Law and Prayer and Sin and Homosexuality [Questions That Haunt]

Law and Prayer and Sin and Homosexuality [Questions That Haunt] September 6, 2013

Questions That Haunt Christianity came back with a vengeance this week. Wow. I’m especially grateful to William Birch, who asked the question, for being so engaged in the comment section — you should go read them all.

William’s question was:

If God hates homosexuality so much, then why won’t He deliver me from it?

Many commenters took exception to the way that William posed the question. They didn’t like the “If…then…” formula, because if you reject the conditional clause at the beginning, then there’s nothing else to talk about. But everyone worked through that, since this is obviously a personal and haunting question for William (and many others).

For beginners, I’m going to agree with premises that William stated in the comment section. Even though I don’t necessarily wholeheartedly affirm these premises, they’re essential to answering the question in the way that William intends it:

  • The words of Leviticus and the words of Paul cannot be pitted against the words/thoughts of God. If it’s in the Bible, we’re going to assume that God intended it to be there.
  • God does actually hate some things.
  • God does actually answer prayers and deliver people from things that vex them.

With those as background, here’s my response:

I’ve learned a great deal from my friend, Rabbi Joseph Edelheit, as I’ve written many times. The Jewish take on the Bible in general and on the Law in particular is, for me, both fascinating and freeing. Most Jews hold the Hebrew Scripture and particularly the Torah is the highest esteem — higher, I’d say, than many of my fellow progressive Protestants. There is nothing that Rabbi Joseph takes more seriously than Torah.

Nevertheless, neither Joseph nor millions of other Jews unswervingly keep all 631 laws of Torah. Joseph doesn’t eat pork, but I’ve supped with Jews who do. Some Jews keep kosher, some Jews keep semi-kosher. Some Jews drive on Sabbath, some only walk 3,000 cubits. Some wear mixed fiber clothing, some do not.

And yet, in spite of these differences, you won’t find Jews telling other Jews, “You’re not a Jew.” Of course, there are exceptions to this. There are ultra-Orthodox, Hasidic Jews, some of whom think that Reform and Conservative and Reconstructionist and even Orthodox Jews are not really Jews. But in general, you wouldn’t find another rabbi telling Joseph that he’s committed “high treason against the Lord” because he wears polyester.

Or because he supports gay rights, which he does.

My point is this: the Law of Torah is to be read with wisdom and applied with discernment. When groups like God Hates Shrimp parody the inconsistency with with Christians apply the levitical laws, they are pointing out the very thing that I’m saying. And this doesn’t just go for levitical laws. It works with the New Testament, too. Imagine their signs instead reading, “God Hates Women’s Heads,” for Paul condemns for homosexual sex and women having uncovered heads in worship. If you don’t make the women in your congregation cover their heads in worship — and I’m guessing that 99% of Christian churches do not — then you are already reading the condemnations of Paul selectively. You are a relativist. You live on the slippery slope.

Secondly, it’s helpful to note that the Jewish conception of sin is quite different than the Christian conception. I’ve been digging into this for my book on the atonement, and here’s what I’ve found: Jews take the original sin of Eve and Adam to be just that, the first sin. Subsequently, they refers to a sin, and to sins, but not to sin as a concept. Sin is not a darkness of the soul, passed from generation to generation through semen, a la Augustine. Sins are inevitable. Interestingly, the Mishnah teaches the God created repentance before creating the world, so God knew that humans would spread their wings and need a mechanism to get back in concord with God. As I’ve written elsewhere, the doctrine of Original Sin is neither biblical nor believed by Jews.

Thirdly, prayer. William wonders why God hasn’t delivered him from his attraction to other men. This is a hugely important question (and one that I hope to tackle in my book after the atonement book). God’s response to prayer — more pointedly, God’s lack of response to prayer — is one of the most troubling aspects of my faith and practice. Like William, I read the Bible as rife with promises by God that God will answer prayer and God will deliver people from things that hurt them. To change something like William’s sexual proclivities would seem like a pretty minor miracle for God — nothing like growing back someone’s leg or stopping the civil war in Syria. Yet God doesn’t.

Last night I spoke on the phone with a friend. This friend wants to die and has been praying to die for some time. He doesn’t understand why God would make him go on living when he hates this life and wants it over. My response to him — and, by extension, to William — was more pastoral than theological. Maybe God is trying to say something to you by allowing you to keep living. Maybe God is trying to say something to you by not taking away your attraction to men.

God does new things. The Spirit moves, and things change.

It used to be that Christians were certain that a person’s skin color was super important to who they married, what role they played in society, and the like. But Christians don’t think that anymore. The Spirit showed us a new thing

It used to be that most Christians thought that your genitalia and chromosomes were super important to the role you could play in church and society. While some Christians still think that, most don’t. The Spirit showed us a new thing.

It used to be that Christians thought if you were sexually attracted to someone of your own gender, you were disordered. While many Christians still think that, more and more do not. The Spirit is showing us a new thing.

William, in order to accept your homosexuality, you don’t have to give up on the Bible. But you might have to read it more like a Jew, and you might have to be open to the fact that right now, God’s Spirit is showing us something we hadn’t seen before.

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  • Nathan Myers

    Combatting previously confident assertions about the Spirit that one no longer believes by delivering one’s own confident assertions about the Spirit.

    Just an interesting observation.

    • Sharla Hulsey

      I think, based, if you like, solely on the witness of Scripture, that the only thing we can confidently assert about the Spirit is that the Spirit is generally unpredictable and pretty much in the business of doing new things.

      • Nathan Myers

        I think the only thing we can confidently assert about the Spirit is that it accomplishes God’s business; sometimes doing new things, and sometimes reinforcing previous instruction through encouragement or discipline.

  • While this post was greatly beneficial to my soul, this statement was very moving: “Maybe God is trying to say something to you by allowing you to keep living. Maybe God is trying to say something to you by not taking away your attraction to men.”

    Think and read the Bible like a Jew — who knew that could be the paradigm shift I’ve needed all along 🙂 I’m very grateful for your response, for your willingness to tackle such a complex subject, and I look forward to reading your work on the same in the future! God bless, as always!

    • NateW

      Hi William — I know what it is like to cry out for God to come near and deliver me from certain things over and over again only to find myself anguished in ever deepening despair, silence, and isolation. It is a lonely place to be.

      I have “been a christian” nearly all my life, but what I have finally begun to understand, what has finally begun to give me strength to start to deal with the sins I struggle with (not meaning to make a statement about whether or not homosexual attraction/activity is a sin) is really, truly, deeply, knowing that I am exactly who, where, and what I am supposed to be in this very moment. Right now, there is no one else that I should be, not even anyone else that I COULD be. There is only who I AM. I am not One-Who-Must-Become, no, I am simply One-Who-Is-Loved.

      From this understanding, renewed day by day and moment by moment, comes rest for my soul, peace for my mind, and love for my neighbor. I no longer need to be one who knows correct things about God or thinks correct thoughts about Him. I no longer am one who must fix every broken part within myself. My only task is to have faith, in each present moment, that every hair on my head is numbered, that the very depths of my heart, soul, and mind are known to God—and that I am loved anyway.

      Eastern Orthodox theology says that Sin is exactly NOTHING. It is like darkness. Try as I might I cannot empty my room of darkness, I can only open the shutters and fill it with light. Being One-who-is-loved has finally allowed me to open the shutters. I am loved WITH all the darkness I hide within, not after it has been dealt with. Knowing this, believing this, acting in faith that this is true, and loving others such that they come to believe the same about themselves—this is healing and hope and life. Fill the room with light and darkness cannot help but flee. This isn’t to say that it is easy or automatic. For all my life I will be finding deep dark shadows that must be exposed to the light of God’s love for me. Moment after moment, time after time, I find myself failing to believe, demanding love from others, forgetting that all love is already mine, turning my back to the light when it becomes too intense to bear. How amazing is it though that i need not bear the burden of the light, nor the shame of my sin. i need not be anxious about becoming perfect so long as I have faith that I am perfectly loved. In that, I think, is where I find the perfection of Christ living in me, being perfected in me as I learn to rest in His love.

      • Nate,

        As much as I liked the Dylan lyrics, I liked your comments even more so! Thank you for them, friend.

      • Veronica Rogers

        I love this response! I am perfectly loved..I love that! Thanks so much!

    • NateW

      Hi again William – Wanted to share these lyrics from Bob Dylan’s song “Every Grain of Sand.” His words have meant a lot to me. Of course the printed words don’t do the song justice, you really need to listen to it. : )

      In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
      When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
      There’s a dyin’ voice within me reaching out somewhere
      Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair

      Don’t have the inclination to look back on any mistake
      Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break
      In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
      In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand

      Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear
      Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer
      The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
      To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay

      I gaze into the doorway of temptation’s angry flame
      And every time I pass that way I always hear my name
      Then onward in my journey I come to understand
      That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand

      I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
      In the violence of a summer’s dream, in the chill of a wintry light
      In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space
      In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face

      I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
      Sometimes I turn, there’s someone there, other times it’s only me
      I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
      Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand

  • Homosexuality is not a curse to be delivered of. It is a self-delusion to be fixed within the self.

    And “If you don’t make the women in your congregation cover their heads in worship — and I’m guessing that 99% of Christian churches do not — then you are already reading the condemnations of Paul selectively. You are a relativist. You live on the slippery slope.”

    Tony, when did you become a Catholic Radical Traditionalist Sedevacantist?

    God doesn’t do new things. Humans think God does new things, because humans have a different view of the time axis than God does.

    • NateW

      “God doesn’t do new things. Humans think God does new things, because humans have a different view of the time axis than God does.” Ok, sure, what is has already been, and what will be has already been, Ecclesiastes chapter 3 and all that, but there is nothing wrong with speaking about God from a human perspective. We are humans. What God has been doing eternally for all of time can most certainly be new. Praise God that we can speak of him in human terms! We have a God who eternally condescends to be in relationship with those he loves and rejoices in every childish and imperfect thought we have about Him. So, God doesn’t do new things? I do new things every day and as I walk with the Spirit It is no longer I who do them but Christ in me. As the world changes around me the path upon which I carry my cross twists and bends, but always heads up hill, always remaining narrow. His new mercies towards me are new every morning and great is His faithfulness.

      In a very real sense, I think, what God does/has been doing/is doing/will be doing is making things new. God is renewing creation, renewing hearts, renewing life, renewing minds, ETERNALLY. He never changes, He is always new. The question is whether we have eyes to see and ears to hear so that we can recognize where the eternally flowing stream is bubbling up around us.

      Isaiah 43:19 (ESVST)
      Behold, I am doing a new thing;
      now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

      • The real question is whether or not we, in our post-Christian and post-Modern society, have lost sight of what is right and wrong to the point that we don’t know sin from virtue anymore.

        The flowing stream will also dash you into the rocks.

        • Jane Newsham

          But how can it be wrong to treat people with respect,to make them welcome in our church congregations, to journey with them as they find faith, deepen discipleship, take their place int the Body of Christ and find those works that God has ordained for them to do – leaving God to convict of any sin, just as we leave God to convict of sin in any other group of people? Sometimes our churches are not particularly ‘safe spaces’ for gay people and we need to work on remedying this.

          • It seems to me that our churches are not particularly safe spaces for heterosexuals these days. Especially not evil “breeders” like myself who refuse to give in to the “we need fewer people on this planet” propaganda.

            But then again, we deserve it right? We deserve to have our families torn apart by divorce, to have our children recruited by homosexuals and lied to that one homosexual rape makes them into homosexuals. We deserve it because some redneck idiots killed a homosexual 15 years ago, right?

            • Gregory Peterson

              Ah, the smell of the politics of privilege and resentment… It’s like fine perfume to some people.

              • Hatred of privilege without actually looking at the reason for the privilege is just another form of intolerance.

                • cajaquarius

                  In this case, a good intolerance akin to being intolerant of people who abuse their spouse. I still see you are calling my romantic inclinations and those of people like me “self delusion”. If you don’t care enough to recognize our attractions as real, why should we tolerate you breeding? It will only poison the planet with more stupid people like you.

            • Giauz Ragnarock

              I don’t know that anyone will be back here to read this, but even as someone who is not gay, I take great offense to this. “Breeders” is used like a counter-taunt to how some Christians first called homosexuality “a culture of death” (because all gays are sterile and developmentally disabled by some scrappy logic), and, yes, there is fear that one day our population will exceed the nutrients needed to support it not to mention land to support us and the nutrients and waste disposal (there’s nothing easy, simple, and good about looking into any of it. It’s math and reality screwing over our ideals).

              As for deserving bad stuff, that’s Christianity. Jesus calls Gentiles dogs and swine, and Jews sons of the “slanderer” (rendered as devil). As my pastor says, “we all deserve to be set on fire by Jesus and never allowed to die” (paraphrase). Jesus also outlines that his will is for Christians to be persecuted. No persecution has happened to you, but you don’t trust that Jesus won’t make sure things go accordingly?

              As for your homosexual propaganda, I don’t see how male-male or female-female rape would make anyone gay. Gay describes both who one is attracted to and who one is not attracted to (just like straight). Whether you are raped at some point in history is irrelavent (some gay men have described the straight sex in the marriages they tried to maintain as feeling like being raped. Apparently you aren’t straight just because you had consensual straight sex over the course of years either).

              The statement about rednecks is just degrading to your love of your brothers in Christ. Non-believers don’t string a gay guy up on a fence and beat him to death because Jesus will torture the gay guy forever after he dies. Non-believers don’t write death threats to a gay guy being made a bishop. Non-believers don’t take joy in raping a gay boy in the school gym showers, pissing on him, and then blaming him for when he hangs himself in his parents basement. Non-believers don’t contribute to nearly doubling the amount of young people impoverished and homeless.

              You are responsible for what good is seen (whether you believe gay sex is sin or not) and what evil is rebuked.

              • Veronica Rogers

                Very good discussion…good points…I agree to the last part especially…I know many lesbians and gays who would gladly go to church if they were accepted in one, would gladly change if they could and leave where they are living if they could but the church tells them to get out and stop the sin but they won’t take them in and they have no place else to go and after years of an established relationship very much like a marriage, shared finances and responsibility and payment for rent etc, they expect them to just leave and live on the streets. This lack of consideration for the facts that the PEOPLE in these ‘wrong’ so-called sinful relationship and lifestyles are just that: PEOPLE, and they need a place to go to to call home when they leave or they will go right back into it. I know a scripture verse that reminds me of this…it talks about when a demon is chased out of a host it looks for a home an finding non outside returns to the clean home it was in and finding it empty it brings company and the state of that person is worse than at first. I know what I am talking about. This is exactly what happens: you don’t know it but many try to get out and it is worst because they have no one to help them stay clean and no where to turn most of the times. If you in box me expressing concern and desire to really help someone, I MAY tell you of some who need housing NOW and have no choice but to stay in it…or get worse out there on the streets.

            • Veronica Rogers

              @Theo: No darling, you don’t deserve it, at least you don’t deserve it any more than gays and lesbians deserved to be as they are…I feel your fear and anger and pain but may I correct you babes? Homosexuals do not ‘recruit’ children..or anyone else..that is a myth and a vicious lie …it’s as bad as if I were to say this: “you want your kids for yourselves to fuck in secret while you parade in church like you are perfect. Then when they turn out gay you find a scapegoat to blame while hiding your sin of incest”. See how THAT hurts? You are not a child abuser, are you Theo? Good, so, then don’t say mean things you have no proof of, ok? Let’s be real and human and adult about this: we are here to find truth, answers and help for those who need it: not bring more of the hurt that is already out there, in here. Am I right or am I in the wrong planet? Homosexuality is not to blame for divorce or kids deciding to tell a parent what they were already going through inside secretly their whole life…keep perspective and love your kids no matter what they are…love your spouse and your God and love will stay in your heart to love the ones who are different from you.

  • Andrew Watson

    I have a similar question. If God hates adultery, why has he not removed my attraction to other women? or is there a “specia”l Jewish way to look at this one to?

    • Andrew Dowling

      If you can’t discern a difference between innate attraction and choosing to hurt/betray someone else, then your moral compass is due south buddy.

      • Andrew Watson

        That’s what I’m talking about, Gay, Straight, Married, Single, the problem is we all think with our pants.
        Dan and Steve meet in a bar, go somewhere and have sex.
        Dan and Stephanie meet in a bar go somewhere and have sex.
        which of these, if either is a sin by Christian standards?
        The main difference I see is Dan and Steve can’t get married later in most states.

        • cajaquarius

          Homosexuality isn’t all about sex. I want a monogamous romantic connection
          I want someone to grow old with. Please try to understand what you are asking of us is vastly harder than what God asks of you. And it is arbitrarily asked; be alone forever. Die alone. Why? Because God said so. Cheating hurts others, my love doesn’t.

      • Veronica Rogers

        You think ALL lesbians and gays CHOOSE to be as they are? You think they all set out to HURT the people they get involved with?!?! Maybe I should just stop right here…cause I may choose to hurt you…or no maybe I will actually try to tell you something you need to hear. Ok…so when a woman who has always been attracted to women tries to stay alone and celibate and her only lover BEGS her NOT to leave her ‘for God’ or she will die (whether of loneliness or real sickness brought on by the stress of the break up) is she making a choice to hurt or to help save that life and the lives of maybe her children too? You all talk with such ignorance – why don’t you sit down with a gay or lesbian and actually ASK them some question like you really give a damn Andrew? Shit! You talk rubbish based on ignorance of the facts of what it is really like being gay/lesbian. Grow a brain to match your self righteous so called conscience!

    • Veronica Rogers

      lol..I love this one..thanks eh. I have another one: if God hates masturbation: why did He allow us to …um…”discover ourselves”? Maybe we would have no homosexuality if everyone just let us all #&#)% ourselves when we got horny! He allows incest, child abuse, rape and fornication: why not stop all them wretches ?! Nah…”only homos and lesbos are wrong”..or so it seems…homosexuality is all of a sudden the only sin in the world…while the Deacon screws the church secretary while his wife is at work.

  • S_i_m_o_n

    Why read the Bible more like a Jew when the Jews of Jesus’ time (and non-Messianic Jews of today) read it but fail to see Jesus in it (John 5:39).

    • Sharla Hulsey

      Because Jews AS Jews are still God’s people, still living under God’s promise (Romans 9–11), and because they, like us, are people of the Book, we have the potential to learn something from how they approach and interpret Scripture. Our Regional Minister (middle judicatory in the Disciples of Christ) has a phrase he uses a lot: “bold humility.” What he means by that is that we may confidently speak of our faith and our understanding of God, etc., but also recognize that others may also speak confidently of theirs, and–especially if we and they disagree–we might actually learn something from one another if we spend more time listening and less time trying to convince others that WE have The Truth and THEY are Doing It Wrong.

  • Steve

    Similar questions could be asked any time we desire something we earnestly believe is good for us, but do not receive it in the manner we ask. Personally, I don’t see why we have to treat sexual sins as categorically different from any other.

    I would love to be completely rid of all my temptations, all my imperfections, and be perfectly holy. Doesn’t God want that too? Yet… I don’t have it. So am I to assume that God is telling me that everything I do is super-awesome and not sinful anymore? Woohoo!

    Or perhaps, it’s that grace isn’t magic. The purpose of grace is to make us holy. And if struggling, falling, getting back up, and continuously renewing my walk with God will make me holy, then I shouldn’t be surprise that’s what I get. God is Father, not uncle.

    Paul experienced something similar: “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:7-9.

    • cajaquarius

      The difference with homosexuality is that everyone craves love from birth. We are asked to go without it, forever, and aren’t even given a good reason. I can see a rational for many sins being wrong. Not this one – this one reeks of human invention.

      • Steve

        Three thoughts come to mind.

        First: The deprivation of love? As in, none at all? I’ve got more than a handful of single friends who aren’t involved in sexual relationships. They experience the love of God, the love of family, the love from ordinary friends, and love from deep friendships (think Frodo and Sam). These are all very real, very fulfilling types of love. They are very happy, fulfilled people despite not having romantic love.

        A student of mine once confided in me that he felt unloved because he had no girlfriend. I did my best to show him that the Devil desires for us to treat as nothing these other types of love which are so fundamental to the human experience.

        Second: Very rarely in my life have I had the self-awareness to say, “You know this thing I’m currently doing? This thing I enjoy and have integrated into my life? Yeah, I am also convinced that it is morally wrong.”

        That is to say… I don’t think the best perspective from which to assess the moral character of something is one which is currently engaged in it. The ability of the human mind to rationalize is incredible, and its difficult to consciously tell when we’re doing it.

        Something to chew on.

        Third: By rational reasons, you probably mean, “Who it hurts”. Your criteria, if I’m guessing right is, “who does it hurt?” You look at the situation of homosexuality and say, “Well, no one in particular”

        That is the criteria most often posed in 21st century America, but it hasn’t always been the case. Perhaps there is a different criteria.

        • cajaquarius

          Response to the First: There is a large difference in the love shared between a lifelong romantic partner and that shared between a mother and son, friends, or God. Why do Christian couple stay married once the kids move out, otherwise? Why not just go your separate ways when the marriage is done, seeking love from friends and family? I am being asked to grow alone, devoid of the non-sexual physical affection of a special someone that others take for granted, all because I am inherently different in the focus of my romantic attraction. I love all my family and friends but I am getting older and my heart years to connect to a special someone all the same.

          Response to the Second: I have never actually had sex with another man because I am monogamous by nature and am looking for a life commitment. I am not engaging in homosexual acts of any kind. If you want me to buy into your moral view you will have to sell me on why me cuddling with another guy is so morally reprehensible.

          Response to the Third: What other criteria is there, rationally speaking? The past was less moral than the present as evidenced by the fact we no longer have bloodsport and slavery. There is such thing as war crimes in out era. Would you suggest we bring phlogiston back into chemistry, simply because it is the oldest explanation for why things are or are not flammable and to what degree?

          • Steve

            1) I think it’d be good to find a good Roman Catholic priest and ask him how he handles it. Or perhaps read a blog from a person whose situation even more precisely mirrors your own:

            2) Well, hopefully the principle made sense.

            3) Yes, in fact. I also think the Ptolemaic model of astronomy is vastly superior to the Copernican model. Now stop interrupting my attempts to turn lead into gold.

            In seriousness, an alternate means of looking at the morality of something is “natural law”. That doesn’t mean, “Do whatever you find in nature”. It means examining something and trying to find the purpose for which it was made. As a theistic principle, it means trying to find the purposes which God built into nature. Modern secular western philosophy eschews the use of natural law, to its impoverishment.

            • Giauz Ragnarock

              Are we to only look at the physical and not psychical structures? My mind (granted built with many gaps and flaws so that Jesus remains relevant) is primarilly designed for drawing me to women (my opposite sex). You, Steve, shouldn’t be looking at me (call my mind a pickup truck) and cajaquarius (call his a minivan) as similar constructs. Our minds each were obviously made for different purposes. Assuming the three of us are all men, we physically have similar spec’ed multi-purpose hardware, but how our programming is designed determines what purpose(s) the hardware can fulfill.

            • cajaquarius

              1: I have actually discussed it with a priest. A friend of mine from high school became a priest, fully ordained and everything, so the church has never been far from my heart as I have family in it. In essence, they are “called to” be priests, from what I have discovered. God chooses them, they don’t choose to be priests; that is how at least two I have spoken to would pit that. Having followed my friend’s adventures through seminary I was privy to at least the trials and tribulations as he kept us updated in Facebook. And, from what I learned, the church makes it very clear what is expected and, sometime, people walk away right at the end of it when they realize they have not been called to that life.

              I have read the work of Steve Gershom (Or Joseph Prever I suppose, now) and have found much of his wisdom enlightening. That said, I find his experience to still be too different from mine – his is clearly a calling. He mentions in many posts how he often has (or had, but probably still has to today) fight the urges to become too intimate or sexual with a man. He seems more a man’s man and less of a romantic, craving sex more from a male companion than cuddles, care, and softer stuff. I simply don’t feel called to their path. I am not a leader, like these men and priests and I have always functioned my best when working with someone I connect to.

              2: I do understand. We live in a culture that is rife with selfish, narcissistic, and unhappy people who use each other for all things, including sex. I know the dangers of rationalizing bad behavior so I did understand your intent.

              3: Ahaha fair enough~ I think people are naturally healthier when they are partnered as they get older. I think truly agape love is natural as is warm romantic love. I will admit, sexual love is only capable of binding two together with same sex and lacks the life component so could be problematic, but if nature didn’t intend us to be pushed together – if we didn’t possess that deep craving for someone special to share our lives with – then I think the monogamish crowd would have a point and monogamy would be impossible and unnatural. I know it isn’t, though. We are more than ichor and meat, after all. Too often we focus so much on the flesh as if it were us.

    • Veronica Rogers

      Interesting…you have some good points…though you sound like another church going ‘christian’ without the Christ…hey I’m not here to bash Christians …only to say my truth: I have been born-again and raised in church since 1982 but I’ve been what I am since 1971 – first evidenced at birth then in pre-school (read my novel…it will be more interesting) so I am not just saying something for saying something sake and no one knew or cared (but, I suppose, the God we both serve). I know that verse well – my pastor and siblings all discussed it in Bible school…question is: wasn’t Paul’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ a sickness God chose not to heal so He can prove that His strength is made perfect in weakness? I don’t mean to create an argument or animosity but with all that I went through and am still going through and all the churches and Bibles and Bible schools I’ve been to and studied under and all the Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists, teachers and Apostles that I went to for help and deliverance: NONE were able to help me and I’ve been searching for a looonng longgggggg time for ‘deliverance’ – I even was told deliverance must be wanted (such BS I’ve never had the indecency to answer) but if I do not want it why seek it for decades? To prove it can’t be found? Hogwash! So my …sexual status is a ‘thorn’ huh? – well then I guess that makes me one real strong rose …thanks for sharing though…I will keep the thoughts in mind and share them with the thousands of others I can.

      • Steve

        The precise nature of Paul’s “thorn” is left undisclosed by the text…and I think that’s for the best. It could have been anything, so we can all relate to it.

  • Marcus

    Hello Toby,
    I’ve just finished watching the video that you uploaded on the NALT website. One phrase intrigued me…where you said that the future of Christianity lies with people “who see the Bible as a theological document…not a rule book for living”. That last bit was what struck me. What then is the Bible if not a rule book? Can you expound more on that please.

  • “maybe god is trying to say something”

    communication is a very important thing in relationships, and i don’t think “trying” or “something” are words that indicate competence on the part of the one trying.

    there are also other “maybe” speculations to consider, of course.

  • Steven Kurtz

    “God’s lack of response to prayer — is one of the most troubling aspects of my faith and practice.” The l
    ectionary text this Sunday is Luke 18:1-8. Irony (or deconstruction?): if prayer worked like the story suggests (how much more would God respond than this unjust judge?) then why would anyone think they needed to tell the story of the demanding widow? Unless it feels like the asking is going without effect. If it worked like the story implies, then there is no need for the story to respond to. But there is the need, because we feel like the ignored widow. So, does the story answer it? Looking forward to your future book on prayer.

  • Veronica Rogers

    I have read The Bible several times but I cannot say I benefited much from the words…”read the Bible like a
    Jew” considering how messed up some Jews are already – how can they be
    used as an example to us when they are murderous bigots in their own
    messes? But anyway, thanks for the attempt to distract all depressed LGBTQI’s who really want to do the right thing but really have not been successful at changing into what the rest of the world wants them to be and says The Bible says they should be…I was also disappointed that you seemed to have become exhausted trying to answer the question at hand and gave up – your ending was abrupt and so sudden it seemed someone stopped you from going further…or is this how you get us to come back for more?