Scripture Can Be Broken

Scripture Can Be Broken October 16, 2014

Paul Wallace posted about how his view of same-sex relationships began to change when someone he viewed as a mentor responded to his use of proof-texts on the subject by insisting that he was starting in the wrong place.

“You must start with the person.”

To illustrate that this approach is in fact reflected in the Bible, Wallace considers Deuteronomy 21:23. The early Christians had two options. They could have said (as the author of the Gospel of John depicts Jesus as saying) “the Scripture cannot be broken,” and determined that Jesus was accursed of God and not the anointed one they were hoping for.

But they started with the person.

So convinced were they that Jesus was the anointed one, that they chose to find ways of viewing him as not accursed, and even as willingly bearing a curse that he did not deserve.

Christians took this further. When Gentiles who were not circumcised showed evidence of having received God’s Spirit, they decided that God must accept them as they are – despite what Genesis clearly says.

And so, when you meet someone who is gay or lesbian, and in a committed relationship with someone of the same gender, and shows evidence of the Spirit at work in their life, what will you do?

Will you respond in the Christian manner illustrated above? Or will you adopt an approach to them that would, in an earlier era, placed you on the side not just against the acceptance of Gentiles in Christianity, but the acceptance of Jesus himself?

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  • John MacDonald

    It must be nice to have the authority to determine which parts of the bible are to be believed at face value, and which part of the bible can be revised to agree with modern liberal values.

    But then, getting to pick and choose what to believe in is nothing new to Christianity. That’s why there are so many different denominations.

    • Of course, we do have authority to decide what to accept in the Biblical writings. But I don’t see that I have suggested revising the Bible. I have suggested, in conversation with the Bible, emphasizing certain core principles, based on the approach that authors and characters in the Bible themselves took to matters.

      • Cynthia Brown Christ

        I am not suggesting that in any way. I am in complete agreement with you and what you wrote. I just wanted to hear what you thought of my practice!

        • I appreciated it – the comment of mine to which you are responding here, was not written in response to yours!

  • George Friesen

    Yes, well, in all my reading of progressive Christian thought, I have found “progressive” Christians to do every bit as much proof texting as any evangelical/fundamentalist I have ever known. They simply use different texts, and generally are even more high-handed and arrogant about it. Progressive Christianity has declared war on evangelical thought and doctrine and has become obsessive about it. So much for the ecumenical movement that once was. and the unity of the church Christ prayed for (John 17).

    • I’m certain there are many progressive Christians who prooftext, and just choose different texts to focus on. I doubt that a competition regarding who has the most examples of arrogance would have a clear victor, and do not see that such a competition would be helpful in any way, shape, or form.

      Obviously, if one is inclined to prooftext, it can be done for unity, or it can be done by showing texts where people stood up to those with whom they disagreed even at the risk of disunity.

      And so I am not sure what the point of your comment was supposed to be.

      • George Friesen

        The point of my comment was that while evangelicals are accused of using the Bible to proof text, progressive Christians do essentially the same thing. That, I thought was worth pointing out.

        And, no, there is no competition in terms of arrogance, just an increasing lot of it among progressive Christians. As I see it, this movement is becoming quite smug and condescending.

        In terms of unity and ecumenicity, I have not read a single blog in which a progressive Christian celebrates the commonality of traditional Christian belief which evangelicals claim to preserve and the beliefs which progressive Christians are vigorously promoting. I have not read any blog promoting unity, much less prooftexting for unity.

        So, yes, I think there was a valid point to my comment, and this is coming from a progressive Christian, lest you assume I am a rigid fundamentalist on attack. If you see this as a criticism, it is one of my own people.

        • It just seemed odd to me that you seemed to be offering criticism of my offering criticism because criticism is at odds with the goal of unity.

          It can be very challenging for progressive Christian churches to be welcoming and inclusive of those previously excluded, and still excluded in conservative Christian congregations, and yet also welcome and include those who are conservative and don’t agree with the welcoming of various others. It isn’t impossible, but it is challenging.

          I too find it objectionable when progressive Christians act as though prooftexting is the appropriate game to play, and just try to win by providing prooftexts of their own.

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2013/07/02/of-clobber-texts-and-anti-clobber-texts-the-bible-is-not-a-card-game/

  • Cynthia Brown Christ

    Id love to hear what James McGrath thinks about my process. Anybody who wants the bible to support their own issue, or ego, can easily whip out a few verses to do so. (Is this what proof-texting is?) But more often than not, those verses, are in disagreement with other verses elsewhere. THIS IS A FACT, BECAUSE EVERYBODY DOES IT!

    Also, some verses are more important than others. Lots of verses to support this, but here is one: Matt 23:23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you
    hypocrites! … But you have neglected the more important matters of the
    law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter,
    without neglecting the former.

    Whenever I am faced with deciding what I believe or what I should do, about a difficult issue or decision, I pray for spiritual guidance, and then I usually scan through all four gospels – that I have read millions of times, but would never claim to know or remember them all. I pull out verses that seem to pertain to the issue at hand. I do keyword searches, and so on.

    Once I have all my verses, I look at their context. Is it a COMMAND by Jesus? How many times did he mention it? Is it in violation of the things he mentions over and over – and particularly vociferously, like the 7 woes of Matt 23, or the turning over of the table, and so forth.

    Then I read various commentaries on these verses, if I don’t understand them that well.

    It is important to me, and my faith. It takes time, but it should because it is important. But in the end, it isn’t really difficult at all.

    I know that the Jews have always done this too. (except for a minority that sproutted up the same time that biblical literalism did. Their holy book is not the only thing for them, they have well documented oral history written down, and they discuss and debate and re interpret their verses all the time. Anytime I hear or read an indepth analysis of an OT story by a rabbi, I am amazed at the depth of their analysis, and the new things I learn about otherwise stories (like Job).

    Biblical literalness only became a “thing” in the mid 1800’s, in response to Darwin. For 3000 years before that it was not even considered.

    If a mere person lacks the ability to evaluate their holy book, personally I think he doesn’t understand the essence of his faith, but that’s ok, he can and should encourage a dialog with scholars, or people he trusts.

    But he should NEVER pluck one or two verses out and say “its in the bible so its true.”

    • Rick

      Yep sounds solid to me the way in which you study, and while only a few here are some of the text I use to back up that opinion:

      Isa 28:9 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
      Isa 28:10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
      Isa 28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
      Isa 28:12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
      Isa 28:13 But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

      Rom 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

      Luk 8:10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

      Act 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so

      Joh 5:39 Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

      Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

      2Ti3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

      2Ti 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth

  • joriss

    “So convinced were they that Jesus was the anointed one, >>that they chose to find ways of viewing him as not accursed,<< and even as willingly bearing a curse that he did not deserve."

    I don't agree with that. They didn't choose, but Jesus opened "their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures", It was a revelation of what already was written in the OT, but had never yet been fully understood by them. God's curse was on Jesus indeed, so that we, that deserved that curse, would be free from condemnation. But Jesus, having taken this curse unto death, rose again, without any curse.
    Jesus, who "broke the Scriptures" by revealing to the disciples that the gentiles were part of the community, is the same who said that the Scriptures can not be broken. The Scriptures were not broken by the new revelation of God's grace for all the peoples of the world, but a deeper confirmation of what the Scriptures already said but which could not be fully understood before. So to extrapolate this to new insights that would "break" other parts of the Scriptures seems dangerous to me.
    As a matter of fact, I don't say this with respect to homosexuality. That's a matter I find difficult to know how to think about. I'm reading the book "Torn"by Jusin Lee. Seems a very honest person to me so far.

    • From a historian’s perspective, the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John cannot be viewed as historically accurate. But be that as it may, I have no doubt that the early Christians believed they were being guided by the Spirit – they say so explicitly. But the truth is that they were open to not following Scripture, because of real-life people they encountered. Paul says this explicitly too. In Galatians, he points out that the Galatians had received the Spirit without being circumcised, and treats this as proof that God had accepted them without circumcision. If he then needs to find a way to make sense of Genesis that allows for this, he will do so, and did so.

      • joriss

        James, you wrote

        A:

        “I have no doubt that the early Christians believed they were being guided by the Spirit – they say so explicitly.”

        B:

        “But the truth is that they were open to not following Scripture, because of real-life people they encountered”

        That seems strange to me. THEY said they were being guided by the Spirit.
        And then 2000 years later YOU say: BUT the truth is….etc.

        Why “But”?. Is here a contradiction between A and B? Don’t you believe they were really being guided by the Spirit?

        The Galatians had received the Spirit without circumcision, but I don’t see why this should be breaking the Scriptures. That this would happen was part of the O. T. prophecies.

        • I didn’t mean it to sound like one must choose between A or B. A is impossible to prove. B we can observe. They attributed B to A, and so B is, for you, the real contentious issue, I believe.

          Genesis 17 says the following: “9 God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old, including the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring. 13 Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

          By saying that Gentiles can be part of Abraham’s family without being circumcised, the early church was disagreeing with Genesis 17. Perhaps now you can understand why that move was so controversial?

          • joriss

            Well, I know Gen. 17. I know Galatians and the discussion about circumcision or not circumcision between Paul and Barnabas on one side and the believing pharisees on the other side in Jerusalem and in many other places and times. That’s not the point.

            The point is that you say: Scripture can be broken, whereas Jesus is cited, saying: Scripture can nòt be broken. And it’s not only these literal words in John, but also in the other gospels when he is tempted by Satan or in discussions with the Pharisees, he answers many times with words from the O. T. and he even gently rebukes the disciples and the two men on the road to Emmaus for not understanding and believing everything what was written in the Scriptures. He didn’t break neither the law nor the Scriptures but he confirmed and fulfilled them with his words and way of life. He gave a deeper and wider insight in the spiritual meaning of the O.T.

            This wider understanding of the law in the O. T. could already partly be found with David and other prophets. Some psalmwriter says: How I love your law. Not “the” law, but “your” law. He saw the person behind that law. David also did and he understood that a humble and broken heart meant in itself more to God than sacrifying animals on the altar. He also loved the law. Why? Because by the Holy Spirit he understood – wheras most of his time did not – that the law is spiritual as also Paul says in Romans 7. So if you would say: the O.T. is broken by the change of “paradigma” in the N. T. you could very well say that the O. T. had already broken itself by it’s own wider and deeper meaning. But that is not ofcourse what Jesus meant with: Scriptures can not be broken.
            So I think that “Scripture can not be broken” is true and may not be put aside because of the abolishment of the literal circumcision for the gentiles, because now there is a greater circumcision for Jews and gentiles as well: the circumcision of the heart. And also not because of the abolishment of the sacrifices, for now we have had the greater sacrifice of Jesus and we have the living sacrifice of our bodies to God.
            And ofcourse this was very controversial for those who wanted to hold their own literal and formal understanding of the law and therfore rejected Jesus.

            Al these things were, in a more or less hidden way, already present in the O. T. so “the Scripture can be broken” is in contradiction with both O.T. and N.T and is withspoken by Jesus himself in the first place and by all the authors of the bible and by the unity and continuity between O.T. and N.T.

          • If you replace physical circumcision with spiritual circumcision, you are still changing the meaning of the text. And it also needs to be kept in mind that, when these authors wrote, their words were not Scripture. And so one needs to read Galatians as a letter to a church, which has to be accepted as a persuasive argument by its author, or rejected as unpersuasive. It was not yet added to a collection of “New Testament” texts which could simply be assumed to be authoritative.

          • joriss

            “If you replace physical circumcision with spiritual circumcision, you are still changing the meaning of the text” Yes, in the sense of widening the meaning and applying it to the greater and SPIRITUAL family of Abraham. The bible doesn’t say anything about abolishing the physical circumcision for physical Jews. But it has lost it’s importance with respect of the new state of the Spirit in which believers, Jews and gentiles are living now. So being a physical Jew has no significance as one is not also a Jew by heart, spiritually. Love is the fulfilling of the law, so if we love like Jesus does, we are not under the law. We are, so to speak, the law itself, as long as we live in that love. Or as it is said: the law is written in our hearts, not in stone, but in flesh. That is deepening, widening and enlarging the literal meaning of Scripture, not breaking it. And this is not a work of us, men, but of God, and revealed by his Spirit, who has been poured out upon the church, to Paul, to the apostles and to us. But it is not a spiritual trend of breaking Scripture that we can repeat in other kinds of matters, if we think we should. So if you say: Scripture can be broken, you could as well say that the caterpillar is broken by becoming a butterfly. But in fact the caterpillar is incorporated in the butterfly and has wings now. So the caterpillar of the O.T. has now got wings of the Spirit of love and has become the butterfly of the N.T. , but remains fully present in it.
            That won’t say that there is not a progressive insight in the things that God’s love asks of us. Reaching out to other peoples, growing in surrender and love, helping the poor and doing well to our neighbours around us and caring for the sick and handicapped will teach us how to follow Jesus’ commandments to make all men and women his disciples. So living after Jesus’ words makes that WE are being changed, but his word and Scripture will not change, let alone be broken.

          • Michael Wilson

            This does seem to be the path Paul takes, that he isn’t “breaking” scripture, just finding its deeper meaning. This is probably a legitimate way for a religion to honor a text in its living tradtion, though it has its limits. But the originalist in me thinks James is right, Paul may be right in what following the scriptures evolution will lead, but nonetheless it is an overturning of what it clearly said before.,

  • Do you think Paul would have gotten along great with Matthew or even James when it came to the topic of whether or not to “set aside commands previously given by God to his people?”

    • There is good reason to think that Paul was at odds with Matthew and James about certain key points. I won’t say more than that, since you have the rude habit of posting the exact same question on both the blog and Facebook, inevitably either requiring me to ignore the question, or post the same thing in both places, or look like I am failing to answer in one of them. I’ve not encountered people doing this before, and would love to know what makes you think this is acceptable conversational decorum.

      • I never thought of such behavior as being rude. Rude? I thought facebook and blogs were separate and different readers of each might get to interact with the same question. Does my question automatically appear in both places or not? Do you have exactly the same readers on both facebook and your blog or not?

        • I don’t have exactly the same readers on the blog and on Facebook, although obviously one has to click through to the blog to read the post if one sees it on Facebook. Just to be clear, in my opinion, there is nothing inappropriate about posting the same observation in two places. What seems to me rude is asking a person to respond to the same question in two places.

          • Rude? You assume too much. A question is a question, open to all or none to respond to. I assume everyone DOES have their own response to every question (even creationists), based on their current knowledge and presuppositions. I don’t assume I am asking complete stumpers that you MUST respond to, lest I claim victory. I’m not that kind of questioner. In fact I assume that the greatest intellectual wrestling matches are with one’s self, i.e, wrestling with whatever knowledge of the universe and people that one has gained thus far in life. Oscar Wilde put it this way, “Converting others is easy, converting yourself is difficult.”

          • Well, it depends whether your question is posed as an “open to everyone” sort of comment, or a question to the person who wrote the post.

            I’m not assuming anything, other than that, just as one would not simply ask the same question after a lecture by a speaker which they were delivering for the second time, having already asked it when they gave the talk the first time, so too one would not ask the same question of a person in multiple places around the internet – unless the point is to make one’s own voice heard, in which case one should not pretend that it is a question that one is asking. Comments which are not questions are perfectly fine – why not offer one of those instead, if you want to post the same point in multiple places?

      • Neither am I trying to make it look like my question is some sort of stumper and then claim victory if you don’t respond. I don’t think like that. It’s just a question, or sometimes I post observations, or quotations.

  • Michael Wilson

    James, great post in response to the question of how we should understand prohibitions in the bible on homosexuality. I think when we look at the writings of Christian leaders we can critique their specific prescriptions with their larger philosophy. I can find value in the deceleration of independence and condemn Jefferson’s slavemongering because the principle of his philosophy condems slavery even if his particular action doesn’t demonstrate it. Ultimately I think the whole of what people call scripture can be critiqued by what all scripture claim is its ultimate values, truth and righteousness. That is to say the bible’s writers claim its messages are true and good because it conforms with an objective good and truth, not that its contents define what is good or true. Literalist and inerreorist on the hand ultimately maintain the latter is the case. If the 11th commandment said, thou shalt strangle babies, well God says what’s good or bad and the Bible says what God says. But if you look at the history of scripture you realize that the writers rarely thought this was true of what they wrote or past scripture.

    • WilmRoget

      “we should understand prohibitions in the bible on homosexuality.”

      There are none. There are passages that people abuse to falsely create a prohibition on homosexuality. There is a huge difference.

      • Michael Wilson

        Care to explain?

        • WilmRoget

          What part was unclear?

          None of the handful of passages that are used to construct ‘homosexuality is sin’ have anything to do with homosexuality. People rip them out of context, use shoddy and fraudulent approaches to translation, ignore reason and logic, to warp them into something completely alien to what they actually address.

          • Michael Wilson

            That’s all unclear. Leviticus clearly forbids sex between two men. That has something to do with homosexuality. Everyone until a handful of people recently have interpreted them this way, I don’t think its all due to idiocy and fraud. It may seem important to preserve the bible’s inerrancy but I feel the most rational conclusion is that Levitcus supports injustice toward gays.

          • WilmRoget

            “That’s all unclear.”

            If those sentences, written in plain, grammatically accurate English are unclear to you, how do you imagine that you understand the Hebrew that Leviticus was written in?

            ” Leviticus clearly forbids sex between two men.”

            Not exactly, but then, Leviticus also clearly forbids many forms of heterosexual sex. But since you know this so well

            Where, exactly, is the ‘mishkap ishshah’ in the lives of gay men?

            The version in Leviticus 18 is translated as a universal rule, forbidding anyone to do whatever it is actually about, which would include forbidding women to lay with men ‘shakab mishkap ishshah’.

            The version in Leviticus 20 uses two different words to allegedly connote male – ish, and zakar. Since you seem to be so knowledgeable, why does the text use two different words, with very different nuances, if the purpose is to condemn ‘same with same’?

            “That has something to do with homosexuality.’

            So all of the passages that condemn heterosexual intercourse between fathers and daughters, sons and their mothers, a man and someone else’s wife – they have something to do with heterosexuality, and create a universal condemnation of heterosexual sex – right?

            Or are you applying a double standard, favoritism toward heterosexuals and against homosexuals. That would make you a lawbreaker, of course.

            “Everyone until a handful of people recently have interpreted them this way,”

            Your assertion is not accurate.

            “It may seem important to preserve the bible’s inerrancy’

            That is not the issue at all. You are trying to preserve your inerrancy of interpretation.

            “but I feel the most rational conclusion is that Levitcus supports injustice toward gays.”

            That is hardly sufficient, it is an argument based on your ego.

          • Michael Wilson

            Wilmroget, I’m no Hebrew expert but Richard Friedman is and I suggest this article explaining that Leviticus prohibits gays from having homosexual sex and that has long been recognised to be the case.
            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-elliott-friedman/biblical-law-on-homosexuality_b_911963.html

            I don’t care that Leviticus forbids other types of sex, I dont think Leviticus is a valuable source of wisdom or represents the will of a god. It may be important to some but not me. I don’t see a reason to go thought these intellectual contortions and abuse history to have Leviticus agree with what I think is right or wrong.

          • WilmRoget

            ” I’m no Hebrew expert but”

            So you are not going to address the issues I raised.

            “I suggest this”

            I’ve pointed out the flaws. Appeals to tradition are fallacy. Mr. Friedman’s essay is superficial and simplistic on issues other than his pet hypothesis. He simply summarily dismisses arguments that equally well-educated scholars have made. He is focused on the issue of to’ebah, while ignoring huge problems with other components of the text.

            “I don’t care that Leviticus forbids other types of sex,’

            So you don’t care about the huge flaw in your own argument. As long as you can make it agree with what you need it to say.

            “I don’t see a reason to go thought these intellectual contortions and abuse history to have Leviticus agree with what I think is right or wrong.”

            Some people consider it important to determine what the text actually means.

            There is no ‘mishkap ishshah’ bed wife in the lives of gay men (except of course when they are pressured into heterosexual relationships by a homophobic society). So the very presence of this reference to women in any way, so completely irrelevant to homosexual male intimacy, indicates that homosexuality is not the issue. A man cheating on his wife is the issue.

            Ish and Ishshah are a conceptually linked word pair, husband and wife. Given that they are used together, it is not honest scholarship to translate them in broader terms of simply gender. Hebrew has a number of words that connote various forms of male/female, ignoring the specific nuances is sloppy at best, fraud at worst.

            And zakar, the other word used to allegedly connote male in both texts, is predominantly used to refer to males, of any species, set aside for a special or holy purpose – like priests. Since both Lev 18 and 20 are set in the context of idolatry, ignoring this clear pointer to temple prostitution, is not responsible scholarship. What we have is a very specific situation, a married man committing adultery, cheating on his wife, with a priest of a fertility religion. It sits within other forms of adultery, among sexual acts tied to fertility religions of the period and place.

            But if that is presumed to create a universal condemnation of homosexuality, then the 300+ passages that condemn specific contexts of heterosexual sexual intercourse create a far stronger condemnation of heterosexual intimacy.

            The really foul thing though is that you “dont think Leviticus is a valuable source of wisdom or represents the will of a god” yet you use it to denigrate same-sex sexual intimacy.

          • WilmRoget

            I’ve got a bit more on your argument, and Mr. Friedman, because frankly, the cavalier, sloppy scholarship you are promoting has been killing people for some 13 to 17 centuries.

            Mr. Friedman dismisses the issues raised around ‘mishkap ishshah’ – and yes, he transliterated it slightly differently. But it is a huge flaw in his interpretation, and the standard interpretation.

            The reference to women, ‘as with a woman’, ‘the layings of women’ , ‘bed wife’ as the Hebrew states, have no relevant to homosexual men. So you have at text that is supposed to be from God, that is supposed to be talking to us about our sexuality, and it is not recognizable to us as relevant to our sexuality because it includes this completely irrelevant reference to sex with women. As traditionally translated, it reflects a heterosexist fantasy about gay male sexuality, not the reality of our sexuality that the Perfect Divine would intrinsically understand.

            Let me give you a parallel to make it clear. It is as if I wrote to you about a vehicle, and I used the concepts ‘engine’, ‘wheels’, ‘compartment for people’, and ‘wings to generate lift’.

            So you have a good idea what I’m writing about, right? Especially if the context was a description of vehicles built by Boeing.

            Then someone says ‘Oh, that is about cars, and flying down the road’. You’d laugh, or at least smirk quietly. Cars don’t have wings, gay men don’t have ‘mishkap ishshah’ in their sex lives. While the two passages in Leviticus have some elements that are part of male same-sex intimate relationships, those passages also have a critical element that is completely irrelevant to our relationships, the mishkap ishshah, and that completely changes who the text is about.

            After all, without that ‘mishkap ishshah’, the ‘as with a woman’, at least the Lev 20:13 text would be about male same-sex sexual intimacy. With it, it is about something else entirely. That’s why so many homophobes, when they quote these passages, have taken to dropping the ‘as with a woman’ part, the ‘mishkap ishshah’, entirely. Even they recognize that it makes both passages be about someone other than gay men.

          • Michael Wilson

            Friedman addresses your argument. I dont think Leviticus’ writter would be impressed with the sophistry from a suspect that they never had sex with a woman so couldnt lie with a man as they did with a woman. I think a clarification should be in order for the good of ancient Israel’s out gay community. And any how, why is it just that a bi-sexual should be stoned to death? And as is explained below, if we say obe can’t make love to a man as a woman, why prohibit the impossible?

            “The point on which we were thought to be “twisting” came up later in our discussion. We acknowledged that many people have recognized that these two texts pretty clearly do prohibit at least some kinds of male-male sex, but they have asked whether there is any legitimate “way out,” anything in the text that might provide for some change in the law. For example, one of our students once pointed out that it is, after all, impossible to lie with a man in the way one does with a woman — namely, vaginal sex — so no one can violate this commandment! That’s a clever, even fascinating idea, but why then would the commandment exist if it prohibits something that is impossible anyway? And besides, the plural phrase “a woman’s layings” (miskebê ‘issah) implies that many acts, not just vaginal sex, are included here.

            Similarly, a daughter of one of the authors of this book pointed out that a homosexual man may not mind a commandment that tells him that he can’t lie with men the way he lies with women because he does not lie with women! This, too, is not a compelling argument, (though it’s clever). We considered other such arguments as well but found all of them inadequate. For left or right, liberal or conservative, gay or straight, we don’t think that we can define our way out of the question by looking for such loopholes in the law. The law really means what pretty much everyone has taken it to mean for centuries. Whatever view one takes, one must address the law fairly in terms of what it says.”

            I don’t doubt for a moment thst Leviticus is the work of ignorant men who subscribed to heterosexual fantasies about gay sexuality. I don’t think it is the product of a divine mind. While we can say that their conception of homosexuality has little resemblance to “typical queer” folk, it certainly was a tool in their oppression.

          • WilmRoget

            “Friedman addresses your argument.”

            No, he does not. A condescending ego-based dismissal is not ‘addressing’ the argument.

            ” I dont think Leviticus’ writter(sic) would be impressed with the sophistry from a suspect that they never had sex with a woman so couldnt(sic) lie with a man as they did with a woman.”

            Nice straw man. And the accusation of sophistry is dishonest as well as incompetent. Further, your fantasy about what the writer of Leviticus is not evidence of anything. The issue is not “could not”, but “do not”.

            “And any how, why is it just that a bi-sexual should be stoned to death?”

            And again, your straw man is dishonest. An adulterer is to be stone, regardless of the gender of person the adultery is committed with.

            Frankly, it is pointless of you to quote large sections of his argument, since it entirely supported by his ego, and nothing more.

            “I don’t doubt”

            And again, your feelings are not evidence.

            Why are you so desperate to make this text revile homosexuals? What is your stake in pushing that fraudulent position?

          • WilmRoget

            You still need to answer the question;

            Where is the mishkap ishshah, the bed wife, in the lives of gay men? It is in the text, it is not in our lives.

          • Michael Wilson

            Wilm, I’ve edited this to reflect a post of yours I missed earlier.

            Back to the top of this conversation, I talked about “prohibitions in the bible on homosexuality” and you said there are none, but now you say, “And zakar, the other word used to allegedly connote male in both texts, is predominantly used to refer to males, of any species, set aside for a special or holy purpose – like priests. … What we have is a very specific situation, a married man committing adultery, cheating on his wife, with a priest of a fertility religion. ”

            So we do we have a prohibition on homosexuality; you can’t have homosexual sex with a male priest if your married. Thank you, lets move on. Now does this mean that its ok for an unmarried man to have sex with a male priest? Isn’t this already covered by Leviticus’ laws on adultery? Are female temple prostitutes ok then?

            And how us it just to stone someone to death for visiting a prostitute or worshiping another god? I think we have to let go of the idea that Leviticus is inspired by God. Your accusation that I’m using Leviticus to denigrate same sex intimacy is nonsense. I like same sex sexual intimacy. If I say Westbero Baptist church is homophobic, I’m I using Westboro Baptist to denigrate gays?

            And Wilm, lots of gay and bi-sexual men have had “bed wives” I think condemning them to be stoned is horrific.

            I also think that labeling the vast majority of scholarship on the issue sloppy and fraudulent is irresponsible. Wish as you may, your favoured interpretation is not unquestionably clear and it is hardly surprising that people use this text to conclude Leviticus is homophobic.

            The context of these passages is greater than idolotry, otherwise we have to conclude that Leviticus only condemns adultery, incest, and bestiality when it is done ritually.

          • WilmRoget

            “Wilm, I’ve edited this to reflect a post of yours I missed earlier.”

            Because the snarky original post:
            “Could you expand and explain your question so that we should know why we should
            believe you and ignore a recognized expert in Biblical Hebrew?”

            That relied on fallacy, and ignored the fact that I had expanded and explained.

            “So we do we have a prohibition on homosexuality”

            No, we do not. Unless you want to argue that the prohibitions against heterosexual adultery create a prohibition on heterosexuality. Or do you want to argue that homosexuality is always a matter of sex with a fertility priest?

            “And how us it just”

            Your diversionary tactics accomplish nothing. Why do you feel that you are qualified to determine what is and is not just? Is that not extraordinary egotism on your part? Do you know, absolutely, the total extend of harm caused by prostitution, or adultery?

            ” Your accusation that I’m using Leviticus to denigrate same sex intimacy is nonsense.”

            Quote that accusation. What I asked was:

            Why are you so desperate to make this text revile homosexuals? What is your stake in pushing that fraudulent position?

            ” I like same sex sexual intimacy.”

            So does Larry Craig, and George Rekers. Many homophobes crave same-sex sexual intimacy. That you like same-sex sexual intimacy does not mean you cannot be expressing anti-gay prejudice.

            “I also think that labeling the vast majority of scholarship on the issue sloppy and fraudulent is irresponsible.”

            Again, what you think is not evidence. Nor is your characterization even accurate. “Homosexuality is sin” does not represent the ‘vast majority of scholarship’, it represents one body of scholarship that was been repeated ad nauseum. There is far more actual research rebuking anti-gay theology, far more detail and supporting evidence.

            For example, the word shekab, rendered ‘to lie with’ – scholars point out that the majority of uses in the Bible of examples of abusive, coerced, destructive expressions of sexuality – acts of rape, adultery, manipulation and objectification. Yet your source does not factor that in at all. So intrinsic to his position is the acceptance of perceiving all homosexual intimacy, no matter how loving and consensual as the abusive.

            “And Wilm, lots of gay and bi-sexual men have had “bed wives” I think condemning them to be stoned is horrific.”

            Again, your diversionary tactic accomplishes nothing.

            Your excuse for ignoring the context of these passages only shows dishonesty on your part.

            Neither of these passages condemn homosexuality. They are about adultery combined with temple prostitution. You may argue that the punishment is unjust, but that does not alter the fact that neither passage is about gay men.

          • Michael Wilson

            You wrote,
            ” The really foul thing though is that you “dont think Leviticus is a valuable source of wisdom or represents the will of a god” yet you use it to denigrate same-sex sexual intimacy.”

            I’m not surprised you forgot that, you sound batty as fuck, which eventual is how anyone who beleives the bible is inerrant must eventually sound since the position requires us to dispence with objective reality if it contridicts the bible.

            You are the first person I’ve ever met that both condones homosexuality and believes stoning people to death for adultery is just.

          • WilmRoget

            Your insults don’t help you. And you are using Leviticus to denigrate same-sex sexual relationships. I did not forget, I did require you to substantiate your claim. Now, I’ve asked a couples of times:

            Why are you so desperate to make this text revile homosexuals? What is your stake in pushing that fraudulent position?

            “which eventual is how anyone who beleives the bible is inerrant must eventually sound”

            I have not argued that the Bible is inerrant. Again, you demonstrate that you have nothing but noise and dismissals.

            “You are the first person I’ve ever met that both condones homosexuality
            and believes stoning people to death for adultery is just.”

            Again, your derogatory fantasies only reflect poorly on you, in this case, indicating that you tell lies. Nothing in my post indicates that I believe “stoning people to death for adultery is just”.

            I am getting an impression about why you push the lie that Leviticus condemns homosexuality – that you push this lie to justify dismissing the Bible entirely.

          • Michael Wilson

            And yes, I do think Leviticus also has prohibitions on heterosexual sex as well.

          • WilmRoget

            Don’t play games, it only makes you look bad.

            Yes or no – do the many prohibitions on specific acts of heterosexual sex create a prohibition against heterosexuality?

            Why are you so desperate to make this text revile homosexuals? What is your stake in pushing that fraudulent position?

            Where is the mishkap ishshah in the lives of gay men? Why does Leviticus 20:13 use two different words, ish and zakar, to allegedly connote male, if the intent is to condemn same with same?

          • WilmRoget

            Now, Michael,

            Where is the mishkap ishshah in the lives of gay men? Why does Leviticus 20:13 use two different words, ish and zakar, to allegedly connote male, if the intent is to condemn same with same?

            Why are you so desperate to make this text revile homosexuals? What is your stake in pushing that fraudulent position?

          • Michael Wilson

            WILMROGET:
            “Nothing in my post indicates that I believe “stoning people to death for adultery is just”.”
            WILMROGET:
            “What we have is a very specific situation, a married man committing adultery, cheating on his wife, with a priest of a fertility religion.”

            MIKE WILSON:
            “And how us it just to stone someone to death for visiting a prostitute or worshiping another god?”

            WILMROGET:
            “”And how us it just”

            Your diversionary tactics accomplish nothing. Why do you feel that you are qualified to determine what is and is not just? ”

            It appears you disagree with my belief that stoning adulterers us unjust.

          • WilmRoget

            “It appears you disagree with my belief that stoning adulterers us unjust.”

            No, you are simply reading your malice into my posts. No where do I condone stoning anyone. You lied about my posts.

            How then can you be a credible witness about anything? No wonder you prefer false interpretations of these passages, and dismiss any challenges to that interpretation out of hand.

            So again, why do you so desperately need to make these passages say something they do not say? Why are you so desperate to make this text revile homosexuals? What is your stake in pushing that fraudulent position?

          • Michael Wilson

            I don’t think the prohibitions on certain heterosexual acts in Leviticus constitute a blanket ban on heterosexuality. Like wise Leviticus ban on male on male sex don’t constitue a blanket ban on heterosexuality. For instance female homosexuality is not adressed, and presumably one coukd fantasize about a man while having sex with a woman, o.k. by Leviticus.

            Why does Leviticus use two words for male here? I don’t know but I’m confident in the consensus that this passage indeed referes to homosexual acts between any males so I’m confident thus doesn’t trouble most experts in Hebrew.

            Where is the mishkap ishshah? I think this is an idiom that means to its presumed heterosexual audience sex with a man. Lying with a man as one lies with a man would mean simply laying next to a man. Lying with someone as you lay your wife means boning. Regarding the use of term in rape type situations, I havent checked your claim, but an awful lot of the Bible’s references to sex are of a sordid nature. Though discussing how one shouldn’t rape a man how they rape their wife seems odd.

            I dont think agreeing with the overwhelming consensus interpretation of these passages is desperate. Nor do I think it is fair to label all these schalars that have come to this conclusion sloppy and fraudulent.

          • WilmRoget

            “I don’t think the prohibitions on certain heterosexual acts in Leviticus constitute a blanket ban on heterosexuality”

            Yet you argue that a prohibition on a specific, and rare, circumstance of sex between men – a married man cheating on his wife with a temple priest – creates a prohibition against homosexuality – the entire sexual orientation itself.

            ” I don’t know but I’m confident”

            Your confidence is not evidence.

            “I think”

            Again, that is not evidence. Clearly, you want the text to condemn male-male sexual expression.

            ” Lying with a man as one lies with a man would mean simply laying next to a man.”

            No. Just no. That is extraordinarily desperate and pathetic.

            “I dont think agreeing with the overwhelming consensus interpretation of these passages is desperate.”

            Again, your appeals to your ego are not evidence.

  • Chaprich

    It is not “picking and choosing”. The Holy Spirit leads Christians to reinterpret Scriptures more faithfully, as we interpret the written word through the eyes of Jesus. The same chapter 17 in Leviticus, used as “clobber” evidence against homosexuals (v.22) also says (V.19) “‘Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.” Yet Christians do not prohibit sex during menstruation. Why impose one stricture but not the other?

    • WilmRoget

      “The same chapter 17 in Leviticus, used as “clobber” evidence against homosexuals (v.22)” You’ve got the wrong chapter, it is chapter 18, and verse 22 actually forbids sex with temple priests in one’s wife’s bed.

      Also, verse 21 forbids human sacrifice, and the net result of anti-gay theology, violence, murder, rape etc, is essentially human sacrifice. GLBTQ people have been sacrificed verbally, physically and spiritually to the idol of heterosexism and pride.

  • Paul doesn’t “explicitly teach that homosexuality is a sin,” since neither does he use the modern term you refer to, nor does he use the standard words that referred to people in a same-sex relationship in his time. Nor, moreover, does he indicate that his words, inasmuch as they relate to this subject, are transferrable from the kinds of relationships that were normative in Greek society, to the very different ones we are talking about today.

    It is interesting that you compare faithfully loving another human being to murder and infidelity. Can you not see that, in lumping these together, you are doing something that is quite horrific?