Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality

Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality April 2, 2012


God does not ask us to choose between compassion and faith in the Bible.
Christians are increasingly divided over the issue of the acceptance and inclusion of gay persons into the church. The debate itself is usually framed as essentially pitting the Bible, on one hand, against compassion and social justice on the other. Our Christian hearts, runs the (usually impassioned) argument, compel us to grant full moral and legal equality to gay and lesbian people; our Christian faith, comes the (usually impassioned) rebuttal, compels us to cleave, above all, to the word of God.

Compassion for others is the fundamental cornerstone of Christian ethics; the Bible is the bedrock of the Christian faith. What Christian can possibly choose between the two?

The answer is that no Christian is called upon to make that choice. The text of the Bible on one hand, and full equality for gay and lesbian people on the other, is a false dichotomy. God would not ask or expect Christians to ever choose between their compassion and their faith.

Reconciling the Bible with unqualified acceptance and equality for LGBT people does not necessitate discounting, recasting, or deconstructing the Bible. All it takes is reading those passages of the Bible wherein homosexuality is mentioned with the same care that we would any other passage of the book.

We can trust God; we can trust that God is loving.

And we can trust that we can—and that we certainly should—take God, in this matter, as in all things, at his word.

If there is no clearly stated directive in the Bible to marginalize and ostracize gay people, then it is morally indefensible for Christians to continue to do so.
What cannot be denied is that Christians have caused a great deal of pain and suffering to gay persons, by:

  • Banning their participation in the church, thus depriving them of the comforts and spiritual fruits of the church.
  • Banning their participation in the sacrament of marriage, thus depriving them of the comforts and spiritual fruits of marriage.
  • Damaging the bonds between gays and their straight family members, thus weakening the comforts and spiritual fruits of family life for both gays and their families.
  • Using their position within society as spokespersons for God to proclaim that all homosexual relations are disdained by God, thus knowingly contributing to the cruel persecution of a minority population.

Christians do not deny that they have done these things. However, they contend that they have no choice but to do these things, based on what they say is a clear directive about homosexuals delivered to them by God through the Holy Bible. They assert that the Bible defines all homosexual acts as sinful, instructs them to exclude from full participation in the church all non-repentant sinners (including gay people), and morally calls upon them to publicly (or at least resolutely) denounce homosexual acts.

Without an explicit directive from God to exclude and condemn homosexuals, the Christian community’s treatment of gay persons is in clear violation of what Jesus and the New Testament writers pointedly identified as one-half of God’s most important commandment: to love one’s neighbor as one’s self.

The gay community has cried out for justice from Christians, who have a biblically mandated obligation to be just. Because the suffering imposed on gay persons by Christians is so severe, the directive from God to marginalize and ostracize gay people would have to be clear and explicit in the Bible. If there is no such clearly stated directive, then the continued Christian mistreatment of gay and lesbian people is morally indefensible, and must cease.

Heterosexual Christians are being unbiblical by using the clobber passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are not tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality for those sins listed in the clobber passages that they do routinely commit.
Homosexuality is briefly mentioned in only six or seven of the Bible’s 31,173 verses. (The verses wherein homosexuality is mentioned are commonly known as the “clobber passages,” since they are typically used by Christians to “clobber” LGBT people.) The fact that homosexuality is so rarely mentioned in the Bible should be an indication to us of the lack of importance ascribed it by the authors of the Bible.

While the Bible is nearly silent on homosexuality, a great deal of its content is devoted to how a Christian should behave. Throughout, the New Testament insists upon fairness, equity, love, and the rejection of legalism over compassion. If heterosexual Christians are obligated to look to the Bible to determine the sinfulness of homosexual acts, how much greater is their obligation to look to the Bible to determine the sinfulness of their behavior toward gay persons, especially in light of the gay community’s call to them for justice?

Some Bible passages pertinent to this concern are:

Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. — John 8: 7

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law — Romans 13:8-10

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you — Colossians 3:11-13

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. — Matthew 23: 23-24

A fundamental tenet of Christianity is that we are all born sinners, that we have no choice but to exist in relationship to our sinful natures. And so Christians accept as inevitable that any given Christian will, for instance, on occasion drink too much, lust, or tell a lie.

As we’ll see below, in the clobber passages Paul also condemns, along with homosexuality, those three specific sins. But Christians don’t think that they are expected to never commit any degree of those sins. They understand that circumstances and normal human weaknesses must be taken into account before condemning any transgression. We all readily understand and accept the moral distinction between drinking socially and being a drunk, between a lustful thought and committing adultery, between telling a flattering white lie and chronically lying.

Even a sin as heinous as murder we do not judge without first taking into account the context in which it occurred. Self-defense, protection of the innocent, during a war—we recognize that there are times when taking the life of another is not only not a sin, but a morally justified and even heroic act.

Christians evaluate the degree of sin, or even whether or not a real sin has occurred, by looking at both the harm caused by the sin, and the intent of the sin’s perpetrator.

They do, that is, for all sins except homosexuality.

Virtually any degree of homosexual “transgression” gets treated by some Christians as an absolute sin deserving absolute punishment. Such Christians draw no moral distinction between the homosexual gang rape in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the orgies to which Paul refers in his letter to the Romans, the wild sexual abandon Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians, and consensual homosexual sex between loving and committed homosexual partners.

Heterosexual Christians are being unfair and hypocritical by using the clobber passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality (and an absolute penalty) to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are never tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality (and applying no real penalty) for those sins listed in the clobber passages that they do routinely commit.

As there is no demonstrable harm arising from sex within a committed homosexual relationship, and there is significant demonstrable harm arising from the discrimination against and condemnation of gay persons, what possible biblical basis can there be for not recognizing the vast moral differences between sex acts done within the context of a loving committed relationship, and sex acts of any other sort?

Here are a couple of Bible passages that any Christian should bear in mind whenever he or she is called upon (or at least emotionally compelled) to render a moral judgment:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. — Matthew 7:1-2

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. — Luke 6:41-42

The Bible isn’t a rulebook, and Christians cannot lift out of its context any passage from it, and still hope to gain a clear understanding of that passage.
It is important to understand that even the most fundamentalist Christian sects do not take the Bible wholly literally. The New Testament is two thousand years old, the old Testament much older. The Bible’s cultural contexts, along with the translation at hand, is always taken into consideration by any Christian serious about understanding this vast and complex work.

To excerpt any isolated short passage from the Bible, and then claim for that passage absolute authority, is to fail to take the Bible on its own terms. If we wish to follow the word of God, then we must take the entirety of God’s words into account. For example, when the Bible itself identifies some of its words as proverbs, it is bestowing upon those words less moral weight than other words that it identifies as commandments. The Bible itself tells us that some of its contents are songs, some visions, some histories, some dreams, some parables, and some commandments. The Bible itself also instructs Christians that New Testament moral directives supersede Old Testament moral directives. The Bible itself tells us that its moral principles supersede any of its moral “rules.”

The context of any Bible passage is as integral to its meaning as the passage itself. It may be appropriate to give equal weight to each clause within a business contract, each step within a set of mechanical instructions, or each rule within a game rulebook. But the Bible itself tells us that the Bible is not a uniform document, with each passage spelling out something clear and specific, and all passages having equal value. The Bible is not a rulebook for being Christian. We would be foolish to fail to understand that not everything in the Bible is a commandment, and that Christians cannot take a small section of the Bible out of its larger context, and still hope to gain a clear understanding of that section. Isolating a clobber passage from its context, and then claiming a sort of moral helplessness because “it’s in the Bible,” is failing to take the Bible either literally or seriously.

Using the four Old Testament passages to condemn all homosexual acts is not in keeping with any Christian directive from God, nor with the practices of contemporary Christians.
The Bible’s first four references to homosexuality occur in the Old Testament.

While continuing to be spiritually inspired and influenced by the Old Testament, Christians were specifically instructed by Paul not to follow the law of the Old Testament, in such passages as:

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. —Hebrews 7:18-19

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. — Galatians 3:23-25

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another … — Romans 7:4

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. — Romans 6:14

In practice, Christians do not follow the dictates of the Old Testament. If they did, polygamy would be legal, and things like tattoos, wearing mixed fabrics, eating pork, and seeding lawns with a variety of grasses would be forbidden. If Christians followed the dictates of the Old Testament, then today if the parents of a new bride could not, upon her husband’s request, prove that she was a virgin, that bride would have to be stoned to death. Christians would also have to stone to death any Christian guilty of adultery. And the Christian day of worship would be Saturday, not Sunday.

Clearly, Christians no longer cleave to the rules of the Old Testament.

Therefore, the use of the four Old Testament passages to condemn all homosexual acts is not in keeping with any Christian directive from God, nor with the practices of contemporary Christians.

In the clobber passages Paul condemns the coercive, excessive, and predatory same-sex sexual activity practiced by the Romans—and would have condemned the same acts had they been heterosexual in nature.
Because Christians’ understanding and practice of New Testament prescriptions naturally and inevitably evolve along with the society and culture of which they are a part, at any given time in history Christians have always selectively followed the dictates of the New Testament. Whenever a specific biblical injunction is found to be incongruous with contemporary mores, a reshaping of the conception of that injunction is not only widely accepted by Christians, it’s encouraged, as long as the new thinking is understood to be in keeping with overriding timeless biblical moral principles. This is why Christian women no longer feel morally constrained to follow Paul’s directives to leave their hair uncut, to keep their heads covered in church, or to always remain quiet in church. It’s also why the Bible is no longer used to justify the cruel institution of slavery, or to deny women the right to vote.

Just as those thoughts and understandings of the New Testament changed and grew, so today is it becoming increasingly clear to Christians that the three New Testament clobber passages (each of which was written by Paul in letters to or about nascent distant churches), when understood in their historical context, do not constitute a directive from God against LGBT people today.

Here are the three references to homosexuality in the New Testament:

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. — 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine. —1 Timothy 1:9-10

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. —Romans 1:26-27

During the time in which the New Testament was written, the Roman conquerors of the region frequently and openly engaged in homosexual acts between themselves and boys. Such acts were also common between Roman men and their male slaves. These acts of non-consensual sex were considered normal and socially acceptable. They were, however, morally repulsive to Paul, as today they would be to everyone, gay and straight.

The universally acknowledged authoritative reference on matters of antiquity is the Oxford Classical Dictionary. Here is what the OCD (third edition revised, 2003) says in its section about homosexuality as practiced in the time of Paul:

“… the sexual penetration of male prostitutes or slaves by conventionally masculine elite men, who might purchase slaves expressly for that purpose, was not considered morally problematic.”

This is the societal context in which Paul wrote of homosexual acts, and it is this context that Christians must acknowledge when seeking to understand and interpret the three New Testament clobber passages. Yes, Paul condemned the same-sex sexual activity he saw around him—because it was coercive, without constraint, and between older men and boys. As a moral man, Paul was revolted by these acts, as, certainly, he would have been by the same acts had they been heterosexual in nature.

The Bible’s clobber passages were written about same-sex acts between heterosexual persons, and do notaddress the subject of homosexual acts between a committed gay couple, because the concept of a person being homosexual did not exist at the time the Bible was written.
It is critical to our reading of the New Testament’s three clobber passages to understand that while Paul would have known about sex acts that took place between persons of the same gender, he would have had no concept whatsoever of homosexual persons. Virtually no one in Paul’s time was “out”; no one lived, or in any way publicly self-identified, as a homosexual. Paul had no reference point for an entire group of people who, as a fundamental, unalterable condition of their existence, were sexually attracted to persons of the same gender, and not sexually attracted to persons of the opposite gender.

Here is the opening of the OCD’s article on homosexuality:

“No Greek or Latin word corresponds to the modern term ‘homosexuality,’ and ancient Mediterranean society did not in practice treat homosexuality as a socially operating category of personal or public life. Sexual relations between persons of the same sex certainly did occur (they are widely attested in ancient sources), but they were not systematically distinguished or conceptualized as such, much less were they thought to represent a single, homogeneous phenomenon in contradistinction to sexual relations between persons of different sexes. … The application of ‘homosexuality’ (and ‘heterosexuality’) in a substantive or normative sense to sexual expression in classical antiquity is not advised.”

We can be confident that Paul was not writing to, or about, gay people, because he simply could not have been, any more than he could have written about smartphones, iPads, or televisions. We do not know what Paul might write or say today about gay people. All we know is that in the New Testament he wrote about promiscuous, predatory, non-consensual same-sex acts between people whom he understood to be heterosexual.

The Bible does condemn homosexual (and heterosexual) sex that is excessive, exploitive, and outside of marriage. It does not, however, address the state of homosexuality itself, much less the subject of homosexual acts between a married gay couple. Christians, therefore, have no Bible-based moral justification to condemn such acts.

Because there was no concept of gay marriage when the Bible was written, the Bible does not, and could not, address the sinfulness of homosexual acts within the context of gay marriage.
The Bible routinely, clearly, and strongly classifies all sex acts outside of the bonds of marriage as sinful. But, because when the Bible was written there was no concept of gay people—let alone, then, of gay marriage—the Bible does not, and could not, address the sinfulness of homosexual acts within the context of marriage.

By denying marriage equality to gay people, Christians are compelling gay couples to sin, because their intimacy must happen outside of marriage, and is therefore, by biblical definition, sinful. Christians, in other words, cause gay people to sin, and then blame the gay people for that sin. By any decent standard of morality that is manifestly and egregiously unfair.

Being personally repelled by homosexual sex doesn’t make homosexual sex a sin.
In addition to the Bible, many Christians cite as evidence of the inherent sinfulness of homosexual acts their own emotional response to such acts. It is understandable that many straight people find homosexual sex repugnant (just as many gay people find heterosexual sex repugnant). It is normal for any one of us to be viscerally repelled by the idea of sex between, or with, people for whom we personally have no sexual attraction. Young people, for example, are often disgusted by the thought of senior citizens having sex. And who isn’t repulsed by the idea of their own parents having sex? (When, rationally speaking, we should rejoice in the fact that they did—at least once!) But it is much too easy for any person to mistake their instinctive reaction against something as a moral reaction to that thing. Outrage isn’t always moral outrage, though the two usually feel the same.

It may feel to a straight Christian that their instinctive negative reaction to homosexual sex arises from the Bible. But all of us necessarily view the Bible through the lens of our own experiences and prejudices, and we must be very careful to ensure that lens does not distort our reading of God’s sacrosanct word.

“The greatest of these is love”
The overriding message of Jesus was love. Jesus modeled love, Jesus preached love, Jesus was love. Christians desiring to do and live the will of Jesus are morally obligated to always err on the side of love. Taken all together, the evidence—the social context in which the Bible was written, the lack of the very concept of gay people in Paul’s time, the inability of gay people to marry, the inequity between how the clobber passages are applied between a majority and a minority population, the injustice of exclusion from God’s church on earth and from human love as the punishment for a state of being over which one has no choice—conclusively shows that choosing to condemn and exclude gay people based on the Bible is the morally incorrect choice. That evidence should instead lead Christians to the most obvious, and most Christian of all positions, stated so beautifully by Paul himself in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13:

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

From UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question.

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706 responses to “Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality”

  1. “This is the societal context in which Paul wrote of homosexual acts, and it is this context that Christians are obliged to bring to their understanding and interpretation of the three clobber passages. Paul certainly condemned the same-sex sexual activity he saw around him. It was coercive; it was without constraint; it involved older men and boys. As a moral man, Paul was revolted by these acts—as, certainly, he would have been by the same acts had they been heterosexual in nature.”

    I feel like I need to point out that Paul most certainly saw heterosexual acts of this nature. The difference is that purchasing a female prostitute or a wife, or giving your daughter to a man she has never met was the norm everywhere, while the homosexual version (or at least the aggressively public homosexuality) was brought by the Romans, to the horror of the nations they conquored. In fact, it’s likely that the buying of young female slaves for sex was so commonplace that it either never occurred to him to mention it, or that he didn’t think it would have the same shock value to his audience.

  2. I’ve decided a while ago that literalist Christians are far too obsessed with enforcing the ancient Jewish laws that suit them (like the proscription against homosexuality) while ignoring the ones that don’t suit them (such as circumcision and keeping Kosher), particularly when they are really inconvenient laws like “do not kill,” “do not steal,” and “do not tell lies about your neighbor.”

  3. Very well put.

    I would add that we don’t really know exactly what Paul meant by the words translated as “homosexual.” He seems to have either made up words (something he does in other places–“more than conquerors” in Romans 8 is the word hypernike, Paul’s own invention) or used words not commonly known/used. I like how the Message Bible paraphrase puts it–“use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex.” Homosexual/homosexuality never appear in Eugene Peterson’s New Testament text.

    I used to buy the lie that being gay was the worst thing possible. I’m thankful every day that my sister, who is a lesbian, didn’t treat me the same way. I’ve come a long way since then, thanks to my sister’s unconditional love and web sites like this one.

  4. FanTAStic. Thank you.

    And Erin, an excellent point. I would say the coercion or sexual abuse of women is not condemned by Paul because his culture, in large part, considered women property. Our consent was never required, marriage or no.

    Deep blessings and prayers for our repentance of the terrible sin of harming God’s children,


  5. As Erin says, Paul certainly would have seen the heterosexual version of these acts just as frequently or even more so than the homosexual version. However, views on women in that region, made it completely common and acceptable for it to happen to women. On the other hand homosexual acts of the same nature were acceptable to the Greeks and Romans, but not to many of the peoples that the Romans conquered. Therefore, again it was the bias of the society in which the Bible was being written that caused Paul to condemn a certain thing and not something else. John, I think your overall point of this passage is spot on, but this part is a little off.

  6. It doesn’t condemn it, at least not the NT, as far as I can see, using my concordance! However, Jesus’ words on what marriage is and that it cannot include ‘men born that way’ are quite clear, and I think those who wish to keep to this teaching should not be pilloried on the internet by various so-called ‘Christian’ groups, which encourage selectivity in their use of the NT and take our Lord’s name in vain. In fact, they are often Liberal first and ‘Christian’ some way after. It isn’t the Christians who avoid inconvenient truths in God’s word and Christ’s teaching. The Bible is the bedrock, and compassion is the cornerstone. But what happens to both if you start chipping away at them?

  7. Thanks, John, for encouraging an adult treatment of the bible. (A grown up and nuanced perspective is not synonymous with cherry picking, chucking out core beliefs or dismissing traditional wisdom out of hand, despite what some may suggest!)

  8. Thank you. Beautifully stated. Love and understanding shine through. I hope some condemners will read and prayerfully consider it, remembering we worship with our minds as well as our hearts.

  9. John, once again… you hit it out of the park. Oh for the day when you don’t have to write so often about such things as this!

  10. I think God does indeed ask people to choose, and he expects the choice to be compassion, because people don’t really know God that well, but we know each other, and live among ourselves, and if we cannot have compassion for each other, if we cannot love one another when we are flesh and blood, how are we going to love an Abstract, All-Encompassing, Incomprehensible Being? Is it not written, from the small things we do, we will be judged in the larger things? If we cannot love the least among us, how can we love the more demanding among us? Choose love, always. Everything else will follow.

  11. …inconvenient truths like caring for the poor and the vulnerable, eschewing violence and materialism, and being good stewards of the planet? I don’t think “liberals” alone are guilty of selectivity.

  12. [Disclaimer: I do agree with the premise of this article.]

    While the ancient Greeks and Romans didn’t have the same concept of homosexuality as we do, they did understand the concept of people preferring one sex over the other. The playwright Aristophanes gives a comic explanation for why that is in Plato’s Symposium. In the beginning, humans looked like two people joined at the back. Some had two male halves, some had two female halves, and some had a male half and a female half. The human race angered Zeus, so he split them into their current form. This, Aristophanes proposed, is why humans seek to be joined in love to another person – they’re looking for their long-lost other half. For some, that other half is of their own sex, and for others, it’s of the opposite sex. Keep in mind, Aristophanes was pretty much the Judd Apatow of his day, so this isn’t serious theology, but Plato apparently thought it was noteworthy enough to record it along with the musings of Socrates.


  13. In fact, it’s not so much that they didn’t have our concept of homosexuality as that they didn’t have our concept of marriage. Marriage was a thing you did to make sure you had heirs. The husband’s job was to provide for and benevolently rule his wife, and the wife’s job was to be faithful to her husband and be a good mother to his children. If you were especially lucky, you might fall in love with the person you married, but it wasn’t expected and certainly not required. Homosexual relations couldn’t produce children, so there was no point in same-sex marriage. A man could have a lifelong male lover and still be a good husband to his wife according to social standards, and a woman could have a lifelong female lover and still be faithful to her husband according to social standards (no boy parts = no sex).

  14. One thing this Christian is still waiting for is an explanation as to why “we” use Old Testament Leviticus to condemn gays while ignoring Old testament Leviticus and giving pork/shellfish eaters a free ride. Aren’t we a New Testament kind of people?

  15. I’m more than a little unclear about the role that Aristophanes played in writing Leviticus.

  16. This should be required reading for ANYONE who has ever read the Bible, AT ALL. You don’t even have to call yourself a Christian. The way John lays it all out here is clear, well-thought out, and demonstrates everything that is wrong with someone who reads the Bible as a book where context doesn’t need to be considered.

  17. You pretty much blew your credibility completely with “so-called Christians.”

    What happens when you start chipping away? Maybe you find that the Bible isn’t the bedrock and was never intended to be. The bedrock is a relationship with a living God as shown to us in the life of Jesus and the ongoing influence of the Holy Spirit.

    John’s point is that it is inevitable that the Bible will always be seen through contemporary eyes. It was a thousand years ago, and will be a thousand years from now.

  18. John – I suggest another powerful way that Christians have caused a great deal of pain and suffering that you may want to add to the list above. IMHO many (most?) gay teen suicides are directly attributed to societies rejection of homosexuals. Where does this rejection originate? My guess that it is mostly due to religion and each time I hear of another gay teen suicide, I think of how Christian attitudes laid the foundation for this death. Just my two cents.

  19. Not a big deal but curious to know why the links were removed from this comment.



  20. Best thiing I’ve ever seen on this subject, John. Thank you SO much!

  21. Also recall that in ancient times, most marriages were arranged. Usually the wife, and sometimes the husband, had no say in who they married — it was all up to their parents. (As Lord Wessex tells his bride-to-be in the movie ‘Shakespeare in Love’: “This is a business arrangement, nothing more.”) It wasn’t unusual for the wife and the husband to meet for the first time at the altar. This is very rare in western culture nowadays, but it’s still practiced in some parts of Asia.

  22. Outstanding article! I just have one tiny little nitpick. Although in medieval times it was generally accepted that Paul wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews, modern scholars believe that he didn’t. The Letter to Hebrews has a different writing style than the other letters of Paul, and even disagrees with Paul on minor theological points.

  23. “The bedrock is a relationship with a living God as shown to us in the life of Jesus and the ongoing influence of the Holy Spirit.” Love this.

  24. ‘Heterosexual Christians are being unbiblical by using the clobber passages as justification for applying absolute standards of morality to homosexual “sins” that they themselves are not tempted to commit, while at the same time accepting for themselves a standard of relative morality for those sins listed in the clobber passages that they do routinely commit.’ Ooooo…well put.

  25. Another point relevant to the discussion at hand, comes from the respected (if controversial, in some circles) theologian John Shelby Spong. Spong offers up the theory that Paul may have, in fact, been a deeply closeted, self-hating gay man, in addition to being one of the world’s worst misogynists. It’s often the case that no one is more homophobic than a gay person who is trying to run from himself/herself.

  26. Yeah, he addresses this in other parts of the book and his blog. But your point is well taken.

  27. Based purely on available data based on observation, I’d say that all too often, the answer is “no.”

  28. Great piece John! I have read several discussions such as this one, on this very important issue. Yours is wonderfully straightforward, honest and cuts to the guts of the truth of the matter. Thank you for all of your amazing posts. Above all love. Simple isn’t it?

  29. Right. But I imagined that there will be people that come across this post that don’t follow John (e.g. I’m going to forward this great post to some in my own circle as I’m sure other readers will) that haven’t considered the idea of having some amount of culpability in creating societal attitudes that help push gay children over the edge. Having it in the original post ensures they run across this consideration as well.

  30. Andrew wrote; “It isn’t the Christians who avoid inconvenient truths in God’s word and Christ’s teaching.”

    I’m glad you brought this up Andrew.

    I notice that you wrote “God’s word and Christ’s teaching” separately.

    Do you believe that they are inseparable or that Christ’s teaching can stand on it’s own?

    Often when I hear someone use the Bible to condemn homosexuals it appears to me that they almost exclusively quote from Old Testament and sometimes Paul and almost never quote Jesus himself on this topic.

    Why do you think that is?

    Is it Christian to put more weight behind the Hebrew scripture and Paul and less weight to what Jesus the Christ spoke and taught?

    I have to chuckle to see you using the phrase “so-called ‘Christian’” because I use the phrase all the time. But I use the phrase to describe people who thump the Bible to condemn others and ultimately ignore what Christ taught.

    If someone preaches “eye for an eye” from Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, and Deuteronomy 19:21, does that make the preacher righteous if they ignore the words of Jesus?

    “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

    Matthew 5:38-39

    Since you consider yourself a “real” Christian and not a “so called Christian” I would like very much to know your reasoning regarding this matter.


  31. Thank you John.

    Still believing in “one love” I hope.

    Please never change.


  32. As a classicist with some expertise in ancient sexuality, I have to say that your arguments regarding Paul are quite solid.

    But despite Paul’s insistence that the law is ended, didn’t Jesus have a different idea:

    Mt 5:17–Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

  33. yes, yes, yes, everyone should read this with an open mind and heart

  34. I would guess that it is in part an easy justification for one’s (read that as hetero male) revulsion toward male same sex activity. For the most part Lesbians get a free pass from the religious right, except maybe regarding one of the NT clobber passages from Paul (Corinthians?, the one where he was condemning the church members for falling back into their old activities at the Temple of Aphrodite). Since Leviticus mentions male same sex activity twice (18:23 and 20:13) but doesn’t mention any of the other stuff that christians tend to do themselves (the lusting, drinking, gambling, etc) it is easy to use to bash the gays. At least that is this Heathen’s opinion on the matter.

  35. Paul insisted that the power of the law to negate us was ended by Jesus fulfillment of it.

  36. Bingo! The ancient concepts of marriage, and there were more than one, were so different from our (Western European and American concepts) as to almost bear no resemblance. Nor are these differences confined to antiquity. I have known a couple of Indian immigrants whose marriage was arranged by their parents and were quite satisfied with their marriage. I have also known an intelligent and attractive young Chinese woman who would have liked to marry, but, because her mother still lived in Taiwan and related only to people there, there was no possibility her mother could arrange a marriage suitable for her. She seemed unable to think about entering into marriage any other way. I think she was not an immigrant, but, practicing a valuable profession here on an extended work visa. These all were upstanding people who did not practice a western religion.

  37. I like this, with the reservation that I do believe, as a Christian, that the Bible contains some crazy and stupid passages and that the correct response as a Christian is to reject them, not to try to figure out an interpretation that makes them less crazy or less stupid. Paul wasn’t big on women either. I don’t believe his passage on the imperfection of women’s heads needs to be “understood in the context of his times,” it needs to be laughed at as the personal opinion of a first century man and rejected. The Bible may be the cornerstone of the Christian faith, but like everything else in this world it is not perfect. Even Christ pooped his diapers when he entered the world.

  38. So thirteen men go into the woods…

    Sounds fishy, and in parts it was. But for all the puritanical modern interpretations of hacked translations, there is still reality altering substance to the Bible. Let me re-iterate the important parts in three words: Love one another.

    Now off to pick up a copy of your book.

  39. It’s only a different idea if you assume that “fulfilling” them means “continuing to double down on the interpretations that people have already put on them” rather than “digging under the misunderstandings and misinterpretations to the greater truth that underlies them.”

    Look at the US Constitution – which included explicit reference to slaves, while at the same time promising equality to all citizens. Which is more like fulfilling that promise, ending slavery and guaranteeing full citizenship to people regardless of race, or perpetuating the institution of slavery?

    Fulfilling that particular part of the Constitution neither abolished the Constitution nor continued the abhorrent practice of slavery.

  40. It’s also worth noting that while people are pointing at the words you mention – the ones that are translated as homosexual, they are ignoring the words that we do know – words like greedy, ambitious, drunkards, covetous, swindler – that apply all too obviously to many of the people who use these passages to bash gay people.

    Why aren’t they demanding constitutional amendments to deny greedy people the right to marry?

  41. Paul was speaking AFTER Jesus ended the law…exactly as He said He would. In fact Jesus made the perfect declaration at the moment He ended the rule of law…”It is finished!”

  42. Well goodness. This post pretty much sums it up. Thank you.

    I cringe on these threads, knowing there will be comments that are so counter-intuitive to the love of Christ. But the majority of them are so spot-on and loving. Could it be things are actually changing? I hope so.

  43. I only watched a little of this (I’ll watch the rest later.) but what I saw was really good.

  44. I’ll be sending this one to my sister. I highly doubt she’ll bother to read all of it, but one hopes.

  45. Brilliant……AGAIN, John. Your MOST brilliant. This is the most definitive rationale I have seen on the Christian attitude toward homosexuals. (See WHAT THE BIBLE REALLY SAYS ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY by Daniel Helmeniak for what I also regard as a definitive rebuttal to the Bible as anti-gay “clobber” weapon. http://www.amazon.com/What-Bible-Really-about-Homosexuality/dp/188636009X)

    I’ll send this to my sister who has said she doesn’t want to get such things from me anymore. But she WILL get it. If she reads it is another matter. If she doesn’t, she will understand my reason to disrespect her thinking on this subject.

    According to this article, I have sinned, but I don’t feel like it because I had no choice if I wanted to love and be loved…….and I still don’t……and it’s getting too late for me now……and that wounds me deeply…..and pisses me off.

    So I guess I’ll keep on sinning every chance I get, which isn’t much anymore at my age. I’ll never be too old to need love with skin on. The abstract love just isn’t enuf.

  46. Yes! All too common among the right (wrong!) wing hypocrite types. All they seem to see in 1Cor.6:9,10 is, “homosexuals”, then the loud SLAM! “Wait a minute, wait a minute WAIT A MINUTE!” I exclaim. “Was that the sound of your Bible slamming shut or is that your mind again?! Let’s read the REST of that. I think the ‘-phobe’ in homophobe is, ‘Scared to death someone will find out you’re repressing homosexual urges of your own!’ Or maybe even past sins and you can’t overcome the guilt. And let’s also read Romans ch. 2 after reading ch 1. Let’s hear more opening of the Bible and less slamming-shut sounds from you.”

  47. I have much to do today but took the time for your link. OMG!!! That beautiful young man made me weep at his profound insight for one so young. I wanted to reach out to hug and love him, especially toward the end where he too, seemed near tears.

    And I weep for the losses, mine and others of my generation for whom these arguments come too late. Oh, how I wish I had had the opportunity to come to such knowledge when I was his age. Instead, it took me a lifetime of introspection and study. He said nothing I do not now now know and understand. Indeed, I could have written every word he spoke.

    In this, and many other issues, Christianity has much to answer for.

  48. *******Often when I hear someone use the Bible to condemn homosexuals it appears to me that they almost exclusively quote from Old Testament and sometimes Paul and almost never quote Jesus himself on this topic.*******

    Heh, of course, because Jesus spoke not a syllable a bout it. I too have noted that when anti-gay “christians” condemn homosexuality, they do so in the name of God and not Jesus. After all, it’s so much easier to do so in the name of an abstract, man made concept that can mean anything to anyone than in the flesh and blood namesake of their religion who said nothing about it.

    Hypocrites and frauds.

  49. This is a great piece of exegesis! I only found one line I might argue about, and it’s about human nature, not the Bible. It is: “But all of us necessarily view the Bible through the lens of our own experiences and prejudices, and we must be very careful to ensure that lens does not distort our vision or understanding of God’s sacrosanct word.” It is absolutely true that our life experience distorts our vision of God’s word, but I don’t think that even the most self aware person can avoid that distortion by sheer will power. Being self aware can help, but it isn’t the complete answer. Perhaps allowing myself to receive God’s Grace completes the answer. As much as I would like to be in complete control of SOMETHING in my life, I even need to hand over my thoughts and attitudes to God.

  50. I have nothing else to say, but “Thank you!” as so many others here have said, much more eloquently than I can.

  51. This video is excellent! Yes everyone should see and really hear this. Thank you for sharing the link.

  52. Denomination shopping? All mainline, protestant denominations in the US have congregations that affirm this view. Many evangelical churches contain clusters of members who quietly agree. Check your local listings.

  53. I would like to think this is the case. But I used to belong to the SBC and they adamantly oppose this view and take steps to remove any such congregations from the denomination.

  54. Which, sort of by definition, means that those congregations would count as being among the ones who do affirm the view.

    Your point that their shelf life in the larger denomination may be somewhat short if there is a larger governing body that can summarily pitch them out is well taken.

    But I think at this point, it’s less a matter of what denominations hold this view than what people do – it’s still a bit early in this particular prophetic renewal for it to have taken over whole denominations. There are those in the reverse situation, where the governing body has made advances toward openness, affirmation, and diversity, with some pockets of crusty bigotry remaining out in the pews.

    Some denominations are losing congregations because they refuse to be open and affirming. The Episcopalians, for example, have lost some parishes over this.

    I don’t think the Holy Spirit thinks in terms of denomination.

  55. Short shelf life indeed. LOL

    The SBC is notorious for it’s extreme intolerance of any GLBT affirming views within the ranks. Of course they also tend to be overrun with biblioletry, extreme scientific ignorance, and cult like legalism. I hope they lose congregations so rapidly they become a bit player in Christianity within a decade or two. Their pollution of the gospel is one that needs to simply go away.

    I love your comment that the Holy Spirit does not think in terms of denominations. In fact I would even carry it a step further and state that I don’t think He thinks in terms of organized religion at all.

  56. John, this is without a doubt your best yet on this subject. Preach it, spread it, share it to the ends of the earth. I see there is another Erin on here. I will always go by Erin D. so there is no confusion. 🙂

  57. Unfortunately in Memphis it’s the opposite – we are losing Episcopalian parishes because we ARE open and affirming. Several churches have gone over to be affiliated with the Nigerian Anglican church because they hate gay people and female pastors. It’s an ugly thing to be in the middle of.

  58. I think the real lesson here is that the Bible is far more nuanced than the sound-bites we are bombarded with by those with any agenda other than living Christ’s example of love, and that we really do need to read it ALL for ourselves, preferably regularly (and always taking context into account). I am frequently amazed at the fresh insights I get even from familiar favorite passages – it is ultimately a ‘living document’ that the Holy Spirit uses to speak truth to us where we are now. It is the story of God creating a people for Himself – and He wants to include EVERYONE.

  59. They HAVE to slam their Bibles shut at that point – because if they read even as far as the next verse, they see “sins” that they themselves might be subject to, and that would interfere with judging their neighbors.

  60. ‘Living’ in the sense that it is not merely a relic of ancient times, but it can ‘speak’ to us here and now (as the Holy Spirit highlights parts, or our hearts are stirred to respond). Just as Christianity is about a relationship with God, rather than mere religious observance of rules.

  61. Yeah I get what you are saying. But I always shudder when I hear people take the living attribute of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus referred to as The Spirit of Truth, and attach it to the bible. Jesus never declared the bible to be the truth He would send. He said He was sending a living member of the Godhead.

    The bible provides us historical knowledge of God and Jesus and how He provided for our eternity. But it is only the signpost pointing to the truth. It is not the truth itself.

    It is not alive. It is not perfect. It is not eternal.

    Yes it is one of the tools The Spirit can use to teach us. And I have studied and taught it for more than 30 years in fact. But I have come to the point of realizing that studying the signpost, as an end unto itself, actually stops me from progressing on my journey to The One the signpost points to.

  62. St. Augustine said that if there is anything in Scripture that is flatly contradicted by modern science (and that was the “science” of his day!) then it is a moral imperative to reinterpret the Scripture in an allegorical or metaphorical way – that Scripture is always true, but that the meaning we put on it can change. Each generation will see those truths in both the context of their times and with the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

    So yes, scripture can be a living document – the same document that was utterly neutral (and in places, outright supportive) to slavery in its day can now be used to categorically condemn it and relegate it to history. The same is true of all sorts of other issues.

    The risk of locking scripture into a historical meaning is to delegitimize it for modern people. It doesn’t have to be just “what they used to believe and we have to write entirely new stories for ourselves.” It can still speak to us today, seen through new eyes, and with the understanding that a thousand years from now it will be seen in significantly different ways yet again, and still be alive and vibrant.

  63. “I always shudder when I hear people take the living attribute of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus referred to as The Spirit of Truth, and attach it to the bible”

    Well, I’ve never come across that concept, so I do understand why you wanted to clarify what I meant! I suppose what I was really trying to say is that, *when the Holy Spirit is part of the process*, reading the Bible makes it ‘come alive’ – it’s not just a history text, but changes my heart/mind/life. It’s part of how God leads us closer to Him.

    It is indeed a signpost (or, rather, a collection of signposts), but I think we can often misread signposts (and sometimes we’re not properly paying attention!), and re-reading can be helpful. And, certainly, one studies a signpost because one is on a journey, not because the signpost is an end in itself. I, personally, find my spiritual life much richer when I do take the time to read/study/ponder the Bible than when I don’t – and that filters through into the rest of my life as well.

  64. My background was very fundamental and I literally grew up under the teaching that it is perfect, that it is inerrant, that it contains ALL truth, and commonly was referred to as “the living breathing Word of God”. My last pastor was very fond of saying that “all truth” was contained within its pages. He like the pastors I had before him is a literalist and believes the entire universe and all of creation to be a mere 6000 years old based upon biblical genealogies. He brought that quack group “Answers in Genesis” to the church teaching the heresy of any other creation belief and of following any version of the “living breathing Word of God” other than the authorized king James Version. I and many others call this biblioletry. It is this devotion to the literalistic interpretation of the text rather than to God that leads to all the bigotry that has been promoted through the ages in the name of the bible, including the present bigotry John is addressing here.

    I know now that is not how you believe.

    I still hold my bible to be very dear. Without it I would lack much knowledge about my redeemer and the nature of God. But I do recognize that, though inspired by God, it is still a man made document and it contains errors and corruptions. But these don’t serve to shake my faith. Instead they make it stronger as I realize that God can be perfect where my bible is not. It was a great day for my faith when I realized I could separate the two.

    And Lymis I think St Augustine was on the right track in that our interpretation can and does change and we need to re-evaluate our understanding of it based on what we “know”. But I differ with Him is the assessment that scripture is “always” true. God’s Word is always true…but the bible is not a perfect representation of that Word.

  65. I think you put this very well. I hadn’t heard that from St. Augustine, thanks for sharing it.

  66. Oops. I read both Lymis’s and Gary’s post and got confused as to who said what about St. Augustine. It’s the bit about a moral imperative to interpret allegorically that I hadn’t heard before and appreciate. But Gary’s whole post is beautiful and explains a lot about how I feel about “Biblioatry.” I would take it a step further and say that like all idolatry, falsely worshiping the Bible is bad for the person who does it and causes them to learn the bad habit of pretending to believe contradictory things they cannot in truth believe – which in time makes a person false all through.

  67. “…causes them to learn the bad habit of pretending to believe contradictory things they cannot in truth believe – which in time makes a person false all through.”

    I really like this Allie. It completely sums up the position I found myself in.

  68. “My background was very fundamental and I literally grew up under the teaching that it is perfect, that it is inerrant”

    One of the many things I like about John’s blog, and particularly the comments, is that it reminds me that I have been very blessed with the church I am part of… There are a lot of people (it seems like most!) who have come out of church backgrounds that are totally alien to my experience, which has been nothing but edifying in my life. Thanks again for your thoughtful contribution 🙂

  69. I disagree with Scripture not being alive and eternal, I think vj is correct. I do believe we are reading the true Word of God. Even the Old Testament has premises underneath all of the murder and bloodshed that are sophisticated concepts and essential undertones that help us understand the nature of humanity, of sin and of Love. It’s when they are taken literally (or something other than narrative) is when we go very wrong.

  70. Someone has to disagree a little bit…

    So, just because Paul didn’t have any knowledge of “being gay,” that immediately excuses it and we are to accept homosexuality?

    That may be one of the worst arguments I’ve ever heard on this issue. Just because the bible doesn’t directly address an issue, we are to ignore its implications?? You’re right, Paul couldn’t have written about an iPad, but as time has gone on, WE have turned this issue of homosexual practice into an identity, and within the past 200 years, no doubt. Paul, at the core of his writings, and I believe even in the OT, talked about the act at its very core. He spoke against it.

    I will point out that you did say homosexual and heterosexual activity outside of marriage is considered a sin. Marriage, as defined in the bible, is between a man and a woman, as God both created and laid out for us. How can you possibly argue with that?

    Paul’s arguments in 1 Corinthians and Romans go on to say “…and such were some of you.” Meaning, Christians used to do these things, but they don’t anymore. Don’t elevate one thing off that list any more than you would another.

    Here’s the main issue I have with arguing FOR homosexuality’s acceptance in Christian communities. Those who have chosen to identify themselves in this community have very clearly declared that they want to live a life defined by a sinful practice. I can no more be a gay Christian than a lying Christian, or a drunk Christian, or an adulterous Christian. No other sinful practice has declared itself a lifestyle.

  71. We are to accept *homosexuals*. Period. The fruit of “gay sex” and “gay desire” are people of the same sex who fall in love with one partner and stay monogamous, happy and in love their entire lives. Drug addicts die. Adulterers break up marriages and cause misery, isolation and the consequences are horrifying to children. There are no “wages of sin” here. Your comparison is nothing more than you wanting to equate being gay with the other sins you’ve listed yet logically, the *impact* of the behavior of deception, drug addiction and cheating vs being gay are not even comparable.

  72. PS. No one has to disagree if the value is obviously universal. No one (sane) disagrees that protecting children from abusers is an excellent thing. It’s the same thing with topic. We’ve just got this one wrong. 100% wrong.

  73. There are lying Christians. There are drunk Christians. There are adulterous Christians. Perhaps it is not your job to be the Christian Police.

  74. You promote a straw man argument…you won’t find too many here that are unable to see right through it. And your notion of there being no sinning Christians (“a lying Christian, a drunk Christian, an adulterous Christian”) is beyond ridiculous. But it is still a straw man because a state of being (made so by our creator none the less) is in no way similar to any of those things.

    And for the record…though sex outside of marriage may be considered a “sin” by SOME Christians…those of us who do not accept this as an absolute have a great deal of scripture on our side.

  75. I must respectfully disagree with you DR. (very respectfully)

    In no place does the bible declare itself to be “The Word of God”. It does however very clearly give that title to Jesus and Jesus alone. (John 1) It does contain much of the spoken word (little w) written down for our benefit. But I believe to declare that the document is alive and eternal is to blaspheme the One who IS alive and eternal.

    When I have studied this out (extensively btw) I have come to the conclusion that we have made the very same kind of mistakes with regard to our scriptures that we have with this issue of homosexuality and it has lead to some tragic results.

  76. What scripture would that be? Sex outside of a martial relationship between one man and one woman is never condoned in Scripture.

  77. Really? Are you sure?

    Aside from the obvious extensive polygamy and concubinage that was present among the majority of the biblical heroes which God NEVER spoke against…there are instances of God actually providing for and/or defending practices that today we consider immoral. When the prophet Nathan rebuked David for his adultery with Bathsheeba, God said through the prophet that He actually provided his master’s wives unto his bosom and was willing to provide even more. Point clearly being God was ok with multiple lovers…even those not married to him…but was NOT ok with the deception and murder associated with Bathsheeba. Remember…this was not simply God ALLOWING for multiple lovers outside of marriage…but God actually PROVIDING them. Unless you believe God Himself will commit sin, then there is no choice but to accept that these other women in David’s bed were not sinful. When Moses was criticized for having multiple wives God actually defended him. Even within the Song of Solomon it is pretty clear that the lovers were not married at first and were never exclusive…and this is the example of Godly erotic love. There is MUCH more biblical evidence to support my claim that God is not concerned with our sexuality when the law of love is not being violated.

    What I have shown you are very real examples of where “sex outside of a marital relationship between one man and one woman” absolutely WAS condoned within scripture. What is NOT present within scripture is where there is any sexual restriction to one man and one woman within marriage as so many in the church keep declaring.

    It is a man made fairy tale that is not to be found in scripture. It simply is not there.

  78. Remember a little command that goes like, “Do not commit adultery”?

    You’re also talking about Moses and two kings of Israel who walked closer with God than almost anyone in the Old Testament. Keep in mind: THREE. You gave three examples among thousands. I think you’re taking extremes and counting them as the only solid evidence FOR polygamy. There’s more evidence AGAINST polygamy than there is for it.

    Gary, sex outside of a martial relationship between one man and one woman was not condoned holistically. You gave occasional evidence, but no such affirmation exists in the bible.

  79. There are Christians who lie, and Christians who get drunk, and Christians who commit adultery. My point is that when someone identifies themselves as a gay Christian, they are qualifying the identity of a Christ follower with a sinful characteristic. I’m not saying that no one does those things, but unfortunately in our polarized society, we have said that there are now two categories: Christians and gay Christians. That simply cannot be.

  80. Seriously?? Do not commit adultery is the best ya got?

    For the record…I absolutely embrace the command against adultery. 100% in fact. It always causes harm. Of course what I have shown you is that God does not define it the way you do.

    Your notion of “THREE” examples out of thousands is very disingenuous. Especially when you make a blanket declaration of evidence against what I have shown GOD HIMSELF is not against…yet you provide not even one example. You asked for examples…I gave them.

    Our behaviors in and of themselves are neither condoned nor condemned holistically so this statement makes no sense. All actions are judged by the intent within the heart. This is a scriptural truth that is born out throughout.

  81. You consider it a sin. But it’s not really your opinion that counts, is it? Walk your own path, Charlie. Unless you are perfect, you have no right to judge another person’s walk.

  82. You are the only one coming up with these “two categories” you speak of.

    There are gay Christians and there are hetero Christians,

    There are fat Christians and there are skinny Christians,

    There are Red, Yellow, Black, and White Christians,

    There are married Christians and there are single Christians,

    there are wealthy Christians and there are poor Christians,

    But you’ll find that we call them all simply Christians.

  83. And again you’ve missed my point in all of this.

    Are any of the categories you’ve put up there inherently described by a sinful behavior?

  84. No…including the gay and hetero categories.

    No one has missed your point…we told you it was wrong.

    You keep ignoring ours.

  85. Charlie, since this is your argument, how about you do the math for us. Tell us what destruction being gay causes to a person’s life. Please be specific, point out the specific fruits in someone’s physical, emotional or spiritual center that are the wages of death.

  86. If it’s sinful. then tell us the destruction that’s caused in the life of a gay individual. It’s very clear to point out the destruction caused as a result of deception and adultery. Please be clear on how being gay is destructive given you are putting it into those sam buckets, it should be fairly easy to do. All sins have horrible consequences to us on this side of heaven. Tell us about these. Thanks.

  87. Perhaps Jason will tell us the damage done to an individual from being gay, so far no one’s ever been able to do that though it’s really easy to describe the damage done this side of heaven as a result of addiction or deception. Be specific.

  88. Gary, I’m not ignoring your argument, your counter just has no legs to stand on. Every label and category you mentioned is not considered sinful. It’s not a sin to be skinny, or fat, or whatever color you are. BUT, according to biblical teachings, acting upon homosexual desires is, be it for rape or consensual purposes. Where I find contention, and you should too, are those who have chosen to find their identity as homosexuals, and classify themselves as gay Christians. That is an oxymoron. You CANNOT qualify the title of a Christ follower with something that is sinful. Period.

    By the way, let me say that I am all for loving people equally. I don’t discriminate, nor do I picket or otherwise speak out publicly against those who choose to live a homosexual lifestyle. That being said, if I see another brother in sin, regardless of what it is, I’ll go to them and speak the truth in love. I’ll continue to do so to everyone I meet.

    DR, you’re saying that in order for something to be considered “sinful,” it must also be destructive…is that correct? So in your book, something to be sinful has to have repercussions far beyond the act itself? If I understand your need for a response, you are clearly asking for me to say what I think is wrong about a homosexual lifestyle. In essence, you want me to take this from a social/physical/economic standpoint, rather than from the bible’s point of view. That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? What does the bible say about this issue?

    Here’s where I think you stand. If it doesn’t cause anyone any harm, it’s permissible. That is a very baseless argument. As long as I kill a homeless man and it does not cause any physical, emotional, or spiritual damages to anyone else, it’s ok?? I’m not sure there’s any math to do here. Plenty of things are not inherently destructive, as you would classify them, but yet are considered sins that separate us from God, like breaking the sabbath, or dishonoring our parents. Jesus even said that if you think lustful thoughts (are those initially destructive??) sins. Where do you draw the line?

    You can throw all the psychological mumbo jumbo you want at this, citing there are no true implications that a homosexual lifestyle is any more destructive than a drug addicts behavior. At the end of the day, it comes down to this: do you trust that what God says is sufficient enough?

  89. Problem is Charlie…you simply choose to remain ignorant about what the truth in the scripture truly is to protect your bigotry.

    You choose to be not only willfully ignorant…but to walk a path that is so hurtful to a group of people who simply want to live the way God made them, that it is contrary to everything Christ and His love stands for.

    You are wrong about the scripture. You are wrong about what it means to love as Christ loved. We call you out on it. Your days of twisting the true gospel are over. Those of us who embrace true Christian teaching are speaking up. We are taking our Lord’s teaching back from the likes of you.

  90. Really? You can say with 100% certainty that I am wrong and you are right? How is that not bigotry on your part? Oh, because you’re in the right, I suppose.

    I haven’t been attacking or combative on this, I have not been willfully ignorant, nor have I been hurtful. I’ve done what millions of Christians have done for thousands of years. I’ve taken what God has revealed through scripture and stood by it. I’m not one to say, “Oh, that’s not what God REALLY meant…” for the sake of inclusiveness, nor have I compromised anything in the gospel. I believe that if you were to look hard enough, you’d find that you are in the minority on this view. Feel free to speak up! The Occupy movement was great at that, but they sadly dwindled. Why? Because they had nothing to stand on.

    God did not create us to be homosexuals, by the way. He proves over and over again that he does not let “sameness” in any form multiply.

    By the way, as a Jew, Jesus would have upheld the law, included in which was homosexual acts being condemned. I’m not going to entertain any of this “law is over and done with” stuff, don’t have the time. Jesus didn’t re-write anything, he came to both uphold and fulfill it, not abolish it.

  91. We are to accept people. Period. Labels should disappear once we get past that. Our only identity should be that of Christ followers.

    By the way, adulterers are also in with the sexually immoral. Adultery is simply sexual relationships outside of marriage. They don’t always break up marriages and cause misery, isolation and mess up children. Sometimes, it’s acting upon a desire God designed for marriage, in a consenting manner. No inherent destruction, right? So it must be ok in your book, right?

    I don’t think you can say for certainty that the fruit of “gay sex” and “gay desire” are blanketed under monogamy. I think the majority would give you the complete opposite indication.

    You again say that just because there is no destructive force, it’s a lesser sin and should be overlooked. All sin is equal in God’s eyes.

  92. Jesus declared He came to fulfill the law. He did not say anything about upholding it.

    Your day has passed Charlie. We stand with the oppressed. You can choose to remain in your ignorance all the way to your grave. But your days of speaking for the church is surely passing. Your words become more irrelevant with each passing year.

  93. Never said I speak for the church. Thanks for trying to pin that on me.

    You talk a big game about this whole love thing. I’d never talk to a “brother” like you have, nor would any Christian who truly bought into Jesus’ teachings. Well played, my friend. Show your true colors. Your words, buddy, become more divisive than mine would appear to you. Enjoy your day, big man. You’ll have it.

  94. Thanks, Charlie. Is that all you have for me and others on the margin? Just “no”? This is usually par for the course.

    This is all so much theoretical and academic bullsh*t that doesn’t even begin to address the real and heartfelt needs of flesh and blood people. I hope you’re comfortable in your certainty and that you’ve got all your theological ducks in a row while your brothers and sisters languish in loneliness and isolation that you can’t even begin to imagine.

  95. I’ve actually not said anything about gay being a lesser sin or a sin at all. I’ve specifically asked you the damage that gay men and women cause to themselves, to one another and to the world as a result from the “sin” (your word not mine) of being gay. A sins cause damage. The common denominators of sin are twofold: it destroys the person committing sin and those around them, it’s very easy to trace the damage caused by adultery. You are the one claiming God says being gay is a sin, so show us why. Show us the damage it causes.

  96. Oh but Charlie, we’re just speaking the truth in love! (Flutters eyelashes.)

  97. Look Charlie it’s really simple. Adultery destroys families. It destroys love. It destrys the life of the adulterer and the family they know they cause pain they csnt dver change. Only sociopaths feel fine about cheating and ruining their relationship.

    The only thing being gay does is cause people of the same sex to fall in love, to form life long attachments and raise great kids together. That’s the reality and it’s one that most people are realizing. That your fear or homophobia won’t help you get there isn’t anything we can do but the only thing I’d ask – and I do so sincerely – is to please, not develop any relationships with gay men and women, particularly gay kids. Because its too hard to tell you to your face that you devastate them. They feel overwhelmed and beaten down by your beliefs. They run from God, from Jesus. And I just can’t clean up your mess anymore, I can’t bear their pain that you refuse to acknowledge your beliefs cause. So at minimum, please just stay away from them. I’m really asking. Thanks.

  98. DR, you’re saying that in order for something to be considered “sinful,” it must also be destructive…is that correct? So in your book, something to be sinful has to have repercussions far beyond the act itself? >>>

    What in the world? Gary, sin hurts people. It destroys people. It has real world impacts. That’s exactly what “the Bible says” about this issue, why in the world would God want to save us and protect us from sin – literally, deliver us from evil – if it didn’t hurt us? It’s obvious. Sin destroys us and our relationships with one another.

    Now please. It’s a very, very simple question and I’m asking it earnestly. Tell me how being gay hurts gay men and women. Tell me how it hurts those of us who are straight. Please be specific.

  99. Breaking the Sabbath had – and still has – damaging results of course, to our rest and well being.

    Dishonoring our parents does major damage to our relationship and often causes people to act out rebelliously in ways that hurts us.

    Lustful thoughts are obviously destructive if not channeled productively. Have you heard of the addictive nature of pornography? If you have any experience with addiction at all you’ll know what a nightmare this is to one’s well being (not to mention, marriage).

    I’m not drawing a line. You are. Everything you’ve mentioned causes pain. Tell me how being gay causes pain.

  100. Charlie just found his reason to leave the conversation because it’s clear he didn’t have any real answers here. So he did what most Christians in his spot do – they find a way of making the people they are sparring with “the bad guy” so he can get insulted and flounce off.

    Charlie, a lot of us have been right where you are. We’ve played that game. We also know that when you go to bed tonight, you’ll be a bit more restless after this conversation (assuming you’re not a sociopath). Good. the Lord often comes to disturb right before He redeems.

  101. I’m not one to say, “Oh, that’s not what God REALLY meant…” for the sake of inclusiveness>>>

    Of course you are. You’re terrified of being wrong because it’s rattling a very familiar cage you use to validate yourself and your life. We’ve all been there, Charlie. You’re just being threatened and it’s scary to be “wrong”. You are wrong of course, but being wrong about this doesn’t mean you have to be wrong about Jesus. You’ve just gotten this one terribly, terribly wrong. And we’ve been wrong in not correcting you because your belief system hurts people. You hurt gay men and women terribly. And it’s time we told you that honestly so you can make a better decision. Because I bet you’re someone who doesn’t want to hurt people needlessly (especially kids who are gay, they are damaged beyond belief by your theology).

    nor have I compromised anything in the gospel. I believe that if you were to look hard enough, you’d find that you are in the minority on this view. >>>

    The latest Gallup poll shows that 53% of Americans are for gay marriage. So you’re just wrong about this, in a decade, gays will be able to get married and life will be just as it is today. Just more people divorcing. What you fail to understand is even *now*, gay men and women have been in legitimate partnerships/marriages for decades in other places in the world. They’re fine. America is just catching up.

  102. “As long as I kill a homeless man and it does not cause any physical, emotional, or spiritual damages to anyone else, it’s ok??”

    Seriously??? Please tell me that you just said this without thinking and aren’t actually ignorant enough to not see the glaring flaw in your argument? You do actually realize that homeless people are just as human as those of us with homes, don’t you? You do realize that the harm here is caused to the homeless man you killed whether or not anyone else takes notice? People have value even when they are seemingly alone in the world. Please tell me you understand this…

  103. ” Keep in mind: THREE. You gave three examples among thousands. I think you’re taking extremes and counting them as the only solid evidence FOR polygamy. There’s more evidence AGAINST polygamy than there is for it.”

    So let me get this straight, you, who wish to condemn a whole group of people based on a handful of select passages (which you want to say are devoid of context and therefore absolute) are saying that the three examples that Gary gave (and he could cite many more, certainly a lot more than there are that supposedly condemn homosexuality) are of no significance because they are just a few select examples that do not represent the norm. Did I get that right? Do you know what hypocrisy is?

    Also, have you not stopped to think of the implications of even one instance where God not only condones but provides for something that you believe to be sinful? Even one occurrence of such a thing would be infinitely significant as I have never met a single Christian that holds a theology that would support that God even occasionally encourages and promotes sin.

    And here’s where your particular brand of sidestepping gets even more bizarre: You said, “You’re also talking about Moses and two kings of Israel who walked closer with God than almost anyone in the Old Testament.” Now, I’ve been around many different circles of Christians but what I have never before come across is a group (or an individual assuming you speak only for yourself) that believes that being closer to God means that you can get away with more sin. (Certainly throws the whole sin separates us from God idea out the window.) I’ve been around the people who like to think that people who are really close to God never sin. Those that think we need to be perfect to be really close to God. I of course think that is ridiculous, but none the less, that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous that you think that these men are not a good example of what is sinful or not because they were so close to God that they could get away with polygamy (even have God PROVIDE them with many wives) where as for us mere mortals it would be sinful. But lets follow through with your argument anyway shall we? So, if someone were really close to God, then perhaps God would be ok with not only condoning but actually providing a same sex partner for that person (as an exception rather than the rule of course). And just for arguments sake, lets say that no more than 5-10% of the general population ever gets that close to God for one reason or another. Interesting… So, perhaps in olden days God granted those he was closest to many wives. Today instead he just makes them gay and grants them a single same-sex partner. It seems like a fair trade-off to me. Thanks for clearing that up.

  104. I saw that. He actually used killing a homeless man as an illustration of things which are “not inherently destructive”.

  105. You have such a keen way of drawing out the contradictions and ironies of these ridiculous arguments. Love to read your comments.

  106. I sometimes can’t resist deploying reductio ad absurdum in response to an argument, especially if the argument is sufficiently absurd on its own. This one was a no-brainer.

  107. If we could have proved by now that God creates homosexuals, this argument would have been long over. Unfortunately, no such conclusion exists. Biologically, we’re created as males and females, and that’s how we’re designed to go together. The idea of sexual orientation and identity hasn’t been around for more than 200 years. It’s always been known as an act or a preference before we officially labeled it as a way of life.

  108. Charlie: Thanks for your participation in this conversation. I’m going to put you on moderation now, because … I just don’t see any reason to give your thoughts any more space on this blog. Thanks again for … whatever.

  109. And no real response from Charlie on how being gay causes damage. I wish someone who believes homosexuality is a sin would actually be able to show me how it hurts people, our society or anyone really. Including God. But they can’t, because it does not.

  110. The Bible DOES NOT DEFINE MARRIAGE. The Bible DESCRIBES a number of different forms of marriage, and lays down an expectation that the parties to a marriage will behave honorably towards one another.

    Different cultures throughout the ages have defined marriage in a variety of ways. For most of human history, marriage has been an important way of identifying, protecting and claiming various rights relating to child support, inheritance, care of vulnerable family members,etc – i.e. SOCIAL obligations. Most nations now protect and enforce those rights and obligations by means of laws that deal specifically with those aspects of society, without regard to the marital status of the affected parties. Thus marriage (in a Western/First World context anyway) is now largely viewed as a union between 2 partners, rather than the joining of 2 families. There are many parts of the world where marriage is still very much a family issue, complete with arranged marriages, dowries, power/status considerations, multi-generation homes, etc. The nuclear man-woman union that you think the Bible ‘defines’ is a relatively recent social phenomenon…..

  111. Here is Charlie’s parting shot to me: “Thanks for silencing me because I disagree with you and your cohorts. It’s been real.” Apparently he’s confused “silencing me” with “letting me post nine really long comments.”

  112. I wish he would have attempted to answer at least one question…or provide even one biblical example in ANY of those “nine really long comments”. LOL

    At least there may be some who still sit on the fence reading his comments here. I think sometimes the best way to come to grips with how indefensible one’s position is, is to see others attempt to defend it in vain.

  113. Exactly.

    And as the structure of marriage changes over time and across cultures there is one principle of God’s that is timeless and applies to all. It is the principle of the law of love that is unchanging. This and this alone is what should govern our behavior.

  114. Charlie was looking for any kind of excuse to leave. People like him start getting really hostile when they can’t provide specific answers then they find a way of being victimized so they have an out. And he clearly doesn’t understand the term “moderation” (how convenient).

  115. Please, do tell me when you have met God face to face and collected his quote about gay people.

    Because it strikes me as a little bit presumptuous on your side to claim that you KNOW what God says and means when generations of theologists are still debating the interpretation of the Bible.

  116. There’s also a command that goes ‘do not kill’, and yet according to the Old Testament God himself wiped out thousands of Egyptians and the Crusades were considered an expression of God’s will.

  117. The “(second) most favourite” over at NP was to give due acknowledgement to this lovely and hilarious woman who continues to wow me. Indeed, lucky. More than a fair trade. 🙂 When I got to the 5-10%, I nearly doubled over. Best post ever.

  118. Oh, what a cop-out. Not only is it completely clear now that sexual orientation is biologically determined from birth, we’re learning more all the time how sex isn’t as cut and dry as we thought, including many that are neither [entirely/exclusively] male or female from birth, genetically or otherwise biologically.

    And that doesn’t even get started on how both male and female sex organs are “designed” for pleasure from assertive/external stimulation and from penetrating/internal stimulation. Biologically, for arousal and orgasm, penis=clitoris and G-spot=male anus. Pleasure-wise, they are essentially interchangeable.

    But yeah, since we only started recognizing a certain identity within the past 200 years or so, that obviously makes it illegitimate. 200 years doesn’t mean anything. Like democracy or dentistry or quantum mechanics. All hokum.

  119. Gary, I just want to say how much I appreciate your consistency. The phrase “the principle of the law of love” shows up in just about everything you say and means the same thing in each instance. Internal consistency can be hard to come by these days. It’s clear your stance is indeed based on principle, and one you’ve illustrated a clear justification for. A high standard, indeed.

  120. Are you talking about the part where Jesus practically says some people are born gay? Yeah, that’s the best passage to use to oppose gay marriage…

    The actually reference is to being born a eunuch, which has a number of possible interpretations. But in that time, no, they wouldn’t marry. See references among these comments on marriage then versus now.

  121. A large portion of the Christian faith is all too happy to try to force this no win situation of the GLBT community. That is the incredibly callous and abusive view of “all sex outside of marriage is sin and we deny you the right to marriage therefore your only choice is to live a completely celibate life”. How perverse and cruel is that?

    In truth the bible does not, in any place, restrict sexual activity to within the bounds of marriage whether it be biblical or state sanctioned. There are many passages that have been twisted into service for such an interpretation for so long that it has become commonly accepted by most. But in truth these passages cannot mean such because of the evidence of other scripture where God clearly allowed and even provided and/or defended sex outside of marriage. Like everything else we do…context is important and sinfulness is defined by our heart. Even in the 10 commandments I can show examples of many of these prohibited actions being acceptable under certain circumstances. Jesus Himself used deception with His brothers when there was a higher purpose to be served.

    Even in the old covenant purity laws (no longer applies to us) and the extensive rules on sexuality…this notion of sex within marriage only is never mentioned. In fact…there is a great many verses spent defining the people they were NOT allowed to have sex with (lots of family) when if the rule was only your spouse…one verse would have sufficed.

    Most in the church would consider my wife and I to be adulterers because of our poly relationship with another couple who we dearly love. But adultery would be correctly defined as a violation of our covenant, or causing another to violate theirs. (Yes…I know what our modern dictionaries say) You see…I have never broken my covenant to my wife and she never has either. Our sexuality is ours to choose. God has shown over and over in scripture that He grants us this freedom to choose what is appropriate for us so long as we do not act outside of the principles of the law of love.

    In truth sexual freedom is one of the freedoms that should be handled with the most care as it carries much potential for abuse and hurt of self and others. But it is a freedom none the less. Throughout history the church has perverted God’s views on sexuality as a means of control and income…but like so many other issues perverted by the church (homosexuality is a great example) they simply got it wrong.

  122. And of course that is ok. We can disagree with each other with respect because our views, in the way we understand them, are not victimizing others.

    Clearly we are both staunch defenders of truth against those who would pervert scripture to harm others.

  123. Probably Charlie. When the threads get this long, it is kind of hard to tell which remarks are being made to which comments, isn’t it?

  124. The commandment is actually ‘do not murder’. There are instances when the taking of a human life is not sin, because it is not murder – accidents, self-defense, defense of another. As with all sin, it is the condition of one’s heart that is crucial, rather than the act itself.

    [I’m glad you qualified that the Crusades were ‘considered’ an expression of God’s will because in my opinion they were merely a politically convenient tool in the hands of power-hungry politicians disguised as Church leaders….]

  125. Gary, I can’t help but agree with you completely. It has long been my view, though entirely monogamous myself, that the bible wholely sanctions polygamy. There is a double standard, though. Men could have multiple wives/concubines but no woman could marry and still have other partners. Women who did have sex outside of marriage were no longer “marriage material” and were often forced to chose between poverty and prostitution without a husband or son to provide for them. But no argument from me that the more accurate (re)interpretation in this context is to bridge the equality gap by granting more freedom to women (no longer viewed as property), not by taking more from men (and implicitly making them property also).

    I did suspect re: you and your wife. I’m growing accustomed to your writing style and it seemed this was personal to you. (Not that it takes anything from your argument, of course. I hate the accusations of obvious bias that always follow such an statement. As I’m sure you can guess, they are frequent for me as well…) You argued it the way I have about being gay. Nearly indistinguishable.

    Which is why I could never get away from taking a side, personally, on the polygamy issue. Too many calls of, “if we allow gay marriage, what next? polygamy? bestiality? pedophilia?”. (I hate those comments, too.) But where to draw the line becomes an inevitable personal question. And the first thing you realize is how completely ridiculous each of those comparison are, as they each raise fundamentally different questions about how we view marriage. Gay marriage is a question about the interchangeability of the sexes, their fundamental equality, complementary versus partnership. At issue with polygamy is the concept of marriage as sexual exclusivity. For bestiality (ugh…) it is the relative capacities of humans and animals, their interchangeability (we’d outlaw meat-eating before we legalize marriage between human and animals, for instance…). For paedophilia, the relative capacities of adults and children, their interchangeability.

    Notice polygamy is the most dissimilar of those four. The other three are all interchangeability questions. We are obviously far from viewing animals and humans or adults and children from being interchangeable in virtually every aspect of society. The idea of a gay marriage “slippery slope” towards them is ridiculous. In those places where men and women are treated interchangeably, gay marriage is a natural extension of an existing social reality. A few words in the relevant laws (“a man and a woman” to “two people”) is all that is required legally. The legal change is so simple because the interchangeability is already a daily reality. Where this interchangeability of the sexes is not accepted (where I, who I am and my role in life is defined by my plumbing) gay marriage is a social upheaval. At it’s root, it’s a gender issue.

    But polygamy is something else, a different type of question. Marriage as sexual exclusivity versus marriage and a inherent sex-inclusive but not sex-defined union. It brings to issue the question of sex, the nature of it, it’s affect on us, and how (if at all) it should be contained (if not by law, then by social norms). And those implications would be how a public debate on polygamy would crystalize – for aspects related to biology, sociology, health and morality.

    But it does make the human rights argument harder. On the interchangeability question, the human rights implications are obvious: men and women having equal rights means that if a man can have a wife, I should be able to also. As we accept different right for adults and children and for animals and humans, no such slippery slope exists. But what identifiable group is disadvantaged by only recognizing relationships between two? (Some suggestions have been made that some are “wired” for multiple partners, but not sure it’s catching on.) I say this not as a judgement, but as an observation as to why that social/political shift may be less likely.

    The prevailing argument against polygamy has been that the modern practice is abusive and predatory and that consensual instances are extremely rare and still inherently sexist. Therefore, while the bible condones it (as it does slavery, for instance), this must be modified. A legitimate argument were the premises true. But either there’s an increasing trend or just an increasing awareness that there are many types of consensual non-sexist polyamourous relationship models that are more common than previously thought. Like the woman who John recently interviewed, there will be those who are disadvantaged by the law, who are denied (along with their children) the benefits of marriage that even others they are in a relationship with can benefit from. But unlike gay marriage, it’s not something that would be easy to legally change. Everything from divorce law to insurance premiums are based on units of two. Much greater social movement would happen before a consideration of that actual social overhaul would be contemplated. Whether you think that good or bad, it will not at all come as a “side affect” of gay marriage.

    [All views personal opinion only. Not reflective of any group, organization or entity.]

    Ok, enough analysis. My curiosity continues to abound. A notice you said you and your wife with another couple, not your and your wife are actually in a four. I take it it’s different for you and her (and them) than the woman interviewed by John? (Again, just ignore my way too personal questions if you aren’t comfortable.)

  126. I am very comfortable answering questions and I appreciate your genuine desire to know me as opposed to stereotypically judging me. Not that I would ever expect anything different from you…but it is one of the things I find very refreshing from you.

    I am a bit surprised you have not picked up on the fact we are poly as I have been pretty open about it here recently. But of course…these conversations do tend to run together. But our relationship is not one of polygamy. I support it in principle and would support legalization of it of course…it just is not us. We are simply two couples who have fallen in love and have an exclusive quad relationship. The dynamic is very balanced in our case. (Not that that is a requirement necessarily.) We are all hetero so the situation is basically that we each consider ourselves to have two spouses and a best friend. My wife and I absolutely love the fact that we have given each other the gift of loving another. Watching my wife fall in love all over again and knowing that I can give this joy to her has been a real joy to me. It has enhanced our relationship and our love in ways we never dreamed possible.

    Loved your discussion on interchangeability by the way.

  127. Thanks, Gary. And yeah, I’ve missed a lot here lately. Guess I just didn’t see it.

    Right now I’m wondering how long you’ve been poly and whether it happened before you stopped going to church (about a year ago, was it?). Are you out about it now (you know, in the world of faces and last names) and were you then? Do you find the lack of recognition a challenge or disappointment, or are you not so affected by it in your situation?

  128. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2012/02/17/if-no-ones-being-hurt-gods-okay-with-your-sexuality/#comments

    The link above is to a post a month or two back of John’s where I went into a fair amount of detail as to our relationship. But to answer a couple of your questions briefly…

    Yes we have been poly for 5 1/2 years…long before we left the church. I actually taught adult sunday school right up to the time we left. No we are not out about it in the real world. I am and adjunct faculty in a large Christian University and I would immediately lose that job. Most of my family would never accept it either being from a very fundamental church background. There are a small number of people who know and some who suspect…but everyone who suspects pretty much goes by live and let live.

    We would love to be out so to speak…but it is not really possible. But as two married couples, we are not being denied benefits or such as gay couples often are.

    Anyway…read those posts and a lot of your questions will be answered.

  129. I appreciate this comment more every time I read it. I think the first time I read it, I just glossed over it.

  130. Matthewy 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

    Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to the dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

    Sounds pretty eternal and alive to me.

    And if it was imperfect, that would render God imperfect.

  131. And we think the writer of Hebrews is referring to the as yet unassembled bible because…?

  132. In the beginning was The Word, and The Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    The notion that this is referring to the book you call your bible, which would not even be assembled for centuries as Christine pointed out, is a bit of a stretch.

  133. I just realized that the comments I was referring to are well down on the first page…nearly at the bottom. If you go looking for them start there.

  134. 🙂 Yes – we don’t have to agree with one another on every little facet of our faith. The Bible itself exhorts us not to get bogged down in disagreements about the law….

    I greatly appreciate what BOTH of you (and others, of course), share here.

  135. Thanks, Gary! I had read that article but when there were fewer comments. Might have just missed you – or I was in some sort of trance and missed the connection when skimming through. (I think this was before I had the “Gary here” and “Gary there” are the same Gary moment. Haven’t always been reading much here.) Anyways, I can see why you would have thought that I’d have known. Appreciate you finding it for me.

  136. I’m pretty sure alcoholic Christians is the perfect example you are looking for to disprove your complaint; alcoholism, like homosexuality, is statistically going to be present within the Christian population as with any other large group. Alcoholism causes proven bodily harm, and usually much emotional trauma for the person and people around them. Homosexuality itself causes no harm, and the only emotional trauma is caused by the people who say it is wrong – a circular argument if you tried to push that sole negative point to make yourself sound correct for saying it is wrong, unnatural or unacceptable in any way.

  137. You can’t say Jesus would have upheld the law including condemning homosexual acts for a very obvious reason;

    He quite clearly did not care for other laws, such as working on the Sabbath

  138. I am so glad that other people thought that was ridiculous enough to mention O_o this guy must have something wrong with him if he counts that as not harming anyone.

  139. Charlie, calm down, I’ll prove it for you right here;

    IF homosexuals exist

    AND God created everything

    THEREFORE God created homosexuals


  140. But you CAN be a drunk Christian, or a lying Christian, a divorced Christian, a rude and spiteful Christian, a judgmental Christian.

    …and I’d go so far as to say you might be some of these things and it is okay. Jesus will not reject you for it. Jesus also will not reject homosexuals so why should I?

  141. I’m annoyed that he cites Romans 1:26-26 and then says that Paul was specifically referring to “non-consensual sex” when the verse says the men ‘were inflamed with lust for one another”. Not “one for the other”. That verse was very clearly referring to consensual.

    And his argument that homosexuals didn’t exist back then also irks me when Nero himself actually had two public weddings. And if one wishes to keep in in context, some of those “clobber” passages were addressed to Rome where such marriages became common among the politicians.

    BUT, we are to welcome ANYONE into the church yet I do not agree with placing them in offices of church authority. I agree that we should treat everyone the same regardless of orientation or beliefs, but living an immoral lifestyle is not something to cast aside when considering who to appoint as an elder or pastor.

    Yes, Old Testament law is not really applicable anymore, but the laws that condemn same sex acts were reiterated as immoral in the New Testament. Yeah, we’re not supposed to punish it or judge others… but saying that the love from a committed relationship of the same sex bears fruits? No.

  142. In the last paragraph I meant that the acts were reiterated as immoral, not the OT laws. My apologies for the grammar fail.

  143. Charlie the deceived and the deceivers always eventually reveal their true colors.

  144. Sex outside of marriage pertained to a married person who had sex with someone other than his or her spouse. Sex outside of marriage did not pertain to people who were not in a marriage. It did not apply to people who were single. A single pereson having sex with another single person is was not considered sex outside of marriage because there was no marriage either single person was associated with. Thus, their single status. In today’s modern mind, sex outside of marriage pertains to anyone who has sex who is not married. However, based on things I’ve read, the original intent of the ORIGINAL bible was to reference sex outside of a married person’s marriage as being the sin. Rightfully so because the Law Of Christ is to love thy neighbor as thyself. Adultery (ie. being married, yet having sex with someone other than your spouse) is considered a breaking of the Law Of Christ since it causes harm to the spouse who is being cheated on. Two single people having sex does not violate the Law Of Christ as no one is harmed by it due to their singleness.

  145. Agreed, Gary. The Law Of Christ is the Law Of Love, which is the Royal Law (James 2:8), which is to love thy neighbor as thyself. Which further means, treat people the way you would want to be treated. Which, even further means, treat people as if they were you. The doers of this Law are justified before God (Romans 2:13). Nothing else determines if a person is accepted by God or not. Just this one Law and if it is adhered to by an individual.

  146. Andy, Charlie fled the conversation. We’re still here. You do the math on who showed his “true colors”, dear.

  147. Actually, Jesus did not end the Law. He ended the whole of Moses’ Law and by doing so, he delcared that only the neighbor based commands to be the Law (Romans 2:13). In comparison to Romans 3:20, Jesus and Paul state that those things in the Law Of Moses that were considered Jobs or works do not justify. While those things based on love of one’s neighobor (ie. the Justices) are the Law. This is verified in Jesus’ goats and sheep story in Matthew. The goats were not the doers of the Law while the sheeps were. I believe that Jesus’ comment about having those depart from him because he never knew them is a reference to those who find themselves focused on works (ie. things that Jesus considers unnecessary). Religious people have a slew of things they believe they have to do because they’re a Christian (or non-Christian). The only thing Jesus requires is that you love your neighbor as yourself. In this act alone, you are justified. You’re not justified because you’re a Christian. You’re not justified because you are male or because you go to church or because you’ve been baptized. Jesus declared love of neighbor (in action) as the Law and only Law that justifies.

  148. Jesus’ death paid the price for EVERYONE’S sins. If Jesus died on the cross then everyone is saved. Done! Finished. However, Jesus also left humanity with a Law of how to treat our fellowman. Some of us have yet to learn it still. Love thy neigbhor is easily said, but not done. To treat others as we would want to be treated if we were our neighbor is not easy. The gay issue is but one example of this. The punishment, however, for not being a doer of the Law (Romans 2:13) will only result in a punishment that only a good parent executes. Parents who care correct their children and God is the ultimate Parent. As I’ve said before, we are all saved due to Jesus’ death. However, if anyone does not obey the Law, they are punished (ie. corrected) before they can spend eternity with God. And everyone will. Some just end up in the life of the age to come before others are because they were doers of the Law. Too may people, however, are too focused on the works of the Law (Romans 3:20) instead of simply loving others as self. This, I believe, will lead to their temporary punishment like those Jesus wanted to depart from him because he never knew them. He never knew them because they were focused on rituals and casting out demons instead of being loving to their neighbor. The Good Samaritan story is an example of what Jesus was saying. In that story, it mattered not who was a priest or who wasn’t. It didn’t even matter what religious affiliation the characters were. What mattered was love in action towards their fellowman. The people Jesus wanted to depart from him in Matthew, I believe, were those who failed to see that loving God is not about religious rituals. It’s about loving their fellowman because when you love your neighbor, you ARE loving God, just as Jesus’ the goats and the sheep story in Matthew illustrates. I do agree that Jesus paid the price, but I disagree that there is no Law to follow. It’s a Law that is written on the hearts of those who adhere to it. People in Jesus’ day had a choice to make: Believe n the religious leaders of the day who were concerned about the Jobs or works/deeds of the law. Or, they could “believe in Jesus” who said that the only Law is that of love for one’s neighbor as self. This truly is what I believe what “believing in Jesus” originally meant. Not, asking Jesus into your heart to be your Lord and Savior. Jesus died for the sins of the world. He made himself everyone’s Lord and Savior.

  149. You know you’re right. All of these abused women John has helped and the gay kids in despair he has supported – that’s all fruit of the devil!

  150. Yeah, if John’s is the fruit of the Devil, call me a Satanist!

  151. then your a satanist. the devil masquareds as a angel of light. john interpting scripture is so far off its actually sad.

  152. This is obviously fake, with the troubled spelling and the overt hostility. But it does make me laugh every time, I’ll give you an A+ for effort. 😉

  153. I should have called the Angel of Light thing. Could have made some money on that one. Unfortunately those who regurgitate that concept forget that in the end, even Satan masquerading as an angel of light would cause despair and destruction. A bunch of vulnerable people finding hope and encouragement? Not exactly the devil’s favorite thing. 🙂

  154. hope and encouragement from what a man says, will end in despair and destruction.

  155. It’s so odd how those of you like this person who are so obsessed with the devil have zero idea of what “angel of light” even means.

  156. I’ll tell you what’s sad: your horrible spelling that perpetuates the stereotype of the uneducated religious wingnut. Thanks for playing. Don’t try again.

  157. Actually not sex outside of marriage perse…but sex outside of marriage for a woman who was the property of a man. (husband or father) The bible is full of sex outside of marriage by men who were never condemned by God or others. In fact some even with the support of their wives. Adultery is the breaking of a covenant…including the covenant of sexual exclusivity. However…what a couple’s covenant is, is for them to decide. We are in fact poly with another couple and consider ourselves in a 4 way marriage. It is our covenant…it is our marriage…there is no adultery or cheating of any kind.

  158. There’s something here that’s just too misleading to let be overlooked: It is not at all clear that it’s ever determined from birth.

    What’s clear is that one may be predisposed to a certain sexual orientation at birth, but also that things which happen after birth can play a role as well (as some even have experienced changes in their sexual orientation over the course of their lives).

    There is no drug that a mother-to-be might take, or some “gay gene”, or any other factor known that inevitably leads to any particular sexual orientation.

    (And thank God for this! lest someone begin a Nazi-style forced sterilization campaign for Jesus [if not for Muhammad {s.a.w.} or even just for themselves], who did say, after all say, “[A]nd there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”)

  159. My point, Gary, is that, what causes harm to your fellowman is sin, based on Christ’s Law of love thy neighbor as thyself, which I believe is the only Law humanity is to follow, based on Jesus’ teachings. Biblically, the view of women was so much different than it is today and Jesus had issue with the view of women as well from what I can see. Just saw a video of a preacher on the show The View. This preacher wanted to go back to the way women were viewed and treated in the bible. Not a good idea in my humble opinion.

  160. Christian sanity, I love it! Jesus is all about loving humanity and being there for each other, without judgement. I am not a Christian but I totally respect Christ Consciousness. Thank you for showing this side of Christianity.

  161. They lack of real Scriptural consistency about sin thst some of you will allow your minds to stretch to (as evidenced by Charlie completely ignoring the point I was making here) is so terribly unsettling.

  162. I love how Charlie speaks to the “majority” of guy men and women and their lack of desire to marry when their ability to do so is one of the hugest legal issues we have in the US.

    People like Charlie will do almost anything to believe what they do. Thanks God this next generation of Christians will put this kind of denial and insanity to rest permanently.

  163. Remarkable, John. I look forward to getting your book and sending the hyperlink for this page to a few people. Many thanks.

  164. John, I enjoyed the article and appreciate all that your doing.

    You have such a wonderful, diverse group of folks that write in on this site. What a great forum! As far as “done”s comment, this verse came to mind…

    “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”

    (I’m not suggesting that “done” should be demonized, just that with the multiplicity of ways people have read the Bible, a little humilty is always a good idea before trying to claim to know that someone is Satan’s progeny…)

    Personally, I really don’t think it matters whether you are interpreting those verses about homosexuality correctly or not. In my view, the OT advocated some horrible practices in the light of the golden rule and certain NT ethics, so we shouldn’t feel the need to regard every utterance of the scriptures as perfect words from on high. As I’ve posted elsewhere, the OT builds slavery in the Law (and allows beating slaves as long as you don’t kill them), the NT allows it, but the golden rule in the NT demands that it be chucked. Likewise, the OT condemns homosexuality as an abomination– but in the light of the golden rule and compassion, I think the “abomination” is more aptly found in the condemnation and in the punishment that went along with it. Likewise, whatever Paul was saying about homosexuality, I don’t think it could be binding for people who love each other. Paul agreed that we all “see in a mirror dimly”– this could be something he was seeing dimly about…

    At any rate, that’s my perspective. I acknowledge that I’m a full-blown agnostic “heretic” (but I think I have a lot to learn from many types of people which is one reason I keep coming back here…)

  165. Wow. Both men and women were worth creating. Gee… thanks for the update.

    Btw, I’ve heard there’s a thing called morals and respect for society. Oh, and I also heard Jesus said to love one another. Funny, huh? Guess you missed it in all that screaming.

    Hearing you’re celibate is TMI – since you only seem to want to do what Jesus did. Makes me wonder why you care about others’ sex lives so much.

    Love you, but not what you are? Seriously??? What part of a person am I loving if not who they are?

  166. Right… cause it’s not like Jesus would want us to comfort each other or build each other up or anything… Gees, if He wanted that, He might have told us to love each other…

  167. Calm down. Screaming is not more likely to make you people listen to you. There’s a thing called manners and respect for others.

    By the way, who are you responding to? I don’t recall anyone here advocating for an all male or all female society. Did I miss something?

  168. I disagree that hearing this person is celibate is TMI. I always find it refreshing to know that certain people are not reproducing and hopefully not raising children either, after all Jesus didn’t.

  169. Hey, Clive. Some interesting questions. A few tips, take’em or leave’em:

    1. John’s arguments are only one set. Their are plenty from many corners. If you find a few bits in here that rub you the wrong way and want to chuck’em, fair enough. But remember, that doesn’t invalidate the rest of what John is saying or the many other arguments that are different but complementary to his.

    2. Be careful about any interpretation based solely on one English translation – particularly if you want to get sticky about the difference between things like “one another” and “one for the other”. You’ll likely need the Greek for that kind of distinction.

    3. The anthopological/historical understandings of homosexuality are very complicated. It’s hard in any short summary to present a fully nuanced view. It is safe to say that there wasn’t the same CONCEPT of homosexuality then – that some people are born with a different biological (not just casual preference difference) than most. And since marriages weren’t about love or romance, the nature of sex relative to marriage and love was much different, too. It all makes it very difficult for us to grasp the context of these biblical texts. A few quick things you read don’t necessarily override what is a necessarily simplified summary.

    4. What it with judging the fruits of others’ relationships. It’s not loving; it is offensive. Biological children are not the only fruits of relationships – and it they were, would all infertile couples be leading immoral lifestyles?

    5. I understand you wanting standards in church authority. Who doesn’t? But banning people from full church participation (i.e. the option of entering ministry) has to be based on far more than a few highly-contested verses taken in isolation.

  170. Well, that’s how homophobes think. They’re paranoid of the “gay agenda” to turn everyone gay. Because that’s really why gays want legal marriage rights. To make everyone gay. Sure.

  171. Which is really silly, since gay people keep telling them over and over that you can’t be turned gay. If you’re straight, you’re safe. But then again, I guess the fears make a terrible kind of sense if you’re secretly gay but trying to pretend to be straight.

    I read the study about homophobia… what was it, 77% of men who say they hate gay people respond to gay pornography, as opposed to 20% of men who say they don’t hate gay people?

  172. Here’s the explanation I came up with for that Melody. The Tony Perkins’ and Focus on the Family’s and the Matt Barber’s seem to make arguments like, if we allow gay marriage, the species will end. Of course, those of us with just slightest touch of critical thinking skills immediately think, “Wow, that’s stupid, do they think everyone will decide to get “gay-married,” and there’ll be no heterosexual sex every again?”

    So, maybe part of it is, they don’t really believe what they are saying, but figure some of the knuckle-draggers in their camp will buy it, but I see a deeper pathology at work here. Why would a Matt Barber or Tony Perkins, or this person, be able to convincingly talk about the gay agenda basically causing everyone to wake up the day after we get it all passed (whatever that would look like), and be gay.

    The rest of us think there might still be some straight people left in the world, but they seem convinced there would not be. And one day it dawned on me. They all consider themselves “normal, ” right? (I didn’t way we did, just that they did.) So to them, they are 1. normal; 2. they must believe they would turn gay if it were suddenly made totally OK to be gay. See, deep down inside, they know if they didn’t think society found it so repugnant, it’s what they would really want to be…and since they are “normal,” then everyone else must feel the same way.

    So, obviously, if it was suddenly OK/normal to be gay, obviously, everyone would be.

  173. Here’s my questions Charlie. You say it’s a lifestyle choice, right? You do understand that “choice” means there have to be at least two options available, right?

    So, if you assume that some people have chosen to be attracted to the same sex, you also assume that other people must chose to be attracted to the opposite sex, right? And since it is a choice, that means you must be willing to admit that tomorrow morning you could wake up and just decide to be gay Charlie, right?

    So, until you are prepared to admit that, this whole discussion is pointless because you base it on some misguided belief that people chose their sexual 0rientation. So, the question to you Charlie, can you wake up tomorrow and decide to be gay?

  174. John:

    1) You argue that Paul opposes the historical context of homosexuality not the act. This is incorrect. In both Old and New Testaments, it is the sexual union of same sexes which is condemned, not the context in which it occurred. The historical context in which sin occurs will always change. But the moral prohibitions against behavior remain the same.

    2) You argue that, just as we disregard the ceremonial demands of the Old Testament or Paul’s dress church code, we should discard the Bible’s prohibitions against homosexuality.

    This simplistic interpretation is alarming. The Old Testament also condemns bestiality, incest, murder, and the worship of pagan deities through orgies and child sacrifice. Discarding the Old Testament’s moral authority wholesale would have the unfortunate side effect of also legitimizing those behaviors. Therefore, your exegesis is fundamentally flawed.

    Determining the relevance of Old Testament law and whether a prohibition is a cultural norm or moral demand is one of the most difficult acts of the Biblical exegete. I think the problem is that you lump both ceremonial and moral demands into a single category (eg. having sex with men is the same as attending a harvest festival, therefore both are permissible). The most helpful bit of advice I’ve heard in regards to this dillema is to ask “Is this behavior condemned in both Testaments?” For issues such as female head coverings and harvest festivals, the answer is obviously “no” and therefore no longer binding. For issues of human sexuality, both Testaments are consistent in their condemnation of certain behaviors.

    3) You identify a disparity between the Christian community’s stern condemnations of homosexuality and the permissive attitude directed at other sins. This is correct. The Christian community should regard all sexual sins – homosexuality, premarital fornication, and adulter – with the same disdain.

    4) You correctly identify that homosexuality as a fixed state of being, rather than a mode of behavior, is a modern invention. The modern perspective of homosexuality is an anomoly. Even in ancient Greece, homosexuality was a pasttime rather than a rigid category of human sexuality. However, you then incorrectly conclude that Paul couldn’t condemn homosexuality because the human category hadn’t been invented. Once again, Paul and other inspired writers of the Bible condemned the act of same sex intercourse. Not the historical context or alleged mental category which motivated it. No matter what new categories of human psychology are invented, the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual behavior is unchanged.

  175. Jon,

    What about your views about loving homosexual people and having empathy with their pain? Have you thought about how difficult it would be to live under the kind of societal and ecclesiastical condemnation that you mention in such a matter-of-fact way? You seem to focusing heavily on the Christian’s (perceived) need to condemn. Should you not your larger focus be on compassion, regardless of your theological stance?

    Although I disagree with your strict biblicism (and find it untenable exegetically as a general approach), I’m also not sure that you’re presenting an attitude of someone who believes he is personally just as worthy of condemnation and hell as other people. (Maybe I’m wrong on that though.) I think a key verse here could be from James “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” and from the gospels “with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    IMO, strict biblicism is a dangerous approach. It seems to render people incapable of objectivity and renders many a person the “champion of the foregone conclusion.” I think this approach is actually making you yourself guilty of the “simplistic interpretation” that you have expressed disapproval for.

    Perhaps Paul is completely condemning homosexual acts– and, perhaps more importantly, maybe your own preconceptions have blinded you to a consistent ethic that emphasizes love. Either way, IMO, it’s time to move beyond the notion that the careful analysis of individual pericopes is compatible with a forced approach to reconciling all the verses in both Testaments. (IMO, e.g., we can start with recognizing the inherent inconsistency of a diety who would be so unmerciful and hypocritical as to send people whom he created to be tortured for eternity. Many examples, but James 2 shows it well enough: “13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Be merciful or I’ll be totally unmerciful??)

    Sure, there are a lot of psychological theories. I hope you would not reject them wholesale though but recognize that we’ve come a long way since the 1st century in understanding psychological phenomena. After all, we’re reading texts by people who had no concept of germ theory or epilepsy — and gave complete credence to non-existent categories like “demon possession.” There is, of course, a physiological aspect to homosexuality that has been traced to fetal development. To simply ascribe it “sin” is extremely misleading, as there are plenty of examples of homosexual activity in literally hundreds of other animal species. (This assumes, I guess, that you don’t regard animals as “sinners.”)

    Those would be my thoughts anyway.

  176. And yet there was the young servant of the Roman Centurion whom Jesus healed. He was most likely a body servant who would be expected to service his master’s physical needs, including his sexual ones.

  177. Conjecture. Not wholly impossible, but it’s an argument from silence, and a rather weak one.

    Even if we allow it, this would fall under the times when God “winked at” the sin of the unenlightened, non-Israelite peoples (see Acts 17:30). Jesus was sent to Israel alone (see Matt. 15:24). But now, after the Cross, God commands all people everywhere to repent (again, Acts 17:30).

  178. More than you realize. 😀 I left organized Christendom long ago to simply take on Love. By all Christendom’s definition, I am an apostate, a heretic, etc. ad nauseum. I believe nothing but Jesus Christ crucified, and risen from the dead to redeem us from our sins. 🙂 And, I am also a Christian who just so happens to be gay.

    I feel compelled to preach nothing else but the true Gospel, and see man reconciled to the Father through His Son, and see them confess the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. 😀

  179. Thanks Cindy and Gary for picking up that nearly overlooked thread. Ignorant statements of that magnitude could be laughable if no one actually believed such rubbish.

    Is this the right moment to invoke loving the bigot while vehemently opposing and standing against the bigotry?

  180. To Christine and Gary,

    Reading your collective posts has been like holding up the Law of Love up to the light in order to read it more clearly, and seeing it radiating even more light for all to find. Beautiful words all. Thank you.

  181. Wow Gary, VJ, DR– I can honestly say that was the very first honorable, respectful, valid, and credible disagreement on/about scripture I’ve ever come across. I’m appreciatively humbled by all your points. These are discussions worthy of this esteemed venue, and it’s another reason why I keep returning.

  182. Gary, I believe it’s important to think about what the NT writers were thinking when they wrote that Jesus was the Word. They were, of course, pointing out that he was God, present since the beginning of the world, but they were also Jews who were aware that their readers held the Torah in special regard as The Word.

  183. Thanks for this great article. I appreciate the thought that went into it. Well done.

  184. Just out of curiosity, do you eat only kosher meat with the blood drained from it before butchering and certified by a rabbi? Because that’s one that’s in both Testaments; in fact, it’s one of the three things the apostles in Acts considered an essential moral prohibition that needed to be carried over to the gentile followers of Christ. I’m not aware of any Christian group that attempts to follow this prohibition.

    In any case, you’re wrong when you say that John is lumping moral in with ceremonial. He’s acutely aware of the difference and is sifting one from the other using the method Jesus instructed us to use, the Great Commandment. Love God, love your neighbor. All valid laws of God can be derived from one of these. Other laws are from men.

  185. I’m afraid, Paul, that the argument is not from silence, but comes from scholars of the Greek language. The Greek word used here is “paias,” which in the Greek culture was actually used to refer to a younger lover of an older, more powerful and more educated man. So the Greek word used, is not even the usual word for a servant.

    Additionally, for Jesus to say, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith,” (a reference to the Centurion) can hardly be considered “winking” at sin. Come on, even you can’t believe what you’ve written above if you have studied Matthew at all?

    Therein lies the problem with many like you. You want so much for the Gospels to support your position of hate and discomfort, that you simply ignore the plain truths of the Bible. This one is not something you can explain away. Jesus healed the younger lover of a gay man, and then said that man had the greatest faith of all Israel. Probably Paul, greater than yours. Yet you still seek to find a way to try to deny the very words of the book you claim to hold as inerrant.

  186. Hi John, I have posted this essay on my Facebook page and have gotten some reaction, no surprise there. I am not a Biblical Scholar, nor an Historian, so I need some clarification for one of the comments left on my post. In essence, they are saying that

    for you to say that a Homosexual lifestyle would be something that Paul would have no concept of, would be wrong, that it was a common practice by even powerful Roman’s and they were quite open and flamboyant in their Gay lifestyle. I have no idea, so I’d appreciate you weighing in on this.

    I too have been trying God’s patience-but since 1959!

  187. Here is the problem with that kind of comment: what IS this “homosexual lifestyle” people are talking about? They never come right out and say it; it’s a phrase they’re parroting from their church or Fox News. What they want to believe – licentiousness! depravity! weekends in cheap motels with hamsters & wet suits! – tells more about the kind of people who use that phrase than the reality.

    Did you catch this in John’s article?

    “During the time in which the New Testament was written, the Roman conquerors of the region frequently and openly engaged in homosexual acts between themselves and boys. Such acts were also common between Roman men and their male slaves. These acts of non-consensual sex were considered normal and socially acceptable. ”

    That is about power, not about sex.

    Which is quite a different thing from two same-sex people getting up in the morning, making coffee, putting a Pop-Tart in the toaster, going to work, picking up the dry cleaning, coming home, making dinner, and falling asleep in front of the TV.

  188. Clearly I’m doing it wrong, Barbara. I usually have cereal. Maybe I’m supposed to sprinkle it with debauchery, wanton abandon, and the blood of fundamentalist babies?

  189. Oh gosh Max. THANK YOU for providing this invaluable service because NONE of us could have found those ON OUR OWN.

    Please to go away now and don’t slam the door behind you.

  190. BAM!! You told him, Barbara! A dollar for every time some brainless fundy posts stuff we’ve seen a million times, I’d be no longer in debt for my student loans. You rock!

  191. Fundies aren’t capable of reading, much less opening their minds. They’re cemented shut by their brainwashing.

  192. The quote marks make this seem like trolling, but in case not, the Bible wasn’t written in English.

  193. Possibly, to execute gay Israelites living in the desert prior to the the establishment of their country. Other than that, not so much. It gets filed away with the whole shellfish and pork thing, as possibly useful if you want to ensure your little tribe of nomadic herders survives, but less of an issue when the world is overpopulated and we have decent refrigeration.


  194. Just an observation that I expect won’t be received well here, but it appears based on several comments that your criticism of Christians not display love “above all” is not practiced here by your “regular” contributors.

    When your (is it bad to say?) followers were given a chance to display love to the “other side” their reactions included “(in)capable of reading, much less opening their minds, brainwash(ed), homophobic, hypocrites and frauds, uneducated religious wingnut(s), brainless fund(ies)”.

    In this thread at least I saw no instruction from you, John, exhorting your com-padres

    to example the love you’re preaching.

  195. This story brings tears to my eyes! I just can’t understand how some people can be so insensitive. I have saved this story in my long list of documents that I have collected to share with others. Thank you again for sharing!

  196. Greetings all…

    This comes at just the right time for me, as things always seem to do (thanks, God!).

    I have lately been grieving the chasm that has developed between my husband and me with the rest of my family of origin (except for one enlightened brother and my mom.) After a nephew decried a Facebook post I made highlighting the presence of homosexual behaviors in the animal world, a definite line in the sand was drawn. All of my brothers identify themselves as men whose relationship with God is their primary relationship; they are men of strong faith and the conviction to follow their faith, even at the expense of other relationships. I can respect that. I also believe the faith I try to live daily is the life God has called me to. After this post was made, my younger brother told another brother of ours (who is the defacto head of the family since my dad’s death) that he felt uncomfortable being around me and therefore, we stopped receiving invites to “family” gatherings… all this was done without any communication with my husband and me. I struggled with their collective decision as much as I struggled with their perceptions of what God was calling them to do. This has caused me much heartache, and I know that the one and only time all my siblings and I will be together again is when our mother dies. I tried to communicate with them about this, and how it has hurt us deeply, but the reply I got back was “Jesus said to hate the sin, but love the sinner.”

    I appreciate this post so much – as well as the comments that follow. I know I get a LOT of things wrong, and I know I often fall waaaay short of the mark, but I would much rather get to Heaven and hear “You loved greatly” than “You followed the law.”

    – Peace

  197. Does something have to be damaging or immoral in order to be considered a sin, though? I mean, it was a sin for the ancient Israelites to shave he sides of their beards, but it’s hard to see how that would be immoral per se, unless the desire to separate themselves from their neighboring cultures would count as having moral weight.

  198. I’m sorry but are you really calling out Max as a “brainless fundy” for posting scripture aka God’s Word?? I mean your very cute and all (nice picture) but I don’t think God’s word makes anyone brainless…quite the contrary.

  199. The brainless part comes from thinking (a) he’s the first person to throw that scripture around loosely as if we couldn’t find it for ourselves and (b) implying that all we need to do is read it at face value without any examination into cultural and historical mores that are not readily apparent, as well as the personal prejudices of the author(s) and (c) completely misreading this website’s purpose and community.

  200. Melody is more than ‘your very cute’. We can’t all hide behind the anonymous geometric icons. Some of us are people.

  201. Even if they were right, “hating the sin and loving the sinner” doesn’t mean cutting everyone out of your life without talking with them or trying to reconcile! I am so sorry you are going through this. Tell them that Jesus specifically commands his followers to have dinner with sinners, because that is what he did…what a Biblical metaphor this situation of yours is.

    Tell them they need to read Corinthians 13 and meditate on it if they want to know what God is calling them to do. Love doesn’t shrug its shoulders and cut sisters and brothers out of the family.

  202. Mike: If someone is doing harm to me (i.e., spreading falsehoods and lies) like Max is doing, I don’t really care whether they are being polite or not. It is hypocritical to treat Max’s insult as anything but. Using the Bible as a crutch to harm others is sinful to me. That is what Max is doing – harming others (but pretending to be caring at the same time). Sorry, but I don’t trust or believe that people like Max are acting out of any compassion what so ever. In fact I think they are lying and AT LEAST I will tell Max what I think (he appears to be a hypocritical fundie who picks and chooses sins) and not hide behind the Bible. Would you be OK with someone punching or kicking you as long as they are smiling and using a kind tone? No, I don’t think so.

  203. Hi Will,

    I hope this note finds you well. What you need to understand, is that much of what you’re coming against…name calling, yelling back, etc. Is coming from deep pain and emotional trauma. A lot of us have been shunned by our families and churches, driven from home (and all we’ve ever known), and rejected by society as well. Some of have been bullied to the point of suicide, some of us have been beaten mercilessly and murdered without remorse. This deep pain causes us to lash out sometimes. I hope you can try to understand that. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that it happens.

    Love in Christ,


  204. The Bible, taken out of context can be deadly. This can be seen throughout history. Tread carefully and prayerfully always.

    Love in Christ,


  205. This is spot on and another substantial contribution in the ongoing biblical scholarship on this issue. I am curious, though, that your title uses sexist language, even though the body of the article avoid this. Was this deliberate?

  206. Wait…. we are supposed to eat breakfast? and I don’t think I’ve dry-cleaned anything in my 10 year monogamous homosexual marriage… and who has time for TV these days with all this great blog material to read? clearly I’m going to hell 😉

  207. The irony here is, when someone comes unto an article that says homosexual is acceptable or otherwise, all you get is a big flame war in the comments. The thing is, you are right, as a Christian, we are supposed to love. That applies to both parties. If someone comes on and you do not agree with their opinion of not accepting homosexuality, don’t bash them. Don’t hurt them, condemn them, don’t call them an idiot, or otherwise. Because then you yourself are sinning. Just as the homophobe shouldnt bash, hurt, condemn, or call a fool, homosexuals. The thing is to look aside from all of that, aside from this conflict, open your hearts, and KNOW THAT NOT EVERYONE IS GOING TO OPEN THEIR HEARTS LIKE YOU WILL. But know that you still can’t condemn them. You still have to love. It doesnt say, ‘love, until someone doesnt agree with you, then you’re allowed to hate’.

  208. Hi Emerill. I’m probably the most guilty of this, so I’m going to take a swing at answering. 1. John doesn’t allow flame wars. I’ve read his blog a lo-o-ong time, and when he allows a discussion to move forward, he thinks it has merit. We don’t have to agree to discuss. Those discussions can get heated. We are, after all, talking about the intersection of religion, politics, and sex.

    2. Politesse does not equal love. “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” shook up people, but that doesn’t mean the wake up call didn’t come from a place of love. I challenge you to find a post or comment on this blog which expresses hatred. If anyone oversteps their bounds, it’s most likely me or mike moore. I’m confident in speaking for him when I say, we’ve committed worse sins than confronting a homophobe. God hasn’t sent a lightning bolt yet.

  209. Just a visitor, and felt the need to speak up for a moment, though I worry that my post will be attacked with the same venom of previous people who disagree…we shall see.

    First of all, I certainly agree with much of what you write, John. Christians need to be consistent, and ought to police ourselves as much as we seem to relish telling others how to behave. Also, homosexuals OUGHT to be accepted into churches, should not be treated hatefully or otherwise. The church, after all, is a hospital for sinners as well as a museum for saints. 🙂

    Here’s what bothers me though. This post seems to call into question the status of homosexuality as sin at all, and with great bias.

    For instance, you quote Romans 1, and dismiss it as pertaining to forced sex performed on boys, yet seem to ignore the entire sentence on females. Were females flying around pelvis-first, forcefully raping one another as well?

    All kidding aside, let’s be realistic. The presence of homosexuality was well known in Roman times, and not just the forced kind.

    Paul was a Pharisee, well steeped in Old Testament law. He also wrote against ‘fornication,’ or sex outside of marriage, and I’m not sure what homosexual behavior is other than that?

    Also, you seem to ignore God’s creative plan. Long before any OT law was given, God made a ‘suitable helper’ for man. And he didn’t make another man.

    He then told them to be fruitful and multiply. This was God’s idea of paradise, and Jesus affirms this plan relative to divorce in Matthew.

    Now we can respect that or violate that plan, but I certainly don’t want to go around calling another plan ‘just as good’ as what He (supposedly, for the sake of the unbeliever) intended.

    Finally, the fact that the OT moral law does not apply to Gentiles like me does not make it a flash in the pan on the part of God, as if it were a totally unimportant mistake. The moral law still reflects God’s will for His people at a particular time. And though some of these have been fulfilled and or explained by Jesus (food, clothing) as only a type or tool, most of the law at the very least still reflects God’s will on certain issues.

    Simply because a 21 year old can now buy alcohol, when once they could not, does not mean that the underage drinking law doesn’t reflect some notion of the negative effects of alcohol in adults as well! We certainly don’t just say ‘drink all you want and it’s good since you don’t have to follow that law anymore.’

    Neither should we conclude, because Christians are not bound by the punishments of OT law, that we ought to do the very things outlawed with relish, holding law-breaking pride parades.

    Christians should love homosexuals, just as I hope that other Christians love me even though I have committed and do commit worse acts myself. But we are called to mirror God’s love. That love certainly TAKES us as we are, but it certainly does not LEAVE us as we are…and neither should His ambassadors, like yourself.

    God’s love is not that of a cosmic grandfather, patting us on the head for our sin and handing us a Werther’s Original. I’m not sure why you seem to indicate that love is not a holy love, but a doting one, conditioned by the trends of current society?

    Hope that makes sense. Again, I appreciate your calling Christians to task, it often needs to be done (in myself as well), but I just balk at calling wrong ‘right’ and right ‘wrong.,’ as I understand it.



  210. The point of being fruitful and ‘multiplying’ was because humanity was small and there were deaths all over the place.

    7 billion on this planet. You still think we should be fruitful and multiply when we’re over-running and crowding this planet as is?

    Women- “pelvis first”. Seriously?

    Some women have raped and mutilated men today, but I do believe it is a bit difficult for a vagina to rape a penis. Of course it’s not mentioned. Have some sense man, a woman overpowering a man is ludicrous to them and when it does happen, she was thought of as possessed, an adultress, a harlot, a demon, a witch, etc. because woman should not be capable of what man could do.

    Today’s generation has completely flagged that thinking as false.

    Alcohol…no really? That analogy is poor and terribly compared. In what way does alcohol consumption that is both legal in the bible (even prescribed as medicine in those times) and in today’s time for adults have to do with the legalities of someone’s sex habits? No seriously? “Negative effects” are just that. Negative effects. Unless you are implying that homosexuality is a negative effect itself, then you’re doing it in a whole round-a-bout way to pursue the agenda of “marriage for only the approved” and not ‘all’.

    You could sell your daughter in the bible. Totally legal. It is moral and just under God. Go ahead and do it today and see the smack you get for it. Law-breaking…okay David since we’re getting personal with people’s sex habits then it is only right that I may ask such a personal question.

    Have you masturbated? Yes. Oh, you have sinned. Die.

    Masturbating within or out of marriage. Anytime. Anywhere. Any how was considered a horrible sin. (Because men of those days thought that the seed of life came from their semen and thus potential babies were being lost from this liquid). To them that was killing a baby. No, really.

    You are breaking a bible-law. Oh boo hoo.

    In today’s world, we understand though that none of that is true and much of the bible was based on CULTURAL standards of a time period wrought with dying kids, short life spans and harsh environments. Oh and of course let’s not forget that they viewed woman as less than man. Yet, by today, that is obviously not true.

    Unimportant mistake. If God made you and the gays, then he certainly planned for the kid to be gay. It is already noted that there is a physiological difference in brain structures between female and male and even the gay male.

    You’re basing a law that is severely outdated and full of hypocritical tyranny and mannerism unfit for even the dirt on my shoe. If you want to propagate YOUR understanding of divinity and law then do so unto yourself and not onto others.

    -SHE (my initials)

  211. My freshman year, the guy I dated said he was raped. During a rape awareness event. As far as I was concerned, we weren’t even having sex; we were having “definitional problems.” God bless Bill Clinton for bringing that into the public lexicon. Because when you’re a blushing 17-year-old in a crowded lecture hall, it’s really hard to defend yourself.

  212. Wrong.

    This simplistic interpretation is alarming. The Old Testament also condemns bestiality, incest, murder, and the worship of pagan deities through orgies and child sacrifice. Discarding the Old Testament’s moral authority wholesale would have the unfortunate side effect of also legitimizing those behaviors. Therefore, your exegesis is fundamentally flawed.

    Wrong. The Bible and it’s laws need to read through Christ’s example.

    Bestiality causes harm to a defenseless animal. That isn’t showing love, and violates Christ’s directive to defend the defenseless.

    Incest causes harm to those involved, particularly if one is much older than the other, it also has dire reproductive consequences…that isn’t showing love, and violates Christ’s command to love one another.

    Murdering someone isn’t showing love. Killing someone with malice, violates Christ’s command to love one another.

    Child sacrifice causes harm, and violates Christ’s command to love one another.

    Worshiping pagan deities violates Christ’s command to love God with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind.

    A couple who love one another deeply, and are firmly committed to one another harms no one, no matter if they are gay or straight.

    Christians who are opposing same sex marriage are causing people to sin by having sex outside of marriage, by withholding marriage from them you are complicit in that sin (sex outside of marriage). Furthermore, you drive people from their churches and families. Driving some to such despair that they commit suicide. You and other Christians who shame, humiliate and degrade homosexuals cause some to murder themselves. Their blood is on your hands.

    Watch the story of Anna Louise Wallner, and her mother Mary. You can shrug and say “I didn’t do it!”; but you perpetuate the cycle of bigotry and hate in the church.


  213. Hi SHE,

    Almost forgot about this article, but I wanted to ensure you understood my points correctly before so quickly dismissing them as ‘my understanding of divinity and law.’ I really dislike the whole ‘tit for tat’ debate style, but I will be highlighting a few of your statements and responding to them, as this helps me isolate the thinking a bit.

    //The point of being fruitful and ‘multiplying’ was because humanity was small and there were deaths all over the place.

    7 billion on this planet. You still think we should be fruitful and multiply when we’re over-running and crowding this planet as is?//

    Strange how you know the ‘point’ of a Biblical passage, how you know God’s intent, and that is it s specific one for only that time and place?

    Nonetheless, this represented God’s will for His two male and female (created for one another) persons, and God’s will constitutes the moral duties of the Christian.

    At the very least, His will in this instance represents His ideal, and I am not comfortable with calling almost the exact opposite ‘just as good.’

    //Some women have raped and mutilated men today, but I do believe it is a bit difficult for a vagina to rape a penis. Of course it’s not mentioned. Have some sense man, a woman overpowering a man is ludicrous to them and when it does happen, she was thought of as possessed, an adultress, a harlot, a demon, a witch, etc. because woman should not be capable of what man could do.//

    So we agree that the author’s exegesis of the passage is false. We can agree there.

    //That analogy is poor and terribly compared. In what way does alcohol consumption that is both legal in the bible (even prescribed as medicine in those times) and in today’s time for adults have to do with the legalities of someone’s sex habits//

    Sorry, but in the way that I described in my response. Did you read it? I was using alcohol as an example of a behavior which is not good at a certain point, then becomes okay later in life. This does not mean that alcohol is therefore a wonderful thing that is just as good as, say, water, for health.

    But, if you’d like to discuss the health of this behavior, the CDC does indicate that 75-90% of new HIV cases among young men at least, so it seems not too healthy either. But that may be for another discussion…


    //Have you masturbated? Yes. Oh, you have sinned. Die.

    Masturbating within or out of marriage. Anytime. Anywhere. Any how was considered a horrible sin. (Because men of those days thought that the seed of life came from their semen and thus potential babies were being lost from this liquid). To them that was killing a baby. No, really.//

    Not really sure what your point is, here. I never said I do not sin, but I certainly don’t have ‘masturbation pride parades,’ either. We are discussing whether to equate two kinds of marriage as valid.

    Even if it were a sin discussion, pointing out my sin does not remove you from the penalty of yours, and vice versa.

    //If God made you and the gays, then he certainly planned for the kid to be gay. It is already noted that there is a physiological difference in brain structures between female and male and even the gay male//

    So that which occurs biologically, or even at birth, is the will of God? Again, I guess we should hand the child of the alcoholic a handle of Jack since they have the genes to crave it.

    Give the psychopath more puppies to torture, God desired that behavior! 🙂

    The rest of your response seems to indicate that you don’t really hold the Bible up as a valid document regarding morals anyway, so I’m not sure why you are on this page. I mean, you’re welcome to be…I just don’t get it, since this is an internal tension between Christians.

    One final question, though, and I’ll leave you alone. If God does exist, then who defines the ‘good.’ Is it our changing culture? Or Him? 100 years ago slavery was a-okay, now it’s not. Clearly culture is not a valid standard of morality.

    I would encourage you to ponder these questions, and wonder how you can even make objective moral claims about rightness or wrongness in the absence of a higher authority for such claims. Without it moral duties are neither universal nor obligatory (binding) on anyone else besides yourself.

    God bless!


  214. You have made a logical analysis, but how can you explain what the Bible said in 2Corinthians 6:14-18 and why did you think God distroyed Sodom and Gomorah. Also read 1John 3:1-10 The Bible said any one that continue to sin is not of God but of the devil and the church is where two or more people gathered in the name of God. So since as a gay or homosexual you have made sin your live style and to you is right, then the chuch or christians are right to excomunicate you. Because you are not of God but of the devil and the church is meant for the people of God not the devil. As 2Cor 6 will say what partnership did Christ have with the devil or light with dackness.

  215. Hi. I think far too many Christians are simply letting certain things in the bible supersede the one and only Law, which is to love thy neighbor as thyself. This is Jesus’ faith. It is the one and only Law there is to live by that, if one does, he or she, thereby, inherits life in the age to come (Romans 2:13, Matthew 19:16-19). Therefore, to add to that Law would be incorrect, imho. To take from it would be incorrect, imho. The only moral law is the royal law of loving thy neighbor as thyself (James 2:8). The bible teaches that because a person loves, they have passed from death unto life. Why? Because love is the fulfillment of the Law because love is the Law.

    I know some will disagree with the belief that all one has to do to inherit life in the age to come is to love others, but that is exactly what the bible’s message is. If you’re familiar with Jesus’ goats and sheep story. Otherwise known as the unrighteous and the righteous story, this bible tale simple says that those who are benevolent and altruistic towards their neighbor are the righteous ones. Those who are not benevolent and altruistic towards their neighbor are those who live lawlessly and are considered the unrighteous. They are lawless because they lived without the Law of loving thy neighbor as thyself, which is the one and only Law.

    It is a very simple concept of faith, but the rules and regulations of religion have made the Law Of Christ into something that is either ‘not enough’ or ‘more than it actually is’. Loving thy neighbor as thyself is the one and only Law and the narrow road to life. Yet, it would seem that most Christians don’t believe this. In fact, I would say that a vast majority of Christians don’t believe this, thereby, making what they believe to be the broad road, instead of the narrow. Broad because many Christians believe salvation is earned a certain way, while the narrow road says loving thy neighbor as thyself is the only way and not many believe that, thereby, making it the narrow road that few follow.

    Paul knew and believed what Jesus believed. He knew that the only standard of determining sin to God was the law of liberty: love thy neighbor as thyself. It’s the law of liberty because it set free enslavement to religious rules and regulations found in the Law Of Moses. These rules and regulations were known by the Jews as Jobs. Jobs were all of the command in the Law Of Moses that were between man and God. These Jobs had nothing to do with how you treated your neighbor. Circumcision is a good example of a Job. It is the example Paul used in Romans 2 to show the Jews that the Jobs are irrelevant.

    You see, the Jews believed that following the Jobs of the Torah were what gave the right standing with God. However, in Romans 3:20, Paul tells the Jews that no one will be justified before God by the works of the law. The works of the law were the Jobs. Thus, the connection between a job and working. Jesus did not come to abolish the law. What he did was establish what was Law and what wasn’t Law. The Jobs were out and irrelevant and the Justices were the Law, period. The Justices were all of the commands found in the Law Of Moses that were between man and his neighbor. The Justices are all of the commands based on the utterance, love thy neighbor as thyself. This is all the law and the prophets.

    Regarding Romans and homosexuality, Paul knew this info that I just shared with you. His audience already knew this information. We are the ones learning it, one person at a time. Paul’s intent was to let prideful Jews know that their dislike for homosexuality, which was common in Rome, was nothing in comparison to their sins of mistreating others. In other words, they were not being doers of the Law of loving their neighbor as themselves (Romans 2:13). Paul continues on in his letter to the Romans, explaining to the Jews that their devotion to keeping the Jobs of the Torah is unnecessary because no one will be justified by keeping them. The Jobs have nothing to do with how you treat others. Therefore, they do not matter any longer. Paul uses a Job as an example to show them that the Jobs no longer apply. That Job is circumcision, which was a Jewish requirement of the Law Of Moses. Paul states that an uncircumcised man who keeps the Justices will be seen as a circumcised man. How can that be if he’s breaking the law of being circumcised? Because being circumcised is a Job and is not a requirement of the Law Of Christ, which is only to love thy neighbor as thyself. Paul is simply saying the uncircumcised man meets the requirements of the Law because the Law is ONLY to love thy neighbor as thyself. The Law is NOT to love thy neighbor as thyself AND to be circumcised. If it were both, the Jobs would still apply and it would adding to the one and only Law.

    It may be hard to believe , but Paul wanted to get his message across to the Jews. The message that they were the guilty ones, not the Romans and their homosexuality. Paul simply used the issue of homosexuality to open his letter so that he could counterexample it against what really mattered to God, which is how you treat your neighbor. He wanted the Jews, who were devoted to the Jobs or works of the law, to see that their pride in keeping the Jobs means nothing to God. It is the Justices, or the love of one’s neighbor, that matters in the end. Romans 2:6-11 pretty much says just that: We will be judged by the benevolence of our deeds because how we treat others is the Law. If we are a doer of the Law, we will be justified before God (Romans 2:13). If we are law breakers, we face God’s wrath (Romans 2:8-9).

    Matthew 19:16-19 is especially telling because it refers to a man asking Jesus what he must do to inherit life in the age to come. Jesus’ answer is just as I am telling you know. However, the most interesting aspect of the story is the man’s question after Jesus tells him that if he wants to inherit life in the age to come, he must keep the commandments. The man asks Jesus, “Which ones?” This man was obviously familiar with the Torah. He knew the two groups of commands found in the Torah: the Jobs and the Justices. If he believed that the Law Of Moses was to be kept in its entirety, he would not have asked that question, I don’t think. But, I believe he heard what was being taught by Jesus about only keeping the Justices, while, at the same time, the religious leaders of his day taught that Jews must keep the Jobs. Who to believe! Well, you BELIEVE IN JESUS. That, my friend, is the meaning of believing in Jesus: To love thy neighbor as thyself because that is what Jesus said gains you life in the age to come and not be concerned with works or the Jobs found in OT law or in the bible, for that matter. Whom will you believe in? Jesus or the religious leaders of the day?

  216. this is the best thing i’ve ever read on christians and homosexuality! thank you so much for this! i shared it on facebook and i now have something to refer to people who ask me why i am for marriage equality and why i don’t believe gay couples are sinning.

  217. After 30+ years at this game, I’ve come to this conclusion. The Bible does condemn homosexuality. And the Bible is wrong. It’s just wrong. It’s wrong like it when the earth was created in seven days, slaves should obey their masters, and women should be quiet. It’s ok. I don’t worship a book. I worship the God who lives in me.

  218. It comes down to being a Bible literalist or not. As a Christian who was raised in a conservative environment where all homosexual acts were condemned as an “abomination” before God, I had to come to an awakening that many Biblically-based concepts were reflective of the social climate of the times and not to be taken as law to us today. This would certainly be the case with many Old Testament passages but also some in the New Testament. If we were going to live by it across the board, we’d be forced to see that women can’t speak in church and that slavery seems to be an acceptable thing (according to the Apostle Paul, who also authored some passages which would seem to advocate a belief in the predestining of some to be saved and others to be damned). In fact, in that day and time women were nothing more than chattel to their husbands, with basically no rights. Something every Christian can agree on the importance of, whether evangelical fundamentalist or New Age Universalist: “Love thy neighbor” (attributed to Christ, who, at least according to our canon of scripture, never even once addressed the issue of homosexuality).

  219. Thank you for sharing this article. You have put into words what I have thought about for many years. I look forward to sharing this with many people with hopes that some will open their eyes and be more loving and accepting of their fellow man.

  220. I think that it is important first to look at the nature of God and His purpose for creating man and woman. The separation into male and female is a central principle of God’s creation. In fact, the very image of God is male and female (Gen. 1:27). The masculinity and femininity in and of God, which are distinct, constitutive of God’s creativity, and of equal and absolute value, were concretized directly as a man and a woman, who naturally long to re-constitute the unity of God in marriage.

    This re-constitution of God’s unity by two separated, complimentary beings represents the model of the Trinity, the three-in-one: God, man and woman.

    This is the substantialization of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and every married couple is meant to be a representation of the love-fellowship of the Trinity.

    The best of Christian theology instructs us that the Trinity is life-giving, procreative. From this viewpoint, homosexuality, I believe is a denial of God’s nature, for it is denying the Trinitarian image of marriage and the duality of God.

    It is because God has such duality [masculinity and femininity] within Himself that He could create us, We can say that God is married within Himself.

    A Father cannot exist without a mother. The practice of homosexuality is ultimately a dead end that will create suffering…..anyway there is much more to say…..

  221. If I’ve ever seen this subject dealt with better, I can’t remember it. Unfortunately, those determined to find reason to judge, belittle, and hate someone else isn’t likely to be moved by even the best. Culture have begun to move away from that position on homosexuality, We can just hope it will drag traditional judgmental Christianity along behind it, kicking and screaming, as it has in so many other issues, herbalists (witches) and midwives, slavery, women’s right, rights of children, divorce, remarriage. so many more. And, sadly, it will probably focus in on some other ‘sin’ or ‘evil’ by the time they concede defeat on this one. History repeats.

  222. “Abomination,” the word used in the bible for a ‘man to lie with a man as a woman,’ is exactly the same word used for eating shellfish and scaleless fish (catfish!). And killing disobedient children today is called murder! Unless and until anyone takes EVERY biblical law and command and taboo seriously, it is hypocrisy to persecute others for just one here and there.

  223. Or you’ve attached yourself to an interpretation of the Bible that allows you to masquerade your bigotry as piety, and in fact it’s no sin whatsoever to be gay.

  224. Im just going to be honest here . I struggle with this issue . It hurts my heart . It hurts because I believe that Christ died for everyone and heaven is for those who ask him into their hearts to be Lord and savior . I am not attracted to the same sex so its more difficult to wrap my mind around it . All I can do is love others the way that God has called me too . I can’t reconcile ” what the Bible says about this , with what my brain says ” . I wish that Christians would stop seeing people as ” gay or straight” and just see them as a person that Christ died for . Im so saddened by the reports in the news where Christians are not tipping because they presume the waiter is homosexual . Its sad to see people use bigotry and hatred as an excuse to be a rude cheapskate .

  225. Regarding how you find it hard to wrap your mind around being attracted to the same sex – it’s just like being attracted to the opposite sex. The feelings of love and attraction are the same. It’s only the objects of that affection who are different.

  226. Then why did God create intersex people who are neither male nor female by typical standards?
    If they are merely the product of a fallen world and corrupt biology, who then do you allow intersex people to fall in love with? Or are they to be forever alone because of a medical condition?

    Would you likewise deny the ability for love to, say, a physically disabled person? If no, what’s the difference?

  227. That, I think, Jenell, is the main point. Apparently, in the original texts, the word here translated as abomination was the same word used to describe serving bad wine at the wedding….so, let’s get some perspective….having coercive sex with boys or slaves is no worse than serving bad wine at a wedding feast. (I promise you, gay couples would never be guilty of that.)

    But on a serious note, unless and until these so called “literalists” really do start taking the ENTIRE Bible literally, they need to shut up about this one particular topic, which appears to be the only one on which they apply this “literal” test…but as John and many others have noted, if they really did apply the text literally, it wouldn’t apply to loving gay couples. But whoever said conservatives were guilty of scholarship, intellectual honesty, and integrity when it comes to religion.

  228. The author says that gay marriage did not exist in Roman times, and, therefore, had it existed, St. Paul would have been OK with gay sex. This is factually inaccurate, because Nero actually wed another man. Gay “marriage” WAS known by the Romans, but was not practiced by Jews. Marriage was considered a holy sacrament by early Christians, and was only between a man and a woman, the reason being that it promoted procreation.

    That being said, the author makes a good point about all of the finger-pointing about homosexual sex, while so-called “Christians” are OK with lying, adultery, divorce, etc. There is no excuse for the hatred and abuse of “gays” (the word gay is nowhere in the Bible… to God, we are all just “people”! Let’s stop hating one another!

  229. Hi Tabitha. While it is impossible to know for certain, it looks like Nero was straight. He married two women, Poppaea and Statilia, and from court accounts mourned very deeply when they died. How deeply? That man he married that you mentioned–he had the man castrated first because apparently the man greatly resembled Statilia, and he even called the man by her name. I would hardly compare that with what we are hoping to do today by granting LGBT people marriage equality.

  230. It is sad…I for one left the Church. It hurt my heart to hear such “loving” sermons preached about me and my brothers and sisters. in Christ. I stand before my maker on Judgement Day in full conscious knowing that I did not participate. I miss my church but I have my integrity. I still pray for those who do not understand the horrible harm done by their words. Peace be with you

  231. John, I left Christianity many years ago now, but I simply love reading your posts. I think it was Gandhi who said something like, “I like your Christ, but I don’t like your Christians.” Your whole message is about being more like Christ, and not like so many Christians. Thank you!

  232. Thank you, John! I’ve been working on how to say what you’ve just said…in response to some of the clobber comments arising on Unfundamentalist Christians. You’ve said it so much better than I could have.

    I’m sorry for those who feel their religious conviction balances delicately on cherry-picked and ambiguous passages from Leviticus…rather than on the clear example of Jesus, who consistently chooses compassion over legalism. Interesting that Jesus never once rebukes homosexuals or homosexuality, yet he pours rebuke on the ultra-pious religious people he calls “sons of vipers.” Jesus publicly berates religious leaders who try to twist “God’s laws” into a smug power over others. This should ring a little bell for Christians of today who misuse tiny snippets (usually taken out of context) to control which types of people can and cannot get married…while showing no regard / compassion for the lives of the people they judge.

  233. The title of John’s post starts with “Taking God at His word”. I agree that we should do that. The Bible says in Genesis 1:27 the God made them in His image, male and female, He created them. This tells us that God’s image includes within himself the duality of Male and Female. This means that God has both genders in perfect harmony. We can say that God is married within Himself. In fact we marry to resemble God. So many Christians believe that the incarnation of the word “The word became flesh” is only masculine. It is not correct. Without this duality of masculinity and femininity. God could not create. We would not exist. The whole creation, the whole universe is based on this duality.
    John’s post is flawed at his base and is not in context but out of context.
    We should take God at His word as John says.
    There is no father without a mother. It is IMPOSSIBLE and has NEVER happened. In the same way.there is no Heavenly Father without an Heavenly Mother. God is our Heavenly Parent.
    John or any person who supports his beliefs need to prove that God is homosexual for any of his arguments to stand. The Bible is not on their side. God’s word is absolute and unchanging.

  234. No, He is not. Life and creation come only from the duality of a male and a female. (+,-) This is a fundamental law of the universe. Yourself would not exist without it.

  235. Duality has many forms: polarity; opposition; inverse; reflection … And it also implies a range between. You can think of “hot” and “cold” as opposites, or you can think of a scale of complementary properties called “temperature”. There are also shades of light and dark … God is so much greater than the box people try to put Him in and He certainly doesn’t need a dominant male and submissive female to create Life. He can do it, for example by replication which creates nearly identical copies of genderless offspring by cell division. Some plants can be completely severed and grown from a cutting without any fertilization at all. And finally, there is the existence of God Himself, an omnigendered Life force which has no beginning and no ending, and needs neither your permission, nor your understanding to bless any two individuals He chooses with Love.

  236. Hi Mike,

    Yes duality can means many things: left right, above below, internal external, and at different degrees.

    Yes plants can be replicated by cloning.

    Are you saying that human beings can be born without the complementarity of the male seed and the feminine egg?

    I am not trying to put God in my limited thinking. I am just observing the fundamental laws and principles of His creation and His word. The title of this thread is”Taking God at His word”.

    I am just pointing out the common elements which are found universally throughout the natural world He created. Every entity possesses dual characteristics of yang (masculinity) and yin (femininity) and comes into existence only when these characteristics have formed reciprocal relationships, both within the entity and between it and other entities.

    It does not point towards an omnigendered God (How many genders, sexes ?). I am not even sure what you really mean by that word and how you arrive to such a conclusion.

    The separation into male and female is a principle of creation. In fact, the very image of God is describe as male and female (Gen.1:27). The masculinity and femininity in and of God, which are distinct, constitutive of God’s creativity, and of equal and absolute value, were concretized directly as a man and a woman, who naturally long to re-constitute the unity of God in marriage.

  237. “New Testament insists upon fairness, equity, love, and the rejection of legalism over compassion” But it ONLY insists on these things for the people who go to your local church. Everyone else is an outsider and may safely be cheated and murdered with God’s blessing. Sorry, I don’t make these rules.

  238. So you believe that God cannot balance yin/yang within a gay man or woman, and then complement that balance in a life partner? What a weak conception of God you have. I rejoice in the balance of gender characteristics I was born with … Life is a precious gift, God is our omnicreative Father, and who are we to question the potter’s work?

  239. Mike, same gender relations are limited to one generation as you described it. (life partner)

    This love by nature does not extend into time
    through children. A man and a man can never become one flesh since they cannot procreate a child in common. Same gender unions cannot experience the complementarity/ alterity of God as the other half of God is rejected, denied and excluded.

    What we initially feel and disposition we may have are confronted to this reality.

    Jesus himself is very clear on what marriage ultimately is.

    As you wrote: “Who are we to question the potter’s hands?” We are the clay. Even if we are spinning, we are safe trusting in the potters hands.
    Having faith in God’s words is not easy but ultimately the path to liberation and restoration.

    As you said, life is precious. We have this one opportunity to believe God.
    At some point in our journey, it looks like a leap of faith.

  240. There is absolutely a procreative purpose to building a stable household that can adopt children who would otherwise be orphaned. What a blessing is God’s perfect plan, that cares even for the sparrows. Have a nice holiday, and thanks for an interesting conversation.

  241. John, personal attack is not a legitimate and thoughtful response. Calling people who disagree with you bigots is beneath you I hope

  242. Being treated of “obvious bigotry” just for having a different opinion from you certainly causes me to endure suffering. It is difficult to have a respectful and genuine dialog when faced with intolerance. It shows that you are not interested in my response anyway. I would be faced with more intolerance….

  243. Humans aren’t “programmed” to be intersex. I believe that it is a disability and medical condition. I am not familiar with the medical treatments and outcomes. I do not think that we can say that God intended for people to be born that way when 99.9% of humanity does not have that condition.

  244. Jesus Christ is the Word of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, which means that every statement on wrongful sexual behavior in the Old Testament came from Him as God. Thus, Christ did speak in the OT against sexual immorality of all kinds, including homosexual behavior.

    He also stated in the NT In Matthew 19:4 in a discussion of marriage and divorce “male and female He created them.” As God, Jesus had a perfect opportunity to change the minds of the people regarding homosexual behavior. He did not. Of course, as the God Who gave the moral commandments of the OT, He would be a bit schizophrenic, kind of like liberals, if He had done such a thing.

  245. Not love and attraction — lust and desire. This afflicts straight people as well, who think that lusting after a person is the same as love.

    Love is always sacrificial and thinks of the other. Just about all attraction these days seems to be on the level of how it affects one’s groin area.

  246. Mmmmm hmmmmm…. you’re one of those folks who thinks that there is no such thing as the Judgment Seat, hell, and damnation for evil doers.

    You should read Luke 19:27 and ponder it for a few days: “But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me.”

    That’s Jesus in the story, ordering his servants to slay those who were His enemies. Pray you are not found to be one of them in the Judgment.

  247. IrishEddieOHara – yes, that is ONE verse, but it sure doesn’t jive well with most of the rest of Jesus’ teachings. That’s one of the most irritating things about so many Christians like you (I’m making the assumption here that you DO believe in the “Judgement Seat,” etc) – the whole “selective reading” problem. You pick and choose the ones you want and interpret them the way you want, somehow conveniently forgetting so many others that don’t support your argument, or are ignorant of, or have no understanding of the context in which they were written.

    And no, quite frankly, I’m not worried about that in the slightest, so no need to pray about it.

    The funny thing is – I probably know a LOT more about Christianity, its history and development, than most Christians, who never bother to actually learn anything about it, but blindly accept what others tell them.

    That’s why I’m so grateful that there are people like John Shore out there, because it’s my belief that he understands the true message of Christ far better than you do. And the TRUE message of Christ – love, compassion, forgiveness – that I DO believe with all my heart, soul, and being.

  248. Kind of like the schizophrenia in literalists when they claim that the Bible is the inerrant word of God from beginning to end, but they don’t actually follow EVERY law in it – just the ones they want? Like that schizophrenia? Yeah…………too bad logical consistency is so lacking in thinking like yours. 🙁

  249. Yes, but I’m talking about love and attraction, not lust and desire. I would have specified otherwise if so. Unless of course you’re suggesting that only straight people are capable of sacrificial love, and gay people only capable of shallow lust because we’re broken and inferior and subhuman. In which case I have lots of experiences to the contrary – among other things, gay couples who stuck together despite an inability to have sex for medical, religious or other reasons -, and I’m done with this conversation.

  250. That doesn’t answer my question at all. Intersexuality is a medical condition (not disability though), yes. So are people with that medical condition allowed to fall in love? If so, with whom?
    (By the way, about as many as 1 in 60 people may be intersex according to estimates; it’s just that in most cases it’s not visible and the people involved aren’t always aware of their intersex status, because things like having atypical unexpressed sex chromosomes or the skeletal structure of the other sex or an ovary that is secretly a testicle and vice versa don’t exactly impact one’s daily life.)

  251. Yes to love, mercy, and compassion. Compassion, however, is not telling people that sinful behavior is somehow acceptable before God.

    We are called to become like Christ. In eternity, there will be no such thing as sexuality because sexuality on earth is a mere shadow of something far greater and richer to be experienced. Unfortunately, most people today have made a god of sex and don’t want to see that it is not worthy of the worship it is being given.

  252. Having been in and around the homosexual culture in my early ’20’s, I know differently, so don’t try to sanitize it for me.

  253. You can’t take every word in the Bible literally because that’s not how the Bible teaches. Taking Revelations literally, for instance, will get you into craziness and hot water. The Sacred Scriptures must be properly interpreted, and that duty has been given to the Church, not to individuals. That’s why John is off his rocker with this column, he has not the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit, so he is working from a darkened mind, as St. Paul said of those who opposed the Church.

  254. Doctors stopped considering intersex a disability over twenty years ago. Google Suzanne J. Kessler’s “The Medical Construction of Gender: Case Management of Intersexed Infants”. Before chromosome analysis became readily available, if a baby was born with both sex organs, the (mostly male) medical community usually made them female. The thinking was a woman with a nonfunctional womb was less stigmatized than a man with a shorty. Here in 2013, there’s a thriving community of people born male who identify as female, female as male, or none of the above.

  255. What bigotry? Is that how you Liberals see stating the truth, as bigotry?

    As for suffering … it is the children who suffer. Read some of the peer reviewed studies that show that kids raised by same sex couples have some serious psychological problems.

  256. So basically you’re saying that your experiences are valid and mine aren’t? I’m not denying that there’s a lot of sexualisation and promiscuity in the gay community (but it’s not as though straight people are never lustful). But that’s only to be expected when there isn’t any social support that would allow gay people to have the kind of relationships that straight people would; the more people have to hide their sexuality, the more extreme they get in the few moments of freedom they’re allowed. If heterosexuality were similarly stigmatized, I’m certain that all manifestations of it would be primarily in lustful sexual promiscuity.

    Either way, that doesn’t address my point. Again: are you saying that gay people are inherently incapable of love, and if so, what’s your basis for believing this given examples to the contrary? Or are all gay people who think they experience love actually deluding themselves, as opposed to straight people who are sometimes right?

  257. If you have such a problem with being called “bigot,” and it stops you so easily, then clearly you’ve never had people say that “your kind” should be put in concentration camps. Or locked away in mental hospitals. Or been compared to animals and pedophiles.

    Clearly you’ve never had to have a whole day set aside to mourn the people like you who’ve been brutally murdered. Clearly you’ve never needed to fear losing your job to someone’s bigotry. Or your home, or your life.

    Clearly you don’t have much of a stake in this, except your wounded pride.

  258. According to a doctor friend in Australia, the procedure for determining an intersex infant’s ‘true’ sex is a lot more sophisticated these days – they get in various experts and take into account the baby’s chromosomes, genitals, gonads, hormones and various other things, make a decision, and then perform surgery. And even with this they still get it wrong a good amount of the time. Having bodies that aren’t easily classifiable isn’t a death sentence, and it would be great if people wait until intersex kids are old enough to tell them what gender they are, which is the only way to know for sure rather than performing irreversible surgeries.

  259. I agree with this, but have no idea what on earth it has to do with gay people unless one makes a few offensive assumptions. I’m gay, and still a virgin at 24 (which I can’t say the same for when it comes to my straight peers). I hope to one day find a good guy to love and settle down with and spend the rest of our lives together. I’d still want this even if we both had to be celibate, so I don’t know where the worship of sex comes into this at all.

  260. Thanks for this article. Interesting. I confess here I know very little about the intricacies of the
    discussion around homosexuality so I am approaching this just looking at
    the postmodern tools being used. However, its interesting that Shore is trying to say Paul cannot even speak about this because its semiotically
    not possible to express symbolically concepts that do not exist (the logical postmodern extreme of the modern idea behind exegesis that says
    that a text cannot mean something the writer and readers of the day
    would not have understood it to mean)… However, I am almost certain that
    it would be easy to document a whole bunch of Shore’s fellow apologists who are saying the exact opposite -ie that homosexuality was
    always normal and natural. I think that would logically be a better
    argument (especially for atheistic gay apologists who would want to
    found their arguments in nature I imagine. I’m guessing they will be looking to find
    everything from gay giraffes in nature to gay emperors in history). I think by using this postmodern
    intertextuality/incommensurability argument Shore is perhaps admitting that “gay” really is a
    whole new constructed category…something I think is damaging the gay cause in the end and
    contrary to the way most gay apologists would want to approach things?

  261. It’s quite simple: being gay (or homosexual if you prefer) is perfectly natural. What people have thought about it has changed. There is always a difference between the physical reality of something and the way we think about it. We used to think that the Sun revolved around the earth. We no longer do because we know now that it doesn’t; but when you look at the horizon you still ‘see’ the sun rise and fall.
    It’s the same with the fact of homosexuality and the concept of homosexuality. People in the ancient world thought it was something you did rather than something you were. People were ‘naturally’ attracted to different genders but some people ‘chose’ to sleep with the same gender. We no longer believe this to be true.

  262. So it’s the Church’s responsibility? But what about when the Church gets it wrong, like with……ummmmmmm, say……..Slavery, and Women’s Equality, and that little thing about the Earth going around the Sun and not vice versa….what then? Oh yeah…..it’s been “off-their-rocker individuals” like John Shore, and Martin Luther King, and Galileos, and Susan B. Anthony, who got the Church to “see the light,” as it were.

    Thank GOD for “off-their-rocker” individuals like John Shore, et al for pushing the “Church” (which, by the way, is not some unchanging-for-all-eternity monolith, but is actually just the sum of all its parts, including “off-their-rocker” individuals) to recognize the truths that Christ taught.

    Another 50 years or so, and your belief that homosexuality is a sin worthy of burning in hell, just like people used to believe would happen if you supported equal rights for blacks and women, will be seen as nothing more than the fearful and ignorant belief that it is, and I can’t wait for that to happen.

    As John so eloquently points out, Jesus does not ask us to choose between compassion and love and the Bible – there is only one greatest commandment, which overrides all others. And homosexuality is not mentioned in it.

  263. ok, but isnt saying “it is perfectly natural” part of the new paradigm people are working with? is it not what you “think about it” too as an a priori lens to look at history and nature? What happens when that changes again? Will there be another person like Shore showing us how the bible now lines up with this next new paradigm? How do we really know what we believe to be true will be believed to be true in a few years time? Just wondering… Like I say the whole debate is new to me so I am not up on all the finer details etc… it just doesnt seem to be as simple as all that…

  264. Because “being gay is natural for some people” is like saying “Black people are human beings.” It’s a truth that, because it is true, cannot again be altered or changed. There is no new paradigm waiting in the wings. You can go backwards from there, but you can’t go any further forward.

    And you feel to me like a concern troll.

  265. I suspect there’s something wrong with thinking that a 2000 year old text has got all the answers (rather than a few of the questions) anyway. And we don’t know if it’s true; that’s why we have faith, because faith is not certainty and never was. It’s about trust: we trust that we are being led in the right direction. And it’s also about the commandment to love. That comes before our being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ about something surely?
    And the fact is that we know that the earth doesn’t go round the sun, and knowledge doesn’t go backwards. So we know now, and all the evidence points towards, that homosexuality naturally occurs in the animal kingdom. No amount of handwaving actually changes the evidence.

  266. be nice john – arent you the one lecturing on love here? My interest is in exegesis & hermeneutics actually – especially cross culturally. These sorts of issues come up all the time when we realise that (as you say) we cant take all the commands literally, and then when we try to figure out what that means for today in a local context. As I said I was surprised that you used iyour particular line of argument because it does in my opinion undermine the standard arguments I hear put forward by gay lobby groups etc.. like I said i am not familiar with how gay christians articulate their arguments so for me it is an interesting aspect of the whole field of hermeneutics for me… [personal insult deleted].

  267. Okay. Tried both links that they bombed out on me.
    Can’t study opposing opinions if the links don’t work!

  268. Unfortunately for you, Mr. Shore, the Bible says different, and I will go with the Bible and the Church over your personal opinion.

    Good luck on the Judgment Day. You are going to need it!

  269. big·ot·ry (bigətrē) 1. bigoted attitudes; intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself. Clearly, you haven’t read John very long. I still have the t-shirt that reads “Love Jesus? Hate bigotry? JohnShore.com”

  270. I agree, anakin. In the past, doctors thought rushing to judgment served their patients’ best interests. They’d never know they were born intersex, so they wouldn’t grapple with the medical and psychological implications. That theory didn’t pan out. Defenseless infants paid the price, and we’re dealing with the aftereffects. Most U.S. doctors are coming around to your way of thinking.

  271. Fixed the links. My search terms were “peer review same sex couples children”. You could have plugged in Williams or BU and found them yourself in 30 seconds. I suspect the term ‘peer review’ is new to you and thus sounded intimidating. That’s why I think you read the recent National Review article by former NOM head and anti-same sex marriage conservative Maggie Gallagher. The study she cites, btw, deals with graduation rates as an indicator of economic status. Nothing to do with psychological health.

    LGBT couples do struggle more financially. It’s due to discrimination from people like you.

  272. John’s posts are mostly in line with what self-accepting gay Christians believe, and I don’t know what gave you the impression otherwise. It seems evident from his posts that he *does* believe that homosexuality is natural.

    I understood what you meant about how our understandings of things might change with time and it would be illogical if we keep changing our understanding of biblical truth accordingly, but otherwise you seem to be contradicting yourself – on the one hand you claim that John’s posts are “part of the new paradigm”, and then at the same time you claim that they’re undermining it? So… which is he doing?

    All he’s saying is that while homosexuality is natural, our previous (incorrect) assumptions of it were that it was not. Which is true, and unless we undergo some kind of data apocalypse and lose all the knowledge we’ve gained in the past few centuries, I’m uncertain how you think this is going to change.

    While it’s true (and likely) that our understanding of sexuality might develop further in future, speaking as a gay Christian, no amount of new discoveries or revelations are going to change the fact that my sexual orientation was not a choice. We’re not talking about different paradigms here: we’re talking untruths based on ignorance from straight people, vs truths based on facts and the testimonies of people who are actually gay.

  273. Elisabeth, when I share my faith and understanding of scriptures, I am often told by fundamentalist Christians that I am a heretic and that I will go to hell. When I share with NALT Christians that I do not believe that God or Jesus do approve of monoxexuality, I am told that I am crasy, that I am a bigot etc…Based on my experience, I feel that both “fundamentalist” and “unfundamentalist” Christians promote the same intolerance.John labeled me a bigot just for expressing my sincere beliefs.

  274. Re: your prejudice labeled bigotry, did you watch John and Kat’s NALT video above? 0:39-6:23 addresses the 6 clobber passages. Out of 31,173 verses, only 3 OT and 3 NT verses mention homosexuality. Yet Christians use them to justify their preconceived bias.

    Discrimination is discrimination. If you demanded a loveless life, financial insecurity, and self-hatred that too often ends in suicide for blacks, I’d call you a bigot. LGBT intolerance is exactly the same. Jesus preached complete love and acceptance for lepers, adulteresses, tax collectors, and the Good Samaritan. Jews and Samaritans despised each other. That didn’t stop Jesus. Mary was pregnant before marriage. Monogamous, loving relationships between LGBT adults weren’t even a blip on His radar.

    As a complete side note, did your school or church teach you to misspell my christened name? Every time a self-proclaimed Bible expert misspells John (a gospel) or Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mother), my IFB alarm goes off.

  275. Nope. You’re inserting that meaning where there is none. I’m not abusing you. I’m certainly not forcing you to be here. But I have no choice in being transgender and enduring other people’s bigotry, and that’s what I was pointing out. That’s the difference.

  276. Elizabeth, you did not respond to the point I was making in my previous post at all. Anyway my opinion on monosexuality is not based on prejudice at all. I do not even consider the bible verses that you call the clobber passages. Every human has to deal with the struggle of mastering and channeling properly his or her sexuality, overcoming all kinds of difficulties. Those who practice monosexuality still want to acquire children while rejecting the other parent of that child. A man’s seed belongs only to his future spouse and lineage. Same for a woman’s egg. Jesus was very strict about it. Even looking lustfully at someone who is not your spouse is adultery. The “clobber passages” are almost nothing in comparison to what the Bible tells us about sexuality, marriage,family and God’s plan for His creation. Do not automatically project prejudice, bias and discrimination on others when there is none. They just disagree with you.
    If Jesus preached love, forgiveness, acceptance and God’s grace. He did not agree with our sins. That is very clear in the Bible.
    I apologize for misspelling your name. I am not born in this country and I am used to spell it with a s.

  277. Steven, I like to say that saying that something is natural does not mean it is from our original nature and is according to God’s Will. Our fallen nature is so much part of ourself that we need God’s words in order to see clearly. If I was you, I would not use such argument to justify my point, especially in a religious based dialogue. If we were all naturally unselfish and live for the sake of others, the world would be great. How come, we naturally live so often in a selfish way. Peace

  278. Eastern Europe, maybe? I know St. Elisabeth of Hungary is spelled that way. No big deal. I’m just endlessly fascinated by how people shorten or change my name. I’ve had it a lo-o-ong time.

    I’ll give you my humble take on the Pericope Adulterae, the story of the adulteress in John 8:2-11 (NRSV). Not necessarily Mary Magdalene, although some have lumped them together. The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus in false teaching. They drag this woman to Him. He ignores them. He starts writing on the ground. They question Him again. He looks up briefly, says “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” and goes back to staring at the ground.

    When He looks up, they’ve all disappeared. All but the terrified woman. They admitted their guilt through their silence and slithered away. What does Jesus do? He doesn’t preach. He asks the accused what the heck just happened. “Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir.” “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

    How empowering is that? The adulteress pronounces the verdict on the hypocritical Pharisees. That’s not a Jesus who makes judgments. That’s pure love. For everyone. It doesn’t apply here, because homosexuality isn’t a sin or a choice. It’s a natural part of God’s glorious creation. Personally, I believe He gave us all sex as His most powerful gift. But even if LGBT sex were a sin, Jesus doesn’t care. Christians’ preoccupation with sex is a cultural construct. It’s simply not in the text.

    The strict ones were Moses and Paul. But certainly I’ve bored you enough by now. I’m a Christian, not a Mosesian or a Paulian.

  279. WHY would God create us as sexual beings and then set it up so it’s wrong except for procreation? God’s omniscient. He saw the apple and the snake coming. He made the apple and the snake. He knew how teenagers get when you tell them NOT to do something: they do it immediately. Your God isn’t very bright, no offense intended.

  280. Elizabeth, our sexual organs are not created only for procreation. If it was so, they would fall of at a certain time. Because A&E were teenagers as you say when they fell, God gave them a strong warning not to have sexual relations until they reach maturity. Tragically, they did not have absolute faith in God’s word and fell. This is why, the first thing they did was to hide their sexual organs in shame. They believed in satan false words and ended up creating the first dysfunctional family separated from God. Since that time, God has tried to regain his blood lineage and his family. Marriage is a blood covenant.

  281. Technically, they didn’t have sex. They ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They learned shame. We have no idea what they did with that knowledge. We’re here, so they had sexual relations eventually.

    The Bible is the best soap opera ever. Come up with one “normal” family in it. I believe marriage is sacred; that’s why I’m not married yet. I believe sex is sacred. I was celibate for three years after my last relationship. I needed to regain my wholeness outside my role as an 8-year girlfriend. I’m not advocating one-night stands. (They aren’t worth the trouble anyway. Trust me. My youth was sordid.)

    God’s blood lineage is in us through the sacrifice of His son on the cross. It erased the begat obsession in the Old Testament. With all the children waiting to be adopted or fostered in the world, He would like nothing more than for us to provide them a real home and family.

    And, once again, still has nothing to do with LGBT love. You can’t on one hand outlaw their weddings and then criticize them for sex outside of marriage.

  282. God’s grace is unmerited reward. God loves us unconditionally. It does not mean that our sins do not hurt God deeply. Jesus had to sacrifice his own life to take humanity sins on himself. That is so painful !
    Repentance come from God’s grace, not from condemnation. Jesus says to the adulteress:”From NOW, Sin no more”. He cares what she will do.

    Jesus spoke of sexuality through the parable of the mustard seed, the parable of the net, the parable of the yeast and the parable of the tenant . Good sex and bad sex do not mix.
    If God did not care then the fall would not have been passed through the blood lineage from generation through generation.

  283. God’s blood lineage is NOT in us yet. The Bible says clearly that through Jesus’s victory on the cross, we become ADOPTED sons and daughters. Adopted means that we are still born in the blood lineage of our fallen ancestors. The children of every reborn Christians are still born with the connection to the original sin.

  284. Today, we have an idea of what took place at the time of the fall. The tree of knowledge of good and evil, the tree of life, the serpent, the fruit are all symbolic. They have a real meaning.

  285. Elizabeth, why do you think so many same sex partners acquire children by renting wombs and purchasing eggs or seeds to manufacture children that are separated at birth from their biological parents. It is now a big business even rated on the stock market, a real human traffic. How can human be sold ? If a man cannot love the mother of his child, he should not have the right to buy a child. How can someone say that he loves a child and rejects his mother?

  286. Symbolic? Really? You mean Satan didn’t literally become a serpent? Adam and Eve were part of only one of the two Creation stories in Genesis? (Jahwist and Priestly. Two very different creation stories side-by-side.) And Cain and Abel were archetypes for the two career paths available at the time, hunter and farmer?

    Women “rent wombs” and “sell eggs” of their own free will. Some do it out of compassion for childless couples — not just LGBT couples. Some do it for the money. I knew one who did it because the fees allowed her time to pursue her art. Not my cup of tea, but it’s not my body.

    Or YOURS. You sound like a very lonely, sexually frustrated closet case who has no other outlet than to micromanage how everyone else puts Tab A into Slot B. Take a break.

  287. I do not believe in talking serpent. No I don’t.
    Children have unalienable birthrights. I do not believe in human trafficking.
    More and more are speaking out for not even knowing their history, their own identity and for not having a Dad or a Mom.
    Defending the human rights of the defenseless is not micromanaging.

  288. The Church does not get it wrong and your statement shows that you are just another in a long line of ignorant people who THINK they know the Church.

    For your information, the Church opposed slavery. Try to read up on some of the responses of the Church when She found out about the Rape of Hispaniola, for instance. Slave owners were made — at the threat of excommunication — to return slaves to their homes and their property to them.

    The issue of Galileo is more complicated than you make it appear. It was not a “de fide” statement which becomes mandatory to believe. It was not on the same level as a concicular canon either.

    Show me one statement where the Church EVER said that a person would burn in hell for supporting equal rights for blacks. Just one, from any authorized Catholic source.

    You should really be embarrassed to be that dumb.

  289. You are mirror worshiping. Even Natural Law shows us that male/male and female/female couplings were not intended to be.

  290. Sigh. You’re on a particularly vicious juggernaut tonight. How Irish was your coffee? To my knowledge, no one said slave holders would go to hell for freeing blacks. They would just be ostracized by society and lose significant portions of their wealth and competitive edge. Here on Earth, those are big obstacles.

    The point is the parallel between discrimination against blacks and the persecution of LGBT. A parallel you’re demonstrating quite well: “Well, gee, blacks can’t change the color of their skin. Maybe gays can change their sexual orientation!”

    No, they can’t. Furthermore, they don’t need to.

  291. Do you say the same about parents who adopt children? Because it’s a similar logic; at least, I don’t know many adoptive parents who are in love with their child’s biological ones.

  292. No it doesn’t. There’s such a huge variety of sexual differentiation systems in the natural world; for starters there are hermaphroditic plants, parthenogenic insects (virgin births) and amoebas. Amoebas are awesome. I like amoebas.

    Plus there are all the gay animals as well. And then with humans you have all the intersex and trans people. I’m a gay guy who can potentially reproduce with most other guys. So I guess I’m good to go?

  293. Sorry I don’t believe in ‘original nature’ nor do I ascribe to any nonsense about Adam & Eve.

  294. Get real. There is no discrimination against same sex couples. Surveys have shown that they have more money than heterosexual couples because they don’t have children to care for.

    I read articles by those raised by same sex couples. They are very eloquent in describing their sense of something missing in the “family in which they were raised. You talk about graduation rates. The studies I refer to speak of increased depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicidal thoughts.

  295. Does not compute. How can you argue on one hand the children LGBT have — through whatever method — are psychologically scarred and on the other that LGBT are rich because they don’t have children?

    I’m going to freestyle this one, since the peer-reviewed studies went over your head. Gay men couples, with or without children, tend to be better off. That’s because a woman is still paid $0.81 for a man’s dollar. Multiply that by two. The LBT segments face greater financial hardship by the same reasoning. Add what they face from society and the church, and you have de facto discrimination. Call it what you want; it’s bigotry. It makes a lot of young LGBT depressed and more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They’re twice as likely to smoke cigarettes, for example.

  296. For the most part beautifully said. I do disagree in part that the ancients didn’t know about the EXISTENCE of homosexuality, even if there was no specific word for it in Latin, Greek or Hebrew. Antiquity gives us some important examples of love relationship between men, particularly those of Achilles and Patroclus, Alexander and Hephaeston, the Spartan soldiers, and Hadrian and Antinous. We also have the biblical example of David and Jonathan. Of course, these are examples among powerful people who were above the law and even considered to be semi-divine in some cases. And even they married and had children to carry on their lines. In antiquity and even into recent times men who were attracted to other men married and had children either because they were actually bisexual or they did so because in their times only your family and closest friends constituted the social safety net. Without a family, there would be no one to care for you if you became ill or aged. So the ancients knew about same-sex attraction. They didn’t condemn it, apparently, as long as men behaved conventionally and established families and had children. We know virtually nothing at all about their views of female homosexuality, although they did know it existed, too. But I think Shore is right that the Levitical condemnations have to do with sex between heterosexual men going AGAINST their natural orientation, like between men in prison or among soldiers or between two lonely shepherds in the desert. They engage in sex with another man because they have no other choices, rather than because that is what they naturally desire. I think the ancients understood that people shouldn’t go against their God-given natures.

  297. Not to be facetious or anything, but so long as you’re taking your signals on precisely what perfectly normal human conduct is from the world of irrational beasts, how come don’t you slash the heads off your lovers after having sex just like the irrational Praying Mantis? Or what about committing dominance rape or simply having sex with young kids just as practiced by irrational primates? How about feeding on your own personal fecal matter the way irrational pigs, dogs, cows or primates enjoy? Why exactly shouldn’t it be lawful for you to slaughter then consume infants the way irrational beasts can and do?

  298. But this isn’t about any form of conduct. This is about sexual biology. The previous poster claimed that Natural Law consists solely of male/female couplings, and I disproved that particular fact.

  299. As a gay virgin, I get extremely frustrated when people keep going on about my alleged sexual immorality. Meanwhile, they’re all having way more sex than I ever have.

  300. Sexual conduct = sexual behaviour. I wasn’t talking about behaviour here, at least not in those replies.

  301. As an atheist, this is a non-issue for me. I’ll go with the kindness and tolerance and compassion mentioned at the beginning of the article for its own sake. That is just the right thing of course and has nothing to do with a holy book or a being that may or may not even exist (and probably doesn’t).

    This issue just illustrates to me how religion doesn’t really solve any important problems today and in fact causes or complicates them.

    See how simple this is when you take a man made belief system out of the picture?

    Some people are gay! Get over it and mind your own gosh darned business!

    I would also suggest reading some recent research in animal behavior, anthropology and evolutionary biology that points to morality as an ingrained adaptation that has evolved in higher social animals (like us). In otherwords, it is natural for a human to be moral. This is obvious anyway.

    It is the religious indoctrination that teaches us things that go against who we are – like the concept of original sin.

    In the same vein, some people naturally have homosexual inclinations and as long as no real moral standards (like consent) are violated then who cares?

    I always have considered religion and the idea that everything good about us comes from something outside of us to be one of the greatest insults to human dignity and one of the most self degradng beliefs that a person can subscribe to.

    The Bible belongs in a lit or fiction class right next to the works of Homer and Shakespeare.

    Think for yourselves, my fellow primates.

  302. Considering most of the post is about how people twist the Bible to mirror their agendas , I’m amazed somebody downvoted that.

  303. Indeed I am but at least I don’t pretend to be some sort of pseudo intellectual in a vain attempt at dismissing peoples beliefs.

  304. Are personal attacks the best that you can do? I am not impressed. And is this how you always respond to those who offer a point of view that differs from your own? I engage in discussions with plenty of religous people who are able to converse with me on a higher level than this and these discussions never fail to reveal a common ground that surpasses either side of the debate. It is unfortantate that many people today are afraid of this process.

  305. Is it arrogant to candidly question and point out the flaws in thinking that seem to just fly under the radar of everyone else on this page?

    I do not think in your terms. I do not seek to convert. I seek to promote my point of view in the interest of learning something from the opposition.

    I am sorry that you are either unwilling or unable to meet me halfway and instead choose to focus on attacking a percieved, superficial and irrelevant personality characteristic.

    I can see that there is nothing to be gained by continuing a conversation with someone like you.

    I welcome anybody who wishes to prove me wrong with a well thought out and on topic rebuttal though…

  306. Here’s what you basically said:

    “You theists are right about not hating on gays, but you’re still a bunch of idiots for believing in God.”

    Gee, who could take issue with that?

    The good people of this community are not looking to convert anyone, which you would know if you read this blog at all. And the topic of this post was not the existence of God, so it appears to me that you simply replied to this thread tangentially in order to bring that up and shame us.

    We are not idiots. I think I can safely say that we, on the whole, are well-versed in theology and have thought long and hard about our beliefs. And if you can’t respect anyone who believes in God, I don’t think you have much to offer this community.

  307. You’re scummy enough to be a member of the World’s Largest Pedophile ring – why would you expect moral people to take you seriously?

  308. If you truly wanted to enter into a debate, you would have asked me why I was so cynical. Instead, you attacked my person proving that you are not interested in the slightest about debate but wish to wind up Christians with your views on our faith (faith, not religion!). In fact, your veiled insult just verifies it. I am not afraid of debate and in fact I welcome it. What I don’t want is arrogant opinions and nonsense. The original article was about how certain elements in the Church treat homosexuals (hey, my brother is one. So are some of my good friends. Get over it). Your reply then turns into an attack on beliefs and a belief system and nothing to do with what was posted. One question, why are you, as an atheist, looking on a Christian blog? Surely there’s nothing here to interest you and your lack of beliefs. Or are you just here to arrogantly mock those of us who know Jesus and follow His teachings? I personally can’t stand what you Americans call soccer but you won’t find me on a soccer forum mocking those who love the game.

  309. If you would like to engage in a civil debate, perhaps you might start by not being so condescending, as you were in your original comment. What you did with that comment and this one is tantamount to walking into a church and shouting, “All you people are morons! Now please, and very politely, prove to me that God exists.”

  310. Thats a pretty silly interpretation of my post. I never said that theists were idiots. I said that Christian doctrine has a pretty dismal view of humanity and that views like this do not help.

    I also pointed any reader to the interesting topic of how morality has evolved.

    Shame you? My, oh my. Must you interpret everything in terms of shame?

    I am not ashamed of who I am. Homosexuals should not feel ashamed of who they are either. Saying ‘well, gays are strange and unnatural but we will tolearate them anyway’ is a pretty condescending approach. But I guess it is better than stoning them to death…

    P.S. I am well versed in theology too. I have extensively studied the pantheons chapter of the D&D Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. I find the dynamic between Lolth and the denizens of the abyss to be particularly interesting, along with now the loose cannon of Cyric acted as a catalyst for change in the divine order of Faerun.

  311. A simple and skewed interpretation of my statements will garner a simple and sarcastic response.

  312. “how naive you are”

    Let he who casts the first stone not be without guilt.

    I merely pointed out some issues with the Christian view of humanity in general and how religion has hijacked morality as if it has a monopoly on it. I never attacked anybody. You did.

    Yes, I am questioning a belief system. More people should because beliefs become dogma and dogma is the death of conscious thought. Faith provides a good insulation to dogmatic beliefs too because it is immune to questioning and logic.

    Well, I am on a Christian blog because I would like to hear a rational defense of the fundamental assumptions that Christianity makes about humanity and the world. I still have not heard one. All you seem to want to do is avoid the underlying questions.

    But I’m an open minded guy: I too have friends who are gay. I also have friends who are black.

  313. The topic of this post was about the bible condemning homosexuality or not, and you have attempted to turn this into a debate about God’s existence. It’s easy to infer that you have hijacked it, possibly because you didn’t see a better place to jump in.

    I’ve debated with people like you many times. They say they want answers, but they don’t like the answers they get. Nothing new is brought up; all the evidence on all sides is out there. No one is convinced to change their mind as a result of the debate, and sometimes one or both parties get angry. It’s not a productive debate. It’s almost like people go into it looking to retread the same arguments with people they haven’t debated before. I respect whatever education and experience you have in theology, as I would hope you respect mine, and I hope you’ll believe me when I say with, oh, say, 99% certainty, that no evidence I could present will change your mind, and vice versa.

    People almost never change their minds as a result of a theological debate. It’s almost always through either an epiphany or a traumatic experience.

    I won’t speak for everyone else on here, of course, but I’m not avoiding any underlying questions. I’ve asked them before of myself. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t examine my faith in some way. And personally, I’m not interested in debating it further with someone I’ve never met that first presented with a post that ended with some baseless assertions indicating your obvious prejudice and suggesting reluctance to change your mind should compelling evidence be presented to you.

  314. Nobody on here says “gays are unnatural but we will tolerate them anyway.” It’s one of the tenets on which this community was founded. You do not appear to know much about us.

  315. Actually, my post was not about God’s existence. You probably just read the first paragraph and dismissed the rest.

    What I am questioning is the idea that humans are inherently immoral and that we need to defer to the Bible or a supernatural power to resolve the non issue of homosexuality.

    My claim is that we should look within ourselves and draw upon our own natural drive towards compassion and inclusion of others. I also claimed that religious doctrine has made this an issue and is the source of it. Therefore removing the doctrine solves the problem.

    You really ought to read things more closely before making assumptions.

  316. Well, judging by many of the comments on here, that is in fact what is being said.

    What is your position then? Please sum it up in your own words.

  317. Look, the point of my argument is that you and I both have basically the same moral position regarding homosexuals. Yet I do not believe in God or accept any religious doctrine and you do. Therefore, God and religion are irrelevant when it comes to morality.

    Furthermore, most people adopt a selective interpretation of the Bible, which suggests that the person reading the Bible is a higher moral authority than the Bible itself.

  318. I read through and saw that, in fact, a few comments indicate you are right, and so I apologize for the absolute phrasing. However, I assure you that the majority of people that consider themselves a part of this community do not agree that we should simply “tolerate” them in spite of their being “unnatural”. There are a number of gays in this community, in fact, and people of other GSDs (I do hope no one takes offense to that term.)

    As for me, I agree pretty well with the UC tenets, but if you want my own words? I consider everyone equal, regardless of any demographic classification, and I think to do otherwise is reprehensible. Or, to coin a phrase, the only thing I can’t stand is intolerance.

  319. Well, I apologize too for the initially antagonistic tone of my post (we all have our knee jerk prejudices to overcome).

    It is refreshing to see communities of tolerant and forward thinking religious people. I think that the fundies tend to get too much air time and are the first thing the secular communty thinks of when they think of Christians.

    I have always thought that any belief system, religious or otherwise, can be used to reinforce a person’s existing intention for good or ill.

    Anyways, it is good to know that secular and religious people can work together to make the world a better place.

    Thanks for the discussion.

  320. This convo makes me so very glad this space exists, because we’ve all got our triggers, our stories, our knee jerk prejudices. Everybody does.

    But we can make a choice, take a risk that stepping beyond those assumptions to hear someone else, and meet them where they actually are rather than where we thought they were.

    I’d be bold enough to say that theists and non-theists and polytheists (etc, etc) can build a more accepting, compassion-driven world when we keep doing exactly this. Keep talking, keep overturning what stands between us and find where we stand together. This blog talks of real and full inclusion, and it walks that talk too. This is the space that gives me the most hope.

  321. I agree, and thank you too.

    Believe it or not, I dislike bigoted fundamentalists as much as you. We’re not so different, you and I.

  322. The bible doesn’t support the use of airplanes, mass transit, anethesia, wedding rings, electricity, political primaries, padded pews for a church, the composition of our atmosphere, that whales breath oxygen like humans. The Bible is silent on all of those, yet scripture seems to have things to say when it comes to people having sex without the confines of what passed for marriage in that day, and most of it is not negativesl. Abraham, Jacob, David, Samson, Solomon all had extra marital encounters. We consider them all wonderful, positive Biblical Characters, men of integrity, yet they tended to lead with their shortest appendage at times.

    Reading the OT rules shows all sorts of twists to the “traditional marriage” roles that people insist that is in the bible, including women forced to marry their rapist, women forced to marry or become concubines to their conquerers, women having to marry the siblings of a deceased in order to ensure that the dead husband had a son to carry the bloodline….etc.

    And it would be nice if the Bible was a bit more clear on a lot of things, but its not. We read the texts written thousands of years ago, in cultures, languages and religious thought, quite foreign to us. We read it with modern eyes, modern culture, modern insights that would be quite foreign to the people who wrote and lived in the time that the texts were written. So of course there will be a great deal that is debatable, even for Christians. I can understand that people equate the Bible as almost equal to being God, or that it is the only text that points to God. I’ve heard that most of my life. It simply doesn’t work for me, for a long list of reasons.

  323. Here’s the problem your post Dastardly, there is no such thing as a true atheist. There just isn’t. When it comes down to it, God created a vacuum inside of every human that only Jesus can fill. Even in you, there is one. Besides, it takes too much faith to be an atheist. Too much faith to believe the universe just happened, that a baby just forms and happens to have five fingers on each hand and its own DNA, that the mix of oxygen and nitrogen is absolutely perfect on earth to sustain human life, that the orbit of the earth is exactly right to within one or two feet to support human life. Yep, it takes too much faith to be a TRUE atheist, maybe something else but not an atheist.

  324. Interesting. I thought like you when I was 16. Thankfully I have grown out of such an intolerant view of other people’s beliefs. I respect your beliefs and it is unfortunate that you can not return the favor.

    “When it comes down to it, God created a vacuum inside of every human that only Jesus can fill.”

    I look at this ‘vacuum’ as our lack of undestanding and our drive to discover more about the universe and to enrich our own sense of purpose and meaning. There are many ways to do this, but you seem to think that your way is the only right way – which antithetical to the spirit of this blog.

    Would you say the same thing about an agnostic, a Jew, a Muslim, a pagan, a Buddhist, a Hindu or a Sikh? Many people do not share your beliefs and have a great sense of meaning and satisfaction from life.

    “it takes too much faith to be a TRUE atheist, maybe something else but not an atheist.”

    I am not a true atheist, that would be just a presumptuous as assuming that God and Jesus are absolutely and without a doubt real and that these are the only paths to a worthwhile existence.

    Technically, I am an agnostic who believes that there is a 99% probability of God’s non-existence (non-existence is an interesting realm to explore, but I’ll save that for another discussion), and a 1% probability of God’s existence.

    Besides, isn’t an idol an object, person or an image that is worshipped? Sounds like many Christians practice idolatry by worshipping an image of God, a book and and person named Jesus rather than looking past these symbols with a sense of inquisitiveness and yearning.

  325. Well, Michael, it is possible to find an opinion on the internet to support any pre-existing belief. You can find a diatribe that seems credible to support the belief that Hitler was a great man and that the holocaust never happened. But when it comes down to it, you have a choice to view your own species in a positive and hopeful light or in the opposite way.

    Besides, peer-reviewed academic articles require a much more rigorous process of research and analysis than a blog does. I have those backing my position.

  326. My belief that Mankind is intrinsically wicked and immoral does not come from my Christian faith but from 47 years on this earth seeing people using and abusing others to make their own life that little bit more comfortable. It is not from finding something that fits my belief and then moulding facts to suit them. Yes, I have seen people who are helpful and moral but they are in the very, very small minority. I have also seen a lot of bad done “in the name of religion” just to add some balance. Care to post a link to your alleged findings as I’m sure they’re posted online? There was a peer reviewed academical study a few year back that showed that people with religious beliefs were more likely to suffer from mental health issues which received a lot of acclaim from the academical world. It wasn’t until someone noticed the author had weighted the figures in his favour that it was dismissed.

  327. If this is a reference to the great flood, I’ll remind you that a number of Christians believe it’s allegorical.

  328. Jesus isn’t the only way for a human being to experience peace and satisfaction in this life, Jay. And I say that as a Christian. It works for me. It doesn’t work for some others. And I think that’s way cool, not a problem. It’s best not to try and speak for other people’s experiences. Open, supportive, respectful dialogue is what works best when we’re trying to love our neighbor.

  329. Sometimes our perception of the world is selective and is a reflection of our own inner nature. There are plenty of good things that I have seen in my life, along with bad. I believe that our instincts (at least mine, as I can only speak for myself) drive me to do good for its own sake and because it makes me feel good about myself. Whatever the reason, I have the underlying drive to do good things.

    You cannot sit there with a straight face and honestly tell me that an infant has the capacity to do harm to others or be malicious. It is not until we get older and learn this through things we are told or through hurts that we suffer along the way.

    The bad things I have done and the bad urges that have experienced are a result of a belief that I acquired, a failure to manage my own life or a reaction to a painful experience that I have had. Addictions also play a role in this. But are we inherently evil at our core? I think not.

    Again, I can only speak for myself, not you.

    And you just highlighted why a peer reviewed process is important – that article was dismissed as a result of such a process. Academic articles have standards and these standards are upheld, unlike some blog that any bozo proficient in wordsmithing can put up on the internet.

  330. Interesting. I thought like you when I was 16. Thankfully I have grown out of such an intolerant view of other people’s beliefs. I respect your beliefs and it is unfortunate that you can not return the favor.

    “When it comes down to it, God created a vacuum inside of every human that only Jesus can fill.”

    I look at this ‘vacuum’ as our lack of undestanding and our drive to discover more about the universe and to enrich our own sense of purpose and meaning. There are many ways to do this, but you seem to think that your way is the only right way – which antithetical to the spirit of this blog.

    Would you say the same thing about an agnostic, a Jew, a Muslim, a pagan, a Buddhist, a Hindu or a Sikh? Many people do not share your beliefs and have a great sense of meaning and satisfaction from life.

  331. Here, I’ll pop your bubble by reflecting your argument in a consice fashion:

    ‘I am in favor of discriminating against and marginalizing a group of people who are different from me and I am going to use religion to justify this.’

    Lets call a spade a spade and a bigot a bigot.

    See? I can be quick and to the point. But you will likely say that I am hostile because I am factual and see through your smokescreen.

  332. No I dont think you are hostile. You are just stating your point of view. This is america and that is our right as citizens. God bless you and have a merry Christmas! and Happy New year…

  333. OK, maybe my wording was a tad excessive. I was merely trying to highlight the fact that Mankind is not naturally moral in their behaviours. No, children are not born with a capacity to do harm but just look at “the terrible twos”. I don’t if you call them that in America but in England we do. When a child reaches their second birthday, they become more self aware and start to try and push boundaries with their parents seeing what they can and can’t get away with. They also start hitting other children and try to dominate them and bend them to their will. I’m sure there is a well documented research paper on this subject but I can’t think of who wrote it (Freud? Possibly also comes under the heading of “nature v nurture”). That also backs up my claims that mankind, even at an early age, is not moral and we naturally veer towards hurting others and taking advantage of the weak. I think they call it “survival of the fittest” or some such phrase.

  334. Welp, that went over my head. Hard to tell sarcasm in print unless you’re familiar with the speaker. My bad.

  335. You too buddy. Remember that God accepts and loves us all regardless of who we are or how we live our lives.

  336. Oops, I thought I was replying to Matt in that post. Thats why I reposted it. Disregard the second one.

  337. Well, I don’t view the terrible twos as a bad thing. I’d say the same thing about adolescence. Its just a child trying to find their identity and assert their power without having yet developed the skills to do so in a mature way.

    I think that it is necessary for a person to go through this phase in order to survive in the world. We must learn certain things in order to exist, but I don’t think that this means we are inherently immoral.

  338. Or maybe original sin is nothing more than a belief about humans that some people have imposed. Why someone would do this is an interesting question to consider.

    Perhaps it was a reflection of a cynnical view of humanity, which was in turn a reflection of a sense of low self esteem. The belief may have taken off because it exploits our personal insecurities and self doubts.

    Or perhaps it was an effective way of controlling people by convincing them that they were inherently bad and ‘fallen’ people who needed an external locus of authority to keep them in line.

    I don’t think that a loving and enlightened God would do this to people just for the sake of creating obedient servants.

    I think that the concept of original sin may have a deeper meaning that is symbolic of the loss of naivete and innocence a person experiences as they grow up. Paradise Lost and the Divine Comedy are beautiful expressions of this path. In my interpretation they, along with the story of the Fall, are metaphors for this process of growth.

    I take original sin as a symbol for the flawed beliefs that we acquire, beliefs that ultimately must be discarded, followed by a period of darkness, leading to a more profound sense of awareness and empowerment.

  339. The Bible is primarily about the condition of the human heart (evil) and God’s love for His people. It’s not a collection of writings that encompass modern day developments.

  340. I hope, for your sake , you ‘re right, and God elects to save you, “just the way you are and the way you think about Him and His Word, the Bible, but I cant say the same for the billions drowned in the flood, save for Noah and his family whom God, not Noah ‘ shut into the Ark ( as He in like, shuts His Elect into the ‘ark of Christ’ today), or for all who perished at Sodom and Gomorrah, save for Lot and his family, whom the Angel of the Lord ( Christ?) had 2 angels physically drag them from the city, against their will almost, losing one casulty , his wife ,who heeded not the angel’s warning and looked back in longing for her former life there and perished in her lust, into a pillar of salt! Oh, but those are just fairy tales teaching a more universal truth, again , for your sake, hopefully so. But, “As in the day of Noah…, and in the day of Lot…, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:37, Luke 17:28. “… But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15.

  341. Actually, it is a collection of stories used as a political tool.
    Constantine needed the power of the politics of Christianity, THAT is why he made it the state religion.
    The Jews before that were a political power.
    Notice virtually all politicians use the politics of religion when campaigning. Name a US President who claimed not to be a ‘believer’.

  342. Your ignorance is touching, but don’t think all of us are so poorly trained in science that we can’t understand at least some of how the world works. A basic middle school biology class could have cleared this all up for you. For example, of course the universe could just happen. It’s infinitely big. By definition, anything (and everything) can (and will) happen within it. How unlikely you feel that event to be is irrelevant. See: a dictionary, or The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Also, development is extremely easy to see, you can look at the growth of any organism, including plants, to watch the same patterns. There is no “just happens” to it at all. Go look at some videos. Start with zebrafish. Sean Carrol has some lovely books on the subject too. The mix of O2 and N2 that supports us is absolutely perfect because we adapted to it, not the other way around. Not that the N2 matters to us much, could be any other inert gas mixed in. The O2 resulted from the evolution of photosynthetic life – O2 is quite toxic, and actually does quite a bit of damage to our bodies, aging and sometimes killing us. It was originally chemical warfare by single celled photosynthesizers against their anaerobic brethren, and killed off the majority of life on earth. Organisms had to adapt to survive by becoming aerobic, which turned out to be a better way of producing large amounts of energy, which eventually led to us (large metabolically expensive mammals). The anaerobes still are plentiful – the ones living in your gut keep you alive. And again, orbit of the earth – it seems they didn’t teach evolution in your school. Might want to read up on that one too. There is no faith whatsoever involved. Science requires proof. Anyone can do it. Children are natural born scientists, and start out experimenting with their environment (mostly physics to start, then psychology and animal behavior) as soon as they can. Faith cannot be proven, only believed. Faith must be taught, because it is not obvious or apparent. That’s why churches and temples and Bibles and the Koran and the Torah and such exist, to do that job. Faith is of course regional and time specific. My ancestors used to believe in fairies, which I honestly wish we could go back to as a culture. Required a lot less warfare, was much cuter, and the outfits were better.

    Edit: Short version: A lot of shit happens in 4.7 billion years, it gets complicated, it’s cool.

  343. Evolution doesn’t work. First of all, scientist don’t live long enough to prove the theory of evolution. Another problem with evolution is, in the case of man, there is NO missing link. If evolution was true, you would have MANY missing links in a myriad of stages of evolving. You are correct when you say, “There is no ‘just happens’.” None of what we see on this earth or anything that is in the universe, just happened. Nor did a molecule of this and a molecule of that, just happen to accidentally mix and then, BOOOM, life began! What did happen is, Jesus Christ Himself, the LIVING WORD OF GOD, SPOKE and when He did, He created the universe and everything that is in it. It happened long before Genesis 1:3-31 which shows us how Jesus re-created the earth after if was destroyed by the very first world wide flood when Satan was cast out of Heaven. This NOT Noah;s flood. Scientist believe the universe started out less than the size of an atom and continues to expand. That is how creative God is! No doubt you are an intelligent person Dastardly Drow but many of the most intelligent men in the history of the world recognized the reality of God and their need for a personal Savior. It takes too much faith to try and believe the many, unproven, changing theories of how life began instead of accepting the fact that a sovereign God created all life and all things in the universe.

  344. “Evolution doesn’t work. First of all, scientist don’t live long enough to prove the theory of evolution. ”


    “It happened long before Genesis 1:3-31 which shows us how Jesus re-created the earth after if was destroyed by the very first world wide flood when Satan was cast out of Heaven”
    Based on what?

  345. I’ve never understood why someone care about compassion and doing the right thing “for its own sake” without God or at least some transcendent idea of truth. If truth and “good” are all relative terms (which they must be without some form of external transcendent truth), then how do you judge anyone else? How can you even call someone intolerant? In your mind it is very clear that tolerance is essentially the best of all good and I imagine you have a large moral framework, but I don’t think it rests on anything solid. If you ask the question “why should I behave this way?” or “why does this matter?” enough times, I think eventually you will get down to a point where you have to say “I don’t know why.” Ultimately, without a transcendent idea of truth, you can offer nothing but baseless platitudes as moral obligation. The problem is that humans are very good at making an entire web of reasons to justify our behavior and worldview. In my opinion, the only logically consistent worldview for an atheist is hedonism, because I don’t think there’s a way to logically justify doing something I don’t want to do “for its own sake” if there’s no God and this is the only life I have and we all become worm’s food when this is over. I might do something good because it has positive consequences or avoids negative consequences, but this is all consistent with humanism. Obviously, many atheists act in ways that are moral and loving and tolerant, but if they’re not doing it for their own personal gain, they’re not being logically consistent with their professed worldview that professes the absence of anything other than this physical world we inhabit. In my opinion, they do it because despite their unbelief, they were still made in the image of God and still mirror his qualities of justice and love.

  346. This argument is surprisingly common, but incorrect. Atheists are not all alike apart from agreeing that there’s no evidence to suggest any gods exist. However, most of us understand the concept of mutual cooperation and wanting to make the world a better place for our friends and family. Doing good things makes us feel good. Morality or ethics is a social construct that varies between times and cultures; our upbringing and society determines our values, not any holy book, as the morality of most Christians is better than that found in the Bible. For example, we don’t stone disobedient children any more. Other cultures have different standards. Finally, if anyone needs the fear of hell to stop him raping and murdering everyone in sight then he’s truly beyond hope.

  347. The scientific method is based on empirical evidence, not faith. No belief is required when you follow the evidence. Your understanding of evolution is very limited and incorrect; if you’re truly interested in how evolution actually works (and not the strawman version presented by creationists) then there are plenty of online resources to help you understand it. There is more physical evidence supporting the theory of evolution than any other scientific theory – even gravity.

    Is too much faith required to be a non-believer in leprechauns and unicorns? Of course not. There is the same amount of empirical evidence for them as there is for any of the thousands of gods invented over the millennia – none. The burden of proof is on the person making the claim, not the one denying it due to lack of evidence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

  348. I agree that must atheists (and in fact most people in general) do good things. I actually explicitly stated that, so I’m not sure what you mean about my argument being “incorrect.” I’m not saying that atheists do not do good things, I’m saying that (apart from where doing good things has a specific positive consequence) doing good things for their own sake or abstaining from doing bad things is irrational for a world view that denies the concept of transcendent truth. Your comment does not even imply that my argument is incorrect. If anything it supports it. As an atheist, I believe I did a lot of good things and loved people a great deal, but my altruism was confusing from a logical standpoint. No amount of thought or argument could lead me to explain why I ought to do something that would hurt or why I ought not do something that gave me pleasure. Sure, I could argue for an altruistic action from a surface level (“for the good of humanity”) but not from a deeper level (“why do I care about the good of humanity at the expense of my own happiness”). The answer to the deeper question was always something along the lines of “I don’t know, but it feels like the right thing to do.” And following one’s feelings in this case may be “right,” but it it’s certainly not logical or consistent with a world view without God or transcendent truth.

  349. This article is distorting the Bible in an attempt to justify sin. Homosexuality is a mark of this failed world just like all the other pervertions to God’s original design. To promote sin is an awful thing to do especally in the name of compassion and love. There are very good reasons people should be excluded from church ministries for unrenounced sin whatever it may be especially because of hypocracy. Jesus demostrated love and acceptance of sinners but said go and sin no more not I love you have compassion and validate your sin.

  350. This is a very strange idea that the Bible is just another book but quite convenient on allowing one to frame their own worldview…

  351. God only accepts us through Jesus because of his payment for sin. But to live your life as you please because you think you have license is to dishonor his sacrifice. We should not sin that grace may abound. We are to live godly lives wholly and pleasing to him.

  352. You must have another bible in mind. Mine clearly outlines man’s fall from grace and God’s plan to redeem him through sacrifice and later the ultimate sacrifice of his son. It’s a history book as well and also has teachings for the church.

  353. Everyone familiar with the bible interjects it somehow in the framing of their personal worldview. That it can be viewed so diversely shows that it is a book of richness and depth, and yet is in no way threatened by those diverse views…but then its a collection of writings, lacking such a capability of emotional response.

  354. I used to hold a similar point of view, but then I realised… the same applies to theists. To rephrase the Euthyphro Dilemma: Is something good because God says it is good (and thus makes it so), or does God say it is good because it is?

    If the latter, then God is not a prerequisite for ‘good’ to exist, and atheists are just as capable (or incapable) as theists of being meaningfully good, in whatever way it may exist. If the former, ‘good’ remains an arbitrary construct; just one created by God rather than humans. It would mean that if tomorrow God decides that it is good to go around randomly killing people, it *would* be good; and there would be no logical reason to say otherwise.

  355. I propose that all future arguments on this blog take place solely through an exchange of image macros.

  356. Obviously we hold radically different views of what ‘history’ means and is.

    Full Definition of HISTORY

    1: tale, story

    2a : a chronological record of significant events (as affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes

    b : a treatise presenting systematically related natural phenomena

    c : an account of a patient’s medical background

    d : an established record

    You mean 1 and I mean 2.


    god’s plan?

    Whether it is to punish those who can’t find where it is hiding in the most obscene fashion for eternity for minor offenses in a very very very short life, or the complete destructions of the planet to get revenge on “god’s enemies’, it is evil by any rational examination….

    But then again, here is god talking:

    Isaiah 45:7
    King James Version (KJV)

    7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.

  357. J.P., 2 months late, but here’s how. As a teenager, what do you find yourself staring at and attracted to. If it’s your own sex you’re gay

  358. It takes the mind of Christ to see it is evil. Without the change a relationship with him brings it’s all just an academic discussion of views like reading shakespeare. There is a verse that says ths heart of man is desparately wicked. Who can know it?

  359. I assumed you had a relationship with Jesus when I replied but if not what I write is meanless and foolish. Sorry.

  360. Yes but don’t stop there. The implication seems to be that it does not contain absolute truth but it does therefore not all views are equal.

  361. Mistake #1. Assuming you have the mind of Christ and people who see things differently do not.
    Mistake #2. Mistaking all hearts are desperately wicked, because of a poetic use of phrase.
    Mistake #3. Assuming you have the insight track to what other people’s hearts are like based on zero ability.

  362. Your assumption of mine or anyone’s relationship with God is just that, an assumption. I don’t doubt when someone says that they do. But I also will not stand by and accept what I see as destructive rhetoric couched in religiousity, and say nothing. You may have been taught such things, that doesn’t make them correct. Here’s a news flash for you….preachers are quite capable of lying.

  363. Newsflash. Mistake#1 you assumed evolution was correct. A little arrogant I’ve noticed in your posts.

  364. There are a lot of assumptions in this reply and they take a lot of faith. I don’t know why some people don’t know God and others do. I am glad that many are coming to a saving knowledge through Jesus and then receiving the holy spirit as their guide. Jesus is real. Thank God for that.

  365. That’s not what the Bible says. Jesus is the peace that passes all understanding. You can’t have peace without him because you can’t be reconciled to God any other way but through Jesus.

  366. Thought this was good except the recreating part… I do see the evolution/creation arguements all over the blogosphere but I’m not convinced they accomplish anything nor th God exists/doesn’t debates. A person must first be saved from eternal separation from God through Jesus and then changed in his/her spirit before they understand the Bib le.

  367. Definitions aren’t so as important as truth. Is the Bible God’s word inspired by him to be written by men? I believe it is.

  368. Not all will agree with you. If you believe that and it helps you to navigate through life, then that’s great. If I don’t, or someone else doesn’t instead seeing the Bible as something different, and that different also helps us navigate through life, then that’s great.

  369. It’s true many won’t but that’s not important. What is important is people who don’t know Jesus can come to know him and be saved. Then they will become a new person. It’s all in the new testament and it’s true! At that point discipleship and Bible believing church are important. I pray you will kn ow Jesus personally and be then we’ll be on the same wavelength!

  370. Definitions are truth.
    The undefined are just unknown.
    Believe what you want.
    Reality will still be there when your done.

  371. You seem to have issues . Rhetoric according to whom? 🙂 Yes some Christian leaders have fallen. Just goes to show we are all flawed. On Jesus made it through life perfectly and it’s in him we put our faith and trust. Not people.

  372. Not just allies, for Constantine Christianity WAS the political party, and that momentum carries into present day US.

  373. Honey, there is a good chance that I’ve been a Christian, longer than you’ve been alive. I have read the Bible many times, and have been involved in three quite different variations of denominational belief. I’ve tried your version of Christianity…it was my second variation. I found it not much different than the first one, much more restrictive and oppresive than the second, but with some striking similarities. Which is why I’m on my third which is much less constricted to rules, tenets and what the pastor tells me a scripture verse means.

    I’m a conservative church’s worst nightmare…a mystic with a thousand questions. A Christian who dances to her own drummer, can find harmony with the variety of approaches to God, and has no problems that people do things not like me. And you know what? Jesus is completely cool with it.

  374. Believing or not doesn’t change the truth it just changes your actions. God sent his son to earth where he was beaten and abused and killed by men so we could escape eternal separation from God after death. This is love. It’s all in the Bible. We just have to ask Jesus to forgive us and he will. We can be saved from hell!

  375. Yes reality will be there for us all. But the point is to not make the Bible another book to analyze independant of belief.

  376. What I have issues with is a version of my faith who can’t seem to accept that there is much more diversity that exists within Christianity than they assume and that anyone who doesn’t managed to get squished into the little “this is a Christian mold” is not a real Christian. That mold is a companion to the “God is not anything but this way mold” The molds are sold in a set, and if you order now you can get the “the bible is this and only this” mold….Callers are standing by…(night shifts/sleep deprivation is fun!!)

    To use that assumption to condemn, belittle, opress, keep silent, legislate, ostracize and harm is not for me. Its not for most of us…You can keep it.

  377. yeah…right. As if Christianity hasn’t been doing that, since a group of bishops gathered together and decided which writings would or would not make the final cut.

  378. Great but by Christian I mean Christ follower. Not someone with an intellectual unDerstanding For debating. Someone studying the Bible, relinquished the reigns of theirlfe to jesus, seeking to follow him, changed by receiving his forgiveness.

  379. Cynic! Lol. You leave no room for God to have sent his word to you and it survived all these years.

  380. Awww. I’m a cynic! Actually, I’m satirical, not cynical, but some don’t understand the difference…hint, the second takes a sense of humor.
    As for my stance with God, you lack the qualifications and ability to determine what that is at all.. as if your opinion matters…which it don’t.

  381. Well why bother with this website. Seems an odd match. The Bible is God’s word and once our telationship with Jesus iscestablished we are to learn it and attend a Bible teaching church so People in church are not perfect nor can they be. There are some unhealthy churches that have hurt people but not all are like that. Yes the mold thing can be a problem. Hurt people hurt people. But what doesn’t change is all of our needing forgiveness from sin and only Jesus can do that. It’s a relationship not a religion. That’s what separates out Christianity from other religions

  382. Ah. So someone who just accepts what someone tells them is true, or what the Bible is supposed to be saying, with no question? Someone who leaves their brain by the curb, their questions rendered irrelevent, their intuition quelled, all because of a particular way of looking at the Bible? Someone who thinks that this collection of writings has all the answers needed to every question one may have about life and faith, even though it really doesn’t,(but shhh, we aren’t supposed to know that?) The kind of faith that squishes God into a cosmic wish giver, and Jesus the always beleagured keeping us out of trouble co wish giver?

    No thanks. I prefer to view the Bible as a remarkable work with much depth and great value, to worship a God that has no restraints of mine or anyone else’s making and a life that frees me to be inquisitive, unfettered, grateful on so many glorious levels.

  383. Have you even read any of John’s work? I “bother” with this website because of John’s work. I have to wonder if you even read the article that all these comments are attached to.

    Christianity is a religion, just like all the other religions, and God is not restricted to just one of them.

    “its a relationship, not a religion” Yeah right. If that were true, which it aint, then why do people keep going around telling others just how to do things that have nothing to do with a relationship or how do do that relationship on terms that are completely inorganic and unatural to so many? And when one decides to take the relationship to personal terms, meaning without the need of the “bible teaching church” method, or on terms that are organic and natural to the person, then they are not doing it right.

    The Bible is NOT God’s word, as if the voice of the divine could be contained in a mere book..there is no such things as a Bible believing church NOR did Jesus establish such a thing. Considering that the Bible didn’t exist until 300 years after Jesus, that idea is just silly.

    If only the believing in Jesus is the way to have sins forgiven, then it sucks for the vast majority of humanity who’ve never heard of such a thing, or whose faith structures teach them differently. I cannot for one minute believe in a deity that cold hearted.

    Give it up dude.

  384. Wow this is sad what you’ve experienced and the bitterness. Nevertheless jesus is still there to heal your wounds. But you need to take the first step in asking him. Before that Christianity is just another religion because it’s another list of dos and don’ts to achieve what we are all missing in our lives and that’s a right relationship with God only possible through his son Jesus Christ. Jesus accepts everyone as they are.

    Ihave read the article and I believe it’s right in not rejecting people but wrong in validating sin. The Bible does not validate sin that I can see. Also you talk about fitting into molds but have you considered you have your own? Perhaps this is why you struggle because you throw away the Bible and look for someone’s teaching that appeals to you.

    This idea that somehow house churches are superior is ubfounded and causes trouble when a bunch of peopke try to go it on their own with no solid spiritual leadership. By Bible based I mean they teach the Bible as truth and use it as the basis for their teachings.

  385. Ok, you’ve read that article, but not John’s other work. And stop thinking you know my faith, or why I believe the way do.

    And again, I believe that the Bible has some things in it that are true. It also has things that are untrue, It has myth, poetry, allegories, personal opinions, propaganda, stories of people at their basest and at their best It has things that are beautiful and of value, and things that are ugly and harmful. What it is not is truth. To insist that the Bible is “truth” misses all the nuances, the depths, and the humanity of the book, a book written by a people who were trying to get others to understand God from a different perspective. They did a wonderful job, as it does offer that.

    What you espouse as the needful things of your faith are what I grew up with, spent over half my life living under, and I ultimately rejected. Why? I decided to finally ask those questions I’d been harboring, harboring because no one wanted me to ask them, questions I believe God had put into my head until the time was right for me to seek those answers. Questions that put me on a personal faith journey, I have found healing, hopeful and purposeful. I see the Bible as a tool, but only one of many I can use on my journey.

    Trust me, you don’t want me in your church. I’d likely insight a riot with all my why questions.

  386. To say the Bible is not truth is your opinion. What this shows is that you have your own ideas like everyone else and want something that fits those. This is what happens when the Bible is not considered truth. You also seem to assume that those who believe it as such have not asked any questions or done any research. I just think you haven’t asked enough or only asked certain people. You threw away something but should you have kept some of it and left the rest? Traditions of men vs God’s word? We have to keep Christian culture separate from God’s truth. These opinions you judge to be in the Bible, are considered inspired by God as written by men from their experience.

    The fact the Bible is so sought after and survived so long speaks to it’s relevance not to mention the many verses in it as well as Jesus own response to the Old Testament. Of course it can be twisted and misused.

    You do need to go somewhere you can ask those questions and not just of people who share your predispositions. Not all churches are equipped and certainly not house groups. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and have him living in you, it’s important to be together with healthy believers not just off hearing what fits your worldview. This is the same for every believer. Everyone has questions to ask but God is not going to advise you the Bible is not truth and advise so many others it is. I think this is the most important point to re-evaluate because Christianity is based on the Bible; not all the other books written around it. Those are opinions as is this website. The Bible gives us the rock to stand on and everything flows out from that to keep us all on track. Sure there will be disputable matters but there needs to be the core recognition that it’s the correct worldview and is timeless.

  387. verheek, come back when you can attest to the fact that you eat no shellfish, wear no mixed thread clothes, are willing to stone disobedient children to death, and would insist on marrying your sister-in-law, if your brother dies before fathering a child. Until then, you are just making it up as you go, and cherry picking…and that is Rev. Shore’s point.

  388. The Old Testament and New Testament are equal. Christ told us to love, but also told us to repent from our sins and to follow God and all of His commandments. Homosexuality is stated as a sin, even if it is just a few verses. Don’t change the Bible into what you want it to be. Repent and accept Christ as your Savior. It’s pretty cut and dry.

  389. I know that research and facts won’t matter to you, but not a single Bible scholar nor theologian of any academic repute would say to you that the Bible is all totally true. It cannot be. In many places, the stories contradict one another. The Bible itself proves that it can’t be inerrant. Again, if it is, attest to living totally Biblically…as I said above…if you can’t, you’re making it up as you go to suit your needs.

  390. You don’t know that her beliefs have changed her actions at all. My guess, verheek, is that allegro63 is significantly more Christian and righteous in how she lives her life, than in how you lead yours. She sounds like an open, loving and welcoming spirit, which as this article notes, and Jesus (who you claim to be such a strong follower of) commanded, is the primary commandment…above all others. Merely pontificating about Jesus’ sacrifice will not get you into heaven. You will be known, just as Jesus said he was, by your actions, not your beliefs nor your religion.

  391. Of course it doesn’t contain absolute truth because who is the arbitrator of that truth? And don’t say Jesus, (or God) because that would imply that you are sufficiently advanced to know the mind of God or Jesus, and I’d remind you that to make that claim is blasphemy. You know it no better than I, but I’ve taken the time to study and research and reason. I’ve learned enough Greek and history of the time. I suspect that you, verheek, on the other hand, have merely read what the Pastor told you to read…and in the King James Version only. But even then, a careful reading who point on the discrepancy and conflicting stories, which clearly mean it’s not absolute truth.

  392. Jesus never said, “Thou shalt give yourself a lobotomy and never think again in order to follow me.” I suspect he relishes those who question and seek insight far more than those sheep who prattle along with a misplaced moral authority that is not earned. verheek, just because the Preacher said it doesn’t make it so. Your faith needs to be earned…an unquestioned, blind faith is an empty vessel, worth no more than the vessel itself.

  393. With many words, what you have really said is that, unless there is some threat by a superior being of eternal damnation hanging over one’s head, then there is no logical foundation to do existential good.

    That being the case, I’d have to find that your argument is the illogical one, but by God, you managed to use a lot of words to say it. Extra points for that.

  394. Ok, which set of commandments? The 630 of the Old Testament, or the 1050 in the new? Or do we have to keep 1680 commandments? If so, how in the hell are we supposed to keep it all straight, considering that some dismiss others?

  395. I disagree, Mr. Masters, though I doubt that surprises you. I used a lot of words to describe what I think is a complicated topic. I never mentioned anything about a threat of eternal damnation… that may be necessary as part of God’s overall plan, but i do not believe it is necessary for a logical argument for the concept of what defines “good”… but that’s also a different topic.

    You used few words to rebut, but you also made no logical case… in fact, you did the opposite by employing sarcasm, which a favorite of people like Mr. Dawkins. It’s much easier to pretend you made a sound argument if you imply from the beginning that person you’re arguing against is absurd. You seen to find this topic to be simple and you say my argument is illogical. I would be very interested to hear an actual argument to counter mine: an explanation for how you define “good” without transcendent principles.

  396. Are you serious? By that logic, then you can’t claim the creation story to be true either…Adam and Eve weren’t around until about day 6…so how do you know, with such certainty, what came before that? Oh wait, I know what you’ll say…the Bible tells me so. Sorry Jay, it doesn’t work
    that way. If actual scientific evidence doesn’t count, and it doesn’t count because scientists weren’t around to see it all, then the Bible can’t count either. It was recorded way after the creation event (even assuming your 6,000 year old earth theory were true), and no people were around until Day 6.

    Sorry, you defeat your own argument.

  397. Are you serious with that question? Before you lost virginity, how did you know you were straight, J.P.?

  398. And some are better off for not knowing. In your world, you would require parents to marry and stay married, and keep their children, even if these are abusive relationships…all because of a belief in a book? Are you serious?

  399. I didn’t see that John was arguing whether homosexuality was natural or not. I suspect he thinks it is, as I’ve read that in other posts of his. The point of this article was to explain that, if you believe it’s wrong based a biblical understanding, you are mistaken, as the the actual contextual meanings of the clobber passages has been misinterpreted. This was a discussion about biblical interpretation, not biology.

  400. Thank you Mike for pointing out the fact that people feel compelled to try to assign human traits and characteristics to a God is, by their own Bible, beyond comprehension. I believe in a God so big that, as a Christian myself, I don’t need to believe in “creationism.” I think God’s big enough to use whatever process he wants to use as part of the creative process. That is our problem…we constantly try to create God in our image.

  401. Actually Tabitha, the Catholic Church had a formal liturgy for blessing gay marriage before it had a formal liturgy for straight marriages. Go figure.

  402. Ah yes, in his 20s, hanging out with other 20 year old gay people…I suspect there is a lot of sex going on. Had Irish Eddie been hanging out at straight bars instead of gay bars during his 20s, methinks he would have likely seen lots of sex and lusting going on there as well. Just saying, maybe he should have mixed it up a little. Had broader experience.

  403. And what of it? So the culture that has developed around homosexuality is often, to say the least, morally questionable when compared with the heterosexual culture at large. Do you not see that this could possibly be the fruit of oppression? And when someone points out to you exceptions that exist despite this oppression, you ignore them instead of seeing them as statements of love that that gives greatly in circumstances that some heterosexuals, with all their history of societal and religious approval, would not exhibit. I of course know full well that there are heterosexual relationships that would stand these tests, but they have, at least very rarely, been put to the kind of trials that these homosexual relationships have endured.

  404. The evidence points to this. the universe, this planet, life on this planet is much more complex in construct in how it all came to, and in a much longer then in the beautiful yet simplistic prose of a very ancient author who was making a religious claim, not a scientific one.

    I have no qualms with the religious claim. I think God did create all that we behold, but in a fashion, a scale and a time frame that far surpasses the prose of Genesis.

    In that regards, both evolution and Genesis are correct, but for vastly different reasons.

  405. The act of homosexual sex is indeed sin. Period. There is no denying that. But, having affections for, thoughts of, and love toward someone of the same sex is not sin. We need to be condemning all sin: gluttony, pornography, divorce, lust, and homosexual sex equally. But, never condemning or judging the sinner. Especially since we are all sinners.

  406. Assuming for a moment that homoerotic sex is indeed a sin, about which the bible is not at all clear: how do you define homoerotic sex? I’m assuming you mean sex between people of the same sex, whereupon: how do you determine someone’s sex, specifically with regards to intersex people? I have an intersex online acquaintance with a weird chromosomal condition that made her body spontaneously change from mostly-male to mostly-female within the period of a few months; does this mean that in the period before, any sex she would have had with a man would have been sin, and in the period after, any sex she would have with a woman would be sin? What about in the time in between? What if she had previously been married to a woman; does this mean that she would be obliged to divorce her or continue in a sexless relationship? Justify your answer with references to scripture. Thank you, and I have many more case studies I would like your input on (including myself) when you’re done with that one.

  407. If homosexual sex is an act of sin, just like all the other sin acts, why is there a need to avoid saying it?

    Supposition argument: Humans also have a “tendency” to commit adultery. Should people who have such urges then band together and call ourselves adultersexuals and ask to be accepted by the church and Christian community?

    Frequently, homosexuals ignore the love the person part, but attacks the hate the sin part because they identity themselves with the sin and refuses to change their lifestyle.

    The devil is using the topic of homosexuality, the people who indulge in them and their supporters to attack Christians. He has them ignoring all other things Christian except the part in the bible that says that homosexuality is a sin and wants us to deny this. Or else they attack us with all kinds of names like bigotry, hypocrites, etc.