I Really Do Appreciate Christians who go to Bat for LGBT Rights

I Really Do Appreciate Christians who go to Bat for LGBT Rights December 7, 2017

Editor’s Note: It seems like a good time, as the US Supreme Court ponders cakes for gay weddings, to revisit the stand that Jesus takes on homosexuality. Who could do it better than a gay, atheist bible scholar? This is reprinted with permission from his blog on Debunking Christianity.  /Linda LaScola

By David Madison

But com’on, is Jesus their best reason for stepping up to the plate?

Jesus the Consolator

A young man named Matthew Vines has taken on a big challenge: trying to convince Evangelical Christians that their virulent opposition to homosexuality is wrong. Those very righteous people don’t seem to grasp that their anti-gay rhetoric is mean-spirited, destructive, evil. They may claim that they don’t hate gay people…no, they love them, and want to get them to turn away from sin. But they remain mired in aggressive and arrogant ignorance about gay people. They bring shame to theology.

Matthew Vines is the gay Christian who founded The Reformation Project, “a Bible-based, Gospel-centered Approach to LGBT inclusion.” He goes right into the lion’s den, presenting programs to as many evangelical groups as will have him, and he wrote the book, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships.

So I give a hearty Bravo! to Matthew Vines, and I wish him well. Now, full disclosure here: I am gay and have had to deal with the hard-heartedness of the church—though not on as grievous a level as many others. I have had the support of my family—after a few rough patches—and I have been with my husband for 39 years…well, we weren’t actually able to marry legally until we had been together for 30 years.

David Madison and Husband

While I very much welcome Christian support for gay rights, Christian theology can bug the hell out of me, even when it means well—especially when dubious reasons are given for supporting good causes. I breathed a heavy sigh recently when I read a piece by a Christian pastor who offers earnest and eloquent support for LGBT rights. John Pavlovitz wrote an article titled: “The Church Beloved: A Manifesto of LGBTQ-Affirming Christians.” It is really a beautiful article—and “manifesto” is an appropriate word because he doesn’t just advocate gay rights, he challenges evangelicals to clean up their act; it truly is an in-your-face statement:
• “we will try to respond not in kind, but in kindness.”
• “but we also will continue to speak without censoring or softening, because that is how injustice is allowed to fester and reproduce.

Now, of course I’m not at all surprised that Pavlovitz calls in Jesus to make his case. And naturally he can get away with this because—well, Jesus is all about love, right? Here are a couple of his Jesus-statements:

“We believe Jesus calls us to love one another, not to tolerate one another; not to warmly embrace some and to hold others at a distance.”

“Love is indeed winning and we are the loud and shimmering proof. If this is bad news to you, we’re going to refer you to Jesus and let the two of you work it out.”

It is understandable that Jesus is considered the supreme good guy. If you’re brought up in the church, you find out that Jesus is God’s son—and what could beat that credential? At an early age you also learn the song, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (at least in the Protestant tradition). Christian art adds to the mystique, depicting Jesus welcoming little children and offering his healing touch to the multitudes. The folks in the pews see Jesus in the stained glass windows and hear the best snippets of the gospels read from the pulpit.

If these folks, however, venture to read the gospels, they soon run into some alarming texts. But they can rely on the staff of paid propagandists—their priests and pastors—to soften and spin the troubling verses: ”Oh, Jesus didn’t mean that…” As if they would know. I sometimes do wonder how Christianity has survived with so many of the negatives about Jesus in full view in the gospels.

But part of the Christian game is to create what Bart Ehrman has called the “Jesus of the imagination”—Jesus as you want him to be. In David Chumney’s book, Jesus Eclipsed (reviewed in a recent post), he mentions Bible scholar Helen K. Bond’s reference to “a useable Jesus.” “What she means by that,” Chumney says,

“is a historical Jesus whose message would address more directly the social concerns of interest to progressive American churches.”

Pavlovitz has come up with a “useable” Jesus.

But there’s also the “non-usable” despicable Jesus. I’ll offer just five examples here of the negatives about Jesus (out of many).

• Mark 4:10-12; Jesus explains that he teaches in parables to prevent people from repenting (paraphrasing a text from Isaiah) ….No, I’m not kidding.

“When he was alone, those who were around him along with the twelve asked him about the parables. And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret [of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that ‘they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.’”

But the parables are so obviously meant to help people understand. Where did Mark get this idea? …but that’s another long story….

• Matthew 25:44-46; Jesus says that people who fail to show compassion will be punished forever:
“Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment…”

• Matthew 24:37-39; Jesus predicts that, at the coming of the Son of Man, human suffering will be massive, comparable to the genocide at the time of Noah. Jesus did not have a happy ending in mind for humanity; so much for having a having a friend in Jesus:

“For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

• Mark 3:28-30; Jesus lets it be known that blaspheming the Holy Spirit is a really bad thing—in fact, there’s no appeal, no reprieve.

“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’”

• Luke 14:25-26; Jesus casts himself here in the role of cult fanatic. This is pretty brutal. You gotta hate your family?

“Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”

This text is perhaps the ultimate challenge for the Christian spinmeisters. Eugene Peterson’s translation (The Message Bible) gets rid of the word hate: “Anyone who comes to me but refuses to let go of father, mother, spouse, children, brothers, sisters—yes, even one’s own self! —Can’t be my disciple.”

In a recent Debunking Christianity comment, Robert Connor spoke the truth:

“The overwhelming majority of Christians don’t know bupkis about what’s in the New Testament.”

They sure don’t seem to know about Luke 14:26, and I don’t think that it would go over well with them—even Eugene Peterson’s dishonest translation, i.e., you’ve got to “let go” of your family, is a shocker. By the way, in Hector Avalos’ book, The Bad Jesus, there is a 39-page chapter explaining why the word hate here cannot be watered down. Too bad, Christians are stuck with it.

It’s very tempting to say, “But…but…but Jesus couldn’t/wouldn’t have said any of those things.” Well, sure, if you’ve bought the church’s stained-glass version of Jesus. If it’s any comfort, however, we have no way of knowing what Jesus said about anything. We have Jesus as seen through the gospel filters. It should be very troubling—shouldn’t it? —that the gospel writers were totally okay putting these brutal, unmerciful words on the lips of their Jesus character.

NOW WATCH: the usual gang of Christian apologists who haunt these pages [The Debunking Christianity website] will rush forward to explain/complain that I have “taken Jesus out of context.” Yawn.

The claim that “Jesus calls us to love one another” doesn’t ring quite so true in light of these texts; indeed, the portrait of Jesus in the gospels is very much a mixed bag. Doesn’t Pavlovitz know this? Is he just unaware of the grievous failure of NT scholars to achieve consensus about what Jesus really did and said? His version of Jesus is a fantasy. Again, Helen Bond:

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting a useable Jesus, but he shouldn’t be confused with the Jesus of history.”

Understandably, of course, the evangelicals have also created their own useable Jesus—one who would denounce Pavlovitz’s wishy-washy “progressive” manifesto.

There are other standards by which to justify pursuit of human rights and equal treatment under the law. Non-Christian religious ethicists—and of course secular ethicists as well—have solid reasons for affirming LGBT rights. It’s my guess that most NT scholars would consider it a stretch to bring Jesus into this conversation at all.

==================

David Madison headshotDavid Madison, a Clergy Project member, was raised in a conservative Christian home in northern Indiana. He served as a pastor in the Methodist church during his work on two graduate degrees in theology. By the time he finished his PhD in Biblical Studies (Boston University) he had become an atheist, a story he shares in the Prologue of his book, published in 2016: 10 Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith.

>>>Photo Credits: David Madison, by Andrea Reese ; https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christ_The_Consolator.jpg#/media/ ; http://www.debunking-christianity.com/2017/07/i-really-do-appreciate-christians-who_28.html

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  • alwayspuzzled

    Atheism is the rational rejection of religion. It is then interesting that some atheists have a psychological need for demonized religion as one of their identity markers. Doesn’t seem very rational.

    • When a religion seeks to determine who people can love or marry especially outside of their sect then it is very rational to speak out against the damage religion is doing. What is not rational is standing by while a minority seek to force their ‘belief’ of how people should act! Since we also don’t believe in demons it is hard to see how we could ‘demonize’ anyone or anything.

    • Annerdr

      Do you suppose the author has actually been harmed by religious people following their religion, and that’s why he dislikes religion?

      • carolyntclark

        We’re all being harmed by religion. It’s never a healthy thing to be deceived, much better to be clear minded than to be led by superstitions.
        As a society we’re being Constitutionally harmed by religion, as zealots seek to impose their agenda on the Nation.

    • David Madison

      ” a psychological need for demonized religion as one of their identity markers” How is it demonizing religion to point out the flaws (especially those in the Bible) that have prompted us to abandon religion? How in the world does that fall short of being rational?

      • carolyntclark

        “SOME” individual atheists do lots of things both good and not so good. Just as all people have personal behavioral practices.
        That doesn’t make any of it a group “identity marker”.

      • ‘How is it demonizing religion to point out the flaws (especially those in the Bible) that have prompted us to abandon religion?’

        My guess is just by questioning and not showing enough reference to a believer’s faith is ‘demonizing’ that religion. I also notice that those people who accuse atheist of demonizing their religion (don’t know how we ‘demonize’ anything since we don’t believe in demons) are the exact same people who would point out the flaws of Islam, Judaism or Hinduism.

    • Jim Jones

      > some atheists have a psychological need for demonized religion

      The atheists in your head?

    • mason lane

      Physicians have a psychological need for demonized disease as one of their identity markers. Maybe that will help you grasp why those who have rationally rejected religion, especially Christian, Muslim or Jewish fundamentalism, also have a need to rationally expose the demons inherent in the religion.

  • Jim Jones

    Don’t need a book.

    Google (centurion pais).

  • David thank you for the post. I read Matthew Vine’s book and could only see motivated rationalization for most of his arguments. It was actually one of the final nails in the coffin for me to hold on to my faith. I could no longer reconcile a loving god and Jesus to me being a homosexual. After looking at other faiths and their claims I came to the realization that I was an atheist.

  • Cryny

    Maybe a little OT, but I’m surprised nobody has asked what incredible fabric softener Jesus has used in that picture up top.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7bbd2afec426e1ffc70648e5db810c0821f059bc08a4dba8d62a4fcb3c9de6f7.jpg

  • mason lane

    David, this is a brilliant expose’ about the sociopath Jesus legend.

    “The overwhelming majority of Christians don’t know bupkis about what’s in the New Testament.” -Robert Conner Yep, that’s for damn sure, especially about liberal Christians, … and the Evangelical fundamentalists who do read the so called New Testament support the nasty instructions from “Jesus”; family division and hatred over religion among kin and the divorce of an unbelieving spouse. I know of the later happening numerous times with Clergy Project members and know two fairly recent members who’ve been served divorce papers because they informed their spouse they no longer believed. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5908802165a35bd567e4815eedb4c71fdbd8254d679dbda87b558230f3d261ea.jpg

    “I’m not at all surprised that Pavlovitz calls in Jesus to make his case. And naturally he can get away with this because—well, Jesus is all about love, right?” … nope, not by a long shot and the Jesus character supported all the horrific edicts in the “law and the prophets. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5: 17-19

    Here’s a tirade that reveals a Jesus who is not only anti-family values, but anti-world peace. “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. Matthew 10:34

    So much for the all about love myth, about the myth. Love me, worship me, obey me or burn; kinda like an ancient Hitler or Trump.

  • ElizabetB.

    Thanks for such a thoughtful piece, David! Maybe the crux of the matter is that there are so many different points of view in the bible that one can make a pretty good case for what one thinks is good — or bad : ) Fwiw, this is what I advocated a few years ago when our state proposed an amendment to recognize only 1 man / 1 woman marriage:

    A Biblical “No”

    I see faithful, monogamous marriage for people who are gay as part of Jesus’ story.

    He was continually in trouble for putting human need before traditional interpretations of scripture:
    …..”Go and learn what this means: ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.’ “[Hosea 6:6], defending the disciples’ plucking grain on the Sabbath [Mtt.12:7].
    …..”The Sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the Sabbath,” similar situation. [Mk.2:27]
    …..”He looked around at them in anger… deeply grieved at their hardness of heart,” preparing to heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. [Mk.3:5].

    He continually pushed beyond religious taboos:
    …..His hometown synagogue tried to throw him over a cliff for pointing out that God sent a prophet to help unclean Gentiles although many Israelites needed help. [Lk.4:26-27]
    …..He declared all things clean. [Mk.7:19]

    He alerted us to be open to new understandings:
    …..I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” [John 16:12-13]

    Paul passionately defended us Gentiles from being forced to observe the ceremonial purity laws:
    …..”You senseless Galatians! You were running a good race! Who cut in on you? What matters is faith, working itself out by love!” [Gal.5:7,6]
    …..”The commandments…are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’…. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Rom.13:9-10]

    I believe Christianity is experiencing Acts 10-11 — like Peter, shocked to see “unacceptable” people exhibiting the gifts of the Spirit:
    …..”…the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning….So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” [11:15-17]

    *******************
    I believe the exegetical case against the marriage of faithful, monogamous Christians who are gay is weak. These are the six items in the Bible’s 2,000-year span:

    1. Sodom [Genesis 18-19]. Applying the principle of scripture interpreting scripture, the 60-some accusations against Sodom throughout the Bible include “grinding the face of the poor,” “arrogance,” etc. The lone mention of sexual sin is that of going after different flesh — the flesh of angels — “sarx hetero” [Jude v.7], with zero hint of “same” flesh, sarx homo. When Jesus mentions Sodom, the subject is towns that do not welcome the disciples. Sodom is a story of aggression, male gang rape, not by the wildest stretch of imagination a story of our members who are gentle, constructive members of their communities – and gay.

    2. “Man-bedders.”[I Cor.6:9, I Tim.1:10] “Arsenokoitai” is not known in Greek prior to these two sin lists in Paul and is rare. Some think it coined from the Greek translation of Leviticus 18:22 (see next). It is quite a stretch to call a gay woman a “man-bedder.” More, it is deeply incongruous to place the inspirational people I know, who are gay, in the list of “idolaters, thieves, greedy, slanderers….” Applying the “rule of faith”: Chrysostom, who vehemently opposed homosexual acts, does not mention them when treating these passages. So long as no definition is forthcoming, if “man-bedder” is a same-sex term, it should bear the same relation to “homosexuality” that “adulterers” (part of the list) does to heterosexuality.

    3. “A male you shall not bed the beddings of a woman” [Lev.18:22 & 20:13]. This pair of laws belongs with either the surrounding ceremonial purity laws or the surrounding moral laws.
    Anthropologist Mary Douglas details how, in ancient Israel, purity distinctions between “clean and unclean,” acceptable and “abominable,” make sense from the perspective that everything must be totally one thing or the other. No fuzzy boundaries — like no garment with two kinds of thread. In addition, for a male to “lie the lyings of a woman” would be thought degrading. (I remember boys’ rituals at elementary school to prevent getting “girl germs”!) Whether these two verses belong with the enduring moral laws or the culture of Ancient Israel is the question we struggle with.

    4. Romans 1:26-7. Ironically, not only does this orgy-like description contrast with the faithful samegender couples we know: it is part of Paul’s rhetorical trap to make the points that “there is no one righteous; no not one” [3:10]; “love is the fulfilling of the law” [13:10]; and we must “stop passing judgment on one another” [14:13], respecting one another’s consciences. Paul’s language would support a ceremonial purity meaning, as he does not use his many terms for moral sin, but terms for uncleanness — “dishonor” and “shamelessness.” Here occurs the only mention of females in all these arguments — they act “against nature,” meaning “contrary to custom” in Paul’s day; and historically, “non-procreative sexuality.” Later in Romans, God too is said to act “against nature,” in grafting us Gentiles onto the root of Israel.

    ****************************
    Genesis 2 portrays companionship as the basis of marriage. Whereas Genesis 1 speaks of male and female procreation: “Be fruitful and multiply” (we have succeeded!), a plain reading of Genesis 2 shows God first turned to the animals to find a helper for Adam, “but no suitable helper could be found.” When God presents Eve, Adam does not exclaim At last! someone different from me! — but exclaims over her humanity: “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!”

    In the Reformed tradition, I reflect how passionately John Calvin argued against requiring priestly celibacy [Institutes II.viii.42-3 etc.]:
    …..”It is not good for the human to be alone.” [Genesis2:18]
    …..”It is better to marry than to burn with desire.” [I Corinthians7:9]

    Traditional gender equality: This past Sunday’s lectionary included the story of the Ethiopian eunuch, which changed the mind of Worship Professor Emeritus Arlo Duba. Researching baptism, he says, “I concluded that gender equality has been in the Bible for well over two thousand years. [Jeremiah 38 & 39; Isaiah 56, etc.] The surrounding culture has kept us from seeing it.”
    http://covnetpres.org/2011/01/interview-with-rev-dr-arlo-duba/

    **********
    Jesus was continually in trouble when human need conflicted with traditional interpretations. I believe today’s controversy is part of that ongoing struggle, and pray that we struggle faithfully together through to the blessing.

    • carolyntclark

      but the pre-Jesus Golden Rule encompasses it all…. concisely, clearly, simply.

      • mason lane

        1000 B.C: “This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain done unto you.” –the Mahabharata, the Brahman text
        650 B.C: “Do not to your neighbor what you would take ill from him.” –Pittacus
        500 B.C: “Do unto another what you would have him do unto you, and do not do unto another what you would not have him do unto you.” –Confucius
        401-500 B.C: “Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.” –Thales
        385 B.C: “We should conduct ourselves toward others as we would have them act toward us.” –Aristotle
        338 B.C: “Act toward others as you desire them to act toward you.” –Isocrates
        50 B.C: “Do not do to others what you would not like others to do to you.” –Hillel (Jewish teacher)

        • ElizabetB.

          Thanks again, Mason!! I was curious to look at Karen Armstrong’s index in “A History of God,” as she wrote that the Axial Age sages — 900-200bce in China, India, Israel, and Greece —
          “preached a spirituality of empathy and compassion…. Each tradition developed its own formulation of the Golden Rule –” xiv

          The Buddha — A person who loves the self should not harm the self of others. p287
          Confucius — Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you. p208
          497-425bce Mahavira (Jains) — Treat all others as you would wish to be treated yourself. p243
          480-390bce Mozi (Chinese) — Others must be regarded like the self… all embracing and exclude nobody. p270
          c.300bce Mencius –Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. p306
          c.80bce–30ce Rabbi Hillel — What is hateful to yourself, do not do to your fellow man. p379

          It’s encouraging to see how worldwide this is…. I want to dig in to some of these sections of her book, especially the ones about ahimsa and ecological nonviolence

      • ElizabetB.

        Thank you for the call back to the core, Carolyn!!!!!

    • Thank you, ElizabetB for this detailed analysis. Many years ago I gave lectures at churches, “Why the Bible Is Not Anti-Gay” and made many of these same points. One point you make, well, I’m not so sure: “Sodom is a story of aggression, male gang rape” Everything hangs on the Hebrew word, yadah, meaning “to know.” Were the residents on Sodom demanding that Lot hand over the strangers to “know” them “in the Biblical sense”–or because, since Lot’s guests were strangers, did the men of Sodom want to find out who they were? But even if they did have rape in mind….that has nothing to do with same-sex relationships today. And if the men of Sodom were homosexuals….why would Lot offer them his daughters?! THAT”S the most immoral thing about the story! Well, until the end, when Lot, dead drunk, impregnates his daughters–and receives no reprimand from God. It’s best to leave this story out of the contemporary debate altogether.

      And for me…It’s also best to leave Jesus out of the debate too. We have ‘Jesus script’ through the gospel filters. By which I mean that the authentic words of Jesus cannot be retrieved. The gospels were written decades after the events they portray, and I doubt that “oral tradition” preserved the words of Jesus. We don’t know the sources used by any of the gospel writers.There is no contemporary documentation of any kind. Historians have nothing to go on, trying to write a Jesus bio. Hunches about “what sounds authentic” in the Jesus stories just won’t do.

      In any case, bravo for your strong statement, “a Biblical NO” to the 1 man/1 woman definition of marriage!

      • mason lane
        • That graphic is on my business card! 🙂

          • Linda_LaScola

            It was one of the revelations of this formerly Catholic girl, who never really read the Bible, to find that clergy who did, were led away from religion.

          • David Madison

            But, of course, the great majority of clergy are trained in the techniques for smoothing over the errors, flaws, contradictions. Even so, there are a few who can’t live with the cover-ups and sophistry.

          • Linda_LaScola

            I think that most of the clergy I’m referring to bought the seminary training they received in smoothing over the problems in the Bible and then sold it unwittingly to their congregations — for a while. Repetition and questions from people in the pews eventually took its toll, making clergy re-examine what they’d bought and what they’d been selling.

          • Kendall Fields

            And those flaws and contradictions are? Do not try to make lies to promote sin.

          • Kendall Fields

            You abandoned the faith on your own. Do not blame others for your sins.

      • ElizabetB.

        Thank you so much, David! That’s really interesting that you gave lectures in churches. Many people must have been so thankful to hear what was seldom spoken not so many years ago!!!

        Whew — you’re right about leaving out the Sodom story (except that it’s so huge in our language and popular imagination). Maybe from being handed down so many centuries, it’s contradictory no matter which way one takes it. What would be so threatening about a Sound of Music “Getting to Know You”? Yes, it’s surely not talking about healthy relationships — of any sexuality! — but, in the threatening-type scenario (“Don’t do this wicked thing”), a blatant assault, as in warfare and tribalism.

        I always figured the Lot story was a jab at the Moabites’ ancestry : ) But a close relative horrified me by saying the offer of the daughters just demonstrates how much worse same-sex relationships are than heterosexual ones. Shocking, reprehensible attitude!!! Seems like one just has to address the story somehow?

        Yes, massive uncertainties surround a Jesus character. But I’m thinking that here in the Bible Belt maybe one can be more effective by offering an alternative “pick & choose” than by starting with a challenge to the whole idea of “biblical authority”? ….Probably it all needs to be done, in whatever order : )

        I appreciate so much your feedback!!!! As someone who’s still in the official tradition, I’m always wondering how to be a positive influence.

        Wedding congratulations!!!!!!!!!!! I’m so sorry you had to wait for that piece…. Love the picture here!!!! Deep gratitude for your work in this essential evolution

        • I suspect that 999 people out of 1000 miss the jab at the Moabites! Yes, the last two verses of Genesis 19, with the references to the Moabites and Ammonites (two of Israel’s traditional enemies), are intended as an insult, i.e., these two tribes are the result on incest.

          Indeed, your close relative’s comment is appalling. It’s hard for me to grasp that there are people out there who don’t know any gay people–they certainly don’t know any gay couples–and thus can say such mean-spirited things. I have been puzzled for years: where does the intense homophobia come from? We can’t just “blame the church” because homophobia is found in traditional Chinese and African cultures. We CAN blame the church for participating in homophobia, encouraging it, etc. Some churches have endorsed gay rights, perform same-sex marriages, etc., but then the Catholic church has institutionalized homophobia. It is scared to death of the issue because so many men have retreated to the priesthood to avoid dealing with same-sex attraction. THAT didn’t work out well, did it?

          • ElizabetB.

            Maybe anthropologists have the best clues as to why issues involving gender, religion, and politics evoke such powerful reactions! To the point of taking life. It IS mystifying and dismaying.

            The horrible comment came early on in the current debates, in the 70’s. We eventually stopped discussing. They did know people who were/are gay, and were friendly and helpful to them. Now our family includes a fantastic female couple… but the 6 clobber verses reign supreme when voting, etc. The relative is very settled in quite conservative theology, and I think it’s due in part (maybe largely?) to growing up in a long line of conservative ministers on both sides of the family. The relative went through a rather long period of questioning but gradually settled into the family perspectives. Some of the opinions are inconsequential to others — but this particular one can be deadly, including risks of suicide. How I wish I knew how to get at it.

            Please let R.D. know when you encounter good hypotheses!! and approaches!!!!!!! Thank you for all your work… and Congratulations again!!!!!!!

          • By the way, I write for John Loftus’ Debunking Christianity Blog; my weekly article is published every Friday, http://www.debunking-christianity.com

          • ElizabetB.

            Great!!!

            I looked around there following the link in your post here, and wondered whether there’s a pattern. Very happy to have the helpful destination!!! Many thanks!

          • Elizabeth, please send me a Facebook friend request: David (Yegerlehner) Madison. 🙂

          • ElizabetB.

            Great pictures on your page! I use FB just to check on how someone is recovering from surgery, etc; and so far haven’t made the jump from Disqus to family members. I do have an online spot sort of trying to summarize where I’d gotten to a year + ago. Since then I’ve become a little more freethinking. No one other than me could be interested!!!! but https://ytinummocdevoleb.wordpress.com/ [‘Beloved Community’ backward! that would be me : ) ] Come to think of it — Rational Doubt is where I do most of my day-to-day puzzling : )
            [Edited]

          • Kendall Fields

            So what matters to you more your faith in Jesus or to appease the people of the world.

          • ElizabetB.

            Jesus stayed in trouble challenging the traditional rules that hurt people… so I see advocating for people who are glbtq as carrying on the work of Jesus : )

          • Kendall Fields

            No he challenged those who claimed to follow the law but did not follow its spirit. Also advocating for sin is sinful as well. You cannot walk the path of sin and the path of God.

          • ElizabetB.

            Thanks, Kendall… a fuller reply is below.

          • Kendall Fields

            No you need to stop trying to promote sin.

          • ElizabetB.

            p.s. Re-reading my reply I’m realizing — wow, considering human nature and tradition — there really have been pretty earthshaking forward strides in issues involving people who are not your standard cookiecutter same-olds… and that, I should be celebrating!!

          • Kendall Fields

            Yeah and the churches that promote homosexuality die off. Also look at Hollywood and its problems. You aren’t a Christian so I wouldn’t expect you to try and not insult my God.

      • TinnyWhistler

        Popping in here a year late to say that Lot’s daughters explicitly got HIM drunk in the text: they discuss it beforehand, and Lot has no memory of the sex afterwards. Phrasing it as “Lot, dead drunk, impregnates his daughters–and receives no reprimand from God.” seems to put the onus for that onto HIM rather than onto his daughters and that seems to contradict the text.

    • mason lane

      Eliz …. “the crux of the matter is that there are so many different points of view in the bible that one can make a pretty good case for what one thinks is good — or bad : ) ” That’s for sure! You’ve made a valiant effort to white wash Jesus …. but he’s still, at best, a benevolent dictator of the worst order.

      The so called “bible”, really a bunch of 66 very short pamphlets written over thousands of years by 40 different authors, stapled together and called a book by the Catholic Church, is such a collection of contradictions, absurdities, some nicer stuff, plenty of bigoted cruel nasty stuff, and scientific ignorance, that it’s possible to justify anything using some gems from the “bible.”

      The point you’re missing is that the Jesus character is, bottom line, just as much a totalitarian deity as his ruthless mythical Jehovah, and he wouldn’t dare contradict his father’s edicts! All the horrid “scripture” supporting slavery, subjugation of females, and the killing of gays was supported and endorsed by Jesus.

      “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5: 17-19

      Death for Gays; Leviticus 20:13

      • ASV: (American Standard Version, 1901) “And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
      • Darby: (J.N. Darby Translation, 1890): “And if a man lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall certainly be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
      • ESV: (English Standard Version): “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”
      • HNV: (Hebrew Names Version): “If a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”
      • KJV: (King James Version): “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”

      • ElizabetB.

        If folks are going to “pick & choose,” I pick along with the best of them! If people are not going to acknowledge the contradictions, a different “picking” may at least slow them down a little in the destructive selections : )

        • mason lane

          I think you should now write your book ElizabetB … “PICK & CHOOSE” -The Destructive and Constructive Selections in the Bible” 🙂

          • ElizabetB.

            Mason, that is not a bad idea!! I can see at least a doctoral dissertation! Yes, that would be an interesting entree into the issues. You go first!

          • ElizabetB.

            Hi Mason! Looks like I won’t have to bother with my Pick & Choose tome. Thanks to a link from comments on David Madison’s piece today on Debunking Christianity, I see Valerie Torico is already on it! : )

            “In Defense of Cherry Picking the Bible”
            “Rather than being used as an epithet, perhaps cherry picker should be a compliment, an acknowledgment of discernment, wisdom, judgment, and responsibility. In actual fact, all religious believers (and nonbelievers) cherry pick their sacred texts or cultural traditions, even fundamentalists, even those who deny doing so. A book like the Bible or Quran contains passages that contradict each other, or that demand a level of perfection (or cruelty) that is simply unattainable for most believers. Whether we are Christian or Muslim or post-Abrahamic freethinkers or practitioners of some other spiritual tradition, the question isn’t whether we cherry pick, it is whether we do so wisely and well, based on some higher principle that tells us which passages are spiritually nourishing and which should be discarded.”
            https://valerietarico.com/2

            But it was fun thinking about it : )

    • Kendall Fields

      Do not try to promote sin. God finds homosexuality wrong so do not try to portray it as right.

      • ElizabetB.

        There are 6 passages in the Bible that are traditionally used to denigrate people who are glbtq. fwiw, this is what I put on FB when our state debated changing our constitution —

        I see faithful, monogamous marriage for people who are gay as part of Jesus’ story.

        He was continually in trouble for putting human need before traditional interpretations of scripture.
        “Go and learn what this means: ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.’ “[Hosea 6:6], defending the disciples’ plucking grain on the Sabbath [Mtt.12:7].
        “The Sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the Sabbath,” similar situation. [Mk.2:27]
        “He looked around at them in anger… deeply grieved at their hardness of heart,” preparing to heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. [Mk.3:5].

        He continually pushed beyond religious taboos:
        His hometown synagogue tried to throw him over a cliff for pointing out that God sent a prophet to help unclean Gentiles although many Israelites needed help. [Lk.4:26-27]
        He declared all things clean. [Mk.7:19]
        He alerted us to be open to new understandings:
        I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” [John 16:12-13]

        Paul passionately defended us Gentiles from being forced to observe the ceremonial purity laws.
        “You senseless Galatians! You were running a good race! Who cut in on you? What matters is faith, working itself out by love!” [Gal.5:7,6]
        “The commandments…are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’…. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Rom.13:9-10]

        I believe Christianity is experiencing Acts 10-11 — like Peter, shocked to see “unacceptable” people exhibiting the gifts of the Spirit:
        “…the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning….So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” [11:15-17]

        I believe the exegetical case against the marriage of faithful, monogamous Christians who are gay is weak.

        1. Sodom [Genesis 18-19]. Applying the principle of scripture interpreting scripture, the 60-some accusations against Sodom include “grinding the face of the poor,” “arrogance,” etc. The lone mention of sexual sin is that of going after different flesh — the flesh of angels — “sarx hetero” [Jude v.7], with zero hint of “same” flesh, sarx homo. When Jesus mentions Sodom, the subject is towns that do not welcome the disciples. Sodom is a story of aggression, male gang rape, not by the wildest stretch of imagination a story of our members who are gentle, constructive members of their communities — and gay.

        2. “Man-bedders.”[I Cor.6:9, I Tim.1:10] “Arsenokoitai” is not known in Greek prior to two sin lists in Paul and is rare. Some think it coined from the Greek translation of Leviticus 18:22 (see next). It is quite a stretch to call a gay woman a “man-bedder.” More, it is deeply incongruous to place the inspirational people I know, who are gay, in the list of “idolaters, thieves, greedy, slanderers….” Applying the “rule of faith”: Chrysostom, who vehemently opposed homosexual acts, does not mention them when treating these passages. So long as no definition is forthcoming, if “man-bedder” is a same-sex term, it should bear the same relation to “homosexuality” that “adulterers” (part of the list) does to heterosexuality.

        3. “A male you shall not bed the beddings of a woman” [Lev.18:22 & 20:13]. This pair of laws belongs with either the surrounding ceremonial purity laws or the surrounding moral laws. Anthropologist Mary Douglas details how, in ancient Israel, purity distinctions between “clean and unclean,” acceptable and “abominable,” make sense from the perspective that everything must be totally one thing or the other. No fuzzy boundaries — like no garment with two kinds of thread. In addition, for a male to “lie the lyings of a woman” would be thought degrading. (I remember boys’ rituals at elementary school to prevent getting “girl germs”!) Whether these two verses belong with the enduring moral laws or the culture of Ancient Israel is the question we struggle with.

        4. Romans 1:26-7. Ironically, not only does this orgy-like description contrast with the faithful same-gender couples we know: it is part of Paul’s rhetorical trap to make the points that “there is no one righteous; no not one” [3:10]; “love is the fulfilling of the law” [13:10]; and we must “stop passing judgment on one another” [14:13], respecting one another’s consciences. Paul’s language would support a ceremonial purity background, as he does not use his many terms for moral sin, but terms for uncleanness — “dishonor” and “shamelessness.” Here occurs the only mention of females in all these arguments — they act “against nature,” meaning “contrary to custom” in Paul’s day; and historically, “non-procreative sexuality.” Later in Romans, God too is said to act “against nature,” in grafting us Gentiles onto the root of Israel.

        Genesis 2 portrays companionship as the basis of marriage. Whereas Genesis 1 speaks of male and female procreation: “Be fruitful and multiply” (we have succeeded!), a plain reading of Genesis 2 shows God first turned to the animals to find a helper for Adam, “but no suitable helper could be found.” When God presents Eve, Adam does not exclaim At last! someone different from me! — but exclaims over her humanity: “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” I reflect how passionately reformers like John Calvin argued against requiring priestly celibacy[Institutes II.viii.42-3 etc.]:
        “It is not good for the human to be alone.” [Genesis2:18]
        “It is better to marry than to burn with desire.” [I Corinthians7:9]

        Traditional gender equality: The story of the Ethiopian eunuch changed the mind of Worship Professor Emeritus Arlo Duba. Researching baptism, he says, “I concluded that gender equality has been in the Bible for well over two thousand years. [Jeremiah 38 & 39; Isaiah 56, etc.] The surrounding culture has kept us from seeing it.” http://covnetpres.org/2011/01/interview-with-rev-dr-arlo-duba/

        ******
        Jesus was continually in trouble when human need conflicted with traditional interpretations. I believe today’s controversy is part of that ongoing struggle, and pray that we struggle faithfully together through to the blessing.

        • Kendall Fields

          Do not try to quote scripture to support something wrong especially given what Jesus was saying. You are doing the exact same thing Satan does. Also you say it is “monogamous” but sin by any other name is sin just the same. Also if you are going to try and justify homosexuality then you should be justifying all sins. Also Jesus defined marriage as between one man’s and one woman nothing else. If you are a Christian, then you would not promote an abomination that God finds abhorrent.

          • ElizabetB.

            Thanks, Kendall! Where do you see Jesus defining marriage as between one man and one woman, nothing else?

          • Kendall Fields

            Oh I don’t know how about the Bible that you try to claim says homosexuality is okay.

          • ElizabetB.

            Sorry to be long replying… a lot going on in RL

            I don’t say the Bible says homosexuality is ok, but that it leaves the question open. There wasn’t a concept of anything other than heterosexuality when the Bible was being recorded.

            I am curious about Jesus and ‘one man, one woman’ marriage…. are you thinking about a specific passage?

          • Kendall Fields

            No it doesn’t leave it open unless you want to say God makes people do things he disproves of. Read Matthew 19

          • ElizabetB.

            Thanks, Kendall! That’s a beautiful description of heterosexual marriage! Do you think the divorce prohibition applies to all divorces, or just the particular kind of Jesus’ day? or….?

          • Kendall Fields

            Divorce applies to actual marriage not the sin you are trying to promote.

          • ElizabetB.

            I was curious how literally you take Jesus’ words here — do you think heterosexual divorce is never possible, or do you interpret this passage in a way that allows heterosexual divorce?

          • Kendall Fields

            And do you think Jesus approves of homosexuality?

          • ElizabetB.

            When I read the stories of Jesus, I see how he stayed in trouble for sticking up for people who needed something for their wellbeing but the traditional rules said No. That makes me think that if he were living today, he would want people who are glbtq to be free to have a beloved just as heterosexuals are. As Genesis 2 says, in part of the passage Jesus was quoting from in your reference, “It is not good for the human to be alone — I will make a suitable helper.” In the story, God didn’t think of another human being at first — God tried making one animal after another, but Adam said Nope — until God made another human being, and Adam exclaimed “Bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” I think Jesus today would want each person to be free to become one and make a life with their soulmate.
            Thanks, Kendall

          • Kendall Fields

            So what you are saying is that despite the text saying homosexuality is wrong you are going to still practice homosexuality? Also Jesus would call people out on saying homosexuality is right. And when he gave Adam a helper was it another man? No it was a woman.

          • ElizabetB.

            Where did Jesus call people out on saying homosexuality is right? I don’t think there is a reference to homosexuality in the stories of Jesus….

          • Kendall Fields

            Considering how Jesus followed the law and had a very negative view on adultery as well as what marriage should be what makes you think he would support it. Also since Jesus is God by extension he said homosexuality was wrong.

          • ElizabetB.

            Since Jesus is God, we can evaluate our ideas of what God is like by what Jesus is like.

          • Kendall Fields

            And we can understand that since God finds homosexuality as wrong so would Jesus.

          • ElizabetB.

            I think a big question for understanding the Bible is figuring out which rules are part of the culture of the time, and which rules are part of the enduring moral law. Jesus continually broke the Sabbath rules — which belonged to the culture of the times — but upheld the moral rules, like “love your neighbor.” Figuring out which is which is where I think a lot of Christians’ disagreements originate….

          • Kendall Fields

            Yeah and homosexuality being wrong is still part of today’s moral code just like all other sins. Jesus never broke the Sabbath but Pharisees were trying to say he did in hopes of turning people away from him. Also if you love your neighbor you don’t approve of what they do wrong.

          • ElizabetB.

            I thought Sabbath breaking was one of the deeds that resulted in the crucifixion…. Mark 2:23 – 3:5 etc

            Mark 2:23-3:6 New International Version (NIV)
            [Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath]

            23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

            25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

            27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

            [Jesus Heals on the Sabbath]
            3 Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. 2 Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. 3 Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”

            4 Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.

            5 He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

          • Kendall Fields

            You don’t seem to understand what those verses meant. The Pharisees were so caught up in just thinking of the fact that the day was the Sabbath that they never understood what it meant to keep the Sabbath holy. And they were trying to use their actions to attack Jesus but he pointed out their falsehoods.

          • ElizabetB.

            Yes, I think we have to think of what the intent is — the spirit behind the instructions.
            What are you basing your ideas of God’s attitude toward homosexuality on? So far I don’t remember anything specific….

          • Kendall Fields

            Oh I don’t know how about what is in Leviticus, 1st Corinthians, 2nd Timothy, and other books? And are you going to asking the spirit behind the instructions with incest and bestiality?

          • ElizabetB.

            Yes, thanks, Kendall, I think you have to look at the spirit of the regulations and figure which belong to the culture of the time and which to the enduring moral law. And Christians surely do see the distinctions very differently! In Leviticus 18, some classify “the lyings of a woman” with things like incest, and some with things like relations during a woman’s period [18:19]. In Paul’s letters, some think Paul meant by twice using the term “man-bedders” (a term he may have coined) something to do with same sex relations; others think it could have had to do with something like prostitution; and others, like me, think that IF it has to do with same-gender relations it’s in the category of “slaves, obey your masters” and “don’t seek to be free” — traditions that the spirit of equality under God has been leading us to leave behind as not part of the enduring moral law.

          • Kendall Fields

            Still you blind yourself to sin and are not seeing the truth. Paul told them that to prevent massive uprising and so the Romans would not use what they said to attack them. If you are going to say homosexuality is okay, then so are other sins in the Bible.

          • ElizabetB.

            Yes, there are quite a few sins in the Bible that we don’t consider sins now, like in Leviticus wearing clothes woven with two kinds of cloth, or eating pork.

          • Kendall Fields

            And do you know why the text forbid those things? These aren’t nor were sins.

          • ElizabetB.

            I think they were in the lists of abominations, in the Purity Code. Things had to be all one thing or the other. Modern Jews don’t consider them sins today, but they were rigorously taught in the past. How do you think of them, in the days they were followed?

          • Kendall Fields

            They weren’t sins unless you want to say giving birth was described as involving a purity cycle.

          • ElizabetB.

            Interestingly, women did have to offer a sacrifice after the “days of their purification” after a birth — like when Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the temple and encountered Simeon and Anna….

          • Kendall Fields

            Because it was ritual purification.

          • ElizabetB.

            Yes… I think of the Leviticus verse about “lie the lyings of a woman” in a similar way to the purification regulations — a cultural idea that is becoming recognized as not part of the enduring moral codes. For example, Leviticus would seem not to care about female same-gender relations, since it mentions for females only avoiding beastiality; and patriarchy was so strong that any male behavior resembling females and different from the majority would be thought extremely shameful and to be condemned.

          • Kendall Fields

            Just because they don’t mention specifics doesn’t mean it is right.

          • ElizabetB.

            Yes, the “argument from silence” will take you only so far!

            I think a better argument would be, ‘By their fruits you will know them.” And glbtq couples I know are wonderful examples of the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That helps me decide which way I think that Leviticus verse should be classified — as part of the culture of the time.

          • Kendall Fields

            It is not an argument from silence it is simply pointing out that just because certain things weren’t mentioned doesn’t mean that they weren’t considered wrong. And if that is the case then adultery, murder, kidnapping, and other sins should be part of the culture of that time as well. You claim to believe in Jesus yet you support what God hates. And those aren’t “couples” anymore than a man and a beast being in a “couple”.

          • ElizabetB.

            Yes, that’s what the “argument from silence” is in the field of logic — just what you say: “just because certain things weren’t mentioned doesn’t mean that they weren’t considered wrong” — or right. The “argument from silence” is not conclusive. That’s how come you need other criteria to decide how to classify adultery, pork, murder, relations-during-a-period, kidnapping, same gender couples, etc. Christians just plain classify these issues differently : )

          • Kendall Fields

            And you trying to justify homosexuality shows me you are following sin rather than following God. And we classify them differently because murder, adultery, homosexuality, etc. are still mentiobed to be wrong in the New Testament while the food and clothes restrictions no longer apply since they were never sins to begin with.

          • ElizabetB.

            Well… a ways back we mentioned divorce, and remarriage which Jesus spoke of as adultery. Christians today differ about that clear saying….

          • Kendall Fields

            And I still view divorce as a problem. Also Jesus said you are allowed to remarry if your spouse has died and you are allowed to divorce only if your husband or wife cheats on you.

          • ElizabetB.

            Christians just plain differ about what is sinful, like whether remarriage after divorce is adultery if there’s been no unfaithfulness. During Abolition, many Christians said they would prefer to be Abolitionist, but the clear word of scripture was, Slaves, obey your masters; do not seek to become free. I remember that you have explained the cultural context of Paul’s words, and many Christians today likewise interpret the Bible as open to faithful, monogamous couples who are the same gender. You mentioned that you do not see them as actual couples… and I’ve wondered — do you know anyone whose beloved is the same gender?

          • Kendall Fields

            You can’t really call something faithful and monogamous when you are still involved in sin it is like saying a full on adulterous relationship but they are faithful to each other is good.

          • ElizabetB.

            It’s saying that it’s fair for the same standards to apply to all of us — no matter what color, creed, or orientation we are, our ideals are the same — monogamy and the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,

          • Kendall Fields

            Nope. You are still trying to justify it and again do you think God would approve of you saying homosexuality is okay?

          • ElizabetB.

            Definitely! I think the spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, has been leading the challenge to this tradition in the same way Jesus was in trouble for challenging the life-squelching Sabbath traditions of first-century Palestine. The unwelcoming glbtq tradition actually has very slim support in the Bible — it’s the cultural tradition that has been very strong. The more loving families in this world, the better!!!

            (Reprinting my summary —

            I see faithful, monogamous marriage for people who are gay as part of Jesus’ story.

            He was continually in trouble for putting human need before traditional interpretations of scripture.
            “Go and learn what this means: ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.’ “[Hosea 6:6], defending the disciples’ plucking grain on the Sabbath [Mtt.12:7].
            “The Sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the Sabbath,” similar situation. [Mk.2:27]
            “He looked around at them in anger… deeply grieved at their hardness of heart,” preparing to heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. [Mk.3:5].

            He continually pushed beyond religious taboos:
            His hometown synagogue tried to throw him over a cliff for pointing out that God sent a prophet to help unclean Gentiles although many Israelites needed help. [Lk.4:26-27]
            He declared all things clean. [Mk.7:19]

            He alerted us to be open to new understandings:
            I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” [John 16:12-13]

            Paul passionately defended us Gentiles from being forced to observe the ceremonial purity laws.
            “You senseless Galatians! You were running a good race! Who cut in on you? What matters is faith, working itself out by love!” [Gal.5:7,6]
            “The commandments…are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’…. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Rom.13:9-10]

            I believe Christianity is experiencing Acts 10-11 — like Peter, shocked to see “unacceptable” people exhibiting the gifts of the Spirit:
            “…the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning….So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” [11:15-17]

            I believe the exegetical case against the marriage of faithful, monogamous Christians who are gay is weak.
            1. Sodom [Genesis 18-19]. Applying the principle of scripture interpreting scripture, the 60-some accusations against Sodom include “grinding the face of the poor,” “arrogance,” etc. The lone mention of sexual sin is that of going after different flesh — the flesh of angels — “sarx hetero” [Jude v.7], with zero hint of “same” flesh, sarx homo. When Jesus mentions Sodom, the subject is towns that do not welcome the disciples. Sodom is a story of aggression, male gang rape, not by the wildest stretch of imagination a story of our members who are gentle, constructive members of their communities — and gay.

            2. “Man-bedders.”[I Cor.6:9, I Tim.1:10] “Arsenokoitai” is not known in Greek prior to two sin lists in Paul and is rare. Some think it coined from the Greek translation of Leviticus 18:22 (see next). It is quite a stretch to call a gay woman a “man-bedder.” More, it is deeply incongruous to place the inspirational people I know, who are gay, in the list of “idolaters, thieves, greedy, slanderers….” Applying the “rule of faith”: Chrysostom, who vehemently opposed homosexual acts, does not mention them when treating these passages. So long as no definition is forthcoming, if “man-bedder” is a same-sex term, it should bear the same relation to “homosexuality” that “adulterers” (part of the list) does to heterosexuality.

            3. “A male you shall not bed the beddings of a woman” [Lev.18:22 & 20:13]. This pair of laws belongs with either the surrounding ceremonial purity laws or the surrounding moral laws. Anthropologist Mary Douglas details how, in ancient Israel, purity distinctions between “clean and unclean,” acceptable and “abominable,” make sense from the perspective that everything must be totally one thing or the other. No fuzzy boundaries — like no garment with two kinds of thread. In addition, for a male to “lie the lyings of a woman” would be thought degrading. (I remember boys’ rituals at elementary school to prevent getting “girl germs”!) Whether these two verses belong with the enduring moral laws or the culture of Ancient Israel is the question we struggle with.

            4. Romans 1:26-7. Ironically, not only does this orgy-like description contrast with the faithful same-gender couples we know: it is part of Paul’s rhetorical trap to make the points that “there is no one righteous; no not one” [3:10]; “love is the fulfilling of the law” [13:10]; and we must “stop passing judgment on one another” [14:13], respecting one another’s consciences. Paul’s language would support a ceremonial purity background, as he does not use his many terms for moral sin, but terms for uncleanness — “dishonor” and “shamelessness.” Here occurs the only mention of females in all these arguments — they act “against nature,” meaning “contrary to custom” in Paul’s day; and historically, “non-procreative sexuality.” Later in Romans, God too is said to act “against nature,” in grafting us Gentiles onto the root of Israel.

            Genesis 2 portrays companionship as the basis of marriage. Whereas Genesis 1 speaks of male and female procreation: “Be fruitful and multiply” (we have succeeded!), a plain reading of Genesis 2 shows God first turned to the animals to find a helper for Adam, “but no suitable helper could be found.” When God presents Eve, Adam does not exclaim At last! someone different from me! — but exclaims over her humanity: “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” I reflect how passionately reformers like John Calvin argued against requiring priestly celibacy[Institutes II.viii.42-3 etc.]:
            “It is not good for the human to be alone.” [Genesis2:18]
            “It is better to marry than to burn with desire.” [I Corinthians7:9]

            Traditional gender equality: The story of the Ethiopian eunuch changed the mind of Worship Professor Emeritus Arlo Duba. Researching baptism, he says, “I concluded that gender equality has been in the Bible for well over two thousand years. [Jeremiah 38 & 39; Isaiah 56, etc.] The surrounding culture has kept us from seeing it.” http://covnetpres.org/2011/
            ******
            Jesus was continually in trouble when human need conflicted with traditional interpretations. I believe today’s controversy is part of that ongoing struggle, and pray that we struggle faithfully together through to the blessing.

          • ElizabetB.

            My reply did not print! trying again! —

            Definitely! I think the spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, has been leading the challenge to this tradition in the same way Jesus was in trouble for challenging the life-squelching Sabbath traditions of first-century Palestine. The unwelcoming glbtq tradition actually has very slim support in the Bible — it’s the cultural tradition that has been very strong. The more loving families in this world, the better!!!

            (Reprinting my summary —

            I see faithful, monogamous marriage for people who are gay as part of Jesus’ story.

            He was continually in trouble for putting human need before traditional interpretations of scripture.
            “Go and learn what this means: ‘I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.’ “[Hosea 6:6], defending the disciples’ plucking grain on the Sabbath [Mtt.12:7].
            “The Sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the Sabbath,” similar situation. [Mk.2:27]
            “He looked around at them in anger… deeply grieved at their hardness of heart,” preparing to heal the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. [Mk.3:5].

            He continually pushed beyond religious taboos:
            His hometown synagogue tried to throw him over a cliff for pointing out that God sent a prophet to help unclean Gentiles although many Israelites needed help. [Lk.4:26-27]
            He declared all things clean. [Mk.7:19]

            He alerted us to be open to new understandings:
            I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” [John 16:12-13]

            Paul passionately defended us Gentiles from being forced to observe the ceremonial purity laws.
            “You senseless Galatians! You were running a good race! Who cut in on you? What matters is faith, working itself out by love!” [Gal.5:7,6]
            “The commandments…are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’…. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Rom.13:9-10]

            I believe Christianity is experiencing Acts 10-11 — like Peter, shocked to see “unacceptable” people exhibiting the gifts of the Spirit:
            “…the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning….So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?” [11:15-17]

            I believe the exegetical case against the marriage of faithful, monogamous Christians who are gay is weak.
            1. Sodom [Genesis 18-19]. Applying the principle of scripture interpreting scripture, the 60-some accusations against Sodom include “grinding the face of the poor,” “arrogance,” etc. The lone mention of sexual sin is that of going after different flesh — the flesh of angels — “sarx hetero” [Jude v.7], with zero hint of “same” flesh, sarx homo. When Jesus mentions Sodom, the subject is towns that do not welcome the disciples. Sodom is a story of aggression, male gang rape, not by the wildest stretch of imagination a story of our members who are gentle, constructive members of their communities — and gay.

            2. “Man-bedders.”[I Cor.6:9, I Tim.1:10] “Arsenokoitai” is not known in Greek prior to two sin lists in Paul and is rare. Some think it coined from the Greek translation of Leviticus 18:22 (see next). It is quite a stretch to call a gay woman a “man-bedder.” More, it is deeply incongruous to place the inspirational people I know, who are gay, in the list of “idolaters, thieves, greedy, slanderers….” Applying the “rule of faith”: Chrysostom, who vehemently opposed homosexual acts, does not mention them when treating these passages. So long as no definition is forthcoming, if “man-bedder” is a same-sex term, it should bear the same relation to “homosexuality” that “adulterers” (part of the list) does to heterosexuality.

            3. “A male you shall not bed the beddings of a woman” [Lev.18:22 & 20:13]. This pair of laws belongs with either the surrounding ceremonial purity laws or the surrounding moral laws. Anthropologist Mary Douglas details how, in ancient Israel, purity distinctions between “clean and unclean,” acceptable and “abominable,” make sense from the perspective that everything must be totally one thing or the other. No fuzzy boundaries — like no garment with two kinds of thread. In addition, for a male to “lie the lyings of a woman” would be thought degrading. (I remember boys’ rituals at elementary school to prevent getting “girl germs”!) Whether these two verses belong with the enduring moral laws or the culture of Ancient Israel is the question we struggle with.

            4. Romans 1:26-7. Ironically, not only does this orgy-like description contrast with the faithful same-gender couples we know: it is part of Paul’s rhetorical trap to make the points that “there is no one righteous; no not one” [3:10]; “love is the fulfilling of the law” [13:10]; and we must “stop passing judgment on one another” [14:13], respecting one another’s consciences. Paul’s language would support a ceremonial purity background, as he does not use his many terms for moral sin, but terms for uncleanness — “dishonor” and “shamelessness.” Here occurs the only mention of females in all these arguments — they act “against nature,” meaning “contrary to custom” in Paul’s day; and historically, “non-procreative sexuality.” Later in Romans, God too is said to act “against nature,” in grafting us Gentiles onto the root of Israel.

            Genesis 2 portrays companionship as the basis of marriage. Whereas Genesis 1 speaks of male and female procreation: “Be fruitful and multiply” (we have succeeded!), a plain reading of Genesis 2 shows God first turned to the animals to find a helper for Adam, “but no suitable helper could be found.” When God presents Eve, Adam does not exclaim At last! someone different from me! — but exclaims over her humanity: “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” I reflect how passionately reformers like John Calvin argued against requiring priestly celibacy[Institutes II.viii.42-3 etc.]:
            “It is not good for the human to be alone.” [Genesis2:18]
            “It is better to marry than to burn with desire.” [I Corinthians7:9]

            Traditional gender equality: The story of the Ethiopian eunuch changed the mind of Worship Professor Emeritus Arlo Duba. Researching baptism, he says, “I concluded that gender equality has been in the Bible for well over two thousand years. [Jeremiah 38 & 39; Isaiah 56, etc.] The surrounding culture has kept us from seeing it.” http://covnetpres.org/2011/
            ******
            Jesus was continually in trouble when human need conflicted with traditional interpretations. I believe today’s controversy is part of that ongoing struggle, and pray that we struggle faithfully together through to the blessing.

          • ElizabetB.

            Maybe 3rd try will be the charm! My reply keeps disappearing! Will try just linking to my summary rather than printing it out. So, answering your question —

            Definitely! I think the spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, has been leading the challenge to this tradition in the same way Jesus was in trouble for challenging the life-squelching Sabbath traditions of first-century Palestine. The unwelcoming glbtq tradition actually has very slim support in the Bible — it’s the cultural tradition that has been very strong. The more loving families in this world, the better!!!

          • ElizabetB.
          • Kendall Fields

            Still trying to justify what God hates eh? You are showing yourself to have fallen on the path of sin. Jesus challenged the Pharisees because they did not want to understand the spirit of the law while you are trying to undermine what is right and promote what is wrong. Homosexuality is not love only sin.

          • ElizabetB.

            I am showing why I classify the tradition of not welcoming our brothers and sisters who are glbtq in the category with traditions of advocating slavery, calling remarriage after divorce adultery, etc.

            Speaking of sin is reminding me of Pastor Hal Porter of Cincinnati saying back in the 80’s — The church has to repent of its Sodom-like inhospitality toward its members who are glbtq!

            I think John is right — there is not one of us without sin. Christians surely do differ about which is which!! : )

          • Kendall Fields

            Just because none of us are without sin does not mean we condone sin.

          • ElizabetB.

            That’s for sure!! We fight internlly and externally with all our might! But recognizing the planks in our own eyes helps us try to avoid selfrighteous pontification : )

          • Kendall Fields

            Yet you are supporting sin and not doing what Jesus said: “Go and sin no more”. Also Jesus said for us to judge righteously. Do you think he would happy about you supporting homosexuality when God already finds it wrong?

          • ElizabetB.

            We surely have different views of what God finds wrong : )

          • Kendall Fields

            Yet you say you read the Bible and you reject what it says.

          • ElizabetB.

            It’s because of what I read about Jesus and his attitudes that I examine every traditional attitude to see whether it supports a life of love or whether it squelches it. So I reject words like “Slaves, do not seek to be free” and remember “I have much to say to you, but you can not bear it now… the Holy Spirit will lead you into all truth.”

          • Kendall Fields

            Yes and I am pretty sure God rejects what is sin and homosexuality is a sin so move on.

          • ElizabetB.

            It’s interesting how we come from the same tradition yet see these issues so differently! I don’t think the Bible actually supports the tradition of anti-homosexuality, but if it did, I’ve been thinking about how there’s only one person I have known of who did not “pick and choose” which rules in the Bible to follow and which ones to discard as belonging to the culture of the times — A J Jacobs, who wrote “The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible As Literally As Possible.” NPR links to a long excerpt from his book about that year, and he says, for example —

            “Naturally, there’s the most famous of all Christian literalists — the conservatives in the Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson mold. I plan to meet them later this year. But I also want to look at evangelical groups such as the ‘Red-letter Christians,’ which focus on what they see as literal adherence to Jesus’s teachings about compassion, nonviolence, and the redistribution of wealth.”

            [link will follow in another “reply” so Disqus won’t disappear this note : )]

          • Kendall Fields

            You say you don’t think it does when it rejects homosexuality. Denying the truth doesn’t help you.

          • ElizabetB.

            As this conversation has continued, I am thinking that maybe the best way to describe the difference between Christian views of homosexuality is not in how they distinguish cultural traditions from the enduring moral law, but instead is a difference in how they view the science of the past. When the Hebrew Bible and New Testament were being written, there was no idea of “homosexuality” — everyone was assumed to be heterosexual, so we don’t have sayings about differences in sexual identity, and have to extrapolate.

          • Kendall Fields

            Still you try to justify it. And I take it you are a homosexual?

          • ElizabetB.

            I’m a straight 80-year-old. I started out (long, long, ago!) thinking same-sex attraction was a negative, but when I started hearing people who are glbtq describing their lives, the pain of not being able to be close to the one they love, having to live alone, being in physical danger from violent people who suspected their orientation, trying to change their feelings, desperately praying to God for change, the despair of being told God hated their feelings, their everyday lives like everyone else’s; and when I learned about their increased risk of suicide, I thought about it and realized that a person’s sexual orientation is a difference, not a negative or a sin. It made me take a close look at the Bible, and what it actually says. I had noticed all my life how Jesus stayed in trouble sticking up for people who were treated as outcasts. Now I know so many same-gender couples who evidence all the “fruits of the spirit” — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We’re all brothers and sisters, more and less saintly like everybody else : )

          • Kendall Fields

            So you let lies get to you and you turned unto the path of sin because of said lies.

          • ElizabetB.

            When people tell the truth about their lives, I do listen and think about what it means! I think that is the way of Jesus.

          • Kendall Fields

            No the way of Jesus is for people to do what is right. People enjoy doing sin but that is why we reject it.

          • ElizabetB.

            Actually, that was the issue for one evangelical minister that caused him to question whether homosexuality is sin. He saw people who were trying so hard to live heterosexually, some seeking out conversion therapy, but instead of this path resulting in joy, as the Bible promises those who follow the right path, they were anguished,, striving to live out of sync with their soul. He believes the promise that living the way of God brings joy, so he concluded that for people who are glbtq, the way of God is one in harmony with their orientation. I borrowed the book from a friend & will add the title tomorrow. — I never thought it would be fair for me to get praise for being heterosexual — I was just doing what is in sync with my orientation. Should be the same for people whose orientation is different! .

          • Kendall Fields

            It doesn’t matter about being in sync especially how
            people can be upset at not being allowed to steal. So are we supposed to say stealing is okay to accomadate those who steal? No. And homosexuality is like that. Walking the path of righteousness is hard but it is better to walk the road of righteousness than to take the path of sin and destruction.

          • ElizabetB.

            This is a combined reply to “It doesn’t whether or not you have a good life. What matters is you preach the word and avoid sin. But when you side with sin that leads you down a dark road that leads to nothingness,” and “No the way of Jesus is for people to do what is right. People enjoy doing sin but that is why we reject it.” —

            I love how there’s so much in the Bible about the way of God bringing joy: “I have come that you might have life, and have it abundantly.” – “I tell you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” You’re right, the way of righteousness can bring hardship, but in that suffering there’s that deep abiding joy of the presence of God.

            That deep joy is what Mark Achtemeier realized was missing in the lives of people who are glbtq and trying to live by the traditional understandings he was preaching and teaching. In his book “The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, he writes —

            “My encounters with Kristi and others like her brought to light two striking contradictions between the traditional church condemnations of homosexuality and the testimony of the Bible. First, the spiritual fruit I saw coming to the fore in the lives of devout gay people who were trying to follow the traditional teaching was the exact opposite of what the Bible says will be the results of conforming our lives to the will of God. Instead of love, peace, joy, and closeness to God, I was seeing bitterness, brokenness, and spiritual alienation. It was only when Kristi and others gave up trying to follow the traditional teaching that I saw the spiritual fruits emerging that would normally be associated with obedience to God’s will.

            “Second, when I viewed the traditional teaching alongside the actual lived experience of people like Kristi, the result was a picture of an arbitrary and cruel God who closed off all avenues of escape for gay people and left them having to choose between psychological and spiritual brokenness on the one hand, and divine condemnation on the other. This picture differed strikingly from the portrait of a loving and compassionate God that is painted by the New Testament.” [p15]

            I think the comparison with stealing doesn’t fit – if everyone steals, we’d have a pretty miserable community, whereas if everyone lives in harmony with their orientation, there’s a multiplication of “love, joy, peace, patience,” etc : )

          • Kendall Fields

            Still you try to justify sin just like what is written in the Bible that people will not listen to what God wants but what they want to do. Trying to justify sin and put smiley faces is not proving your point only that you are stuck in sin and are refusing to face what is right.

          • ElizabetB.

            I think we all honestly want to do what is right. On this issue, Christians disagree about what is sin and what is one of those things Jesus was talking about when he said, “I have much more to say to you, but you cannot bear it yet. But when the Spirit comes, the Spirit will lead you into all truth.” Yes, emojis leave a lot to be desired! I use the smileys to try to say I’m not just trying to be antagonistic….

          • Kendall Fields

            Yes because you are trying to justify a sin and say it is natural and that God doesn’t have a problem with it. And I think considering Jesus defined marriage as one man and one woman and how throughout the old and new Testaments homosexuality has been said to be a sin you should know what is right and what is wrong. And trying to use that of what Jesus said is showing how deep in sin you are as you try to use scripture for evil purposes.

          • ElizabetB.

            Achtemeier’s argument is that using the “fragment” way of understanding the Bible can be unreliable. An interesting example is his story of a student who felt called to witness to the Aryan Nations compound in his region about God’s love extending to everyone.

            “Recounting the story to me afterward, Joe said that Richard Butler listened politely to his witness. And when Joe was done, the older man reached into the drawer of his desk and brought out his own Bible. Opening it up, he began reading selected passages and explaining to Joe how these verses clearly showed the Bible to be the history of God’s favored blessing bestowed upon the white race. Butler countered Joe’s witness verse for verse and passage for passage with his own racist distortion of the Bible’s message. Sad to say, there was no mass conversion to the gospel of love that day among the ranks of the neo-Nazis!” [p.18]

            Achtemeier says we have to look at the context of the fragments and fit them into the whole story of the Bible.

            “Once their historical context became clear, I found that I could fully embrace the negative judgments contained in the fragment texts. These negative texts were still valid and still applied fully to the kinds of violent and idolatrous same-sex behaviors that were the historical targets of their disapproval.

            “But I also realized that modern social developments had made possible a new kind of loving, committed, egalitarian, same-sex relationship that the biblical writers never envisioned. I learned that in considering the question of today’s same-sex marriages and covenanted partnerships, I was not overturning the judgments of the fragment texts. Rather, I was using established biblical principles to think through a genuinely new situation that the fragment texts never envisioned. The established principles in this case were God’s revealed purposes for love, marriage, and sexuality. And it turned out that same-sex relationships could fulfill God’s purposes every bit as well as heterosexual ones.” [p.130]
            [The Bible’s YES to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart]

          • Kendall Fields

            Still you try again to justify it with the lies of other people. If you believe in God, why do you justify a sin? Do not try to say homosexuality is love or any other lies I have heard over the years. How is it love when it is not truthfully, honest, and worthwhile and more importantly goes against God’s word.

          • ElizabetB.

            It is love, truthful, and worthwhile when I see it acted out right before my very eyes. I am singing in a community choir in the rural Bible belt, working on the annual Christmas concert. The director is part of a same-sex couple, and both are loved and esteemed in this conservative community.

          • Kendall Fields

            And? So what?

          • ElizabetB.

            You asked “How is it love, when it is not truthfully, honest, and worthwhile…?” and I answered I have seen it truthful, honest, and worthwhile with my own eyes.

            You continued, “and more importantly, goes against God’s word.” I think Achtemeier’s illustration of how the “fragment” method of knowing God’s will is unreliable — we can make a case for most anything quoting fragments from the Bible, including racism, slavery, and geocentrism (he didn’t cite that one, but in Galileo’s time people could be burned at the stake for denying it). If a person has to decide how they are going to interpret the fragments, why not interpret in a way that increases the love and joy in the world?

          • Kendall Fields

            No you haven’t. All you have said is you said is they were “loving”. That isn’t explaining how is it truthful, honest, and worthwhile. If you want to spread love and joy, then start telling the truth that homosexuality is wrong rather than try to justify it. You have been going on for than a couple of weeks trying to justify what is a sin. Or are you going to justify
            polygamy, incest and bestiality? And tell me did the Bible have a line where it reads that the sun revolved around the Earth or was that something people took from the Ptolemy. You talk fragments but when God’s word shows a disapproval of racism and slavery you can’t try to say it supported it. And it shows the same with several lines throughout the Bible saying that homosexuality is wrong end of story.

          • ElizabetB.

            Thanks, Kendall. Some of the fragments I put together are “God is love” [I John 4:8] and Jesus’ saying “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” [John 14:6] So the way of love is the way of God, and a couple who is glbtq and loving reflects God and Truth. .

            Many fragments support slavery; that’s why it was so hard for many Christians to reject it. These are just three —
            “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.” [Ephesians 6:5]
            “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.” [I Peter 2:18]
            “Cursed be Canaan [father of the dark races]! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers. May Canaan be the slave of Shem [father of the white races],”[Genesis 9:25 & 26]

            The Canaan story is also used by white supremacists to support racism.

            Fragments to support geocentrism have included Psalms that talk about the sun rising in the east & setting in the west, and Joshua asking God to stop the movement of the sun — “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky, and delayed going down about a full day.” [Joshua 10:13]

            Fragments could be found to support polygamy, since that was the pattern during Old Testament times.

            All that is why Achtimeier does not rely on a few fragments, but on the whole teaching of the Bible about love, marriage, and sexuality. He says the fragments often pointed to are about idolatry and violence, not the loving, committed, egalitarian same-sex relationships today.

            “My survey of scriptural teaching on marriage led me to some strong conclusions about the purposes God had in mind in blessing human beings with the gifts of love, marriage, and sexuality. God intends for these gifts to help us grow into a deeper and richer experience of the joy, passion, and fulfillment that come with giving ourselves wholly to another in accordance with the pattern of Christ’s self-giving love…..The ability of a marriage to support the growth of two people together into the image of Christ’s complete, self-giving love does not depend in any essential way on the gender of the partners.” [The Bible’s YES to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart, pp.56 & 73]

            A clue that this is on the right track is Jesus saying, “By their fruits you will know them,” and there are thousands of couples who are glbtq and bearing all the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

          • Kendall Fields

            Even the devil can quote scripture to suit purposes. You can quote it all you like but when try to justify what is wrong you will not be taken seriously. And again since Jesus said marriage is one man and one woman you should know what that means.

          • ElizabetB.

            “Even the devil can quote scripture to suit purposes.” Exactly! That’s why each of us has to decide how we put it all together.

            I need to break for baking, finding stocking stuffers, etc etc. I hope you have a very good Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s!! Looking forward to more conversation in the New Year! Thanks for the dialog!

          • Kendall Fields

            And you aren’t putting it all together. All you are doing is promoting what is wrong.

          • ElizabetB.

            Catch you in January! Merry Christmas!

          • Kendall Fields

            No Jesus said that sinners need help but when people don’t want to accept help and continue walking the path of sin are you going to change your message so you can accommodate them.

          • ElizabetB.

            Not if it’s really sin!

          • Kendall Fields

            It is sin.

          • ElizabetB.

            That’s the tradition we inherited : ) We have to examine each tradition to see whether it contributes to a good life for all.

          • Kendall Fields

            It doesn’t whether or not you have a good life. What matters is you preach the word and avoid sin. But when you side with sin that leads you down a dark road that leads to nothingness.

          • ElizabetB.
          • Kendall Fields

            Again you try to talk about living biblically yet you follow what God hates. Jesus said go and sin no more so why are you promoting sin?

          • ElizabetB.

            “The Year of Living Biblically” was illustrating the only person I remember who has tried to follow ALL the instructions in the Bible, no “picking & choosing” : )

          • Kendall Fields

            And yet you are picking and choosing.

          • ElizabetB.

            Exactly! I am saying we all do. [except that one guy for a year : ) ]

          • Kendall Fields

            So that justifies you trying to say homosexuality is not a sin?

          • ElizabetB.

            It means I think that when people say “Slaves, obey your masters” applied to the Rome of Paul’s day and not to the U.S. today, that is one example of “picking and choosing.” Usually we think that what WE are doing is not picking & choosing, but when THEY take the historical context into consideration, that’s picking & choosing : )

          • Kendall Fields

            Paul said that as a way to avoid the Romans using his words against the Christians.

        • Kendall Fields

          Also you cannot continue to follow sin if you want to follow God. People may stumble at points but you do not base your life on sin. If you are a Christian, then you wouldn’t be justifying sin.

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