free from the abuse. That obviously was not an implied part of what I was saying when I was describing the way marriages are supposed to work. I’m also glad that you have a good marriage now, but would you say there is no way it could grow or be better? Communication, sex, money, family dynamics, habits? All is perfect? This is the work I’m talking about – not that we become the other person’s ideal but that we ARE God’s gift to that person and we appreciate one another and act in love even when that person lets us down in some way. Sometimes love means doing what you don’t want to do (to serve your spouse) or showing them grace when they are in a bad place and maybe not acting in that sweet way you first loved about them.

            Every marriage faces difficulty, and yours will too. It may be from within, it may be from forces beyond your control. You can’t rely on “it’s always been easy” to get you through the difficulty. You must learn to choose love in your actions consistently and nurture your relationship by speaking your spouse’s love language well. That kind of marriage can continue to thrive when things aren’t effortless.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            outside difficulties do not make loving another harder. Trust me, we are both older, have health issues, some outside family dysfunction, other family members with health issues, are one disaster away from solvency, thanks to working underpaid civil servant jobs. NONE of them have anything to do with making our relationship weaker.

            Loving one another shouldn’t be hard work, having to feel that you are giving up to serve the other. It should be easy, because you respect one another that much, delight in the time you get to spend together, understand each other’s nuances and NEVER try to change someone.

            I know that life throws rotton eggs you, we both know that. We know you just hold your nose and work through the storm, as it will abate and we will be stronger in the after.

          • JT

            Please don’t hear something I’m not saying – I am not viewing marriage from a negative perspective. Hard work and loving sacrificially are honorable and good, and not something I grumble about, because they have produced and are producing a strong marriage that relies on the grace of God. I needed to change in order to be the man God wants me to be and the husband my wife deserves, and I am being changed. That’s something I am tremendously grateful for and my wife would tell you the same.

            I’m glad for your views about your spouse. I do not wish hardship on your marriage, but as you so well articulated, there are lots of pressures in this life, and they can make it difficult to always be everything good to your spouse. None of us is perfect at living or loving. It takes work, just no way around it – choosing to deal with a mess you’d rather not, interrupting your busy work day to drive for 45 minutes to unlock the house when she forgot her key – these are small things that can make people at least annoyed and at worst unkind to one another. But I CHOOSE love when I act with grace and do the things that aren’t fun. We all have to deal with these things – not to mention the big ones, like an affair or a death. As you said, you have to work through the storm. Work. Good, honest, loving, worthwhile, God-honoring work. I wouldn’t trade what I have for the world.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I’ve got 25 years of marriage experience. I appreciate how you view your marriage. It is not how mine.

          • JT

            I can see that. This isn’t a competition. A marriage is made up of two people with faults. Hopefully you’d agree that if all things were equal and your first husband could have been set free of the alcoholism and abusiveness, and healing could have taken place, that would have been a beautiful thing. It’s not what happened, and that doesn’t make you any lesser of a person or any less worth the love of God or any person. I am glad for where you are, just like I’m glad for where we are.

            But being through what we have, I celebrate God’s redeeming and restorative power, and I have that story to tell. God is bigger than many people give Him credit for – big enough to change a person and a marriage, big enough to call us to love people without reservation and STILL show us how to recognize sin. His goal isn’t condemnation, it’s freedom and Christlikeness.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            could have been set free? Yeah, sure, if he had admitted he had a problem, if he had wanted to make the necessary changes. But he didn’t. He still doesn’t. I take no responsibility for his actions, despite taking 23 years to help him to be supportive, and hope and pray like crazy for him to change. He liked his liquid mistress more, he liked making me feel ankle high more as well. At the end of the day, the fault for the demise of our marriage lies solely on his drunken-ass shoulders. Just talking about that turd upsets me, and may cause a nightmare. It will take the rest of my life to forgive the bastard for all the pain he has caused me and my children. My healing began, when I tossed him out, and refused to return to hell.

            I do not for one minute believe that God just takes things away, if we pray for them. I’ve yet to see tangible, actual evidence of the fact. Trust me, I’ve looked, and hoped for it. Others may believe that, and that’s fine. I’ve seen too much to ever buy it.

          • JT

            I’m so so sorry for all that you went through. I completely agree with you – being set free means a lot of hard work that includes admitting your problems and making necessary changes. That’s exactly how it has happened for me. Nowhere does God promise us that we just pray to take away trouble and it will be gone. What He offers us is His Spirit working in us to change us (Rom. 12:1-2) when we submit to Him. When someone (like your first husband) won’t do that, nothing really changes.

            I can certainly hear your hurt in what you shared and I thank you for sharing it. I empathize with you, and no way would I dismiss a moment of what you endured. You didn’t do anything wrong, and it’s not your fault. One person can’t do all the work to keep a marriage together and you can’t change someone else. I simply said that IF he had wanted to do what was necessary and God changed His life, that would be beautiful. That’s what God has done in me.

          • Matt

            I’m very glad that you were able to make your marriage work. That is always heartening to hear. I agree that sometimes during those rough patches we do have to set aside our own ego and choose to love our spouse instead.

            However, I will say this over and over again: a kinder, gentler condemnation is still a condemnation. We have no idea what “God’s design” is for human sexuality. What we have is plenty of human ideas about our own sexuality–what is best, what is healthiest, what brings the most pleasure. All well and good (for the most part), but it’s a mistake to attribute our ideas to God, or invoke His authority to make others follow our ideas.

            We do know that God implores us to love others. You have said yourself that being gay is not all about sex. If it can be about love, just like straight love, then where is the inherent sin? If two men or two women can come together and marry, committing their hearts, minds, and bodies to each other just as you did with your wife, how is anyone harmed? Look beyond the discomfort you might have about their anatomy, which is Earthly and transient. Look deeper, to what you can’t see–the Spirit.

          • JT

            That sounds very noble, and I love the spirit of it. But it disregards that there ARE Scriptures that talk about this. It isn’t correct to say we have “no idea.” Both sides of the debate about homosexuality in Scripture accuse the other of picking and choosing, and both extremes certainly do it. A lot of people say “the Bible says homosexuality is wrong” and then take that to the extreme where it condemns a person to hell and is the worst possible sin to the exclusion of all the other things Scripture talks about. That’s not me. But then other people say “it was a contextual statement and holds no value for today” and proceed to throw out verses or passages that mention it as having no relevance. That too is a mistake.

            These verses are there for a reason, and we have to ask what that reason is. If the Bible calls something sinful, then we do well to regard it as such. Sexual behavior is a function of our anatomy and you can commit the same kinds of acts today as they did then. (Discomfort about anatomy is not a part of the discussion here for me at all.) You have to look at the passage and answer questions about the context, then you apply the spiritual principles to yourself in today’s context. There is nothing contextual here that says that Paul’s admonishment was specific to this point in time. So, as you said, looking at the spirit, what does God want us to take from this passage? There are plenty of other passages about sexual sin and don’t forget Paul’s admonishment not to be mastered by anything (1 Cor. 6). Should we be a slave to our nature – whatever that may be – or should we trust God to make us into His image, like He says He wants for us?

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Seven verses…that MAY speak about homosexual sex, which is very debatable, mostly because the texts have been translated so many times, and we have zero original documents of ANY of the Bible to ensure that we know exactly what the authors were saying, and in many cases who the authors were. Plus there have been well over 2000 to 2600 years of time that have passed since those books were written. Thousands of years of changes in culture, in understanding of humanity, society, technology, God.
            Then there is the hyper focus on this “so called sin” based on seven dubious sentences, out of 31,000, that may have not been part of what the author was saying at all. There’s that hyper focus, and complete ignoring verses that tell us not to judge or condemn others. I think we have far more important things to be focusing on.

          • JT

            But see, that’s not what this discussion is about for you and I right now. I could talk to you for quite awhile about how the texts have not in fact been “retranslated” as many people mistakenly believe, and how we have manuscripts back to within one generation of the original for many of the New Testament books, and what the level of exactitude was for Old Testament scribes to ensure that no mistakes in copying were allowed to be passed on, and how despite all that I do not hold to the “inerrancy and infallibility” mantra of many churches today. But that’s not what we’re talking about.

            I did touch briefly on and agree with you that there is a hyper-focus on homosexuality, and that there should not be. If we are talking about loving and not condemning, which I believe we are, then please read my comments and you’ll find that I want to love everyone and not condemn anyone. Love is my job, condemnation is not. Yes, loving others is what I want to focus on. And in community with others who I am in contact with, part of loving them is working together to understand how God has revealed Himself in Scripture and what we should do to be closer to Him. Sin is real, so we’d better know what it is. I’m not preaching condemnation (or preaching at all), I’m walking together with others asking “what does God want for us?” That’s both an individual question and one to be asked in community. If God wants growth from me, what does that look like? What needs to change? God loves us exactly the way we are and we can do nothing to earn it – we respond to His love by seeking His will for us and sharing His love with the world by becoming examples of His character. We can’t do that if there is part of ourselves that is “off limits” to Him – we have to ask the tough questions about what it means to be the person He intended, even when that makes us uncomfortable or questions something we believe.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I love history, religious history in particular. Scholars will disagree with this “one generation” idea. There is zero proof. We do not have the original documents. We do not even have confirmation of who some of the authors even were. We do have thousands of years of very human, very fallible translators who made alterations, purposeful or accidental along the way. Which is why I cannot use the Bible as a personal authorative…and that hasn’t been a historical trend in Christianity anyway.

          • JT

            We are on a rabbit trail here, but I do accept the Bible as my authority on faith and life. I do not agree with the inerrancy and infallibility doctrine. But, a quick google search immediately found an example of what I was mentioning to you: http://www.dts.edu/read/wallace-new-testament-manscript-first-century/

            When I say “one generation” I mean that we have manuscripts back to within one copy of the original for some of the books. We also have a tremendously large amount of copies available which agree with each other. For further enlightenment, compare the sheer number of NT manuscripts we have with the number of manuscript copies we have from some of the writers of Greek antiquity, like Plato and Aristotle. It’s something like 10 to 1 or worse – I would have to look it up. Yet, no one wastes time debating if those authors actually said what we read today. People only call Biblical manuscripts into question because they view the Bible as less than authoritative and want to support that view.

            Now that we’ve discussed that, I would ask you why we shouldn’t look at the larger picture of what God wants us to learn from what He reveals in Scripture. Rather than making what I know about the Bible my basis for understanding it, I want to ask what God knows that I don’t know about the way I should live. God, what do you want me to see differently? How can I love better? How can I be more like you? We can’t leave part of this out – we have to address it all.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            How do we know we have it to one generation? It is guessing, not factual. While there are a fair amount of copies that agree, there are equally a fair amount of texts that show revisions, additions, omissions, changes of phrasing as the translator tried to make, in his mind, a passage clearer, hence altering meaning. What we don’t have is the originals, any of them, only copies, of copies of copies, and no two are exactly the same.

            Bart Erhman wrote a great, easy to read book on this subject. Its well researched and written for the average non-scholar. Its called Misquoting Jesus, and it covers translating work of the New Testament. Karen Armstrong, another wonderful author/scholar has written on this as well. as have many others.

          • JT

            My goodness – we are quibbling over something that is not the issue here. To clarify, “one generation” means the copy was produced within one human generation timespan from the original historical events that were recorded. As you say, none of us was there, so the historical record is all we have to go on. All I can do as someone who is not a scholar in this area is go on the best academic conclusions we have, which are based on the best findings we have. If you want to throw out the majority of the findings, I will leave you to that. “No two are exactly the same” is incorrect. These manuscripts were not produced by “translators” but by (if I can invent a term) “copyists” who were reproducing the material for others. Your view of translate and translate the translation and do it again simply isn’t how it happened.

            Again, I challenge the idea that the Bible should not be viewed as authoritative. It would appear that because parts of it conflict with your views, it becomes too uncomfortable to accept. The Bible doesn’t need me to defend it, God gave it to us the way it is. Why? No matter which way it came to us over time, here it is. What do we do with it? If your answer would be that we accept the parts that are “relevant” (comfortable) and ignore the parts that are “outdated” (uncomfortable), I would have to challenge that.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Challenge away.. Ive yet to meet anyone who doesn’t do just that.

          • JT

            Insomuch as the discussion here is really about how Christians treat gay people, let me go one step further and ask why you would spend effort on trying to convince me not to trust any part of the Bible. Isn’t it true that what I DO with what the Bible says is what matters?

            I believe it is not simply a question of being FOR gay people and totally accepting everything about them or being AGAINST gay people and condemning them to hell. Neither is Biblical in my view. I believe there is a third way, where I accept and believe what God has given me in Scripture, and also accept and love all people, whether gay or not.

          • Matt

            It’s interesting that you reference Paul saying that we shouldn’t be mastered by anything (by the way, Paul is not Christ–his word has as much weight as any other human Christian writer), yet say that “sexual behavior is a function of our anatomy.” So we’re supposed to let tissue, blood vessels, and neurons dictate our behavior?

            You’re reducing people to their bodies yet again. You are ignoring the fact that we have a sexuality whether we’re currently having sex or not–and it’s mainly about our mind. Having sex is just the outward expression of what is already there internally. Our genitals do not create the experience of sexual pleasure for us. Our brains do, based on information it receives, filtered through our unique lens of experience, desire, mood, health, and other factors. Clearly some brains have same sex desires. Why would God intentionally create beings with a sinful predilection? It makes no sense.

          • JT

            I am acknowledging the anatomical while discussing the spiritual. Please don’t reduce my statement to a bottom line that dismisses that tremendously huge component. You have made a physiological argument and ended with a spiritual question. I am presenting a spiritual view which acknowledges the physical reality. Indeed I am not saying we should be governed by our bodies, because physical desire (whether gay or straight) should not control us. To let ourselves be governed that way is at best inappropriate, because healthy relationships require so much more than just sex.

            By the way, I agree with you that the words of Christ carry the most weight. But the writings of Paul are included in Scripture for a reason – because they teach us how to live in agreement with God’s will. Again, we cannot throw out a piece of the Scripture just because it makes us uncomfortable. We certainly need to understand it contextually, but the minute we give up on understanding is the minute we dispense with a piece of the picture God wants us to see.

            To ask the question of “why would God intentionally create beings with a sinful predilection” is really to ask the larger question about the nature of God and man. And it is also intended to rule out the specific sin we are talking about. Did God create us with the sinful predilection to lie or steal? My own sinful nature tends toward lust and impure thoughts about women. Did God make me do those things? To follow your logic, I would then say “God would not create me with a predilection to sin, therefore my desires and actions must not be sinful.” I should ignore that the Bible discusses these things, and accept that this is just the way I am.

            Not at all would I do this. I lived that way for years, trapped by my sinful desires. Now that I am finally free, I know that God can and will transform a person when they ask and submit to Him. I cannot agree with the “oh well, this is the way God made me – we should all just accept that” view, when God has revealed otherwise in Scripture.

            AGAIN I plead with you not to hear what I would not say – that is, I would not condemn people for being gay. I simply recognize it as sin and would seek to show grace and love and acceptance to any person who sins. Who sins? We all do. What makes a gay person worse than another person? Nothing. Doesn’t Jesus command me to love people (gay, straight, irrespective of race, gender, political view or any other thing)? Absolutely He does. Does that mean I have to agree with everything about the person? No it doesn’t. The world at large wants to reduce this discussion to being FOR or AGAINST gay PEOPLE. I cannot and will not do that. People are people, created by God in His image and worthy of all His love. I am for gay people – I am not for being gay.