A LOVE SUPREME

I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Not that there's anything wrong with that!

A few clips from a classic Seinfeld episode:



At this point, I think it is quite obvious that the greater American culture holds Jerry's statement that "people's personal sexual preferences are nobodies business but their own!" This clip is an excellent summary of where the culture is at. Yet at this point, the debate on sexual orientation is very strong among Christians and within the church.

We are all adults here, so most of us in this year of 2007 have moved past the paranoia of stereotypes and exaggerated rhetoric. I enjoy a good fight as much as the next person, but perhaps we have reached the point of rational and civil discourse - well, at least for the most part. (After all, none of us want the classic Melody/Jason confrontations to end any time soon!)

So, let's direct the question somewhere intelligent: How would you recommend that a Christian go about deciding whether "there's anything wrong with that"? The related question is, How would you recommend that the church go about deciding whether "there's anything wrong with that"?

[Edit: The above questions are open to all, by the way. This is not a strictly "in house" Christiany-type forum.]

Even for those of us in conservative churches in small conservative towns, we will not be able to hide from the issue for too much longer. What happens when a homosexual shows up at your church doorstep? Don't look at them and hope that they go away? What about when groups of gay Christians start meeting together and form a church in our safe, little small towns? Then what? Give the youth group paintball guns and toilet paper and tell them to go do the Lord's work?!?!?!?

79 comments:

Jason Hesiak said...

Give the youth group paintball guns and toilet paper and tell them to go do the Lord's work?!?!?!?

I say we do that a Melody's blog :)

Emily said...

When you say homosexual, I'm going to assume the person is physically involved w/ others of the same sex, as opposed to just struggling w/ thoughts in the mind.

I think if a homosexual shows up at a church, the congregation/leaders should treat them as any other unsaved person who is seeking something. Focus on the big picture of God/sin, etc. If the person claims to be a Christian, then there should be some kind of gentle confrontation/discipleship concerning the specific issue of homosexuality.

From a legal standpoint, homosexuals should be allowed to form whatever groups they want to. But socially, as people, what should we do...? I don't know if we target them as a large group, but as we meet them and develop relationships, the above confrontation I think would apply.

This seems to be a starting point.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Jason,

Actually, her site already kind of looks like it has been shot up with paint balls - it has colored circles all over it. Did you shoot her blog with a paintball gun?

Jonathan Erdman said...

Emily said: I'm going to assume the person is physically involved w/ others of the same sex, as opposed to just struggling w/ thoughts in the mind.

Is it sinful to be attracted to a member of the opposite sex?

What about thinking that someone of the opposite sex is hot or sexy?

Em: If the person claims to be a Christian, then there should be some kind of gentle confrontation/discipleship concerning the specific issue of homosexuality.

Would the above "confrontation" consist of truly listening to the other point of view, or would it be more of a one-way monologue? I think it would be important to be realistic about the goals of a meeting of this sort. For example, some believers would "confront" under the guise of "conversation," when in reality they have no intention of listening. I don't necessarily have a problem with someone who doesn't listen b/c we all have our non-negotiable beliefs, it is just disingenuous not to be honest about one's intentions.

It sounds like what you have in mind here is just kind of making it clear (in a gentle way) where you stand on the issue. Question: Is the gay issue a non-negotiable?

What if someone is a gay Christian?

samlcarr said...

Jon, I'm for reexamining exactly why the church and conservative Christian culture is so homophobic. Is there really a biblical issue, an issue that defies the sorts of biblical solutions that we have 'discovered' for stuff like slavery and women's equality?
Even if our conclusion is that homosexual relationships are somehow sinful, in the final analysis, is there anything about 'homosexual sin' that makes it unforgivable or puts it in a markedly worse, harder to deal with different category than heterosexual sin?

Jason Hesiak said...

Even if our conclusion is that homosexual relationships are somehow sinful, in the final analysis, is there anything about 'homosexual sin' that makes it unforgivable or puts it in a markedly worse, harder to deal with different category than heterosexual sin?

Yeah. Contemporary American bi-partisan politics. Do note my sarcasm.

Jason Hesiak said...

Concerning Melody's blog...the secret's out. And no I'm not sorry. I'm glad I did it! Hah!! How's that for contrition? :)

ktismatics said...

It's a good question -- if a majority of people have a gut feel that there is "something wrong with that," and both the Old Testament and Paul condemn it, what would cause anyone inside the church community to rethink the issue?

Melody said...

I don't have enough time to deal with orginal topic - except to say

1. I love that episode

2. I had an older co-worker who was talking about some gay men in a slightly dissaproving way and then gasped, "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"

On the topcic of my blog - there is no way that Jason is enough of a sharp-shooter to make my blog look that awesome.

samlcarr said...

What convinced us that slavery is wrong? The entire bible is riddled with it and approvingly so too.

I'm not at all convinced that the hermeneutical questions have been handled properly and even the translations looked biased to me.

Then there's the basic questions like, could it be a genetic predisposition? If God gives someone a homosexual orientation to start out with, what right do we then have to demand that they change?

Then there's the whole thing of love, loving relationships, fidelity within committed loving relationships, intimacy...some people can have all that and some people simply can't?

Why not let consenting adults decide for themselves what's right and what's wrong - and love them even when we don't agree?

Emily said...

Jon: Is it sinful to be attracted to a member of the opposite sex?
What about thinking that someone of the opposite sex is hot or sexy?


I'll assume you meant of the same sex. But either way, same or opposite, I don't think anyone can control their initial reactions to someone. Therefore, it is not sinful to be attracted to anyone, whatever the circumstance. It is when people allow themselves to think about or do things that God disapproves of that is is sinful.

In terms of the confrontation/discipleship, I believe listening to them is important. Many times there are reasons people are lead to certain sins. These can be key to understanding them and helping them. But there is no waivering on sin. If God lists something in the Bible as wrong, it's wrong.

The gay Christian does exist. It is possible, to sin and be a Christian. But it should not be ignored.

Concerning slavery... If I'm correct, the Bible does not specifically advocate slavery. But it doesn't condemn it. But it wasn't until "recent" times that slavery became something about "I'm better than you so I want to own you." Back then it was about one people conquering another people. Or one people owing large debts to other people, so they became their slaves. There is a difference.

Concerning women's equality, the Bible places a higher value on women than most other people at the time. When Jesus rose from the dead, women were the first to find out. A woman was the first to see Jesus after he rose. Unheard of at the time.

I have a hard time saying whether homosexual sin is the same as or worse than heterosexual sin. In the end, all forms of sin is filth in the eyes of God and keeps us from Him unless we accept His grace that He offers. Continuing, I believe sins that involve premeditation or doing something that is especially "unnatural" do have extra stigma on them.

I don't believe God gives anyone certain predispositions to any kind of sin. But I do believe some people tend to struggle with some sins, while others struggle with completely different ones.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Sam:
Is there really a biblical issue, an issue that defies the sorts of biblical solutions that we have 'discovered' for stuff like slavery and women's equality?....I'm not at all convinced that the hermeneutical questions have been handled properly and even the translations looked biased to me.

Ktismatics:
if a majority of people have a gut feel that there is "something wrong with that," and both the Old Testament and Paul condemn it, what would cause anyone inside the church community to rethink the issue?

Interesting that you should mention those two other issues, Sam. It also goes to Ktismatics' question as well: Within the biblical text slavery and women's inequality/oppression is regulated and not condemned. And yet as a church we would recognize that there has been positive movement in these areas. Hence, the question is whether or not we should reexamine other areas where there might be movement towards equality.

Bill Webb published a very thoughtful book a few years back entitled Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis. In it he sees a "Redemptive" movement that explains (hermeneutically) how the church can now hold a strong position on women's equality (in all things, even ministry/leadership) and slavery, despite the fact that the Bible does not explicitly call for these things. His contention is that there is a redemptive hermeneutic: That God was working within the culture to bring equality.

Webb concludes that homosexuality is a moral issue such that it is not open to reexamination in the same sense. However, I think that he brings to light the issue, and provides good grounds to begin discussion on the homosexual issue, not to mention gender equality. After all, there have always been people who have used Scripture to justify slavery and the inequality (and even oppression) of women. Hence, I think it is critical to keep reexamining Scripture and discussing how it applies to the contemporary context.

I very highly recommend Webb's book. It has been the source of a good deal of discussion. A well written and thoughtful work.

Jonathan Erdman said...

The following are a few quotes on slavery taken from the Anchor Bible Dictionary. ABD is usually a fairly even-handed (see non-Evangelical!) perspective, though it is by no means the last word on an issue. However, the following citations can perhaps provide some food for thought.

Slavery in the ancient Near East:
Slavery was a further form of personal dependence and extra-economic coercion. The slave was a person deprived of the means of production and was merely a thing belonging to his master with regard to whom he had only duties and no rights whatsoever. The institution of slavery probably came into existence at the end of the 4th millennium and developed along different lines in different countries, depending on concrete historical conditions. Its forms also changed in one and the same country within the course of time.

In all probability, slaves were originally foreigners, mainly prisoners of war....Beginning with the earlier periods, debt slavery was one of the basic sources of replenishing the slave population.....The sale of children of free persons into slavery was permitted in Sumer, Babylonia, and Assyria in the 3d and 2d millennia. In Assyria of the 1st millennium, parents could sell their children and brothers could sell their sisters.

The institution of slavery had a profound influence on the social structure, ideology, law, social psychology, morals and ethics of the various cultures of the ANE. However, the idea of a slave as exclusively the object of rights and as a person outside regular society was apparently alien to the laws of the ANE. The institution of slavery was taken for granted not only by the free persons but also by the slaves themselves, who never demanded its abolition. Therefore ideology of the ANE contains no condemnation of slavery or any protest against it.

Slavery in the Old Testament and corresponding time period:
In the Deuteronomic law a clear distinction is drawn between slaves of Hebrew and foreign descent. Debtors who were Hebrews and sold themselves in utmost need could be held in slavery for only six years, after which they should be set free without any pay (Exod 21:2; Deut 15:12; Jer 34:14). If a Hebrew slave was married when he was forced into slavery, his wife went free with him after a six-year period (Exod 21:3; Lev 25:40–42). If his master gave him a wife, she and any children remained with the master and only the slave was set free (Exod 21:4). If, however, the slave was content with his master and chose to remain with his family, the master was instructed to bring him to the doorpost and to pierce his ear with an awl and then he was to be his slave for life (Exod 21:6; Deut 15:16–17). If a Hebrew sold his daughter into slavery, she could not obtain freedom even after six years of work. Her master, however, had no right to sell her to a foreigner. If he did not want to treat her as his concubine or to give her in marriage to his son and if he deprived her of food, clothes, and conjugal rights, she could go free without any payment.

It seems, however, that these laws were not always observed. For example, during Zedekiah’s reign it was decided to proclaim an act of freedom for the slaves of Hebrew descent, and nobody objected to this decision; however, afterward they changed their minds and continued to use the labor of the persons whom they had freed (Jer 34:8–11, 14–17). As seen from the book of Nehemiah (5:3–5), in 5th-century Judah, some free persons were forced to mortgage their fields, vineyards, and houses to escape starvation, or to borrow silver to pay the king’s taxes, delivering their sons and daughters into slavery.

One of the chief sources of privately owned slaves was defaulting debtors and their families. Aliens who fell into debt slavery could become perennial slaves. Besides, the self-sale was permitted by law. Finally, free persons had the right to sell their children or to use them as security.

Already in earlier periods, the abduction of freeborn persons for the purpose of enslaving or selling them into slavery was also known. The law, however, stipulated the death penalty for the kidnapping of Israelites (Deut 24:7; see also Exod 21:16). A number of biblical books contain an appeal not to covet slaves, slave women, and other property belonging to one’s neighbor (Exod 20:17, etc.).
In earlier periods, when the Israelites conducted successful wars against neighboring peoples, prisoners of war constituted an important source of slavery. As was characteristic of other ANE societies, captive men, boys and even women were often put to death and only girls were sent into slavery (Num 31:9–18). Thus, during one military campaign there were captured 67,500 head of sheep, 72,000 head of cattle, 61,000 asses, and 32,000 girls (Num 31:32–35).

Non-Israelite slaves were legally considered movable property of their masters who could dispose of them as they wished.

Slavery had a profound influence on the social structure, ideology, law, and social psychology of the ANE cultures. However, throughout the entire history of Israel and Judah as well as of all other countries of the ANE, slave labor did not play a decisive role in agriculture and it was used to a very limited extent compared to the labor provided by small landholders. As the Bible indicates, the artisan trades were also in the hands of free persons (1 Chr 4:14, 23; Jer 37:21; Neh 3:8). For this reason, there existed no artisan workshops based on slave labor and the decisive role in the handicraft industries was played by free labor, especially in the area of manufacture depending upon skills. Thus, there was no predominance of slave labor in any branch of economy, and it was used primarily for household tasks requiring neither skill nor extensive supervision, i.e., in jobs where slaves could be employed all the year round, not those which were seasonal in character.
In contrast to many ancient doctrines, the Hebrew law was relatively mild toward the slaves and recognized them as human beings subject to defense from intolerable acts, although not to the same extent as free persons.

Slavery in the New Testament and corresponding time period:
Among a variety of institutions for maintaining dominance and dependence characteristic of the early Roman Empire, slavery was an especially important form of compulsory labor in which part of the population legally owned other human beings as property; it was practiced in all cultures relevant to the writing of the documents of the NT. Dio Chrysostom, a popular orator in the 1st century c.e., spoke for the Mediterranean consensus when he defined slavery as the right to use another man at pleasure, like a piece of property or a domestic animal (XV.24). Extensive and differing legal traditions in Jewish, Greek, and Roman culture regulated this inherently ambiguous categorization of large numbers of persons as property (chattel slavery). “There was no action or belief or institution in Graeco-Roman antiquity that was not one way or other affected by the possibility that someone involved might be a slave” (Finley 1980:65).

Central features that distinguish 1st century slavery from that later practiced in the New World are the following: racial factors played no role; education was greatly encouraged (some slaves were better educated than their owners) and enhanced a slave’s value; many slaves carried out sensitive and highly responsible social functions; slaves could own property (including other slaves!); their religious and cultural traditions were the same as those of the freeborn; no laws prohibited public assembly of slaves; and (perhaps above all) the majority of urban and domestic slaves could legitimately anticipate being emancipated by the age of 30.

Slaves’ individual honor, social status, and economic opportunities were entirely dependent on the status of their respective owners, and they developed no recognizable consciousness of being a group or of suffering a common plight (Bradley 1987:15). For this reason, any such call as “slaves of the world, unite!” would have fallen on completely deaf ears.

samlcarr said...

Sorry, wanted to stay with the discussion, but in my part of the world that was getting to be 4a.m. and i was really fading!

I've read Webb and a enjoyed a series of discussions on the 'redemptive trend' at jesuscreed some time back.

The idea of a redemptive trend in scripture is a very attractive one but I think also very dangerous. I would agree, but if and only if we can see the trend within scripture itself, and as far as slavery is concerned, I frankly can't see that. That is, I can see that the gospel and ethic of the kingdom should stand against slavery, but within the confines of the OT>NT I can't see any great material change in thinking taking place.

Webb wants to be able to find such a trend for slavery and I think fails, while it certainly is there, as Emily points out, for the issue of women's equality, both in the gospels, in Acts, and in the epistles.

Which, brings me to stuff like gender, sexuality, intimacy, and homosexuality.

For me then, it is the kingdom ethic that defines eventually any redemptive trend.

From kingdom ethics of love, mutual respect, justice, and each individual seeking God, and seeking to honour God in how we relate to all others, I can't see anything on the face of it that rules out homosexuality or homosexual relationships as long as the commitment, fidelity and mutual submission that the bible does teach are adhered to, just as in heterosexual relationships.

The readings in Paul, Romans and 1Cor as well as in 1Tim that seem to specifically go against accepting homosexuality, especially in Rom1:18f takes on a totally different meaning when looked at in its narrative context and in any case, the other two references use a term 'arsenikoite' are not clearly understood as referring to what we are thinking of as homosexual relations. In fact no one seems to have any clue as to what it means as Paul himself coins this term for the first time and that's passing strange.

In the final analysis, I think justice trumps cultural practice and it is on this basis that the gospel ethic challenges us to stand up for abolition, gender equality, and not to discriminate against an otherwise biblically sound practice of a faithful homosexual union.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Sam:

The idea of a redemptive trend in scripture is a very attractive one but I think also very dangerous. I would agree, but if and only if we can see the trend within scripture itself, and as far as slavery is concerned, I frankly can't see that. That is, I can see that the gospel and ethic of the kingdom should stand against slavery, but within the confines of the OT>NT I can't see any great material change in thinking taking place.


Sam, I'm confused. On the one hand you say that a redemptive trend in Scripture is "dangerous." And it seems as though you disagree with Webb and suggest that there is no redemptive movement for slavery in the OT or NT. However, you do see that redemptive trend for women's equality.

But then, ultimately, you disagree with Webb because you see something of a redemptive movement for homosexuals that is based upon what you call a "kingdom ethic."

For me then, it is the kingdom ethic that defines eventually any redemptive trend.

From kingdom ethics of love, mutual respect, justice, and each individual seeking God, and seeking to honour God in how we relate to all others, I can't see anything on the face of it that rules out homosexuality or homosexual relationships as long as the commitment, fidelity and mutual submission that the bible does teach are adhered to, just as in heterosexual relationships.


So, how do you see Webb as "dangerous"? Most conservatives and evangelicals would find your viewpoint far more "dangerous", don't you think, Sam!?!?

samlcarr said...

To be clear, which I now realise that I was not...

The concept that Webb champions can be very useful, but only when we can see a clear trend within the scope of scripture itself. In this sense I do see a trend for women's equality but I don't see one for slavery - within scripture itself.

If we have failed to find the redemptive trend idea helpful with slavery and yet our belief in a righteous and just God convinces us that nevertheless slavery is an abomination to God, then we are applying a different process, that of a kingdom of God ethic to a social evil, and based on our obedience to our Lord we fight for abolition even though there is no clearly discernible 'redemptive trend' that we can point to.

I am arguing now that how we are to deal with the issue of homosexuality is in fact strongly analogous to how we dealt with slavery.

yes, my 'logic' will be considered very dangerous, but that isn't what I meant when I used that word. I was referring then to the 'danger' of thinking that we have do a workable tool (redemptive trend) when in fact we don't for this particular issue.

i hope I didn't just make the whole thing muddier!

Jonathan Erdman said...

I think where you are coming from is fairly clear. The next question, is where do you take your "kingdom ethic" from? I presume that you are building upon the teachings of Christ? Perhaps focusing on the Gospels?

samlcarr said...

Jon, this is where I think that Webb's sort of study comes to the fore. It helps us to put into some sort of perspective how remarkably Jesus and His gospel have changed the basics of what 'the Bible teaches'.

We therefore have to begin with the gospels in the context of the OT, and we continue with Paul. There are very important clues throughout Jesus teachings as He interacts with both the disciples/crowds and with His detractors that should help us to put things into perspective.

While our knowledge of the culture of Palestine in those days is not exhaustive, it is pretty good, and we are able to get an idea of when Jesus was agreeing and when He was disagreeing with the standards of the day.

Paul's gospel is Jesus Himself. Paul generally assumes that the gospel message about Jesus is fairly clear. He also helps to apply the gospel and the way of God's kingdom to situations where the application is not so clear.

Here we see two things. First, where the Gospel is seen to challenge culture, Paul supports that.

Then there are the few matters, such as slavery, where Paul is clearly uncomfortable with some aspects of it but is not willing to call outright for a wholesale change.

In both ways, as we interact with our teachers, as much as possible in the context of their own horizons, we too will be challenged to apply what they are teaching to our own contexts.

And we have to take all of this evidence into consideration before deciding for ourselves what exactly it means to follow Jesus as His disciples, taking up our crosses in today's world, and be sure of whether we have counted the cost before we proceed.

Sorry if this is a now quite a bit far afield of your post!

Melody said...

I can't help but feel that the slavery issue and the homosexualty issue are far removed from each other.

Slavery is a question of whether or not all people are basically equal and have the same basic rights (as opposed to additional earned rights, such as a driver's liscence)

I don't think that you will find many people who deny that homosexual persons have the right to free speech or to bear arms. At least not because they are homosexual.

What you do find is that there are people who believe sexual acts with a person of the same gender are wrong - regaurdless of one's gender, race, or religion.

We're not denying rights that we do not deny to ourselves.

Plus, I would have to say that in the bible, giving people their rights is not exactly something that is zeroed in on so it isn't exactly a shock to my system that the Bible does not focus on giving slaves or women their rights.

On the other hand, the bible does have a lot to say about sexual purity and homosexual acts are not the only ones that don't make the cut.

Interestingly, many areas of the law became less restrictive into the NT (eating, dressing, tithing, etc.), but sexuality seems to be more restrictive. Paul certainly emphasizes that leaders should only have one wife (setting an example for the rest of the congregation), and he definately calls people out on appropriate sexual relations.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Sam: In both ways, as we interact with our teachers, as much as possible in the context of their own horizons, we too will be challenged to apply what they are teaching to our own contexts.

Sam, I am in full agreement here. Believers under the influence of various strands of philosophy have often conceived of the Christian faith as something that is static - a matter of reproducing some timeless truths - rather than understanding how important it is to recontextualize. (Look for my latest essay on this topic, coming soon to a blog near you!)

So, we definitely need to think and rethink ethical issues in light of our contemporary context.

Yet, allow me to cite one of Emily's comments: But there is no wavering on sin. If God lists something in the Bible as wrong, it's wrong.

This is also valid. We all believe in the "rightness" and "wrongness" of certain things.

In light of our current cultural context, I would suggest that the burden of proof has shifted to those of us who hold that homosexuality is morally or ethically wrong.

Emily also said, The gay Christian does exist. It is possible, to sin and be a Christian.

The burden of proof in this situation is to be able to demonstrate that "gayness" is sinful.

samlcarr said...

We're not denying rights that we do not deny to ourselves.

Did I miss something here? Are heterosexual persons denying themselves "the right" to get married? I hadn't noticed, I must really be getting past it. You young folks really are remarkable!

samlcarr said...

Even in the book of Philemon Paul doesn't come right out and say that slavery is wrong but reading Philemon it's hard for me not to get the sense that Paul doesn't like it at all.

Emily is right, that this is not about rights. We are all slaves and have no rights. We have been bought with a price.

It is all about practicing the 'law of love' in our lives: To do unto others... and without discrimination.

If God lists something in the Bible as wrong, it's wrong.

Jesus says that divorce is wrong yet we have allowed that as a "basic right". I am not arguing that one wrong justifies another. I think that divorce is generally wrong, but if two people are tearing each other apart and destroying their kids in the bargain, I'd beg them to get out of it fast.

The thing is, there are no 'laws' in that sense any more. in Colossians Paul says that Christ nailed that law to the cross!

The burden of proof certainly is on us if we are going to maintain that anything is a sin. Sin as defined specifically by Jesus's law of love, not sin as defined by the Levitical Law!

You would have to show me how exactly it is unloving or otherwise harmful for there to exist a faithful monogamous relationship between two persons who are committed to each other.

Melody said...

Did I miss something here? Are heterosexual persons denying themselves "the right" to get married?

We're all denied the right to marry someone who is the same gender as we are.

No - it isn't something I personally am inclined to do. But the fact that someone doesn't struggle with lying doesn't mean they can't call it out as wrong - just because their personal preference is for the truth.

You would have to show me how exactly it is unloving or otherwise harmful for there to exist a faithful monogamous relationship between two persons who are committed to each other.

How would you go about showing that a faithful monogamous relationship between a father and daughter was wrong?

Cuz all I've got is God saying it's a sin.

samlcarr said...

Melody, there's a lot of stuff in the Levirate Law that we don't follow, so I would hesitate to go down that route.

"Cuz all I've got is God saying it's a sin" I disagree that this method flies. If I recall correctly, in the Anglican tradition even marriages between second cousins are taboo. Prohibitions against marrying any near kin is a simple matter of genetics so one doesn't have to think too deeply about that to figure that some things are better not done.

In other words, I don't accept that the Mosaic Law is normative for Christians. Rather, as Jesus taught and exemplified it, a sensible application of the principle of loving others more than (or at least as much as) one loves oneself should do the trick, if we can get that far in the first place!

That's also really why we don't lie, quite apart from the fact that we also believe that God is true, loving, just, merciful. I don't think you need the Mosaic Law to figure that one out either.

Of course I suspect that you knew all that and were just sending me on a bit of a goose chase, but you aren't yet addressing the issue of injustice!

Melody said...

Melody, there's a lot of stuff in the Levirate Law that we don't follow, so I would hesitate to go down that route.

I wasn't actually trying to go that route.

Rather, as Jesus taught and exemplified it, a sensible application of the principle of loving others more than (or at least as much as) one loves oneself should do the trick, if we can get that far in the first place!

Ok well,
1. Jesus also mentioned loving God - so I don't think it's just as simple as it doesn't hurt my neighbor so it's a-ok.

2. Jesus goes on to say that the whole law rests on those two commandments. So at some point in time homosexuality infringed on one or both of those commandments.

So I guess you'd have to figure out why and from that if it does or doesn't now. (ex. none of the sacrifices apply because Jesus was the sacrifice).

That's also really why we don't lie, quite apart from the fact that we also believe that God is true, loving, just, merciful.

This bit confused me actually. Because,

1. I don't not-lie because I love people. Actually I don't not-lie at all, it's definately something I'm bad about. And often I've lied to people because the truth is harsh and I want to protect them.

2. I don't know why God being true, merciful and loving would stop anyone from lying.

I've definately had periods of time where I've made a concerted effort to not lie, but that only happened because I didn't want anything standing between me and God and I realized how much God hates lying. Not the same.

samlcarr said...

Melody, there are things that were forbidden 3k years ago that are still forbidden. Sacrificing children to Molech (or for any other reason) is still an abomination, so is murder and as you pointed out some things got stricter and one of these was the question of divorce - don't do it at all, says Jesus.

Rape used to cost a rapist 50 shekels of silver and then you have to marrry the rapee and you aren't allowed to divorce them either. Today we say rape is absolutely something that God will not tolerate. I think rape and divorce always have been against God's character, so then, what has changed is not god's character but our perception of who He is.

It's in this context that I say that homosexuality is ok if one is going to apply the same biblical standards to all sexual relationships: There has to be commitment, there has to be fidelity and there has to be oneness.

The arguments against it that try to go back to the 'original order of creation' are suspect because ultimately, as Jesus says, there will be neither marriage nor giving in marriage.

So, arguing that there is a sort of eternal order that we now have to follow through on doesn't work, and besides, we are fallen and all of our relationships have become abnormal and painful in some way or another, so it's pie in the sky stuff to talk about original intent especially when Jesus indicates that that is not the ultimate intent.

I can't see God being happy with us for consigning some proportion of people to lives of torturous celibacy and social unacceptance simply because they don't fit into our conservative Christian cultural values for what is 'normality'.

I would specifically ask this in view of the fact that our Lord associated with a lot of people who were considered outcastes and unsavory. Do you know for a fact that some of these were not homosexuals? If it's possible that Jesus didn't condemn them, then what right have we?

When in doubt it's always better not to have an opinion! Don't accept, don't reject, but nothing excuses us from the obligation to love.

Now, if only the Erdman would start a discussion on lying...

Melody said...

When in doubt it's always better not to have an opinion!

Sam, you're talking to me.
When in doubt it means I need to find out more about the subject. Opinions aren't optional.

I think rape and divorce always have been against God's character, so then, what has changed is not god's character but our perception of who He is.

I'm with you this far.

It's in this context that I say that homosexuality is ok if one is going to apply the same biblical standards to all sexual relationships: There has to be commitment, there has to be fidelity and there has to be oneness.

This is my question - God makes allowences for some things that he absolutely hates. You mentioned divorce and rape. I think everyone here agrees that rape is especially awful. And yet there it is - this little loop hole that doesn't quite make it ok - but it certainly does get the rapist out of being dead.

Why didn't He make any such loop hole for homosexuality? He makes a provision for rapists, but not for homosexuality.

Yet you ask me to accept a premise in which God doesn't find monogamous homosexuality a problem.

The arguments against it that try to go back to the 'original order of creation' are suspect because ultimately, as Jesus says, there will be neither marriage nor giving in marriage.

In the new heaven and new earth - yeah. We're not there. On this earth there's been marriage for as long as there's been people.

and besides, we are fallen and all of our relationships have become abnormal and painful in some way or another,

Which means that we shouldn't even try for the intent of God? It's screwed up so let's be just as screwed up as we can muster?

I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd be doing a much better job if that were the goal, but I've never really gotten that vibe from my bible reading.

I can't see God being happy with us for consigning some proportion of people to lives of torturous celibacy and social unacceptance simply because they don't fit into our conservative Christian cultural values for what is 'normality'.

Oh come on. Sex is not an inaliable right. And since celibacy is advised by Paul the lack of sex doesn't seem like a compelling reason why people with homosexual tendencies should get the go ahead to be married.

I would specifically ask this in view of the fact that our Lord associated with a lot of people who were considered outcastes and unsavory.

Yes indeed, and I am all for that; however, Jesus turns their lives around. He shows them that He loves them just as they are and then He tells them to stop sinning, as He tells all of us.

Do you know for a fact that some of these were not homosexuals?

No, but neither do I have any reason to believe that they were.

If it's possible that Jesus didn't condemn them, then what right have we?

Jesus didn't come to condemn people and that isn't my job either. Jesus came to save people who had already condemned themselves.

He didn't condemn prostetutes, adulterers, or tax collectors either - that doesn't mean the things they did weren't wrong.

...but nothing excuses us from the obligation to love.

Obviously not - and I am in no way saying that we should shut homosexual people out of the church or our lives. I'm just saying that there is nothing in the bible that indicates that God does not see homosexual acts as a sin, the same as he sees adultery or sex outside of marriage as a sin.

Now, if only the Erdman would start a discussion on lying...

He can't - truth is relative.

samlcarr said...

Melody, Which means that we shouldn't even try for the intent of God? It's screwed up so let's be just as screwed up as we can muster? Now, that's hardly a paraphrase of what I said, but it does bring out the central question: On what basis will you decide God's intent?

Jesus had a lot of women of questionable repute who hung around his ministry. Take the woman who weeps on his feet and wipes the tears off with her hair, and this too in public and in the house of a pharisee where Jesus has been invited for supper. There is no indication of why this lady is in tears, it could have been for any number of reasons, and the forgiveness of sin referred to by Jesus could also be for any type of sin. If she has repented of her 'life of sin' the pharisee, who is a local and knows this woman doesn't know anything about it.

Jesus has therefore a reputation for hanging with a bunch of unrepentant sinners and this is the clear implication of: Luke 7:34 (par Matt 11:19).

We have an impression, perhaps based on the story of Zachaeus (and a couple of others) that Jesus always had this response, but I think that the clear implication is the other way round.

In other words, Jesus didn't demand repentance first, that was John the Baptist, Jesus kept company with sinners and taught and preached to them without discriminating against them.

His promise in Matt 11 is "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Jesus doesn't approach the burdened sinner and add a couple more sacks of guilt to really make them feel sorry!

So, even if you do decide that the biblical practice of a homosexual lifestyle is sinful, that's no grounds for condemnation.

But, there is an essential unfairness in your attitude. In the case of heterosexual desire, there is a wrong attraction (say adulterous)and a right one (e.g. a young couple who feel called to marry) whereas for homosexuals, what's the righteous way to fulfill their desire? If you can't give a person a right way to express their sexuality it's a very strange sort of desire that God has given them isn't it?

Sexuality is a very, very, basic human drive. it resides pretty deep in our persons. For most of the animal and plant kingdoms, the question of lifelong faithfulness does not arise. Yet God places that demand on us. But He gives us a way to fulfill that desire, which according to you applies only to heterosexuals and that implies that you consider homosexuals as a class to be something slightly less than human. Paul also says as much in 1Cor7:17-24 and also the principle of 1Cor 10:13.

Both Paul and Jesus say that celibacy is a gift that is given to some people. Without that giftedness, the celibacy would fall into the category of unfair burdens. Seems a bit odd that you are going to claim now that homosexuality is a sign of god's gifting of celibacy!

And, if you take the matter of rape, we don't have any specific "revised criteria" in the bible to decide that it goes against god's character, and yet we are quite sure (at least I am) that it is abhorrent to God. The very same principle of 'do unto others...'is what we are unconsciously applying here too! I'm equally sure that homosexuals are not in some way inherently subhuman, subsexual, nor even sub-Christian, for that matter!

Melody said...

Now, that's hardly a paraphrase of what I said

No, it isn't, but it seemed to be the place your statement would tke us - and yet I know you don't think that, hence the question mark at the end.

So, even if you do decide that the biblical practice of a homosexual lifestyle is sinful, that's no grounds for condemnation.

Yeah...I'm pretty sure I already said that.

If you can't give a person a right way to express their sexuality it's a very strange sort of desire that God has given them isn't it?

Who says God gave them that desire?
It's a fallen world and we're born into sin - not all desires are from God.

But He gives us a way to fulfill that desire, which according to you applies only to heterosexuals and that implies that you consider homosexuals as a class to be something slightly less than human

That's a bit of a logical leap.

Seems a bit odd that you are going to claim now that homosexuality is a sign of god's gifting of celibacy!

Hey! I neither stated nor implied such a thing.

Rather, I think that this:

Both Paul and Jesus say that celibacy is a gift that is given to some people. Without that giftedness, the celibacy would fall into the category of unfair burdens.

Is a bunch of b.s. - I don't think that God sprinkles some people with magic celibacy dust and so they miraculously don't mind that they're single and probably alway will be.

I think sometimes God asks us to deny ourselves certain things. And I think sometimes we want things that aren't right for us to have - whether it is because that desire is sinful or because it just isn't for me.

Things also listed as gifts/blessings? Trials, tribulations, suffering, persecution.

Are some people gifted to withstand these while everyone else gets to stand back and say, "Whoa, dude. That's harsh. I wouldn't want to be gifted that way."

No! But some people have more than their fair share of trails and tribulations while other people - like myself - have a pretty cushy time of it.

It sucks and it isn't "fair", but God doesn't actually promise equality or fairness.

And, since I don't see any indicator in the Bible that homosexual desires are natural or good I have to place them in the same catagory as my lying or selfishness or - pick any other sin that isn't given any kind of leeway anywhere in the Bible and actually is mentioned again in the NT as a perversion of all that is right and good.

I'm not saying homosexual people are sub-human - I'm saying they're the same kind of human that I am, the same kind of Christian that I am - with some desires that are flat out wrong.

And I believe that the grace of God and the forgiveness of God is every bit as sufficient for them as it is for me.

samlcarr said...

Melody, really, I seem to have hit a bit of a sensitive spot!

Who says God gave them that desire?
Who said God didn't? Are you one of them Arminian types?
It's a fallen world and we're born into sin - not all desires are from God. All desires must be fallen desires as we are all fallen?

and actually is mentioned again in the NT as a perversion of all that is right and good. Oops, I must have missed that. I think I did say in an earlier comment that this simply was not true??

And, since I don't see any indicator in the Bible that homosexual desires are natural or good I have to place them in the same catagory as my lying or selfishness or -Now let's see...that was II Phil 2:2 where it says that desiring Cadbyry's chocolate is a downright sin, just like heterosexual desires are pure, fibbins, 'n stuff...strange that I couldn't find it anywhere else, really strange.

the same kind of Christian that I am - with some desires that are flat out wrong. Well that must be true by extension, and it's so logical, and therefore, as some(/many/most) varieties of heterosexuality are not of the purest possible pristine Eden-Biblical variety, God must have given all those somewhat mildly bent heteros some of that 'other' gift too I guess? Now, that must be why so many eligible young folks is flat out refusin to git hitched!

And I believe that the grace of God and the forgiveness of God is every bit as sufficient for them as it is for me. Amen, excepting for that one liddle gift of celibacy that God sprinkles on all of "them"...but on only a few of "us".

Melody said...

Melody, really, I seem to have hit a bit of a sensitive spot!

Sort of. Not so much the homosexuality thing as the way you're approaching it - if that makes sense at all.

Who said God didn't?

Paul? Unnatural lusts and all that (sorry - I think this discussion would be easier/more coherant if I had a bible in front of me).

Are you one of them Arminian types?

My knowledge of Arminianism is limited to the predestination vs. free-will thing (i.e. I have no idea).

All desires must be fallen desires as we are all fallen?

So not what I said. I said "not all desire are from God" not, "all desires are not from God".

Or if you prefer: Some desires are from God and some desires are not from God.

Oops, I must have missed that. I think I did say in an earlier comment that this simply was not true??

If you did I didn't see it or misunderstood it.

Did you say you had an explanation for why that wasn't true?

Now let's see...that was II Phil 2:2 where it says that desiring Cadbyry's chocolate is a downright sin, just like heterosexual desires are pure, fibbins, 'n stuff...strange that I couldn't find it anywhere else, really strange.

Very cute - but God never had anyone stoned for eating chocolate and in several places commands people to enjoy their food (ex. feast of Jubilee). Of course that was in the OT so maybe God changed his mind about that.

Your last couple comments make no sense at all to me.

Seems like you're being a little sensative.

This is what I'm hearing from you:

1. God loves people.
2. Life without sex is cruel and unusual.
3. A loving God isn't cruel so - homosexual sex is ok with God.

And since I don't agree with 2. I can't agree with three - at least not on that basis.

I'm not trying to be harsh - but I'm going to need a better reason than "God loves people and sex is good" - which is what I'm hearing from you - before I'm going accept that He would give people a desire and then command them to be stoned for going after it, and then later decide that actually he wants people to do this thing He had them stoned for.

Not just that He's going to cut them some slack and not have them stoned for it anymore - along the lines of disobedient children and adulterers - but that He is going to give it His blessing and ask us to embrace it?

Jonathan Erdman said...

Sam: Now, if only the Erdman would start a discussion on lying...

Will do. A fascinating topic, I must say!

samlcarr said...

Melody, well yes I think I am a bit sensitive about this issue. There are probably a couple of reasons for that and one is the analogy with slavery. I grew up in Africa at a time when in South Africa, the bible as a whole was used to justify slavery (in the guise of the separation of races-apartheid) i.e. If God creates different races it must be because the genetic differences also mean that there are differences in function.

Now when I see the Christian debate on homosexuality, the type of argumentation is so parallel! How the bible can be used to justify and propagate an injustice.

If we didn't have this reading of the bible, and our generations of nasty enculturation, would we still have this prejudice? Is there anything in homosexuality itself to so horrify us?

In what way would a biblically sound practice of homosexuality be harmful to the practitioners or to society or the the life of the church?

"A life without sex is cruel" would be a fair representation in this debate if our attitude towards heterosexuality was the same i.e. if we were to argue that God wants all of us to be celibate. That is actually Paul's clear preference (Perhaps Jesus also commends it?) but I don't see a lot of people arguing for celibacy for all!

Rather what we are saying is hetero sex is fine, no permissions or special pleading here, go ahead, God has blessed you, so be fruitful and multiply... But if you happen to be a homosexual, please kindly either stay in the closet, or if you do venture out, REPENT and promise to desist. Put that yellow star on your sleeve and keep a safe distance from all members of your own sex - either you might be tempted or you may even pollute their thus far pure minds...

In I Cor and in I Tim, Paul coins a word, and no one has any clue as to what that word means. It is a compound of two other Greek words and in that combination is not used in older Greek texts or in any contemporary ones. There are plenty of other Greek words for homosexuality that Paul could have used if that was what he actually meant to mean. Most scholars claim that Paul is "quoting" the Greek version of the OT, but he CLEARLY IS NOT FOR THERE THE TWO WORDS ARE TWO WORDS, NOT ONE. The only other place that the NT talks about homosexuality is in Romans 1 and I strongly believe that here Paul is quoting the Roman Christians own words back to them in the start of his debate with them. Rhetorically, he is setting out their argument and then attacks it very forcefully in Romans 2. Just look at Rom 2:1 and see the emphatic denunciation of what he has just quoted that he begins his own position with.

The number of times the NT talks about heterosexual sinfulness? Plenty! But what we are so horrified about is not that at all, that's all 'normal' sinning. It is the nonexistent homosexual sin which, from what I can see, is our own reading back of our own prejudices onto the NT.

It took us 1800+ years to finally decide that perhaps slavery was not really what God wanted for mankind. i see an exact parallel with our reading of the bible against homosexuality.

Melody said...

i.e. If God creates different races it must be because the genetic differences also mean that there are differences in function.

But that's absurd reasoning. God didn't create different races and no where does the Bible say that He did!

I'm sorry that generation upon generation of people made up what they wanted to hear without any reference to what was written - but I don't think that, that applies in this instance. I don't see a parallel.

Slavery was a practice that was in the culture that God did not condemn, but did put some rules on it to protect those who were slaves. I believe Jon went into fairly good detail about why slavery was different in that culture than in recent times.

Homosexuality was also practiced in the culture and God said people who practiced it should be stoned. He makes absolutely no provision for its practice.

Why - if God does not have a problem with homosexuality - would God have those people stoned?

I don't mean to ignore the rest of your thoughts - we can re-address them at a later time if you wish, but they're sort of peripheral right now as I cannot get past the idea that God would have people stoned for something He didn't think was wrong.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Melody said:
I believe Jon went into fairly good detail about why slavery was different in that culture than in recent times.

Some difference. Remember that I only had one source, the Anchor Bible Dictionary. I think, though, that there were certainly many abuses of slavery in the ancient world. Sexual, emotional, physical, etc. Because, after all, slaves were still considered property. So, if a male slave-owner found himself with a desire for a slave (male, female, adult, or child) then he could pretty much have his way.

In general, it seems as though that slavery was less severe, but it was certainly no walk in the park.

Melody: Homosexuality was also practiced in the culture and God said people who practiced it should be stoned. He makes absolutely no provision for its practice.

Why - if God does not have a problem with homosexuality - would God have those people stoned?


This is a good question. But the counter argument is this: If God had a problem with slavery and oppression of women, then why didn't he abolish it within his chosen community of Israel? As I see it, this is an argument with less force than yours, but still a legitimate question, I think.

Is it possible that the issue of homosexuality is not necessarily a "right" or "wrong" issue? That it may have more to do with the natural order of sexuality? That God made man for woman and woman for man, and did not intend for the genders to sexually interact with each other? The Genesis account seems to establish a male-female pattern.

Melody said...

In general, it seems as though that slavery was less severe, but it was certainly no walk in the park.

Right - I'm not meaning to make it sound like it was, but some differences are worth noting.

For example, it wasn't completely race based like what Sam grew up seeing or what happened in America.
And that changes the conversation a bit - especially as we're drawing parallels between slavery and homomsexuality.

If God had a problem with slavery and oppression of women, then why didn't he abolish it within his chosen community of Israel?

I believe the favored response is that culturally this would have been too much of a shock.

When one looks at Levitical laws one does see quite a bit of provision for women and slaves that would not have existed in other communities.

For example in Deut. 22:13-19

“If any man takes a wife, and goes in to her, and detests her, and charges her with shameful conduct, and brings a bad name on her, and says, ‘I took this woman, and when I came to her I found she was not a virgin,’ then the father and mother of the young woman shall take and bring out the evidence of the young woman’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. And the young woman’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as wife, and he detests her. Now he has charged her with shameful conduct, saying, “I found your daughter was not a virgin,” and yet these are the evidences of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. Then the elders of that city shall take that man and punish him; and they shall fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the father of the young woman, because he has brought a bad name on a virgin of Israel. And she shall be his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days.

I don't know that this would have happened in other countries. In fact - I think that, considering God's making a rule about it, it is probably highly unlikely that it would happen in another country.

Baby steps - perhaps. It kind of makes me think of a time when I was little and watching a PBS documentary that had a bunch of very naked people on it. I asked my mother why they weren't wearing any clothes and she said they didn't know any better. And then I asked her why someone didn't tell them it was wrong to run around naked.

My mother explained that you can't just tell people something it wrong. They have to know God and that He loves them before they can follow Him.

I think that's why a lot of things changed after Jesus died for our sin. By more fully understanding His love for the world we better understand how He would have us treat each other. It becomes clear that owning someone else should not be an option, when perhaps they would not have been able to see that before.

Just my thought.

Is it possible that the issue of homosexuality is not necessarily a "right" or "wrong" issue? That it may have more to do with the natural order of sexuality? That God made man for woman and woman for man, and did not intend for the genders to sexually interact with each other?

Well, I think that is sort of how I see it. It isn't a sin against other people, like rape or slavery. But it is a twisting of something good that God gave us and I think that is why it's a sin against God.

matt said...

I think it would be helpful to discuss the basics. Sam and Melody are operating on two very different premises. Basically you can argue all... however long and never agree because you are starting from two different points.

Sam's assumption, presumably, is that a person is born gay. It's genetics. God wants them to be this way. No matter what that person will be attracted to the same sex.

Melody, presumably, believes that if God has called it evil, and assigned a very stern punishment to it, that it is always evil.

I'll just be honest and say that I agree with Melody. So I'm going to make Sam keep working. :D

First of all, I strongly dislike the gentics card. It is a very young science, and many people who play are just making excuses. However, my major issue with people supposedly being born gay, is the high incidence of prior abuse among gays. That sort of thing has a huge impact on a person. In one form or another it alters a person's view of sex forever. Another point is that people simple were not exposed to homosexuality like they are now. Are more people coming out of the closet, or are more people going through, now that they it's there?

samlcarr said...

Sorry for the delay but yesterday was a bit tight.

Matt, thanks for chiming in. "...is that a person is born gay. It's genetics...I strongly dislike the gentics card. It is a very young science"

Well, actually, no, I don't think anything quite like that as of now. I'm certainly not any sort of expert in this field, but from the reading that I have done it seems that there is not more than about a 30% genetic component and that just as with personality formation in general, sexuality is a very complex thing that involves physiology, environment, enculturation, family relationships, and a whole lot more, but that is not at all my issue here.

My point is simple. 1) From my reading of the NT homosexuality (and being anywhere on the Kinsey scale from 0 to 6) is not in itself a sin. 2) Any definition of sexual sin, after the NT, has to follow 'the law of love'. For as Paul says, all things are now lawful but not all things are helpful. I don't see anything inherently unhelpful about a biblically based, faithful, monogamous homosexual relationship. 3) The prevailing Christian cultural response to homosexuality is based on prejudice and not on a sound undestanding of the gospel and kingdom ethic - and this is a value judgment that I make. 4) The real issue now is one of justice and beyond that of applying the law of love to our brethren who may be other than heterosexual in their sexual preferences. 5) Demanding repentance/abstinence/reparative change for something that is not a sin is itself dreadfully sinful. 6) As now with slavery, so down the road we will wonder how it could have taken us 2,000 years to begin to apply the simple principles of justice that Jesus has enjoined upon us, to the area of sexuality.

samlcarr said...

Melody, "But that's absurd reasoning. God didn't create different races and no where does the Bible say that He did!
The primary passage is Gen 9:25

I'm sorry that generation upon generation of people made up what they wanted to hear without any reference to what was written - but I don't think that, that applies in this instance. I don't see a parallel."
Slavery and indeed racism (closely related concepts) are passim as far as the bible goes. One really does need to do some very selective reading to ignore either one and some really acrobatic hermeneutics to consider either one insignificant - till Jesus and that is what I anm saying applies to the debate on sexuality also.

Melody said...

The primary passage is Gen 9:25

And do we or don't we agree that this is absurd?

Slavery and indeed racism (closely related concepts) are passim as far as the bible goes.

I think it would help if I understood the definition of "passim" better - but I looked it up and and it appears to mean either "scattered" or "through-out" - which doesn't seem to make sense as far as your sentence is concerned. So, what are you trying to say?

Not that it matters too much since you didn't answer my previous question - why would God have people stoned for something He doesn't actually have a problem with?

Sorry to be a broken record, but from my younger siblings I have learned that relentless repetition sometimes pays off (sometimes it gets you smacked upside the head - but these are the risks one takes in life).

samlcarr said...

Melody, sorry for the Latin, that's what comes of hanging around with the likes of Erdman. But, why doesn't it make sense? You got the meaning, it's scattered all over the place in the Bible.

I guess I was wondering whether you had seriously asked that Q for there are any number of things for which God used to demand stoning, burning to death or death by the sword and we mostly don't do that anymore, except in a few countries like India and the U.S. where we still hang on to the death penalty for a few things.

But for stuff like working on the Sabbath, and cursing parents, or even having been a victim of urban rape, and let's not forget the minor problem of not being found a virgin on your wedding night... I think it's rather obvious that either God has changed a whole lot or someone was putting words in God's mouth that didn't really reflect what God intended to express.

Melody said...

But, why doesn't it make sense? You got the meaning, it's scattered all over the place in the Bible.

Sentence structure - the word didn't fit so I assumed I was misunderstanding its meaning.

In any case - yes, racism and slavery are in the Bible - as are rape, murder, theft, adultery, and incest; however, one seldom comes away from reading the bible with the feeling that any of those things are sanctioned by God, before or after Jesus.

God allowed slavery, he allowed divorce. He didn't approve or exault those things - so you're not really seeing a change in attitude after Jesus - merely a change in policy.

Example: When my sister was a baby and bit me I believe she recieved a stern look and a slap on the hand. When she bit me at the age of seven she was grounded from everything but sitting on her bed, staring at the ceiling.

There is no change in the attitude towards biting - but with more understanding comes more responsibility and so the policy changed.

Homosexuality is a whole other ball game. This is not an instance of God allowing something and then expecting better out of us.
It is a case of Him banning it.

for there are any number of things for which God used to demand stoning, burning to death or death by the sword and we mostly don't do that anymore

And I am in no way implying that God wants us to stone anyone for anything - much less homosexuality.

What I am saying is that if you look at other things people were stoned for, they're still considered wrong by God in the NT.

What makes homosexuality the exception to this?

samlcarr said...

Melody,

"if you look at other things people were stoned for, they're still considered wrong by God in the NT." the things that I listed, believe it or not, according to various passages in the Law do REQUIRE stoning to death. I don't think any of them do anymore! Why not?

"God allowed slavery, he allowed divorce." I think I mentioned hermeneutical gymnastics. Tell me how you would decide this distinction between what God (reluctantly) allows and what God in fact commands? god actually commands slavery especially of races other than the Israelites! God commands that all men, married women, and boy children, should be killed after conquest and only the virgins kept for slaves. This is part of why I said that racism and slavery are closely linked in the Bible.

Like I said, arguing against homosexuality based on anything in the books of the Law is dangerous and will involve a lot of special pleading that the text itself will not allow for.

When you come to the NT there is in fact no case against homosexuality at all. There is a huge case against immorality of various other varieties - all heterosexual!

Based on Jesus attitudes and teachings, there is now nothing to justify classifying a biblically sound homosexual relationship as sinful, because such a relationship does not violate the Law of Love in any way and would rather be seen as a proper expression of it.

Melody said...

the things that I listed, believe it or not, according to various passages in the Law do REQUIRE stoning to death. I don't think any of them do anymore! Why not?

Yes - I was refering to your list. Anything on your list that God's changed His mind about?

Adultery, maybe? Cursing parents?

Just because we aren't stoning people for it, doesn't mean God doesn't think it's wrong.

god actually commands slavery especially of races other than the Israelites!

In specific situations. There's no standing command to go out and make slaves of all nations.

Plus - it had more to do with religion than race. Ruth was welcomed into Isreal, so was Rahab and her family. Melchisedek (sp?) was considered a high priest. Ninevah was spared that kind of judgement when they turned to God.

Like I said, arguing against homosexuality based on anything in the books of the Law is dangerous and will involve a lot of special pleading that the text itself will not allow for.

I don't agree. The old and new testament are complimentary, not contradictory.
Jesus fulfills the law, He does not eradicate it.

When you come to the NT there is in fact no case against homosexuality at all. There is a huge case against immorality of various other varieties - all heterosexual!

Well, again, I think quite a few people beleive that Paul's "unnatural lusts" passage covers homosexuality.

Also - when it is talking about heterosexual sex, it generally refers to things involving marriage (adultery, not sleeping with your father's wife, etc.) and there was no such thing as homosexual marriage at the time.

because such a relationship does not violate the Law of Love in any way and would rather be seen as a proper expression of it.

Your assumption is that for the first however many thousand years the world was in existance God was unjust towards a certain sector of the population. And even if that sector was 1-3% that it is today - I'm not willing to except such a premise based on an undefined concept like "the law of love"

samlcarr said...

"working on the Sabbath, and cursing parents, or even having been a victim of urban rape,...the minor problem of not being found a virgin on your wedding night."

I think you will find that Jesus ironically refers to the question of parent cursing in his corban debate with the Pharisees. In the final analysis Jesus didn't mind that child would be set against parent because of the gospel. Given a choice, we are to leave mother, father... for the sake of the gospel.

Working on the Sabbath is something that Jesus enjoined on his disciples to do as long as it was in fulfillment of the Law of Love. The fact that the church has reversed Jesus teaching goes to show where it's priorities really lie!

I hope you don't agree that we should condemn to death or condemn at all any victim of urban rape who fails to scream very loud coz she's terrified for her life?
And I think the vast majority of women lose their virginities sometime before they get married (at least in Africa and in the West), so following the law on that one would tend to severely deplete the world's population.

So, you are quite wrong on these counts. Paul says that Jesus nailed the law to the cross.

Besides you are insisting that the fulfillment of the law is not the application of loving God and loving others as much as we love ourselves. I think you have not even got to first base as far as showing in what possible way a biblically sound acceptance of homosexual marriages would be contra either of these commands.

I guess what I'm really hearing from you is that you is that you have this 'thing' that you believe to be biblical and you are not going to reconsider that it just may be a travesty of the gospel.

In the case of heterosexual sin, Jesus tells us that even looking at a woman with lust is equal to committing adultery. I've done this many times yet I don't think that that means that I have to live a life of celibacy. Perhaps I should have!

But the point that I am trying to make is that we have a powerful built-in cultural prejudices that somehow heterosexual sin is 'normal'. We can sin, express repentance and be forgiven without condemnation and without it affecting our fellowship. Do we express the same forgiving attitude towards homosexuality, bisexuality or whatever?

While, for convenience sake, we may divide sexuality into two camps, it is actually a continuum.

Heterosexual men often/occasionally experience homosexual attractions and it is supposedly even commoner for heterosexual women. Some people are predominantly homosexual in orientation but may also have bisexual tendencies. These facts also have to be taken into consideration. The Kinsey scale rates sexual orientation from 0 to 6.

Whatever be our opinion, if someone says that they are following and obeying Jesus then the question of sexual orientation and how a person deals with that should be left to them and the Holy Spirit to work out just as we would do with heterosexually oriented brothers and sisters.

Jonathan Erdman said...

I said: If God had a problem with slavery and oppression of women, then why didn't he abolish it within his chosen community of Israel?
So, Melody said: I believe the favored response is that culturally this would have been too much of a shock.

So, let's use this reasoning, then. If God works within cultures and accommodates to social norms, then is it fair to assume that he would want the church to accommodate to the current cultural position on homosexuality.

Melody said...

Oh friend, either I am a bad explainer or you are a bad listener.

I am in no way advocating the stoning of anybody. I am not advocating a death penalty of any kind!

In the final analysis Jesus didn't mind that child would be set against parent because of the gospel.

That's a little bit different than cursing or disrespecting your parents - don't you think?

Working on the Sabbath is something that Jesus enjoined on his disciples to do as long as it was in fulfillment of the Law of Love.

Jesus was going against all the laws that had been added on to the law. The orginal law had nothing in it about not helping people on the Sabbath. They were caught up in little details of the law and add ons to the law and forgetting the reason why it was there in the first place.

I hope you don't agree that we should condemn to death or condemn at all any victim of urban rape who fails to scream very loud coz she's terrified for her life?

Lets look a little closer at that passage, shall we?

It applied only to married women who did not cry out in the city.

Now we're not talking about a city like we have today. We're talking about a nomadic group of people who lived in tents made out of goat hairs.

So it is not at all unreasonable to expect that someone could scream and be heard and rescued.
If they wanted to be - I imagine the reason the "crying out" was required, was so that if two people were having an affair and the woman felt trapped she couldn't cry rape to save her own skin and have the man killed.

In the country there was no way of knowing if anyone was near enough to help - so in this instance the law takes the woman's side.

An unmarried woman would get married by the man - which doesn't seem like a winning situation today - but back then she would have been unmarriable if she'd been raped so it was pretty much as good as it gets.

So really it just goes back to getting stoned for adultery. Which, again, I'm not advocating for modern (or postmodern) times.

Besides you are insisting that the fulfillment of the law is not the application of loving God and loving others as much as we love ourselves.

I'm really, really not. Jesus says that the entire law is based around Loving God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves.

That is exactly why I cannot accept that a law, based on loving God and others, would condemn people to death, in any time period, who had not actually committed a sin!

I think you have not even got to first base as far as showing in what possible way a biblically sound acceptance of homosexual marriages would be contra either of these commands.

Well, I do not have so much faith in my communication skills as to beleive that I will ever make you think that. Indeed, I cannot even convey to you that I do not want to stone people who sleep around.

But take heart, you're in the majority. Very few people ever understand what I'm trying to say and when they do they usually don't agree.

Though, I might mention that I wasn't trying to show that homosexuality went against either of those two laws - merely that it contradicts God's character.

I guess what I'm really hearing from you is that you is that you have this 'thing' that you believe to be biblical and you are not going to reconsider that it just may be a travesty of the gospel.

Well, when the "thing" is in conflict with what I know of God's character I need something a little more than, "Why not?" don't you see?

I'm not saying I couldn't reconsider it - I'm saying I need a damn good reason.

Besides - I've been considering it. I read what you write - I give it thought. Then I talk it over with my roommate and give it some more thought.

I just don't accept your assertions. They neither urge nor compel me.

In the case of heterosexual sin, Jesus tells us that even looking at a woman with lust is equal to committing adultery.

Sort of. I rather imagine that God does not place having, "already committed adultery with her in his heart" on the same level as he places on the physical act of borrowing another man's wife, and I really don't think that was Jesus' point - but for the sake of discussion let's pretend I do think that.

I've done this many times yet I don't think that that means that I have to live a life of celibacy. Perhaps I should have!

No where in the Bible does it say people who commit adultery have to be celebit! It doesn't say homosexuals have to be celebit either.

I just says certain sexual acts are wrong - and homosexuality happens to be one of them. But, as Matt kindly pointed out, we are coming from different starting points.

You think people are born to be homosexuals, I think it's a perversion of God's orginal intent - as so many sins are.

And I think that you next statement agrees with me more than it agrees with you.

Heterosexual men often/occasionally experience homosexual attractions and it is supposedly even commoner for heterosexual women. Some people are predominantly homosexual in orientation but may also have bisexual tendencies. These facts also have to be taken into consideration

Yes - hello fallen world.

What would you do for a bisexual person. Can they have a monogamous bisexual relationship or do they have to pick a team and stick to it?

Or could it just be that some of our urges are bad (not all - some). We twist humor to make fun of people. We use trust to take advantage of people. We use relationships to replace God. We turn fulfillment into gluttony.

Why is it so hard to imagine that sex could be twisted in the same way? Into something God never meant it to be.

And, suppose with me a moment that homosexuality is something God never intended for us (suppose)- wouldn't that be enough for you? Would it really matter that it wasn't hurting anybody?

Whatever be our opinion, if someone says that they are following and obeying Jesus then the question of sexual orientation and how a person deals with that should be left to them and the Holy Spirit to work out just as we would do with heterosexually oriented brothers and sisters.

Once again - I have no intention of running down to the quarry and picking out some good throwing stones. I haven't even got out the poster board and tempra paints.

We are called to keep our brother's and sisters in Christ accountable...but how and when we do that is another discussion entirely.

Melody said...

My post is five miles long - I think I might have even beat out Jason for the longest ever blog post comment - sorry about that.

samlcarr said...

suppose with me a moment that homosexuality is something God never intended for us (suppose)- wouldn't that be enough for you? Would it really matter that it wasn't hurting anybody? I guess on the majority of this discussion we may end up agreeing to disagree, which is not that strange for most of the positions that I end up supporting that somehow drive fellow conservatives up a wall.

Anyhow, your argument is from a feeling that somehow the existence/practice of homosexuality is 1. against God's intention and 2. against God's own person. I'm just curious, is this all based on the stoning bit or is there something more to it that you haven't mentioned as far as determining God's ultimate intentions go?

Seems to me that Jesus didn't give us something better than the Mosaic Law just so we could go back to square 1. Jesus says, look it's simple; If it's good for the other guy/gal, just do it.

Seems to me that forcing homosexuals to change their orientation whether they can or not is cruelty. It has the potential to do great harm to a person.

I have personally witnessed this as I had a homosexual for a room mate for 3 years and watched him pray and struggle with what the church was asking him to do in order to gain fellowship and some sort of acceptance. Through him I got to know a number of the others in the same program and let me tell you it was not pretty!

Then, the only other option for those who fail to change, is to be celibate. As far as you are concerned, the option that cannot be countenanced as OK by God is that homosexuals would be happy to remain as homosexuals and would seek God's will for a mate and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in obedience and commit themselves to a lifelong relationship of oneness in love, just like most heterosexual persons look forward to doing so eagerly.

Let me put it to you that the racial factors and the overarching need for this one family of Abraham to become more numerous than the stars has a heck of a lot to do with stuff like raping and then marrying virgins. Taking virgin slaves of some conquered races in (and totally wiping out other races) and practices such as the other brothers in sequence taking up the task of producing offspring on behalf of their deceased kin. And the strange prohibitions of spilling seed...

I would also suggest to you that the church's reading of Genesis is quite deliberately a highly biased one. The idea that God's own character and personhood would somehow be offended by accepting homosexuality as normal seems to be derived largely from this false reading.

Would it really matter that it wasn't hurting anybody? This is the right question to be asking. Beyond the fact that I can't see any harm in treating homosexuals as equals, the question must be what is best for them, not what's comfortable for me theologically/culturally. Selfishness has to give way to the other's greater good. Prejudice has to give way to love.

Melody said...

I guess on the majority of this discussion we may end up agreeing to disagree

Yes, I had that suspicion as well.

Anyhow, your argument is from a feeling that somehow the existence/practice of homosexuality is 1. against God's intention and 2. against God's own person. I'm just curious, is this all based on the stoning bit or is there something more to it that you haven't mentioned as far as determining God's ultimate intentions go?

I don't think explaining my stance again is going to help you understand where I'm coming from.

Throughout the bible we see a pattern of God being just and protecting the innocent. This is proclaimed loudly throughout the old testament and continues into the new testament.

Would a just God have people killed for something that wasn't wrong?

He had mercy on people who did horrible, awful things - how am I supposed to believe that He would randomly condemn people for something that wasn't wrong?

And then, to top it off - how am I supposed to believe that God is not only having these people killed for something that isn't wrong - but giving them this unignorable desire in the first place and then condeming them for it even though it isn't really a problem?!

Seems to me that Jesus didn't give us something better than the Mosaic Law just so we could go back to square 1.

It's not really about the law - it's about God's character.

If God isn't a just God then none of the bible makes any sense.

Jesus says, look it's simple; If it's good for the other guy/gal, just do it.

Sort of, yes, but if God doesn't want someone to do something it isn't good for them!

Seems to me that forcing homosexuals to change their orientation whether they can or not is cruelty.

Again, you would have to assume that God gave them that orientation and that it wasn't merely a perversion of what God intended, brought on by abuse or neglect or some other trauma.

The behaviors that people develope to deal with trauma can be very hard to over come.

Just because something is hard to deal with - doesn't mean we should ignore it or say it's ok.

I would also suggest to you that the church's reading of Genesis is quite deliberately a highly biased one. The idea that God's own character and personhood would somehow be offended by accepting homosexuality as normal seems to be derived largely from this false reading.

Maybe this is a different discussion - but how is it biased?

I mean - everyone has a bias, I'm not denying that. But I rather get the impression that you're talking about something more than that.

Melody said...

So, let's use this reasoning, then. If God works within cultures and accommodates to social norms, then is it fair to assume that he would want the church to accommodate to the current cultural position on homosexuality.

Ok - well, I don't know how that would work out, because there were definately cultures of homosexuality back then and you don't really see God cutting them any slack.

Maybe it wasn't because of the culture thing - maybe it was because if you followed all the rules like you were supposed to being a slave really wouldn't be so awful?

Just a thought - the horrible, awful things slaves have gone through in history tend to go against the law at some point or another - ya know?

samlcarr said...

Melody, it strikes me that you are starting with the OT and saying: This is God, God hasn't changed. While i am starting with the NT (or even beyond the NT, how I see God now) and saying: This is God, God hasn't changed.

Again, you would have to assume that God gave them that orientation and that it wasn't merely a perversion of what God intended Do you not assume that your heterosexual orientation is God given, or do you feel it's largely a matter of choice? Again "what God intended"?

For a quick look at where a bunch of us led by John Doyle have been going with Genesis click HERE

samlcarr said...

there were definately cultures of homosexuality back then and you don't really see God cutting them any slack Might I ask what this is referring to? I can't offhand recall such cultures myself.

Sara said...

A drunk, a sexually immoral heterosexual offender, greedy lifestyle, homosexual offending lifestyle. 1 Cor. 6:11 seems to suggest these things need "washed", forgiven; a reason Jesus died on a cross. To me, this would suggest that God would not embrace such things.

Whether it is homosexual lusting or greed, or drunkenness, etc., none appear to be seen as clean living (1 Cor. 6:11). To please one's Lord and God we would approach obedience on all such issues alike; with love and accountability for change in order to please God and offer Him thanks with our lifestyle.

Melody said...

Melody, it strikes me that you are starting with the OT and saying: This is God, God hasn't changed. While i am starting with the NT (or even beyond the NT, how I see God now) and saying: This is God, God hasn't changed.

But all we know of God started with the OT! If you dismiss it out of hand the NT doesn't make any sense! And if you dismiss the NT what is your basis for knowing God now?

Do you not assume that your heterosexual orientation is God given,

Um - well yes. God does seem to approve of heterosexual marriage through-out the Bible.

Might I ask what this is referring to? I can't offhand recall such cultures myself.

Alright - badly phrased I suppose. There were definately cultures in which homosexual practices were embraced. Sodom and Gamorah are your typical example - but there's at least one other account in the OT about a similar situation to Lot's.

And historically we know that homosexuality was practiced in ancient Rome. You probably wouldn't have had homosexual marriages, because people needed heirs, but they had homosexual relationships on the side.

Melody said...

Incidentally - you hold an interesting interpretation of the word "quick".

samlcarr said...

Sara, welcome back! 1Cor6 has two words of uncertain usage, one that means soft, gentle, and the other that no one has a definite definition of because apparently Paul himself creates this word. In neither case is the translation clear. The English translations have taken these words as referring to gender confusion as well as male homosexuality or even pederasty and male prostitution, but I remain unconvinced.

Secondly, just as with heterosexuals where there is a right relationship that is not sinful, as well as lots of opportunities for sin, so too for homosexuality, and that is what I have been arguing for here for quite some time.

Melody, there is a similar problem of translation with Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities were destroyed for their great wickedness but is that connected with homosexuality? I don't know and the text is less than clear.

The other one is the Levite and that ended up being a heterosexual rape even though it started out as an attempted homosexual rape.

I guess my way of trying to get to know God is to start with Jesus with whom I have a personal relationship and whom we do know a fair bit about from the NT. Jesus went out of his way to help and to heal the marginalised, the scorned of society, and the downtrodden. So, I'm taking no chances on this issue till he tells me to desist!

Melody said...

Melody, there is a similar problem of translation with Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities were destroyed for their great wickedness but is that connected with homosexuality? I don't know and the text is less than clear.

I realize this - It is entirely possible that God wished to destroy the cities merely because they were full of men who wished to rape newcomers. The world may never know. I was merely using it as an example of a strong homosexual presence in a society.

I guess my way of trying to get to know God is to start with Jesus with whom I have a personal relationship and whom we do know a fair bit about from the NT.

And who was there from the start of creation? That Jesus? Just checking.

Jesus went out of his way to help and to heal the marginalised, the scorned of society, and the downtrodden.

And I'm all for helping and healing the marginalised and scorned - even the non-marginalised. I'm not picky.

I just don't agree with you on what constitutes help.

samlcarr said...

Absolutely the same Jesus by whom everything was created. The only thing is, in sopite of His having come and lived among us to show us what and who He really is, I mostly still don't get close. That's my sin.

Now, folks 4,000 years ago who had not the benefit of an incarnate God... saw through an even darker glass. i'd mauch rather rely on the picture painted by His own disciples than to try to decipher God's character from His interactions with such ancient cultures that i have no clue about at all.

I think it's pretty clear that at the heart of Jesus message is stuff like 'the last shall be first' and 'blessed are the poor in spirit' which incidentally is a pretty good definition of what coming out of the homosexual closet can do to someone who's trying to fellowship with the likes of today's conservative Christian.

It's "US" vs "THEM". We are experts at sniffing out that hidden sin and outing the culprit, all in the belief that by so doing we are furthering the purity of "OUR" fellowship.

It's called 'Othering' and the highest form of this fine art is taught in the gospel according to CCC (Conservative Christian Culture).

Melody said...

I think it's pretty clear that at the heart of Jesus message is stuff like 'the last shall be first' and 'blessed are the poor in spirit' which incidentally is a pretty good definition of what coming out of the homosexual closet can do to someone who's trying to fellowship with the likes of today's conservative Christian.

It's also a good description of someone in prison - not to say that we can't fellowship with prisoners or homosexuals, just that being poor in spirit isn't validation.

It's called 'Othering' and the highest form of this fine art is taught in the gospel according to CCC (Conservative Christian Culture).

Wait - what's called "Othering"?

I'm confused.

samlcarr said...

Melody,It's worth studying how ideas like righteous and holy have changed with the incarnation of Jesus. Jesus embraces the world, He becomes a human, eventually He embraces our sin. Before the incarnation, the idea of holiness is always accompanied by separation. After the incarnation, the heart of holiness is embrace. God embraces us, to pull a point out of context, "while we were yet sinners".

When faced with homosexuality or anything else that we think of a deviant, a common reaction is "how icky". That's one signal that we are being called to get in there and embrace, identify with and conquer that othering response.

It's not optional for a disciple of Jesus to stand aloof and to practice separation. The job now is only the ministry of reconciliation and one way to do this is to follow Jesus as He embraces all that is dark and then burns away the darkness with His loving light.

I'm starting to wax poetic so I better quit before it gets too purple!

Here's the thing: John comes to church, he is a new convert. The pastor asks him after the service to tell a bit about himself and he says that he is a successful businessman, basically an agnostic, who has been feeling a sense of conviction for some time and started reading the bible and decided that he believes in Jesus, that Jesus is his savior.

The pastor is really excited. A new convert, someone who can be discipled!

Then he says that after having been in love for 2 years, finally, 5 years ago he married Jack and they have one adopted child Julie, that they got from Sri Lanka, who is now 4 years old.

What/how would you want your pastor to continue the conversation?

Melody said...

What/how would you want your pastor to continue the conversation?

To be quite honest - I have no idea.

The church I grew up in ignored anything questionable or even blatently awful - I wouldn't want it to be handled that way.

I just don't know how one would handle that.

My only experience in that arena was in highschool I was friends with a couple girls who were dating.

I wasn't supposed to know, but I did and once the one girl knew about it she demanded that I tell her if I thought it was sin and why. Wanted to know if I thought she was still a christian.

But she never asked me to accept her lifestyle. If it had been the girl was dating she would want to feel validated and I wouldn't have been able to give her that feeling.

samlcarr said...

Ok, that's fair enough so, let's put the same question to the quietly, quietly, fence sitting, Calvinistic, Erdmanian, PoMo, Tornado...

Melody said...

Yes Erdman - you started this whole thing - do you have an opinion or are you just a rabble rouser?

Jonathan Erdman said...

I started to answer Sam's Sinister Scenario, then realized how long the comment was going to be, so I just made it into a new post. It is a good scenario, and hopefully others will join in the discussion because it brings to the surface many important issues.

I'll try to get that up by Monday.

Daniel said...

hi folks
a perspective on this long conversation: reading it in entirety made my heart grow heavy as it became evident that our children will grow up in a world where the Word of God is constantly recontextualised according to the shifting sands of popular opinion. there is nothing new under the sun. what changes is our courage as believers to shun what the world considers to be honourable, and side with God's unfailing capacity to destroy the works of evil and heal the broken-hearted. hesitate before leading the little ones to sin in this matter. lead many to rightouesness and shine like the stars in the midst of a perverse generation.

samlcarr said...

Daniel, you have my heartfelt sympathies, for you are equating human interpretation and human theology with the Word of God that is "living and active and sharper than any two edged sword"... God and His Word are always contextual!

chris van allsburg said...

the words in the greek nt have stumped scholars? I have 3 yrs of greek behind me plus plenty of tools to boot. maybe it should be concluded that SOME scholars are stumped by the word, but not the scholars I've read.

Also, boiling the homosexual sin down to words studies is ridiculous. Even general revelation teaches us that such an act--sodomy--is just plain out of whack.

Sodomy? Please. It is not an expression of human love. Sodomy, the act of putting the penis into the anus, is the act of death swallowing life. The male genitalia have been recognized as the "fount of life" for centuries, and the rectum has been rightly understood that which rids the body of death. In the act of sodomy, death swallows life.

But God's design for sex creates life--children. The only reason people want to think the Bible is "iffy" on this issue is because of human depravity trying to usurp what God has both designed and said is lawful/unlawful and good/evil.

samlcarr said...

Chris,
Now,that's an interesting response: penis in vagina = making babies = life .'. good, biblical, etc.

That was what, 2,000 y.a. and more? But still perhaps somewhat true too through the middle ages.

But now, Babies = overpopulaton = starvation = global warming = world out of whack .'. penis in vagina = death and perhaps even ...

Incidentally, you should also be against any form of birth control too with a hermeneneutic like that!

chris van allsburg said...

Purpose with restrictions and total purpose are two different things.

But, I do believe Christians should exercise their God-given ability to reproduce. And to be honest, I don't have the birth control issue settled. I believe in the God of the covenant, and that Christian parents should raise covenant-keeping children.
The kingdom grows this way at a rate perhaps faster than with Billy Graham crusades. But that's anoter topic.

Also, having babies doesn't mean overpopulation and starvation. That's a myth. Yes, there is death, but only after life happens first! The cultural mandate from Genesis is still being fulfilled physically and spiritually (the great commission).

What, the Bible's commands ceased in the middle ages? What brought that on? Our postmodern and modern epistemologies? The Bible is culturally relative now?

Look, the basic premise holds true: man + woman = life--and that by design. Man + man = death. Sodomy is rejected in the Scripture over and over.

asenokoites= man (with emphasis on sex) + bed (a euphemism for the sexual act). [BAGD] Homosexual activity, whether done in a monogomous relationship, in a temple of idolators, or as a prostitute is condemned.

the scholarly tools I have for just simple, basic language study show this word fron 1 cor, 6:9 to mean sodomist activity. Paul uses the same word in 1 Timothy. Scholars are certainly NOT confused about this word. BAGD is apprx 100 yrs old, and the latest scholarship shows the editors were correct. the word is used many times in koine as well as classic greek. Why confuse the issue? Death swallows life in the sodomist act, and God designed the penis for the vagina and vice versa. Why is that so hard to understand?

chris van allsburg said...

Also, on overpopulation and starving; this is an oversimplification. Those countries where these things exist are the result of societies left in pagan and animistic darkness, tree worship, rock worship, demon worship. Plus many of these places are ruled by ruthless warlords and dictators who reject God's commands to have a just society, a knowledge of Jesus Christ, a place replete with good farming methods, a sound economy, & personal freedom. Of course, this isn't a panacea, but it's foundational to a just, equitable, and prosperous society. That is why Christ came--to rescue us from darkness and redeem the (this!) world. We're not waiting for the Rapture--we've got work to do. Christ will establish his kingdom this way, by redeeming the world: people, families, cities, nations and cutlures through the wisdom that comes from him, and upon which we are totally dependent.

Daniel said...

every new life brings joy
to the Father
promise of greatness,
destiny unleashed
on the earth,
as it is
glorious ones
around the throne
worshipping.
our world needs more babies. babies smile when smiled to,
laugh
when laughter is heard.
conception the awesome
mystery
of sperm meets egg,
Christ reaching Church,
creator and created,
eternal life
eternal

samlcarr said...

Form and function...so therefore sexuality has to do with procreation, but I wonder, why did God make it also a pleasure? According to you guys, you can't imagine recreational sex. In fact it may even be be wrong.
Well, all I can say for our already overpopulated world is God help us!

Bit busy today but I should be back to take up the gauntlet in a few hours...

Jonathan Erdman said...

On the issue of pleasure and pro-creation in sex, I was reading an interesting new essay discussing the Apocryphon of John, a Gnostic (Nag Hammadi) text with a highly developed cosmology. Interestingly, in this text the Father creates with Barbelo, an invisible, virginal Spirit. The result is the Son. But this "union" is not really sexual, per se. It is mysterious. There is "contemplation" and "thought", not necessarily intercourse.

Sopia bucks the system and produces an offspring on her own, the result of her own contemplation on the sexual. She is wrong b/c she did not produce an offspring with her husband.

"And the Sophia of the Epinoia, being an aeon, conceived a thought from herself and the conception of the invisible Spirit and foreknowledge. She wanted to bring forth a likeness out of herself without the consent of the Spirit, - he had not approved - and without her consort, and without his consideration. And though the person of her maleness had not approved, and she had not found her agreement, and she had thought without the consent of the Spirit and the knowledge of her agreement, (yet) she brought forth."

The result is unfortunate. She gives birth to Yaltabaoth: "a form of a lion-faced serpent. And its eyes were like lightning fires which flash. She cast it away from her, outside that place, that no one of the immortal ones might see it, for she had created it in ignorance."

Yaltabaoth is trouble for earthlings, representing the devil and darkness and evil in various ways. He eventually deceives Eve and bears two children by her: Cain and Abel. Seth is eventually created by Adam: "And when Adam recognized the likeness of his own foreknowledge, he begot the likeness of the son of man. He called him Seth, according to the way of the race in the aeons."

The purpose of recalling this story is that the essay I read took the position (reasonable, so it seems to my limited knowledge of the Apocryphon of John) that in the Aocryphon there is a general move to associate sex (in the physical sense) with imperfection, while creation that is less sexual is more pure. The Father creates Barbelo by thought: "And his thought performed a deed and she came forth." When the Father procreates by Barbelo it is by virture of looking at Barbelo with pure light: "And he looked at Barbelo with the pure light which surrounds the invisible Spirit, and (with) his spark, and she conceived from him. He begot a spark of light with a light resembling blessedness. But it does not equal his greatness. This was an only-begotten child of the Mother-Father which had come forth; it is the only offspring, the only-begotten one of the Father, the pure Light."

The point of this Gnostic expedition is simply to say that in various ancient views of sexuality and the act of sex itself (regardless of whether it was male-male or male-female) was regarded as something of a necessary evil. Hence the practice of chastity and sexual asceticism in the early church and later into the middle ages was non infrequent. Some early Christians practiced "spiritual marriages" whereby opposite gender couples lived with one another in purity. As I understand it, the practice of "spiritual marriage" amongst monks in the Medieval church resulted in an extra amount of grace for those monks who could look upon the nakedness of a woman and suppress their sexual desires.

Some Christians throughout history have seen sexuality only as a means of procreation, with pleasure being something of a necessary evil. I have heard the viewpoint that "the Holy Spirit leaves the bedroom" when the sex act occurs. On the other hand, as I understand it, it is also possible that some early Christian groups (perhaps more Gnostic?) viewed the sex act between a husband and wife as something of a sacrament. (I'm kind of speculating on this last one.)

So, the question regarding the nature of sexuality is an important one, with many varying views of the purpose of sexuality and creation. Is sex for creation purposes only? Is it more "holy" to abstain?

In our current American culture I would say that sexuality is now almost completely de-mysticized - that is, sex is purely a physical and emotional interaction with the emotional aspect somewhat of an optional component. But there is little to no conception of sexuality being being "spiritual," or at the very least spirituality is not a necessary component of sexuality. It is, after all, reducible to the exchange of bodily fluids. All in all, I would say that sexuality is fundamentally a scientific phenomenon in the collective mind of the American culture. As such, we are quite a ways removed from the cultures of the early church and Medieval thinking.

The thinking of 1 Corinthians 6 is quite difficult for the 21st century mind to understand, in all its fullness, as it presumes an intimate connection between sexuality and spirituality:

"The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh." But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

samlcarr said...

male+bed: In the context of a list of things that will keep one out of the kingdom starting with injustice, and including greed (pleonektes, desiring things), and heterosexual promiscuity, it's a waste arguing about something for which there can be no meaning assigned (LSJ) is honest enough not to try). For that matter this compound could mean something as simple as laziness: men who love their beds and sleep the day away without getting on with their jobs. Your euphemistic use of koite should not be taken as primary...especially when the context is the K of G.

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