The Abominable Shellfish

The Abominable Shellfish July 16, 2004

Why some Christians hate gays but love bacon

The third book of the Bible, Leviticus, has some wonderful passages. The Jubilee laws outlined in chapter 25, for example, provide an inspiring vision of liberty and justice for all. The 10th verse of this chapter even supplied the inscription for the Liberty Bell: "proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."

The Jubilee laws and the ideals they embody, unfortunately, are nearly wholly neglected and forgotten. Most of the book of Leviticus is similarly neglected.

Yet some passages live on, their teachings still regarded as unwavering and binding.

One such passage is Lev. 20:13, which says (in the King James Version), "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination."

That passage is frequently cited by the spokesmen of the religious right to explain why they're so adamantly opposed to allowing homosexuals to enjoy full civil rights here in America.

The thing is, though, that the book of Leviticus condemns a lot of things as "abominations." The 11th chapter is overflowing with abominations. For example, from verses 10-12:

And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you: They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

The folks over on the religious right cite Leviticus as evidence that homosexuals are an unclean "abomination," yet they have no problem eating at Red Lobster. What gives?

Since many observers have noted this apparent inconsistency (see, for example, I figured I would wade in to try to explain why it is that so many contemporary Christians reject gays while embracing shellfish.

To understand why God is no longer considered a hater of shrimp you have to flip ahead to the Acts of the Apostles, the good doctor's account of the early days of the Christian church.

Acts chapter 10 finds the apostle Peter on a rooftop in Joppa, praying at noon before heading down to lunch.

The impulsive former fisherman has grown into a genuine leader in the early church. At Pentecost, he preached the gospel to people from every corner of the Roman Empire and he is slowly appreciating that this new community is supposed to transcend any ethnic or cultural boundaries. But the goyim still seem to bug him a bit. Especially the Romans.

So God gives him a vision. Peter falls into a trance and sees a vision of a giant tablecloth descending from heaven. The tablecloth is covered with honeybaked hams, cheesesteaks, crab cakes, calamari and lobster.

"Eat up, Peter," a voice tells him

"Surely not, Lord!" Peter says. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."

"Don't call anything unclean that God has made clean," the voice says. "And try the angels on horseback, they're like butter."

This happens three times.

This is generally regarded as an instance in which a New Testament passage seems to set aside a prohibition from the Old Testament. And that's why our friends on the religious right do not feel compelled to eat kosher and do not consider shellfish to be "an abomination."

Fair enough, but there's something else going on in this story. The main point of Peter's rooftop epiphany has nothing to do with diet. The main point of this vision had to do with the people who were about to knock on Peter's door.

Peter is about to meet Cornelius. Cornelius is a gentile. Worse than that, he is a Roman. Worse than that, he is a Roman centurion. Cornelius is about as kosher as a bacon double cheeseburger.

But give Peter credit — he understood the vision. "Don't call anything unclean that God has made clean." Don't call anyone unclean that God has made clean.

Peter does not treat Cornelius as an unclean outsider. He travels to the centurion's house, where he says, "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean."

Peter gets it. In this new community that God is building, this church, there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free. No one is excluded as unclean.

This is the unsubtle point that Luke is hammering home for his gentile friend Theophilus. The surrounding chapters of Acts read like a hyper-P.C. after-school special on celebrating diversity. The church embraces Jews and gentiles, Roman soldiers and slaves, men and women, Africans, Greeks and even a token white European.

In our fondness for Easter ham, we Christians have fervently clung to the surface-level meaning of Peter's vision. But we haven't been as enthusiastic about embracing the larger, more important lesson God was teaching him there on the rooftop. When the "unclean" outsiders knock on our doors, we don't like inviting them in.

That, in a nutshell, is why some Christians happily dismiss one "abomination" while still behaving abominably out of allegiance to another.

(Oh, and what about Leviticus' Jubilee laws? Those were never set aside by anything in the New Testament, but Christians no longer treat them as authoritative because, um … well, because money is pretty and shiny and let's us buy nice things.)

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  • Jesurgislac

    Chuck: If he actually gives full, coherant responses to this questions, I owe everyone on this board donuts.
    That’s a safe bet. But, on the offchance of a miracle occurring, I want one with chocolate frosting.

  • Anthony’s Tiny Brain

    Must.. resist.. logic.
    Must.. hate.. teh.. gay.
    Growing.. weak..

  • Duane

    Chuck: If he actually gives full, coherant responses to this questions, I owe everyone on this board donuts.
    You are clearly just too cheap to buy donuts. Since he hasn’t yet written a coherent sentence there is virtually no chance he will.

  • Duane

    Chuck: If he actually gives full, coherant responses to this questions, I owe everyone on this board donuts.
    You are clearly just too cheap to buy donuts. Since he hasn’t yet written a coherent sentence there is virtually no chance he will.

  • bulbul

    glad to hear we’re cool.
    FYI, it’s 8 kilos down since May. :o)
    Amused me, made me think, made this possibly the bestest blog in the all teh internets.
    Here, here.
    [Pharisees], like the Sophists in Plato, virtually all we know about them is via their critics.
    Well, perhaps those critics were right. I wonder what will the future generations think of the Nazis or Stalin should the only information available come from their critics.
    If he actually gives full, coherant responses to this questions, I owe everyone on this board donuts.
    You are clearly just too cheap to buy donuts. Since he hasn’t yet written a coherent sentence there is virtually no chance he will.
    Duane, for Crispy Creme’s sake, stop being funny and help me look. I want a donut. Chocolate glazed, preferrably.

  • bulbul

    So, have we gotten to the point where people are going to stop responding to Anthony?
    Judging from some of the comments, people are having too much fun to bother.
    I sure as hell am.

  • Duane

    Duane, for Crispy Creme’s sake, stop being funny and help me look. I want a donut. Chocolate glazed, preferrably.
    Anthony is going to fail us just like he’s failing God. Drop me an email with your snail mail address and I’ll ship ya a box of Krispy Kreme chocolate-glazed donuts. Yer probably feeling a mite peckish by now.

  • Duane

    So, have we gotten to the point where people are going to stop responding to Anthony?
    Judging from some of the comments, people are having too much fun to bother.
    I sure as hell am.
    Fred should tack some of these old posts to the main page. Call ’em “Greatest Hits” or something. (Maybe “Abominable To Empathy” ?, hehe.)

  • Jeff

    bulbul — Steve Colbert was talking about having a bridge named for him in Hungary… Any chance you could find out whether that’s being taken seriously or not. (I’ve forgotten which country you live in. Sorry.)
    But Krispy Kremes are not doughnuts. There’s no dough. To me, they represent the Eeeeeevill process American culture applies to food (and music and pretty much everything else) — suck everything good and fun out of it, and sell this bland copy of the original.
    Bavarian Creams (not “Kreme”, thank you very much) and Old Fashioneds (my favorites) — those are doughnuts! Bearclaws and fritters aren’t true doughnuts, but, they sure are tasty!
    KK’s (one K short?) are like White Castle hamburgers — nothing but greasebombs!

  • Jesurgislac

    Bavarian Cream? That would be one of these?
    A Bear claw sounds awfully like an almond croissant to me…

  • Jeff

    A Bavarian Cream is a “solid” doughnut (no hole) that’s filled with a rich cream center. It may have chocolate frosting, but it’s not manditory. Think of it as the doughnut equivalent of an eclair.
    Bearclaws do sound a lot like almond croissants, no you mention it.
    Now I’m in the mood for a raspberry or apricot rugallah… wonder where I could find one. (Back on topic: It would go great with a cheeseburger!)

  • cjmr

    Now I’m craving a Bavarian Cream! And the nearest good doughnut shop is half an hour away and probably doesn’t have fresh ones at this time of night anyway!

  • bulbul

    last time I checked, Colbert was in second place tailing Miklós Zrínyi (aka Mikuláš Zrínsky) and leaving Chuck Norris far behind. The day after that, the ministry website where one could one vote would only allow Hungarian IPs. As far as I know, the whole bridge naming thing wasn’t taken very seriously in the first place – the complete list of candidates included all Star Trek captains, at least two of the three/four musketeers and alike. Colbert’s involvement seems to have put the crown of absurdity on the whole. Then again, it sure did get him a lot of press in Hungary.
    And it’s Slovakia, north of Hungary :o)
    thank you very much for your kind offer. But I’m affraid it would take too long to ship it to Europe and getting it through customs would probably be a problem, too. Where’s One World Government when you need it?
    Oh and peckish doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel. Shame on you, Jesu, for tempting me in such manner!

  • bulbul

    Hm, that Bavarian Cream sure looks/sounds like the stuff you can get around here, too. In fact, the supermarket opens in four hours…
    #$(*%$@^(*&!!!!, indeed.

  • Jeff

    If Chuck Norris is a candidate, they’ll have to name the bridge for him. Otherwise, he’ll just roundhouse kick it down! My second choice would be Janeway Bridge — I hated Voyager, but the idea of a bridge by that name in the middle of Hungary amuses me.
    How did all this silliness start anyway?

  • bulbul

    How did all this silliness start anyway?
    It started on the day the Hungarian government or the municipal government started the poll. They vastly underestimated the pranksterism of the people of Central-Europe which is especially prominent in all matters involving government.
    Just to give you an idea: in the last census in the Czech Republic, several thousand people entered “Apache” in the “ethnicity” column. A number of people did the same in the last Slovak census, only they entered “Eskimo”. I would, naturally, never take part in such nonsense. I mean, come on, “Eskimo” is just not the correct term. It’s “Innuit”.
    Therefore I am proud to announce that as of the 2002 census, I am officially a Hittite.

  • Jesurgislac

    Shame on you, Jesu, for tempting me in such manner!
    Oh, I feel terrible shame. (No, really! I do!)
    I also want a Bavarian Cream doughnut, and there is nowhere that sells them around here.
    But I might be able to get an almond croissant…
    Hey, where did Anthony go? Did we scare him off with our loose talk about pastries?

  • Duane

    Therefore I am proud to announce that as of the 2002 census, I am officially a Hittite.
    It’s really nice to see the Hittites making a comeback.
    Have you thought about where you might re-establish the Hittite homeland?

  • Jeff

    Have you thought about where you might re-establish the Hittite homeland?
    Greenland? (cross-posting is such fun!)

  • wintermute

    There’s a Hittia in Upper Demerara-Berbice, Ghana. Clearly that’s where the Hittites should live.

  • wintermute

    Sorry, I mean Guyana.
    Stupid names.

  • Jeff

    Silly wintermute, trying to sawy us with that “logic” stuff. Obviously, bulbul belongs in Compton, because [rap beat]you know I wanna Hittite, you know I wanna Hittite, you know I wanna Hittite.[/rap beat].

  • bulbul

    Have you thought about where you might re-establish the Hittite homeland?
    Indeed I have. My first thought was Turkey (the original homeland), but then I remembered the Kurds and went “naaaaah”. I then thought it might be a good idea to do it the Herzl way, but do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a benevolent colonial superpower these days?

  • bulbul

    And Jeff, did you catch last Thursday’s Colbert?

  • Jeff

    Nope — I catch both Daily Show and Colbert Report on a hit-or-miss basis. I caught the one with Will Power (” ‘he writes with urban sensitivity’. I think that means he’s black.”), but that was the only recent one.

  • bulbul

    Well then: Colbert revisited the whole bridge-naming thing. Turns out that he won the second closed competition, too. He then brought on the Hungarian ambassador who presented him with the official certificate (official seal and everything) confirming that Stephen Colbert was indeed the number one choice (93k votes or something). But there was a catch: the government stipulated that in order for the bridge to be named after Colbert, Colbert has to
    1. speak fluent Hungarian (which Colbert proved by pronouncing the name of the runner-up, Nicholas Zrinyi, and the word “híd” = bridge)
    2. be dead.
    Colbert (who was left speechless for about two seconds) was then given a Hungarian passport and a 10.000 forint banknote (which, incidentally, bears the portrait of St. Stephen, the patron of Hungary) and invited to check out the construction.
    Needless to say, I was literally rolling on the floor, laughing my ass off.

  • Duane

    2. be dead.
    What I found most amusing was the Hungarian Ambassador’s implication that #2 could be quickly arranged if Colbert would be willing to come to Hungary.
    He seemed serious about that.

  • none

    I know 100’s of Gay Christians

  • Rob

    Commenting on “I know 100’s of Gay Christians”- Gay Christians. Gays for Jesus. Jews for Hitler. Armenians for Ataturk. All the same types of people. All equally self loathing in their servitude to masters intent on their subjugation and destruction.

  • Hopqaero

    information …
    per3va2cho4k per3va2cho4k

  • Neil

    The shellfish argument is full of bad reasoning and lack of understanding of the Bible. If you really care about the truth of this argument, I encourage you to read flaws of the shellfish argument.

  • I’m just here because this post was linked to in a more recent one. I hope Anthony was able to accept that maybe a part of him likes dudes.

  • Ryan Smith

    Next you should address how the Christian prohibitions against incest and bestiality are both only listed in Leviticus as well, right next to the passage about homosexuality, and how good, thinking Christians should get past those pointless restrictions too.


  • Are you suggesting that homosexuality is like bestiality or incest?

  • Ryan Smith


    What I’m stating very clearly is that if you make the argument that Christians should accept homosexuality because Acts tells them to ignore Leviticus, then you could make the same argument about incest and bestiality, since Leviticus is the only place they are condemned, too.

    The upshot here is that it’s obvious the passage in acts lifts dietary restrictions only and doesn’t address sexuality ethics, because

    1.) The Early Christians didn’t change their sexual behavior (from how it was when they were Jews) in response to the passage; insofar as the people who actually WROTE Acts knew what it meant, they didn’t seem to think it means what Fred says it does.

    2.) The passage literally only mentions dietary restrictions, assuming it applies to everything in Leviticus is an unfounded leap in the first place, and

    3.) Every time sexual ethics is mentioned in the New Testament, it is to re-assert them. No sexual prohibition of any kind from the Old Testament is explicitly lifted anywhere in the New Testament, and they are often re-established. So why assume this passage is implying something it doesn’t state, when the Scriptures have plenty of opportunities to flat out state it, but do the opposite? The one semi-exception is when Jesus stops them from stoning the adulteress woman, but even then He says “go and sin no more”- He’s clearly criticizing the punishment, not the notion that adultery is a sin there.

    The author is making an inconsistent, bad argument based on a poor reading of the Bible. He’s able to get away with it because people enjoy the conclusion he comes to. Just because you personally like the conclusion of an argument doesn’t mean the argument is good.

  • Carstonio

    What do you mean by “accept” homosexuality? Gay-bashing Christians use that terminology, implying that they’re being demanded to turn gay. You probably know that no such demand is being made. All they’re being asked to accept is the freedom for consenting adults to choose partners from their own sex or the other sex. The freedom works both ways. One wouldn’t have to hold any particular stance on scripture to refuse to interfere with orientations of others, even if one personally objects to a particular orientation.

    Your point muddies the distinction between any sexual prohibitions on Christians and any rules for Christians on treatment of others who don’t follow those prohibitions. A Christian can believe that homosexuality is a sin and treat gays and lesbians no differently from anyone else.

  • Carstonio

    The Abominable Shellfish argument doesn’t seem convincing enough to me, at least in Fred’s version. Perhaps because whether someone chooses to eat shellfish or abstain, or whether someone seeks partners of the same sex or the other sex, is none of my business. Fred could instead challenge gay-bashing Christians to explain why they don’t want society to regard shellfish consumption as shameful, or to make it illegal.

  • Ryan Smith

    I really wish you guys would stop trying to ‘out’ me as some political enemy that can be disregarded, and actually read the arguments I’m making. Regardless of the moral nature of homosexuality, I’m simply making the point that the blog article uses a terrible argument- Christians can’t disregard what is said in Leviticus, least of all because of the cited (not quoted) passage in Acts.

    I didn’t ‘muddy the distinction’ because it quite simply has nothing to do with the point I’m making, and nothing to do with the point I’m responding to that the blog writer was making. You really seem to be raising side issues to avoid what I’ve said, or perhaps to bait me into saying something that would be easier for you to argue with, which I’m not going to do.

    To repeat: Practically all sexual prohibitions in Christianity originate in Leviticus. An argument for disregarding one on the basis that “Leviticus doesn’t matter anymore” is an argument for disregarding them all. The passage the blog writer cites in Acts doesn’t say anything about sexual prohibition, and there’s no reason to think it was meant to. How Christians ought to treat homosexuals or how homosexuality fits into a Christian view of morality has nothing to do with what I’m saying.

  • Mark Z.

    Every time sexual ethics is mentioned in the New Testament, it is to re-assert them.

    Except that the Torah doesn’t have sexual ethics. It has a long list of things you’re not allowed to do, which can be broadly categorized as “don’t defy your gender role”, “don’t mess up the lines of inheritance”, and “don’t steal a woman belonging to someone else”. It’s a code of civil law, not an ethical statement.

    At no point in the New Testament does anyone say “We should abstain from sexual immorality, as defined by the oddly specific rules about sexual behavior in the Torah.” Jesus’ only statement on the subject is the bit in the Sermon on the Mount about how lustful thoughts are a kind of adultery, which is not a reaffirmation of the Torah. It’s way, way outside the scope of the Torah.

  • Carstonio

    “How Christians ought to treat homosexuals” has everything to do with what Fred is saying. From my reading, Fred isn’t urging Christians to disregard the prohibitions in Leviticus for their own sexual conduct. He’s instead urging them to stop using the prohibitions as justification for mistreating gays and lesbians.

  • You know, it’s entirely possible to throw out everything Leviticus says about bestiality and incest and still come to the conclusion that bestiality and incest are morally wrong. The Bible isn’t the only source of morals one can draw upon, and good thing, or we’d still stoning women to death for being raped, for not being virgins on their wedding night, dragging them into temples to get abortions because we suspect they’re pregnant with the fetus of another man, etc.

  • Ryan Smith

    You can call the prohibitions on certain sexual activities in Leviticus whatever you’d like to call them. The fact remains that the prohibitions on homosexual acts are made in the same way and the same context as the prohibitions on incest and bestiality, and fact remains that the New Testament says not one word to overturn them.

    Jesus’ only word on sex is most certainly NOT limited to the Sermon on the Mount. He also tells the adulteress woman to ‘go and sin no more’, affirming that adultery is still sin, and he also condemns polygamy as never having been God’s intention, but only permitted because Hebrew men of earlier times were weak.

    As an aside, I’d like to hear how you possibly draw a line between civil law statements about private sexual behavior and ethical statements about private sexual behavior when they are made by a religious leader in a [i]theocracy[/i], but that might be a bit of a side track. In fact, I see zero evidence that the Hebrews had any concept of such a distinction at all.

  • Then you believe that those few lines in Leviticus are the only reason that christians should reject beastiality and incest? That had Moses failed to note those down, it would mean that both were entirely moral?

    If the passage in Romans only refers to dietary restrictions, then why did Peter react to it by announcing that God had just told him not to declare anyone unclean and welcoming an unclean Roman into his home? Why didn’t Peter say “God just told me that I didn;’t have to keep kosher, but he didn’t say a word about hanging out with centurions; beat it, pal.”?

  • Ryan Smith

    Peter was a disciple of Jesus, and as such, had seen Jesus spending time with ‘unclean’ folks like Centurians, lepers, tax-collectors, menstruating women, criminals, and Samaritans over and over and over and over and over again. It’s a pretty common theme of Jesus’ ministry you know- even if Peter for some reason needed a special knock on the head to be reminded that it’s ok to associate with Gentiles, the reader of the New Testament shouldn’t, and there’s still no reason to interpret the passage to have ANYTHING to do with sexual prohibitions whatsoever.

    As to you first comment, you still aren’t really addressing my point, but I’ll play your game- if a Christian can ignore Leviticus and still reject bestiality and incest, then they can ignore Leviticus and still reject homosexuality, too. So the blog poster’s argument still fails.

  • Ryan Smith

    That’s all absolutely true.

    However, the blog writer wrote his article arguing from the assumption that if he could show that Leviticus isn’t to be taken as authoritative, then Christians shouldn’t conclude homosexuality is morally wrong. Since bestiality and incest are mentioned in the exact same way in the exact same sense in Leviticus, the same rules apply. Sure, the Christian can come up with some other reasons to reject incest, but then again, they can come up with other reasons to reject homosexuality too.

    And besides, if what the blog writer meant to say was “Just ignore the Bible when you feel like it and come up with your own rules”, then he easily could have just said so. He’s attempting to present a BIBLICAL approach for how homosexuality ought to be viewed, and I’m showing why his approach is incorrect.

  • That isn’t specifically what Fred was trying to do. Fred’s argument is that if the law regarding homosexuality in Leviticus is binding, then so ought to be other things in Leviticus — and yet very few things are. Rules about sex, and… that’s really about it. Nothing about Jubilee, or dietary restrictions… and rarely even that tiny inconsequential law in Leviticus 19:18 that never gets mentioned ever again in the Bible.

    In other posts, where Fred has made arguments specifically for homosexuality, he has tended to focus on verses like that last one. This was more of a blanket argument- “if scripture is authoritative, then why only parts of it?”

  • Ryan Smith

    Except that we already know that not everything in Leviticus is binding, because of the passage in Acts he cited…which, as I’ve pointed out a few times, has absolutely nothing to say about sexual taboos.

    I guess I’m lost on that last bit. When he asks “If scripture is authoritative, then why only parts of it?” is it because he doesn’t know, or because he hopes his audience doesn’t know and he wants to capitalize on their ignorance to make a point?

    In either case, we’re left with a very clear and obvious biblical reason why food taboos are no longer followed, and not the slightest bit of a biblical reason for why sexual taboos ought not still be followed.

    Like I said in other replies, the principle reason that sexual taboos in Leviticus are still taken seriously is that every time sexual ethics are mentioned in the New Testament, it is to reinforce them or strengthen them. There’s not the slightest indication anywhere in the scriptures that people pre-Jesus ought to take a different attitude towards sex than people post-Jesus. You can’t say that about diet, you can’t say that about socialization, you can’t say that about politics, you can’t say that about the celebration of holy days.

    And that’s just if you’re a Protestant. If you aren’t, there’s the whole tradition of how the Scriptures have been interpreted through the ages to consider as well. It’s a phenomenon peculiar to the U.S. and Western Europe that individual Christians think any old way they choose to interpret the biblical is automatically valid.

  • I guess I’m lost on that last bit. When he asks “If scripture is authoritative, then why only parts of it?” is it because he doesn’t know, or because he hopes his audience doesn’t know and he wants to capitalize on their ignorance to make a point?

    Neither. The point he’s making is that people use the Bible as an appeal to authority, but only certain parts of it, and only in very narrow ways, thus Peter’s vision invalidates dietary restrictions, but apparently “anyone” only means “gentiles who behave in very specific ways within the boundaries of which we approve” (and not a word is spoken about Jubilee, because trapping poor people in debt is what drives the economy, don’t cha know).
    Fred would argue that Peter’s vision should be taken broadly, that no one should be using anyone’s sexual habits as a reason to condemn them. The theme of not judging people is also repeatedly emphasized in both the Old and New Testament, but that also gets pitched out in favor of the (comparatively smaller) verses which imply that telling people they’re going to burn in Hell for eternity (something also not actually much upheld by scripture). He emphasizes the love of Jesus as being paramount to understanding Christianity and the perspective of God — that is, if something runs contrary to love, then it cannot be true of God. (Small example- “Westboro Baptist teaches that Jesus failed)

    A number of Fred’s posts are dedicated to pointing out the ways various interpretations of the Bible are consistent or inconsistently applied or what they seem to neglect or outright dismiss. He rarely attacks someone as being wrong, but when he does, it’s when their actions contradict that central message, and even then. If anything, Fred has a tendency to be forgiving to a fault (being quick to forgive something nasty a pastor has said about LGBT people in the past in favor of something they’ve said more recently about upholding mutuality and the need to ease burdens in the lives of the poor, for example) and to emphasize individual worth and a duty to reinforce it, most recently in this post.

    He’s not above picking apart his own beliefs and admitting he just doesn’t know some things, but he less often runs down other people’s beliefs except when they seem to have missed the point altogether (such as when Tony Perkins or the Family Research Council blatantly lies to encourage the denigration of gay people). That’s probably why Christians of many different denominations are comfortable coming here to express their views, along with people of many other religions (and lack thereof).

  • Ryan Smith

    It’s perfectly valid to criticize the way some Christians pick and choose arbitrary interpretations of the Bible to follow. The problem is that Fred is just picking an equally arbitrary interpretation that he happens to like better. There’s still zero reason whatsoever to think Peter’s vision applies to how we regard sexual behavior, and plenty of reason not to think so.

    It’s like you said- people can get moral ideas from plenty of sources other than the Bible. That’s what’s happened here- Fred has his moral ideas of sexuality that he’s gotten from somewhere other than the Bible, and now he’s trying to shoehorn Bible passages into supporting it. “Some people distort the Bible, so my distortion is no worse than any other” is a pretty bad argument.

    If one is actually interested in knowing what the New Testament position on sexual ethics is (either so they can follow it, or purely out of historical interest), all evidence points to it being something very much like I’ve already described in this discussion- Levitican law, minus the harsh punishments.

    And again, I have to stress that for any non-Protestant, the most important non-biblical source of ethics is going to be the Church, and how the Church has interpreted these passages from the very beginning is pretty obvious.

    The theme of ‘don’t judge’ isn’t very prominent in the New Testament. It’s certainly there, but it’s certainly not as dominant as people with certain political persuasions wish it was, and it has to be tempered with the recognition that Jesus and His followers are CONTINUALLY condemning people for things throughout the New Testament- including Paul condemning people specifically for homosexual acts in Romans.

  • Not contradicting the rest, but has a bit of overlap, but illustrates this well enough, I think.