what if they find out?

what if they find out? November 3, 2011

There are communities where you don’t have to live under fear of being discovered, where you are accepted and embraced as you are, where you don’t have to constantly hide or deny your identity. I know because I’ve been a part of them and visited them. They are very special sanctuaries.

But they are rare. Which is why they are so special. If you find one get adopted! My hope is that their numbers grow. I do sense a rising tide and that eventually people will recognize they are to be as fully inclusive as their god is. My greater hope is that we would precipitate the inevitable by voluntarily and willingly initiating the change now.

If you know your history at all, the earliest Christians were persecuted and marginalized. Until Constantine. Then they became the power brokers. Those who had done the persecuting and excluded experienced that which they inflicted. History repeats itself. What if one day those who are now excluded and marginalized becomes the group the rest will want to become a part of?

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  • amazonfeet

    I am in that kind of community. One of the church’s senior members came up to me and said “Welcome to the beloved community!” which of course, her being a little old late 80-something with white hair, resulted in my adopting her as a surrogate grandmother…this community got me through two of the roughest years of my life, when I was trying like hell to get SSDI. I am able to be who I am, and no one as much as bats an eyelash. It sort of reminds me of the part of the story about the Velvetine Rabbit, where the Skin Horse is explaining what it means to be real. My faith community had my back when my former faith traditions didn’t give a damn. They gave time, treasure, food from the church freezer, and got me through it. I wouldn’t be alive today without them, I would have given up and died…

  • Great one here David, took me a split second to comprehend and then I was like, “O WOW..nice!”.

    It’s shame that christianity has been deemed as the the “gay-hating” religion, especially when there are so many progressive churches around the country (and in Canada I’m sure!) that are anything but that.

  • I belong to a conservative Lutheran congregation. Gay people are welcome in our congregation. There are some in our congregation now.

    But they are not alloewd to advocate their sin and use our congregation to make a stand. Just as anyone else in our congregation is not allowed to advocate their sin, whatever it may be.

    We believe that the clear Word of scripture says quite unambigously that homosexuality is a sin. Just as it clearly says that gluttony and adultery are sins.

    We don’t affirm people’s sins. We let the Word of God expose our sin… and then we announce God’s forgiveness for them.

    And by the way, NO ONE is left off the hook. After one of our pastor’s sermons, no one is left standing, pastor included…except Jesus.

  • steve: that’s a power-broker statement. you proclaim, with the support of an ancient document, that homosexuality is a sin. therefore homosexuals are sinners. only people with power can say that. the weak and excluded and ostracized and marginalized are victims of your belief that manifests itself in policies against them.

  • Mark Heiss

    Oops. Too funny (and sometimes true).

  • Doug

    From Steve:

    After one of our pastor’s sermons, no one is left standing, pastor included…except Jesus.

    Sounds like the charismatic church I attended for several years after everyone was “slain” in the spirit…lol

    Seriously though, can someone explain to me why Homosexuality is the issue that is crusaded so hardly against in the brick and mortar churches? I mean why not tax cheats? Guys who hit their wives or molest their kids? Or ignoring those shut in or the poor and dying?

    Why have we made it a “Christian” issue? When we see people we should not look at their sin, but the heart of the person. It simply is not my business. And…guess what, by religious bigots pressing the issue so hard, many more have “came out”.

  • Doug,

    No charisma. Just the Word. Calmly spoken, but with urgency.

    That’s another thing I really enjoy about Lutheranism. We don’t have to feel saved, to know that we are saved.

  • excerpt from:
    Are Biblical Laws About Homosexuality Eternal?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-elliott-friedman/biblical-law-on-homosexuality_b_911963.html

    Richard Elliot Friedman, Shawna Dolansky
    (authors of “The Bible Now”)
    Huffington Post
    posted 8/1/2011 04:52 PM ET
    retrieved 9/16/2011

    We are scholars, not politicians. Our job isn’t to score points for a side, push an agenda or to re-size the Bible to fit our personal views.

    So here’s the text and a summary of the evidence:

    “You shall not lay a male the layings of a woman; it is a to’ebah” (offensive thing)
    — Leviticus 18:22.

    “And a man who will lay a male the layings of a woman: the two of them have done a to’ebah (offensive thing). They shall be put to death. Their blood is on them”
    — Leviticus 20:13.

    We acknowledged that many people have recognized that these two texts pretty clearly do prohibit at least some kinds of male-male sex … The law really means what pretty much everyone has taken it to mean for centuries. Whatever view one takes, one must address the law fairly in terms of what it says.

    So we sought to contribute another perspective that we believe can be helpful on this subject. The text identifies male homosexual acts by the technical term to’ebah, translated in English here as “an offensive thing” or in older translations as “an abomination.” This is important because most things that are forbidden in biblical law are not identified with this word. In both of the contexts in Leviticus (chapters 18 and 20), male homosexuality is the only act to be called this. (Other acts are included broadly in a line at the end of chapter 18.) So this term, which is an important one in the Bible in general, is particularly important with regard to the law about male homosexual acts.

    The question is: Is this term to’ebah an absolute, meaning that an act that is a to’ebah is wrong in itself and can never be otherwise? Or is the term relative – meaning that something that is a to’ebah to one person may not be offensive to another, or something that is a to’ebah in one culture may not be offensive in another, or something that is a to’ebah in one generation or time period may not be offensive in another – in which case the law may change as people’s perceptions change?

    When one examines all the occurrences of this technical term in the Hebrew Bible, one finds that elsewhere the term is in fact relative. For example, in the story of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis, Joseph tells his brothers that, if the Pharaoh asks them what their occupation is, they should say that they’re cowherds. They must not say that they are shepherds. Why? Because, Joseph explains, all shepherds are an offensive thing (to’ebah) to the Egyptians. But shepherds are not an offensive thing to the Israelites or Moabites or many other cultures. In another passage in that story, we read that Egyptians don’t eat with Israelites because that would be an offensive thing (to’ebah) to them. But Arameans and Canaanites eat with Israelites and don’t find it offensive. See also the story of the Exodus from Egypt, where Moses tells Pharaoh that the things that Israelites sacrifice would be an offensive thing (to’ebah) to the Egyptians. But these things are certainly not an offensive thing to the Israelites.

    Now, one might respond that the law here is different because it concerns an offensive thing to God – and is therefore not subject to the relativity of human values. But that is actually not the case here. The Bible specifically identifies such laws about things that are divine offenses with the phrase “an offensive thing to the LORD” (to’ebat yhwh). That phrase is not used here in the law about male homosexual acts. It is not one of the laws that are identified as a to’ebah to God!

    If this is right, then it is an amazing irony. Calling male homosexual acts a to’ebah was precisely what made the biblical text seem so absolutely anti-homosexual and without the possibility of change. But it is precisely the fact of to’ebah that opens the possibility of the law’s change. So, (1) whatever position one takes on this matter, left or right, conservative or liberal, one should acknowledge that the law really does forbid homosexual sex between males but not between females. And (2) one should recognize that the biblical prohibition is not one that is eternal and unchanging. The prohibition in the Bible applies only so long as male homosexual acts are perceived to be offensive. This could involve arguments and evidence from specialists in biology, psychology and culture. They are beyond our range of expertise as Bible scholars. Our task here has been to make the biblical evidence known.

    – – – – – –

    In the Torah, there is no legal prohibition of sex between women – lesbians are allowed. This lack of attention to women having sex with each other is understandable because in that ancient time it was thought that only men initiated new life, only men carried the seed for new life. To the people of that ancient time, a woman only provided a womb which is a “nest” or “fertile ground” or “incubator” – a place where the seed of a man could grow. Women carried life and nurtured life, but they contributed nothing to its inception. The understanding was that the seed of a man, once “planted” in the woman, only grew (not developed) until the woman was “delivered of her burden.” If a woman could not have a baby, it was never a problem with the man’s seed. Always, it was because her “nest” was “barren” – unsuitable for the growth of new life. In an extension of the same self-serving logic, if a woman did not give birth to sons, it was her fault and never the fault of the man even though he was the only source of “seed”, the only source of new life. Such a hegemonic understanding contributed to and sustained the self-serving patriarchal importance and power that any man could lord over any woman.

    One of the hallmarks of the seriousness and importance of this prohibition of sex between men is that the punishment is death – a public execution – a punishment that the Torah requires only in 19 other situations.

    By the metric of the punishment required, the other capital crimes should be taken as seriously as the prohibition of men having sex with each other. Of the two executions recorded in the Torah (Leviticus 24:10-23, Numbers 15:32-36), the first was a man who “blasphemed the Name in a curse” and the second was for working on the Sabbath. To be consistently and continually obedient to the Torah, we must demand legislation that will prohibit work on the Sabbath (Shabbat in Hebrew) with the penalty being death by stoning. This would apply to all people regardless of their religion or citizenship.

    In the defense of modern Sabbath practices, we are directed to the Gospels telling of Jesus “working” on the Sabbath.

    With the simplest of methods for gathering the simplest of nourishment and with a few acts of healing, we have sufficient justification for abandoning: one of the ten commandments, a substantial body of religious law, a defining cultural activity and for setting aside all the spiritual and secular reasoning for honoring and holding sacred a day of rest and reflection – and replace it with professional sports, athletic competitions for children, travel and recreation, cultural activities and being open for business 24/7. If it is so easy to ignore a major and substantial religious practice repeatedly uplifted, enshrined and required by the Torah and by all the scripture that follows, why is it so hard to let go of two verses that have substantially less biblical mention and support and no contemporary justification?

    excerpted from
    RECLAIMING QUEERS
    http://dmergent.org/2011/10/07/reclaiming-queers/

  • @amazonfeet,
    They sound like a great bunch of people, and your surrogate grandmother sounds very sweet.

  • @Doug Sloan,
    Quite the education there, thanks!

  • @Doug Sloan,
    I needed to come back to your comment after my morning tea. Some things kept nagging me and now I have some questions. Why would an omniscient, benevolent god make this whole issue (homosexuality) so confusing? Of course, one could always take the easy way out and blame humans for the confusion, but that only dodges the question and is unacceptable. Can anyone explain to me (extra points for brevity and clarity) why the true intentions of this god are not clear enough for even the most simple amongst us to discern from a cursory reading of the text?

  • Just some thoughts:
    David- re: with the support of an ancient document,
    So the Bible is an invalid standard based on it’s age? Who determines the age for rendering a document ancient? On what basis then do you call yourself a Christian? If the Bible is outdated, then all the parts we like are also. What is it now replaced with- your blogs?
    Doug- so what is abominable to God, changes based on man’s knowledge?
    TGM- If you just read it for what it says, and not try to put all kinds of slants on it, I think you will find it perfectly clear.

  • Dr. you can’t be serious!? “If you just read it for what it says, and not try to put all kinds of slants on it, I think you will find it perfectly clear.” Surely you are joking! There’s no agreement. There never has been nor will there ever be. Wars are fought over some people’s perfectly clear interpretation of the bible. really now. we all know this.

  • @TGM: The problems are:
    1) Most of us are reading a translation. There is very little one-to-one equivalency between the words of different languages. A proper translation requires knowledge of the various contexts in which the original text was written.

    2) The scripture was not written to us, for us or about us. The original meaning and intent of the text as well as its various contexts are masked by the huge passage of time and the massive cultural and technological changes that have occurred during that huge intervening time. Because some of the original contexts have disappeared, some (much?) of the original meaning and intent of the text will never be known by us.

    3) The “will of God” – what God wants for us – has always been for us to:
    * Be Free and Independent
    * Think
    * Be Curious
    * Be Intelligent and Wise
    * Be Creative
    * Grow and Mature
    * Live Long Healthy Satisfying Lives
    * Live Non-Violently Without Vengeance
    * Be Hospitable
    * Be Generous
    * Be Compassionate
    * Do No Harm
    * Value Knowledge over Ignorance and Compassion over Knowledge
    * Provide Justice as Restoration
    * Heal and Rehabilitate and Reconcile
    * Be Good Stewards of all Resources
    * Live Here as One Sharing Family
    * Live in Loving Relationship with God
    * Be Transformed through Resurrection
    * Be the Kingdom of God – now.

  • @Dr. Mansfield:

    In the two Leviticus scriptures about male-male sex:

    1) The word that in the past has been translated as “abomination” is better translated as “offense.”

    2) “to God” is not part of those two scriptures. When reading the scripture, it helps to be sensitive to what is not there as well as what words are there. As stated in the article and in the book “The Bible Now”; based on other usage in the Hebrew Bible, what makes this “offense” offensive is based on cultural context. It is not stated as a moral absolute.

  • @Doug Sloan,
    Thank you for your answer(s).
    With the exceptions of:
    3) The “will of God” – what God wants for us – has always been for us to:
    and
    * Live in Loving Relationship with God
    * Be Transformed through Resurrection
    * Be the Kingdom of God – now.

    I or (any number of atheists) could have written this response. That being the case, do you agree that it is within the realm of possibility that men can come to agreement on common values and morality without deferring to an outside (supernatural) source?

  • @Dr. Robert D. Mansfield,
    “TGM- If you just read it for what it says, and not try to put all kinds of slants on it, I think you will find it perfectly clear.”
    Perhaps I did not come across as being sincere in my question, but I was indeed looking for an answer and not looking to “trap” someone in a logical fallacy. If I take the scripture for what it “says” (at least MY understanding of it), then we should be putting practicing male homosexuals to death. Doug Sloan makes a case for the opposite, but that calls into question the benevolence and omniscience of a god who would send such confusing and conflicting directives to his creations in the first place or for sending such messages that could be “lost” after millemnia of translations. Surely, an omniscient being is capable of sending us clear messages that could not or would not be “lost in translation”.
    So yes, while I get the whole thing with mistranslations, transliteration, etc. as an excuse for the current state of the Bible, it still does not absolve this god from the responsibility to give clear and understandable instructions to his flock. The timeline involved should not be an issue to a being for whom time has no meaning; at least in comparison to us. If a CEO or even a shift supervisor at a fast food restaurant was to give such garbled messages to their employees or charges they would be deemed unfit to hold the positions of authority they have and would be replaced. After years of placing this question before those of faith, I have yet to receive an answer that does not involve semantic acrobatics and mental contortions.
    Now, if Christians are quick to point to scripture as the basis for condemning homosexuality as a sin, should they not also be quick to point to the proscribed punishment for this sin? If not, why not?

  • Wow- So much to say- so little time.
    David- I am as serious as you are in claiming that because the Bible is “ancient writings” it can not be authoritative. Frankly, I believe it to be more relevant than your post tomorrow.
    TGM- It is true that some things are difficult to understand. God wants us to operate on faith. (Much the same way you would say to your kids or grandkids- trust me, I’ve lived longer than you.) It is true that there can be many confusing interpretations, but those are of men, not God. Doug is right about one thing, context and original meaning are very important. There are several other principles very important in Biblical interpretation that Doug ignores- no doubt to support his case. I wish we could spend time together talking about the accepted methods of Biblical interpretation. I am simply too poor of a typist to get in to all of that here. But for now a lot does come down to faith and the fact that we have limited mental abilities to understand some things. Before you say that arguing for faith is a cop-out and that you just can’t have faith, remember it takes just as much faith-maybe more- to believe there isn’t a God as it does to believe there is.
    Doug- Where do I begin. Your rationale totally stuns me. As to the Biblical admonitions against male AND female homosexuality may I suggest you read Romans 1:26 and I Corinthians 6:9-11. To say it isn’t morally reprehensible to God denies the Biblical evidence. If so why does he condemn them to Hell? Why did He destroy Sodom? To try to interpret a single verse based on what it doesn’t say is not valid. The Bible needs to be understood not in the context of the original writings, but also in context with each other. The entire Bible condemns homosexual activity.
    Before I am condemned for a hate crime or for being a homophobic, let me tell you what I am against. Very simply I oppose any sexual intimacy outside of the one man- one woman marriage relationship. I have no problem with two men or two women choosing to spend their lives together. I think they should be granted the rights they seek (power of attorney, inheriting rights, et al.) I wouldn’t object to these being formalized as civil unions. I am only opposed to the sexual activity. I have family and friends that profess to being homosexual. The church I attend when not on the road has homosexuals that attend and they are welcome. The David that responded earlier this morning is right there are many sins that we should deal with, but if we do many that participate in this blog will cry abuse, because it isn’t what they want to hear. Thus I will only address the issue that has arisen here.

    PS- Doug, where did you get that list of God’s will? The Bible- that couldn’t be it wasn’t written to us. This blog- No David has never claimed that kind of divine knowledge. Your own thoughts- Surely you cannot claim to have that kind of authority. A committee- oh I hope not. Maybe God has a blog on here somewhere I missed.
    PS- TGM, i am not comfortable speaking to the punishment issue since I believe that to God’s domain and not mine (vengeance is mine…).

  • @Dr. Robert D. Mansfield,
    Thank you for your answers. I’ll respond to just two of your assertions and then leave it at that.
    1)“Before you say that arguing for faith is a cop-out and that you just can’t have faith, remember it takes just as much faith-maybe more- to believe there isn’t a God as it does to believe there is…

    Actually, no…I shouldn’t remember that because it is not a valid assertion. I’ve heard this argument many times from believers. It simply isn’t true.

    When people use this argument they are saying is that atheists must know everything there is to know about the universe before we can determine that their God is not included in that universe. That’s unrealistic at best, disingenuous at worst. And without that implication, it turns your argument into a nonsense statement. The requirement for omniscience is implied, if not directly stated. And now to address the argument in three parts…
    First, there is an assumption that atheists claim to know with faith-based, dogmatic, absolute certainty that gods does not exist. Now it is true that some atheists make that claim, but this is NOT representative of what most atheists think and say. It simply isn’t. The majority of us sees no evidence and therefore has no valid reason to believe.
    Secondly, this argument proposes that we must know what IS in order to know what ISN’T. A soldier may not be familiar with the direct gas impingement system that operates his M4 carbine, but if I were to suggest to him that little fairies push back the bolt every time the weapon fires to chamber the next round, he would likely not take that answer as being true (or sane). Basic common sense would inform the troop that little fairies do not power his weapon. The assertion that one must know everything that IS, in order to know one thing that ISN’T, is invalid.
    And last (but not least), this exchange focuses on the Judeo-Christian deity, but we could, in fact switch that focus to any other god. What about the Norse god Thor? You would need to admit that if your argument is valid and that in order to reject belief in something, we would need to be omniscient, than you’d have to admit that they should also believe in Thor because to NOT believe would mean that YOU are omniscient and see that Thor is not in that set of knowledge you possess.
    It’s a poor argument and believers don’t seem to get that their deity isn’t the only one that was ever imagined. The bottom line is that it takes more faith to believe in the supernatural than it does to simply not believe in the supernatural.
    2)” TGM, i am not comfortable speaking to the punishment issue since I believe that to God’s domain and not mine (vengeance is mine…).
    That begs the following question: How does one determine which instructions or directives in the Bible to follow literally and which ones we can ignore because they make us uncomfortable?

  • TGM said, “I or (any number of atheists) could have written this response. That being the case, do you agree that it is within the realm of possibility that men can come to agreement on common values and morality without deferring to an outside (supernatural) source?”

    mostly yes.

    Most aspects of humanity are a spectrum, not either/or, not well-defined points. Given that, there are people who need, to varying degrees, an external focus or an external source or external accountability. For such people, atheism is not an option and it would be morally wrong to “kill” their God. So the question becomes: What God should they worship? A God of war, hate and exclusion? OR A God of peace, love and grace? We know what happens when the answer is the former. Starting with the Torah and the Bhudda (there might be earlier examples), the latter answer has developed.

    Atheistic love and grace is possible, but the spectrum of humanity makes it impossible for it to be a universal answer. You and I are going to have to get along for each other’s sake and for the sake of humanity.

  • @Doug Sloan,
    “Atheistic love and grace is possible, but the spectrum of humanity makes it impossible for it to be a universal answer. You and I are going to have to get along for each other’s sake and for the sake of humanity.”
    Well said. I agree.

  • @TGM: 2 down; 6,999,999,998 to go.

  • @Doug Sloan,
    Something tells me your Jesus would have agreed that all great things have very humble beginnings. 🙂

  • NP, to say that books in the biblical canon are just some old documents, would disqualify you from being a pastor in our church.

    To say that there is not unity in the canon and biblical theology, though not everything is explainable since God is larger than we, would similarly disqualify you from being a pastor in our church. We subscribe to an interpretation which has held for 500 years now and I urge others to look at it. It is called the Book of Concord and can be read on-line, though a newer version is available, at a very reasonable cost, and should be a good resource for anyone:

    http://www.cph.org/p-11428-concordia-the-lutheran-confessions-a-readers-edition-of-the-book-of-concord-2nd-edition.aspx?SearchTerm=book%20of%20concord

    I think I would have disagreements with Bob Mansfield because of the “evangelical” bent of trying harder rather than using God’s gifts of the sacraments and confession and absolution, (I am guessing), it is right to state the “law” clearly. Sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage between man and woman for mutual pleasure, consolation and child bearing are not allowed. Very simple. And yet, extremely difficult at times.

    Still, as we keep saying, this is not the only sin in the book and we are all in bondage to it in various forms.

    The Methodist will think that he can and should become perfect. I feel rather as I am getting older I am getting worse. Some day I may lose all my faculties. Our trust is in the Lord, and he will help us. But if we can’t be Christians without being perfect, then only the hypocrites can be it. This does not mean we simply give in to our temptations, or it shouldn’t.

    Our frailties and our battles bring us to our knees, the homosexual as well as the heterosexual. This is the right place to be, finding out that our only help is in God’s mercy. To tell the homosexual individual that everything is ok, is to do him or her a disservice by pushing the issue underground since he or she usually experiences plenty of dissonance and pain over this anyhow. People who call homosexuality sin will become a source of anger, but really, this is only because it is already a touchy point.

    Much better if we call a spade a spade and line ourselves each up as a sinner needing grace. The gospel cannot really be brought to bear where the law is not brought to effect.

    But if we don’t want to call it sin, then we will begin dismantling the biblical word (should God really have said?) and get angry with those who are conscience bound to not do this to the word.

    This is how it will be, no matter how much Sam wants us all to get along. Yes, I’m a cripple and lame. And I want to be in the church of the crippled and the lame and I do want to be in it with the homosexual brother and sister.

  • brigitte: undoubtedly there are many churches i am disqualified from being a pastor in.

  • Doug- Quite frankly I find your theology to be poorly reasoned and your thoughts to be very mis-informed and based entirely on incomplete premises.
    First of all may I now assume that you agree with us concerning homosexuality being sinful in both male and female contexts, based on the fact that you said no more about it? Can I consider what you don’t say as important as what you actually say?
    Secondly, you begin with a description of the character of God that is incomplete. On the post about the drawings you said “God has never been, at any time for any reason, a capricious God of death, war, destruction, murder, violence, oppression, retribution, vengeance, hate, or conditional acceptance.” Granted that God has not been capricious in His administration of justice, but He has administered it. He killed the Egyptians following Moses in the Red sea, He killed those in the desert who revolted against Moses, He ordered the Israelites to kill foreigners when they overtook their land…. The real truth that just as God is love, He is also just. (Dt. 32:4, Hab 1:13) You cannot only look at the love side, you must also consider His justice. This may be as difficult as understanding the dual nature of Jesus, himself, but being difficult to understand, makes it no less true.
    You quote Paul in verses which do not say that grace is bestowed to everyone. Please note that these verses do NOT say that the gift of grace is given to everyone. But if I look at your own argument “The scripture was not written to us, for us or about us.” then none of this applies to us anyway. Besides the verses you quote (if meant for us) mean nothing anyway because they are based on the teachings of Jesus whom you have said is a liar. In Matthew 5:22 Jesus talks about the fires of Hell. But you have said there is no Hell. If you are right then Jesus is a liar and nothing He or His followers say can be trusted to be the truth. (Obviously I choose to believe Jesus and not you- I am just pointing out how off base you are)
    Finally you suggest that grace is given to all. Read the end of Romans 1 and see if you really think God is extending grace to these people.
    Doug, please go back to your “prayer closet” and reconsider these fallacies you present.

  • TGM- A little advice- don’t presume what a person you have never met is going to say. My argument isn’t at all what you suggest- in fact just the opposite. I guess that makes what you said to be “disingenuous and nonsense”.
    First of all I did take you sincerely. You asked me a very limited question about how we should interpret the statements about homosexuality, and my answer was in that context. I believe what God says is very clear there. Just because others with an agenda wish to put another slant on it doesn’t make what God stated clearly to be unclear. I have no personal agenda. I don’t personally care if men have sex with other men or not. My concern is that because God says it is wrong, as His follower, I must say so also. Those that try to complicate the issue simply want to make what God says is wrong, right. There are parts of the Bible that are less clear, and parts that need to be interpreted by another method, but that was not the question you posed to me.
    As for my statement that it takes as much faith to be an atheist (or more) than it does to believe in God:
    1) First of all we should clarify- by commonly held terminology you would better be described as an agnostic not really an atheist. There is a difference. (I recently heard that God doesn’t believe in atheists- does that mean they do not exist?)
    2) My argument isn’t at all that you have to be omniscient, in fact it is just the opposite. God has given us much evidence of His existence: how about the intricacies of how the human body works- can you really believe that happened without a master plan; what about the beauty of nature- can we really think that that just happened; what about the testimony of millions throughout the ages including Scientists attempting to disprove God, that point to things beyond their comprehension or doing. I think you have to trip over all kinds of evidence of God’s existence to suggest that He doesn’t exist. That is quit a step of faith if you ask me.
    As to other gods created by men: one difference is that our God wasn’t created by men, but He created man. Do you really believe that Adam and Eve created a god that kicked them out of the garden. As you are probably well aware these gods were created by people attempting to explain that which they didn’t understand. Thus many gods were created because they couldn’t perceive of one god being able to do all the things they saw a supernatural power doing. I would say their testimony and experience is more evidence you have to step over to have enough faith to believe that there is no God. Remember just because you and I can not explain the action or seeming inaction of God (i.e. why a boy is lost in the woods) is not rationale for saying He doesn’t exist. Can I say London doesn’t exist just because I have never been there and experienced it? Wouldn’t that be assuming omniscience on our part. I think it is just the opposite of what you state.
    As to the punishment argument, I do not choose to ignore it or pretend that isn’t what we should be doing it. I know some who would certainly want to. (Maybe we don’t have to do it since they are doing it to themselves- AIDS), just saying that at this point I have not processed all of that in my life yet. (Is it referring to spiritual death- separation from God or physical death- I admit to being unsure.)

  • Brigette- I sense we would have less disagreement then you might think. I think you may not understand what some from other traditions truly believe. (For instance I suppose you could say I am from the Methodist tradition that believes in perfection. However, it is not a perfection of action but of motivation. It is the type of perfection that says I can live not intending to do anyone harm. Of course we do not believe that that is possible without the infilling of the Holy. Spirit- see Acts 1:8) We also do not believe that salvation comes from participation in the sacraments, but that they are symbolic testimonies that we make to the fact that we have received that grace. It seems to say that salvation comes through the sacraments would make it akin to being by works. As to being an evangelical, I do not deny that. But, we aren’t about trying harder, but getting deeper- two totally different concepts. Otherwise, I believe I can agree with everything you say. I have no doubt we could fellowship as brother and sister in the Lord.

  • @Dr. Robert D. Mansfield,
    Thanks for your answers and thanks for keeping it civil, even if I could sense some irritation. No problem, I understand.
    Anyway…we’re too far apart to find any common ground in the arenas of science and religion. It happens. As I’m a rarity in the atheist community (patriot, gun owner and libertarian), I’m sure we’d probably have something to discuss outside the walls of this blog, but as religion is the only topic here…
    🙂

  • @NP,
    “brigitte: undoubtedly there are many churches i am disqualified from being a pastor in.”

    *sigh*
    Dave, Dave, Dave…what are we gonna do with you?

  • ya TGM i don’t know. any ideas?

  • TGM- Sorry you sensed irritability, it was unintentional, I’m just passionate. I sincerely hope we get the chance to talk outside of this blog sometime. If you would like you could message me on facebook- or some other private way with where you are, and we can go from there. “Keep the faith”….

  • @NP,
    I dunno…how’s about drawing another cartoon to stir the pot?

  • @Dr. Robert D Mansfield,
    “TGM- Sorry you sensed irritability,”
    Oh no, please…it’s fine. I tend to get into this stuffy (and lengthy) “lecture” mode on occasion and it just pisses some people off. Pissed my ex off, that’s for sure. My current wife just turns up the volume on the television.
    Sure, I’ll hit you up on FB sometime.

  • Bob Mansfield: no doubt we have much in common and we are all works in progress personally and theologically. But there is something which would have me be in closer fellowship with lowest of the low, the sickest of the sick, the most sinful of the sinful, than someone who thinks he is approaching perfection in terms of his motivation. I have had this discussion with Ben Witherington, brilliant man, but wrong in parts, and I know exactly how this goes.

    In terms of the sacraments: they are very much in the center of this. Very, very much.

    I will try to be brief about it.

    If I am saved because I look saved, have made a good enough decision that I can be sure I have made and am proving by my changed life, etc. etc. then I end up looking to myself, not Christ. The sacraments are not “works”, they are “gifts” and I have also had this discussion previously. This is how God works and has promised to work and this way we can be sure of his mercy. And this is what I need.

    While the Bible can be misused by saying “homosexuality is not called a sin”. “Should God really have said this?” We also have “This is my body given for you for the forgiveness of your sins”. “Should God really have said this?”

    Yes. Really. God really said both. Homosexuality is a sin and yes it is really forgiven. Real law and real gospel.(Real theology, real pastoral care.)– A tension to live out, but we know this is how life is.

  • Brigette- Not sure if this is really the place for this discussion, but if I am saved by taking the sacraments then am I not looking to them and not Christ? Isn’t it the same thing you describe as making good decisions etc. ?You are certainly entitled to fellowship with who you wish, but I know you believe the Bible is true. I would be glad to point you to verses that talk about the perfection of heart (motivation). If you don’t want to that’s up to you. God bless you.

  • Homosexuality is not a sin. Above, I presented just a hint of the biblical scholarship that supports this conclusion.

    God has never killed anyone and has never required the death of anyone. A murderous God is the theology of nationalism and empire, not Jesus.

    The justice of God is restoration, not vengeance or retribution or punishment.

  • Doug- Homosexual acts are a sin. Only God can define sin and He clearly does so in His word. I heard no “Biblical Scholarship” on the NT verses presented, and frankly find the analysis of the OT verses to be flawed.
    You simply haven’t read your Bible if you believe that God has never required the death of anyone. By the way, why are you worried about Jesus. You yourself called Him a liar.(Besides, according to your rationale, Jesus spoke in another time and culture not to us, for us, or about us- Do you see how your thought process is so damaging and simply leaves you hanging.)
    True, God seeks every man’s restoration to Himself. That’s why He sent Jesus. But many, because of our free will reject Jesus and the life He calls us to. God is a Holy God who can not look on sin, and the unrepentant will be punished. Those that receive Jesus receive grace- not getting what they deserved. Those that refuse receive justice- getting what they deserved.

  • Dr.: the bible’s view of homosexuality is clear to you and those who agree with you.

  • David,
    Could it be they agree BECAUSE they find the Bible to be clear? Could it be that those that “muddy the water” do so BECAUSE they have their own agenda and have to make it appear unclear in order to justify their actions? Submitting to the authority of scripture is very difficult for a lot of people- something I am sure you saw as a pastor. Just sayin’

  • but Dr., and you know this… that strange study called “hermeneutics”… we all see through our own glasses. even the orthodox. it cannot be helped.

  • I do not totally agree that it can’t be helped. For instance- I have long heard it said that you have to decide what you believe before you interpret Revelation- and that thus you can get it to say whatever you want it to. Too many interpret all of scripture this way. We know what we want to believe so we try to find scripture to support it, and probably will- in or out of context, with or without a reasonable interpretation method being applied.I simply suggest we all study with no preconceived ideas and see what it tells us. I think it is possible. Just clean our lenses. I do not believe God intends it as a mystery.

  • Richard Elliot Friedman, Shawna Dolansky
    (authors of “The Bible Now”)

    Richard Elliott Friedman is the Ann and Jay Davis Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Georgia and Katzin Professor of Jewish Civilization Emeritus of the University of California, San Diego. Friedman is the author of the bestselling “Who Wrote the Bible?” as well as “The Disappearance of God”, “The Hidden Book in the Bible”, “Commentary on the Torah”, “The Bible with Sources Revealed”, and “The Exile and Biblical Narrative.”

    Shawna Dolansky is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Northeastern University. She is the author of “Now You See It, Now You Don’t: The Relationship Between Magic and Religion in the Hebrew Bible” and the editor of “Sacred History, Sacred Literature.”

    “Now one might respond that the law here is different because it concerns an offensive thing to God – and therefor no subject to the relativity of humna values. But that is no the case here. The Bible specifically identifies such law about things that are divin offenses with the phrase “an offensive thing to the LORD” (toebat yhwh). That phrase is not used here in the law about male homosexual acts It is not one of the laws against things that are identified as a toebah to God!”

    “The Bible Now”
    Richard Elliot Friedman, Shawna Dolansky
    p. 37

  • syntax corrections:

    …and therefore not subject…

    But that is not the case here.

    …that are divine offenses…

  • Doug- assuming I accept that just because someone sells a book they are an authority, we could both find authorities that disagree. Even if I accept this rationale- explain God’s destruction of Sodom. Explain the New Testament verses I gave you. Explain how at the beginning of both of these chapters in Leviticus it says “the Lord said to Moses”. Since He is speaking, he is obviously talking about what is an abomination to Him. Too much evidence disputes what you say.

  • “Sells a book”? – interesting how their scholarly credentials and positions are ignored.

  • Doug,
    As to ignoring your sources credentials: You didn’t give me any except that they teach at a college and have written books. You may have noticed that I too have credentials. My doctorate comes from Washington University in St. Louis. I have been engaged to teach college professors, and had serious discussions over long periods of time in which some of our scholars have changed their views. I believe if you want to talk credentials, you should be accepting what I tell you because I believe my credentials trump their’s. (My first book hasn’t yet been published- I will let you know.) (David- sorry if that sounds arrogant, but as Walter Brennan used to say “no brag just fact”.
    So Doug, will you please deal with the substance of the discussion. I was asked to write position papers for our denomination on two issues including homosexuality, and original sin and it’s prescribed cure, entire sanctification. Thus I feel very adequate to address the issues you raise. I have asked you to respond twice to substantive arguments and you have avoided them both times. I would really like to hear what YOU have to say. I will look forward to that.

  • I’d like to take a shot at explaining the destruction of Sodom:

    Ezek 16:49 Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

    The sin of Sodom is clear to me. Having cleared my hermaneutical lens of preconceptions of what that sin was, it appears that arrogance and indifference to the needs of the maginalised was their sin. Having looked at other verses around discussing the events in Sodom it would appear that one outworking of this arrogance included a sexual show of dominance over some messengers of God and, by extension, God himself.

    This seems to be consistent with the views of other writers of the scriptures. (Isaiah 1, Jer 23, Matt 10 and Luke 10, 2 Pet 2

    It was, in fact, the independent realisation (confirmed by scholarship),when doing a word search on ‘Sodom’, that Sodom is incorrectly used to condemn homosexuality which led me to question the treatment of homosexual people. It’s become one of those niggling peeves I have with some theologies. In fact, I’d say the story of Sodom could serve as a warning to those who are most vociferous against giving homosexual unions equal legal and social status.

  • John,
    I accept (for the most part) your reasoning, but not your final paragraph- I think that is an unjustified leap of logic. Just a couple of thoughts: 1) You fail to mention the “detestable things” as part of their sin. Could this not have been homosexual acts? (which Genesis 18 and 19 make clear existed in this town.) Whatever the sin, they were certainly more than just cultural, as God was intent on destroying them for it. 2) You say there act to attempt sex with the angels was an act of dominance against God, and that was the sin. I would easily agree that any act to dominate God would constitute sin. However, wouldn’t that depend on the knowledge of the Sodomites? If they didn’t know these were angels they would not have in effect been attempting an act of dominance over God. There is no evidence in Genesis that they possessed the prerequisite mens rea. I agree that you have attempted to interpret this passage without an apparent bias, I just believe you missed a couple of relevant facts. However, I applaud the effort. I can not agree with the last paragraph unless it can be established that those against the rights of homosexuals are acting out of a personal arrogance. If they indeed believe this is the will of their Father, then arrogance is not a factor, mistaken or not.
    I also think that your analysis clearly should indicate to Doug that God did in fact destroy those that He saw fit to do so with.

  • Robert,

    Detestable acts could have been homosexuality, but you’d have to go to the passage with homosexuality in mind to find it there.

    You are right that there isn’t an indication that the identity of the angels was known. I doubt that the intended rape included an intention to show dominance over God. I would suggest that it would have been an effect.

    As for acting out of personal arrogance, the mistreatment, even abuse, of those on the fringes of society is what I was saying leads me to question the treatment of homosexual people. It is for that reason I’d say Sodom could serve as a warning.

    Even if homosexuality is an abomination/sin, surely, to be consistent, a politician who fails to keep his election promises should be equally reviled as lying is also called abomination/sin. I’d rather see the consistent approach move the other way, with the politician acceptance extended to the homosexual, but either would, at least, be more consistent.

    But regardless of that, might I suggest that this brief exchange between us proves the point that even with the attempt to ‘clean the lens’ agreement isn’t straight forward. The simple clarity isn’t forthcoming.

  • John,
    I believe I don’t have to presuppose to look for homosexual acts. The Genesis account makes it clear that they existed in Sodom. My point is that other than that which is already spelled out in the passage you cite, what other acts, that are known to exist in Sodom, would fall under a general category of “detestable acts”. I am only looking at the clear words in the scripture.
    As to politicians lying- you will get no argument from me. But, I just wonder when you speak of those marginalized, do you include unborn children, who have far less of a voice in politics than do the homosexual community?
    I perhaps didn’t make myself clear when speaking of scriptural clarity. I do believe it takes work, because none of us is going to have total contextual ability alone. However, I do believe that upon study clarity is possible, and that just because someone offers an opinion, does not make it reasonable. Always we need to look at the potential motive of the one offering the opinion. I still believe in reading it literally, until clearly established otherwise.

  • Sodom was not about homosexuality. It was about violence, domination and conquest. To read homosexuality into Sodom or Gibeah reveals more about the reader than it does about the scripture.

    God did not destroy Sodom. It was a horrible natural disaster and it would not be the only time that ancient people would blame such an event on an angry god.

  • @Doug Sloan: you’re exactly right! I am just starting a series on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and homosexuality has NOTHING to do with the story. Even the Bible interprets the story later and even states what the sin of Sodom is.

    It’s inhospitality.

    Go figure: Biblically speaking, those who are kicking gays out of church are the ones committing the sin of sodomy.

  • This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

    Ezekiel 16:49

  • Luke and Doug- Re: Doug you were right

    May I ask about what? He said God never killed anyone, yet the story of Sodom proves He did (although there seems to be some question as to the reason).
    Doug said the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality. Yet NT verses have been given in this thread which clearly show that to be wrong. (I believe the OT verses do as well, but there has been some dispute as to their meaning)
    Finally Luke said the story of Sodom isn’t about homosexuality. Did you skip Genesis 19:5? What do you call that? The issue here isn’t whether or not it was the sin, but did it exist? Yes the story is about homosexuality.

  • Doug is right that the story of S&G is NOT about homosexuality, it’s about rape which is a sex act. The rabbi’s traditionally understood the sin of sodom being about inhospitality as the Bible itself understands it being about inhospitality. (see the Ezekiel reference above your post as well as Jeremiah 23:14). It isn’t until around the 1800s where the idea that S&G is about homosexuality comes in and even then, the word homosexuality wasn’t invented until the late 19th century.

    As for the NT references: Only six or seven of the Bible’s one million verses refer to same-sex behavior in any way — and none of these verses refer to homosexual orientation as it’s understood today.

  • Luke- You miss the entire point. I simply asked if there were homosexual acts in the story. Genesis 19:5 makes it clear there was. You can dispute whether or not that that was the sin Sodom was destroyed for, but not the fact that it existed or that God destroyed Sodom. And because a word doesn’t exist until later doesn’t mean the behavior didn’t. You are right about orientation. That is not the problem many of us have. It is the acts of homosexuality that we believe are sinful, not the pre-disposition (which many times is created by environment). Just like someone who has a predisposition to be an alcoholic, as long as they don’t become drunk no problem. (Some of us believe in abstinence as the Biblical standard, but even for those who don’t, the predisposition isn’t the sin- it is the act.)
    But finally to say that the true author of scripture (God) didn’t understand things as well as we do today, is a pretty arrogant stand.

  • @Dr: I didn’t debate that S&G were destroyed, what I’m debated on WHY it was destroyed. The Biblical evidence and rabbinic tradition both agree that it is inhospitality NOT homosexuality. Rape is inhospitable regardless of the sex.

    So you believe being homosexual is not a choice,well there’s some progress. I don’t believe the act itself is a sin if in a loving and committed relationship; same as heterosexuals.

    “But finally to say that the true author of scripture (God) didn’t understand things as well as we do today, is a pretty arrogant stand.”
    -And that’s the real basis of the disagreement. I don’t view the Bible as the complete and total word of God. Instead, I believe as Karl Barth and the majority of the mainline denominations and current scholarship believe that “The Bible is not letter by letter word of God but contains the word of God.”

    I believe you’re leading with your pre-existing prejudice and biases and you’ll state that I’m a heretic of some sort or another. Seems like we’re at an impass. The fact remains, no matter how you cut it, S&G is not about homosexuals.

  • Luke- This was the issue that Doug raised that God never killed anyone. That was the original context of this discussion. So you disagree with Doug here.
    I am not denying that some may feel such a predisposition. That does not mean that they MUST commit the acts- whatever the predisposition is. (Personally I believe that predisposition to homosexuality is actually created by man- but that is another issue. )
    As to Barth’s view- so you believe man can pick and choose which parts of the Bible suit what they want to believe, and disregard the rest. This is pretty bold considering the warning in the last chapter of Revelation. I don’t mind being in the minority (“narrow gate”). That doesn’t make me wrong and the majority right.
    Maybe you believe I lead with my “prejudices” because that is what you find yourself doing. What part of your congregation and income would you be offending if you preached against homosexuality? The obvious reading of Genesis 19:5 is that homosexuality existed in Sodom- or do you leave that verse out, since you can pick and choose?

  • We all pick and choose. You’re stating a passage from Leviticus about a proposed same-sex act yet disregarding the wearing of mixed fibers or eating of shrimp. We all pick and choose, we have to because the bible is contradictory.

    Ex: Jesus said to be like a child to enter heaven Mark 10:15 Matthew 18:3.. yet Paul states to put away childish things 1 Cor 13:11.

    Jesus also states you cannot have two masters Matt 6:24 yet Paul states to obey the government in Romans 13:1-7, which many of the church fathers of the 2-4th centuries disagreed with because they were getting killed by the Roman government right and left.

    “Maybe you believe I lead with my “prejudices” because that is what you find yourself doing.”
    -funny thing about that is that i believed as you did once. Yet i was transformed by the grace of God offered to all people for there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ and in Christ there is neither jew nor gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in christ. including gay or straight. God loves and invites all in. All. No exceptions. And all loving and committed relationships should be honored and protected in the bounds of marriage: same sex included.

    “The obvious reading of Genesis 19:5 is that homosexuality existed in Sodom”
    -it’s not obvious. it hasn’t EVER been about homosexuality until people like and like how i was read it to be.

  • Thank you Luke. Now I know someone smart enough to pick and choose for me. You used to be like me, but now you are so much better. I guess there is room in your heaven for everyone- except those that think like me.
    I do not believe the verses you cite pose any contradiction problems, maybe paradoxical, but there is a difference. Were I a better typist, and believed you really wanted to know, I would attempt to explain, (i.e- If I obey someone because God tells me to then I am not obeying two masters- only one- God, who told me to do it) but you would probably just disregard it anyway, because it isn’t what you want to believe.
    You quote a verse and then add words to it that aren’t there (gay or straight), but criticize me for adding a meaning to the Leviticus verse you don’t like.
    God does invite all of us in, but as you said we must be transformed (but not by the thinking of this world- see Romans 12:2). That means we can not just continue to live the sinful way we did before. See Matthew 7:21.
    PS- I don’t eat shrimp either

  • “I guess there is room in your heaven for everyone- except those that think like me.”
    -nope, there’s room for you because that decision isn’t up to me.

    “You quote a verse and then add words to it that aren’t there (gay or straight), but criticize me for adding a meaning to the Leviticus verse you don’t like.”
    -because the meaning isn’t there in that instance. not historically, not within the other parts of the Bible that cite the story.

    “God does invite all of us in, but as you said we must be transformed (but not by the thinking of this world- see Romans 12:2).”
    -that’s exactly what verse i was thinking of when i was born again. The majority of the world is against homosexuals. That would be the world’s thinking. Jesus doesn’t think that way.

  • Luke- I saw three points in your comment.
    1) You are right it isn’t your decision or mine as to who gets in and who doesn’t. But it is our job as pastors to help lead people to the path that will get them in. What if you are wrong? What if you have been telling people they can get to heaven the way they are, and they really can’t? What if repentance (change- Matthew 4:12) is really necessary, and you have led people to think that they didn’t have to make those changes? Just what if?
    2)I would contend the very argument you use also disqualifies your additions.
    3) Here I just plain disagree. The majority of the world is NOT against homosexuals. Maybe in the 1950s but not today. There are even those who would have us that believe it to be a sin, and preach against it to be incarcerated for hate crimes. No sir, the thinking of this world is live and let live. I feel it is up to us followers of our Heavenly Father to point out the consequences for some of these choices.

  • “What if you have been telling people they can get to heaven the way they are, and they really can’t?”
    -That would be works based religion and we believe it’s by faith alone.

    “2)I would contend the very argument you use also disqualifies your additions.”
    -this makes no sense and is an unfinished thought.

    “The majority of the world is NOT against homosexuals.”
    -they are being killed in Africa, the middle east and Asia of which the majority of people on this planet live. They are barred from marriage, from the same basic rights in this country, and those denominations that allow the ordination of LGBTQ are few and far between. “The majority of churches are opposed to it because they view homosexuality as incompatible with Biblical teaching and traditional Christian practice.” Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation (New York: Viking, 2004), 601. You can also see that in American views are slowly starting to change based on this 2009 Pew Survey but the rest of the world is not following suit. Maybe parts of Europe, but the majority opinion is yours, not mine.

  • Luke- 1) Jesus said repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near. Yes, we enter into salvation by faith alone. But are you saying, people can live however they want, after once making a profession of faith and still make it to heaven?
    2) Sorry if I wasn’t clear. You said my addition was improper because it wasn’t supported by any other parts of scripture. I would say the same is true of the addition you tried to make.
    3) There is a difference between the majority and those in power. I would even say much has changed since 2004 and 2009. However, if the majority of the world accepted God wouldn’t that by your definition become “worldly” thinking and ironically would be subject to the prohibition in Romans 12? Could it be that it is not majority opinion that is really that which is worldly, but a desire to live for our own self-interest(for the lures of the world). If most homosexuals became convinced that it was a sin and prevented them from entering heaven, would they change? I think that worldly thinking we are not to fall in to is the desire to live to fulfill our own “lusts and desires”.

  • “But are you saying, people can live however they want, after once making a profession of faith and still make it to heaven?”
    -Faith without works is dead says James. What gets you a “ticket into heaven” however is faith in Jesus, which is what you’re asking. Beyond that, it’s God’s judgment not mine. I’m here to love and serve.

    “I would say the same is true of the addition you tried to make.”
    -I am unaware I made any addition. In fact I’m only going off of the rabbinic and Christian traditions as well as scripture itself. Simple exegesis really.

    “I think that worldly thinking we are not to fall in to is the desire to live to fulfill our own “lusts and desires”.”
    -It is better to marry than to burn. 1 Cor. 7:9

  • Luke-
    1) I think it is right of you to mention that we are talking about two different things here. It seems we both agree that we get our “ticket punched” by faith in Christ alone. (By the way this is something Doug would disagree with since he believes there is no heaven. Just reminding you of the context in which our discussion began). The issue you and I seem to have is what happens after we exercise faith. I believe, based on many scriptures we can lose that if we do not live pleasing to our Heavenly Father. Should I then preach on the lifestyle needed to keep my faith alive? Doesn’t the NT verses we have talked about- no matter how few, since when does the number matter- indicate that homosexual acts are included in those lifestyle choices that God does not want us to make.
    2) Let me refresh your memory:”those who are in Christ and in Christ there is neither jew nor gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in christ. including gay or straight.” I see no Biblical justification for this addition, and your arguments to my “added interpretation” would apply here as well.
    3)Your last thought must be as you say “incomplete”. I don’t see the point at all about quoting a verse that refers to a man marrying a virgin woman.

  • 1.) no heaven, i must have missed that. Homosexual acts can’t be condemned because they didn’t exist. Same-sex acts, sure, but within the confinds of a loving and committed relationship would be as alien to the culture and writers of the bible as a Toyota Prius.

    2.) It’s good to be clear on what we refer too. Thanks for the refresher.

    3.) It refers to marriage period. Paul states that his wish and standard would be unmarried since he believed the world was ending but agreed that if you couldn’t keep your lusts and desires to one’s self, it is better to marry than burn. If it’s good for heterosexuals the same exists for homosexuals.

  • Luke- Believe it or not I see our conversation headed toward common ground. I thank you for staying with me. I have learned a lot. I’m not saying I agree with everything, just that I have truly learned some things. As to our three discussion points:
    2) I think we have basically agreed here that we may have both been guilty of putting things in that may not be able to be backed up. We can probably drop this one.
    1) If I understand you, you are drawing a distinction between same-sex acts (which would be condemned, and which would have been mistakenly? identified as homosexual) and homosexual acts (loving committed partners) which wouldn’t have been condemned because they didn’t exist.
    a) How do we know that loving, committed same sex partners didn’t exist in these times?
    b) Romans 1:30 talks about inventing ways of doing evil. If we assume that you are correct that homosexual acts didn’t exist, how can we be sure that homosexual acts aren’t among those ways of doing evil that were later invented. Obviously the Bible can’t list every evil. If, just because it wasn’t invented yet, homosexuality isn’t sin, then would you say that internet identity theft, or internet pornography is not sinful?
    c) Can you validate this distinction. Most of us use homosexuality as a generic term describing all types of same-sex sexual relations. When and where does this distinction come from?
    3) I Corinthians 7:9: If I accept your analysis, this cannot be applied to homosexuals since they didn’t exist yet. This concept would have been as foreign to Paul as say…. a Toyota Prius.The context of this chapter is strictly marriage between one man and one woman. There is no where where marriage is mentioned or endorsed as being between two males or two females.

    I hope you see that your arguments on these two points contradict each other. You contend that homosexuality can’t be condemned because it doesn’t exist, but then claim that rules for heterosexuals would be applied to homosexuals, which would be impossible if they didn’t exist. You cannot have it both ways.

  • “a) How do we know that loving, committed same sex partners didn’t exist in these times?”
    -scholarship in the socio-historical criticism realm would be incredibly helpful. they could have existed but the over-all cultural ideals and standards make no reference or mention that a committed, loving same-sex relationship could even exist. it’s just not on their radar any more than a Toyota Yaris is.

    “Obviously the Bible can’t list every evil… then would you say that internet identity theft, or internet pornography is not sinful?”
    -kinda takes a step away from the Bible being God’s inerrant word doesn’t it? I mean an infinite being writing or passing thoughts down to humans (knowing that much later they would argue this in internet forums) would be more specific? ID Theft is stealing and internet pornography is still ‘pornographia’ which we do have a word in greek that Paul uses. I don’t see how these are a big step away from anything in the bible…

    “When and where does this distinction come from?”
    -The first known appearance of the word homosexual in print is found in an 1869 German pamphlet by the Austrian-born novelist Karl-Maria Kertbeny, published anonymously, arguing against a Prussian anti-sodomy law. As a concept of a relationship, that’s much trickier. We see documented evidence of same sex relationship going as far back as we have paper, spanning culture. There just happened to be no name for it nor any judgment for or against it. It just was.

    “but then claim that rules for heterosexuals would be applied to homosexuals, which would be impossible if they didn’t exist. You cannot have it both ways.”
    -absolutely I can have it both ways. Theologically, I believe those who are in Christ and take the Bible as authoritative are thus bound by it’s dictates. Homosexual and Heterosexuals alike. The general arch of the bible is for loving, committed, long-term relationships, for protection of the orphan, widow, stranger, for the love of God and neighbor as yourself. those are the general standards and these are binding for those in Christ whether they are jew or gentile, slave or free, male or female, straight or gay (which is why i put the addition in there)

    p.s.a full systematic view of my view of biblical ethics and the christian tradition would require a face-to-face or a completely separate post on these ethics.

  • Luke- 1) as to the existence of homosexual relationships: You are still taking both sides of the fence. You are claiming first that homosexual and same-sex relationships are not the same. You appear to agree that the Bible condemns same-sex acts but not homosexual acts since they didn’t exist. Yet later you lump Id theft in with stealing and even internet pornography in with a Biblical prohibition. Thus, in the same way would it not be possible to say that ALL sexual acts between same sex partners are joined under the general heading of homosexuality. The fact that a distinction in vocabulary was made years later can not be used to suggest what the Biblical writers meant.
    2) I think you proved the all-knowing God by grouping items. God didn’t need to make that distinction- you prove that. I only say that to say that if you are allowed your argument what prevents others from using the same argument about actions they don’t want classified as sin. The Supreme court calls that a slippery slope.
    3) Once again it is clear you are attributing meanings to scripture that aren’t there. Can you deny that Paul repeatedly refers to husband and wife in the passage. He is clearly speaking of a heterosexual marriage relationship. To make your jump is as unwarranted as we both admitted to being earlier. You are simply not being true to the context of the verse. You assume that the criteria here is simply a loving committed relationship… (so if I love and am committed to a child?- I have heard this argument made). You are making assumptions not warranted by context anywhere in scripture. I do not accept that your “general arch” includes enough.

    I would love to get together anytime.

  • “You are still taking both sides of the fence.”
    -there’s a fence?

    “You are claiming first that homosexual and same-sex relationships are not the same.”
    -ummm… no. I am dealing with etymology of the word homosexual and the concept of same-sex relationships in history. the concept came before the word.

    “You appear to agree that the Bible condemns same-sex acts but not homosexual acts since they didn’t exist.”
    -condemns same-sex acts because the assumption was this was about lust and the concept of a long-term committed relationship wasn’t on the radar yet for Judaism.

    your #2 makes no sense nor was i aware that the supreme court writes philosophy 101 textbooks.

    “He is clearly speaking of a heterosexual marriage relationship.”
    -because the concept of a homosexual marriage isn’t on his radar as stated before. it’s an obvious exegetical jump just as id theft and internet pornography is.

    “so if I love and am committed to a child?”
    -once again socio-historic context is needed. by our modern standards, yeah, the bible seems to okay this. Dinah is traditionally understood by the rabbinic tradition was 14. appalling by modern standards but not by ancient ones. gotta know the historical and social setting of a given pericope.

  • Luke (my friend thank you for continuing- I find the discussion very enlightening.)
    So if I can boil this down- (different numbering system)
    1) The word homosexual did not exist in Biblical times thus could not have been condemned. The reason same-sex relations were condemned is because they were not in the context of a loving, long-term relationship (May I ask- do you tell homosexuals that are only in a short-term, sexual relationship that they are sinning, and if so what is their response?) The key to this argument seems to be that the only thing that really matters in a relationship (for it to be acceptable as a sexual relationship) is that it be long term, loving and committed. (Couldn’t, under that definition, I have sex with my daughter or son)(Couldn’t even as a heterosexual I have this type of relationship with more than one woman?) Where do you receive validation for long-term, loving, committed being the standard? Isn’t that making an extrapolation not warranted anywhere in scripture? Doesn’t it open the door to many other types of relationship that you would call sinful? If it could be determined that same-sex loving, long term relationships existed at that time, wouldn’t your argument fall?
    2) First of all the Supreme Court can do whatever it wants to. Secondly, the argument makes perfect sense, I may have just stated it poorly. What if someone said that robbery- taking someone’s possessions when they aren’t around- isn’t condemned in the Bible, because it wasn’t a concept that existed at that time. It condemns stealing because a person was put at risk when you steal something from them in person. There is no danger to them if I break in and take something when they are not present. The law didn’t make a distinction between stealing and robbery until much later. The overriding concept in scripture is not doing physical harm to your neighbor. Thus robbery is not condemned in the Bible.- My argument is that your rationale is no different than used to justify robbery.
    3) This is not a “logical exegetical jump”. It is an extrapolation. There is no contextual analysis that supports this jump. The only way you can support this jump, is because you want to, and by arguing that homosexual acts are not condemned anywhere in the Bible. If the word homosexual is used as a general term to describe the concept- which is what I believe- or if any long-term committed relationships existed at the time of the writing- your whole analysis falls. So I ask you to look at this passage- Leviticus 18:22- says do not lay with a man as one lays with a woman. The only permissible way for a man to lay with a woman was in a loving, long-term relationship. God is saying that a man should not do that with another man. Thus He is condemning homosexuality in any context. Thus your entire line of reasoning falls.

  • “The word homosexual did not exist in Biblical times thus could not have been condemned”
    -correct.

    “The reason same-sex relations were condemned is because they were not in the context of a loving, long-term relationship”
    -incorrect. The reason SAME SEX ACTS were condemned because the concept of same-sex relations would be a foreign concept in ancient times. I don’t know if I’m not being clear enough in my writings or that you’re purposely not getting the point. Can anyone else explain this? (that is… if anyone else is reading this…)

    “do you tell homosexuals that are only in a short-term, sexual relationship that they are sinning, and if so what is their response?”
    -would you tell heterosexuals the same?

    “Couldn’t, under that definition, I have sex with my daughter or so”
    -aren’t there passages against that? Isn’t Lot widely criticized for this at the end of the story we’re debating?

    “Couldn’t even as a heterosexual I have this type of relationship with more than one woman?”
    -aren’t there bible passages against this?

    ‘Thus robbery is not condemned in the Bible”
    -thou shall not steal?

    “if any long-term committed relationships existed at the time of the writing”
    -and they may have, but no words existed for it nor was it on the radar for the Judeo-Christian writers of the Bible.

    “Leviticus 18:22- says do not lay with a man as one lays with a woman.”
    -haven’t we been over this? Why cherry-pick this verse and not all the other prohibitions against eating pork, donating blood, eating cheeseburgers, wearing mixed fibers? Isn’t the argument against those things that we’re “under a new law.”

    Didn’t Jesus go around correcting those people who thought they knew who were in and who was out of God’s love? Doesn’t God continually surprise those in the Bible with God’s actions? God was in this place and I didn’t know it! exclaims Jacob. Jesus states, “you have heard it said… but I say unto you…” And isn’t Peter shocked at where and who the Holy Spirit shows up? Why not the same for homosexuals?

  • Luke- Let me first reassure you that I am not purposely trying to misunderstand anything. I am very sincere in my questions and the search for truth. However, some of your answers keep changing and are inconsistent with one another which makes them difficult to understand. I do wonder though when you, seemingly purposely, avoid some very pointed questions which may reveal that your actions would be different than what you have suggested you believe. I don’t say this to be critical, but to help you understand some of why you think I do not get what you are saying. We may be alone on here, but I am learning a lot, and I hope this discussion continues. (New numbering system)
    1) The confusion between homosexuality and same-sex relationships- Earlier you said “Homosexual acts can’t be condemned because they didn’t exist. Same-sex acts, sure, but within the confinds of a loving and committed relationship would be as alien to the culture and writers of the bible as a Toyota Prius.” So I ask again- what is the difference, if any, between the two? Is it not possible that the prohibition against homosexuality in the Bible is a generic term describing all same-sex acts, no matter what the parameters of that relationship? It would be the same way “Thou shall not steal” covers all forms of theft, even those not invented yet. (We are not discussing etymology of a term, but what the Biblical writers intended with their statements) You suggest that they couldn’t condemn it because it wasn’t within the realm of their experience. By the same token, they could in no way be assumed to condone it, since they couldn’t even perceive of it.
    2) You assume why same sex acts are prohibited “condemns same-sex acts because the assumption was this was about lust and the concept of a long-term committed relationship wasn’t on the radar yet for Judaism. ” You even tell me “The general arch of the bible is for loving, committed, long-term relationships, ” yet when I point out several examples of loving, committed long-term relationships you find scripture that prohibits these (I agree that scripture does so). What that tells me is that this is not the standard. There must be something other than loving, committed, long-term relationship that is necessary for God to bless it as a sexual union He accepts. I propose that is that it is a relationship between one man and one woman.
    3)In regards to this discussion: do you tell homosexuals that are only in a short-term, sexual relationship that they are sinning, and if so what is their response?”
    -would you tell heterosexuals the same?. You seem to be purposely avoiding my question. First of all- yes I would. As you indicated yourself- this amounts to lust which God opposes. As you said before this means their faith is dead because their works are not accompanying it. Because I love them, I would tell them that they have offended God, and that they need to make it right before judgment. Telling someone that they are entering into danger is an act of love. Letting them do whatever they want, because we fear they might reject us is an act of apathy, not of loving or serving. However, the authority for this rests on God’s word and not just our opinions. Your refusal to answer this tells me that because it is a homosexual act you won’t condemn it even if it is simply lustful, even though you have said that that is why God was angry with Sodom.
    4) Your suggestion that we are cherry-picking when it comes to homosexuality may be right. However, our failure to condemn other acts that God may think is sinful is not license to disregard others. Maybe we do need to give attention to other issues raised in Leviticus and elsewhere, but that is not a license to disregard God’s specific command to not do with a man, what we would do with a woman.
    5) There is a difference between God’s love and salvation. Yes God loves everyone and wants everyone to come into a relationship with Him.
    That does not mean we can do it on our terms- Matthew 7:21. If we really love people and God we warn people when they are not on the right path. This is not based on our judgments but on God’s word. I can find nothing in scripture that indicates anything different than that- among other things- God condemns all forms of same-sex sexual relationships. To not warn your people can only mean that you don’t love them. God can not look on sin (that is why He had to turn away from Jesus on the cross when He bore our sins). We must speak for God- no matter what people might want us to say.
    6) Why not the same for homosexuals?- because God says no!

  • i don’t see any inconsistencies, you’ll have to be specific when you lay a claim. unclear, perhaps.

    “…I ask again- what is the difference, if any, between the two?”
    -aahh, now i see where I’m unclear. Here’s the socio-historic deal: Ancient culture thought that the default status was heterosexual. So you can have sex with men, boys, goats, etc and still be considered heterosexual because the concept of same-sex relationships were as foreign to the culture as a car is.. and the word for this type of relationship, what we know as homosexual, that word FOR a same-sex relationship didn’t exist until 1869.

    So for the Romans chapter 1 passage talking about ‘natural’ well they thought it was ‘natural’ to be straight. No idea of sexual orientations existed nor was there scientific data to state otherwise.

    “I propose that is that it is a relationship between one man and one woman.”
    -and I disagree. Being gay is not a choice. If marriage is only for procreation then there are a whole slew of other considerations to make like what about hetero-couples choosing not to have kids or physically unable.

    “You seem to be purposely avoiding my question. First of all- yes I would. ”
    -nope, i wanted to be sure we’re on the same page. We are. I would not use your language though nor your scare tactics. We agree on principal yet our approach is completely different.

    “…even though you have said that that is why God was angry with Sodom.”
    -not lustful, as I don’t see rape having anything to do with lust. It’s about power and control. It’s about being wicked and inhospitable.

    “God condemns all forms of same-sex sexual relationships.”
    -don’t see it. We’ll agree to disagree. You act like you’re open-minded at the beginning of your posts yet hit the same notes by the end. i’m not going to change you, you’re not going to change me.

  • The Reverend Dr. Pastor

    I have been fascinated by the exchange of Luke and Dr. Robert D. Mansfield. Dr. Robert accuses Luke of avoiding questions yet avoids “And isn’t Peter shocked at where and who the Holy Spirit shows up? Why not the same for homosexuals?”

    Here’s what I know of the Gospel and why it is such Good News: If there are lepers in your life, or tax collectors, or prostitutes or any you would consider sinners and unclean, THAT is who you should be hanging out around the table with. That is the Gospel of Jesus and why he is accused time and time again by his religious establishment of not being holy or within the bounds of the religious tradition.

    So Dr. Robert, it seems as though you have found your lepers and sinners with whom you should start breaking bread with.

  • Rev. Dr. Pastor- As to the question you say I avoided. Read point #6 in my last post. I answered it head on. I suggest you read the entire post before you interject.
    As to who I should hang out with, again had you read my previous posts you would know that I have done, and continue to do as you suggest. I have fellowshiped with professing homosexuals at church, at the family reunion table and one-on-one. I have no problem with doing so. However, just as I would tell a thief or adulterer that they needed to change their life in order to be living a life pleasing to God, I would say the same thing. I would certainly try to do it in a loving way, and almost never in front of anyone else.

  • Luke- it seems you have tired of our conversation (sorry- I was unable to do any serious posting for a few days).In case that is true I guess I close with these thoughts (new numbering).

    1) Your explanation of homosexuality and same-sex acts has been so “all over the board” as to be indefensible. Here is the point. Sexual acts between members of the same sex were condemned. The fact of when the term used today came into existence is irrelevant. The acts the term depicts existed and translators have chosen the modern term to help us understand what the scripture writers meant. Your idea that everyone was considered heterosexual only further explains that any same sex acts were so deplorable that they would not even acknowledge it. (Perhaps the terms like wicked were their way of explaining it.)
    2) It is clear that a “loving committed long-term relationship” is not the Biblical standard. We discussed other potential relationships that would fit into that category, and as you pointed out, they are all condemned by scripture. While your statement is good, it is also incomplete. Clearly the more that is required is that sexual acts are only permitted between one man and one woman in a marriage relationship. Yes, I believe God intends this to be a committed long-term loving relationship, but that by itself is clearly not enough.
    3) You admit that even in Paul’s day same sex acts were considered unnatural. Paul refers to them as a perversion. What was natural then is natural now and what was a perversion then is still a perversion.
    4) Even if homosexuals have a predisposition, it is not the predisposition that is sinful, it is the giving in to it (i.e. alcoholics).
    5)I have never said that the only reason for heterosexual marriage is procreation. The Bible gives several reasons, among them procreation, but it is not the only reason.
    6) You suggest your tactics would be different than mine. Since you don’t know me, you have no way of knowing what my tactics would be. It seems your tactics would be to do nothing. I would approach them in as loving a way as possible after they have indicated they wished to follow Christ, and share scripture. This probably wouldn’t even be the first thing we talked about. Remember, it is an act of love to point out to someone that they are headed down the right path. There is a big difference between love and permissiveness. Your approach is more of the later than the former.
    8) We can agree to disagree or on whatever we choose to agree on, but what we agree on isn’t the issue. The issue is what does God’s word say. Clearly anyone without an agenda would find no rationale to change the long-held interpretation that same-sex acts, in any context, are sinful in the eyes of God.
    9) I didn’t realize that this was about changing each other. I thought it was an honest, academic search for truth. I know I have certainly learned a lot.

  • 1.) I have felt extremely clear on what I’m presenting and feel that you’re intentionally trying to muddy the water. We’re at an impasse there.
    2.)”Yes, I believe God intends this to be a committed long-term loving relationship, but that by itself is clearly not enough.” -Yet what you’ve offered are slippery slope arguments of “well if two same-sex people can marry then why not incest or animals or minors.” i don’t find those arguments to be on the same planet with what i’m stating.
    3.)”You admit that even in Paul’s day same sex acts were considered unnatural.”
    -I did because Paul was operating in a pre-modern society. With science, we know see that homosexuality is natural since it occurs all over the place in nature and is not a choice. Thus the stipulation is if you’re gay, than be gay and don’t pretend to be straight cause that’s not natural and you’ll be miserable and your partner will be miserable.
    4.) “it is the giving in to it (i.e. alcoholics).” so being gay is like an addiction? is that what you’re arguing?
    5.)”I have never said that the only reason for heterosexual marriage is procreation” great! than what is?
    6.)”Your approach is more of the later than the former.” -nope, there’s standards and boundaries there, but we haven’t gotten to the point to discuss them, we’re still setting the terms of the conversation; of which our starting assumptions keep us from gaining any ground since I think we’re playing chess and you think we’re playing monopoly. You have little to no ground for the claim since we’re simply not there.
    The smilie face point: “Clearly anyone without an agenda would find no rationale to change the long-held interpretation that same-sex acts, in any context, are sinful in the eyes of God.” It is not clear. S&G is not about homosexuality, that is established and my argument is now on my blog. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 can be found on an old blog. If you would like to discuss the other passages, that post is coming on 11/30/11 on my current blog.
    9.) “I thought it was an honest, academic search for truth.” ahh, more evidence of our chess, monopoly assumptions. i would assume that you have then sought another source than myself for this discussion. Instead you make a claim like “God said no and no means no.” That’s not academic, that’s school-yard.

  • Luke-
    1) If we are truly at an impasse, that means that you haven’t been able to prove your point. You propose the change, not I. Just go back and read your discussion- you are all over the place. Etymology is totally irrelevant. The only thing that is clear (Leviticus, Romans, I Corinthians, etc.) is that when the Bible speaks of any acts of same sex sexual behavior it is described in negative(sinful) terms. The Bible NEVER approves of any same sex sexual relationships. That is clear. To accuse me of muddying the waters after that is what I said about you is … well…”schoolyard”.
    2) Well we agree about something! Yes arguing for homosexuality is at best a slippery slope, because the only parameters you can use to justify it could as well exist in other relationships which are likewise condemned by scripture. Again, the only scriptural interpretation in total context is that it is prohibited(sinful).
    3) Science is ever changing. They may say something is natural today, and 20 years from now say different. You cannot base any argument on science. It changes too much. The dictionary definition of natural is that it is formed by nature(God) or is what is expected. As you stated earlier, homosexuals are persecuted all over the world, it is certainly not behavior that is expected. (As to it being created by God- see #4 below). I Timothy 1:9-11 indicates that perverts are lawbreakers. This is the same term Paul uses in Romans 1:27 to describe those engaged in same-sex acts. Clearly it is unacceptable.
    4) No I am not saying homosexuality is an addiction. Here is what I am saying. Science has also said that some people have a predisposition to alcoholism. (I suppose they could say that God created them that way.) Yet the Bible says drunkenness is a sin. It is not having the predisposition that is sinful, but acting on it. In the same way, it is not having a predisposition to homosexuality (assuming it really exists and irregardless of where it comes from) that is sinful, but acting upon it. Those with the predisposition need to do as those with a predisposition to alcoholism must do.
    5) Irrelevant to this discussion and I am too poor of a typist to go into it. I am sure you are familiar enough with scripture to know what they are. I know that what you want to do is argue that the same benefits could be present in a homosexual relationship, but that is also irrelevant. The only issue is what does the Bible say about homosexual relationships, not what unjustified extrapolations can we make.
    6) Twice I have tried to take the discussion there. You say you have standards, but you refuse to state them. I don’t agree with your assumptions. That would be a discussion on how we would approach someone that we don’t believe is living the way God says in His word. The rest of this discussion isn’t even necessary to broach that topic. It is just simple avoidance on your part.
    Smiley face) Sorry about that. I don’t know how that got there- I don’t even know how to do that. As to your blogs, I would be glad to read them if you could provide direct links, but if your discussion here is representative, I expect to find them equally unconvincing. If as you say, it isn’t clear, then we shouldn’t change longstanding beliefs until it is clear. Unless you claim to be an authority on the topic, your blog is just your opinion.
    9) I have had similar conversations with others of your persuasion on this issue. I really want to know how this behavior can be justified. So far I think you have done the best, but too much contradiction, and no real rationale, except we can make this logical jump because we want to. That simply is not persuasive. You say my claim that because I claim “because God said so” that I am being schoolyard. I join Joshua (Joshua 24:15) and Peter (Acts 4:19-20) in that way. Besides God says we are to have “childlike faith”. I guess that is checkmate (or is it do not pass go- go to jail). I forget which game you are playing.

  • 1.) Nope super clear: the idea of a same-sex relationship is totally foreign because the assumption is that everyone is hetero yet who and what they have sex with is just a “sex act.” A loving, committed, long-term relationship is as foreign to the culture as a Toyota Prius. Can’t get more clear than that. As to when this idea that people weren’t actually JUST heterosexual is a little more difficult to point to because same-sex relationships are all over ancient documents but it appears the concept came about circa-1700s and the actual word homosexual came out a century and a half later. I have stated from the start that i think this matters in any honest exegesis.

    2.)it doesn’t condemn relationships, it condemns the act because it would be considered lustful and unnatural, we know different because of science.

    3.)trying to dismiss science is an awful way to go simply because it disagrees with your prejudice. give me a break! that’s an argumentum ad ignorantiam.

    4.) so you are arguing that it’s <i)like alcoholism only if you act on it. don’t see the difference there.

    5.) “The only issue is what does the Bible say about homosexual relationships,” and here’s what the bible says about homosexual relationships: Nothing!

    6.) you have the direct links provided in the last comment as well as just by clicking on my name.

    9.) it can be justified because 1. it’s a natural orientation 2. any relationships come under Biblical standards which involve a loving, committed, long-term and monogamous relationships 3. since God made homosexuals, and all these heterosexuals keep producing gay kids and we have evidence of homosexuality occurring in another animals as well as neuroscience and social sciences since 1963 stating that being gay isn’t a disease but a natural orientation and since the writers of the bible would have no clue that it could be an orientation (just as they could have no idea that the world isn’t flat, not up on pillars, nor is it surrounded by water, nor was the earth created from a leviathan carcass) thus it is permissible and subject to the same statutes heterosexuals are. case closed.

  • Luke-1)Not super clear at all. Your whole contention rests on the fact that homosexual relationships in a loving, long-term committed relationship did not exist at the time- a totally unproven conclusion. What we do know that the Bible condemns whatever same-sex sexual acts that it knows of at the time. But it goes further. It says do not lay with a man as you lay with a woman. Men were expected to lay with women in only long term committed loving relationships. Thus they were forbidden to lay with men in those types of relationships as well. That is what is clear. Muddying the argument with when certain terms came into existence proves nothing.
    2) This is strictly your interpretation totally unsupported by context. We know that certain relationships (incestuous ones) were forbidden by scripture. The Bible didn’t just speak to acts but to relationships as well. You are taking scripture out of context to support your prejudices.
    3) I do not dismiss science because it disagrees with anything of mine. I dismiss today’s scientific hypothesis simply because it is subject to change and in a constant state of flux. Neither would I accept science just because it says what I want it to say. Science is simply not my “god”. What you have already stated is that the majority of the world still does not accept homosexuality as natural. Paul describes it as a perversion. So does most of the world. Context does not establish any parameters on the type of same sex relationship that is considered perverted. Nor does the Bible set that a loving, long term, committed relationship is all that is required. This is not an exegetical jump, but a total leap to try to get the Bible to say what you want it to.
    4) Clear as a bell. The disposition is not sin. (assuming it really exists.) Only committing the acts is a sin. Yielding to the temptation.
    5) If I am willing to say that the Bible says nothing about homosexual relationships (a conclusion I do not agree with), then there is nothing to indicate that this is acceptable behavior either. No exegetical jump gets you from nothing to approval. Since (if you are right) it didn’t exist nothing could be implied from it’s absence. The only thing we have then is context. No context gives the least hint that this might be acceptable behavior. The standard you keep wanting to assert is no where affirmed in scripture as being the only threshold that needs to be crossed. There are many things done today that are not explicitly listed in the scripture that we would both agree are sin. Besides if they could contemplate incestuous relationships it is no stretch for them to contemplate homosexual relationships. I am not convinced there were as foreign to them as you assert.
    9) None of your three criteria have been proven, and in fact have been dis-proven. You are right case closed.

  • “The Bible didn’t just speak to acts but to relationships as well.”
    -nope, only acts. plus in the million verses in the bible only 6 could be about LGBTQ folk. and those verses aren’t clear.

    “Besides if they could contemplate incestuous relationships it is no stretch for them to contemplate homosexual relationships.”
    slippery slope argument, see the first entry, read the rest…

    “None of your three criteria have been proven, and in fact have been dis-proven. You are right case closed.”
    -evidence? there is none. you have links to mine and you didn’t check them out. this conversations is going no where, i’ll bid you adieu.

  • The Reverend Dr. Pastor

    You mean this #6: “6) Why not the same for homosexuals?- because God says no!” That’s not an answer, that’s a conversation stopper and an infantile one at that. God is completely absent in the lives of LGBTQ folk? The Holy Spirit cannot work through the lives of homosexuals? That is what I’m reading unless you would like to nuance your unfounded assertion.

    However, unfounded assertions seem to be your stock and trade. I have read your words, I have read Luke’s. I have clicked on Luke’s links and read his blog and even commented on the latest post. I agree with his conclusions and find his position better cited and supported than yours. And not just biblically but scientifically as well.

  • Luke- 1) I am afraid you misunderstand my comment about relationships. I am saying that the entire Bible is about relationships- God to man, husband to wife, master to slave, parent to child, saint to sinner, et. al. To suggest that the verses about homosexuality are only about acts is out of the entire context of scriptures. The verses you cite are very clear unless you attempt to muddy them with irrelevancies.
    2) Luke, your cite takes me to an article that refutes almost everything you have said during this conversation. It is well cited and establishes the very things I have been saying. Thank you. As I have said all along your arguments are very contradictory.
    3) Luke, I did read your posts, they were no more illuminating than your points in this discussion. As to your three points- 1. it’s a natural orientation 2. any relationships come under Biblical standards which involve a loving, committed, long-term and monogamous relationships 3. since God made homosexuals,
    The article you cite and Biblical writers indicate that it is not natural- “what is to be expected” – Your own discussion has indicated that this is not true. You have already agreed that there are certain relationships in the Bible which could fit under that parameter (incestuous, man-with animal, etc) that are also banned. You never established that these parameters, AND ONLY THESE PARAMETERS, make for a Biblically approved relationship. There is no evidence that God made homosexuals. I have conceded this point to you for the purpose of this discussion, simply to show that it doesn’t matter, but I do not concede that point at all. (Even if He only started doing so in 1963)Even if He did couldn’t alcoholics just as easily argue that God created them that way?
    I do not know what you are meaning we are getting nowhere. I thought we were in a search for truth. Maybe it is you who was not open to seeing it.

  • Rev. Dr. Pastor- It is normally my policy to not respond to anonymous notes. They ,and those who write them, are notoriously unreliable. (For all I know you could be Sam using a pseudo name or Luke’s mother defending her son). However, in this case I make an exception out of my respect for Luke, who I do respect for his efforts to enunciate his beliefs and the reasons for them. While I, and others that I have invited to look at our comments, find them contradictory, unsubstantiated, and circular in reasoning, I still respect him for his efforts. I only hope that our discussion will cause him to take another look and see if there is room for doubt.
    As to your thoughts- The fact that you can read and post on his blog does not give you any credibility. The fact that “God says no” is not an answer to you ruins your credibility. As to whether science supports my answers or not, it is irrelevant. Our discussion was about what the Bible says not science. I simply do not serve that god and it’s ever-changing conclusions. Many times I didn’t even make assertions- I just questioned Luke’s. But for your sake- I made three earlier- that Luke’s arguments were contradictory, unsubstantiated and circular. Allow me to cite examples of all three.
    Contradictory- He has said that thou shalt not steal applies as well to internet identity theft even though the writers could have never conceived of such a crime, yet since they could have never conceived of homosexual acts in a LLTCM relationship that they aren’t addressing it.
    Unsubstantiated- The claim that LLTCM is the ONLY criteria for a Biblically approved relationship.
    Circular- Homosexuality is a natural orientation, but it didn’t exist then. If it is natural doesn’t that mean it would have always existed like hetero sexual. If it is natural why would the majority of the world- as he cites- be against it. Very circular reasoning.
    In short sir, your opinion of me or my arguments means nothing to me. I do respect Luke and I believe in his desire to bring people into the kingdom. I just do not agree that that lifestyle is not sin, or that tolerance or permissiveness equals love. I believe that is established clearly in scripture which is the only source that matters to me.

  • The Reverend Dr. Pastor

    I am anon because I have no website but I am a big fan of David’s. I read and have commented elsewhere.

    To respond to your complaints:

    “God says no” in fact ruins your credibility, that was my point. There’s no exegesis to it, it’s a plain sense reading. As Einstein stated, “There’s a simple answer to every problem and it’s usually wrong.” A good question to ask would be: “Does God say no to homosexuals?” That’s the beginning of a homiletic or exegetical paper.

    “Contradictory” not so, stealing is stealing, same-sex acts without the possibility of relationship is just a sex act. Like rape, which Luke correctly and powerfully points out is what was in Sodom and Gomorrah, the original topic at hand as to what the Bible “says” about LGBTQ folk. You muddied the waters from there without dealing with that story.

    “Unsubstantiated”- Yet neither is your position of “God says no.” The Bible has always been and forever will be a book with varied interpretations. Luke’s happens to be more supported by science and exegesis. Plus his link was about all the possible slippery slope arguments you’ve laid out and the Family Research Council spreads around. Your statement of “There is no evidence that God made homosexuals.” is further evidence of your bias of homosexuality not occurring in nature which Luke has overturned with a video link in his 11-18 post and can be easily found elsewhere online like wiki or a peer-reviewed science magazine like Science Daily.

    “Circular” not so, it existed, the word for it didn’t nor did the possibility in the Jewish society for a committed same-sex relationship to be life-long. There were such relationships, we have ancient historical evidence, but as a societal possibility for the Jewish culture, it wasn’t there for a variety of reasons which can be read in great books like “A Journey Through The Hebrew Scriptures” by Frick or another historical-social commentary. Luke’s nuanced and well supported position seems to be over your head.

  • Yeah, the Rev.Dr.Pastor reads me correctly, I don’t believe you do.

    “There is no evidence that God made homosexuals.”
    -really?! REALLY?! I could just keep typing that over and over again… wow. Yeah, going no where…