Saturday, July 15, 2006

homosexual hermeneutic

During the last semester of my undergrad career I went to JBC and met a man by the name of Dr. John Rumple. As of yesterday he has resigned from JBC and has a blog opened to discuss the homosexual hermeneutic. Go to this web site- www.outofcontext.us please let me know your thoughts on the homosexual hermeneutic.

living from the back of the line,

ben.

230 Comments:

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Anonymous shane said...

I’m really upset that today’s pc culture makes me look like an arrogant bigot anytime I suggest sexual immorality is a sin, but it’s the truth so I will try my hardest to speak it in love. I don’t know where everyone else stands, so if I offend anyone please forgive me and if my conservative background has blinded me please prove me wrong. The biblical texts concerning this issues seem very clear to me.

I totally agree that the church, and we as individuals, need to be much more compassionate towards unsaved homosexuals, and saved people who do not practice, but struggle with homosexual temptation. But I don’t think that is what this guy is going for. It seems he is an unrepentant homosexual and is trying hard to justify it. If this is the case the church should not condone his behavior any more then they would an unrepentant single pastor who’s sleeping around town. If he thinks he can somehow prove that homosexual behavior is not sinful, I think he’s wasting his time. If that is the case, this has nothing to do with hermeneutics, and everything to do with false teaching (although it seems he is accusing me of the same). Someone needs to gently lead him back to the truth, not for the sake of being right, but for the sake of his soul. Correct me if I’m taking Paul’s teaching out of context, but people who embrace a sin to the point of making it a lifestyle show that they will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9) There is a huge difference between someone struggling with sin, and someone running to embrace it.

If he was trying to get people to treat homosexuals with the same love and respect they would any others sinner, then I would be right behind him 100%, it would help us to lovingly bring them the good news that Jesus truly can give them freedom. I get the impression though that he is saying homosexuals don’t need to be freed from this particular sin, and that’s not cool.

The guy really didn’t make any clear argument yet, so I may understand him better when his website is all up and running. He says he’s writing some huge article supporting his views but right now it’s not finished and most of the links on his site seemed to be inactive and there was no content on a lot of the pages.

July 15, 2006 at 7:21 PM  
Anonymous shane said...

i found this lecture on Mr. Moore's web site. It gave me a better understanding of what this guy may use to defend his position. Mark does a great job of illustrating the hermeneutic and makes some great points at the end of his Lecture.


Lecture on Homosexual hermeneutics

July 17, 2006 at 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan Willmore said...

I am a student at Johnson Bible College... John Rumple was my favorite professor the past school year. I held him in high regard because of his conservative views on baptism and reverence for God. He has an undergraduate in Preaching and Bible, a Masters in New Testament, a Masters of Divinity, and is about to receive a Doctorate in New Testament I believe. He is a very well educated man. He came from the non-instrumental Church of Christ and a much more conservative background then myself. This was a man I trusted and in fact has inspired me to teach theology. When I herd about him being gay I was so angry. I listened to Mark Moore’s class on homosexuality and better understood the arguments for homosexuality, so I would like to thank him for his excellent teachings. I guess I don’t really know what to say because I am still speechless about this news. I know he is wrong for his lifestyle and that he has been misguided in his studies. I agree with Shane and that he is trying to justify it and, even if he is right he was still living in sin by living with another man who Mr. Rumple said was his “partner”. I have never had a mentor exposed like this before and has caught me off guard. I just pray that he will realize his misinterpretation and strive for a celibate life if he cannot find attraction in women.

July 17, 2006 at 9:23 PM  
Blogger Mark Moore said...

Let me weigh in on this with three comments. (1) Shane, thank you for linking my audio lecture above on Homosexual Hermeneutic. The printed material can also be downloaded in PDF format (it is part of a rather lengthy notebook): http://markmoore.org/resources/issuesnb.pdf
(2) There is a significant betrayal here beyond a homosexual life-style. That is, he was living a secret life against the community he was a part of. Obviously, we must be concerned with sexual purity. But in many ways, deceit of the body of Christ is worse because it destroys our ability to function as the body in confession, restitution, conversation, and healing.
(3) Mr. Rumple taught many of you in many significant ways. Please don't disregard that. His love for you, attention to you, teaching of you will continue to bear fruit. May it not be that my sins discount the good I have tried to do.
(4) Mr. Rumple is hurting more than any of the rest of us who grieve over this event. When I am in pain, I don't always conduct myself in as clear-headed ways as I would like. I urge grace in understanding Mr. Rumple. I can't speak for him obviously, but I suspect that in hind-sight he would do many things differently. Wouldn't we all when we have the luxury of thinking dispationately about an issue after the fact.
(5) I am saddened by his website that has a tone of anger (perhaps even retaliation). Again, I would probably be just as angry given his circumstances. But he is shaming an institution and individuals who are noble and God-honoring. This kind of public criticism will likely give many unbelievers reason to speak ill of the bride of Christ and that saddens me.

July 18, 2006 at 8:20 PM  
Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

Mark-
I think you bring up a good point in regard to character. He has become the kind of man that can live in deceit, slowly this has become easier for him, until now he can live in sin and be comfortable with it. Jonathan, I don't know how you're feeling, but it has to be tough. How close were you? I know how I highly I respect some of my proffs, in many ways I think they can do no wrong, but this is a healthy reminder that none of us are beyond the boundries of a community no matter how many degrees we get or even policies we may disagree with. God help us we need community, a community of character I'm learning more and more. The faithfulness of my friends, even in their sin, has made me more repentant, more honest and more faithful. I love my friends, and pray that God will challenge me with their faithfulness.

July 18, 2006 at 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Hilah said...

Mr. Moore,
I'm a confused and concerned student at JBC and I just wanted to say thanks for your comments here and for the lecture on homosexual hermeneutics. It's helping me make sense of some of this. God Bless.

July 18, 2006 at 11:03 PM  
Blogger Justin Warner said...

Mr. Moore,
I graduated from JBC in 2005, and only had Mr. Rumple for one class, but I have to say that he is extremely knowledgeable in the scripture, and what I learned has been valuable in my life. Like you said, "May it not be that my sins discount the good I have tried to do", I feel that there is too much hostility toward Mr. Rumple in the younger students who have looked up to Rumple as one of the Freshmen Professors. My question for you is in James 3:1, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." How should we view this passage in a situation like this. I know the passage is about taming the tongue, and what the tongue can produce/destroy. Anyway, thanks for your time, and I hope that JBC has you come back for some more awesome seminars from you soon.

July 19, 2006 at 8:23 PM  
Blogger Mark Moore said...

Justin, James 3:1 is for me and Mr. Rumple not for you (unless or until you are a teacher). You are not the one that does the severe judging, God is. This will help you rest better. One of your other students said to me in a personal email that he was trying to figure this all out. Well, good luck! Figuring out deceptions, sexuality, judgment? Sometimes the best we can do is honestly experience life in both its pain and pleasures. To arbitrate, judge, control, or categorize is thoroughly beyond me. Nevertheless, your point is well-taken, if I presume to be a teacher, I must take the responsibility of greater moral, intellectual, and spiritual paths or be prepared to answer to God.

July 20, 2006 at 9:06 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Focus on the Family is dealing with this issue right now also. Here is a link to a brief news article about the latest Focus on the Family controversy: Click here.

My brother JD asked me what my opinion on this matter was. Here are some of the thoughts I came up with:

It would not surprise me if Focus on the Family is guilty of twisting data for their purposes. While I know that Focus on the Family does much good, I have also witnessed firsthand some of the evil it has done, and I do not agree at all with Dobson's political methodology. I think it is unchristian. I tend also to think that Focus on the Family is focusing on the wrong thing, both in this situation and in general.

I do think Dobson should meet with Soulforce [a pro-gay and lesbian family group] privately. Refusing to do so and demanding instead a public debate seems a bit like a stratagem to me. By refusing to speak with them privately Dobson is able to avoid getting to know his enemy personally, and, what's more, he is empowered to twist words to his advantage in an environment where he has the majority vote. He does believe, after all, that he is the President of the Moral Majority.

Or maybe he's just too exhausted for a private meeting. That could be the case. I wonder, though, when the last time was that Dobson had dinner with a homosexual, or a homosexual couple.

As far as the sin of homosexuality goes, I think homosexuality is for the most part a different animal today than it was in the ancient Mediterranean world when Paul wrote Romans chapter 1. Moreover, Romans chapter 1 leads directly into Romans chapter 2. Christians tend to forget that fact. We like to read how bad Paul says homosexuals are. We don't like it pointed out to us that Paul's talk about homosexuality was a rhetorical ploy to get Christians to see how wicked they themselves are. Paul's point was that we tend to read Scripture over against others when we should be reading it over against ourselves.

For that reason, I try to choose to reserve judgment about to what extent or in what way homosexuality is a sin. I know there are plenty of homosexuals out there who profess to be Christians and actually do a pretty good job of it, better than a lot of the heterosexual Christians I know. Of course that itself does not make homosexuality any less a sin if it is in fact a sin. But it brings me pause.

...

July 21, 2006 at 4:32 AM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

Hi, I thought I might post something. Its Jason McCheyne here an OCC graduate and follower of Jesus who is married to another man and has been for 6.5 years and with a 5 month old baby boy here in Melbourne Australia. I am really glad to see that dialogue is occurring finally. If 3-5% of any given population on the planet is same sex attracted then how we interact with this section of God's creation is paramount. This is over one million Australians and over 15 million American's. I know it can be hard to see but there is surprisingly and boringly very litle differnce between a gay or lesbian person and a heterosexual person. A person should be judged on their character, not their gender, race or orientation. Anyway just wanted to say hi and am happy to dialogue with anyone. The pursuit of truth and the renewal of our minds is one of our most important tasks as followers of Christ. jason@jayado.com

July 21, 2006 at 7:29 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Thank you, Jason, for joining us here. You bring up a good point about population. The numbers alone should force conservative Christians, at least, to reevaluate their tactics. I do think it begs the question, though, for a lot of people here at least, to say that a person should be judged by their character and not by their sexual orientation. While I might agree with you that a homosexual orientation is more of a biological than an ethical issue, not everyone here would share that assumption. Many, as you know, believe the Bible tells us that homosexual orientation is precisely a character issue. I do not think it is so cut and dry as that, but there needs to be dialogue on both sides. Neither side will serve itself well by simply begging the question and making a bald statement of fact out of what is obviously a factvalue (that's right, factvalue) claim.

Regarding what I said earlier, I just want to qualify what I said a little. While I have my suspicions about Dobson, I have no reason to doubt that he is entirely sincere. In fact I'm sure he's convinced what he does is what God requires of him. While I again stress that I do not think his political methodology is Christian, I want to tone that down a little by making it clear that I'm aware of the great good he has done in the lives of so many. It is not up to me to weigh whether he has done more harm than good. So while I emphatically reject much of his agenda, I do not wish to deny the sincerity of his heart or the good fruit of his incredibly hard and consistent labor.

...

July 21, 2006 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

Regarding homosexuality as a biological question I have several questions. First, is homosexuality evident in cultures that are not affluent? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that in third world countries homosexuality simply doesn't exist. Is there a correlation? If homosexuality is not a question of character why does it seem so connected to character when it is talked about in both the OT and New? In Leviticus homosexuality is the only sin specifically connected to the Hebrew word for "abomination." Also, the material in Romans 1 (no, I don't think of it as "factvalue," but historically it has been interpreted by the Church regard homosexuality as a sin). Third question, if homosexuality is a question of biology, which I don't think it is, what would that change? The ethic of Jesus is that of the cross. Our desires are crucified and reshaped after God. I know that there is more to say and learn, but these are some initial issues I have.

July 22, 2006 at 7:10 PM  
Anonymous shane said...

Though I have no proof, I would agree that in some cases, not all, certain people are born with natural homosexual desires, but I might be wrong. Regardless, I don’t think that can in anyway justify acting on those desires. We live in a fallen world, every person has natural desires that it would be wrong to give in to. If God says something is wrong, who are we to question him? Lusting is wrong, and it is something I have struggled with since I was a young child. When I see an attractive women, my biology tell me that I should desire her and there is nothing wrong with that, my character, on the other hand, will be shown by what I choose to do with that desire. Will I entertain it with mental fantasy, will I follow the desire and pursue her physically, or will I deny my sinful self and remain loyal to Christ and to my loving wife? I can’t control what tempts me, but there is always a way out of giving in to those temptations. The real danger comes when I make a pattern out of giving into those temptations and I slowly become their slave. From there the only way I can live with myself is to rationalize it in my head and harden my heart until my conscience is so seared that I no longer feel the prick of the Holy Spirit’s conviction, that or repent.

I certainly have a lot of compassion for my brothers and sisters who desire a same sex partner, and I certainly don’t expect them to magically flip a switch and become attracted to the opposite sex, but maybe chastity is not such a small price to pay in the long run. This is what I know to be true; sex is made for marriage, and marriage happens when a man leaves his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two become one flesh. If we compromise this truth, what part of God’s Word will be next, and when will we stop. I see a slippery slope. I know some will disagree with me and I respect their right to there own opinion, but I can not accept it as truth.

July 22, 2006 at 9:38 PM  
Anonymous shane said...

Also, isn’t it amazing that God designed man and woman in such a way as they can intimately express their love for each other sexually, mutually, with dignity and respect, face to face? As far I know we are the only creatures on the planet that can peer into each others eyes during the act of sex.

July 22, 2006 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger bsiemon82 said...

I want to say thank you for all the responses for the blog i had post. Obviously, this is a key issue within the church today and one that needs some dialogue and should not just be ignored. When I was introduced to church at a younger age I would have never thought we would be discussing this issue. Thank you for your thoughts!

love wins.

living from the back of the line,
ben.

July 23, 2006 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

Thom, I am absolutely thrille dthat dialogue is happening and am pleased to be a part of the conversation.

Shane I understand what you mean by your struggle wth temptation and that struggle is a valid one. However a person's sexual orientation is formed and stable by the timethat person exits the womb. Their awareness may take a decade or too to actualise. I am married to my same sex husband and there are many countries today who encourage and support stable families because sexual orienatation is not a character issue (it can be just like it can be for hetersexual persons). The reason the church has to confront this reality is because 3-5% of its own population is same sex oriented. Its just a asimple fact. And we love Jesus too.

Tyler, homosexual people (though not necessarily branded that term" exist in every population across the planet and across the ages. The 3-5% figure is stable and consistent.

Shane, same sex couples peer in to each others eyes when having sex too. Interestingly and I am sorry that the sexual act needs to be explained here, please forgive me if I offend anyone. The research reveals that more heterosexual couples practice anal sex than same sex couples and interestingly a males g spot is in his anus. Sex is not dirty if practiced appropriately.

I hope this opens up some further discussion.

WIth love and respect,

Jason

July 24, 2006 at 1:22 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Thank you, Tyler, Shane, and Jason for your good comments.

Jason, no one here wants or means to deny that you love Jesus. That's something we all share here. I would be interested to hear from you personally just what your love for Jesus amounts to, how it has changed you, and why and in what way it makes a difference in your life.

I appreciate your countering Shane's comments about the "naturalness" of heterosexual sex. I hope it is not too graphic for some, but I think it is important that we be careful the kind of assertions we (and here I mean we conservatives) make. More often than not our prior attitude toward homosexual orientation/activity is going to determine for us what gets to count as "evidence from nature." None of these kinds of arguments will ever be anything like conclusive in either direction. "Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve" is not an intercommunitarian argument. Although it is significant as an argument to those on the more traditional side, it clearly has no logical force on the other side. Jason brings up a good point about the male g-spot being located in the anus. That could be used as evidence in an argument that at least homosexual sex is not unnatural. It may not be persuasive to those already convinced of the contrary, but that it gets to count as evidence from any perspective is an indication of the kind of dialogue we're having here. Let's take this as a call to transcend the typical pro- and anti-gay slogans and move on to real, descriptive dialogue.

The challenge on both sides is to locate and evaulate the hermeneutical commitments and general moral assumptions that drive our telling the story of "naturalness" one way rather than another. In other words, we're dealing with two in many ways similar but in significant ways different rational frameworks here. For both sides (if there are only two sides) the Bible is authoritative. The question is not the authority of the Bible but rather what we mean when we say that the Bible functions authoritatively in the lives of Christians. (This is not to say that the biblical passages on homosexuality are hermeneutically unambiguous. I am eagerly awaiting the writing of John Rumple's exegetical essays over the next several months.)

However, I still think both Shane and Jason are begging the question. While I am not in principle disputing with either of them yet, I am still waiting for a descriptive account of how each person's reading of the biblical narratives amounts to their confidence in their position on sexual orientation. Shane has given intracommunitarian arguments, i.e., argument that confirm the position of those who already hold it. Jason has given us a rather non-descript claim that homosexual orientation is already decided by the time of birth.

What we have to realize is that, as of yet, no intercommunitarian descriptions have been put forward.

As far as Tyler's arguments go, I have this to say. Tyler has argued that the Bible clearly says homosexuality is a sin, and that Christians are called to crucify their sinful desires. While I agree with the latter part, my judgment on the former is suspended (as far as this discussion goes) until any argument either way is put forward. The question here is not what homosexuals should do with their sinful desires, but whether homosexual desire is itself inherently sinful. Obviously, good homosexual exegetes have different (i.e., unconventional) readings of key passages of Scripture to offer us. The question here actually is whether homosexuality is a morally deficient or a morally neutral state. (I see no one arguing that it is morally preferable.) If it is morally neutral, then there is no in principle reason to crucify homosexual desires. To crucify homosexual desires in this case would be morally the equivalent of crucifying heterosexual desires (i.e., for the sake of chastity and thus the kingdom). If homosexual orientation is morally deficient, Tyler's point may stand, though that is also a debate (see Verhey in Remembering Jesus).

The disastrous assumption on the part of some here is that determining the deficiency or the neutrality of homosexuality is just a matter of observing which side has the more "facts." The question is not what the facts are but what the facts are. In other words, the quetions is what gets to count as evidence one way or the other, and how we answer that question depends upon a host of assumptions that lie beneath the surface of what we would ordinarily call "argument."

Having said that, I want to recognize very loudly and clearly that we are not dealing with mere ideas here, but with (according to some estimates) 3-5% of the population of the world and how we label those very real, very earnest people. I am not willing to label unchristian millions of professing Christians just because I think the facts are on my side. I think the question of whether or not someone is a Christian lies much more closely to questions about how one treats others in terms of justice, peace, mercy and servanthood. If a homosexual person did exemplify these virtues in the name of a crucified Christ, that would be significant to me. Of course if it could be shown that homosexuals in general tended to be materialistic, self-serving, power-politicking, liberationists, that may be significant for determining the moral value of homosexuality as a practice from a Christian perspective (but I think such a claim would be ridiculous). And of course, on that line of reasining, 95% of the American churches would be damned first.

I do think Tyler's question about the affluent societies tending to have more homosexuals is an interesting investigation. Although I do not think the answer to this question is going to give us conclusive evidence for either position, it should weigh in the balance. Jason claims that the 3-5% population runs through just about every nation. That remains to be seen. I don't know where he's getting his numbers. Andy Rodriguez pointed out to me that in the country he was in in Africa, homosexuality wasn't even an issue, i.e., there weren't any to speak of. He said this in response to my suggestion that the poorer countries often are governed under a general conservative religious ethos. Andy pointed out the this particular African country had no official religion.

That is not evidence that homosexuality doesn't exist in poorer countries. As Jason put it, "homosexuality" is a term we use. It may take different forms and different names in different environments. But then again, it may just be absent.

Given that heterosexuality is usually the norm in any society, what are the conditions under which homosexuality would be given room to surface? Are the conditions necessary for such surfacing primarily economic ones, religious, intellectual, or otherwise? I think these are the more precise questions that need asked under this line of reasoning, but at the same time framing the questions this way already indicates the kind of trouble we're going to run into later once we want to start making general claims about the conditions necessary for the surfacing and survival of homosexuals or homosexual communities. There actually need not be any one set of conditions necessary. And a general tendency in one direction only takes on the character of "evidence" within the context of an argument that already has first principles and a suspected or desired conclusion.

Jason, I hope this doesn't sound like we're arguing theoretically about whether or not you have the right to exist. My place here is as a mediator and I'm doing my best to cater to the kind of questions that are required from the standpoint of my more conservative friends.

...

July 24, 2006 at 2:28 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

It is very interesting the dialouge going on here. I just want to raise one more issue that for me has always stood out. Shane mentioned how God naturally created Man and Woman to have face to face contact. He failed to mention one more astounding design of God which is obvious- procreation. Simply put a homosexual person cannot procreate, g-spot or no. Now, Jason and his partner have adopted, I assume, a baby, and I'm sure they are going to love that baby and bring it up the best they can or any of us can. But, forgive me for an ultra-conservative position here, but the issue of procreation does a lot for the natural vs. unnatural argument, at least in my mind. This said, I have had some homosexual friends. Any Christian who has habitually fornicated or committed adultery is the same. The Bible calls for all to be sexually pure. My point here is that many Christians (heterosexual too) are tarnishing that command on many levels.

July 24, 2006 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

You do bring up a good point, Greg. But I wonder if you would want to go so far as to say that the purpose of heterosexual marriage is to procreate. If this is what you're saying, on what grounds are you saying it? An easy argument to make against that notion would be that procreation was necessary for the filling up of the earth, but that marriage was instituted by virtue of man's need for companionship, which is a divine characteristic.

There has been a lot of theology of marriage done that talks about marriage as a form of asceticism, learning to deny self by loving the other, and that the purpose of marriage is the cultivation of the virtues necessary for sustaining Christian community. Although procreation is a part of marriage, and a necessary part of any good theology of marriage for a Christian people in general, I see no reason why we should say that it is necessary for every good marriage. (I think that would be asburd.) Adoption, then, certainly is more than just an option, but a theological obligation. An argument could be made that adoption is actually the more Christian form of child rearing, since, among other reasons, it is more closely analogous to discipling converts. The children of the church are not generated biologically.

I see potential room there for a theology that would include homosexual couples certainly not deficient in their capacity to raise children. Such parenting might actually be necessary since adoption among Christians is so irregular.

Again, your point that procreation is possible only in heterosexual relationships is an argument for the naturalness of heterosexuality from your tradition's perspective. From another tradition's perspective, that might not be immediately apparent.

Moreover, I think the question of whether homosexuality is natural is at least in one sense a little ridiculous, since there are obviously millions of people for whom homosexuality is quite natural. The question isn't whether it is natural or not, but from where we derive what gets to count as "natural" in the first place. Often times arguments from the "natural order" tend to underwrite the status quo mentality of a given society. Paul's very traditional point (in my understanding) was not that homosexuality was unnatural, per se, but that a general pagan rejection of the creation narrative resulted in certain kinds of cultic behavior which included homosexual sex as part of temple worship. The homosexuality to which Paul referred was connected to the rejection of the Jewish creation myth (not fictional myth) and the worship of false gods.

Jason, do you reject the creation myth and worship false gods?

Unless Jason's answer is different than I expect it to be, the homosexuality we're dealing with seems to be a different sort of animal than the kind Paul was referring to in his argument from "the nature of things."

That doesn't mean the discussion is over. That just means the discussion is a little more complicated than we think.

...

July 24, 2006 at 4:02 PM  
Anonymous shane said...

I agree this is a very sticky issue. I really thank all those apposing my view for their patience and courtesy. I’m sure I am challenging your convictions just as much as you are challenging mine. I am glad we can discuss this out of a desire to do God’s will and not a desire to prove the other wrong.

Aside from all the biblical texts that, at least to me, appear to obviously call homosexuality a sin, I also have another honest concern. My question is why has the church for the last 2000 years, and God’s people for thousand of years prior to the birth of the church never approved of homosexuality. The only time it is ever mentioned in scripture is to point it out as sin. Isn’t this the first time this has seriously been an issue. It seems across all times and cultures the Church has stood against any kind of sex that takes place out side the guidelines of a heterosexual marriage?

Jason you said “a person's sexual orientation is formed and stable by the time that person exits the womb. Their awareness may take a decade or too to actualize.”

I don’t necessarily disagree with that, what I am saying is that no one is born with a healthy sexual appetite. My flesh is perverted and it would be a terrible thing if I gave into all my natural desires sexual or otherwise. It’s not about what feels natural or what society thinks; it’s about what does God think. I really don’t want to appose your lifestyle, if God is ok with it I am too, but I need to know Biblically where I can find confidence that homosexuality is permissible before I can stand against thousands of years of church history and deny what my conscience and God’s Word has convinced me to be true. I think everyone can understand the fear of not wanting to be duped, or played the fool, especially when doing so could me you were outside of God’s will. Thanks everyone for the comments.

July 24, 2006 at 4:31 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Thank you, Shane. Appealing to church history and church authority is the best argument from the conservative side put forward so far. But we need to be careful. The church historically also perpetuated patriarchy, racism, anti-Semitism, in many places slavery, and not to mention nationalism and power politics. While church authority is the first and the best place to look for guidance, that too is a complicated move.

...

July 24, 2006 at 5:07 PM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

I am enjoying reading everyones posts. I only have a few minutes to write today and I promise to write again on Friday and answer the questions posed that I don't have time for today. The statistics I quote are from the research and are the conservative estimates. I am happy to furnish the references is abyone is interested. Our son was born through surrogacy. He is biologically one of ours, so yes we have procreated, just used an extra step. There are now a generation of thousands of kids born to same sex families all over the planet. The outcomes for these children (provided the parents are good parents...the character issue again) are same same as for children in good heterosexual families.
Sorry I can;t wirte more but I will on Friday.
Cheers
Jason

July 24, 2006 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger Andy Rodriguez said...

What an intringuing converstation. Thanks to all who have shared their thoughts and arguments. I am always reminded reading this how much I have to learn.

Thom mentioned the conversation that we had today. It is true that the countries I have been to in Africa had no concept of homosexuality. It was a foriegn idea to them. That was also the case working with the Indians in Ecuador as well with the poor in the Yucatan. But I must also say that I did befriend an Arab homosexual last year while working in Israel. This was in a very muslim culture where homosexuality is considered very taboo. This fellow did hoave the oppurtunity to travel both to America and Englad for some time. I am a bit leery of stats of percentage of homosexuals among different nations. Whether they come from an ultra-conservative tradition or homosexual there is an agenda behind the stats. There is something to prove.

Regardless, I dont think the statistic question is the the right question to ask. I am fine with accepting the 3-5% of every population. Sounds fair to me. I think the more important question is: Is living the homosexual lifestyle sinful? Or, is homosexuality consistent with God's design for the union of marriage? This is why I, like Thom, am looking forward to the exegesis of the "homosexual texts" by Mr. Rumple. Just as I am not comfortable with "the bible says it, I believe it, that settles it" menatlity, I am equally not satisfied with "homosexuality today is different than homosexuality then so the texts dont really matter." I know that no one has said this, but it is a popular homosexual tactic.

More than just focusing in on the "homosexual verses" I would also like to hear more on "marriage verses." There seems to be a consistent theme through the biblical narrative on God's design or creation of the institution of marriage. An unbiased reading of Gen-Rev seems to portray God's perfect design/creation of marriage to be male and female. Maybe a good discipline for all of us to do would be to an inductive study on marriage, union, hhomosexuality, sex, etc. and see what the texts say before we start saying what they mean (I know how muc of an ozarkian suggestion that is, but gosh, i still think the Bible has some things to say to us today. Call me crazy).

I also thinks Shane brings up a great point about the church's interpretation of homosexuality as a sin. Someone who considers homosexuality as an acceptable practice would have to be comfortable going against what the church has consistantly dissapproved of.

May I issue a warning to the bloggers here, and this could simply the the evangelist coming out in me. We all have a lot to learn, and all of us could be wrong. Jason, I dont for a second question your commitment to follow Jesus. Nor do I for Thom, Shane, Ben and the rest. But i confess that for the first time in my life I am personally befriending a homosexual who is not a christian. May God forgive me. I dont care if Jason or Thom or Mr. Rumple pointed him to Jesus, but I desperatly want him to surrender his life to Christ. He is not the only one. As we debate and learn and argue let us not forget that we can work together as fellow disciples learning to become better disciples to bring lost people to Him.

July 24, 2006 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Thank you, Andy. Your challenge is the right one.

Jason, where-a-bouts in Oz are you? I grew up on the Gold Coast.

...

July 24, 2006 at 7:15 PM  
Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

Friends,
I have posted some exegetical work I have done for a paper regarding homosexuality in the book of Leviticus. This is an attempt to convince Thom and others that the Bible in the community of believers since at least Moses through all of church history has understood homosexuality as wrong. Historically, lexically and grammatically this makes good exegetical sense.

Thom, you said, "The question here actually is whether homosexuality is a morally deficient or a morally neutral state." How could this be determined aside from the bible? especially when the question of what counts as "evidence" is such a significant issue. The complexities exist for a number of reasons especially when one considers that our Lord had no sexual practice. But, the bible does speak to this issue, how it is to be understood is the question.

Also, I would like to draw attention again to Andy's observation that while in Malawi, Africa homosexuality simply isn't an issue. The stories of the people there have made "homosexuality" an unintelligible term. Until very recently (1960’s) this has also been the case in the Church even in cultures (i.e. the first-century world) where homosexuality was considered an acceptable practice.

EXEGESIS:
Homosexuality is explicitly prohibited in Leviticus (18.22; 20.13). The difficulty is found not in understanding these passages as clear prohibitions of homosexuality, but their application in the new covenant under Christ. One cannot simply argue, “Leviticus says it is wrong!” This point is seen explicitly in light of other laws which clearly have been done away with (Lev 18.19; 19.19; 19.27). At the same time, dismissing these laws because they are in the Old Testament is also mistaken. So then, how should these prohibitions be applied to a Christian, living under the grace of Christ and not the law of Moses (Col 2.6-23)? How even more in the contemporary world that believes the only thing to be intolerant of is intolerance.

These prohibitions against homosexuality occur in the portion of Leviticus commonly referred to as the Holiness Code (Lev 17-26). The previous 16 chapters have been devoted to the cultic worship practices of Israel focusing especially on atonement and Israel’s relationship to God. In chapters 17-26 the author shifts focus to holiness (19.2; 20.7, 8, 26; 21.6,8, 15, 23; 22.9, 16, 32) and Israel’s relationships within the community. The key exhortation to the Holiness Code is “You shall be holy, for I, Yahweh your God, am holy” (Lev 19.2). The context of the whole section indicates a call to holiness based on the character of God. This holiness runs counter to the nations which previously occupied the land Israel will inherit (18.1-5, 24-30; 20.22-24). Therefore, it must be kept in mind that regardless of what is culturally “appropriate” the exhortation is a call to holiness as defined by God.

With that context in mind, the text themselves clearly indicate that these laws are normative for Christians regardless of whether or not one considers this view to be “based on antiquated views of impurity.” Robert A.J. Gagnon in his book "The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics" highlights six salient points that indicate why these texts are normative for the contemporary Christian. (1) Lev 18.22 occurs in the context of forbidden sexual relations outlawing incest (18.6-8), adultery (18.20), child sacrifice (18.21), and bestiality (18.23) all of which continue to apply. The only sexual prohibition that is not considered universal like the others is intercourse with a woman in her menstrual uncleanness (18.19). (2) The word “abomination” תּוֹעֵבָה (tô‘ēbâ) indicates the ungodliness of the homosexual act. In the summary of chapter 18, vv 24-30, all of the prohibitions are described as “abominations” תּוֹעֵבֹתהַ (hatô‘ēbot). However, 18.22 is the only single act that is described in this way from the preceding list (18.6-23). In addition, Leviticus 20 describes the penalties for many of the unlawful acts of 18-19 and only homosexuality is described as an “abomination.” (3) The penalty for homosexuality is death (20.13). The only other offenses that are specifically penalized with death in Lev 20 are child sacrifice (20.2), cursing one’s parents (20.9), adultery (20.10), some forms of incest (20.11-12), marriage to a wife and her mother (20.14), and bestiality (20.15-16). All of which have remained normative for Christians. (4) Lev 18.22 and 20.13 are absolute and unqualified. (5) As already mentioned, the entire context of the Holiness Code stresses the distinctive holiness of God’s people. (6) The prohibition has been carried over into the new covenant (Rom 1.27, 32). The textual evidence, literary context, and theological continuity between testaments all indicate that homosexuality is prohibited for one claims to worship Yahweh.

Jason, how can a text like this be understood to support homosexuality?

July 24, 2006 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Thank you, Tyler. Your exegesis brings out the point (your strongest point) that homosexuality is listed among sexual sins that continue to be forbidden in the Church.

I am anticipating John Rumple's essay on the holiness code text. Certainly he will have to address the point you've raised here.

You did say, however, that you are writing in "an attempt to convince Thom and others that the Bible in the community of believers since at least Moses through all of church history has understood homosexuality as wrong." I'm not sure that anyone here needs convincing of that fact. No one (especially not I) has questioned that historically homosexuality has been condemned in Israel and the church.

Yet the concept of sexual orientation would have been foreign to Israel and the church. The question, then, is to what extent the Bible speaks to homosexuality today IF it is true that homosexuality is a biological and not inherently a moral disposition.

Moreover, your citing Romans 1 as evidence that the prohibition against homosexuality is carried over into the NT I think is a misstep, not because I personally disagree with you (my judgment is suspended currently), but because it could be argued (with some integrity I think) that because Paul's condemnation of the pagan idolaters is a rhetorical move to expose the guilt of "judgmental" Christians, Paul is not NECESSARILY sanctioning everything said in the traditional argument against gentile immorality. The point is, it's precisely a traditional argument. That's what Paul used to get in on the good side of his audience before showing all his cards. Just like all of my argument here for the homosexual hermeneutic could be a rhetorical ploy meant to spring a trap later, Paul may not necessarily be concerned with the traditional diatribe against gentile immorality either way. His concern clearly is the judgmental, exclusivistic attitude of Christians.

Finally, you asked Jason how a text like Leviticus 18 could be "understood to support homosexuality"? Not to be picky but I don't think anyone would claim that it "supports" homosexuality, as though someone is arguing that what Lev. 18 actually means that homosexuality is a-okay with Jehovah.

I think what you mean to ask is how homosexuality can be reconciled, from a Christian standpoint, with Lev. 18.

And your throwaway jab at the "tolerance" ethos is a good hit but I don't see its relevance here. I haven't heard anyone on the homosexual side (in this debate, John Rumple, or anyone else) bring up the word tolerance. Nor would I think John Rumple would side with those who say that the only thing we cannot tolerate is intolerance.

Apart from those caveats, I appreciate your exegesis and candid remarks. I love and respect you.

Shane, if you would like to shoot me an email (tmstark@gmail.com) I would like to say a personal word to you. If you're worried about my having your email address you can make up a new one and discard it later.

...

July 24, 2006 at 9:51 PM  
Anonymous shane said...

Hey Thom,
i emailed you my address, just letting you know incase it goes into your junk mail or something.

July 25, 2006 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Got it and replied. Thanks, Shane.

...

July 25, 2006 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Mark Moore said...

As this conversation continues, it might be helpful to have somewhat of a historical background for homosexuality in the Roman World against which Paul makes his comments in the New Testament. Caution: the quotes below are explicit. If salacious material offends you, please pass on this comment.

Petronius (c. 27-66) (advisor to Nero on entertainment), Satyricon 75.11, “When I was fourteen, I became my master’s ‘favorite.’ I mean, what’s wrong with doing what your master wants? Of course, I was doing it for my mistress, too. You catch my meaning? I don’t publicize it because I don’t like to boast.”

Seneca the Younger (c. 3 BCE – 65 CE), Letters 47, “Yet another slave, the one who pours the wine, is decked out in feminine clothing and fights a losing battle against age. He is a boy approaching manhood, but he must present a boyish appearance. Thus, although he has the bodily build of a soldier, he remains beardless because his hairs are rubbed away or pulled out by the roots. He is awake all night, dividing his time between his master’s drunkenness and sexual desires. In the bedroom, he is a man; at the dinner table, he is a boy.”

Tacitus (c. 56-117 CE), Annals 14.42 “One of his own slaves killed Pedanius Secundus, the city prefect. The slave committed the murder either (1) because Pedanius Secundus refused him his freedom after agreeing to the ‘purchase price,’ or (2) because the slave was in love with some young man and could not tolerate his master as his rival.”

Tacitus (c. 56-117 CE), On Tiberius, the Caesar of Jesus’ day, 6.1 Tiberias’ Pederasty: “In the fashion of a despot he debauched the children of free-born citizens. It was not merely beauty and a handsome person which he felt as an incentive to his lust, but the modesty of childhood in some, and noble ancestry in others. Hitherto unknown terms were then for the first time invented, derived from the abominations of the place and the endless phases of sensuality.”

Catullus (c. 84 BCE – 54 BCE) Poems 93, 57 on Julius Caesar’s sexual appetite with his homosexual partner Mamurra: “They suit one another well, these two lewd lechers, Mamurra and Caesar with his unnatural lusts. And no wonder! They have both been stained with an equal number of blotches which cannot be washed away [i.e. venereal disease], one picking them up in the city, the other at Formiae [Mamurra’s hometown, south of Rome], equally diseased, equally debauched, like twins, both learned scholars in affairs of the bed, both renowned for their adulterous appetites, friendly rivals also of young girls. Yes, they suit one another well, those two lewd lechers.” Because of such behavior Caesar was mocked as “a man for all women and a woman for all men.”

Suetonius (75 CE – 160 CE), The Twelve Caesars, on Tiberius the Caesar of Jesus’ day: (3.44) “Some aspects of his criminal obscenity are almost too vile to discuss, much less believe. Imagine training little boys, whom he called his ‘minnows’, to chase him while he went swimming and get between his legs to lick and nibble him. Or letting babies not yet weaned from their mother’s breast suck at his breast or groin—such a filthy old man he had become.”

Suetonius (75 CE – 160 CE), The Twelve Caesars, on Nero the Caesar of Paul’s day: (6.28 & 29) “Not satisfied with seducing free-born boys and married women, Nero raped the Vestal Virgin Rubria. He nearly contrived to marry the freedwoman Acte, by persuading some friends of consular rank to swear falsely that she came of royal stock. Having tried to turn the boy Sporus into a girl by castration, he went through a wedding ceremony with him –dowry, bridal veil and all – took him to his palace with a great crowd in attendance, and treated him as a wife. A rather amusing joke is still going the rounds: the world would have been a happier place had Nero’s father Domitius married that sort of wife. He dressed Sporus in the fine clothes normally worn by an Empress and took him in his own litter not only to every Greek assize and fair, but actually through the Streets of the Sigillaria at Rome, kissing him amorously now and then. . . . Nero practiced every kind of obscenity, and after defiling almost every part of his body finally invented a novel game: he was released from a cage dressed in the skins of wild animals, and attacked the private parts of men and women to stood bound to stakes. After working up sufficient excitement by this means, he was dispatched – shall we say? – by his freedman Doryphorus. Doryphorus now married him – just as he himself had married Sporus – and on the wedding night he imitated the screams and moans of a girl being deflowered.”

July 25, 2006 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Sounds like every homosexual couple I know: obscene, debase, depraved, violent, deviant, promiscuous and gratuitously bodacious.

...

July 25, 2006 at 7:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah but those aren’t really descriptions of homosexuals, they are descriptions of the lewdest of lewd lifestyles which just happen to at time include homosexuality. They also included pedophilia, cross-dressing, prostitution and rape and we certainly don’t allow that kind of behavior.

What if a brother and sister decided they wanted to enter into a monotonous committed sexual relationship? Would that be ok? What if they were both sterilized and there was no chance of it affecting an innocent child? Would that make it better? Is something wrong because it has consequences, or is it wrong because God says it’s wrong?

If we are throwing out Lev. 18:22 (Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.) then why are we hanging on to the rest of that chapter?

July 25, 2006 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

"Yeah but those aren’t really descriptions of homosexuals, they are descriptions of the lewdest of lewd lifestyles which just happen to at [the] time include homosexuality."

Yes. I was being sarcastic. My point was that this does not describe homosexuality as we understand it today. Mark's point was that these texts might help us understand homosexuality as it was understood in Paul's day.

"Is something wrong because it has consequences, or is it wrong because God says it’s wrong?"

I'm not sure I like either option. Good and evil isn't the product of an arbitrary decision made by God, any more than it's the product of our own determination of what seems to be expedient. Yet sometimes an act is wrong simply because it has negative consequences (Romans 14.15).

"If we are throwing out Lev. 18:22 (Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.) then why are we hanging on to the rest of that chapter?"

No one here has argued that we should throw out Lev. 18:22. The question is not whether or not we should listen to the Old Testament but what the Old Testament is saying in context and what kind of people we need to be in order to read it rightly. I'm not sure who you are, but Tyler already called our attention to the point that in Lev. 18 homosexuality is listed among other sexual vices the likes of which we clearly do not allow in our churches. It is not, as it were, in the same class of OT laws as, "Do not eat anything with curly tails." I responded that Tyler brought up a good point and that I am eager to hear from John Rumple on this matter in his forthcoming essay on Lev. 18.

All in all, let's all try to be a little more patient, and seek to understand one another rather than to defeat one another in argument. I'm convinced that everyone here is to the best of his or her ability honestly seeking to do the Lord's will. I choose to give both sides the benefit of the doubt in that regard.

Peace.

...

July 25, 2006 at 10:04 PM  
Anonymous Matt Parnell said...

While i cant say that i disagree with the sentament expressed, I would like to comment on the nature of the historical quotes. All of the above sources quoted are hardly neutual. Modern historians generally agree that these authors are propogandists, with axes to grind. Catullus was a political prevoceture like no other. And Suetonius, in particular, had his own strict political agenda. For this you can see JM Roberts among others (there is one author in particular who spells this out, but his name escapes me, he wrote a book named after Suetonius' called "Twelve Caesers")

Secondly, that Ttacitus claim, also does not seem particularly relavent, unless we think that stories like Othello should advise us against heterosexual love. People do crazy stuff for love.

The one exception to the above is Petronius's Satyricon, which like Plato's Symposium before it focuses on debauchery and bachinallia. But this is a comedy, a raucous one for sure, but still a comedy. And homosexuals are staples in comedy to this day. Is that really differnt then La Cage aux Folles, and Will and Grace. Additionally is the depravity expressed in the heterosexual porn industry an indictment of heterosexual love? The answer might be "yes," i dont know but we should ask, and be careful about appllying quotes from history.

ahh, in one final note, i would liek to point out that to attempt to quanify the percentige of homosexual people in any given population, much less all populations of all time strikes me as exceptionally daft.

July 26, 2006 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Once again, let's pay attention to Mark's puprose for bringing our attention to these quotes. As Mark said, "It might be helpful to have somewhat of a historical background for homosexuality in the Roman World against which Paul makes his comments in the New Testament."

Could it be that these quotes highlight for us all the more that what Paul was describing in Romans 1 is not what Jason is describing for us here?

Finally, let's try to avoid using adjectives like "daft" in our descriptions of one another's arguments. Matt, I recommend sticking with the socratic method of your third paragraph.

Peace.

...

July 26, 2006 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

Hello friends, this discussion is beginning to get interesting. I just want to say a couple of things. I don’t have a “lifestyle” anymore than any of you do. I follow Jesus and teach him in my chaplain role at school. I am also of homosexual orientation but am not a “homosexual” as if I am some separate entity that is somehow less than human or not imago dei. If there are any errors forgive me my 5 month old son keeps pressing the keys!

Thom I am in Melbourne, Victoria. Are you Jackina’s husband by any chance? I have just been accepted into a PHD program to explore “gay dads”. The interesting thing is that 95% of the kids born to the thousands of same sex couples world wide will be of heterosexual orientation. After all, heterosexual families raise same sex attracted children without ever teaching them anything but heterosexual normative behaviour. I am very excited about the opportunity.

Once again, it’s a question of character not orientation. It wasn’t long ago that parts of the church discriminated and oppressed people of different colour/race, upported slavery, and it still denies women true equality. Race, gender and orientation are beautiful aspects of creation. The variety is wonderful consistent and divine. Please don’t think I have an agenda to use statistics to support my arguments. I have researched extensively and these are my general findings. It is not a learned or actively chosen lifestyle. It is innate and a part of the normal range of human experience.

Sorry this is a bit rambly, Ruben needs to be fed and I can’t proof my piece.

Peace
Jason

July 27, 2006 at 2:41 AM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

One other thing... Matt, the statistics of 3-5% are proven not daft. This means there are 100a of millions of gods creation who are same sex attracted. Up to 10% have same sex attraction but are not actually oriented that way. It is simply not a case of millionsof people waking up one day and decding to defy god and sleep with the same gender.

July 27, 2006 at 2:44 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Jason,

Thanks for writing. In answer to your question, No. I am not Jackina's husband. That's Tony Stark and I am a bit too young for his job. I actually have no relation to Jackina apart from student-teacher.

...

July 27, 2006 at 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Matt Parnell said...

Ok I retract the use of "daft" and to be clear, I was not calling anyone "daft" but the project itself.
thom stark, Mark's intention is duely noted, thanks for pointing that out. Yet, i still wonder if we should consider lible as "historical background". Likewise fiction, does tell us something about the historical background even if it does not depict actual events, but in a differnt way. It is for this very reason that I am willing to entertain the notion that the contemporary pornography indistry offers a kind of indictment against heterosexual love. The problem with lible is that it is fiction trying to pass its self off as historical documentation. I say this just because the use of the "historical" quotes struck me as just the kind of misapplication of genre that makes bible scholars chringe when the same is done to scripture. Thats my only point.

Jason Mccheyne, lets start with things i grant. I grant your claim that are millions of same sex attracted people to one degree or another. I also grant that it is not, as you say, "a case of millionsof people waking up one day and decding to defy god and sleep with the same gender." Ok, so that is where we agree, now on to where we don't. Lets consider for a moment the concept of a "proven statistic." A statistic is definitionally a figure of numerical data often expressed (as in this case) as a ratio or percent. Again, definitionally, statistics are data established from a sampleing of data, which if done correctly can then be extrapolated to discribe the larger group from whence your sample is derived. Lets think of an example. Lets say John that you and i decide to take a random sample of Major League Baseball Stadiums (i apologize for such an Americanized example). WEll lets say that we wrote down the names of all thirty staduims on note cards and drew out five randomly. So, John, you and i hop in the car and visit these five stadiums, and at each stadium we go to the concessions stand and order a hot dog and a Foster's Beer (thats for you). Ok, now lets say that at all five stadiums we get the hot dog, but only one stadium carries the Fosters. From that sample we can form the statistic that 5 out of 5 (100%) of major league baseball staduims serve hot dogs, and 1 of 5 (20%) of mlb stadiums serve Fosters beer.
So here we have two statistics, they are certainly reasonable generalizations from the facts at hand. But, as anyone can see, there is plenty of room for reasonabe generalizations to be wrong. Knowing this, lets say that we decide to check out our statistical predictions, or in other words to "prove" our statistics true or false. How would we do this? Clearly we would have to visit all thirty major league baseball stadium and order a hot dog and a Fosters beer. Ok lets say that we undertake this task. It would take a while, and require a lot of beer drinking and hot dog eating, but we could certainly do it. Well ok we do, and we keep good records and when we get finished we find out that, low and behold, we were right about the Fosters Beer 6 out of 30 (our predicted 20%) of mlb stadiums serve Foster's beer, so we have "proved" our statistics correct! But things are differnt with the hot dogs. Wouldn't you know it, the stadium in Toronto, canada did not even serve hot dogs. So in this case 29 out of 30 (roughly 97%) of all mlb stadiums serve hot dogs. Now, in this case too, we have succeded in "proving" our statistic, it is just that we "proved" it false.

Application, what can we learn from this? In our example it was easy enough to "prove" our statistic, since that only required visiting 30 ball parks. My criticism of your stat was that such a thing could, for all intents and purposes, never be proven. Yet that is exactly what you claimed, that those numbers were in fact proven. So not only is what you claimed, John, untrue (consider the fact that we can't even say exactly how many people there are in the world) what you said was also untrue in principal. Such a statement simply can not be made, at least at this point in our technolgical history. So rather then make vast generalizations as you have done, you should instead be making strong qualifications to your numbers, like limiting them to a given sample or area or time span etc.
Furthermore, lets consider some of numerious variables. In our example above we could encounter lots of them. What if in the middle of our project of "proving" the statistics some stadiums go out of busness and other new ones are built? Wouldn't this drasticly effect our results? What if the Toronto stadium served a special healty Tofu-dog as an alternitive? Would we be able to count this? Doesn't such a possiblity necessitate that we come up with clear necessary and sufficent conditions for what is and is not a hot dog? Would't this also impact our results. And these things are simply things that will influence our data collections and classification, there may be many others that will have even greater impact on our interpertation of that data. For example what if we go to a place where hot dogs are illegal, so people are afraid to tell us that they have them. All of this just serves to say that what you have claimed is way to broad and strong.

If you intend to hold to your numbers then you owe some kind of qualification, because they are not and can not be proven.

July 27, 2006 at 11:47 AM  
Anonymous Matt Parnell said...

Sorry for numerous spelling mistakes my sp checker is currently malfunctioning.

July 27, 2006 at 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Matt Parnell said...

Oversight: i should have stated in the application section that the problem with John's claims out his stats is that to "prove" them would require speaking to every person in the world. This problem is implied in what i said, but I should have said it explicitly.

July 27, 2006 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Matt,

John's name is actually Jason. Point on statistics noted. I tend to agree.

Point on historical background noted. I don't think Mark thought he was painting a neutral picture of first century homosexuality.

Matt, where are you educated?

...

July 27, 2006 at 12:25 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

I do not like it at all when Christians are hostile towards homosexuals. We are called to love all of God’s creations and not discriminate for any reason. That is just like not removing the plank in your own eye. In my estimation the Bible is against all sexual sin, lust included. In Hispanic ministry, I don’t deal with homosexuality. The sexual sin I deal with is mostly cohabitation or “shacking up.” I would link this right in the same category as any other sexual sin- fornication, adultery, lust, etc. We have created a totem pole of sin, and that should not be—sin is sin. Some are not worse in God’s eyes than others. Heterosexual sin is the same, only with different ramifications. The church has not been kind in many situations. But I hope that is changing slowly for the better.

I’m very glad that our friend Jason has been so open and candid with this group, and long to learn from his experiences (especially the research on gay parenting).

That said, I, like Agrippa with Paul (only different subject), don’t think I can be persuaded so quickly to think that homosexuality is inborn. I believe there are factors, even in early age (Familial issues, molestation in some cases) that can contribute to a gender identity confusion of sorts, but not a genetic make-up. I’d be anxious to hear your opinions on this, I can’t support with any numbers.

I brought up the naturalness of procreation. Jason’s baby was born through a surrogate, so is biological to one parent. What about before the technology for surrogate mothers? What about the need for a mother to birth? We cannot compare this to a barren wife, or sterile husband for these are exceptions to the natural way of things.

Thom asked me before if I’d go so far as to say the Bible’s view of sex is strictly for procreation. No way! Song of Solomon is an explicit depiction of God’s intention for sex- between a man and woman. “The Gift of Sex” by Clifford and Joyce Penner has a good chapter on the Biblical view of sex.

I believe that we cannot come down hard on one sin, and ease up on others. Sure from the same verses, we see gossips and adulterers, and there aren’t any gossip activists or people trying to justify adultery. But neither should Christians be homophobia activists. We should love all people as God does.

“Love Wins Out” is the title of a Pastor to Pastor production done by Focus on the Family. Despite what has been said of Dobson, and the controversy Thom brought up, this is with H. B. London Jr. and other guests: Joe Dallas from Genesis Counseling, Alan Chambers from Exodus International, and others who can come out of this what they called “lifestyle.” I’m still in the middle of listening to this, but wanted to share these thoughts, and here’s a clip that you’ll find interesting:

3 min. clip

July 27, 2006 at 4:04 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Thank you, Greg. Great post.

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July 27, 2006 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

Greg, you brought up some good points. One thing in particular is the focus that homosexuality has received. There are a handful of biblical texts that speak to sexual orientation (regardless of how they are interpreted), and yet many of us in the Church have made this our "flagship" issue. Why is that? What is it that has made homosexuality such a talked about issue especially in the last 10 years.
I read a great article on homosexuality by Richard B. Hays, from his book "Moral Vision of the NT." He has one chapter on homosexuality and I would highly recommend it. One point that he brought up that Greg pointed out is how peripheral this issue is. However other core issues that the Church has largely ignored remain ignored. I think a prime example would be the lack of conversation considering particularly the post above this, particularly when the majority of the bloggers here are living in a country that is in a war. A war, I might add, that is largely supported by the evangelical church. I don’t want to draw attention away from this significant issue, but perhaps if we talk a moment and think through some of Jesus’ larger concerns we can gain a more faithful perspective on this issue.

July 27, 2006 at 8:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a shocking post. Should the fundamentalist evangelical church not address the issue of adultery over and above the issue of homosexuality, which is only included in lists that pertain to a variety of sins describing the nature of sin in general. Even at that point they could quite possibly be reffering to a more pedophilic form of homosexuality than one including two consenting and monogamous adults.

It seems as though it is easy to garner affirmation of your position by only referring to sins that the vast majority of our churches accept as taboo. Notice this as it pertains to a just war mentality versus an open declaration of passivism and protest to the wars started without just cause. I know this goes without saying but I have homosexual friends that are more sacrificial and caring than a vast majority of "conservative evangelicals" that I am acquainted with in ministry.

Lastly the most important statement I want to make is the obvious one and that is that those of you who have been close to Dr. Rumple are so quick to assume you know the right position due to the dogma you hold. This is decided not by accepting his decision as one that is well studied, i.e. the high level of scholarship he holds, and that it is hard enough to live up to the presuppostions and dogma within the independent christian church/ churches of christ without declaring that having a drink is not a sin let alone that you can be involved in a same sex relationship and still be a believer, a minister with integrity and character. It should go without saying that justifying a position is as far from an objective truth as sitting in a classroom makes you a learner. Life is a complicated and complex maze to which each of you will find yourself lost and scared to death on some occasions and the important thing in these times is to hold on to your love for God and make a decision you feel is right. Dr, not Mr., Rumple has done just that. May this brother in the faith be accepted with the same love that Christ accepts the sinless and pious in the midst of their theological arrogance. Selah

July 27, 2006 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Tyler,

You said ,,, "What is it that has made homosexuality such a talked about issue especially in the last 10 years."

Because the issue has been raised (I'd make it in the past 20 to 30 years) to a "racial" status.

That's a key aspect. As often as the gay community / populace wants to be treated as a "race" rather than people who don't care anything about race, the more often they will find opposition - politically at the very least. Socially, at the best.

July 28, 2006 at 1:03 AM  
Blogger JD said...

Dear Anonymous,

What an antogonist you are!

I don't think anyone here has said said anything contrary to "Sin is sin without degree."

Of course heterosexual sin is sin. Of course homesexual sin is sin. Of course lieing is sin, gossip is sin, all the things the Bible teaches us about sin is just that. SIN! There is no sin that can / should be "above" any other. And I won't hold my tongue on the issue -- you are WRONG to try to discuss it this way. You already know that both are wrong. You are saying it yourself. I'll stand along with you, in that.

As to your last paragraph (the first portion) I think you go way to far. You do not speak for Dr. Rumple. We're waiting for him to say whatever he will. Please, don't lay claim to his purposes. Thank you.

It should go without saying that, "It should go without saying..." is an insipid use of argument. Please stop, and don't make me use it again. Thank you.

Further, you say::: "Life is a complicated and complex maze to which each of you will find yourself lost and scared to death on some occasions and the important thing in these times is to hold on to your love for God and make a decision you feel is right."

Yes, we know that already. You are not our teacher. We are in the middle of a discussion about someone many of us have had as a teacher. Either reveal yourself, bugger off, or stop being a wrench in the works. You're not really helping. You're just being mad. From what you have have written, I think you're just doing it for the sake of it.

There is no question of love from this group. They are dealing with a curious and frustrating situation.

Please, leave the loving group alone.

Selah.

July 28, 2006 at 1:59 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Straight to the point as always, JD. I love you dearly.

Anonymous, however overly strong my brother's words may have been, they are, I'm afraid, on target.

You have missed our hearts, you have hidden yours (i.e., "anonymous"), and you seem to be more interested in condemning others than listening to them, the very sin of which you wrongly accuse my pious brothers.

Back to you, JD. While I agree that in one sense the gay community has gone to great pains to make this something like a "race" issue, there are many homosexuals that also go to great pains to stress that being gay is not a "lifestyle" that makes them any different than "the rest of us" apart from the fact of sexual orientation. They wish to stress that they are not really different from heterosexuals at all, except of course in terms of sexual orientation. So while there is the rhetoric of the "gay community," I think the desire of many homosexuals is not to be seen as different at all.

However, my attempt at a response to Tyler's question is that we are discussing this more than we do other sins for a couple of reasons: 1) Dr. Rumple's coming out is a very recent event and one that is rarely so public in our movement; 2) (and this one is in the same spirit as JD's response) adulterers do not often create websites arguing that adultery is not a sin. Some sins require more conversation than others simply because they require more conversation than others.

...

July 28, 2006 at 4:53 AM  
Blogger Daniela said...

Thom, dear, were you up all night again blogging? I just wanted to let you know that I finally got online and am following this dialogue. I want everyone to know that my self-appointed job in this discussion is to pray. This is a big and important conversation, let's make God and His Glory the purpose of it.

July 28, 2006 at 9:57 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

You're incredible, babe. See you this evening.

...

July 28, 2006 at 10:27 AM  
Anonymous Tony Anderson said...

Let me just say thanks to everyone for writing on here. I'm writing a paper on the homosexual hermeneutic this summer and this information is helping more than you could imagine.

Tyler, Thom...I love and miss you guys. Thanks you for your insight and truthfulness.

Jason, thanks for taking the time fo explain your situation and life. I'll shoot you an email in the next few days with some questions for my paper if that's alright (they don't fit this conversation).

-Tony

July 28, 2006 at 3:49 PM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

I wish I could spend more time on this blog...parenting is life consuming. I am happy to answer any questions any of you have and tony feel free to email and I would love to help you out.


Hi MAtt your name sounds familiar did we ever meet at OCC? I am almost a qualified psychologicst and stats are a part of my work. The stats I have quoted are fair and reasonable, not overstated and based on census and research (not my own opinion) I always thought the 10% figure from Kinsey was too high. If you have other information that I can read please let me know. I am just trying to pursue the truth.

The issue of how my sexual orientation seems to matter heaps and IS out of proportion with what the churches focus should be is valid. The wars that mine and your country currently are particpating in right now are not just. The way our countries promote the powerful and the rich at he expense of the weak and the poor is not just. Our focus on issues that are far away from the great commission and Matthew 5-7 are shameful.

Gays are not a race, however we are human and our orientataion is different. IT may be a surprise to some poeple but I am boringly the same as anyone else and my family is also. Unfortunately because there is an inbuilt ignorance and hatred towards homosexual people in parts of our cultures we have to stand for our right to be respected as fellow human beings and not be denegrated. Just like blacks and women and Austtralia's indigenous people have had to do in the past.

What hurts me as a fellow follower of Jesus (since I was twelve years old) and who has known he wqs gay since i was 5 years of age. The church (even though my spiritual gifts are obvious, mature and well developed and my character is in tact. Yet I am not allowed to exercise them and further the Kingdoms interests from inside the chruch. This breaks my heart.

Thw wonderufl gift from this from God is I have been given greater opportunities to encourage and pastor people in the wider community... probably being more effective. I hope so anyway.

Love and peace
Jason

July 28, 2006 at 7:06 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Jason,

What convinced you that you were this way?

Cheers, Peace, Selah

July 28, 2006 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

Greg, I was never convinced. I tried my hardest to be a heterosexual man, I have always been just like I assume you have always been heterosexaul and you never really thought about it.
Cheers

July 28, 2006 at 9:26 PM  
Anonymous childish said...

... not a scholar nor an expert on any subject concerning God and His ways, I leave this...I wonder what would happen if honest, sincere people desiring God's view on the subject (from both sides of the issue)were to gather together in prayer to seek Him. Not in small numbers but in large numbers. It seems to me it would be a good place to start.

July 29, 2006 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Childish,

I agree that a massive prayer meeting would be beneficial to the mutual understanding of the two sides on this matter. I am putting you in charge of organizing this event. I would just suggest that in the fliers you make sure to specify, "No clubs, bats, brass knuckles, knives, shivs, or other weaponry."

...

July 29, 2006 at 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever may need to be said is beyond understanding here. It is evident in the fact that when the gentleman named Jason mentioned the findings he has and how his orientation was not a matter of decision, the bridge to any resolution was blown. You see it is not about some set of reasons that many have made decisions in their walk with Christ, at least not by any set of defensible standards beyond the subjective realm. Rather it is through an ardous and painful task of living in close proximity to the holy that we reach a state of spiritual growth that alows for those without our same convictions to be seen in a more accepting and embracing light. If we were to simply state a case my whole argument would be dismissed out of hand and so I choose not to bring an argument, a passage of scripture or a set of historical references with which to prove my point. Instead I show you each other and my anonymous and by nature inadequate target as a means to accomplish the ends of the greatest hope in this world. If I seem ambigous or equivocal please note it is not by accident but as a point in order that you may taste a wider embrace that ackowledges all of the complexity and still seeks love and finds it in the person of Jesus.

Another blog brought to you by anonymous and his/her/its hommies

July 29, 2006 at 6:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One last thing, you should probably read the information of the opposing position and not use "straw men" that you can tear apart using the "approved" commentaries/persons responses on the issue. Also removing the stigma of right/wrong, acceptable/unacceptable, clergy/layperson, scholar/undergraduate student, no wait keep that last one. Get my point. In bias, we all lose... espescially a sophomore (wise fool)

July 29, 2006 at 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Big Fish... Small Pond

I shall swim elsewhere and bother you no more.

July 30, 2006 at 12:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One last thing. In accordance with the ministry and this discussion what sort of parallels can be drawn...

The news rocked the cycling world, already under a cloud following a massive doping investigation in Spain which forced several of the world's leading cyclists off the Tour.

"I know Floyd Landis, he's a good guy, he comes from a good family. If all this is proven, it will be a part of the tragedy that crosses this sport: Even good people are obliged to deceive," LeMond told Le Journal du Dimanche.

"It is cycling as a professional sport that represents the problem. It can transform someone into a liar."

Who are you all behind this mask of theology? Did you think only the one who blogs anonymously is the problem... who is the clown on your stage telling you the theatre is on fire... are you laughing?

July 30, 2006 at 12:39 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

For the sake of staying on track, I ask that no one respond to the above anonymous posts. I would just say to anonymous that if there is any value in his or her rebuke, we here will do our best to figure out what it is and appropriate it. Certainly seeing the other as other and not as a cheap and less successful version of ourselves is a skill in seeing we can all strive to acquire.

...

July 30, 2006 at 1:40 AM  
Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

Anonymous,
I'm glad we have had your infinitely wise perspective to guide us. What would we do without you to show us mere bloggers the true way, the “ardous and painful task of living in close proximity to the holy [sic.]”? I don’t understand what you’re talking about, but I do hope that we are trying in earnest dialogue.

To everyone who cares about listening,
I know that I have been forced to rethink the questions I have about homosexuality as normative behavior for Christians. Hopefully this discussion will continue helping us to hear each other filling our words with honesty and truthfulness while putting ourselves in a disposition of discernment and love. I think a discussion of the NT passages which refer to “homosexuality” is quite in order. Romans 1.18-23 is an often cited text and, as the whole book of Romans, often misunderstood. Jason, how do you understand passages like Leviticus 18, Romans 1; 1 Cor 6.9-12? I’m not trying to be patronizing, so don’t hear that. I really do want to know how these passages can be understood. Also, how does your faith in Jesus affect your life as a homosexual? How does it change they way you raise your son? Do you ever struggle with finding your identity in you sexuality more than in your Lord? Do you ever struggle with thinking your sexuality is a sin (regardless of whether or not you or I think it is or isn’t)? Again, I’m not asking to patronize, but to learn.

JD
You bring up an interesting point regarding homosexuals perceiving themselves as a “race.” I need to think more about this, though it seems that this argument would work against homosexuals like Jason. I have heard homosexuals compared to Gentiles in Acts 10, in that Gentiles were allowed into the kingdom because they should manifestation of the Holy Spirit. The problem with this argument is that everyone is a sinner and still shows manifestations of the Spirit. It is not as if Cornelius miraculously stopped sinning after Peter’s visit. He’s uncleanness as a Gentile went away, but this did not mean he was still a “Gentile” he was now part of the kingdom. Also, one of the (only) 4 concessions given at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 (abstain from food sacrificed to idols, blood, meat from strangled animals and sexual immorality [Acts 15.29]). From 1 Corinthians 6.9-12 it seems that homosexuality would be regarded as homosexuality, continued to be emphasized as sin even in the context of the conflicting issue of food sacrificed to animals. There is more to be said here, and more lexical work to be done from both sections of scripture, but I think historically and exegetically an appeal to Acts 10 seems out of place. Regarding homosexuals viewing themselves a “race” I think this would be unhelpful for the formation of Christian character for one to view their identity primarily through their sexual orientation.

July 30, 2006 at 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Jane said...

As an OCC grad and as a Christian who is desperately trying to understand who God wants his people to be in an ever-changing world, I understand the desire for "Anonymous" to post anonymously.

While it's probably not intentional, OCC can be a difficult place for people that fit into a different mold than the OCC norm and people who are asking different questions or are coming up with different answers. While on one hand the OCC environment makes itself out to be open to all ideas and a place for discussion, on the other hand, everyone knows that the ideas one chooses to discuss and make public have very real implications for their ministry and family.

While it's a nice idea to be willing to put your name next to anything you say, maybe that's just not realistic in the given forum - people who work in very conservative churches discussing controversial issues (which they may or may not have come to a conclusion on) on the internet. If you're a pastor at a small church in rural Ohio who is struggling with whether homosexuality is right or wrong for Christians...would you be willing to post your name? Wouldn't it still be helpful (for everyone) to be able to discuss the issues? Shouldn't we as fellow Christians assume that someone taking the time to read and post a reply has something of value to offer even if he/she comes across as being defensive? Shouldn't we ask ourselves where this defensiveness is coming from and if we have done anything to contribute to that? Perhaps this doesn't directly belong on the homosexuality thread, but somehow it seems to relate. Hopefully these statements are helpful in some way.

July 31, 2006 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Yes, while I understand the points you've made, we (here at John 3:30) tend to frown on anonymity because (1) ideas do not come from a vacuum and knowing who is speaking helps us to understand not just why what is being said is being said but also what in fact is being said; (2) because anonymity can be a way to avoid responsibility for one's claims; and, most importantly, (3) because we wish to develop real community wherever we are (offline or on) and anonymity is antithetical to the vulnerability such community requires. While we do not forbid anonymity, anonymous bloggers' comments will not be taken as seriously for just those reasons. While the simple step of putting a name next to a post, i.e., Jane, is not much different from total anonymity, it does (1) avoid the confusion that comes from having multiple anonymous bloggers and (2) indicate some measure of willingness to move toward real community and thus real dialogue.

Peace.

...

July 31, 2006 at 3:39 PM  
Anonymous Screwtape Proposes A Toast said...

Jane, I could not have agreed more with your statement. That is exactly why I do not put my name next to my "anonymous posts. It has always been a challenge to hold an opposite view than the norm at OCC and as a graduate also and one in ministry, I do appreciatte you putting that on the page. There are many ways to deal with these questions but requiring a name for "responsibility" purposes is like requiring jews to wear yellow stars for the benefit of society... sound familiar, or shall we say red hats as in the Merchant of Venice in order that they may have "their community" and us ours. So I now choose to state a name for the sake of community and to relieve confusion, it is... "Screwtape Proposes a Toast". This is to put those that disagree at ease and those that do agree at a humorous position of rest.
I hope this will allow you all to still answer/respond to the issues brought forth by my posts and not dismiss them to get "back on track" with the same issue. I propose people speak freely, and I would just say to Thom that I can bear responsibility but I answer not to you, here I stand I can do no other. Also I do hope that anyone that uses a pseudonym, such as Victor Eremita, Judge William, Hilarius Bookbinder, and Johannes Climacus, may still be taken seriously. You should probably know the above names.
Screwtape Proposes A Toast

July 31, 2006 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Thank you, Screwtape. Now we at least know that anonymous isn't more than one person.

I think your comparing one of my three points to Nazism is a real hoot. I think you failed to read the one point in the context of the other two. But I'm glad you're here anyway.

...

July 31, 2006 at 7:58 PM  
Anonymous Tony Anderson said...

"the norm at OCC..."

Pertaining to a view of homosexuality?

If so, what is "the norm at OCC" and why is it put in a negative light here?

I'm interested to know.

-tilpastudios@yahoo.com

July 31, 2006 at 8:39 PM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

This is an excerpt of t=what I emailed Tony...

I will try and answer your questions, with the bit of time I have before feed Ruben.

Q's : How do you understand passages like Leviticus 18, Romans 1; 1 Cor 6.9-12? I’m not trying to be patronizing, so don’t hear that. I really do want to know how these passages can be understood.

- I don’t think you are being patronising. Simply put I don’t believe these passages are used in the correct context most of the time. They seem to be used as selective examples as to what a Christian Is, yet texts alongside these verses are often disregarded completely. I also hold the view that women are equal spiritually to men and so are people of different race. (Wasn't that long ago this wasn't the case and I believe that homosexual people are the next area to be freed from discrimination in the church.) I worry that the church selectively picks what it thinks are boundaries/sins that define who we are as believers when I understand that the transforming power of Christ/Holy Spirit is what defines us. Along with the fruit we bear and the renewed mind that we have as a result.

Also, how does your faith in Jesus affect your life as a homosexual?

I don’t see myself as a homosexual. Do you see yourself as a heterosexual? I have a homosexual orientation. Really I am just Jason. My character is who I Am. The friend and husband and family member and minister of God is who I am.
It makes little practical difference to my life as a believer. Except I won't sit back anymore and allow my family to be demonised.

My faith in Jesus has remained intact and grown since I was a young boy. There is nothing evil or sinful about my marriage to Adrian (been married over 6 years and together over 8 years) and our son Ruben ( who is 6 months old next week). My family is my family. I try to be the best husband I Can be and the best father I can be.


How does it change they way you raise your son?

He will be taught resilience n case he has to deal with bigotry down the track.
I will teach him about Jesus just like you will with your kids. I pray for him and thank God for the answered prayer he is to us, HE is A HUGE miracle. We had his christening on a boat in April and 154 people came to see his blessing.


Do you ever struggle with finding your identity in you sexuality more than in your Lord?

I don’t find my identity in my sexuality any more than you do. That’s a silly idea really (no disrespect). Its intrinsically part of who I am but not my "identity definer". Jesus is my identity definer. He is the one who gives me courage to stand up against what I understand to be ignorance and to have the guts to seek the truth and to seek love. He gave me the courage to come out, He is the source of any strength that I have. Has always been.

Do you ever struggle with thinking your sexuality is a sin (regardless of whether or not you or I think it is or isn’t)? Again, I’m not asking to patronize, but to learn.

No, I used too. My sexual expression could be sin if I cheated on Adrian etc. But I Don’t. Christ is so evident in my life that this idea is now foreign to me.

Hope this helps your work. I am happy to answer further questions. I will post this on the blog so I don’t have to repeat the email. I would love a copy of your findings, if you have any of my former teachers please say hi. I thank God for OCC and the legacy it has left me. I love OCC even though it has rejected me. The norm at OCC to answer another question 100 years ago was to quote President Idleman in an email he sent me that I needed to repent, leave Adrian and seek healing. I hope it has changed.

I enjoyed the chat.

Love Jason

August 1, 2006 at 12:12 AM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

i mean 10 years ago...

August 1, 2006 at 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Jane said...

Thom – thanks for the 3-point answer…kept waiting for the poem…ha. I didn’t intend to post another message, but I think there’s another side to each of your points that you’re missing. (1) While it may be helpful in understanding a statement to know the person, this could also be something that stands in the way of understanding. If someone has already been pigeon holed as being this way or that way, it may be very hard for anyone to hear him/her with fresh ears. Maybe we are more likely to weigh a statement’s truth-value if we don’t assume it’s valid or invalid simply based on the person’s identity. (2) Maybe anonymity can be a way to avoid responsibility, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a way for someone to say something that otherwise they would not be able to. How many great people in history have used pen names for this very reason? (thanks, Screwtape for the Kierkegaard references) (3) Vulnerability doesn’t come from a vacuum either. If you’re going to allow anonymous posters, then allow them without making them feel like blogger scum. Maybe vulnerability and community will grow when respect is given and good intentions are assumed.

Tony - I'm not sure if that question was directed at me, but here's my take on it...

"The norm" is many things, and I'm sure they've changed slightly even since I was there. I would argue that there are behavioral norms (how people talk, dress, not being gay, etc.) and belief norms (baptism, evangelism, armenianism, inerrancy, etc.) Although I wasn't sure if my comment related to homosexuality at first, now I see that it does very directly. In my experience, OCC had a core group of people who all pretty much behaved the same and believed the same. But there are also people on the fringes, for whatever reason, who often are subtly made to feel inferior or simply ignored. As soon as someone steps outside of what is “acceptable” there are negative consequences, and therefore, there is a great amount of pressure to be just like everyone else. (Dr. Rumple is a great example of this at JBC) You may have no idea what I'm talking about, because it's hard to see unless you're there yourself. I think OCC has a million great things about it, but I think they have a real opportunity to embrace diversity in thought…something that has never been on the forefront.

As far as putting “the norm” in a negative light – that was not my intention. In itself, it is not a negative thing, but when there is no allowance for different ideas, people end up being isolated and/or shut out of community…something that is, in my opinion, at odds with Jesus.

August 1, 2006 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

Jane-
You can make these blanket statements about what YOU think about OCC with absolutely no responsibility to them. Your jabs at Thom being the "norm" or whatever you’re trying to say, three points and all, are absolutely ridiculous, either you know nothing about OCC or you know nothing about Thom. I’m sorry for you. This is a place where people truly want to have a dialogue, but you keep taking this issue of homosexuality and making it about your anonymity. You keep making this about your hate for Ozark and its intolerance, or whatever. It sounds to me like you have some serious acceptance issues especially during your time at Ozark, if in fact you ever went to Ozark. I'm sorry for that. Ozark is not a perfect place, but before you go around bashing the community at Ozark you should take a look at what you’re saying. In order to criticize the communities for not being open-minded and honest you hide behind an anonymous name. You encourage people in ministry to hide their names, because it would be a bad thing if a Church found out that their leader was in dialogue concerning a pertinent issue in the Church. I too lead a Church, a group of people that make me face them every Sunday and be truthful. They won’t have niceties, they want the truth, what is more they need the truth, so do Churches in Ohio, and everywhere else. The problem is that people in leadership don’t want truth they want jobs and niceties to remain intact. I cannot ask myself if I or anyone else here had done anything to contribute to your defensiveness or understand it because I have no idea who you are.

Of course there are “norms” at Ozark. There are “norms” everywhere, but this does not mean that Ozark does not allow for diversity. I have very different beliefs from many of my fellow students and from my professors, but I have never been made an outcast or theological villain. Regarding your pigeonholing accusations, from where I’m standing the only ones being pigeonholed are us. We tell you who we are and instead of responding to what we say you just keeping typing to read your own words. Before you go and accuse JBC of making Rumple “feel inferior or simply ignored” you need to take a step back. (1) Rumple deceived JBC not the other way around. Rumple is the one who lived in deception for years, JBC never went behind closed doors to attack Rumple. (2) Rumple knew JBC’s understanding of homosexuality as a sin. (3) JBC is a villain for remaining consistent with her tradition. JBC is not a perfect place, it maybe wrong, but Rumple was certainly not Christlike in his actions. Aside from that JBC is not necessarily wrong. No one has yet to put forth a good argument, biblically or hermeneutically, as to how homosexuality should be considered an appropriate normative behavior for Christians.

Everyone-
This leads me to Jason’s statements. Jason, first, let me thank you for your honesty and dialogue. Your commitment to Jesus is evident. Hear my responses as my attempt to be faithful to Jesus.
You said in response to Lev 18; Romans 1; 1 Cor 6.9-12,
“I don’t believe these passages are used in the correct context most of the time. They seem to be used as selective examples as to what a Christian Is, yet texts alongside these verses are often disregarded completely. I also hold the view that women are equal spiritually to men and so are people of different race. (Wasn't that long ago this wasn't the case and I believe that homosexual people are the next area to be freed from discrimination in the church.) I worry that the church selectively picks what it thinks are boundaries/sins that define who we are as believers when I understand that the transforming power of Christ/Holy Spirit is what defines us. Along with the fruit we bear and the renewed mind that we have as a result.”
-What is the correct context for these passages? How have I missed Leviticus 18? How should these passages be understood? It is not appropriate to simply say, “I don’t believe” when for centuries the church has and the bible has been understood to say that homosexuality is in fact a sin. I don’t know how we are using these texts as select examples of what a Christian is. I cite these scriptures because they speak directly to the issue at hand, not because I want to point fingers. That is why I am in this dialogue to learn how to understand these texts.

August 1, 2006 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

IF these texts do not speak to homosexuality explain how that is so.

August 1, 2006 at 11:37 AM  
Anonymous Jane said...

Tyler - I was not "bashing Ozark". I am thankful for Ozark, but it's a sad thing if we can't talk about areas where Ozark and the Christian Church as a whole might have room for growth. I'm afraid that you misunderstood the point of what and why I wrote. My intention was not to start a battle. I'll leave you guys in peace with your dialouge.

August 1, 2006 at 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Tony said...

Jason, I want to chime in with Tyler and ask again,

"If these texts do not speak to homosexuality explain how that is so."

That's probably my most pertinent question for you. By no means do I want to minimize your response to your hermeneutics on these passages, but I can't think of any other resource that you could use to give validity for your lifestyle.

Another thing that I was wondering was how homosexuality affects your evangelism. The world has not fully embraced Christ (after 2,000 years), nor have they embraced homosexuality. It seems strange to me that a person whom you are discipling could turn a deaf ear to your choice of be married to another man while at the same time accepting God's truth.

I may not be very clear right now, please let me know

-Tony

August 1, 2006 at 5:37 PM  
Anonymous Screwtape Proposes A Toast said...

Dear Jane,

You comment with such eloquence and insight that it seems as though I must have met you in a previous life... but we will wait to begin that dialogue in another blog, for I am quite certain it has no place in this one. Now with no further delay I do want to mention that this position that is held by Jane is the one that appears to answer many questions that OCC is asking itself; How can we reach those who are disenfranchised from the church and what does true community look like. It is best that we not make THE TRUTH something it is not, such as peer pressure from a list of dogmas or communities of dogmatic people. It seems that the greatest of all is still love and to not allow diversity in the midst of community seems to say that you can only be a certain type of christian or no christian at all. This may really put those of us who are too accepting into a category of the unsaved. Perhaps we should train missionaries to reach specifically the Mainline Protestant Churches that believe such things (this is a course that can be taught at OCC or maybe a degree program!!!)
I also want to say that I also love OCC nad am blessed with the chance to study under the professors and with students of all persuasions. It has helped me grow and to think for myself even though many of my professors may disagree with my positions on some issues. By the way the inference to Screwtape Proposes A Toast is that C.S. Lewis states, "Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar."

August 1, 2006 at 6:28 PM  
Anonymous Screwtape Proposes A Toast said...

Also Tyler, I want you to hear this lovingly, but you may want to read the previous comments by Jane, for I am quite certain that the position was not comprehended due to your responses.

August 1, 2006 at 6:35 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

While I respect some of Tyler's points, I do agree that he could have read Jane a little more carefully. I am sorry, Jane, for any hostility you've felt here. Please offer us your forgiveness.

...

August 1, 2006 at 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Screwtape Proposes a Toast said...

I watched V for Vendetta tonight. It seems to have a lot to do with the recent discussion in this blog. Also from Thom's comment it seems as though he thinks there was a point being made by Tyler and I did not see one, rather only frustration and misunderstanding. Now, I suppose you will rush out and watch this movie so before you do let me please note that the minister of misinformation is who you say he is and may or may not be a mirrored image. Just a little tolerance for the pacifists and tolerants such as I. But I must warn you that "the voice of London" may sound awfully familiar and will hopefully keep you awake as it had done to me so many evenings. Selah and Shalom

August 1, 2006 at 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“When questioning is banned, we are in the presence of idolatry.”

—Clark Williamson and Ronald Allen

August 1, 2006 at 11:27 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

You're preaching to the choir, Screwtape. This whole blog thread is made up of just the kind of questioning you claim OCC (or the Wachowski Bros. "voice of London") forbids. I'm offering you a chance to stop preaching against intolerance and start joining us in the open dialogue we've been having about and with homosexuals. Again, I am offering you a chance. Your barely intelligible, pseudo-prophetic potshots at this blog's alleged totalitarian bigotry do not have much of a future here. I sincerely hope you take my offer of the right hand of fellowship and join is in constructive dialogue.

Until then,
Thom

...

August 2, 2006 at 12:46 AM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

Hi again,

I don't have the time yet to explain by understanding of these texts but I will attempt to do so down the track.


"Another thing that I was wondering was how homosexuality affects your evangelism. The world has not fully embraced Christ (after 2,000 years), nor have they embraced homosexuality. It seems strange to me that a person whom you are discipling could turn a deaf ear to your choice of be married to another man while at the same time accepting God's truth."

I may not be very clear right now, please let me know.

In response to the above, my orientation makes no difference to the "unchurched person" here. It doesn't make much difference to most of the christians here either. There is no deaf ear.They seem to understand that fruit is the key to a persons faith in Christ.

I really want to clarify that I don;t have a "lifestyle". This phrase has been mentioned alot ansd i Would liek to hear a definition of what taht lifestyle is. If you mean working, studying, paying my taxes, being married and a father as a lifestyle the so be it.

Australia along with most western nations has at least some form of relationship recognition and antidiscrimination laws in place.

Joplin and the mid west compared to Melbourne are very different cultures.
I proudly live my life here and am legally recognised as married in over a dozen countries in this world.

Gotta go, I look forward to your responses.

Love J

August 2, 2006 at 1:05 AM  
Anonymous Jane said...

Thanks for the gesture, but unfortunately, Tyler's response only supported my point that anyone asking questions about Ozark / the Christian Church is often labeled as someone reacting out of their "hate for Ozark" or someone who only "types to read their own words." If I was doing that, I promise you, I could find much more fulfilling ways to spend my time.

FYI - I wouldn't consider myself someone with "serious acceptance issues", but someone who has dozens of friends who have invested their time at Ozark and left feeling disconnected and unsure of their purpose in ministry. I'm really sorry for distracting attention from the conversation on the homosexual hermaneutic, because I think that's an incredibly important topic right now. I really hoped to bring attention to not only the gay people who have been given no place in the church, but other individuals as well. My only hope is that those still at Ozark will watch for people who are on the outskirts of community, and for those of us serving other churches, that we would do the same.

August 2, 2006 at 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Screwtape Proposes A Toast said...

Thanks Thom for your attempt to bridge the gap and insult me in the process, it has specifically accomplished what it intended and once again another person finds no within the OCC community and as Jane says, perhaps the Christian Church. As I mentioned previously it is this type of bigotry towards those that differ in their opinions or rub you too closely that limits your community from doing little more than producing fundamentalist lemmings without an idea of conscience or a context outside of the independent christian church culture. Guys I am done with this blog and will not bother you all again. Congrats and I hope you are succesfull at convincing yourselves of your preconcieved ideas.

Until Then,

Screwtape Proposes A Toast

August 2, 2006 at 3:02 PM  
Anonymous zach said...

Jane, Screwtape:
L'Chaim!

August 3, 2006 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

Jason-
Don't think this discussion has been abandoned. I don't know what else to say until you respond to some of the questions I've asked. Do you have any questions that you would like me to think about?

August 12, 2006 at 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To: Dr. oops Mr. Thom Stark,
President of Thom’s Theological Studies and Bait Shop,
Joplin, MO
From: Mr. Tyler Stewart,
Pastor and New Testament Extraordinaire (of Thom’s TS and BS),
Joplin, MO.
Ref: On Temporary Assignment to Iraq and Afghanistan to explore possibilities of establishing an extension campus of Thom’s Theological Studies and Bait Shop.

Dear Thom,
Enclosed is the last of my interim feasibility studies about setting up Thom’s Theological Studies and Bait Shop in Iraq and/or Afghanistan.
On a personal note, I thought this would be the biggest challenge of my life. I never dreamed of the day I'd have to admit I was almost wrong about something – the Iraqi people. They are absolutely amazing.
I tell you Thom, we can learn something from them. They got their women learned right. They're subservient to males and, get this, none are allowed leadership positions.
I know it's hard to imagine, much less see, but they're really more advanced then we initially thought.
These women already understand their role as God the Father intended them – cleaning, cooking and raising children. I have yet to see any of them running round screaming about wanting to be a Mullah.
Women here know how to dress modestly, wearing a burka, a loose-fitting garment covering them from their head to their ankles, with only a slit opening for their eyes.
When I get back to Thom’s Theological Studies and Bait Shop, I'm going to present to the Board of Regents a recommendation to adopt a similar dress code immediately. It only took me a few months to get rid of all of the godless, liberal women in the faculty – so this shouldn't take long.
Religious law is already the law of the land. They have "Law Enforcers" and I'm not talking "to protect and to serve." These people will open a serious can of whoop ass if you even think about bad-mouthin' religion.
Heck, Christian church conservatives look like liberals compared to the Muslim fundamentalists here.
For this reason, I'm not recommending a Theological Studies and Bait Shop be built here. Man, they're more Thomish than the Thomisites!
Thom, it saddens me to know I'll soon be leaving these people I've grown so fond of. It's probably the last place on the planet where they don't tolerate "Hellywood" movies, rap music, girls wearing skimpy tank tops, or people who vote Democrat, let alone all the gays in America. In short, forget everything you read in the Commie, anti-God, tabloid-puking press. This is God's country!
See you soon. Squeeze that cute wife of yours for me.
Tyler Stewart (God’s guy and Thom’s friend BFF)

August 13, 2006 at 11:08 PM  
Anonymous tony said...

Probably the most inappropriate post I've seen to date. Is that what you were going for?

To add to Tyler's response, Jason, I'd love to hear from you about your interpretation of that list of texts I emailed to you. Your conversation would help this thread out a ton!

August 13, 2006 at 11:40 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

I think every theological library should have a bait shop! That's a really good idea. The Lawsons might actually read something!

....

August 14, 2006 at 4:18 AM  
Anonymous Damien Spikereit said...

Needing a retreat from sermon preparation I decided to meander over to the infamous Mark Moore Blog. Upon doing so I came upon this lengthy homosexual discussion. Which, for the most part, discounting the latter entries, has been a thoroughly enjoyable conversation. Midway through, to my great shock and delight, I came upon a name I have not heard in quite some time. Jason McCheyne! How are you, my friend? For the rest of the blog community, Jason and I were good friends during my early years as a student at OCC. What a great time we had learning and playing Australian Rules Football! Truly a great game! Not only that but I still remember the numerous meaningful conversations we shared. Anyway, I wish to respond to one statement.

"I love OCC even though it has rejected me."

Jason, is it possible for us (myself and fellow colleagues at OCC) to "reject" the theological and moral positions that have and are guiding you without "rejecting" you as a friend and fellow human being created in the image of God? I pray it is.

August 15, 2006 at 4:06 PM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

Hi Damien,

yes it is possible (I have been praying it is) but without naming anyone. Various OCC staff and some former graduates wouldn't even meet up to hav elunch togther when I was in the US a year or so ago because they didn;t want to be seen as "endorsing" my life.

I took Adrian through the campus a few years back and felt such sadness that I wasn't welcome.

I am still the same guy, just a married dad now and a bit older!

Really nice to talk with you.

Love
J

August 16, 2006 at 2:14 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Jason,

I am sorry for the way you were treated by some at OCC. There are both judgmental and compassionate people everywhere one goes. I hope that the better and the best part of OCC is being represented here. You are always welcome, and you are warmly invited.

...

August 16, 2006 at 3:30 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

I have read the entries in this blog and would like to post a comment. I greatly appriciate the attitude in which this conversation is taking place. I see genuine questions of concerns from the traditional and pro-gay sides. I have studied, very intently since Jan. of this year, this very issue. Not so much the traditional view, ( since I was raised in the Christian Church / Churches of Christ, and have a great understanding of that point of view ). But more so the pro-gay side of the issue, to see if there was any validity in this view. I myself am gay, and am also in a 13 year relationship with my partner. But I have tried to stay neutral and look at this issue from a logical perspective. I have also sought advice and guidance from a friend, who did infact attend JBC, and in addition I sought assistance from others with whom I am accquainted with in the Christian family.

I've come to realize just how 'nervous' this issue makes many people. I mean just to discuss it, as it is being discussed here, is very rare within the 'conservative' communities of Christ's Church. I think it is not as 'black and white' as some, ( most ) from both sides of the issue attempt to make it.

We have the traditional views that are of the mind-set ( ??? ) that Christians are being 'permissive of sin' if they accept pro-gay theology. Which would leave the door open wide for all sorts of 'sins' to be admissible if openly, practicing homosexuals are granted access into the Brotherhood.

On the other hand. Some of those who endorse pro-gay theology may appear to force themselves and their life-styles on unaccepting Christians within the more consevative Chruches, and untolerant of those who can't understand their views. This can be seen as a treat, or as aggresive behavior, ( ??? ). I'm really not too sure about this since, in my opinion, each person's salvation is truely between God and themselves. But the Church does have standards by which they teach and pass on the Truths of Christianity.

I so much appriciate Thom Stark's view of himself as a mediator on this issue. He does appear to determine that he is attempting to discern both sides. I see Jason McCheyne sharing his story and struggles. ( Thank you Jason ). And also thanks to many others who have been willing to raise good points for consideration.

Mark Moore, let me say that I can see your earnest desire to love in a Christ-like manner. Your very own love for Christ and the Chruch itself is evident through your writings and words. I did listen to your audio lecture on 'Homosexual Hermeneutics'. I found it very interesting and entertaining. However, your presentation of pro-gay theology, in comparision to my findings on pro-gay theology, is somewhat lacking in a well rounded examination of all of the passages that seemingly refer to 'all forms of homosexuality'.

I have accumulated some of the more articulate papers that I have encountered, in addition to some of my own findings of the 'Levitical' passages, and I have posted them on my own site. I am sure, with the level of education that Mr. Rumple has, he will present a much clearer postulation of evidence than I ever could hope to acheive. I have come to accept, for my own understanding of the Bible, that the only true interpretation of the scriptures are to see past the cultural references and look to the eternal truths and principle of Christianity. In other words, 'What was the intent of the writer, in context of Who he was writing to? What was he trying to convey to THEM?'

I beg for patience and understanding on both sides of the issue. Keeping in mind, as so well articulated in many of the entries above, 'The greatest attribute that Christians have, is Love.' Seek for Knowledge, and Pray for discernment. "Ask and ye shall receive".

In my opinion, I am becoming convinced of the logic of the pro-gay theology based on the prove of evidence that it provides. ( That is just my opinion ). Some may ask, "Why would God be O.K with homosexuality if it has always been condemned by the Church?" In response I can only draw from the example of slavery. Today, Christians would consider owning slaves to be a very 'un-Christian' thing to do. Yet God never intervened in the owning of slaves by Christian men in the United States, or the world at large until the 1860's. Was it because God accepted slavery until the 1860's. No! The oppression of human beings has never been 'Christ-like' behavior. But, God allows humanity, and Christians to work out their 'Christ-likness' over time. One particular generation, or even two or three, may never see that aspect of Christian evolution come to pass. But I believe that God continues to strive with man-kind to bring us into closer relationship with him. That, after-all was the purpose of Christ coming into the world, to 'seek and save the lost' with the 'end' of bringing us into closer relationship with God, our creator.

One may say that homosexuality is sinnful and wrong. I could, and would respond with 'What is SIN?' In my opinion, and from my study, I would say that SIN is breaking relationship with God, and/or with man. Jesus points out himself that the greatest commandments are to 'Love God and to Love your Neighbor as yourself'. We are told in Titus that 'to the pure, all things are pure.' ( Don't misunderstand this as an approval of Pedastery of Bestiality. I am referring to homosexuality in terms of an adult, mutually consenting, loving relationship ). How does homosexuality, in these terms break relationship with God, or with Man?

Homosexuality has been compared to 'desires of the flesh' such as Alcoholism or Selfishnes, or even Drug Addition. I have a problem with that compaision because those 'desires' can, and most probably will, lead to breaking relationship with God and/or man. Homosexuality would be no more at risk of breaking those relationships than heterosexuality.

These are just my opinions and conclusions. I am always open to understanding and correction, should my opinions prove to be lacking in my understanding of Christ, or God himself. And of coarse, always listening for the leading of the Holy Spirit. But as I say, these are my conclusions, and I am the one who must answer to God for my decisions, be they right or wrong. But I do seek him in all my ways, and he, above all knows that.

So form your-own conclusions, but at the very least, be patient enough to seek knowledge, understanding and discernment before you make any decision concerning YOUR life.

Grace and Peace to you all.

August 16, 2006 at 11:21 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Bill,

I thank you for your wonderful post. Your openness and honesty are a breath of fresh air. With you I "beg for patience and understanding on both sides of the issue." I struggle with the fact that a lot of the people on the conservative side (which has historically been my own side) do not have the patience to listen to what is being said. On the other hand, many homosexuals seem unwilling to hear any argument that might lead to the conclusion that homosexuality is not genetic. I do not claim to have the answers. I only hope to find and to distribute grace.

...

August 17, 2006 at 12:09 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoBalchFalseWitness.pdf

Read pages 10-19.

August 19, 2006 at 3:43 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Thom,

I took a look at this paper that you list above. I found it to be very similar to a book that I read by Joe Dallas, 'A Strong Delusion, Confronting the "Gay Christian" Movement'. In this book Mr. Dallas sets out to prove that Pro-Gay Theology is a delusion and unscrictural. That the acceptance of gay Theology is 'butchering the Bible', and that 'The acceptance of this Theology would confuse everyone and disregard the Bible'.

Mr. Dallas endevors to prove this point about Pro-Gay Theology and the Authority of the Bible, yet he only spents at best, not more than two chapters ( out of 13 chapters ) of his book actually discussing the scriptures that relate directly to homosexuality. He uses scripture throughout his book condemning sin, and therefore, in his mind, condemning homosexuality. He does this largely without scripturally countering the points that Pro-Gay Theology raise.

But when he does ( finally ) get to discussing scriptures referring to homosexualiy, he first colors the readers perceptions of those scriptures by giving the following example from Matt. 11:28. 'The verse is clear in its meaning that Jesus invites the weary to come to him for rest'. Mr. Dallas proceeds to explain that if you do an extensive word search in the Greek launguage, you could understand this scripture as 'Jesus was really inviting pregnant women to stay at his maternity ward in Nazareth.' And then he follows with, 'And that is the power of pro-gay theology.'

It is my understanding of pro-gay theology that it simply seeks to understand scripture as it was intended to be understood. If the considerations of Culture, History and Launguage are factually based, then the logical understanding of the verses that traditionally have condemned homosexuality, is that their traditional interpretations most likely have simply been wrong. And the notion that understanding pro-gay theology is in any way related to Mr. Dallas' example of Matt. 11:28, to me should be completely ridiculous to any right minded person. The approach Mr. Dallas uses is fairly closed minded and mis-leading.

The remainder of Mr. Dallas' book is spent in discussing his personal experience, the history of the gay-rights movement, cultural consequenses, gay-Christain history, social justice arguments, and how to confront the gay-Christian movement. Most of these chapters discuss our culture, our society and his perceptions of what would happen to our world if homosexuality is accepted as morally neutral in God's eyes.

To me, the questions of culture and society are secondary to scriptural authority. Once this issue is discussed and considered openly from both sides of the isle, then questions of how to respond to culture and society must be address. What I see happening now is that Policies are being established without having proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that homosexuality is sin, above and beyond the understanding of pro-gay theology.

Christians will still be Christian, weather homosexual or heterosexual. And we as Christian still have the responsibility to uphold Christian pricipals. Christain homosexuals should no more be equated with having the same agenda as non-Christian homosexuals, than Christain heterosexuals should be equated with having the same agenda as non-Christain heterosexuals. Once we are united under the Banner of Christ, then we can more easily confront the real issues that Christians should be addressing. Once again, these are just my opinions and conclusions.

As far as the Levitical concerns that were brought up in the paper that you list above, please go to my site and read what I've listed in the 'The Law' section. The Law is understood throughout the Christian Churches to be broken into three parts; Social, Moral and Ritual. Although Social and Moral aspects seem to still apply to today's society, the Ritual parts of the Law were abolished with the coming of Christ's Kingdom. There is evidence that the passages in Lev. that refer to homosexuality are related to Ritual, rather that Social or Moral. So, just take a look, see if you can see what I have found in my research.

August 19, 2006 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Bill,

Thanks for your response, but pp. 10-19 of the essay I linked to above have nothing to do with anything you've discussed in your response. Remember that above I linked to the essay and said "Read pages 10-19." You seem eager to push a pro-gay theology agenda. In the process you're pushing me, a closet conversative, out of the closet.

...

August 19, 2006 at 12:12 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Read also:

http://www.robgagnon.net/Reviews/homoWinkExchanges.pdf

http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/gagnon5.pdf

This is an exchange between Robert Gagnon and Walter Wink mostly hosted by the Christian Century.

...

August 19, 2006 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger Tyler Stewart said...

Thom I can't access these articles for some reason

August 20, 2006 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

I don't know what the trouble is. I'm having no problem. Do you have adobe reader installed? I'm using Firefox. Maybe something's wrong with your IE. I don't know.

If you still can't access them, you'll have to come over for dinner and I'll read them to you with Chet Baker playing in the background.

...

August 20, 2006 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Well, I'll tell you Thom, I took a look at these papers that you've listed for reading, and I did read the right paper the first time on 'homoBalchFalseWitness'. My response was what I meant to say, but maybe I took things in a direction that you were not ready for, or were not expecting. Sorry about that, but let me explain my response just briefly.

Those pages discuss the manner in which 'society' is starting to protect the rights of homosexuals, but these examples are very extreme and unfair to those who view homosexuality as morally wrong. I'm sure there are many examples of just the opposite that could be brought to light. Ex... Various types of discriminations against homosexuals, People demonstrating at Matt Shepard's funural with signs that say, ' Fag, go to hell'. We live in a great big world and you could probably find many examples to support your views, whatever they may be.

My response, using Mr. Dallas' book as an example, was simply to attempt to demonstrate that arguments that are based on 'culture' or 'society' should be secondary to the primary question, 'Is homosexuality, as understood in terms of two mutually consenting adults in a loving, committed relationship, what is being condemned in scripture? This was the footing of my response. Really, I'm sorry if you felt I was pushing you into an area that you are not ready for.

As for the other papers that you suggested for reading... very interesting and informative, from both perspectives. Both men, Gagnon and Wink are highly qualified men in theological issues. Although their bantering back and forth takes on a 'biting' attitude at times, they both raise good points, and are equally knowlegable in the scriptures to use scripture to defend and support their own points of view. This, in my opinion, is part of the problem. The Bible, as 'God inspired' as it is, does leave itself open to interpretation concerning many issues, not just homosexuality. If this weren't true, we would not see the vast numbers of demoninations, and sub-groups within those demoninations that we have, all useing the Bible as their guide.

Even in scripture itself we see a highly charged debate about a theological issue among the early Christians, 'To be circumcised, or not to be circumcised?' One wonders, "why would God not just give us a written guide that would be indisputable?" I don't know! Maybe because God knew that Christianity would thrive within all the differing cultures and societies that would come and go. ( Since true worship of God comes from within ). This could lead to a whole other topic of conversation, but still the question remains, Why didn't God make sure that there was no mis-understanding of his holy words?

Now using Gagnon and Wink as an example. Once the interpretation of particualar scriptures are established in their minds, (that homosexuality is contrary to God's will, or permissable as part of God's diverse creation), neither of these two highly theologically educated men have much trouble finding cultural or scriptural supporting evidence that validate their particular views. Are we to believe that God is in agreement with both views simply because scripture can be used to support both sides? I don't think so, but where does that leave US? I think that it leaves us to go back to the basics. We have to revisit those particular scriptures that discuss homosexuality and with prayer and patience, taking into consideration all available information. Once this information is carefully viewed and considered for validity and understanding, then maybe we can better find God's will in this, or any particualar matter.

Here is a suggestion. Take a look at these papers. ( www.jeramyt.org . Go to Gay an Lesbian Studies, then look for two papers; 'Homosexuality and Christianity' and 'Paul, the goddess Religions and Homosexuality' ). The first talks almost exclusively about those particualar scriptures concerning homosexuality. The second gives a glimpse into the culture in which the early Christians lived, thus giving a clearer explaination of the writings of Paul.

Again, these are my own museing, opinions and conclusions, please don't think that I'm pushing anything on you. We are all Brothers in Christ.

August 21, 2006 at 7:26 AM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

Hi everyone,

I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to respond and I was asked if I have any quesitons to ask as well and I have a question to ask.
What causes heterosexual orientation?

Jason

August 21, 2006 at 6:06 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Looks like an anonymous comment was deleted from this post. Thank you. It was uncalled for and certainly not true.

August 22, 2006 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

If bloggers wish to critique some one or some group using this blog as a platform, they are welcome to do so, not as strangers but as friends. Critiques from strangers (who refuse from the outset to be friends) will not be heard.

...

August 22, 2006 at 5:29 PM  
Blogger JD said...

To back up my brother, Thom, I'll just add a quote :::



"Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact." - George Eliot.

August 24, 2006 at 3:59 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

I didn't see the 'uncalled for' comment by anonymous, but thanks to the powers that be for attempting to preserve an atmosphere conducent for continued conversation and understanding. I feel that anyone should be able to post any thoughts that are on their mind, but a Christian, desiring to demonstrate Christ-likeness, should ask themselves, 'Have I expressed this comment/question in the most Christ-like manner possible?' ( WWJD ).

So back to this blog and its titled purpose, 'Homosexual Hermeneutic'. I've seen in the above posts questions concerning 'Genesis, and God's intended purpose for human sexuality'. I've not seen comments concerning 'Sodom and Gomorrah', but many believe that this story from the Bible condemns homosexuality. There have been a lot of comments about 'Leviticus'. ( 'How can Leviticus be understood in any other way than condemning all forms of homosexuality?' ) The New Testament ( Romans 1, 1 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, and even some believe that Jude 1:7 is referring to homosexuality ).

There are many things to be discussed, and there is a lot of information available that many people are not aware of. Jason posed a question, 'What causes heterosexual orientation?' Any takers on that one??? If homosexuals choose their orientation, when were heterosexuals faced with that choice? ( their sexual orientation ). And what made them choose to be heterosexual? ( was it a desire to serve God and to 'not sin'? ) That is not a sarcastic question, I truly want to know what choices heterosexuals are faced with. I can tell you that every homosexual that I've ever discussed this question with did not feel that they had a choice, homosexuality was and is their inherent orientation.

There is a lot to discuss and I encourage anyone/everyone who really wants to find a resolution for this issue, ( at least for their own peace of mind ) to open the lines of communication and lets start discussing the basics of it. ( What does the Bible have to say? ) Let discuss that question while we take into consideration all the information that is available to us, and let us answer each others questions.

Let us also be patient enough to wait for Mr. Rumple to present his thoughts about this subject on his web-site.

So...as always, with patience, and in the spirit of peace and love.

Bill

August 24, 2006 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

I don't care what any of you say, Mark Moore is not gay!... j/k

I loved reading through the comments to this article. I for one have been very disappointed in Christian leaders and scholars who have taken a liberal approach to the Bible concerning this issue. The Historical-Grammatical approach is the best way to read the Bible, and when you look at the Bible through those lenses, it is hard to believe that homosexuality is correct. I think that too many Christians tip-toe around this issue instead of standing up for God in a loving way...

Both of my parents are gay. They know where I stand, and we have somewhat of a good relationship. I have learned that it is possible to love the person and despise the sin...

The Bible is clear from Genesis to Revelation: Homosexuality is a sin. Practicing it is an offense to God. Struggling with it b/c of love for Jesus is honorable, b/c you understand that what you feel is not God's original intent.

Too many people are concerned about feelings today... if I acted on every feeling I had, then I would be in jail. Most feelings seem to come from our flesh, and not from God... so just because someone feels that it is alright to be gay does not mean that is from God...

Just some simple thoughts...

August 24, 2006 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Caleb,

I do agree with one thing you said:

"If I acted on every feeling I had, then I would be in jail." :)

I think the notion of orientation is pivotal for this discussion, not "what the Bible has to say," because "what the Bible has to say" may or may not be relevant to our situation.

Where does this notion of sexual orientation come from? When did it begin to be used in debates on homosexuality? I think Gagnon argues (though I haven't read it yet) that the notion of homosexual orientation actually did exist back in the first century. This could be some fudging the evidence to sidestep the argument that Paul is irrelevant because Paul didn't have a notion of sexual orientation in his mind. But let's talk about that, if anything.

If humans do have something that is rightly called a "sexual orientation," how did humans become aware of this property? Is there any biological evidence for it? If not, what other evidence is there for it? What do proponents of "sexual orientation" have to say in response to those who claim that these matters are culturally conditioned? If both what we call homosexuality and heterosexuality are culturally conditioned appetites, is there any way for us to impose an additional culturally-conditioned moral scheme (the Bible and the communities that consider the Bible to be authoritative are a cultural conditioner) onto a different yet no less culturally-conditioned sexual orientation scheme? How do proponents of cultural conditioning explain the anomalies, the homosexuals that come up out of entirely heterosexual environments?

I doubt there will be agreement between both sides of the debate on all (or any) of the answers to these questions. But this is where the discussion lies, and should lie. The homosexuals here continue to assume that a "biological homosexual orientation" is a coherent concept. If it is, we might just have to revise our traditional readings of certain Scriptures in light of valid human experience. If it isn't a coherent concept, where does that leave the arguments from the homosexual side? Rather vacuous, I should say.

...

August 24, 2006 at 1:29 PM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Thom,

I understand your point...and disagree :) As one that was raised in the gay community, taken to gay bars when I was 6, taken to gay parties, raised by two lesbians, and also as one who has a gay father, I will tell you that "what the Bible has to say is very relevant to this point." Culture did not teach me that homosexuality was wrong... it taught me the opposite! I marched in gay pride parades with my culture. Not culture--- the Bible taught me that homosexuality is a sin. As a matter of fact, it is a starting point for developing one's point on this issue.

In my experience, the notion of sexual orientation has always been there. It did not just appear one day. It may not have been as obvious in previous generations because the tolerance was low, but it has always been there. I would say since sin has existed, so has confusion with sexual orientation... you can see it in Genesis, and it was even something that God devoted quite a bit of time to in the Law. It is another way that man pridefully rebels against God (knowingly or unknowingly).

I believe there will never be evidence of a gay gene... and if there is such a thing, it is merely a consequence of sin's contamination of the world. Scripture must always take priority over culture... not the other way around. This is not to mean that we are culturally retarded... but the Word always comes first. I wholeheartedly disagree that if they do find "biological evidence" that we should revise our readings of Scripture. If there is a gene that makes people commit adultery, should we revise our interpretation? If there is a gene that makes people more prone to kill, steal, or to rape, should we change our interpretation? Absolutely not. There is such a thing in the OT as unintentional sin, and even when people did not know they were sinning, God still counted it as falling short. The same would be true here.

To comment more on feelings: as humans, our feelings are out of wack. We share some of God's attributes such as jealousy, wrath, love, and so on. He is the only one that uses those perfectly, and we use them (at best) average. As we go through life, as we sin and are sinned against in various ways, those attributes are damaged even more... and so are the feelings that we rely upon too much.

What do I think about culturally-conditioned moral schemes... I think that the best weapon against any kind of sin is to 1)Love God, and 2) Love people... we love people enough to treat them as humans. We love our kids enough to teach them the true things of Scripture. We love our church enough to be up front about sin, and exhort them to godly living.

Do I believe that homosexuals will go to hell? I think that homosexuals who practice and do not care what God thinks do not have a love for God in their heart. On the other hand, homosexuals that struggle with sin as Jacob struggled with God... those people are true warriors of faith. Will they slip? Sure... but they honor God by striving for Him.

When witnessing to anyone, I usually do not start with the Word (though my beliefs, morals, and philosophy are all taken from it). As JP Moreland and William Lane Craig teach, I start with the existence of God... absolute truth... the reliability of the Word... the extent of sin... the claims of Jesus... but it is the Spirit that does the work...

August 24, 2006 at 5:05 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Hey Caleb (Rabbi!),

Remember that time we got the trailor jack knifed in your mom's yard?

Good to hear from you. Thanks for your thoughts here. God bless you! No word now on the topic, just wanted to greet this brother on this forum. God bless you all!

August 24, 2006 at 5:26 PM  
Blogger JD said...

Bill Cottle,

You said. "What does the Bible have to say?"

Well, it says that sin DOES INDEED EXIST. Then, it says don't do it!

It's a basic concept that really honest people don't need to debate about so much. It's plain.

If you choose to live in your plain and simple sin, as I choose too myself (since sin has no degree) then do so. But stop, please, trying to explain it as no longer being a sin, or that it ever was.

What does the Bible say? I think it's time for you to open up your mind and read what the scriptures have to say about yourself; rather than what yourself wishes to twist the words to be self comforting.

I don't hate you and I don't condemn you. But, I do judge you according to "what the Bible says".

Sin is sin, now stop it! No excuses!

My grace is suffecient for thee -- even so. Grace does not explain away sin, it just covers it. At the same time it does not allow it. That's the meaning of "grace".

Not allowed but forgiven.

I would encourage you to rethink your life, sir.

Take a larger respect for the God, Jehovah than for your daily activities / life on earth ambitions.

August 25, 2006 at 12:36 AM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

Hi everyone, I don't have much time to write and am still waiting for a response to my last question. I do want to pit out some things. Nice to hear from you Caleb. You are evidence that homosexual orientation is not learned. Afetr all you have two gay parents and I have two straight ones.

Second, orientation (best word to describe this discussion) is basically fixed and stable once we leave the womb according to extensive research. Ones awareness may not appear till later but this is true. Orientation in and of itself is not sin.

Cheers

Jason

August 25, 2006 at 2:28 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Caleb,

What, in the first place, makes you put any stock in what the Bible has to say about homosexuality or anything else for that matter?


Jason,

1) What research?
2) Culture is a little bit bigger than one's immediate family.
3) We're working on answering your question. That's what my last few posts have been all about. I've been attempting to steer the conversation in that direction. However, you still haven't given any reasons (or any good ones) why we should believe that there is such a thing as "sexual orientation" and why we should believe that sexual orientation is fixed from birth. That your parents were straight is not a reason. "Extensive research" is not a reason either; it is an adjective and a noun.

This is an invitation to hear from you. I want you and Bill and whoever else wishes to represent the pro-gay side to put forward arguments that can be evaluated by reason. I understand that you believe that a person's sexual orientation is fixed from birth. There are a great many people who share that view with you. But to just state that it is the case is to beg the question upon which this whole discussion depends.


To those on both sides who wish to call the other side sinners:

This discussion is dedicated to evaluating arguments. We seem to be struggling to make those arguments, however. I hope both sides can overcome their difficulties with that -- stop begging questions and start answering them.

If not, it may be time to shut up.

...

August 25, 2006 at 3:28 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Wow, talk about getting what you ask for! There is much to discuss here already, just from Caleb and Thom's posts. Caleb, thanks for joining in with your opinions and your perspective on things. Your opinion of homosexuality in light of your experiences is an unusal circumstance. I can't say I've ever met anyone in your particular situation. You have a unique perspective and I am interested in exploring this issue from your point of view.

But let me make one request. In the coarse of this discussion, if you are able... please leave your mind open to the possibility that the views of others, if made in a valid manner, should be taken and considered in a serious and thoughtful manner.( simply a request, but do as you wish ).

Caleb, you make a statment that I would like to discuss. You say, "The Historical-Grammatical approach is the best way to read the Bible, and when you look at the Bible through those lenses, it is hard to believe that homosexuality is correct." Although I do believe you are right in saying that 'through those lenses, it is hard to believe that homosexuality is correct.' I would like to discuss your statement 'the Historical-Grammatical approach is the best way to read the Bible.' It is indeed one way to read and understand the Bible but by no means the only way to do so. And in my opinion, if one is not careful, this type of reading and understanding of scripture can present real danger for mis-understanding scripture.

Quick example; Up until the 14th century, a popular belief of the Church was that the earth was flat. That belief probably came from a 'Historical-Grammatical' interpretation of scripture, ( 'the four corners of the earth' ). The Bible offered no evidence to counter that belief, and it was even considered heresy to believe otherwise. ( it was a liberal view of scripture in those days ). Of coarse today we can see, through discoveries in science that the earth is round, and not even the center of the universe. I think this example has revalence to this conversation. Science does not work against the Bible, but rather it can help us to better understand the Bible.

Personal Experience. Caleb...your personal experience leads you to believe that orientation, or the passing on of a 'gay gene' does not exist. My experience and Jason's experience tells us that it is possible to be raised in an all heterosexual environment and still turn out to be gay. I think that although personal experience is valid for consideration, it certainly isn't proof of anything. So while listening to each other's personal experiences, I don't think it would be wise to draw conclusions based on that alone.

So the conversation turns first to 'does orientation exist?' I've seen a lot of papers addressing this topic. Genetic or Learned Behavior are usually the two causes of concern. I've not seen anything compelling to me about either of these two ideas that convinces me that either is 'The Cause'. However I did read one paper that seems logical and compelling as a possible reason for sexual orientation. ( and it has supporting evidence ). Its not a long paper to read, (about 3 pages) so check this out for yourself, and we'll discuss it.
www.krysalis.net/homosexuality.htm

JD and Caleb, your feelings are strong that homosexuality is sin. That is obvious. Many people feel the same way that you do. Let me ask you this, What do you know about homosexuality, (Biblically speaking ) other than what you have been taught by tradition Church teachings? What I mean is, I've been in Church services all my life, ( Sunday Morning, Sunday Night and Wed. night ), and I have never, within the Church of Christ/Christian Church attended any service that has evaluated this subject from a perspective of trying understanding the pro-gay point of view and then weighing it out to see if there is any truth or validity to this point of view. This may be because of an attitude of 'I already know what the bible says about homosexuality, I don't need to study it for a better understanding.'

Why then does the Church study every other 'acceptable' subject under the sun to understand it better? Marriage, Love, Baptism, ect..., one could say the same, 'I already know what the bible says about that stuff, I don't need to study it further.' You know, just the act of examination of a subject is not sinful. You are still left with your ability to choose right from wrong. So what is the harm in just hearing what Jason and I have to say? Was the earth flat until the 14th century, or was it only believed to have been flat? I'm not trying to convince you that sin is O.K.. I'm simply proposing that maybe the traditional understanding of homosexuality could be in error.

Thom, please don't suggest that the time to shut-up may be coming. That happens too often with too many conflicts, which leads to no resolution. Let's talk and we'll answer any and all questions that you have. We still may not see eye to eye at the conclusion of this discussion, but at least we will be informed, and better able to make those decisions. So there it is, a theory about the possible cause of sexual orientation, listed above. Does anyone think that it is possible that this could be an explaintion for sexual orientation? Then we'll move on from here.

August 25, 2006 at 5:28 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Bill,

I do not wish to shut up. I just think shutting up is better than saying a lot of nothing. My comments should be interpreted as an invitation for all to speak, but to speak carefully and well.

Comments on Dr. Gregg's short essay:

1) It assumes the 3% Gay and 1% Lesbian statistics. It says that these percentages have been consistent "throughout history" and "in all human societies." This is an incredible claim. Researchers have no access to any such time period as "throughout history," and the idea that these numbers are consistent in every society has been contested above. Many places in Africa have no coherent concept of what homosexuality is. I doubt the researchers travelled to the Amazon tribes. There is just no way to say that. Even if it were provable that 3% of all males on the planet and 1% of all females were homosexual, one cycle of births and deaths could change all that. The research would have to be continually repeated.

2) Gregg's argument is that there is no homosexual gene, per se, but there are genes that carry predetermined sexual orientations (I-like-boys, which is for girls, and I-like-girls, which is for boys). Homosexuality is produced by an inconsistent chemical yield, where the a chemical reaction assigns the right orinetation to the wrong gender, or vice versa.

Gregg writes, "Since both options are genetically available, a selection process is taking place. This process selects which part of the genetic code will be expressed and which will be suppressed. Included in this are the genetically carried codes for sexual attraction. At the appropriate stage of development, the sexual attraction program is selected irreversibly. It is as irreversible as the selection between a clitoris and penis. It is not clear exactly what stage this particular selection happens. It is only clear that it does happen."

How the last two sentences can be reconciled with one another, I am not certain. I am no doctor, but it seems to me that not knowing when the selection happens is tantamount to not knowing whether it happens at all. If it were clear that the selection does happen, it would be clear what "happening" in this case would amount to, i.e., it would be clear what the chemicals are that determine sexual attraction. If these chemicals are known, when they do their work should also be known, for the two are indistinguishable. That the time of the reaction is not known is just evidence that the fact of the reaction itself is not known. The man seems to be fudging.

3) Gregg clearly is pushing an agenda because later he makes the claim that this chemical argument makes it clear that homosexuality is not a moral issue.

4) The moral issue aside, if we suspend our disbelief for the moment and allow Greg his chemical "proof," Gregg himself says that the point in development where the sexual orientation gene is selected "is the point where an error is made for homosexuals. The inappropriate program is selected." Gregg, as I said, believes that this should not lead us to make moral judgments about homosexuality. The error is not a "moral error," but a chemical one.

So, if we grant this picture (which I am not ready to for reasons given above), we are granting that the natural order of things is male-female, female-male attraction, and that male-male and female-female attraction is a perversion (in an amoral sense) of the natural order of things. In other words, we are accepting the argument from design.

My question to Bill, or to Jason, is this: Do you accept these terms, or do you wish to point us to another essay by another PhD?

Recapping the argument from Bill so far: sexual orientation is fixed from birth because, for one, Bill had two straight parents and he still turned out gay.

Is that accurate?

The issue of sexual orientation is still up in the air. There is more to be discussed. Many questions I asked above have not yet been answered. I stand by my conviction that this discussion hinges on the question of sexual orientation. If it is provable that persons are sexually oriented to be attracted to one or another of the two genders, we need to take that fact with us to our reading of Scripture.

However, a distinction can be made between an account of sexual orientation that says that homosexuality is an (amoral) chemical error, and an account of sexual orientation that says homosexuality is not an error but one possibility out of two. So far we have looked at one argument for the former and no arguments for the latter. In my estimation, which of the two accounts we accept in the end (if we accept either) is going to affect how much our reading of Scripture should be altered. If homosexuality is a defect, that is not inconsistent with the traditional reading of the Scriptures (some abuse granted). If homosexuality is not a defect, we have new information that the writers of Scripture did not have, and we should adjust our reading of Scripture accordingly.

Before the "conservative" side pounces on that last statement of mine, let's here the arguments.

...

August 25, 2006 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Bill & Jason,

I want to appreciate some things about you. 1) I am glad you are "out of the closet." Many people do not come out and nothing can happen from their. 2) I want to congratulate you on your study of Jesus and His teachings. My parents would not consider to do that, and that is a hard thing to do when homophobia is so prevelent within the church. 3) You have a great attitude!.. very loving and caring. Don't ever lose that! 4) You seem very smart, and are a thinker... 5) There is no harm in hearing what you and Jason have to say. I am excited to continue this dialoge...

Everything in me wants to say that this lifestyle is alright, and that you have found more love than most people have in a lifetime. However, the Word will not allow me to do that... I mean, say that this is an acceptable lifestyle and that your sexual orientation is correct. However, that does not mean that we cannot appreciate one another. From being raised in the gay community, I have a lot of friends who are gay, and we are still good friends to this day. They know where I stand, and I know where they stand. I have no idea who JD is, I have never met him before... my words that were posted earlier do not come from a fear or hatred of homosexuals. I am one who believes that HOMOPHOBIA is also a SIN. This is something that many Christians do, and they have no idea that they are sinning... The Bible says to fear 2 things: God and nothing.

I feel that there is quite a bit that I do know about homosexuality... because of my upbringing, and I lived a great deal of my life believing that it was okay.

Before I forget, let me make something clear in reference to something Mr. Stark posted. Am I calling you a sinner? Yes. Am I a sinner? Yes. Are Thom Stark or Brad Pitt sinners? Yes. The Bible says that all have sinned, and fallen short of God's glory. All sin is equal, and there is no one that stands above another at the foot of the cross.

With that said, I pray that you will know that I am speaking in love, and not out of fear, hatred, or anger as some do.

Now, you asked about my interpretation of the Scripture. How did I come to believe that the historical-grammatical approach is the best method? (and yes, to all others reading, this does have a lot to do with what we are speaking of) B

Because the New Testament was written in Greek (even though I do believe Matthew and Revelation may have been written in Hebrew or Aramaic) most people tend to view it through Greek philosophy. This is not all together wrong because I believe that the Holy Spirit chose specific words like "logos" to describe Christ... looking at it through Greek Philosophy isnot the best place to start. As a matter of fact, I think that if you start there, you will have somewhat of a distorted view of the Bible. So, the question is, where do we start?

Well... Jesus was Jewish, the OT was written by God through the Jewish prophets to the Jews, the NT was written by Jews (except for Dr. Luke), Matthew was written first to the Jews, God chose Israel as His people... perhaps it would be wise to start looking that the Bible through Jewish eye-goggles? I think it would be.

In the NT days, you had Saducees who only believed in the first 5 books of the Bible, but the overwhelming population followed the Pharisees, who did use the historical-grammatical approach. They took things literal. What about Jesus? He believed in things such as Noah, Jonah and the Whale, Sodom and Gomorrah, Abel, and so on. What about Paul? He taught that Adam was a real person through whom all humanity suffered death as a consequence of sin.

How did the latter authors of the OT view the events that were earlier in the writings... they supported them 100%, and did not debate... despite few grammatical errors made by scribes, the Bible is in agreement with itself. The authors of the Bible, as well as Christ Himself, seem to use the historical-grammatical approach.

I spent some time studying at Fuller Theological Seminary before I moved to Talbot School of Theology... and there was a professor there named Dr. Ray Anderson... very intelligent man, and I counted it an honor to take a class from him. However, he made one comment that I disagree with (but pertains to our conversation). He taught, "That it is the human experience that interprets the Bible, not the other way around."

Can I say I agree with half of what he said? Does the Bible interpret culture? I think that it does not, but the teachings of the Bible should not change based on a result of culture. The way we apply the Bible through ministry can change, but the teachings do not change.

I will read that article that you posted... and wanted to respond to some of your questions... I look forward to hearing from you.

August 25, 2006 at 12:48 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Caleb,

You said: "Before I forget, let me make something clear in reference to something Mr. Stark posted. Am I calling you a sinner? Yes. Am I a sinner? Yes. Are Thom Stark or Brad Pitt sinners? Yes. The Bible says that all have sinned, and fallen short of God's glory. All sin is equal, and there is no one that stands above another at the foot of the cross."

1) The something I posted to which I assume you're referring read: "This discussion is dedicated to evaluating arguments. We seem to be struggling to make those arguments, however. I hope both sides can overcome their difficulties with that -- stop begging questions and start answering them."

2) This was more a response to my brother JD than it was a response to you. (I did respond to you directly and am still waiting for a response there.)

3) Your point above that "we are all sinners" misses the point. The point of contention is not whether or not we are all sinners. The point of contention here is whether or not practiced homosexuality is sinful behavior. That question you did beg, at least within the context of this conversation.

4) Last time we talked you told me Alexander Campbell couldn't be trusted because he was a postmillennialist. This fourth point has nothing to do with anything here. I just think it's funny.

5) My question to you stands: What, in the first place, makes you put any stock in what the Bible has to say about homosexuality or anything else for that matter?

...

August 25, 2006 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Thom,

I have no doubt you are a smart individual. I have no doubt that you are also very philosophical in your thinking... but brother, there is such a thing as too much philosophy sometimes :) I understand your desire to moderate this conversation and so on, but let me say this: I hope that you are playing devil's advocate with your statement. If not, bro... time to go back to the classroom and relearn some of the basics... I am very philosophical with many issues such as the soverignty of God, free-will, end times discussions, and so on... but there are just some ethical issues in our culture that Christians have no idea what to do with. For some this is one of those types of issues. Your last statement scares me if you indeed are going to go into ministry or Christian education...

August 25, 2006 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Thom,

Re: Alexander Campbell

That comment about Campbell was a joke. I have a dry sense of humor... it would be like me saying "Al Mohler couldn't be trusted because he is Baptist."

Wait, can we trust Mohler......?

August 25, 2006 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

I’m back…and you fellows sure are opinionated. Are you all in Bible College? I ask because, at one time I considered attending JBC. At that time I thought that Bible College would be like… ‘Heaven on Earth’. Where everyone loved one another, and everyone loved everyone back, and you spent your time learning about God, and attending chapel and praising God. Kind of like a week at Christian Camp, and you have that happy, loving feeling all the time. It is not like that? I think its funny now that I was so naïve about people and life at that time.

Caleb, thanks for the kind words. ( If you were talking to me, I’m not all that, really! ) I’m human and…. I make mistakes. I react to life and people very poorly sometimes, more than I should. If I didn’t have Christ in my heart, I’d be a lost cause. Maybe you know how it is. Sometimes the temptation is there to ‘strike back‘, to ‘get even‘, to ‘not let them get away with that‘. I’m sure we all face that…yet for the love of Christ, we strive to do better than average. WE strive for Christ-likeness.

Thom, I understand you were united in Matrimony with the woman that you love. Congratulations! It would be a better world if everyone were so blessed to find that kind of happiness in their lives.

Jason, you doing all right? Have I said anything that you disagree, or agree with? I’d love to hear some of your thoughts. ( I think its great that you have a son. I’m sure that you and Adrian will do a fine job raising him, you sound like you are sincere in your faith and also an honest and responsible man ).

JD, How are you doing? You sounded a little angry or intimidated in your last post ( ??? ). Maybe that’s my misunderstanding, or its just your way, ( I don’t know ). I hope to hear from you again.

O.K. Thom. Let me respond to your post. To be just…frank with you. I wasn’t expecting ’sexual orientation’ to be an issue. I really didn’t even realize that it was still a question in the minds of some. I’ve always just assumed that orientation was understood as existent. So I didn’t spent too much of the past 7-8 months searching out information on that issue. ( In my mind, I thought that… whether Biological or Learned, it was still an oriented sexual expression. )

I can not, with any authority, answer your concerns about the paper that I’ve listed above. When I see statistics, I think ‘Scientific Method’. I just assume that the information is held to a scientific standard and therefore is probably fairly accurate. I see your point that statistics can be inaccurate or ‘fudged’ to prove a point. So you are right, and this makes everything questionable based on its degree of probability. And that also is based on the perspective of each person looking at that information. So therefore, ( to borrow your own logic, and rightly so ), lack of proof is not proof of its lack of possibility. ( I do feel that this paper raises some intersting information that, if proven to be probable, is pretty convincing. ) The two sides of this issue will probably never fully agree on this issue, unless undeniable proof is offered by one or the other side.

My personal feeling about sexual orientation is that it does exist. Even if homosexual orientation only existed in me, in all of time, that has ever been or will ever be, I would feel the same. I would feel that way because it is real for me. I know the relationship that I have with Christ. I asked him into my heart at age 11. I know God as my Father and Creator, and I worship and praise him. There may be a lot of things in this world that I don’t know, but I do know myself, almost was well as Jesus knows me, and better than anyone else knows me. I know what sin is, and when I sin…I know it. Jesus nudges at my heart and whispers to me, ’you are not reflecting me’. I’ve have Christian training and teaching, the same as most Christians who have been in the faith as long as I have, and I’m more so like those of the Christian Church/Church of Christ movement. I don’t claim ’Grace’ to cover my ’Sin of Homosexuality’, as some believe it to be. I’ll explain why I feel this way, and my reasoning as we continue on.

Also in the line of thought of sexual orientation. I think that Cultural Stigma is a major factor in this issue. It would be human nature to deny or suppress a part of their being, mind-set, or opinions if the Social Stigma is strong enough to curtail that undesired expression. I do recall seeing something about cultural tolerance of homosexuality. African and Arabic countries pronounce strong judgments against practicing homosexuals. If that information I’m recalling is accurate, then I could see why there would be less homosexual activity in those cultures. That, to me, does not mean homosexuals are not there, just that their fear may cause them to suppress that personal expression. Now I’ve expressed some personal opinions and personal experience here. And although I believe that personal experience should not alone be a determining factor in your decision making, I do think that it is valid for consideration.

Thom, you recapped my ’argument’ ( I’m going to avoid the word argument, my intention is not to be confrontational, I’ll say my ‘opinion‘. ), my opinion is that sexual orientation is fixed from birth. Yes, you are correct in that. But I’m not asking anyone to believe that based on my experience, I…believe that statement, and that is all I’m saying. My interest in being involved in this conversation is not to prove myself, or prove the freedom that I feel I have in Christ. No, my interest stems from a desire to see unity in the Church, as much as it depends on me. I would like to see everyone be aware of the points that pro-gay theology raises, and then the Church can re-evaluate this issue. ( Being fully informed with ALL the valid, available information. ) I do believe that traditional teachings concerning homosexuality are simply wrong for the type of relationship that I am involved in. Loving, mutually consenting , concerned for and committed to one another for life. I’ve found someone that I love, and that I want to share my life with, and grow old with. If there is anyone out there who believe that we, in homosexual relationships, are in any way incapable of having the same feelings as those of you in heterosexual relationships, you probably don’t know any homosexuals in committed relationships. We feel the range of emotions within a relationship just as deeply as anyone.

I’ve gone off the subject of orientation a little bit, and I apologize for that, but I don’t want anyone to misunderstand my intension for being involved in this conversation. From what I’ve read from Jason, I think he probably feels the same. Don’t discard the human experience, but also don’t base your conclusions solely on that.

So, I hope I didn’t offend anyone, I’m just being as honest as I can be with you. I’ll be less personally involved with my own feeling and experiences in future post. I guess if there is more to say on sexual orientation, say it and we’ll do our best to talk it out. That topic also ties into the Genesis account of Creation and ‘Imago Dei‘. So if you want to bat anything that out here, I’m fielding.

Bill

August 25, 2006 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Bill,

Your thoughts are clearly communicatied. I appreciate your honesty and openess. Your devotion to Christ evident as is Jason's.

Bill brings up a text commonly left out of these conversations where we are busy to turn to Leviticus and Romans 1, etc. Genesis is easily overlooked, when it should be foundational. Without bringing up another question, but rather using it to uphold the sanctity of male-female marriage, why was it not good for man to be alone? And why did God make female as his suitable help mate? (I don't deny that your sincere love is expressed to your partner as your concience says it's ok. All I'm saying is that these questions or better this fact that God made female as an ideal companion just about settles the subject it for me.)

Your brother,

Greg

August 25, 2006 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

By the way and since you asked. I am busy in full-time minstry to a Hispanic church on the border in Texas. Here I don't see the issue of homosexuality very much or at all. What I do see often is males and females cohabitating (living together). It's like an epidemic. I view that and homosexuality and lust and adultery and any other kind of sin as the same. That is where I stand from an exegesis standpoint and personal opinion experience. I have had gay friends in the past, right now you are my friends. I hope and pray that we all repent of all known sin as soon as we are to recognize it.

Your friend and brother,

Greg

August 25, 2006 at 10:47 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Greg,

You’ve been part of our recent conversation, and I completely forgot to include a greeting for you Brother. Thanks for being here and calling me a Friend. One should always welcome the opportunity to have another friend.

My conception of the coarse of this conversation starts with 1).Genesis and the Creation Story. Then, if agreeable to all, on to 2). The Sodom Story. 3) The Old Testament Law. 4). The New Testament ( including 1 Corinthians, 1Timothy and Jude ). I’d like to save Romans 1 ( 5. ) for last because it will require more explanation and discussion than the other passages in the New Testament. If you would like to take a glance at what my views are ahead of time, these five subjects are listed on my site. As I’ve said, I been studying intently since Jan. of this year. The three most articulate writings that I have come across, I have summarized and compiled into each of these five sections. ( I started this months ago, for my own purposes. I sent these papers to a friend of mine in Spain and he started a site for me with these papers that I sent to him. So that is how I came to the Bloger’s world. ) There is nothing here hidden, look these papers up on line if you would like to have a full view and understanding of the content of these papers. ( The ‘gunny ding’ paper is no longer available, I’m not sure what happen to this site ). I would like to try to keep the focus of the discussion on one section at a time, to avoid confusion and being all over the board.

“The Argument that the Creation Story privileges a heterosexual view of the relations between humankind is to make one of the weakest arguments possible, the argument from silence. The Creation Story does not mention Friendship, and yet we do not assume that Friendship is condemned or abnormal. Neither does it mention the Single State, and yet we know that Singleness is not condemned. The creation story is not a paradigm about marriage, but rather about the establishment of human society.” Jeffery S. Siker, July 1994 issue of Theology Today.

We primarily see the procreative emphasis for Marriage/Sex in Genesis 1-3, in which we see Paul basing his ‘Natural Theology’ in Romans 1 and elsewhere, ( 1 Tim. 2:11-15 & 1 Cor. 11:4-16 ). However, while it is indisputable that God commanded Adam & Eve in Genesis 1:28 to ‘be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it’. That does by no means imply that the sole, primary, or even permanent command of Marriage/Sex is child-bearing. On the contrary, there is nothing in the nature of this command that implies that it even has to do with a marriage relationship, other than understanding from other texts that sexuality ( thus increasing in number ) is to be done only within marriage relationships. For example, just several verses prior, in Genesis 1:22, God similarly commanded the birds & fish to ‘be fruitful and increase in numbers’. This aspect of human nature to ‘be fruitful and increase in number’, is related to humanity as creatures, not humanity as the image of God. ( Imago Dei ).

Be fruitful and Multiply does little to support the relationship between humans and God. God is not gender separated. God is neither male or female, although God is described in scripture as He, Father, Masculine. But also one cannot deny the aspect of the divine Feminine, such as Proverbs 8, where Wisdom is personified as a woman, ( and in texts where God is Nurturer and Pro-Creator, Genesis 1-2 ).

Human Male & Femaleness does not personify Imago Dei, but rather our likeness to creation. What personifies Imago Dei is our capacity to relate to one another, and to God, just as God in the divine trinity is self-relational and desires relationship with us.

God’s verbal definition for relationship was, ’It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make him a suitable helpmate.’ Genesis 2:18. This is not to dismiss the reproductive aspect of Adam & Eve’s relationship. But to alleviate Adam’s aloneness was the primary purpose, not to make babies.

'Why did God create procreation, if it is such an insignificant part of God’s intention for the marriage relationship?' The answer, To Propagate The Species.

So let the Biblical discussion begin!

Bill

August 26, 2006 at 6:07 AM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Here's an interesting article for sure from the internet's own free encyclopedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Naturism

Christian Naturism accepts neither the historical/grammatical approach nor the homosexual hermenuetic. It creates its own interpretation to justify its belief. Anyone here want to sign for some Christian Naturism?

August 26, 2006 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Christian Naturist use the imago dei defense as well. They also have arguments to defend the God-made clothing issue, etc. But I don't think I'll be signing up for this one. LOL

August 26, 2006 at 1:48 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Greg, your thoughts about ‘Christian Naturist’ ties into where I was going with ‘homosexual hermeneutics’.

I admit, I have not spent time in study, considering the thoughts and opinions of the Christian Naturists, I was not even aware that such a group existed. I did read the article and…well, this is what I see from a quick examination.

The scriptures that are being used to support their interpretation are certainly in the Bible, and are not mis-represented, ( for the most part ). If I understand the article correctly, the question is whether nudity is, or is not sinful. But to me the issue is more complicated than that. There are many questions and considerations.

Just to name a few; 1). Why are Christian Naturist pursuing this issue? Is the ultimate goal to force me to be nude in public or in worship services, or is their intension just to be free to express themselves, solely among themselves? If nudity is sinful, who makes that determination and sets the standards? ( Culture or the Church ). Is it acceptable to be nude just in the shower or bath? Would it be acceptable to display partial nudity, as some cultures do without feeling shame? To what degree is swim wear appropriate? 3). There is supporting evidence used in this article that I am not familiar with. ( The Book of Ether and the Book of Moses. Should those books, which are not part of our cannon, be accepted for consideration? Should the quotes by the various individuals have any bearing on my opinions about what the Bible says concerning this subject?

To me, this is not as simple as being ‘Right or Wrong‘. I’ve not looked into the subject sufficiently to form my own opinions about these Christian Naturist’s claims. ( I guess because it is not an issue that personally affects me, maybe one day I’ll take a closer look at it ). I can say that I do disagree with one aspect of their philosophy. Their interpretation of ’Image of God’. Their interpretation of Gen. 1:26-27 is very literal, and their understanding of that verse leads them to believe that we are ’Physically’ made in God’s image. The only Biblical example that I can think of that would support that idea is when God hide Moses in the ’cleft of the rock’. God then passed by and Moses glimpsed his ‘hind-parts‘. Now my understanding of being made in the ’Image of God’, based on my own study, it that we are Spiritually made in God’s Image. ( We have eternal souls and we have the knowledge to discern between Good and Evil.

You make two statements in you post that imply ( ??? ) that they ( Christian Naturist ) are mistaken in their interpretation. 1). ‘Christian Naturism…creates its own interpretation to justify its belief.’ and, 2).‘They also have arguments to defend the God-made clothing issue, etc.’ ( It’s your use of the words ‘justify’ and ‘defend’ that I am referring to. ( To me ), it appears that ( you ) believe that your interpretation of certain/all scripture(s) is correct and that opposing interpretations of scripture are wrong, or at least mis-lead. I don’t have a problem with that line of thought, such as it is, being stated simply in this manner. But understand…. ( your ) interpretation of scripture is just that, your interpretation. You have supporting scriptures and… the example of Christ to provide evidence for your interpretation. There probably exists a group of people that believe and support your interpretation of scripture. But it still remains as ‘one’ interpretation of scripture and that interpretation is re-enforced and passed on from day to day, week to week, ect…, to those who think and believe as you do. ( I’m not yet commenting on the ‘Rightness’ of any particular interpretation. )

So, even within the Campbell movement, in which I was raised, and am a part of, there are differences in interpretation of scripture that have divided this movement into at least three distinct groups. ‘Non-Instrumental‘, ’Middle of the Road’ ( my traditional group ), and the ’Disciples of Christ’. Why has this happened? Why is the Bible so open to interpretation that even the Campbell movement, traditionally known as the ’People of the Book’ ( the Bible ), are divided and have very little, if any, fellowship with one another?

I’ve stated it before, ’The Bible leaves itself open to interpretation’. I don’t know why. And for one group to claim rightness over another group, does not necessarily make it so in God’s eyes. It just makes it so in the mind of that particular group. I’m sure that God’s infinite knowledge and wisdom is at work in some way that is beyond my comprehension. I’m sure he knew what he was doing when the writings that we have within the Bible were written and assembled into our cannon. ( He is God! He above all would know how to lead his people. )

Now, bringing it back to the conversation that this blog is concerned with, the homosexual hermeneutic. The Genesis story actually says nothing about homosexuality. To make any connection between homosexuality and The Creation Story is to simply create your own interpretation about those passages. And you would have to bring into consideration other supporting scriptures to back up your interpretation. Those that support the interpretation that the Creation Story privileges a heterosexual view of the relations between humankind would probably cite scripture such as Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13, Romans 1 26-27, 1 Corn. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10. Since these scriptures are part of what I wish to discuss, I would suggest that we leave Genesis and The Creation Story on the back-burner to be discussed after those scriptures are fully examined.

Greg, thanks for your thoughts, and please stay engaged in the conversation. This is all about discussion and understanding one another, and this issue that divides the Church. If anyone has any comments about The Creation Story or Sexual Orientation, please make them.

Bill

August 27, 2006 at 6:39 AM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Bill,

Thanks for your response. The post on the curious group of Christian nudists was not to deter the conversation from the issue at hand but (you nailed it) to show how many can interpret things differently. (And I would not argue that nudity in private or in the marriage bed is wrong!) I aline myself with the vast majority of today's culture in thinking and interpreting major scriptures and the majority of good church history's positions. I am willing to admit that the Bible contains mystery (I don't have all the answers). I am even willing to admit that the minority can shed light on and correct certain errors in interpretation and practice in the church (i.e. Luther, Reformation). This is all I have right now as an answer. Got to go to the church. Happy Sunday, all.

August 27, 2006 at 7:59 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

You hit on Greg when you say 'you aline yourself with the vast majority of today's culture in thinking and interpreting major scriptures'. Culture does indeed play a part in how we interprete scripture.

To quote an old Baptist Preacher, Bruce Lowe, "Unsupportable doctrines and pracices are often formed from the setting, in which the truth is couched or in peripherals of the truth, or first century practics are turned into rules for practice today. Women keeping silent in some churches and being obedient to their husbands, as Paul instructed, were not central truths of scripture, but practices that would keep the church and Christianity from being unnecessarily 'discredited' in the first century's culture. ( Titus 2:5 ). So the central, eternal truth is: Do not ( in any century ) unnecessarily engage in practices that would alienate unbelievers. Compare Slavery. It is evil, but in the first century Paul wanted slaves to obey their masters, 'so that in every way they ( slaves ) will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.'"

August 27, 2006 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Bill,

No one wants to alienate unbelievers. Neither can one compromise their conscience for a changing culture's sake. I'll rephrase my last post as this: I align myself with the overwhelming/ unchanging position of church history from its conception until now on the issue of homosexuality from a hermenuetical standpoint.
You're right about slavery. Though we can interpret that more as a employer/ employee relationship. We always must determine whether something is a universal truth or a cultural lesson. I don't think that the comparison of slavery/ women's lib and homosexuality is a fair one. I can agree with you on this: that alienation with God is to be avoided at all costs, so we must reach all groups of people with God's love, and not do anything to alienate unbelievers. So, while i align myself to the most of the whole of (I hate to use the word) traditional biblical hermenuetics, I would not align myself with any methods or actions that alienate others. That is wrong. And I apologize for others who intentionally or unintentionally do so. We can agree to disagree and still get along. One things for sure, in the end we'll have all the answers.

August 28, 2006 at 3:57 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Two things in response to young Mr. Fish. One is a question, the other a matter of nuance::

1) What is it about the comparison between slavery/patriarchialism and homosexuality that you think is unfair?

2) I am not as sure you that "the end" is going to be about our getting all the answers we think we need.

...

August 28, 2006 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Bill,

You need to be careful about saying that culture interprets the Bible... that is a dangerous statement. The Bible may mean different things to different cultures, but there is one true interpretation of the Bible... one true interpretation of Jesus' resurrection, one true interpretation of the Red Sea crossing, one true interpretation of Dan. 9:27, and so on.

If culture does interpret what the Bible means, then where do you draw the line? Who are you to say that it is true to interpret the Resurrection as literal, but condemnation of sexual offenders (Rom. 1) as "just for that time"? There are obvious things such as head coverings that are just for that time (it was only mentioned once), but something like homosexuality that is mentioned again and again...?

I believe this is where the greatest fault of your argument lies. You rely too much on culture, and not on what the Bible plainly says...

Caleb

August 28, 2006 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

To answer your first question young Mr. Thom, I think Caleb sums it up. On the other, I've never said this is a salvation issue. I'm just saying that we can't know everything until "the end." Then it won't really matter, but we will become clear on all matters (not just this one). That'd make a nice blog post: What will heaven be?

By the way, Thom, congrats on your marriage (a little slice of heaven on earth)!

August 28, 2006 at 6:40 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Greg,

I'm not sure Caleb summed much of anything up. The idea that any given passage of Scripture has only "one interpretation" is not only an unscriptural idea (scripture uses its own texts in many different ways), it renders the meaning of the word "interpretation" unintelligible. Besides that, Caleb did not answer the question I asked you. He didn't even talk around the issue.

For the record, I don't disagree with you that slavery/patriarchialism and homosexuality are qualitatively two different kinds of issues. I just want you to state your reasons for thinking so.

...

August 28, 2006 at 6:56 PM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

Hello everyone,
I Am finding it hard to find time to get on line with a 6 month old active boy. I am however thinking about this discussion.

My reason for being here is that I miss the fellowship I had with the OCC community primarily and hav ebeen deeply saddened by the rejection I have experienced.

A couple of questions: Do any of you know any same sex attracted people personally? What do you mean by "lifestyle"? My lifestyle is one where I am married, ama father, work and am studying for a PHD and pay my taxes and pray and follow Jesus. How is that any different to your lifestyle? I just think that when that phrase is used it infers something that is not true.

I remember a sermon by the wonderful Kenny Boles once on heaven and he said there is no gender in heaven.

I wonder why we make such a big deal out of it here.

I choose not to go into depth about scripture asd idon;t think it will help too much. People have to work out their faith and salvation for themselves. However I will say, I do think there is enough doubt to allow the possibility that I am ok and God lives in me displaying his fruit of His spirit just as I believe that women are equal to men and can teach spiritual things and lead if tose are their gifts.

We are talking about real people here and that is why I appreciate the discussion.

There is no essential difference betwen our lifestyles. I just like oy are judged by my character and what I do with the gifts God has given me. I will not bury it in the ground just because a large chunk of the church says I must.

I so wish we could all just love each other and allow each other to use our gifts to build up God's church. It's actually not about me or you or our judgements its about Him.
I am made in God's image and while genes may play a part in orientation it is a consistent and stable reality that 3-5% of any population is same sex attracted and it occurs in all of the natural world. God did in fat make Adam and Steve as well as Adam and Eve.

My heart yearns for fellowship thats why I write.

If you want to see the visual story of my little boy www.flickr.com/photos/jayado

Love Jason

August 28, 2006 at 7:13 PM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Thom,

The idea that passages in the Bible only have one meaning is by no means "unscriptural." It is a very plausable belief. Many scholars have taught this including Dr. Darrell Bock, Dr. Grant Osborne, Dr. Roy Zuck, Dr. Harold Hoehner, Dr. Thomas Schriener, and so on. Many seminaries teach this view such as Dallas Seminary, Southern Seminary, Talbot Seminary, Columbia Biblical Seminary, The Master's Seminary, and so on. Verses my have different applications or may hint at different typologies, but in my view there is only one interpretation for any given passage.

To call that unscriptural seems quite uncalled for...

Also, I was making an observation about the theme of the past few blogs... culture...

August 28, 2006 at 7:51 PM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Jason,

Many of my friends are gay, and my mom and dad are gay... I know many people in the lifestyle.

August 28, 2006 at 7:52 PM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

Caleb, thats great ... what do you mean by the lifestyle?

You infer that its somehow different to your lifestyle.

I have a feeling our worlds are very different.

August 28, 2006 at 7:55 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

By the way, Bill and Greg, thanks for your congratulations on my marriage. I am happy to be her husband. She makes for a great wife. She sleeps like an angel and wakes like a demon. A little slice of heaven, indeed. And a little dash of hell. I do love variety!

(I'm only kidding, of course. She can do no wrong.)

As for all this heaven stuff, I think the question of what we will be like or what we will know once we get to heaven is ironically irrelevant, since I don't believe heaven is "place" we go when we die. I believe the scriptures teach consistently that after the eschaton we will live on a newly created earth which will no longer be divorced from (i.e. blind to) heaven.

Boles' view that we will not have gender in heaven is, I think, wrong on two accounts: 1) We won't be "going to heaven" in the first place. 2) When Jesus said we would be like the angels he didn't mean we wouldn't have genders, he meant we wouldn't have sex. God created man and woman, and it was good. His plans for us are restorative, not transformative. I think the whole gender thing is a big deal. It is part of who we are and a part of who we're supposed to be. The fact that God made man two different genders is significant no matter how you slice it. I don't think this means, necessarily, that homosexuality is morally against the natural order (that may be, but that is not my question). It does mean that variety is a good thing. He could have made us asexual reproducers or homosexual reproducers, but he made us this way instead.

These are peripheral matters. I am anxious to hear from Greg why the issues of slavery/patriarchialism and homosexuality are not comparable.

...

August 29, 2006 at 1:48 AM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

I agree, I never meant go to heaven. sorry I meant we'd live on the new earth and there'd be a new heaven.

I do think that homosexual oreintation is a part of the natural order.

I appreciate your input and thoughts.
Jason

August 29, 2006 at 4:55 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Welcome back everybody! I was beginning to worry about you all. By the way, who changed the blog format? I like it, it looks good.

There are some things here I’d like to make a comment on. ( I’ll try to keep it brief ).

Greg, ‘What is it about the comparison between slavery/patriarchialism and homosexuality that you think is unfair?’ ( Thom’s question…and mine as well. ), and it’s a good question. When I referenced that in my comment and quoted Bruce Lowe, I was making a point that cultural interpretations of the verses that reference those topics, have lead to a misunderstanding of those topics by the ‘historical/grammatical’ Church, homosexuality included. ( although I have not yet demonstrated that to you all...I will. )

Caleb, I knew you would have something to say about my comment on ‘culture playing a part in interpreting scripture‘. ( But I had to say something to get you back and engaged in the conversation. ) Now let me explain, in a clearer way, what I was trying to say.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 ‘9 - I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10- but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.’

There was a time in American History, that it was considered sinful for a woman to display her legs, or even her ankles. ( Probably based on 1 Tim. 2:9 ). In today’s culture, I have seen women, in Church ( The Christian Church ), displaying quite a bit more than their ankles. Their hair being braided and done up in all sorts of ways. Jewelry adorning their ears, and their fingers, and their faces painted up like an Indian War Chief. If a woman, ( dressed as some women dress today ), attended a worship service in the culture of Early American History, it would have been considered a sinful act. ( Perhaps a Christian Naturist would wonder why she was so over-dressed. ) However, we ( the Church ) don’t consider that to be a sinful act today. Women who dress that way today are not considered to be prostitutes, or living some un-godly life. They just want to look nice. And we ( the Church ), understand that, within our own cultural restrictions and norms.

I understand what you and Greg are saying. The Church should not compromise for the sake of the changing culture, and you are right. But we must differentiate between Cultural considerations and the Eternal Truths in scripture.

Again, allow me to bring it back to the homosexual hermeneutic. I’m not sure what your understanding of the pro-gay theology presently is, but I am not going to be asking you to compromise your beliefs for the sake of our present culture. I will be asking you to better understand the cultures of biblical times, and to read certain verses and scriptures in context of the writer's intent. Be patient with me and with the process of discussing this issue. It took me months to research and consider pro-gay theology. And with prayer and patience I have come to realize that the probability of pro-gay theology being the correct interpretation of scripture, is above and far beyond the probability of the correctness that Traditional Church theology has passed on through the centuries.

How the Church has traditionally viewed certain issues should certainly be a factor in how we interpret scripture today. But, tradition is not infallible, ( such as with issues concerning slavery/patriarchialism. ) Jason, you say ’I do think there is enough doubt to allow the possibility that I am ok and God…’. Brother, leave your doubt behind you, we are not called to live in doubt, no… not even us Christian homosexuals. In my opinion, ( and after you see what I have come to realize ), those who condemn the act of homosexuality between loving, committed, God-fearing individuals, are the ones who should have doubts as to whether their tradition interpretation of scripture is the correct interpretation.

As soon as the issues of ‘culture and interpretation of scripture’ are cleared up between us, I’d like to move on to ’the Sodom Story’.

As always, in Christ, Bill.

P.S. One quick thing in reference to a comment/question that Jason posed. What do people in general mean when they say the homosexual ‘lifestyle‘? I am not ignorant to the implications of that statement. That being ’SEX’, as if sex is the driving force within every homosexual‘s life. Sex is the first thing that pops into most people‘s mind when the concept of homosexuality is brought up. Jason has pointed out constantly through-out his posts, that we are just like every-one else in our abilities and basic desires in life.

We get jobs, we desire and seek out companionship to alleviate out aloneness. We can raise children just like heterosexuals. ( Caleb and Jason can attest to that. ) We can be productive members of society.

Granted, there are homosexuals with whom sex is a major driving force in their lives, but the same can be said of some heterosexuals. One should no more group all homosexuals into one group , concerning sexual desire, than they should group all heterosexuals into one group, concerning sexual desire.

The notion that sex should define homosexuals, is far from accurate. Granted, that sexual preference is what makes us different from heterosexuals, but that should not define us in terms of WHO we are.

Again, Bill

August 29, 2006 at 7:39 AM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Bill,

What you named in 1 Timothy (women dressing up) is indeed a cultural thing... as is a women wearing a head covering. They are not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible excpet to specific communities. However, it is error to say that homosexuality is the same. All Biblical writers that deal with the issue agree that it is a sin.

If you'd like to talk history, I would love to. I love New Testament history, and the culture of those times... I practically have a masters degree in New Testament History from Fuller Seminary.

In this day, the Romans did not see a problem with homosexuality. It was practically a given that a man in high position would have a young boy he would visit. However, in the Jewish eyes (remember that we must interpret the Bible first through Jewish lenses) it was a sin. Why? Because God named it as a sin in the Law... Lev., Dt., 1 Kings, etc....

Jesus never specifically denounced homosexuality, but neither did He denounce child molestation! He used the Greek word "porneo" which is an unbrella word for all kinds of sexual immorality...

Some liberal scholars believe that Romans 1 just deals with the homosexual acts committed by the Caesars. No where in Paul's writing does he even hint at that... He does not refer to a select rich group of Gentiles when he deals with homosexuality... he deals with the sins of the Gentiles in this area as a whole.

Paul brings it up again in 1 Cor. 6:9 and alludes to it in 1 Tim. 1:9-10. John alludes to it in the end of Revelation.

Why do I bring up all of these references? Because this topic that is brought up by OT authors and at least 2 NT authors (Paul brings it up as sin in at least 3 of his letters) is major. It does not constitute a cultural interpretation. It was not just mentioned once to a specific audience... thereby, it is hard to see it as a cultural thing.

P.S., and if we get into the realm of church history... every major father or reformer has taught that it was a sin: Augustine, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley, Spurgeon, etc.

August 29, 2006 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

O.K. Caleb, I’m going to get to all of these concerns and comments that you have, but in time. You do make some good points that need to be addressed and I plan to address them.

Yes, the references to homosexuality are mentioned more often and to a greater range of cultures. The point that I make with the ‘dress-code’ and ‘behavioral standards’ for women is that cultures can interpret scriptures in different way. I relate that to homosexuality because I believe that there are cultural considerations that affect our understanding of homosexuality.

I’m glad you are interested and educated in New Testament History. You should be well equipped to verify or disprove the points that I will be making concerning New Testament History. As far as your comment ‘that we must interpret the Bible first through Jewish lenses’. I’m not so sure about that. Paul surely knew he was writing to Gentiles. He even told the Corinthians, don’t worry about circumcision, and that it meant nothing to their salvation. In other words, ( to me in means ), don’t worry about the Jews, your salvation is between you and God, not you and the Jews and God. I could be wrong, let’s ask Thom, this seems to be right down his alley.

I have some research about the Greco-Roman society to present. My beliefs about homosexuality do not hinge on the lack of proof of Jesus’ opinion about the subject. He didn’t mention it, so I have no intention to pull that point into our conversation here.

I was not aware that John alludes to homosexuality toward the end of the book of Revelation. If you could point that scripture out to me, I’d like to take a look at that.

I’m going to get to all of the writings of Paul concerning homosexuality. Also I have some things to say about the views of the early Church leaders.

I’m going to get to all of this, but I can’t do it all in one or two post. I’ll make a post tomorrow morning concerning the Sodom story.

August 29, 2006 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Before someone jumps on this, I want to correct myself. Paul was speaking to the Galatians about circumcision. ( Gentiles nonetheless. )

August 29, 2006 at 7:53 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Caleb,

For a guy who grew up in "the lifestyle," you don't seem to be demonstrating much knowledge of the standard arguments of homosexual hermeneutics. That makes sense, since your parents very likely had no use for homosexual hermeneutics. At any rate, let's try to listen to what is being said.

You said, "[I]t is [an] error to say that homosexuality is the same [as the issue of women wearing head coverings]. All Biblical writers that deal with the issue [homosexuality] agree that it is a sin."

But the argument from homosexual hermeneutics is not that what the Bible condemns as sin is not sin. The argument is that the kind of homosexuality that the Bible condemns as sin is not the kind of homosexuality Christian homosexuals are attempting to vindicate—committed, loving, monogamous homosexual love.

You said, "In this day [the first century A.D.], the Romans did not see a problem with homosexuality. It was practically a given that a man in high position would have a young boy he would visit."

This is simply untrue. Many Greek and Roman moral philosophers and politicians believed that homosexuality is an unnatural act. While male-child sex slaves were common among the aristocracy, that does not mean it was socially acceptable behavior. Many considered it debase and immoral.

The pro-gay interpreters are not arguing that the Jews did not view homosexuality as a sin. They are arguing that what Jews were talking about when they condemned homosexuality is something different from the kind of homosexuality up for discussion here. The understanding is that ancient Jews had no real concept of the possibility of committed, loving, monogamous homosexual love. The homosexuality Jews condemned was typically associated with paedophilia, idolatry, or promiscuity. No homosexual in Paul's day claimed to be a good Jew or a good Christian. There is no record of any attempt to reconcile homosexuality with the Christian moral paradigm. The assumption is that this is the first time in history this conversation has taken place.

You said, "Jesus never specifically denounced homosexuality, but neither did He denounce child molestation! He used the Greek word "porneo" which is an umbrella word for all kinds of sexual immorality..."

The question up for debate is whether committed, loving, monogamous homosexuality should be put under the umbrella of pornea. Pornea certainly meant promiscuity, incest, adultery, temple prostitution, paedophilia, bestiality, and rape. We are debating whether or not committed, loving, monogamous homosexuality should come under pornea in the first place. It is a question that the New Testament does not specifically address. When we are addressing issues that the New Testament does not specifically address, it is important that we come to the conversation with patience, attentiveness, discernment, and a commitment to being willing to repent of our position if it is demonstrated to be the wrong position. However nice it is that we are willing to love homosexuals despite their sin of homosexuality, that is not a commitment to really hearing what homosexuals are saying. Starting the conversation by saying, "You're wrong but I love you anyway," is analogous to saying, "With all due respect, everything you have to say is a pack of lies; but let's be friends anyway so I don't have to come to terms with my parochialism."

Now, I am not saying that we will never reach the point where we say, "You're wrong but I love you anyway." I am only saying that this conclusion is appropriate at the end of a genuine, reciprocal dialogue, not at the beginning of one.

You said, "Some liberal scholars believe that Romans 1 just deals with the homosexual acts committed by the Caesars. No where in Paul's writing does he even hint at that... He does not refer to a select rich group of Gentiles when he deals with homosexuality... he deals with the sins of the Gentiles in this area as a whole."

First, I recommend you cease with the use of the term "liberal" and its counterpart "conservative." The labels do more harm than good, and they are quickly losing their descriptive power as what was liberalism fifty years ago is today's conservatism. Your scientific method of Bible study (historical-grammatical hermeneutics) was at one time called "liberalism."

Second, no one here has argued that Romans 1 is referring to homosexual acts committed by the Caesars.

Third, your conclusion that Paul "does not refer to a select rich group of Gentiles when he deals with homosexuality" but that "he deals with the sins of the Gentiles in this area as a whole" is pure conjecture. How do you know who Paul had in mind when he wrote Romans 1? Were Gentiles "as a whole" homosexually active? Was every individual that rejected the Creator God a homosexual? Anyone who argues that they know who Paul is referring to when he speaks of "men lying with men" and "women with women" is pushing their pro- or anti-homosexual agenda. We can do all sorts of historical background studies to see what kinds of homosexuality existed in the first century Mediterranean world, we can look at samples of ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish conceptions of homosexuality and the moral stances they took toward it, but all of that work will not make it any clearer who Paul has in mind when he talks of men lying with men, and in what context such "lying" takes place. Moreover, all of this focus on Romans 1 for "Paul's view" of homosexuality is a red herring, since the point of Romans 1 is found in Romans 2. The argument against Gentile immorality was not one of Paul's invention. Paul hijacked the standard Jewish argument against Gentile immorality only to subvert it and throw the Jews into the same boat with the Gentiles. We do not know whether Paul actually approved of the argument he employed in Romans 1, since 1) it was not his own argument and 2) he employed it only as a rhetorical move to make a rather different point.

You said, "Paul brings it up again in 1 Cor. 6:9 and alludes to it in 1 Tim. 1:9-10. John alludes to it in the end of Revelation."

You clearly have not read very much in the literature of homosexual hermeneutics. These are typically considered the weakest texts to point to since the Greek is so ambiguous.

You said, "Why do I bring up all of these references? Because this topic that is brought up by OT authors and at least 2 NT authors (Paul brings it up as sin in at least 3 of his letters) is major. It does not constitute a cultural interpretation. It was not just mentioned once to a specific audience... thereby, it is hard to see it as a cultural thing."

You have given us no exegetical work for us to evaluate. We do not know why you think Paul's references to homosexuality should include every possible form of homosexuality or just the kinds of homosexuality that homosexuals themselves condemn.

The universal/cultural distinction is a waste of time, and it can be a serious distraction. Do you believe that killing another human being is a universal or a cultural issue? The question doesn't really make sense. The question we mean to ask is, What do you mean by "killing"? In other words, Is there any circumstance in which killing another human being might be deemed legitimate? I assume that your answer to this is that there are such circumstances, however regrettable they might be. Then let us frame the homosexual question the same way. What do you mean by homosexuality? Do you mean pure machismo translated into violent sex? Do you mean male temple prostitutes lying with male idol worshippers? Do you mean a man sleeping with his uncle? Do you mean a man sleeping with a man who is not his spouse? Do you mean a heterosexual who decides to try homosexuality on for size? Do you mean promiscuous or premarital homosexual sex? Or do you mean committed, loving, monogamous homosexual marriage? This latter one seems not to have been a consideration in the minds of the authors of Scripture. Is there any circumstance in which homosexual sex might be deemed legitimate? What would be the conditions for its legitimacy? In what ways might those conditions be any different from the conditions for the legitimacy of heterosexual sex? These are just a few of the questions that need to be taken into consideration when approaching an ethical dilemma.

You said, "[A]nd if we get into the realm of church history... every major father or reformer has taught that it [homosexuality] was a sin: Augustine, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley, Spurgeon, etc.

Do you know what else Augustine, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley, and Spurgeon taught? They taught that one of the ways Christians can express their love for their enemies is by killing them regretfully. Well, that's a caricature. They taught (some taught, some just believed) that when whatever state/kingdom you're in determines that it is necessary, love for enemy may be suspended and replaced with justifiable homicide for enemy.

Appealing to the authority of the fathers and the reformers has its place, but usually that appeal involves an appeal to an argument put forward by such authorities and not to a belief that was also the belief of nearly every man, woman and child contemporaneous to the authorities.


That said, Bill,

While Paul strongly opposed those who tried to enforce the laws of Moses on Gentile Christians, he never abandoned his Jewish identity, nor did he ever say anything to a Gentile church that amounted to "Don't worry about the Jews, your salvation is between you and God." Paul's whole ministry was dedicated to the reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles because that was the Jewish story arc. Paul warned Gentiles not to be so confident in their new status as God's people that they forget the fact that they owe their salvation to the Jews. Moreover, every attempt in Pauline scholarship to interpret Paul's theology through a Greek rather than a Jewish grid has failed. Every attempt in Pauline scholarship to show that Paul believed the Jewish religion as a whole was based on legalism has failed. Paul was and remained a Jew. Judaism was not based on legalism any more than Christianity was. For Paul, Judaism and Christianity were not two different things. But, for Paul, that does not mean that non-Jewish Christians should follow Moses. Yet without Moses there would be no Christianity, so you cannot have Christianity without Judaism. In short, Caleb is right about one thing: Everything Paul said should be interpreted through a Jewish grid.

...

August 30, 2006 at 2:45 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

I formed an opinion about the subject of interpreting scripture through Jewish eyes without having fully considered and thought about what I was saying. Thom, what you say appears to be right, logical and well articulated. I can see your points, and in retrospect of what I know about scripture, I can see that your views on this subject are probably closer to the truth than what I was thinking. So Caleb, you are right, although Jewish lenses are not the only way we should view the Bible.

Thom, you raised some issues that you and Caleb are going to want to discuss. I’d like to move on with the homosexual hermeneutic and the Bible. Go ahead and make your comments to each other, but I’m going to press on with the Sodom story so that this discussion does not drag on.

The Sodom Story:

Some consider the sin of Sodom to be same gender sex. Although we are not told in Genesis what Sodom’s sins were, only that they were so great that God determined to destroy the city.

Some scholars debate the use of the word ‘to know’ ( Yadha ), used 943 times in the Old Testament. Only 10 times does it clearly mean to ’have sex’, and then it is always means heterosexual sex. The word that would have been used for homosexual sex is ‘Shakhabh’. Therefore, in Gen. 19:5, Yadha could possibly mean ‘to know’ in the sense of ‘get acquainted with’ ???

Some scholars think it was the common practice of showing dominance over, and humiliating outsiders by forcing them to take the part of a ( an inferior ) woman in a same gender rape.

Another thought expressed by Religious Professor David L. Bartlett: "This story is certainly an unlikely starting point for a biblical understanding of sexual ethics. While the attempted homosexual rape by the men of Sodom is explicitly condemned, the offer by Lot to hand his virgin daughters over to the violent and lecherous inhabitants of Sodom is related with out a word of judgment."

If Yadha ( to have sex ) is the correct interpretation, the Sodom story is clearly about violent, criminal gang-rape, ( something always condemnable ). Conservative Theologian Richard Hays says, "The notorious story of Sodom & Gomorrah, often cited in connection with homosexuality, is actually irrelevant to the topic."

When Isaiah talks about Sodom, he talks about their Injustice.( Isaiah 1, 3 & 13 )
When Jeremiah talks about Sodom, he talks about their Lack of Repentance.( Jeremiah 23:14 )
Jesus speaks of Sodom’s Inhospitality.( Matt. 10:14-15 & Luke 10:10-12 )
Jude talks about Sodom’s Pursuit of Different / Strange Flesh. Non-Human, Angelic Flesh. ( Jude 1:7 )

“The phrase ‘went after other flesh’ (apelQousai opisw sarkos heteras) refers to their pursuit of non-human (ie angelic!) ‘flesh.’ The expression sarkos heteras means ‘flesh of another kind‘; thus, it is impossible to construe this passage as a condemnation of homosexual desire, which entails precisely the pursuit of the same kind.” Hays, Richard. The Moral Vision of the New Testament. Harper: San Francisco, 1996.

Ezekiel 16:49- Three sins of Sodom.
1). Pride- Accompanied by its companion Haughtiness. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their Pride & Hypocrisy.( Sin of the Spirit )
2). Overfed & Unconcerned- They were blessed with abundance, but they did not help the poor and needy. ( Sin of Omission )
3). Other Abominations- ‘Tow’ebah’. No clear condemnation of homosexuality.( Sin of Commission ). ( I’ll speak more about ‘Tow’ebah’ in the discussion on ‘Old Testament Law’ ).

The Scripture interprets the Scripture!

1). Religion- The people of this region had developed their own religion filled with idolatry and had added many ungodly practices into their worship services. Their religion was a nationalistic religion, a union of church and state, ( somewhat like present day Iran and the former Taliban in Afghanistan ). The religious practices of the area consisted of endless sacrifices and acts of sex ( orgies ). Many of their sexual practices within the religious worship were like that of the Canaanites and other pagan cultures. They were perverted, they worshipped the creature ( Satan ) rather than the creator ( God ).

2). Culture- Another historical and absolutely vital / sacred aspect of those times was the act of Hospitality. The Law of Hammurabi ( Hospitality ) declared that if one only had enough food for two or three, that the guests were to be fed first. Its vital importance in the Middle East came into being because of the desert conditions. This law is one of the main reasons that the Taliban had been unwilling to turn over Osama Bin Laden. A visitor in a home was entitled to protection at all costs.

3). The MEN of Sodom- The text says that the Men of Sodom were outside Lot’s home demanding that he release his visitors. In the Hebrew texts of the Bible, the crowd of people who gathered are described with the Hebrew word ‘Anashim’, which means ‘Men‘. An important aspect of this word is that it also means ‘People’. In Hebrew, if there is a group of people that contains even one man, they are referred to with the Masculine ending ‘im’.

4). Judges 19:22-30 is a parallel lesson of the Sodom story.

August 30, 2006 at 6:28 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

I'm with you on your presentation of the proper interpretation of the Sodom story. I have long held that sodomy should be how we describe capitalism, not anal sex.

...

August 30, 2006 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Thom,

There were a few things that bothered me about your last post besides the fact that it was more like a rebuke than anything and may I say sir that I think YOU are competely off base. First, I was trying to engage in a conversation with Bill.

1. I do understand homosexual hermeneutics. I understand it more than you think my friend... growing up in the Episcopal church and having a gay priest... I do. I understand what homosexual Christians are trying to vindicate as a loving relationship... and when it boils down to it, Thom, homosexuality is homosexuality. Do I want to say that it is alright for my mom to live the way she is? YES! However, I cannot... because even though there are different forms of this sin, it is still sin... just like lovingly stealing a candy bar for a child who has never had one is still a sin.

2. As one that has read books on Roman culutre I still contend that many Romans did see it as a way of life, as did the Greeks. Some Roman philosophers saw it as disgusting, but not all... and many politicians of that day were complacent with it.

3. You said "You're wrong but I love you anyway," is analogous to saying, "With all due respect, everything you have to say is a pack of lies; but let's be friends anyway so I don't have to come to terms with my parochialism." I don't see how this is for the end of a dialogue and not the beginning of one.

4. I will still use the terms liberals and conservatives because there are people that have a liberal view of the Bible and so on.

5. In reference to Romans 1, you need to go back and study! Rom. 1 does indeed deal with Gentiles, and they were more prone to idol worship and homosexual acts than the Jews because of the strict laws that the Jews had to live with. I do know who Paul was talking about... do you know how? Because I don't have to view the Bible in a complex way! I don't have to read into everything... there are some things that I do, and some that I don't.

6. The strongest Biblical argument against homosexuality is Genesis 1-2: God created man and woman. However, I will not count the words of Paul as weak... people may read around them because they are so blunt... but they still stand true. I would like to hear from Bill about his arguments...

7. Homosexuality is homosexuality whether it is violent sex, loving, temple prostitutes, or so on...

8. My point about the church fathers was to show how they have complete agreement with the Biblical authors...

I think this is going to be my last post. I was trying to have a conversation with Bill and wanting to know his thoughts. I do not need someone to mediate my words, and I have come in the end of this conversation instead of the beginning. Please excuse me if I am playing catch up with some of my questions or so on. Also, I am sorry if my view of the Bible is not as philosophical or deep as some... I have come to comclusions about this matter quite a while ago Thom... you know why? I have asked myself all of those questions.

The point is, that if you are going to enter into a conversation with someone who already accepts the Bible as the Word, then you will ask some questions about Scriptures... I want to hear BILL's view of these Scriptures.

Bill, if you want to continue, my e-mail is: calebwilds1@yahoo.com

Later

August 30, 2006 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

I'm not sure I know what you mean by the term "philosophical." I don't recall ever requiring you to be more "philosophical" in your approach to the Bible.

I'm sorry to see you go, and I'm sorry you took my words as a personal insult. When you called me on the phone (a gesture I still appreciate) I told you I was glad you were a part of the conversation. I still am. I just ask, even if you have heard it all before, even if you have already come to a conclusion, for the purposes of this discussion that you be willing to suspend that judgment until all voices have been thoroughly heard.

One ought to save the conclusion for the end of the dialogue, after all arguments have been measured, because that's the definition of a conclusion.

Peace.

...

August 30, 2006 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Caleb, I don’t know exactly what to say. I came to this homosexual hermeneutic blog just recently myself, ( 14 days ago ). You came in right after I did. Up until that point there were opinions being voiced, but not much in the way of scriptural discussions from the point of view of both sides, ( besides the link to Mark Moore’s lecture on the subject ). For me, you have been a part of this conversation, right alone side of Thom, Jason, Greg, JD, and myself. ( Tyler Steward chimed in once, but has not really been engaged in the conversation. )

I do value your voice, opinions and education. We all have our views and interpretations of scripture. We have our own perspectives/education on history and cultures of Biblical times. We all also have our own way of conveying our thoughts. Dealing with the personalities of others is something that we all do on a daily basis. I’m sure, as a pastor, that you don’t disengage from people when things get uncomfortable, because Christ would not have done that. Let’s figure out a way to keep all of us talking, at least to see this discussion to conclusion.

Thom’s way is very philosophical. I picked up on that early on in this blog. My way is not exactly like Thom’s. Your way is different from Jason’s, or Greg’s,…you get my point, right? We all bring something different to the table. We all have different gifts, abilities and perspectives. ( If we all agreed, there would be no point in a discussion. ) I don’t think Thom meant to make you feel the way that you expressed your feeling concerning his response to you. But regardless, two Christian men can surely find a way to be respectful in regard to each other views and feeling, while still feeling free to express their opinions.

The discussion is jumping ahead of me at times, so… let me request that we discuss one topic at a time. So far I have written some of my views on Genesis and the Creation story. I have expressed some of my views on the Sodom story. I feel we need to move on to get to the scriptures of the Old Testament Law, and then to the New Testament, and then lastly, Romans 1 ( the scripture where we will most definitely have the best discussion to date ).

Caleb, hang in here with us, at least to conclusion. We still may not see eye to eye when we are done, but we will have at least sought understanding and unity.

Thom, I’m glad that you see it. Most Biblical scholars agree with Richard Hays in that “The notorious story of Sodom & Gomorrah, often cited in connection with homosexuality, is actually irrelevant to the topic.” I bring it up here so that those who read this blog will be aware of that view.

If there are no objections, I will make a post in the morning concerning the Old Testament Law. ( Lev. 18:22 & Lev. 20:13 )

August 30, 2006 at 4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that this quote from the website of the one that started this discussion be placed on the blog. Ode to the one that comes before us bearing much truth and wisdom... so where do you measure up in the quote that follows? Tolerance of intolerance has its limits and for the God's sake let's be honest with ourselves, for our language certainly betrays us!

"The closed-minded need not apply

Zero. Most commentators have already made up their minds on the issue of homosexuality. This is understandable, and expected. “The Bible says it; I believe it; that settles it.” Out of Context is really not for such people, since for them debate on this issue is—and we really do regret this is true—pointless. While we encourage those who have already decided where they stand on this issue to listen and remain open to the possibility that they might not be right, we are not hopeful that any Spirit-led change for them is likely. If you are dogmatic in your beliefs, if you have made up your mind before engaging our writing, or if you are closed to any new information or ideas on this issue, then this site will not have much for you. Even the most convincing, insightful, and clear writing and thinking on homosexuality, no matter who it comes from, won’t change your mind because it conflicts with your already-established viewpoint, and as such is easily dismissed.

There are people, however, who recognize that the received negative teaching on homosexuality from certain churches could, just possibly, not be taking into account all the relevant information available today. This site is for them, and we welcome them to engage with the writing here to develop their own opinions, rather than simply taking at face value what their churches are saying.

The central argument—it’s not about sex

One. The arguments which will be presented in this site hinge on one thing, and one thing only—and that thing is not that individual identity depends on acting on one’s sexual impulses. This is not where we’re coming from.

It is simply this: for biblical writers the idea of sexuality—now recognized as an actual phenomenon—had no meaning, because they simply were not aware of it. When we talk about homosexuality today, are we talking about the same thing that the ancients were writing about? When we talk about a heterosexual or homosexual orientation, are we mentioning something that, say, Paul is writing about, or does Paul have in mind something else which has been mistaken by later translators and interpreters as being about homosexuality as we understand it today? In terms used by biblical interpreters: applying the historical-critical method honestly, as we want to do here, is the main goal.

This is the central thesis of this site: not the ability to express oneself sexually. If you don’t think that sexuality exists (that is, you reckon that everyone is born straight, is really attracted to the opposite sex, and is just engaged in “homosexual behaviour” because they feel like it, or are just wanting to be different, or God has “given up” on them) then, again, you’re not going to be impressed by much on this website. We, like a number of theologians and exegetes, and almost every professional psychologist in America, believe that sexuality does exist, and that, moreover, it is a gift from God. Trying to understand what this means in the context of the worldview of the biblical authors is our goal, and as such, an openness to the possibility that sexuality might indeed exist is more or less necessary to get anything out of what we’re writing about. We’ll provide more than exegesis on this site; we believe that the opinions of professionals in psychology and other social sciences regarding human sexuality are relevant to this discussion, even if certain people choose to ignore or disparage such research.

The debate and who is engaged in it

Two. The debate on homosexuality has been going for a while, but mostly outside of the Stone-Campbell movement. How long it has been going on for is, quite honestly, irrelevant if people inside that movement (church-attenders, students, ministers, teachers, writers, opinion-shapers) are not engaged in that debate, and from where we are standing this was not happening till very recently, if at all. If it had been, recent events connected with writings on this site might have been less dramatic.

That said, there are plenty people writing about this, and we definitely encourage anybody interested in finding out more to seek out the literature, from both sides of the debate, which tackles it (a bibliography will be coming to this site in the near future): any discussion at all is better than no discussion. Sadly, it is the latter of these which has been our experience to date: many people in the Stone-Campbell movement have been challenged for the very first time by the ideas contained in this site. We are aware of two main reasons for this. The first is that most people we have engaged with in Stone-Campbell movement churches don’t want to talk about gay people, period: it’s an uncomfortable issue, they don’t know any gay people, and it’s pretty much a closed topic for them anyway. The second is that anybody who wants to seriously engage this with an open mind in most churches is, by and large, prevented from doing so—because dissent from the received wisdom is invariably met with, at best, coolness and distance, and, at worst, outcry and demonization. And who wants to be treated like that?

We don’t pretend that there will be startling new insights on this site not found elsewhere in published writings. But what this website will do is to bring the discussion squarely into the Stone-Campbell movement. That almost all of it can, if one takes the time to look, be found elsewhere is not quite as important as the fact that it will come from people who have experienced first-hand the struggles involved in being gay and wanting to serve God in Stone-Campbell movement churches. One more voice may, to some, not be important. But a voice which people are hearing adds to the discussion in a way that a voice not being heard cannot.

Where does theology come from?

Three. How do we read the Bible? As has been pointed out elsewhere, this issue divides down many different lines. But it’s not quite as simple as “modern day experience” versus “biblical experience.” Scripture is one of four main sources of theology: the others are tradition, reason, and, yes, human experience. For some it’s only Scripture—and nothing else—by which they derive theological truth, but such a viewpoint is definitely out of sync with mainstream thinking. Why else would we be given the capability to reason at all? Truth is not only “revealed”: it is also “discovered,” and discovered truth comes from reason and human experience.

We do not take human experience as our pre-eminent source of theology. But we do take it seriously. A central goal of exegesis is to decide what in Scripture is universal truth, and what has a temporal application, and this has occupied theologians since even before Paul. Human experience, reason, and the Holy Spirit told Paul that Jewish food laws, which were part of tradition and Scripture, were not central to the Christian faith. It is not our purpose here, however, to suggest that human experience and reason override Scripture and tradition on the issue of human sexuality. We maintain that in fact, Scripture, taken in its proper context, cannot be construed to suggest that homosexuality is against God’s purpose. Keep reading for further articles on this to be published in later months.

Callings don’t excuse anything: but this doesn’t need an excuse

Four. Ministers don’t get exemptions from following God’s purpose for their lives merely because they’re doing good elsewhere. This is obvious. And equally obvious is that a calling to serve God does not “entitle” anyone to ministry. But a calling to ministry, if it is genuine, must be followed if we are to trust in the Holy Spirit, and the response to that must be in equal measure to the strength of the call.

If we did not sincerely believe that Scripture has been taken out of its proper context on the issue of homosexuality then we would indeed be rationalizing the behaviour of ourselves and of every gay man and woman. But if there is truth to what we are saying, then no rationalization is required. Any statement which proposes that gay people have been made to be just as they are is therefore not rationalization, but reasoned argument. We would suggest that readers await the forthcoming articles on this before jumping to any conclusions on what we might write."

If you skipped to the end you are not worthy of commenting!

August 31, 2006 at 1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A finishing remark from the honorable DOCTOR OF NEW TESTAMENT John Rumple

"The kind of thinking which we have addressed here is typical of many commentators and writers who really only want to defend what has become an entrenched, traditional doctrine about human sexuality. This, we believe, is entirely counter-productive to the goal of a reasoned debate between people of differing views. We understand that this is a “hot-button” topic for many. Opinions are strong on both sides, and we do not pretend that we don’t have a view which we wish to share. However: we intend to do this through providing solid exegesis, thorough deliberation, informed scholarship, and thoughtful prayer on these issues—without these any study of human sexuality will fall short. We hope our readers maintain an open mind and proceed in faith in engaging with us: the attitude of “Seldom Wrong, Never in Doubt” may offer a form of certainty reassuring to some, but, in our opinion, cannot lead to real learning or communication."

Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, John Rumple has lived and studied in various cities throughout the US and Great Britain, while traveling to additional locations in Africa, Papua New Guinea, and Central America for mission work. He was ordained into Christian ministry at the age of twenty-one, and has continued to serve in local churches throughout his academic career.

John pursued biblical studies and homiletics at Johnson Bible College (Knoxville, Tennessee), receiving a bachelor’s degree in preaching and a master’s degree in New Testament. He was valedictorian of his class, and was both junior and senior class president. His studies continued at Emmanuel School of Religion, where he received a master of divinity degree, writing a thesis on Colossians 1:24.

His interest in translation theory and grammatical analysis of the Bible led him to continue his academic work at the Graduate Institute of Linguistics in Dallas, Texas, while serving with Pioneer Bible Translators. Following this, John was accepted into a PhD in New Testament Language, Literature, and Theology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, under the direction of Professor Larry Hurtado. He will this year complete his dissertation on the “cross saying” (Mark 8:34, and par.), which explores its preservation and function within earliest Christianity.

"John has made a break from the church tradition which originally ordained him, deciding instead to present information which he hopes will lead to the full inclusion of gay people into the Body of Christ. He found the love of his life five years ago, and has committed himself to loving and serving Christian Hoffland as his spouse."

from the website
http://www.outofcontext.us/

August 31, 2006 at 1:39 AM  
Blogger Jason McCheyne said...

Hello friends. I hope I can call you that...I'd even prefer to call you my brothers and sisters in Christ. I have read with interest the past blogs since my last post.

A couple of things. Thanks for your honesty, though it bothers me that we have an anonymous poster...I believe one of the keys to change and to fellowship is being out. SO come out mr anonymous if oyu really want to impact the world.

Caleb, are your parents believers?
My son Ruben who is just over 6 months old now is a gift and miracle form God. The Lord brought him to life and knitted him in our surrigates womb and he is the fruit of our union.
If you are nearly 30 your parents must have exercised and even greater amount of faith, love and energy to see you come to life and now have the chance to create life with yuour own family. You were not born in sin anymore than anyone else was.

You are a big miracle like my boy is and there is a 97% chance he wil be heterosexual and have family just like you havew and make me a proud grandparent.

I'd be interested to hear your story and your journey.

Jesus gives me the courage and the strength to engage in this discussion and I beleive his word urges me to do so.

The reality is that I am legally and spiritualy married to Adrian and we have a 6 month old son.

Jason

August 31, 2006 at 2:19 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

This is going to be a long post, but there is much information here to consider. Please bear with me as I go through this.

The Law:

Sexual paganistic religions have unfortunately been around for quite a long time. An abominable/detestable practice of ancient cultic rituals that the early Jew encountered was the burning of children to the pagan god Molech. Associated with the worship of Molech was the painting of one’s body, ( thus the prohibition of tattoos in Leviticus ). Over time many of the followers of Molech decided that he would be just as satisfied with the sacrifice of male sperm into a fire in place of children. Thus, as many naked males danced around the fire while masturbating, the rituals were slowly modified to include homosexual acts. These homosexual acts were part of the ritualistic pagan worship. Also in India the paganistic worship of a goddess involved the priests engaging in homosexual acts with themselves and worshippers. They believed that the priest was transforming into the goddess. Thus, many abominable paganistic religions involved sexual acts (hetero & homo). All of these defy God’s command to have no other gods before Him. Read Leviticus 18-20 in its entirety and recognize the references to ‘Molech‘, and the commands to ’set themselves apart from the inhabitants of the land which they were to inhabit.’

Leviticus 18:22 & Leviticus 20:13. There are two ways to interpret these passages.
1-. They may be referring to all homosexual behavior.
2-. They may be referring to a specific type of homosexual behavior that limits the passage’s applicability to modern culture.

There are Four Lines of Reasoning for rejecting the applicability of these passages to Contemporary Christians as it has been understood by traditional Church teachings,
( that is - Referring to all homosexual behavior ).

1). The historical record adequately demonstrates that homosexuality was used as a form of cultic pagan worship. The ‘Vdq‘ - the ‘Male Holy Ones‘, ‘Male Cult Prostitutes‘, ‘Male Shrine Prostitutes‘. ( Sodomites??? Poorly translated. See ‘The Sodom Story’ ).

Deut. 23:17 ‘None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute.’ *NASB

1 Kings 14:24 ‘There were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel.’ *NASB

1 Kings 15:12 ‘He also put away the male cult prostitutes from the land and removed all the idols which his fathers had made.’ *NASB

1 Kings 22:46 ‘He rid the land of the rest of the male shrine prostitutes who remained there even after the reign of his father Asa.’ *NIV

(1 Kings 22:46 ‘The remnant of the sodomites who remained in the days of his father Asa, he expelled from the land.’ *NASB)

2 Kings 23:7 ‘He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes, which were in the temple of the LORD and where women did weaving for Asherah.’ *NASB

Hosea 4:14 ‘I will not punish your daughters when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law when they commit adultery, because the men themselves consort with harlots and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes— a people without understanding will come to ruin!’ *NASB

Second and early first Millennia BCE cultures that practiced sacred sex would have impacted the growing Jewish nation. The commands attributed to ‘YHVH’ are to banish the ‘Vdq’ from the land and to avoid all their non-Israelite practices.

These passages have nothing to say about homosexual marriage-like relationships, only sexual practices connected with non-Yahwistic temple rituals.

2). Tow’ebah ( Abomination )- Behaviors that make one ritualistically unclean.

The Old Testament life was characterized by the constant struggle to be clean. Leviticus is filled with multiple chapters with pronouncements against contact with Blood, Disease, with Certain Foods, ect., in an attempt to make one clean before God.

There are Three categories of the Old Testament Law:

1- Moral- & 2- Social- These seem proscriptive for most cultures, in that they tend to fulfill the law of Love explicated in the N.T. ( Don’t; steal, commit adultery, bear false witness, worship other gods, ect.. . )

3-. Ritualistic- Cleanliness behaviors seem to have been overturned in the N.T., given that Jesus takes all uncleanliness onto himself, thus our only uncleanliness comes from our heart, not external things.

Lev. 11:7 - Forbids eating pork. ‘And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you.’ *NASB

Acts 10:9-23 - Paul’s dream makes clean what was unclean. v.15 ‘The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." ’ *NASB

There are things in the O.T. that many who view ‘The Law’ as condemning all homosexuality, would never consider following today.
* Uncleanliness after giving birth.
* A man is prohibited from having sex with a menstruating woman.

There is one counter argument. If we say that all unclean behaviors are now clean, we must now support Bestiality and Incest.

Bestiality, in addition to being mentioned in Lev. 18 & 20, is prohibited in two other passages.

Exodus 22:19 ‘Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death.’ *NASB

Dt. 27:21 ‘Cursed is he who lies with any animal. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ ’ *NASB

Incest, in addition to being mentioned in Lev. 18 & 20, is also prohibited in another passage.

Dt. 27:20, 22-23 20- ‘Cursed is he who lies with his father's wife, because he has uncovered his father's skirt. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ ’ 22- ‘Cursed is he who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or of his mother. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ Cursed is he who lies with his mother-in-law. And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’ ’ *NASB

Homosexuality is only found in Lev. 18 & 20. Early Church positions ( Eusebius of Ceasaria and The Apostolic Constitutions ) state that the uncleanness that is derived from behaviors found in Lev. 18 & 20 are ritual, not moral.

3). The texts of Lev. 18 & 20 do not deal with Lesbianism. The usage of ‘if a man lies with a man as with a woman’, is not a single Hebrew word or idiom which can refer to any sex acts between the same gender. It clearly says ‘if a man lies with a man as with a woman.’

This is important because if the point of condemning homosexuality is because it is unnatural, why only condemn male homosexuality? It is not consistent.

While this deeper intension may or may not be related to Tow’ebah, as has been suggested, it certainly indicates that homosexuality in general is not what is being prohibited.

4). In examining the relationship between the O.T. and the N.T., some Church traditionalist struggle very hard to retain an integrity of the scriptures.

Without reconciling the O.T and the N.T., we are left to pick and choose scriptures that we like, throwing out those scriptures we don’t like. This is theologically unwise, but in attempts to do this, some have often set up blinders that prevent them from seeing outside of their traditions. They point out O.T. passages to prove a point, and then follow up by quoting, “Not the smallest letter; not the least stroke of a pen will by any means disappear from the Law.” There are things in the O.T. that some Churches would never support, yet these things are clearly in the O.T..


I have some other things to present concerning the Law, and I will do so after these things have been considered.

Bill

August 31, 2006 at 5:32 AM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

I agree we must reconcile the O.T. and N.T. I the NT we see some Christians struggle with Jewish traditions and the Gentile inclusion. You alluded to the clean foods. They worked through that. But we never see any mention of working through these ideas of yours. I think that if homosexuality (in any certain form) was acceptable in either the OT or NT, there would have more verses refering to it in a positive light or instruction on how to keep these relationships holy, etc. This is all the commenting I have time for right now. Blessings all!

August 31, 2006 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Also, the Lev. 18 & 20 "if a man lies with a man as with a woman" is certainly not a reference to ritual in my opinion. I have not researched other early church traditions contrary to the two you mentioned, but do I lie with my wife in a ritualistic way? I also don't know why there is no mention of lesbiansim until Rom. 1, but that does not change what is said. I defer from Thom's opinion of Rom. 1's rhetoric focus, but we can wait for that later.

August 31, 2006 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Greg, good point in your first post, about reconciling the OT and the NT. I'll add a thought to that to see if it makes sense to you, as it does to me. The New Testament Christians did work through some things in the first century. Church history would reveal to us some more things that Christians worked through through the centuries.

Thom make a comment in a previous post, ( referring to what type of homosexuality we are talking about, if there is indeed any difference ). "Do you mean committed, loving, monogamous homosexual marriage? This latter one seems not to have been a consideration in the minds of the authors of Scripture. Is there any circumstance in which homosexual sex might be deemed legitimate?"

To me, being a homosexual, I feel that there is a differnce. Although we don't live in a culture that deals with goddess, pagan worship, homosexuality can be ungodly and sinful. But I believe it can exist outside of conflict with the laws of love. ( Love God and love your neighbor. )

If cultic homosexual acts were in direct comflict with the immerging Jewish nation, and their methods of Worshiping God. The Jews of that time would have understood that command in it's context.

Perhaps there were not paganistic practices at that time that invovled lesbianism. ( I am not aware of any such religious cultic acts from that time that would have influenced the early Jews. ??? ) If this is the reason for the failure to condemn lesbianism in Lev., this would strengthen my understanding for the condemnation of Male/Male homosexual acts based on ritualistic concerns, along side other condemnations with ritualistic concerns.

As for 'why homosexuality is not portrayed in a positive'. Don't forget that the majority of people today, and maybe in biblical times were heterosexual. It's not unusaul for examples of 'good and right' to speak mainly to the majority, while the minority is left without such examples. And maybe there is an example of affirmed homosexuality in scripture and you just don't recognize it. ( I'll have to save that one for later. )

Bill

August 31, 2006 at 7:37 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Above Caleb said something that I think is a mistake, but it's not one at all peculiar to Caleb. (I don't want anyone to get the impression that I'm singling Caleb out here.) Nevertheless, he said, "Homosexuality is homosexuality whether it is violent [. . .], loving [. . .] or so on."

I think this is a mistake that we have all made, myself included, and pointing it out may help us to get further along in our dialogue than we've been able heretofore.

I want to quote John Howard Yoder, from an unpublished paper submitted to a seminar on homosexuality at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, Elkhart, probably March 18-20, 1982 (the entire essay, entitled "History and Hermeneutics," can be found online @ http://www.nd.edu/~theo/research/jhy_2/writings/home/ind-sex.htm).

------------------------------

1) I need to ask about language; what constitutes an argument? "Homosexuality" is a reification; i.e., by forming a word ending in "-ity" language assumes that we have created a thing. To show this just test the word "bipedality." This is the quality of having two feet. It includes birds and most humans, and a few robots, but that does not mean that the entities we would group under that heading have in common enough to enable us to reason logically about them all.

2) For the sake of conversation our use of language must be self-critical. We must ward off ideology, i.e., the bending of language to make a point we already know. One can be self-aware in correcting for one's own bias, asking especially "what would count as an argument on the other side?"

3) We should be concerned to defend the outsider, the underdog, the victim. This does not mean that the weaker party is always right (any more than the poor are always more virtuous). The positions of underdogs are often skewed by backlash, overcorrection, compensation, and by their usually arguing in terms borrowed from the oppressor.

4) Part of this corrective predisposition should be more awareness of the special situation of the unmarried, who are excluded from some kinds of socializing by standard heterosexual family models. It is not sure that such constraints against the single are not correlated with the origins of some homosexual inclinations.


These considerations do not tip the scales on the question of truth, yet being careful about them relates to the truth of the process. We can't learn if we don't restrain our lunge toward too easy certainty, at least by looking for evidence on the other side.

I should acknowledge as a special limit the fact that I have had little personal contact with openly homosexual individuals. I am not sure that the ones I have known are representative. Nor am I convinced that having had a redemptive religious experience, which is testified to by a minority of persons (on each side of the debate), ratifies the ideas with which people interpret themselves to themselves and others.

I have seen no reason to back away from the primary thesis of my exposition in 1978, so I must state it here first. There is no such entity as homosexuality. That "one meaning" is assumed by all the parties to the debate:
- by ordinary lay usage;
- in gay advocacy;
- when some counselors promise a "cure;"
- when some people read the Bible.


Language trips us up in general; that is the simplest level of the need for "hermeneutics." Check on definitions.

The technical term "reification" labels the fact that we lump together as "things" of the same kind phenomena which have only some characteristics in common. In my 1978 paper I laid out at length that:
- what strong men in prisons or military camps do to weaker men;
- what strangers do with each other in public restrooms or gay bars;
- what mature men like Plato did with beautiful boys;
- what two persons of the same sex and values want to do by living in one household voluntarily;
- what the men of Sodom in Genesis 19 wanted to do with Lot's angelic visitors; . . .
are not merely different forms of the same thing. They are quite different realities, in most morally significant respects.


Naive use of language trips us up in general. Even more is this the case when we deal with "scripture," which status gives the words special status.

------------------------------

In other words, Yoder is arguing that homosexuality is a word we have created that forces us to think about several very different kinds of activities as essentially the same kind of activity. He is calling us to be aware of the limitations our language puts on our capacity to conceptualize. He is reminding us that the naturalness of thinking that homosexuality is homosexuality whether it is violent, loving, promiscuous, etc., is a "naturalness" that is really derived from the controlling power of language and not derived from any essential property in the different activities themselves.

Imagine describing a sex act in which a man forces himself upon a woman (rape) as an act of heterosexuality. That strikes me as a bit odd. While it is technically true, I guess, it doesn't add anything descriptively relevant to the situation. We wouldn't ordinarily so describe a rape because it wouldn't serve any practical purpose for us. Yet lumping all acts of male-male sexual relations under the one heading of homosexuality is very practical for those who presume that all acts of male-male sexuality are equally detestable. It's a way to limit our conceptual possibilities. It forces us to put rape right next to consentual, affectionate sex, right next to promiscuous sex, right next to paedophilia. It's all the same: it's all homosexuality.

The word "homosexuality" is not one we learned from the Scriptures.

...

September 1, 2006 at 3:50 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Thom, once again your abilities are displayed. You have articulated a thought that I have struggled to convey, yet you do it with such ease and clarity. While we are in the realm of understanding words and meanings, I would like to post the second half of my findings related to the law and the homosexual hermeneutic.

What do Profane, Abomination, Detestable and Defilement refer to?



* Abomination- Mary Douglas ( Enc. Britannica ) has offered probably the most cogent and widely accepted interpretation of these laws in her book Purity and Danger. She suggests that these notions of defilement are rules of separation; they symbolize and help maintain the biblical notion of the separateness of the Hebrews from other societies.

* Detestable- Arousing or meriting intense dislike. ( Synonymous with Abominable ).

* Defilement- To make unclean or impure as in; a). to corrupt the purity of perfection of, b). to violate the chastity of, c). to make physically unclean especially with something unpleasant or contaminating, d). to violate the sanctity of. ( Synonymous with Contaminate ).

* Profane- a). To treat something sacred with abuse, irreverence or contempt.
b). To desecrate.

Lev. 18:21 ‘Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not ‘profane’ the name of your God. I am the LORD.’ *NASB & NIV


Lev. 18:22 ‘You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an ‘abomination‘.’ *NASB

Lev. 18:22 ‘Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is ‘detestable‘.’ *NIV


Lev. 18:29-30 ‘For whoever does any of these ‘abominations‘, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the ‘abominable’ customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to ‘defile’ yourselves with them; I am the LORD your God.’ *NASB

Lev. 18:29-30 ‘Everyone who does any of these ‘detestable’ things—such persons must be cut off from their people. Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the ‘detestable’ customs that were practiced before you came and do not ‘defile’ yourselves with them. I am the LORD your God.’ *NIV

Lev. 20:13 ‘If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a ‘detestable’ act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood guiltiness is upon them.’ *NASB

Lev. 20:13 ‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is ‘detestable‘. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.’ *NIV


Lev. 20:25 ‘You are therefore to make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; and you shall not make yourselves ‘detestable’ by animal or by bird or by anything that creeps on the ground, which I have separated for you as unclean.’ *NASB

Lev. 20:25 ‘You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not ‘defile’ yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those which I have set apart as unclean for you.’ *NIV


Dt. 22:5 ‘A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an ‘abomination’ to the LORD your God.’ *NASB

Dt. 22:5 ‘A woman must not wear men's clothing, nor a man wear women's clothing, for the LORD your God ‘detests’ anyone who does this.’ *NIV

Consider the definitions of the words Profane, Abomination, Detestable, and Defilement. How should we regard and define those words in their context of Leviticus and Deuteronomy?

The New American Standard Bible ( NASB ) prefers the use of the word Abomination, with the exception of Lev. 20:13, where it uses the word Detestable.

The New International Version ( NIV ) prefers the use of the word Detestable with the exception of Lev. 20:25, where the word Defile is used. ( The NASB uses the word Detestable in Lev. 20:25 ).

Dt. 22:5 describes a woman who wears men’s clothing, and a man who wears woman’s clothing as an Abomination, and that the Lord God Detests such persons. Therefore, is it to be assumed that women wearing men’s clothing, which occurs frequently in our society today ( without one word of condemnation by many evangelicals ), is sinful behavior?

There are two conclusions that can be drawn from this analysis;

1). Profane Acts, Abominations, Detestable Acts and Defilements are sinful behaviors beyond all exceptions and considerations.

2). The behaviors described in Leviticus and Deuteronomy as Profane, Abominations, Detestable Acts and Defilements are in fact referring to acts that are related to ritual impurity, as has been suggested.

Bestiality is a Perversion and Cursed.

Lev. 18:23 ‘Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be ‘defiled’ with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a ‘perversion‘.’ *NASB & NIV

NASB and NIV both describe the behavior of Bestiality referred to in Lev. 18:23 as a Perversion. Ex. 22:19 simply calls for the death of any person who has sexual relations with an animal, ( within the context of social responsibilities ). Dt. 27:21 describes any person who has sexual relations with any animal as Cursed.

* Perversion- a). The action of perverting: the condition of being perverted. b). A perverted form: an aberrant sexual practice or interest especially when habitual.

* Cursed- a). To call upon divine of supernatural powers to send injury upon. b). To execrate in fervent or often profane terms. c). To bring evil upon. ( Afflict ).

Incest is Dishonorable, a Defilement, Immoral, Disgraceful and Abhorrent.

NASB in Lev. 18 and 20 describes many Incestuous behaviors as Uncovering
so-n-so’s Nakedness or Skirt. The NIV translates ‘uncovering nakedness’ as Dishonoring someone.

The following verses describe Incest as; Lev. 18:20- Defilement, Lev. 20:12- Incest,
Lev. 20:14- Immorality, Lev. 20:17- a Disgrace, Lev. 20:21- Abhorrent Dt. 27:20, 22-23- Cursed.

* Dishonorable- Lacking honor, shameful.

* Immoral- Not moral ( broadly ), conflicting with generally or traditionally held moral principles.

* Incest- a). From Latin- incestus- sexual impurity. b). Sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that they are forbidden to marry by law.

* Disgrace- a). To be a source of shame, ( your actions disgrace the family ). b). To cause to lose favor or standing, ( by hint of scandal ).

* Abhorrent- a). Strongly opposed. b). Not agreeable, contrary. c). Being so repugnant as to stir up positive antagonism, acts abhorrent to every right minded person.

In mentioned references and definitions to Bestiality and Incest, there is little evidence to suggest that Ritual Impurity is the cause of the condemnations found in Exodus, Leviticus or Deuteronomy. Rather the condemnations appear to be more strongly related to Social and Moral issues.

Various Other Laws found in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Ex. 21:27 ‘He who ‘curses’ his father or his mother ‘shall surely be put to death‘.’ *NASB

Num. 15:32-36 ‘Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man ‘gathering wood on the Sabbath day‘. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation; and they put him in custody because it had not been declared what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp." So all ‘the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the LORD had commanded Moses‘.’ *NASB

Num. 19:13 ‘Anyone who ‘touches a corpse‘, the body of a man who has died, ‘and does not purify himself‘, defiles the tabernacle of the LORD; and that person ‘shall be cut off from Israel’ Because the water for impurity was not sprinkled on him, ‘he shall be unclean‘; his uncleanness is still on him.’ *NASB

Dt. 22:9-12 ‘You ‘shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed‘, or ‘all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled‘. You ‘shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together‘. You ‘shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together‘. You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.’ *NASB

Dt. 22:28-29 ‘If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl's father fifty shekels of silver, and ‘she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days‘.’ *NASB ( Rape ??? )

Lev. 19:26-25 ‘You ‘shall not eat anything with the blood‘, ‘nor practice divination or soothsaying‘. You ‘shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard‘. You ‘shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves‘: I am the LORD. ‘Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot‘, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness.’ *NASB

September 1, 2006 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Surely your example of an approved relationship is not David and Jonathan?

September 1, 2006 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

I've no doubt that the example of an approved homosexual relationship is David and Jonathan. I've heard the arguments for this before and they are generally a waste of time. I have a male friend who I have loved in a way that could be described as greater than love for women. Yet it is not homosexual love. We have held each other and wept. We were attached at the hip. We consider that we are soul mates. But none of this is properly described as sexual attraction. I never desired to touch him in a sexual way. The same is true of him. We were friends who were closer than brothers. That is all. And that is the case with David and Jonathan.

However, Bill's extensive discussion above is certainly the best we have seen so far in this whole dialogue. My question is, if male-male sexual intercourse is a ritual uncleannes derived from ritual acts of sex (its being situated next to the prohibition against sacrifice to Molech an argument in favor of this), what does its being situated next to acts of incest and bestiality indicate. They do seem to be in one category without a clear distinction between ritual or moral uncleanness. The distinction may be under the text in the context, but it is rather difficult for me to conceive of the ancient Israelites understanding and/or being aware of that distinction themselves. Hermeneutically, if the audience wouldn't have been equipped to make that distinction, the distinction probably isn't there.

At first I thought the absence of lesbianism in the Old Testament could be explained by the fact that the detestability of female-female relations would be assumed given the detestability of male-male relations. But Bill I think has a good point. Lesbianism isn't mentioned because, in context, what is being described is specific sexual acts between men in worship of false gods. It is possible that this explains the absence of lesbianism. And of course, in the time of Paul, female-female sexual acts were also being put to work in the worship of false gods. That could explain its inclusion there. But there is nothing conclusive here. There are just possibile explanations for something for which we will never have a certain explanation.

I would challenge, Bill, your use of a dictionary to define your words (detestable, defiled, abomination, etc.). Dictionaries can be helpful, but they can also mislead. How a dictionary defines a word today does not insure that is how a word was used four years ago, let alone four thousand years ago. Four thousand years ago, people didn't have dictionaries.

That being said, I am eager to hear your responses and your further arguments.

...

September 1, 2006 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Thom,

I have decided to enter the conversation again... mainly because I feel that I balance you out a bit :)

This post is to you, and not to Bill, though I invite all to read along.

You said, "Yet lumping all acts of male-male sexual relations under the one heading of homosexuality is very practical for those who presume that all acts of male-male sexuality are equally detestable."

Your post really concerned me. In the world, when Christians are struggling with homosexuality, they are not worried about "defining the terms." I mean, what are you really saying through the argument of this post? You are saying that loving homosexual relationships are not the same as violent homosexual rape or so on... fine, but it is still homosexuality. God views all sin as equal...all sin is detestable in the eyes of the Lord. True, there are different punishments and consequences for different sins, but all sin leads to the same end... death. All sin leads us further away from God.

I believe your argument does more to hurt homosexual Christians than it does to help them. Have you counseled many homosexual Christians and people struggling? I have... and I will tell you that the best thing to do is to help people understand that sin is sin is sin is sin... and my telling a person "well, what you are doing is not defined as actual homosexuality, but it is sin" does not help them at all. We are dancing and philosophizing around the subject. People need to understand that sin has offended God whether they feel that it has or has not.

Bill,

I will respond to your Levitical verses in due time...

No hard feelings,
Caleb

September 1, 2006 at 5:48 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Caleb,

Thanks for posting. This isn't about "hard feelings." There will never be any on my side.

Unfortunately, you keep missing the point I'm making. That's all right. After one last attempt, I'll just stop making it. Those who get it will keep on getting it. Those who don't won't.

It is evident that you are here to preach your position, not to have an actual conversation. While I respect your position and your heart for strugglers, this thread is dedicated to a discussion of homosexual hermeneutics. The point of this dialogue is not to announce our positions on the matter but to evaluate one another's arguments.

You keep saying that homosexuality (every form of it) is sin. Many here agree with you, but that is not the point of this dialogue. The point of the dialogue is to bring the conventional assumption that all male-male sexual relations is sinful into question. Those who believe it is sinful are suspending their judgment for the sake of hearing those who claim it isn't, and those who believe that loving, monogamous homosexuality can be God-honoring are (or should be) suspending their judgment on the matter for the sake of hearing those who claim the contrary.

If you can't understand that that's what we're trying to do here, perhaps another venue would be appropriate for you. But this is an invitation for you to join us in the kind of conversation we're attempting to facilitate. For the purposes of this conversation, neither side is right or wrong at the outset. If you don't have the patience for that sort of thing, that's respectable. I know you're a zealous, fiery sort. I admire that and thank God for that. But it isn't entirely appropriate here.

Peace.

...

September 1, 2006 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Bill,

I will respond to your Levitical stuff soon... perhaps you could post some of your repsonses to NT verses... I know you have some of that on your blog as well.

Thom,

hmmmmmmmmm.........

Caleb

September 1, 2006 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Greg and Thom,

Yes, I am speaking of ‘David and Jonathan’. And you may have heard some things about this story that are not convincing to you, ( that there possibly could have been a homosexual relationship between these two men ). To prove or disprove this interpretation of their story is very difficult, but I believe I can show you some things about this story that will make you think twice about it. But not right now, your mind-set concerning homosexuality would probably never allow you to consider a view of this story in a homosexual light. So I’ll save this one for later.

Caleb,

I’m glad you’re still here. I know you have strong feelings about practicing homosexuality being sinful. You’ve made that more than clear. I agree with Thom that evaluating one another’s views is the objective of this conversation. You do seem to lump all homosexuality into one group. But what if the condemnations in scripture are referring to violent or idolatrous homosexuality, and only that type of homosexuality? I could show you examples of violent or idolatrous heterosexuality in scripture, does that mean that all heterosexuality should be condemnable? The word ’Homosexuality’ did not even come into existence until the 19th century. ( Coined by a German psychiatrist, if I’m not mistaken ). Caleb, quiet your mind and your impulses to condemn, and listen and well as evaluate and question. The act of discussion and debate is not sinful. And after we have evaluated each others views, we are still left with the option to choose what is right. ( But, we well do so at that point with a better understanding of the subject. ) As far as ’hard feelings’, Brother… Please!

The second part of ‘The Law’ post that I made, concerning definitions of words, is not something that I found from searching other people’s research. I was watching a History Channel program about the Ten Commandments and The Law. The definition of the word ’Profane’ was examined and revealed to mean, ( in early Jewish history ) ‘anything that was outside of worship‘. Things that took place within the temple, or as part of their worship was considered sacred, anything that took place outside of the temple/worship was considered profane. It was not necessarily negative, just not sacred. The Puritans considered ‘foul language’ to be Profanity and thus it evolved to be the word we understand it to be today.

After seeing that program, I began to wonder about the meaning of the other words used in The Law. I researched it and above is what I’ve found. Thom, you bring to light a good point. “Dictionaries can be helpful, but they can also mislead. How a dictionary defines a word today does not insure that is how a word was used four years ago, let alone four thousand years ago. Four thousand years ago, people didn't have dictionaries.” ( Remember that line of reasoning when we get to The New Testament, I’m going to bring it up again ). Perhaps words did mean something different 4000 years ago. But what I find striking is that the same words, ‘Abomination’ and ‘Detestable’ are used in the description of certain other things. ( Different versions of the Bible translate words differently, I mainly use the NIV and NASB, sometimes the word ‘Loathsome’ is used synonymously with the words abominable and detestable. )

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary;

Abomination is used to express the idea that the Egyptians considered
themselves as defiled when they ate with strangers (Gen. 43:32). The Jews
subsequently followed the same practice, holding it unlawful to eat or drink
with foreigners (John 18:28; Acts 10:28; 11:3).

Every shepherd was "an abomination" unto the Egyptians (Gen. 46:34). This aversion to shepherds, such as the Hebrews, arose probably from the fact that Lower and Middle Egypt had formerly been held in oppressive subjection by a tribe of nomad shepherds (the
Hyksos), who had only recently been expelled, and partly also perhaps from this
other fact that the Egyptians detested the lawless habits of these wandering shepherds.

Pharaoh was so moved by the fourth plague, that while he refused the demand of Moses, he offered a compromise, granting to the Israelites permission to hold their festival and offer their sacrifices in Egypt. This permission could not be accepted, because Moses said they would have to sacrifice "the abomination of the Egyptians" (Ex. 8:26); i.e., the cow
or ox, which all the Egyptians held as sacred, and which they regarded it as
sacrilegious to kill.

Lev. 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

Lev. 20:13 “If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their blood-guiltiness is upon them.”

Lev. 20:25 “You are therefore to make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; and you shall not make yourselves detestable by animal or by bird or by anything that creeps on the ground, which I have separated for you as unclean.”

Dt. 22:5 “A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.”
Probably this condemnation here, relates to cross-dressing that was practiced in cultic religious practices that the early Jews encountered.

Now, as far as examining the reason why Lev 18:22 and Lev 20:13 are found among restrictions against incest and bestiality.

Possibly the answer could be found at the conclusion of Lev 18. Lev. 18:29-30 “For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the LORD your God.”

Also near the end of Lev. 20. Lev. 20:26 “Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.”

All of the acts mentioned in Lev. 18-20, even though described in differing terms, are an attempt of set the Jews apart from the surrounding peoples. This line of reasoning would seem the support the early Church positions ( Eusebius of Ceasaria and The Apostolic Constitutions ), which state that the uncleanness that is derived from behaviors found in Lev. 18 & 20 are ritual, not moral.

Incest and Bestiality are described in different terms than a ‘male lying with a male’. ( Also they are found in other places in The Law. ) If the terms that are used to describe incest and bestiality can be found to describe other acts that call into question their condemnations being ritualistic or moral, that should be brought to light now, at this point of our discussion.

Does this explanation do anything to demonstrate my reasoning to anyone? We may need to spend more time on The Law. If so, let’s stay on this topic a little longer. Caleb, you said you had some thoughts on Leviticus. This would be the time to bring that up.

Bill

September 2, 2006 at 6:34 AM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Re: David and Jonathan.

That sure is reading between the lines at a high level. I SUPPOSE we can do that with a lot of things and bring out our own conclusions (i.e. eisegesis).

However, David, a man after God's own heart, had his dose of sexual sin-- everyone can agree on that. Adultery, and polygamy.

God does not approve of multiple spouses though, treatment in the OT is silent, with the exception of good first examples (i.e. Adam, Abraham, etc.) In the NT we start to see God's definitions. (Similar to the whole lesbianism thing we were talking about.)

One thing all this does prove is that WE ARE ALL SINNERS.

September 2, 2006 at 7:55 AM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Bill,

Thanks for your thoughts. I don't think the conversation is sinful at all, and I am not one who condemns homosexuality... I preach what I believe the Bible says, and I do it in different ways (this setting is different, and I would be much more easy going behind the pulpit). If anything, I am one that does not believe that in this country in the social discrimination of anyone is good. I just wonder where we draw the line between reading "too much" into the Scripture and then where we should be honest and upfront with what it says. I will post my thoughts on Leviticus tonight...

Greg,

Hey man, sorry I did not say hi to you. I do well remember when you and the young Corey Scott left a huge dent in my mother's lawn... she remembers as well. How are you? I looked through your blog and saw all that you're doing and your pictures! Congrats.

Thom,

hmmmmmmmmm.....

Caleb

September 2, 2006 at 3:21 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Greg,

"Re: David and Jonathan.

That sure is reading between the lines at a high level. I SUPPOSE we can do that with a lot of things and bring out our own conclusions (i.e. eisegesis)."

I haven't pointed out any scriptures yet, or explained my reasons for believing why those scriptures make me wonder if there was a sexual relationship between David and Jonathan. So how can you say I'm reading between the lines? You don't know what I'm going to demonstrate as evidence.

Caleb,

" I just wonder where we draw the line between reading "too much" into the Scripture and then where we should be honest and upfront with what it says."

I hear preachers behind the pulpit, and on T.V., and on the radio. Many times, in an attempt to explain their views, they employ the sciences of 'History' and 'Culture' and 'Language' as supporting evidence. ( And while doing so, the listeners are probably thinking, 'Wow, How well this person understands the word of God. ??? ).

This is exactly what I am doing here, employing the sciences. There is nothing that I have demonstrated, or will demonstrate, that is not logical, reasonable and just as likely, if not more so, than what traditional teachings about homosexuality have lead you to believe. Yet when I do this, and it is not in line with your beliefs, it is suggested that I am going 'too far'.

Let's just send the Baptists to hell too. They don't believe baptism is for salvation, as you do. It's just an act of obedience for them. They are not saved either, are they?

Careful with your quick pronouncements. Listen, evaluate and question. Then judge if you must.

If I have demonstrated something that you disagree with, and you have a reason to question the logic or probability of the accuracy of my views, then point that out to me. Save the preaching for the pulpit. I've been preached at my whole life about how sinful I am for being, and having homosexual feelings. But never have I had any of those who condemn me, sit down in an honest attempt to understand me. I'm not looking for a preacher, I'm looking for Christian people who will listen and help me understand if what I believe is in line with God's word, and if not, why not.

Can you understand that? Participate with me in this conversation, don't preach at me.

This post is out of line with how I intent to conduct myself with you all. But sometimes I do get fustrated. Many posts at the beginning of the blog question why John Rumple proceeded in the way that he did.

I know exactly why, because I've lived in pretty much the same situation that he did concerning JBC. Too many want to preach about how sinful that 'lifestyle' is, and you must either change or you will be out of fellowship with your Christian brothers and sisters. It seems to make no difference to those who 'preach' that we want happiness in our lives, and we want to share our lives with someone that we can love completely. It seems to make no difference that attraction to the oppostite sex is beyond us, or un-natural to us. It's 'change or life long celebacy' for us. What choice would you make if you were faced with those options? If heterosexuality were considered sinful and you knew you were a heterosexual, what would you do? Probably you would check to see if it truely is sinful according to God's word.

You know, there are things that we Christian homosexuals face that Christian heterosexuals will never face and could not understand. So because YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND IT, 'we are wrong and you are right?' Does that reasoning line up with the nature of God in your eyes also?

I've said enough. I'm just asking that we put aside judgments long enough to evaluate each others views. Logical and reasonable arguments.

With no hard feeling.

Bill

September 2, 2006 at 6:55 PM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Bill,

Thanks for your post. By the way, I do not believe baptism is for salvation :) I also believe in eternal security and I am premillennial in my view of the end times...and I believe in a pre-trib rapture... oh no! :) So I am pretty much a "black sheep" of the Christian Church/Churches of Christ.

Bill, I appreciate your feelings and so on... honestly, I am not use to dealing with Christians who have made up their mind that homosexuality is alright... I am use to dealing with people that are convicted that the way they are feeling is sin... I truly am very different with them than I am here... but I guess sometimes I have a blind and arrogant expectation for people that have studied the Bible hard to come out the same on some major issues (not all of the issues).

I just want you to know that. I am very interested to know how you interpret the Bible and how you have come to the fact that this is an acceptable lifestyle in God's eyes.

I will list the Levitical stuff tomorrow. Tonight we celebrated my wife's B-day, so I have not had time to do anything. I will tomorrow...

With tired feeling b/c I need sleep,
Caleb

September 3, 2006 at 1:04 AM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Bill,

Before I am out, I do have a question. How does the concept of "feeling" add to your argument? I mean, do you believe that the majority of our feelings are sinful? From birth, we think of only ourselves, and I believe that the average person will look out for No. 1 before anyone else...

We can have feelings to do some pretty crazy stuff at time. A husband can genuinely love another woman in an inappropriate way... but his feelings are filled with love. I can have a feeling that I want that new laptop, but is that the best decision for my family. I can feel that it would be a good thing to beat up someone that attacked my cousin... but does that validate my feeling? Does that make sense? Are our feelings a solid point to add to our argument one way or another..?

Caleb

September 3, 2006 at 1:24 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Caleb,

Good questions. Did your decision to marry your wife have anything to do with your feelings?

...

September 3, 2006 at 3:06 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Caleb, I thought about my last post and.....well, have you ever said something and then thought, 'I shouldn't have said that.'?

My response to Greg and to you, for suggesting that my ideas are 'reading between the lines' or taking the interpretation of scripture 'too far', was all that I needed to said.

From the paragraph that asked 'should we send the baptist to hell', and beyond that.... that was my emotions coming out, and it did not need to be said. I apologize for unloading all of that on you.

You were much kinder in your response than I was expecting. I hope your wife enjoyed her birthday yesterday. I am eager to hear your views of Leviticus.

Where you say, "I am not use to dealing with Christians who have made up their mind that homosexuality is alright... I am use to dealing with people that are convicted that the way they are feeling is sin...". My personal belief about that is, if you are told all of your life that something is sin, that is a powerful motivator. Some children, with un-compassionate parents, may be told that they are 'stupid' or 'ugly'. Some of those children grow up believing that retoric that they have been told their whole lives, even if it isn't true.

Your question about 'my feelings' adding in to my 'argument'. If the suggestion is that I am letting my feelings over-ride my ability to reason, the answer is no.

You bring out the example, 'A husband can genuinely love another woman in an inappropriate way... but his feelings are filled with love.' The husband has made a covanant with his wife. If he loves another woman, he is breaking that covanant and therefore is breaking the law of Love. 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' His wife would be considered his 'neighbor', and he would not want her to break covanant with him. Your example shows a lack of Love to the spouse.

'I can have a feeling that I want that new laptop, but is that the best decision for my family.' An example of selfishness. This breaks the same law of Love in that you are concerned with your own interests over your family's interests ( your neighbor ), with whom you have a responsibility to care for ( a covanant ). You would not want to be treated that way.

'I can feel that it would be a good thing to beat up someone that attacked my cousin...'. Again, breaking the same law of Love.

My feelings for Billy are as pure as your feelings for your spouse. My decision to choose him and love him is in no way out of a selfish desire to satisfy my own sinful lusts. ( To be perfectly honest with you, sex is a very insignificant part of our relationship. )

So to make myself completely understandable to you. My feelings about who I am have caused me to ask questions about traditional teachings and interpretations of certain scriptures. But the understand and views that I hold are solid, and based on logic and reason that are just as probable and likely as your traditional understanding of homosexuality. My views and beliefs are not founded in emotions or feelings.

My homosexuality in no way breaks the laws of Love, in that I do not use my homosexuality to serve other gods. My love for God is genuine and founded in Christ and his teachings. My homosexuality is in line with every description of Love in 1 Corn. 13, just as much as you, or any heterosexual Christian would attempt to adhere to those descriptions of love toward their spouse, or toward their 'neighbor'.

I am Christian first and foremost. I understand the full implications of that statement. ( I am by no means new to the faith ). I've considered my situation all of my life. I can't speak for all Christian homosexuals, but I know that I can exist in my present state of being and Love God and Love my neighbor just as much as anyone who truly follows Christ.

I've not had this understanding of scripture all of my life. But I have never felt as if being homosexual, or sharing my life with Billy is sinful. When I sin and do what is contrary to God's will for my life, I know it, and I feel it. I have never felt that nudging at heart for being homosexual. My conscience has never been offended by my homosexuality. It was not until I searched out an understanding of the scripture that refer to homosexuality that my mind fell in line with my heart.

Cultures come and go. False teaching come and go. But the Laws of Love, explicated by Christ himself in the New Testament, from the Old Testament Law, this is the constant and binding factor that molds and sustains Christianity. And it is absolutely existent in me, even being a Christian homosexual.

So there you go with my explaination. I hope it makes sense to you. I'm waiting to hear your views on Leviticus. I'm going to start preparing a post concerning the New Testament.

Bill

September 3, 2006 at 6:06 AM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Bill,

I read your comments on Leviticus, and I think that some of my comments are best saved for the NT portion of your argument as they will tie back into the OT. I do find it hard to believe that most of the verses you listed have to do with ritual behavior and so on... but, as I said, I will dive deeper into that soon...

By the way, the Crocodile Hunter died tonight. Yes, he is gone... was killed by a sting ray while diving...

Bil... I just wanted you to know that I love the movie "9 to 5." It was one of the funniest movies I have seen. Do you like some of my other favorites? Waiting for Guffman, Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Birdcage, The Lost Boys, and 80's movie?????????????

Waiting for the NT argument,
Caleb

September 4, 2006 at 1:46 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Caleb,

Sad about the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. I always liked that guy. Left behind a wife and 2 young children.

Yea, ’9-5’ is a great, funny movie. I like the ’Lost Boys’, ’Birdcage’, ‘Footloose’, Top Gun’. A lot of different movies really. I went to see ’The Illusionist’ yesterday, ( two thumbs up ). I read your blog on ’Harry Potter’. I agree with you there. Many people are quick to jump on the band-wagon to denounce Harry Potter, while other movies with questionable themes get a silent pass or praise for its moral theme of ’good against evil’. Harry Potter is a good series with a basic theme of good against evil.

So on to the New Testament. I believe I can further discuss why I believe ritual concerns are the reason for the denouncement of ’a male lying with a male, as with a woman’ in Leviticus. But I’ll move on with the New Testament discussion, and you bring that issue up at what-ever point you feel it is appropriate.

I’m going to break my Thoughts about the New Testament up into 2 posts. The first concerns 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy. The second post will be about Jude. Then I will begin with Roman 1.

The New Testament, 1Corinthians and 1 Timothy;

1Cor. 6:9 ‘Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate ( Malakos ), nor homosexuals ( Arsenokoites ),’ *NASB

1 Tim. 1:10 ‘and immoral men and homosexuals ( Arsenokoites ) and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,’ *NASB

Arsenokoites-

Until recently it was believed that the only type of homosexuality that Paul would have known about when he wrote his letters is Pederasty, ( an older man would take a boy between 12-18 years of age, Erastes / Eromenos ). This, of coarse is absent and offensive in most western cultures today, although it was part of that culture. It was considered mentoring and approved of by the boys parents. ( Teaching, hunting, warfare and adult male customs are among the things that were taught in this relationship ). It is now known that in addition to pederasty, there were also adult male consenting homosexual relationships.

It has been argued that Paul’s use of Malakos & Arsenokoites is for lack of a better expression for homosexuality in general. Current scholarship indicates that the terms Erastes / Eromenos were not only used exclusively for Man / Boy relationships. On the contrary, these terms can refer to a relationship of long-lasting duration and equality between partners.

Paul’s use of the word Arsenokoites is far from clear. The best way to learn the meaning of this word is to look at its usage in other contexts. The problem is we primarily find Arsenokoites in lists. A search of the Thesaurus Lingua Graecae database-1997, ( TLG ) shows 73 uses of Arsenokoites. Most of these are in lists that are of the same basic pattern as found in 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10, using mostly the same words.

Paul’s use of the word Arsenokoites is far from clear. The best way to learn the meaning of this word is to look at its usage in other contexts. The problem is we primarily find Arsenokoites in lists. A search of the Thesaurus Lingua Graecae database-1997, ( TLG ) shows 73 uses of Arsenokoites. Most of these are in lists that are of the same basic pattern as found in 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10, using mostly the same words.

If this were all we had to look at, it would be unclear weather to put Arsenokoites with Sexual or Economic / Injustice sins. However, there are two non-TLG texts, both of which are early usages of Arsenokoites, the first of which is from the Sibylline Oracle 2

"Do not steal seeds. Whoever takes for himself is accursed ( to generations of generations, to the scattering of life. Do not arsenokoites, do not betray information, do not murder. ) Give one who has labored his wage. Do not oppress a poor man."



Similarly, the second text, from the Acts of John 36:

"And let the murderer know that the punishment he has earned awaits him in double measure after he leaves this (world). So also the prisoner, sorcerer, robber, swindler, and arsenokoites, the thief, and all of this band..."



In neither of these texts do we find them in the context of purely sexual sins. In fact, we see no hint of sexuality at all in these lists. But since we know that Arsenokoites does have sexual connotation, putting ‘homosexual’ into these lists makes no sense. If you think of Arsenokoites in terms of Economic / Injustice, it fits better into these two list. When Arsenokoites is placed before Slave Trader, it makes sense since homosexual slaves were normative in both Greek and Roman societies. Therefore it would seem to indicate homosexual subjugation or exploitation, rather than referring to all homosexual behavior.

This type of connotation to Arsenokoites fits well within two other TLG texts, both of which are early uses of the word. The first is out of the Apology of Aristides. It relays the myth of Zeus, and his relationship with the mortal Ganymede. In the story, we are told that the myth is evidence that Greek gods act with Moixeia (adultery) and Arsenokoites. Similarly, in Hippolytus' Refutatio chapter 5, we are told the story of the evil angel Naas, and how he committed adultery with Adam in the Garden, which is how Arsenokoites came into the world. Hippolytus relates Naas and Adam back to Zeus and Ganymede. In neither of these instances do we find a mutually consenting, equal relationship. We find an aggressor forcibly taking advantage of a weaker individual. In fact, (Dover), when describing Greek art depicting Zeus and Ganymede, says that Zeus commands Ganymede in a manner that will not accept refusal . . ., he simply grasps Ganymede, who struggles violently.

(Dover) later mentions two texts, one by Ibykos fr. 289, and the other, The Hymn of Aphrodite 202-206, which puts the Zeus and Ganymede story in the specific context of rape by drawing the parallel between it and the story of Dawn and Tithonos. The human rights violations that are clear in the above uses of Arsenokoites gives us a fairly clear indication of the meaning of the word, a meaning which matches the attributed meaning we surmised about Arsenokoites as it was found in the few contexts / lists that we have. It seems clear that Arsenokoites does not refer to mutually respecting gay relationships, but to a powerful aggressor subjugating / exploiting the weak, whether in the context of rape, or slave trading.

Malakos-

Malakos literally means Soft. Our word malleable comes from this word, which means bendable.

Malakos is used 3 times in the New Testament.

Matt. 11:8- Clothing ( soft ), Luke 7:25- Clothing ( soft ), 1 Cor. 6:9- Sin List ( soft ?? ).

Malakos cannot be found in any written text before 1 Cor. ( which was written before Matthew or Luke ). Translators have a difficult time knowing what Paul was trying to convey with the word Malakoi since it had no prior use. Some say he meant effeminate, however not all gay men are effeminate, and not all effeminate men are gay.

The Inter Linear Greek-English New Testament presents 1 Cor. 6:9 as ‘…neither fornicators, nor Idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers of themselves as women, nor abusers of themselves with men.’

Strong’s Concordance indicates the following;

1). Fornicators- literally means one who prostitutes himself.
2). Idolaters- literally means one who worships idols.
3). Adulterer- literally means one who commits adultery.
4). Abusers of themselves as Women- literally means one who is soft and without a backbone, spineless.
5). Abusers of themselves with Men - literally means male prostitute.

St. Jerome’s Vulgate version of the Bible translates Qadeshen as Effeminati. Effeminati means someone who dons female clothes in order to serve as a temple prostitute.

St. Jerome’s translates Malakoi as Molles, which is a synonym for Effeminati. Malakoi would therefore mean temple cult prostitute, ( according to St. Jerome ). Refer back to Interlinear Greek-English New Testament and Strong’s Concordance for definitions of words. There is correlation with St. Jerome‘s Vulgate.

There were at least 3 other sets of generally understood Juxtaposed Greek words that Paul could have used if his intention was to undeniably condemn all forms of homosexuality, ( instead of his use of the uncertain, highly debatable words of Malakos & Arsenokoites ). Paul was a highly educated and intelligent man. He was a skilled craftsman with words and letters. Which brings to light the question, if Paul could have been more specific in his condemnation of all forms of homosexuality, why would he use a set of juxtaposed words of uncertain meaning ( for our culture to understand ), when he could have used one of three of the following sets of juxtaposed words to clarify his meaning to his culture and all subsequent cultures?

1). Philerastis & Pederastic - men who engaged in sexual acts with other men for pleasure.
2). Canadi & Exsolete
3). Erastes & Eromenos - Man & Boy.

September 4, 2006 at 5:26 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Jude 1:7 ‘just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.’ *NASB

Genesis 18-19 ( The Sodom Story ): This is one of the classical passages used to condemn homosexuality, especially when paired with Jude 7. However, neither of the two sexual words used in Jude 7 indicate or imply homosexuality: ekporneuo and "going after sarkos heteros". It is the latter phrase, literally meaning "different flesh" that has caused the connection. It has been implied, given that the male mob at Lot's door was wanting to have sex with the male angels inside Lot's house, that "going after different flesh" means wanting to have gay sex.

However, there are many problems with this interpretation. First, the male mob at Lot's door was exactly that - a mob. They wanted to gang rape the men. This by itself should be enough to call into question the Genesis passage's relevance to loving, committed gay relationships. But second, when looking at the phrase "different flesh," the implication seems to be describing promiscuous sexual relationships, not homosexual relationships.

Not only does none of the wording in this passage have any implication of homosexuality, but the wording sounds like an anti-parallel to the marriage texts, where the two flesh become one (Gen 2:24, Mark 10:8, 1 Cor 6:16, Eph 5:31). The traditional reading of this text implicitly assumes that the natural order of creation requires that sex is limited to male and female relationships. Therefore, going after different flesh means desiring sex that is contrary to the order of nature, in other words, homosexuality (as mistakenly derived from Paul's natural theology from Romans 1).

On the other hand, from the perspective that Jude 7 is actually an anti-parallel to the marriage texts, the emphasis is on having sex with a person that is not bone your bone, and flesh of your flesh, therefore, different flesh. In this reading of Jude 7, this passage is an implied support of relationships based on commitment and faithfulness, condemning only the behavior of having sex with whomever one chooses and whenever one wants (going after different flesh), and has nothing to do with homosexuality. This reading of the text is more faithful to the original Genesis 19 account, which focuses not on the homosexual aspect of the story, but on the promiscuity and aggressive nature of the mobs demand to rape the angels.

However, what is most disconcerting regarding the traditional way of interpreting Jude as an anti-homosexual passage, is that the context and language of Jude 7 is completely ignored. The entire passage of vv 7-9 is talking about angels. In the traditional interpretation, the focus of angels is suddenly stopped in v. 6, and resumed again in v. 8, in order to make a brief digression to condemn homosexuality in v. 7. Not only does this do an injustice to the literary continuity of the passage, but it also ignores the historical context of the references, and the language used to describe the events surrounding the reference. I have cited below several major commentaries, describing a much more appropriate interpretation of the passage, which is that the men of Sodom are being condemned for wanting to have sex with angels, thus "going after other flesh" (heteras sarkas). If Jude had intended to reference homosexuality, he would have used the language of "going after same flesh (homos sarkas).

Jude's reference to the men having sex with angels references traditions that were being circulated during the first century, that what happened between angels and humans in Gen 6:1-4 [where the angels ("sons of God") had sex with the "daughters of men")] that brought down God's flood was similar to what happened between angels and humans in Gen 19 that brought down God's fire." (Craddock, 1995).

Kelly, JND. A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and of Jude. Harper and Row: New York, 1969.
p. 258: This being the allusion here, many have interpreted lusted after different flesh (heteras sarkos) as meaning 'indulged in sodomy'. The Greek, however, does not tolerate this: it simply states that the flesh they desired was different (these good angels appeared in human form, but their flesh presumably was different in kind), whereas in homosexuality, as J Chaine (ad loc.) aptly remarked, 'the natures are only too alike'. p. 259: Both had made their sin even more appalling by lusting after different flesh--the angels, because, spiritual beings though they were, they had coveted mortal women, and the Sodomites because, though only human beings, they had sought intercourse with angels.

Horrell, David. The Epistles of Peter and Jude. Epworth Press: Peterborough, 1998.
p. 121: Like the angels, these people 'indulges in sexual immorality' (NRSV) and 'went after other flesh'--ie non-human flesh. This last phrase is a better and more literal translation of the Greek than indulged in unnatural lusts because, as the account in Genesis 19.1-26 makes clear, it was two angels with whom the men of Sodom wanted to have sexual intercourse. This is why the two examples in verses 6 and 7 are comparable for Jude, and why it cannot be homosexual intercourse which the author has in mind here: just as the angels left their proper place and indulged in sexual immorality with humans, so the men of Sodom sought to violate the proper order in creation and to have sex with angels.

Cranfield, CEB. I and II Peter and Jude. SCM Press: London, 1960.
p. 159: But it is more probable that the reference is to the fact that, as the fallen angels had sought intercourse with human beings, so the men of Sodom sought intercourse with angels (the two angels in p. 160: Lot's house). This interpretation is confirmed by the following clause, gone after strange flesh, ie, after that belonging to a different order of being. To interpret 'strange' as referring to the unnaturalness of intercourse with the same sex is scarcely possible.

September 5, 2006 at 4:45 AM  
Blogger mark said...

i appreciate the tone and discourse in this thread. i am a man who has struggled w/ same sex attraction since i was a young boy and, frankly, I've heard (and studied) most all of these arguments before. My perspective is this: I don't view this attraction as a gift. This, I'm convinced, is part of me living in a fallen world. I have met many, many guys who have the same attraction (in both moral and immoral situations) and I have never (not once) met a man who finds himself attracted to other men who did not have some deficit early in childhood. Either it was an absent father or sexually or emotionally abusive situation with older males, but the stories pretty consistent. I'm sure there are guys for whom this doesn't apply, but I've not met any and I wonder if this is true of the guys who are "out" on this forum as well. It certainly is true in my life. Statistics have been used in this thread and I would love to see the stats on how many homosexual men had this experience (but I doubt those stats exist or are knowable). Basically, I feel like my "falleness" could be somewhat to do w/ (fallen) nature but mostly to do with "nurture". I've not worked through any counseling or been honest w/ christian brothers who could help me, and I hope one day to have that kind of courage. In the meantime, I take great comfort in knowing that this forum exists and that there are christians who can discuss it in a profitable way. Thanks for this!

September 5, 2006 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Hi Mark,

Welcome, and I’m glad you posted a comment. I’m sorry you feel the way you do about your same sex attraction. You describe it as a ‘struggle’ and a ‘fallen state‘. As I mentioned to Caleb a few days ago, if you’ve been taught your whole life that the feeling you have are sinful and wrong, it’s no wonder you struggle.

Our purpose here is to differentiate between idolatrous homosexuality and monogamous, mutually consenting homosexuality, ( if indeed there is a difference ). And also to determine, (if there is a difference), which type of homosexuality are the Scriptures that refer to homosexuality talking about.

You asked if the guys who are ‘out’ in this forum have experienced a deficit in their childhood. I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but as for me…No. I’m the youngest of 7 children, and I was treated by both of my parents just the same as all of my brothers and sisters. ( They are all straight, married, and have children. ) I had no emotional or sexual abuse as a child. So maybe I’m an odd-ball, but I don’t think my homosexuality has anything to do with a deficit in my childhood.

So on with the study. There have been no comments on my previous 2 posts, so I’ll continue on with Romans 1. I think I’ll break Romans up into Three parts. In this first part I want to discuss history and a cultic group dedicated to the worship of ‘Cybele and Attis’. The priests of this group are called the ‘Galli’. Some comments made by early Church leaders will help to draw parallels between this group and Romans 1.

The Galli and Animal Imagery

Consider the culture of Rome, ( the letter of ’Romans’ was written to the Christians in Rome ). Consider the culture of Corinth, ( where Paul is believed to have been when he wrote this letter ). These cultures, one Roman and one Greek, were filled with cults and paganism which worshiped gods / goddesses and idols.

The goddess religions were very popular in the Greco-Roman era. During the time of Paul's missionary travels, the goddess religions were having a wide resurgence. Temples dedicated to Cybele / Attis, Artemis, Aphrodite, Demeter and Venus were scattered throughout most cities of the region. The temple to Artemis in Ephesus was the largest building in the world at the time and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The temple to Aphrodite in Corinth was conjectured to have had more than 1,000 temple prostitutes. In Rome, the Cybele / Attis temple was built in the heart of the city on one of the Seven Hills of Rome, and the Roman temple to Aphrodite was on another of these hills, the Capitolene. The official sanctions that had prevented citizens from fully participating in the priestly rituals were lifted in the mid-first century CE. In addition, Cybele's image was printed on Roman coinage and two major city-festivals, the Day of Blood and the Megalensia, were organized around Cybele and Attis. A statue of Cybele presided over most of the public games. It is my belief that the popularity and power of the goddess religions during the time of Paul's ministry gave him a readily available target to use in his description of people who fall away from God.

Several aspects of Cybele and Attis can be observed from Romans 1:18-32, which help us understand the rituals observed by their followers. First, the immaculate nature of Acdestis' birth is indicative of the sexual stature of Cybele. While she is the mother of the gods, she is also virginal. In some versions of the myth,’ Cybele’ herself is Attis' mother, being replaced for ‘Nana‘. In some versions, Attis, the shepherd, is Cybele's beloved, but they never consummate their relationship sexually, due to Attis' emasculation. The female priests of several goddesses mimic this part of the myth in their method of sacred sexuality in the temple: they give their bodies as sexual implements to the worshippers, but only in ways which prevent pregnancy, thus maintaining their understanding of virginity, which could be a link to Paul's heterogenital reference of non-procreative sex in Romans 1:26b.

A second aspect of this story is Acdestis' hermaphroditic character, his extreme emotional passion merging with sexual and violent instability, and his subsequent emasculation. In some versions of the story Acdestis has the capacity to produce offspring asexually. His hermaphroditic nature was expressed both as anatomical duality, as well as prolific bisexual behavior. The galli (priests of Attis) saw this as a transcendence of gender by Acdestis, encompassing both sexual/gender natures in one person. Attis and Cybele, along with several other gods and goddesses exhibited sexual-variant and transgender behavior. Many of the goddess rituals exhibit an attempt to transcend gender, incorporating sacred sexuality, transgender behaviors, and transsexualism into their religions.

Like the other goddess priests, the Cybele / Attis priests engaged in cross-gender behaviors. Many sources describe their cross-dressing and effeminate image, as well as the annual-festival of the galli. The Romans had difficulty accepting the gender-variant nature of the galli's activities, and Roman citizens were prohibited from becoming galli, primarily because of their repulsion of emasculation. However, in 101 BCE, the laws were altered to allow certain citizens to become galli, and "between 41 and 54 CE, the emperor Claudius removed all restrictions preventing citizens from becoming galli." Eventually, the head of the galli, the Archgallus, became a state-appointed position.

Following the legend of the self-emasculation of Acdestis and Attis' comes the imitation of self-emasculation by the galli. There is significant evidence that males made themselves into eunuchs and that it was an essential aspect to their religion. Such ministerial eunuchism has been a common practice in many of the goddess rituals throughout history.

The act of self-emasculation had several purposes, one of which was that it helped the gallus transcend gender altogether, as described by one faction of the Gnostic movement, the Naassenes, a group that Kroeger links to the first century CE. They believed that, "while equally regarding the Logos as the center of their belief, held the equivalent deity to be Attis, and frequented the Phrygian Mysteries as the most direct source of spiritual enlightenment." Kroeger continues this thought, stating, "There is considerable evidence that the Naassene sect developed from that of Attis of Cybele." Hippolytus, a Christian apologist from the late 2nd century CE, attacks the Naassenes beliefs about hermaphroditism. The following quote from a Naassene text exhibits this belief: "When you make the male and female one and the same, so that the male not be male nor the female... then you will enter the Kingdom." It is this and other teachings that Hippolytus directly assaults and in the process links the Cybele /Rhea and Attis religion to Romans 1:

‘For (the Naassene) says, there is the hermaphrodite man, [Attis]. ... Attis has been emasculated, that is, he has passed over from the earthly parts of the nether world to the everlasting substance above, where, he says, there is neither female or male, but a new creature, a new man, which is hermaphrodite. …’

[After describing Rhea as "the universal creature." Hippolytus quotes Rom 1:21-23, linking it directly with the following:]

‘“Wherefore also God gave them up unto vile affections; for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature."’

What, however, the natural use is, according to them, shall later be examined.

‘"And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly"--now the expression that which is unseemly signifies, according to these (Naasseni), the first and blessed substance, figureless, the cause of all figures to those things that are moulded into shapes,--"and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet." For in these words which Paul has spoken they say the entire secret of theirs, and a hidden mystery of blessed pleasure, are comprised.’ (Refutation of All Heresies, Book V)


In Romans 1, what most Christians today see as a condemnation on same-sex sexual behavior, the Naassenes saw as a blessing on such behavior, in as much as it helped them to transcend gender, and thus become closer to God. In this text we have a link between the mindset of a subset of the early church and the context of Rom 1:26-27. We clearly see that the Naassenes, at least, viewed the context of Paul's intent for the description of the sexual activity in Romans 1 as sacred sexuality, connected directly with the sexual rituals of the galli and the Attic religion.

Many religions have made sex an integral part of their worship. We see as much in the Jewish Testament references to ‘Vdq‘, translated "male shrine prostitutes". That Scripture recognizes and condemns sacred sex is clear. That Greek and Roman society condemned sacred sex, even sacred homogenitality, is far from clear and is probably mistaken. In fact, it seems that ritualized pagan homoeroticism "experienced a kind of renaissance between the fourth century BCE and the third century CE." In this form of worship the worshiper "receives the inner-most essence and power of a god," while the galli live out the sexual / gender variance of Attis and Cybele (Arnobius, Adversus Gentes 5.6), as well as transcend gender, to become more like their gods.

However, while the "image" of the galli may have been primarily of having sex only with males, that image did not necessarily play out in their "sexual preference," as we see in an epigram by Martial:

‘What concern have you, eunuch Baeticus, with the feminine abyss? This tongue of yours should be licking male middles. Why was your cock cut off with a Samian shard if you were so fond of a cunt, Baeticus? Your head should be castrated. You may be a eunuch loinwise, but you cheat Cybele's rites. With your mouth you're a man.’ (Epigrams, 3.81).

Clement of Alexandria similarly describes the practices of some of the female galli, pairing them with these stereotyped images of the male galli that we have discussed:

‘And these women are carried about over the temples, sacrificing and practicing divination day by day, spending their time with fortune-tellers, and begging priests, and disreputable old women; and they keep up old wives' whisperings over their cups, learning charms and incantations from soothsayers, to the ruin of the nuptial bonds. And some men they keep; by others they are kept; and others are promised them by the diviners. They know not that they are cheating themselves, and giving up themselves as a vessel of pleasure to those that wish to indulge in wantonness; and exchanging their purity for the foulest outrage, they think what is the most shameful ruin a great stroke of business. And there are many ministers to this meretricious licentiousness. ... But these women delight in intercourse with the effeminate. And crowds of abominable creatures (kinaideV) flow in, of unbridled tongue, filthy in body, filthy in language; men enough for lewd offices, ministers of adultery, giggling and whispering.’ (Paedagogos, 3.4)



In addition to showing the presence of female galli, Clement also brings up an issue that would ordinarily seem unlikely: the women were having sex with the effeminate men, the ‘kinaideV.’ These may or may not have been the male galli--the text does not allow us to draw a conclusion either way. Regardless of whether these ‘kinaideV’were galli, it begs the question of why a kinaidoV would go to a female to have sex, and what form that sex would take. The most parsimonious answer is that the women were using artificial phalli to perform anal sex on the men, as described below in other Greco-Roman sources, which could easily be applied to Rom 1:26 to help us understand the context for interpreting the behavior described by Paul as heterosexual.

In Rom 1:23, Paul lists several types of animal idols that are worshiped in pagan religions. It is possible that this list, along with the reference to human-like idols in the same verse, represents a generalization to all pagan religions, in an attempt to encompass all possibilities. However, it is also possible that Paul was specifically trying to evoke an image of the goddess religions for the context of his three parallel arguments. While many of the Greco-Roman gods are associated with animals, few are associated with a whole range of animals, as are the goddess religions. Specifically, Cybele / Attis worship was affiliated with all three classes of animal imagery referenced in Rom 1:23 (as well as human-form idols): birds, animals and reptiles.

The breadth of animals described by Paul is reminiscent of a brief passage from Apuleius (Metamorphoses 11.25), spoken by Lucius as he is giving a worshipful oration to the "Great Goddess" (here an Isis-like goddess) at Cenchrae, less than 10 miles from Corinth: "The birds of the air, the beasts of the hill, the serpents of the den, and the fishes of the sea do tremble at your majesty."

Cybele's association with the great cats, especially lions, and her association with other four-footed animals, especially deer, is not uncommon. Birds are one of the primary images of the galli. In fact, the word ‘gallus’ is the Latin term for 'rooster / cock' and galli are often pictured with roosters in reliefs from Attis temples. Lucian provides a second avian association (De Dea Syria 54), describing doves as holy to galli who would refrain from shooing them away and thus their temples and houses were filled with the doves.

The snake is the third form of animal commonly found in images of Cybele and Attis. The Naasenes, who were closely related to Attis worship in their theology, highly valued the snake in their worship. In fact, Kroeger notes the following, "Hippolytus says about the Naasenes: that they worshiped nothing except the serpent." Further, galli themselves were known to use snakes directly in their worship, "We shall pass by the wild Bacchanalia, ... with seeming frenzy and the loss of your senses you twine snakes about you; and, to show yourselves full of the divinity and majesty of the god, tear in pieces with gory mouths the flesh of loudly-bleating goats." (Arnobius, Adversus Gentes 17. This passage immediately follows the lengthy passage cited above which described the Cybele / Attis myth).

The snake association is supported by the numerous serpentine images associated with both Cybele and directly with the galli: a stele showing Cybele flanked by serpents; a relief with a bust of Attis and an archgallus (the head of the area galli), shows the archgallus wearing a band with a clasp formed by two serpent head joined by a ring, which was worn as a necklace; a sarcophagus lid found at the Portus Romae, shows an archgallus reclining with a snake lying near his feet; numerous examples are found in Vermaseren's CCCA series.

Finally, in a tile mosaic image dedicated to Cybele and Attis in the Basilica Hilariana in Rome (2nd century CE.), we see a range of animals depicted: a raven, a dove, a snake, and six other animals. Given the visual description of animal images in Romans 1:23, this mosaic supports the possibility that Paul was attempting to draw a specific association between Cybele worship and his condemnations in Romans 1.

September 6, 2006 at 5:33 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Mark,

Welcome. I have a friend who also used to struggle with homosexual desires, but is now quite happily married to a woman. He clearly is not a homosexual, and he, like you, attributes his former homosexual desires to childhood deficiency. He also believes that homosexuality is culturally formed.

However, I'm with Bill on this one. There are plenty of so-called homosexuals who had perfectly normal, even pleasant childhoods. It's a mistake to attribute something as broad as "homosexuality" to one source, or even to one range of sources. There are a lot of people who were sexually abused as children who did not turn out to be homosexual.

But don't quit struggling just yet. I appreciate your post, and you are most welcome here.

Bill,

What is your source for all of this exegesis you're doing? You seem to be pulling the majority of what you're writing here straight out of a book or something. I'm just curious which book or something. Part of good scholarship is citing your sources, so your readers can now where your ideas are coming from.

...

September 6, 2006 at 6:29 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Thom,

Good to hear from you again. I’m glad you asked me about where I am getting my information from. I should tell you… I’ve never attended Bible College, nor do I have any theological training, other than what most Christians receive from attending Church services. I have, however, studied this subject of homosexuality in greater depth than what most people tend to examine the subject.

I have made it no secret that my finding are taken primarily from three sources, that I find articulate the ideas of pro-gay theology better than any other writings that I have encountered. I have encouraged, on a couple of occasions, that my blog site be viewed. On my site I have identified from where I have obtained certain information.

But to ensure that this information can be viewed for yourself, I will provide links below, so that you can examine these paper which provide bibliographies for all of the factual information that the writers of these papers use. I apologize if you feel that I have mislead you into believing that all of this information is my own. ( I’m not that smart ). Please examine these papers for yourself.

I thought that the ‘gunny ding’ site was unavailable, but apparently he was only down for reconstruction. He is up and running again now.

http://www.jeramyt.org/gay.html

http://www.jeramyt.org/papers/paulcybl.html

http://members.aol.com/gunnyding/christ.htm

http://www.godmademegay.com/

Thom, the past few posts have only posted on the ‘post a comment’ area, and not on the actual blog site. Is this normal?

September 6, 2006 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Bill,

Thanks for the history lesson, however that's all it was in my opinion. Paul is tough to interpret sometimes, even Peter said so, but how could so many scholars and Christian misinterpret something like this? To say that they all got it wrong is kind of odd. If I supposed that Mary Magdalene is representing the sacred feminine/ goddess, and cited a bunch of possibilities why, I'd be Dan Brown, and besides getting a lot of flack for such wild interpretation and reading into things that which simply is not present, I'd make millions. The Spirit's inspiration in Paul's writing has to be such that the whole of history cannot misinterpret it without the insight of http://www.jeramyt.org/gay.html,
http://www.jeramyt.org/papers/paulcybl.html, http://members.aol.com/gunnyding/christ.htm, and
http://www.godmademegay.com/. What you provided is nice supplemental background material, but not solid, concrete, factual evidence for saying Paul was speaking of those cults only. He addresses false teachers elsewhere in clarity. I appreciate your friendship here, and looked forward to reading your post on Rom. 1, but came away unconvinced of any point you tried to make. I am tired, but thinking clearly. Other than an interesting read, in my humble (and objective) opinion, it's not enough. Peace.

September 6, 2006 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Greg,

Two questions (one of which contains several):

1) You said, "The Spirit's inspiration in Paul's writing has to be such that the whole of history cannot misinterpret it without the insight of [blah, blah, blah]." What does this mean? What is "history" that it is an agent of interpretation? What do you mean "inspiration"? What constitutes "misinterpretation"? What if www.jeramyt.org is right and the so-called "whole of history" is wrong?

2) What is an "objective opinion"?

One comment:

You're a weisenheimer. You state that Bill's "history lesson" (a derisory remark) is unconvincing, but you don't tell us why. You make an easy yet ambiguous comparison between Bill and Dan Brown, and go to bed. Now, I'm not saying you don't have good reasons for being unconvinced, but you owe them to Bill, and to all those whom you might wish to convince to be unconvinced by Bill. Understandably, you're too tired tonight to give it much time. I hope you can find some soon.

That's my "point of view from nowhere." Peace.

...

September 6, 2006 at 10:54 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Greg, thanks for your thoughts. And to an extent, you are right. If this all I had to present concerning Romans 1, it would be nothing more than a 'history lesson' that supplies little evidence for my views on homosexuality. So I will post the second part of my findings on Romans 1.

Thom, remember back when discussing the Law, and the definitions of words. You commented, ‘How a dictionary defines a word today does not insure that is how a word was used four years ago, let alone four thousand years ago.’ I said I would be bringing that up again. I’m bringing it up now with the use of the word ‘Natural’, and how this word may possibly have been understood by Paul and some other early Church leaders.

Understanding the Word ‘Natural’ in the 1 Century;
http://www.jeramyt.org/gay.html


While Romans 1:18-32 is the primary text used from the New Testament by those people who condemn homosexuality, that has not always been the interpretation of this passage. For example, verse 26, which is the only verse in Scripture which is often interpreted today to refer to lesbian sexuality, is often used to round out the beliefs of those who condemn all homosexuality as sin, since all of the other alleged condemnations of homosexuality specifically refer to male-male behavior, linguistically excluding female-female behavior.

Looking back at early interpreters of this verse, while some have believed that this verse referred to lesbians (John Chrysostom), many key church leaders have not held this view, such as Clement of Alexandria and Saint Augustine, who believed this to be anal or oral sex between heterosexuals (Brooten, 1985; Miller, 1995). One early Christian writer, Anastasios, clearly dismisses the view that Paul was referring to lesbianism in his comments on Romans 1:26:

Clearly they (the females referred to in Romans 1:26) do not go into one another, but rather offer themselves to the men. (Brooten, 1996, p. 337n)

Augustine continues this line of thought (fairly explicitly):

But if one has relations even with one's wife in a part of the body which was not made for begetting children, such relations are against nature and indecent. In fact, the same apostle earlier said the same thing about women, "For their women exchanged natural relations for those which are against nature." (Marriage and Desire, 20.35)

The problem is that, in addition to the structural complexity of the passage, there is an uncertainty in the meaning of certain phrases in the text, primarily "exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones" (NIV, v. 26b). For example, this idea could (outside of the context of this passage) refer to sex with a barren or pregnant woman, sex with a menstruating woman, pederasty, sex between animals of different species, etc., since the person was exchanging the Judaic understanding of the purpose of sex, procreation, for behaviors which could not produce children (Brooten p. 247, 1996; Ward p. 271-273).

Linguistically Understanding Roman 1;

Romans 1:18-32 is a complex passage, and any quick reading of the English translations gives the clear impression that all forms of homosexuality are being condemned. However, the issue of whether or not homosexuality is sin should not rest on a quick reading of a translation. Digging into a passage, looking at patterns in and purposes of a passage as a whole is the only way that we can find out what any text is really about.

This is true of Romans 1. English translations lack a dynamic quality that is found in the original language, and obscures patterns that help us clarify the meaning and purpose of the text. The primary pattern in this passage is the usage of the phrases "they exchanged" (met/yllaxan; v. 23, 25, 26b) and "God gave them over" (paradwken; v. 24, 26a, 28), which enclose three parallel thoughts between verses 23-28. Parallelism, extremely common in the Hebraic and Greek literature, involves repeating a thought in a different way for emphasis (see Nils Lund Chiasmus in the New Testament, 1942; John Welch Chiasmus in Antiquity, 1981). Paul often used this common device of emphasis, and it is clear from the structure of this passage that Paul is using this technique to emphasize God's wrath against the sin of idolatry (see Douglas Moo, Romans 1-8, 1991).

He begins in verses 18-20 by showing the readers that there is some part of God's character ("His eternal power and divine nature" NIV) that can be seen in creation itself, apart from the special revelation found in Scripture. Thus, even Greeks are without excuse as far as to whom they should direct their worship. Moreover, we are told that these Greeks did actually know God from creation, however "they neither glorified Him as God, nor gave thanks to Him" NIV v. 21).

These Greeks, and Paul was specifically referring to all non-Jews (see v. 16 for Paul's breakdown of people-groups for this chapter: there are Jews, and then there is everybody else (hellyni), translated as Greeks in the NASB, and Gentiles in the NIV), were engaged in human philosophies (Stoicism, etc) and religions which sought to understand and worship creation apart from the Creator. Though they at one time knew God (v. 21), they eventually ended up in the position that they "did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God" (NIV, v. 28). Paul shows us in this chapter that this progression of not glorifying God as God to abandoning the concept of God leads to any number of sinful behaviors (murder, etc), as described in the last several verses of the chapter (1:29-31). Finally, we see that while somehow these Gentiles knew the laws of God, and knew that breaking these laws deserve death, they not only practiced these behaviors, but approved of others who did the same (v. 32).

That is the general outline of the chapter. The primary focus of the chapter is on Gentiles who stop worshipping God, and who "exchange / substitute" (met/yllaxan) the worship of God for the worship of idols. While one could easily postulate that the substitution here could be extended metaphorically to anything which takes our focus off of God (human philosophies, busy-ness, religiosity, etc.), Paul's language here seems to limit us specifically to explicit idol worship.

Both of the first two parallel passages (vs 23-24, 25-26a), which are clearly bounded by the repeated phrases "they exchanged" (met/yllaxan; this word refers to a substitution of one thing in place of another) and "God gave them over" (paradwken; this word refers to God allowing the natural course of events to occur from the behavior initiated by the Gentiles--God didn't "cause" them to have the "sinful desires" (v. 24), "shameful lusts" (v. 26a) or "depraved mind" (v. 28), but when the Gentiles abandoned God, paradwken implies that God stepped back and allowed the natural course of events to happen) very graphically describe idol worship as it would have been found in Greek and Roman cultic rituals of the time of Paul's writing.

Here is a full, exegetical breakdown of last half of Romans 1

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness,

19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

23 and ‘exchanged’ (yllaxan) the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore ‘God gave them over’ (paradwken) in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

25 They ‘exchanged’ (metyllaxan) the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, ‘God gave them over’ (paradwken) to shameful lusts. Even their women ‘exchanged’ (metyllaxan) natural relations for unnatural ones.

27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, ‘God gave them over’ (paradwken) to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,

30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;

31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

The third parallel part is similarly bounded with the Greek words metyllaxan and paradwken, but does not quite follow the pattern of the first two parts. As in the first two parts, we see that God has given them over to wicked behavior (v. 28). However, in both of the first two parts we see that what they exchanged were clearly idolatrous behaviors, while in the third part, we see sexual behaviors being exchanged / substituted.

This is the primary difficulty with this text. If one allows that the things being exchanged in vs. 23 and 25 are metaphors for anything which draws us away from God, then one can easily say that the sexual behaviors described in vs 26b-27 describe general homosexual behavior. However, it seems like a poor handling of the texts to allow for such a metaphorical meaning, when the texts are so explicitly concrete in their descriptions of cultic idolatry ("images made to look like mortal man" and "worshipped and served created things"). In the same way, in order to preserve the symmetry of the parallel verses, one would be safest to conclude that the third parallel similarly refers to cultic idolatry. The fact that homosexual conduct is described in this regard makes sense when one realizes that homosexual temple prostitution was a common phenomenon of cultic idolatry rituals in the geographic location and time in which Paul was writing. Taking this interpretation of Romans 1:26b-27 preserves the symmetry inherent within the text.

The most likely cult that Paul was referring to was the Cybelean/Attic mystery cult, which was one of the most prominent cults in Rome, and had a history going back several hundred years in the region. The priests and priestesses, called galli, attempted to achieve gender neutrality in service to their god/dess. The goal was to transcend gender in order to become more like Attis (the father God, son/lover of Cybele) and Cybele (the mother goddess). Attis was castrated and Cybele was a virgin. Both were sexually active in the myth (many of Cybele's counterparts were known as a fertility goddess), but engaged in sexual acts that could not produce children. In order to become more like their gods, all galli voluntarily castrated themselves, and were involved in ritual sexuality with the worshippers that would come to the temple.

Here is a brief comparison of verses in Romans 1 with galli practices

v. 21-22: they claimed to be wise but are foolish The galli claimed to tell people's fortunes, but everybody thought they were mad, the way they danced around and cut themselves. The Greek texts talk about the "mania" of their rituals.

v. 23: they made images of man and animals to worship. The Cybele's temple statues were of Attis, Cybele (and others), who were always surrounded by other images of animals, particularly lions and snakes. In addition, the galli's temples were always filled with doves, because the galli thought they were too holy to touch, to shoo them away. The fact that all of these animals were normative in the Cybelean temples and Paul mention them by name, makes it highly likely that Paul was specifically referring to this cult in Romans 1.

v. 26-27: exchanging natural relations, etc. One of the primary ideas of the galli was to remove gender differences. This occurred through transvestitism, and physically cutting off one's genitals. Part of this was also assuming the sexual characteristics of the opposite gender, so the male galli would serve sexually "as women" to male worshippers in the temple. Women were known to cut off their breasts and have lesbian relationships to transcend their gender. Women had sex with men too, but in order to avoid pregnancy, again like Cybele, they would have anal sex, not vaginal (some early church fathers, like Clement and Augustine, indicate that the female behavior referred to in these verses is not female-female behavior, but female-male sexual behavior in a manner which disallowed pregnancy.

This seems to have been the view of the early church. Hippolytus, a Christian martyr and church leader in the early part of the 3rd century, ties the Cybelean rituals with the Romans passage. In Refutation of All Heresies, Book V, he describes both the Cybelean ("mother of the gods")/,Attis cults and the Naassenes, a Gnostic group.

‘But if the mother of the gods emasculate Attis, and herself has this person as an object of affection, the blessed nature of the supernatural and everlasting alone recalls the male power of the soul to itself. For (the Naassene) says, there is the hermaphrodite man. According to this account of theirs, the intercourse of woman with man is demonstrated, in conformity with such teaching, to be exceedingly wicked and filthy. For, says the Naassene, Attis has emasculated himself and has passed over from the earthly parts of the nether world to the everlasting substance above, where there is neither female or male, but a new creature, a new man, which is hermaphrodite.’ [at which point Hippolytus quotes Romans 1.20-23 as an introduction, then skips directly to 1.26-27, poignantly emphasizing Paul's purpose in this passage of Scripture].

Some people argue against the interpretation of three parallel accounts of idolatry, saying that only the first two clauses represent parallels on idolatry. They say that it appears that Paul turns his line of reasoning away from simple idolatry to all sinful behavior, and that the homosexuality described in vs. 26-27 represent an archetype of sin--that the Jewish and Roman readers of the book would think of homosexuality and would picture some of the worst type of sin possible. The argument continues by stating that Paul finishes his thought in vs. 29-31 to list a larger list of sins (which was common in Paul and other early church writers--to use 'sin lists'), of which homosexuality is merely the first of the list, separated by v. 28, a description of what God has to do when confronted with unrepentant sinners. Interpreted this way, the third clause, vs. 26b-28, does not represent simply an issue of idolatry, but represents all sins, and thus homosexuality cannot be interpreted as limited to cultic homosexual prostitution.

However, the grammar of the passage prevents that interpretation, for two reasons, both described in Chamberlain's classic textbook, An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New Testament(1941/1987). First, 'kai kaQws', found in v. 28 (translated as 'since' in the NIV; see also Kasemann, Commentary on Romans, 1980; Fitzmeyer, Romans, 1993) separates the previous discussion from the discussion which follows it, making the homosexual behavior listed in vs. 26b-28 as part of a different clause than the sin list in vs. 29-32. Chamberlain explains, saying that ‘kaQws’ here takes a causal meaning:

“Sometimes, it seems to shade off into the causal idea [quotes Rom 1:28 in Greek], 'because they did not approve having God in (their) knowledge God gave them up to a reprobate mind,'“

Second, Chamberlain discusses the verb translated as 'to do' in v. 28:

“When it explains a verb, it is called the epexegetical infinitive: 'poiein' (Rom 1.28), 'to do' (the things that are unseemly), explains what Paul means by ‘paradwken autous o Qeos eis adokimon vouv‘, 'God gave them up to a reprobate mind.' The list of unseemly acts follows.”

This gives the following paraphrased rendering of v. 28:

‘And because of the fact that (kai kaQws) they stopped believing in God, God gave them over paradwken to a worthless mind, to do (poiein) evil things, as listed in the following verses.”

Thus, the acts listed in vs. 26b-27 (which are the cultic homosexual prostitution acts) are part of the ultimate cause of God giving them over, not the result of God giving them over. This makes them clearly separate from the acts listed in v. 29-31, which are the result of God having given them over, and clearly not the cause. Having grammatically separated what is cause and what is result in this passage, it is easy to see that the homosexual acts must be separate entities from the sin-list and therefore were intended to be interpreted in the context of the three-clause, metyllaxan / paradwken system, and not as part of the sin-list.

This gives us the following outline of the passage from v. 23-31:

Outline vs. 23a-24,vs. 25-26a,vs. 26b-31.

They exchanged (met/yllaxan)God's glory (23a), God's truth for a lie (25a), natural relations for unnatural (26b).

This led them to do the following make images of animals and men to worship (23b), worship created things (25b), stop believing in God (28a).

Which led God to give them over to(paradwken)sinful desires / sexual impurity/degrading their bodies (24), shameful lusts (26a), a depraved mind, to do evil things (28b-31).

The only way to make this text refer to all homosexual behavior as opposed to merely cultic temple prostitution is to either rip it from its context, or to take a liberal interpretation of the text and make the three parallels metaphorical instead of literal. This is especially clear when one looks closer at the structure of the third parallel, and compares that to the other two parallels.

It might be noted that close analysis of the structure is an appropriate technique to use with Paul. Paul was not ignorant of the rhetoric of the day, nor was Paul careless with his words. Paul was a master craftsman when it came to language, and all of his letters show a great attention to detail and structure. At any rate, within the first two parallels, we see that God gave them over to evil behaviors because of certain actions they took ("exchanging the glory of God for images", and then worshipping and serving created things rather than the creator). God does not necessarily give them over because of what they have exchanged, but because of the actions taken because of the exchanges (in the second parallel, they have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, but the resulting action is that they "worshipped and served created things"). In the third parallel, they exchange natural relations (phusikyn chrysin) for those which are against nature (para phusin) as described in verses 26b-27.

However, it was not those exchanges which led to God giving them over. Those exchanges resulted in verse 28, "they did not think it worthwhile to retain a knowledge of God" (NIV), which is what caused God to give them over. It was not the sexual behavior which caused God give them over, but their abandoning their belief in God which caused Him to give them over. The sexual behavior was a key part of the process of them rejecting belief in God, just as making idols, and worshipping / serving idols was a key part of the process in verses 23-26a.

September 7, 2006 at 1:14 AM  
Blogger Caleb Kaltenbach said...

Bill,

I am still here... just very busy. I will post some thoughts and comments on your NT references tonight... especially on the Greek words.

Caleb

September 7, 2006 at 9:50 AM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Bill,

I too want to comment about your second NT post, which I must admit was better constructed. I like Caleb am super busy right now. No time for play, less time for heavy exegesis outside of the normal work load. I wish I could devote more time and effort, but I'll have to see what I can do.

I appreciate your time here, and your testimony of your childhood upbringing. I too had heard that a high percentage of gays had childhood problems, etc. We cannot say that is true for all, for sure.

September 7, 2006 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Bill,

I never meant to come across derisive TOWARDS you or anyone.

Thom,

Upon evaluating all of my comments, I don't think you can conclude that I'm a "wisenheimer" or derisive. While I probably was too tired to post anything that night, my point was one of hyperbole-- The Dan Brown comparison, case in point. Just as you can read into my comments in earlier posts and come up with way off base conclusions we can do that scripture interpretation. Where some speculation is needed reading too much into things is called eisegesis.

All,
I've made it a point not to research outside material and just mull over these things in my own thinking, until this point. It is obvious that Bill is well quipped in his thinking on the issue, and can cite others that hold to his view. (Augustine cannot be a proponent, I suppose he is working out some acquired guilt from his days with prostitutes).

As stated, I have been too busy to do a lot of research. But today I did a quick search, and reaffirmed some conclusions I was making in my own thinking. Whereas I never would claim to hold the perfect/ inerrant interpretation on everything, (Who can but God?), I can be sure of my salvation, my sinfulness, and other things like that. Even though past interpretations are helpful, the Bible as God's revelation should trump history, culture, and social/ political issues, and certainly experience as a hermeneutical aid.

That said, on to the discussion at hand. Borrowing other's material is acceptable on this blog, and who has any original ideas anyway? If something is truly original, probably should be discarded. I'll cite just one source who in turn has cited in his books and studies many others, and has had the time to devote himself to defending the traditional/ orthodox/ whatever you want to label it view. He deals with all the issues we've touched on here and some we have not (Creation, Natural vs Unnatural, Slavery comparison, Law, Sodom and Gomorrah- angel flesh, Paul- temple prostitution even, Jesus, etc.). Robert A. J. Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, has already been mentioned on this blog. (Thanks, Thom. I had to check back on previous posts to see that. You're a step ahead of me on this one.) I found his site to be very informative and scholarly. While one can never agree with everything another person thinks or presents, I found myself on track with his views as he refutes differing ideas. The articles I selected to read and/or skim over all the others were the following:
http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoRogersResp2.pdf- deals with temple prostitution and 15 reasons I think, against that interpretation.
http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoKrehbielResponse.pdf- slavery comparison
http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoJourneyTogetherCritique.pdf- a longer piece with nuggets of insight, helpful table of contents.
http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/homoNeilElliottResponse.pdf- response to an alternative view of Rom. 1 in relation to emperors of Rome.
I’m still exploring some more of this stuff. Many of you have probably already checked out some of this material as well as Joe Dallas’ material. (By the way, how can someone like Mr. Dallas be called close-minded with his experience?) These men want to be bold in their beliefs, but certainly not offensive in any way. The church faces a challenge at the present time, and in the future as history’s stance and the biblical stance on the issue are called into question.

Let’s not be naïve about how objectivity is at best attempted, but never fully attained. We all have presuppositions that we bring to the table of objectivity. And it will take more than a “30 days” episode or a host of blogs to have everybody come to a consensus. We won’t ever. But we can live with, as one of our catch phrases says, unity in what is essential, liberty in non-essentials, and in all things charity or love. Let’s struggle to understand what this means and entails, but always err on the side of love.

September 7, 2006 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Greg,

Good post. Now can you present some of Mr. Gagnon’s thoughts on these scriptures that condemn homosexuality, and counter the ideas that I have presented from Jeramy Townsley, Bruce Lowe or the writer of the papers known to me only as ‘gunny ding’. Or even my own ideas concerning the definition of words in the Old Testament Law.

I’ve read many papers that condemn homosexuality. Mostly the views that are presented when reading these papers are as follows;

1). The evils that would befall American if the ‘sinful lifestyle’ of homosexuals are accepted.

2). Homosexuality is immoral and sinful… followed by verses that condemn sin and immorality. These verses are supported by the specific scriptures that refer to homosexuality. ( Usually it is just a quick reading of these scriptures, ex. Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13, Romans 1:26-27 or Jude 1:7. This type of presentation is done without considering the context of those particualar scriptures. )

3). Discrediting and disassembling the points of pro-gay theology. Mr. Joe Dallas was especially effective with this method, with his comments as I presented them earlier in this blog. ’ Matt. 11:28. Mr. Dallas states, ‘The verse is clear in its meaning that Jesus invites the weary to come to him for rest.' Mr. Dallas proceeds to explain that if you do an extensive word search in the Greek language, you could understand this scripture as 'Jesus was really inviting pregnant women to stay at his maternity ward in Nazareth.' And then he follows with, 'And that is the power of pro-gay theology.''

Now I ask you, after seeing what I have presented in this blog as ‘pro-gay theology’, is that a fair statement? To understand scripture in its original language and correct context is the power of ‘pro-gay theology’.

I admit I would probably be more convinced by traditional views on homosexuality if I could see some actual evidence to support its cause, such as;

1). The Sodom story undoubtedly condemns homosexuality in general because…..here are supporting scriptures that states that it does.

2). The Old Testament Law’s condemnations on homosexuality encompasses all forms of homosexuality because lesbianism is addressed in this particular way. And its relationship to ritual concerns are unfounded because…,( followed by some sort of convincing, compelling evidence ).

3). 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 are referring to all forms of homosexuality because…the words ’arsenokoites’ and ’malakos’ do in fact mean homosexuality in general and here is the historical, linguistic, or cultural evidence.

4). Jude 1:7 is actually not relating the Sodom story to the Sodomites desire to have ’sex with angels’ as its sin, as is suggested by the context of the passage. And it is indeed referring to homosexuality because…,( presentation of supporting evidence ).

5). Romans 1: 26-27 is without a doubt a condemnation on all forms of homosexuality, despite its contextual, historical and linguistic evidence that suggests that cultic sexual acts ( homo and hetero ) are Paul’s purpose for these writing to the Romans. Romans 1:26-27 indeed does condemn all homosexual acts and this is why…, ( presentation of supporting evidence ).

Discrediting one’s views, or understanding of scripture is certainly one valid way of countering with your own views. But if the ’tradition hermeneutic on homosexuality’ is so certain of the correctness of its interpretation, surely someone could demonstrate the type of evidence that I refer to above.

Greg, you stated in your last post, ’the Bible as God's revelation should trump history, culture, and social/ political issues, and certainly experience as a hermeneutical aid.’ I’m in complete agreement with that statement. Although history, culture, social/political and personal experience can be useful aids in understanding scripture, the Bible as God’s revelation should be our final criteria as a guide for our lives.

I beleive that Bible Colleges, dedicated to the study of God's Holy word, use the sciences in their attemps to teach their hermetical understanding of the Bible. ( History, Culture, Language ).

I hear preachers and teachers frequently use the sciences to prove their points concerning an understanding of scripture. You, being a preacher have probably done the same thing yourself. Have you ever felt the need to explain ‘Love’ as understood by the Greeks. How many words for love do they have? How is each of those words distinguished from the other? Our English translation of the Bible does not reveal that information to us. It is the science of ‘Linguistics’ that causes us to understand that concept better. So science is not the enemy, it is simply an aid in understanding the Scriptures.

So if Mr. Gagnon has any information that would be relevant to this conversation, concerning an hermetical understanding of these scripture referring to homosexuality, I would love to hear it, if you would like to present it.

I’ll post my third presentation on Romans in the Morning.

Bill

September 8, 2006 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Caleb has suggested that we first look at the Bible through Jewish lenses, so here is somewhat of a perspective that Paul ( a Jewish man ) may have had when writing Romans.

Para Phusin and Natural Theology:

At this point, it may be instructive to look at the phrase para phusin ("against nature"). In the cultural backdrop of Judaism, the primary reason for sex was procreation. Any sexual acts which did not work to fulfill this goal was para phusin. This is seen in other writings of the era, such as Philo, Josephus and Plato. Philo, speaking as a Jewish writer contemporary with Paul, specifically "condemns men who knowingly marry barren women . . . thereby destroying their seeds. . . . These men are like pigs or goats, and are thus antagonists of God and enemies of nature".

Similarly, regarding pederasty, Philo says that the active partner (the dominant, "insertive" male) is para phusin because he "does not procreate". Clement of Alexandria, speaking from an early Christian perspective, similarly makes the claim that in order for sex to be in accordance with nature, procreation should be the result.

Linguistically, there is no specific reason why verse 26 of Romans 1, could not refer to men having non-vaginal sex with women, however, the context seems somewhat prohibitive of that interpretation (specifically, the usage of the word "similarly"/"homoiws" in verse 27) unless one takes into consideration the references to Clement and Augustine, as mentioned previously. Regardless, the usage of para phusin is another difficult part of this passage, not only because it does not clarify the nature of the relationships that "their (the male Gentiles') women" exchanged, but it also classes Paul's entire argument into a very debated area, namely that of "natural theology."

As discussed elsewhere in this paper, Paul's usage of natural theology is not very helpful to us as we attempt to apply New Testament rules to Western society. In ancient Greece and Judaism, since women were little more than property, there were strict sex-roles that had to be maintained. Any show of dominance of a woman, or passivity of a man was an "exchange" that was "against nature."

Take, for example, Paul's clear command in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 that women must be silent and in submission to their men, which Paul relates back to the creation account with Adam and Eve (the created "natural order"). Then in 1 Corinthians 11:3-17 Paul makes a similar case, this time claiming that "the very nature (phusis) of things" (NIV, v. 14) should make it evident to us that men must have short hair, and that women must have long hair. However, this is neither evident to those in most cultures today, nor is it currently practiced among Christians.

The reason for this dismissal of Paul's commands isn't a rejection of the Gospel, but an acceptance that the cultural dogmas of Paul's time which subordinated women as property are no longer in effect today, and it would be inappropriate for us to tie the Gospel to such ideologies. So Paul's argument "from nature," rather than universalizing his case to all places and all times, seems to do the opposite, and limits the consequences of issues tied to natural theology to Paul's own time and culture.

Similarly with the homosexual descriptions in Romans 1:26-27, even if the behaviors mentioned there didn't already seem to be limited to cultic temple prostitution by the context of the triple parallelism, Paul's linking the behavior to natural theology seems to further limit it, and calls into question its relevance for today's culture.

Moreover, not only does Paul tie the sexual behavior described here to his natural theology, but he also ties it to the word exekauthysan, which describes the men as "inflamed with lust" (NIV). This word, which literally means "utterly consumed by fire" (Hultgren), describes a behavior which has nothing to do with a normal, monogamous relationship. This kind of lust is one that grows to control all of one's thoughts and is insatiable. This is not the kind of simple longings and drives described earlier in the passage ("sinful desires"/"epithumiais", "sexual impurity"/"akatharsian", v. 24; "shameful lusts"/"pathy atimias", v. 26, NIV), but describe an all consuming force which takes control and destroys.

While this type of phenomenon can admittedly be found in some homosexual relationships, it is by no means limited to homosexual relationships, and it is certainly not typical of homosexual relationships (despite what some tenets of the media would like us to believe). So this is a further exclusion of this passage from referring to all homosexual relationships.

There are several reasons that should lead us to believe that this passage is not condemning all homosexual behavior, but is only condemning temple prostitution / idol worship.

First, when looking at the structure of the passage, it seems clear, from a conservative interpretation, that the sin in verses 26b-27 must be somehow related to some concrete form of idolatry, not an abstract concept that describes all homosexual behavior. Rather, the concrete form of idolatry that fits in with the structure of the parallelism, yet also conforms to the homosexual content of the passage, seems to clearly indicate that Paul's intent was to solely condemn homosexual cultic temple prostitution.

Second, even without trying to conform to the parallelism, one can see that the primary issue of Romans 1 is that idolatry leads to abandoning the belief in God.

The third parallel shows that whatever kind of sexual behavior is referred to, it causes them to stop believing in God (vs 26b-28). However, there is a huge population of gays and lesbians who believe in God. I personally know of such people, ( Jason Mccheyne, John Rumple, even Bill Cottle. And there are likely many, many more. ) These are not people who claim to believe in God, but live lives of promiscuity, etc. These are people who are either celibate gays (looking for a monogamous, long-term relationship), or are in monogamous, long-term homosexual relationships, but who also have strong beliefs in and love for the God of the Bible, and who have a strong commitment to obeying the teaching of Scripture.

In the absence of such persons, it would be much easier to accept that Romans 1:18-32 claims that all homosexuality is sin, because it would then be obvious that since no homosexuals believed in God, therefore verses 26-27 refer to all homosexual behavior. However, since there are many gay / lesbian Christians (Evangelical/Catholic/Pentecostal, Christian/Church of Christ etc.) who have a strong belief in God, then it becomes obvious that verses 26-28 cannot refer to all homosexual behavior, otherwise Scripture would be in error.

The final two reasons why we should believe this passage is not referring to all homosexual behavior, especially behavior that can be applied to today's culture, is the fact that Paul ties the homosexual behavior to natural theology, which, in other cases of Paul's teachings, seems to limit those doctrines to Paul's own culture, and to the fact that Paul further limits the behavior described in these verses to behavior characterized by an all-consuming, destructive passion, exekauthys

Summary of Evidence:

Finally, after the positive evidence given above, it should be pointed out, some negative evidence.

First, Jesus never mentions homosexuality. Of all the things Jesus talked about, including sexual mores, if it were an important issue to Him, I would think the writer of at least one of the four Gospels would have written it down.

Second, the New Testament seems to be rather sloppy in its condemnation of homosexuality if it is in fact being condemned, given that the only words it uses are open to broad interpretation ("soft", "child molester", and idolatrous, lust-related sex acts), rather than existing Greek words that clearly refer to homosexuality, such as arrenomanes or erastes. Further, the I Cor 6:9 usage of the juxtaposed terms arsenokoitai and malakos has been seen by some commentators as a prohibition of both active and passive roles in the homosexual act.

This usage is inappropriate, however, because neither term has such a connotation for this usage in any other Greek source. Moreover, there were already specific juxtapositions used to refer to these two roles of homosexuality, namely drwntes and paschontes, or paiderastai and paidika. Thus the argument that Paul created these terms for lack of better terms has no linguistic support.

To summarize the above evidence, there are three primary reasons why I have become convinced that homosexuality is not sin.

First, the ‘linguistic’ and ‘cultural’ evidence, allows me to accept the proposition that homosexuality is not condemned in Scripture from an intellectual perspective. Each of the relevant Scriptural passages that allegedly condemn homosexuality are found to be not referring to homosexuality at all, are found in a context which makes them irrelevant to loving, committed homosexual relationships, or are simply mistranslations.

Second, if God wanted to condemn all homosexuality, God blatantly failed to do so for the first 4000 years of history considering that there is not the slightest hint of condemnation for lesbianism, only for male homosexuality, even though lesbianism existed at the time of the writing of the Old Testament, and that in verses contiguous with the prohibitions on male homosexuality, there are specific female sexual behaviors that are similarly prohibited (which counters the argument that the OT ignores female morality, and thus would not address lesbianism).

The obvious conclusion ( for me ) from this, is that God's intent was not to condemn all homosexuality, only a form of male homosexuality that either makes those individuals ritualistically unclean or were active forms of pagan idolatry. It makes no sense for God, who in the New Testament shows us the inadequacy of the Old Testament Law, to add new Laws on top of the old Laws by suddenly including lesbianism in the list of prohibited behaviors, as is alleged to be the case in Romans 1.

Finally, Jesus makes it exceedingly clear that all of the Law and the Prophets are summarized in two commands: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22:36-40). Neither of these two commands are violated by homosexual marriages, anymore than they are in heterosexual marriages. Homosexual Christians are no less apt to engage in behaviors which clearly exhibit the characteristics of these two commands, or of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) than are heterosexual Christians.

Therefore, I find no Scriptural or phenomenological evidence for the traditional Evangelical allegation that homosexuality is sin.

It is based on the brief presentation of the summary evidence above that I have concluded that homosexuality is not sin. We are told that "love comes from God" (1 John 4.7). If this is true, and the love between a man and a woman in a long-term, committed relationship is truly love (which we can assume that logically flows from God), then why would not the love between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman in a similar relationship not also be from God? I contend that it is from God, and that God blesses homosexual relationships as God does heterosexual relationships.

September 9, 2006 at 6:05 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Again, to confirm the information above, see http://www.jeramyt.org/gay.html for a list of references and bibliographies.

September 9, 2006 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

I have said that I would share some things with you about David and Jonathan. I’m going to do that now, but first I want to briefly go back to quick discussion of Genesis and the Creation story.

I had suggested that we leave Genesis on the back burner for the following reason. ‘The Genesis story actually says nothing about homosexuality. To make any connection between homosexuality and The Creation Story is to simply create your own interpretation about those passages. And you would have to bring into consideration other supporting scriptures to back up your interpretation. Those that support the interpretation that the Creation Story privileges a heterosexual view of the relations between humankind would probably cite scripture such as Lev. 18:22, Lev. 20:13, Romans 1 26-27, 1 Corn. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10.’

The use of these scriptures to support the traditional Church hermeneutic on homosexuality is at best, questionable.

I have had people suggest to me that because of the ‘fit’ of the male/female bodies, this also proves that creations itself testifies to the naturalness of heterosexuality, and the unnaturalness of homosexuality. I ask you now to consider the following.

From a Biological Perspective. ( Please pardon the graphic nature of this information. )


A). The Penis.( Several purposes )
1). Procreation- Depositing sperm.
2). Pleasure- Has nerves associated with pleasure. ( Pudendal Nerve ).
3). Excrement of Waste.

B). The Vagina. ( Several purposes )
1). Procreation.
2). Pleasure- ( Innervation by the Pudendal Nerve. ) While Vaginal penetration is important to many woman, current research on the female orgasm is turning away from penetration as the primary stimulant for sexual arousal, and toward satisfaction to the Clitoris, laying on the surface of the Vagina, therefore not requiring penetration.
3). Excrement of Waste.

C). The Ano-Rectal Area. ( Several purposes )
1). It may or may not be merely coincidence that this area is the appropriate size and expandability to accommodate a penis, ( similar to the Vagina ). Medical evidence shows that Ano-Rectal sex does not produce muscle or pathological tissue damage to the area.
2). Pleasure- Just inside the Rectal Canal is the Prostate Gland. Stimulation of this gland heightens the sexual experience due to its being innervated with the Pudendal Nerve, ( the same nerve that innervates the Penis ). Stimulation of the Ano-Rectal area and the Prostate Gland can alone produce orgasm in the male.
3). Excrement of Waste.

D). Oral & Anal Sex.
Many people who oppose the various forms of gay sex, based on biological issues, fail to address similar types of sexuality between heterosexuals, ( married couples also ). The question then becomes why issues of nature and biology can be used to condemn homosexuality based on anatomical issues, while not subsequently limiting heterosexual sex to Penile-Vaginal sex.

This is just something for you to think about. Now, on with David and Jonathan.

http://www.jeramyt.org/gay.html#Add4

David and Jonathan;

There have been several attempts to point to alleged homosexual couples in the Bible, primarily Ruth and Naomi, Daniel and Ashpenaz, and David and Jonathan. More recently, there have been a proposal that there was a gay relationship between the Centurion and his servant who requested to be healed by Jesus.

The arguments regarding Ruth/Naomi and Daniel/Ashpenaz are far from compelling for me. The arguments regarding David and Jonathan, however, while not quite compelling, leave open the strong possibility that they were involved in an homosexual marriage. Starting from the crux of the argument at 1 Samuel 18:21, Saul tells David, that by marrying Saul's daughter Michal, David will be his son-in-law for the second time (Hebrew: "bstym ttctn by hynm"). The actual translation of this phrase is somewhat controversial, being literally translated "You will become my son-in-law through two." In this instance, the correct interpretation of this verse is crucial, because it radically shapes our view of David and Jonathan's relationship, since Scripture only indicates that David had any kind of relationship with two of Saul's children: Jonathan and Michal.

Some translations interpret this verse as meaning that Saul "said for the second time," or that David has a "second opportunity" to become Saul's son-in-law. These interpretations, however, are strained, and the Hebrew does not easily lend itself to mean either of these. Most standard translations clearly interpret the verse to mean that David will become Saul's son-in-law for the second time (NIV being the primary exception, and the RSV is ambiguous):

ASV: Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law a second time.
RSV: Therefore Saul said to David a second time, "You shall now be my son-in-law."
BBE: So Saul said to David, Today you are to become my son-in-law for the second time.
DBY: And Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law a second time.
YLT: Saul saith unto David, `By the second -- thou dost become my son-in-law to-day.'
NAS: Therefore Saul said to David, "For a second time you may be my son-in-law today."



The question then becomes what Saul actually meant if he is telling David that he will become his son-in-law for the second time. The first offer Saul made to David for a wife was Merab, but she married Adriel of Meholah instead (18:19). The only other documented covenant made between Saul's family and David was between David and Jonathan in 18:3, which is not a covenant of business or politics, but of friendship/love ("ahbh").

Moreover, this relationship is described in very strong emotive language, starting in 18:1. Prior to looking at this more closely, an understanding of the story up to this point is helpful. In chapter 17, we find David's older brothers going to war against the Philistines while David stays at home. David is then sent to take food to his brothers, following which is the classic David and Goliath story. As David goes back to Saul after killing Goliath, we see that David is totally unknown to King Saul (17:58). However, as David talks to King Saul, Jonathan falls in love with David, after having never met him, or talked to him (which has a vague sound of "love at first sight" in our culture).

1 Samuel 18:1-4 (NIV) 1- After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2- From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house. 3- And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4- Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.


While there is no similarity between the Hebrew phrases in 1 Samuel 18:1-2 above and in Genesis 2:24, there is a striking similarity in concepts between the son leaving the parents to join to a spouse, and the two becoming one:

Genesis 2:24 (NIV) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.


When we put together chapter 18, from the beginning, with Jonathan's strong emotional affection towards David and their subsequent covenant, to the end, where we see Saul referring to David being his son-in-law a second time with his marriage to Michal, we see the very strong possibility that David and Jonathan were joined in a covenant that Saul recognized as a marriage. This line of reasoning, while persuasive to me, it is not conclusive.

First, I don't know that we have any other extant Hebrew literature of that era that refers to a gay marriage, which would lead one to question whether or not Saul would have seen David and Jonathan's covenant as one of legal marriage. If not, then the only possibility for Saul's language in 18:21 is that he was referring to David's second son-in-law status as coming from the original promise by Saul to give Merab to him (18:17), even though Merab married another man.

A second possible criticism is that this argument is made from conjecture, that no specific reference is made to marriage (ynh, yqch) or sexual activity. This, however, is not a valid criticism. The words referring to marriage in the Old Testament are typically in the context of being "taken" or "given" (yqch) as property (byvlh) or protector/provider (ybm), since women had no rights in Hebrew culture, and were considered property to be given/sold. This aspect of marriage would not have been applicable to David and Jonathan's relationship. The other primary word translated as marry is actually the exact same word as "woman" (ishh), which obviously isn't applicable in this case.

As for the lack of specific reference to sexual activity which would definitively signify marriage, very few Old Testament relationships which are clearly marriage relationships have subsequent descriptions of sexual activity, therefore it is improbable that such a characterization would be applied here either. However, 2 Samuel 1:26 may even be a reference to sexual activity between David and Jonathan. After Jonathan has been killed, David mourns his death, and says the following (NIV):

26- I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.


In Hebrew culture, similar to many mid-eastern cultures today, men and women did not engage in platonic relationships. They were either married, or they had no relationship. In this case, David compares his relationship with Jonathan to the relationship with a woman, strongly indicating a marriage/sexual relationship. Further, the word used for love here (ahbh; used also in 1 Samuel 18:3 and 1 Samuel 20:17 referring for Jonathan's love for David) is the same word used in Genesis 29:20 for Jacob's love for Rachel, and is used repeatedly in Song of Songs. It is typically translated as love in the context of a marriage or sexual desire (Proverbs 5:19, etc.; see Strong's concordance #0160).

After this analysis we are left with two questions. First, could Saul have legally seen David and Jonathan's covenant as marriage, to the extent that he would call David a son-in-law. Second, is the intensity of the language referring to Jonathan's love and covenant with David, and David's reference to his love for Jonathan, enough to sustain the belief that they were engaged in a marriage covenant? Neither of these questions can be answered definitively.

Whether or not Saul would have legally condoned this relationship can only be answered with further research into the marriage documents from that time. However, the conceptual parallel of marriage between 1 Samuel 18:1-2 and Genesis 2:24, the intensity and type of language used in 1 Samuel 18:1-4 and subsequent covenant between Jonathan and David, and David's comparison of his love to that of women certainly leads me to the conclusion that their relationship could have been one of marriage.

http://members.aol.com/gunnyding/relationships/relationships.htm

David and Jonathan had wives (as was customary then - and is now). David was described as being ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features (1 Sam 16:12 and 1 Sam 17:42) so apparently he was quite good-looking. When Jonathan first saw David he was immediately drawn to him.

"When he [David] had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him away that day, and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Then Jonathan stripped himself of his robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his sword, and even his armor and bow and girdle.” {Sam 18:1-4}

In this passage it speaks of an "immediate bond of love", their souls being "in unison," their souls being "knit". In Genesis 2:7, as written in the original Hebrew, it describes how God blew the breath of life into the body of Adam whom God had formed from earth, so that Adam became a living soul. The description in the book Genesis of "soul", represents a combination of the body and the spirit. Using the same verbiage in the book of Genesis as in the above passage from 1 Samuel suggests that the two men appear to have loved each other both in body and in spirit (physically and spiritually).

Clothes were such at that time that people did not wear underwear. In removing his robe Jonathan would have stripped himself naked in front of David. That would be considered extremely unusual behavior then (and quite possibly now), which may be another indication that their relationship was more than friendship and quite possibly physical.

It also seems as though it was love at first sight between David and Jonathan. They professed their love several places in the scriptures. 1 Sam 20:3 " David replied (to Jonathan) Your father knows full well that I have found favor in your eyes." and Jonathan continued "Whatever you say, I will do for you."

David was right , Saul (Jonathan's father) did not let this go unnoticed. He confronted Jonathan about his love for David "Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness. For as long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth neither you nor your kingdom shall be established." {1 Samuel 20:30-31}

It is interesting that Saul blamed David's mother for his love of Jonathan. So many times today when men acknowledge their sexuality, their fathers blame their mothers for making them a "mama's boy", it seems that Saul is using the same tactic.

At this point, Saul began to plot the death of David, and Jonathan discovered his father's evil plan and went to warn David and convince David to escape. They met to say good-bye to one another {Sam 20:41} "David rose from behind the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times; and they kissed one another and wept with one another until David recovered himself. "

Other translations have a different ending to the verse:

"...and they kissed one another and wept with one another, until David exceeded." (KJV)

"...and they kissed one another and wept with one another until David got control of himself." (Amplified Bible)

"and they sadly shook hands, tears running down their cheeks until David could weep no more." (Living Bible)

As can be seen, the translators of the Living Bible apparently could not handle the thought of two adult men kissing, so they simply said the two shook hands! This is less than honest. The original Hebrew text says that they kissed each other and wept together until David ‘became large‘; ( i.e. had an erection ). Again, the thoughts of David becoming sexually aroused after kissing Jonathan is too threatening for Bible translators, so they either ignored the ending entirely or created one of their own.

When Jonathan died, David wrote a lamentation {2 Sam 25-26} “Jonathan lies slain upon thy high places, I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me, your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women".

In the society of ancient Israel, as it is in much of the Middle East today, it was not considered proper for a man and woman to have a platonic relationship. Men and women rarely spoke to each other in public. A woman's role was to provide for the needs of her husband - sexually and for bearing children. Men and women did not sit around and chat about the day's politics as we may today in the United States. Thus, David's only relationship with women would have been sexual in nature, then he must be referring to sexual love here as he speaks of Jonathan. It would not make sense in this verse to compare platonic love for a man with sexual love for a woman; they are two completely different phenomenon.

September 10, 2006 at 6:25 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Hello, anybody there? Greg, you were right when you said that I seemed prepared to discuss the homosexual hermeneutic. ( But only since May or June, and only because I have spent some time considering it. ) So maybe I’m moving too fast for some of you. But I only have a few more things to post, and then I suppose I’ll be done. If you’re tired of me, this will be good news to you.

Greg, you are also the one who commented, ‘I think that if homosexuality (in any certain form) was acceptable in either the OT or NT, there would have more verses referring to it in a positive light or instruction on how to keep these relationships holy, etc.. It was for this reason that I showed you the example of ‘David and Jonathan’, as it quite possible could have been.

I remembered that the writer of the ’gunnyding’ paper had demonstrated something that I looked at and thought, ‘He very well could be right about this line of reasoning too.‘

I’ll just post some of his thoughts on this subject and you can… wrestle with these ideas, in addition to some of the things that I’ve shown you, and that I have come to accept as a very probable possibly.

http://members.aol.com/gunnyding/relationships/relationships.htm


Eunuchs:

At first glance, it does not seem to make an enormous amount of sense to discuss eunuchs in relation to homosexuality. In our current usage of the word, eunuchs are those people who are physically unable to father children due to castration. However, a more generic definition would be one who is physically unable to father children. In that context, homosexuals would qualify as eunuchs since their sexual activities can not produce children. Thus, many Biblical scholars believe that eunuchs serve as prototype for homosexuals in scripture.


In Matthew 19:12, Christ says "For there are eunuchs who have been born incapable of marriage, and there are eunuchs who have been made by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves incapable of marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let him who is able to accept this, accept it" (Amplified Bible).


Jesus acknowledges that there are some who are born incapable of marriage. This could mean that there are people who have such low sex drives that they simply are not interested in sexual relationships or marriage - we tend to think of them as the 'confirmed old bachelor'. It also could include, homosexuals who have no desire for a physical relationship with a member of the opposite sex and thus would be incapable of such a relationship.

To the people living during the time of the writing of the Bible it was simply assumed that all people would marry and have children. If one did not do so, it would be assumed that there was something wrong with him, i.e. he may be classified as a eunuch. Thus, it is possible that many people who were gay would have been seen as eunuchs. We do not know this for fact, but we do know that many men were made to be eunuchs by men in order to guard their harems and Paul spoke about those who chose celibacy in an effort to more fully serve God. These two cover the last two categories spoken of by Christ, so we are still left with the first category.

During Old Testament times, eunuchs were not allowed entry into the house of the Lord and were generally despised. Which is not too dissimilar from homosexuals today. Does the prohibition of eunuchs in Leviticus indicate the God never intended to bring eunuchs into his fold? No of course not, let's read from Isaiah 56 3-5
"let not the eunuch say 'Behold, I am dry tree' for thus says the Lord, 'To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who chose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters, I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.'".

Today there are many believing GLBT people who have been forbidden or at least discouraged from partaking in church services, but who still hold His Word sacred.
Also, Paul speaks of one eunuch in Acts 8: 26-39. The eunuch was a high ranking official of the queen of Ethiopia and he had come to Jerusalem to worship. He was on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza, returning home and reading the book of Isaiah. Philip had been commanded by an angel of the Lord to be on that road that day. Philip caught up with the man and preached the Word of God (despite the prohibition of allowing a eunuch to worship). As they neared the water Philip baptizes the eunuch (again quite a taboo) and is then whisked away by the Spirit of the Lord. Tradition has it that this eunuch introduced Christianity to Ethiopia.

We don't know if this eunuch was or was not homosexual. However, we do know that some of the eunuchs mentioned in scripture were undoubtedly those whose sexuality precluded a heterosexual relationship ("those born incapable of marriage") and Philip a messenger of God would have known this. He was not at all hesitant about sharing God's Word despite the church's rules against such behavior and he did not attempt to convert him from being a eunuch (i.e. ex-eunuch ministry like the ex-gay ministry). He simply shared the Word of God and His saving grace. It is there for all people, heterosexual, eunuch, or gay.

September 10, 2006 at 7:21 PM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Bill,

I'm still here. It's just the weekend, so busy, and my in-laws just flew into town. But I'm still here. I totally agree with you on this which you said: "It [the Word of God and His saving grace] is there for all people..."

Gagnon has a 3 hour lecture that encapsulates his message available at www.texascoalition.org/Tape1.mp3.

I still have 2 hours to go on that one. And if I expect Bill to listen to it, I need to at least read 'gunnyding.' So I'll be swamped as this is all extra curricular, and the in-laws are down visiting. I may be on the backburner a little.

September 10, 2006 at 11:19 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

http://www.catholic.com/library/Early_Teachings_on_Homosexuality.asp

Above is a link to a site that is intended to condemn homosexuality based on ‘Apostolic Tradition’ and the teachings of the early Church ’Fathers’. However, when I read what the ’Fathers’ have written concerning ’homosexuality’, I see something different than what this site intends to demonstrate.

‘The Didache‘ ( A.D. 70 )- The references to Pederasty, nor to Fornication relate to the type of homosexuality that I am referring to.

‘Justin Martyr‘ ( A.D. 151 )- He strongly indicated that he is speaking of Pederasty, Prostitution and Idolatry. Again, not the type of homosexuality that we are investigating.

‘Clement of Alexandria’ ( A.D. 190, 193 )- Once again, strong references to Idolatry, Pederasty and Adultery . Even his references to Sodom do not persuade me to believe that he is condemning adult, monogamous, loving homosexual relationships.

‘Tertullian’ ( A.D. 220 )- ‘All other frenzies of the lusts which exceed the laws of nature.’ Understanding that ‘frenzies of the lusts’ are probably referring to cultic practices, and also understanding the ‘laws of nature’, as being understood in New Testament times, ( para phusin, against nature ). The likelihood that Tertullian was speaking of certain pagan worship practices that would be understood as ‘para phusin’ is very probable. Taking into consideration that the Christian Church was still being established and growing, Tertullian may have discouraged any activities that could possibly link Christianity to Paganism, ( Ex. Homosexuality ) .

‘Novatian’ ( A.D. 250 )- Speaking mainly of ritual concerns, he draws a parallel between ritual condemnations and homosexuality in Leviticus. ( Not moral or social condemnations. ) When he speaks of ’men deformed into women’, this brings to mind the cultic practices of the ’Cybele / Attis ’ priests, ( Idolatry ).

‘Cyprian of Carthage’ ( A.D. 253 )- ‘Men are emasculated, and all the pride and vigor of their sex is effeminated in the disgrace of their enervated body.’ The references to ‘Jupiter’ and ‘…now breaking forth by the help of birds to violate the purity of boys.’ And also, ‘Men imitate the gods whom they adore, and to such miserable beings their crimes become their religion.’ Undoubtedly he is speaking of Idolatry and Pederasty.

‘Arnobius’ ( A.D.305 )- There should be no misunderstanding of his intentions here to condemn ‘sacred’ homosexual sex.

‘Eusebius of Caesarea’ ( A.D. 319 )- If you will remember, it was ‘Eusebius of Caesarea’ that agreed with ‘The Apostolic Constitutions’ that the prohibitions found in Leviticus 18-20 are ritual in nature. Here he seems to condemn ‘the union of women with women and men with men’ while citing Leviticus as a supporting scripture. I would question his reasoning here, using Leviticus as reference, since clearly Leviticus has no prohibitions against female/female sexual relationships as it does against male/male sexual relationships.

‘Basil the Great’ ( A.D. 367, 373 )- In speaking to ‘Monks’, and stating ’"If you [O, monk] are young in either body or mind,…’, it appears that the Church had established structure and a hierarchy. If I understand the term ‘monk’ correctly, are they not supposed to be celibate? If so, would they not be in a monastery with other monks? Perhaps this is more of a call to adhere to their vows, and avoid the temptations that some would probably have faced, rather than a firm prohibition against homosexuality.

‘St. Augustine‘ ( A.D. 400 )- It has also been noted that ‘St. Augustine’ said, 'But if one has relations even with one's wife in a part of the body which was not made for begetting children, such relations are against nature and indecent. In fact, the same apostle earlier said the same thing about women, "For their women exchanged natural relations for those which are against nature, Romans 1:26."' (Marriage and Desire, 20.35). If he is conveying in this statement found in ’Early Teachings on Homosexuality’, that he now condemned all homosexuality, on what is he basing his condemnation of lesbianism since Romans 1:26 is the passage primarily used to condemn lesbianism. St. Augustine's statements are conflicting and therefore it would be better to see further thoughts attributed to him to reconcile his ideas before we can seriously consider his views on homosexuality. ( This would also exclude his thoughts from my previous posts on Romans 1, and would satisfy Greg’s ideas about St. Augustine. He stated that ‘Augustine cannot be a proponent [to pro-gay theology]. I suppose he is working out some acquired guilt from his days with prostitutes.’

‘The Apostolic Constitutions’ ( A.D. 400 )- "[Christians] abhor all unlawful mixtures, and that which is practiced by some contrary to nature, as wicked and impious." This seems to be tied to ‘unlawful mixtures’ and ‘contrary to nature’. Quite possibly still relating this to the ‘Natural Theology’ of Paul, as demonstrated by Jeramy Townsley to be referring to Cultural Dogmas.

‘John Chrysostom’ (A.D. 390, 391 )- He certainly ties his views on homosexuality in these first three quotes to Idolatry and Pederasty. It's his statement, 'especially men' that begs me to question...why 'especially men'? Could you imagine the nature of God being expressed as, ‘I disapprove of homosexuality, but especially in men?’ It is not consistent with the reading of scripture as a whole. It appears as if John Chrysostom’s condemnation of all forms of homosexuality is based on, at least partially, his own preference and not entirely on the Word of God. This would cause me to question, on what... is he basing any of his views on homosexuality? We should rely on the scriptures as a guide, and the sciences as supporting evidence. This is theologically wise and provable, to the extent that scripture and history can be examined and proved. Personal preference should not dictate Church doctrine.

I would also note that the condemnations of homosexuality that are dated earlier in history, and closer to the time of Paul's writings, are primarily concerned with Idolatry, Prostitution, and Pederasty. As time passes, the condemnations seem to become more generalized. I would again wonder, as the cults that caused Paul to write the things that he did concerning homosexuality, passed into history and were forgotten, and as Christianity grew and became stronger, is it possible that Christians forgot about the purpose for those condemnations of homosexuality and just condemned homosexuality in general based on their personal preferences, ( being heterosexuals, and as such, in the majority )? And could it be possible that as the Church leaders, who lived farther and farther from Paul's time, were taught and passed on these teachings against homosexuality without anyone questioning the cultural context of Paul‘s writings?

Caleb has stated that ‘..and if we get into the realm of church history... every major father or reformer has taught that it [homosexuality] was a sin: Augustine, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley, Spurgeon, etc.’ Aside from Augustine, these others certainly lived many centuries after Paul. The sciences, during the times of these mentioned Church leaders, may not have been developed to the point that the cultures of Paul’s time could be examined to clarify correctly the scriptures concerning homosexuality. These Church leaders could possibly have had a misunderstanding of scripture, and then passed on that misunderstanding, without realizing that they were incorrect in condemning all forms of homosexuality.

The early Church leaders were influential in the Church, but not infallible. Thom, in this blog, has pointed out the following, ’Do you know what else Augustine, Tyndale, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Wesley, and Spurgeon taught? They taught that one of the ways Christians can express their love for their enemies is by killing them regretfully. Well, that's a caricature. They taught (some taught, some just believed) that when whatever state / kingdom you're in determines that it is necessary, love for enemy may be suspended and replaced with justifiable homicide for enemy.’

It has not been until fairly recently in Church history that this issue of the acceptance of monogamous, committed, loving homosexuality has been raised for consideration within the Church. We now have the sciences to better understand and interprete history and the scriptures more clearly. So I content that only now, at this point in history, can we see the error of these teachings concerning homosexuality, and correct those errors, just as with the issues of slavery / patriarchialism had their place in time and history for reevaluation and consideration. Monogamous, committed, loving homosexuality is now seeking vindication within the Church based on a clearer understanding of scripture.

Why should this issue be important to the Church? It’s simple, homosexuals have souls too. That is simply stated and I know the Church realizes this, but then again, do they really understand this? The Church’s views on homosexuality do not affect me, or many other Christian homosexuals because we know Christ, and we feel that we understand scripture in its correct context. ’Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.’ Romans 8:1-17. Our sexuality is no more a ‘desire of the flesh’ to us than a heterosexual’s sexuality is a ‘desire of the flesh’ to them. Jason is trying to raise his son, with his husband Adrian, in a Christian home and in Christian Love. This is not born out of a ‘desire of the flesh‘.

But there are many homosexuals who do not know Christ, and with their perception of how the Church views them, they have no desire to be part of the Church. When the Church asks them to change such a profound part of their being to gain acceptance within its community of believers, it makes the decisions very difficult for them. Heterosexuals could not understand this because they are not asked to make such a choice.

The Church compares ’homosexuality’ to the ‘desires of the flesh‘. This is an unfair comparision because the desires of the flesh include acts that can, and do break the laws of love. ( Love God and Love your Nieghbor ). We Christian homosexuals know that homosexuality, in and of itself , does not break these laws. It CAN break these laws, but only in the same ways that heterosexuality can break these laws.

‘Ignorance is Bliss’, and God may not judge those too harshly who don’t know any better. But when you are presented with this understanding of the homosexual hermeneutic, and you can clearly see that pro-gay theology has logic, reason and probability, over and above traditional teachings on homosexuality, what will you do now? You can no longer claim Ignorance or Misunderstanding. And you can not, with a clear conscience allow the Church to live in Ignorance about it’s doctrine against homosexuality. At the very least, the Church should be encouraged to seriously consider the views of pro-gay theology, from an objective perspective. ( To the extent that objectivity can be embraced.)

This won’t be easy, just take a look at the post that JD made to me concerning the ’notion’ that I was attempting to counter the views of the traditional Church concerning homosexuality. He tells me, ’It's a basic concept that really honest people don't need to debate about so much. It's plain.’ -And-, ’What does the Bible say? I think it's time for you to open up your mind and read what the scriptures have to say about yourself; rather than what yourself wishes to twist the words to be self comforting.’ -And-, ‘Sin is sin, now stop it! No excuses!’ -And finally-, ’I would encourage you to rethink your life, sir. Take a larger respect for the God, Jehovah than for your daily activities / life on earth ambitions.’ ( No offense to your brother Thom, this is just an example. )

These comments were made before I even presented one single word on my understanding of the homosexual hermeneutic. This is what I expect the typical response from most Evangelicals today will be when considering the notion of seriously looking at a full understanding of pro-gay theology. And this issue is dissimilar to hermeneutics on other issues that I have seen being discussed and debated such as ‘Nationalism & Millennialism‘. There are souls at stake here! Did Christ not come to seek and save the lost? Yes! ( Luke 19:10 ) Should we as Christians not seek to mimic Christ in that goal?

The number of souls that could be sought and saved through Christ could be great if only the Chruch would put aside its ’pride’ of certainty, and humble itself long enough to seriously consider pro-gay theology in comparison to traditional teachings on homosexuality. Failure to do so will continue to detour homosexuals form darkening the doors of our Churches. If the Church is not absolutely certain of it’s homosexual hermeneutic, and from what I have seen, there is quite a bit of uncertainty, is it safe to exude an attitude of ’Change or be Celibate’? (The Church should not be treated as a country club where admittance is denied if you ‘don’t look, act and think as we do‘. I do not think that the acceptance of the pro-gay homosexual hermeneutic is an acceptance of a ’whatever sexual activity anybody wants to do is fine’ attitude for the Church. ( Certainly not promiscuity ).

The Church and Christians could, and would still be responsible for upholding Godly living and moral standards. I was recently listening to a ’Focus on the Family’ broadcast concerning how a Husband and Wife should Respect and Love on another in a Christ-like way. Aside from the specific references to ’Husband/Wife’ and ’Man/Woman’, these teachings could be taught and applied to heterosexual and homosexual relationships. The acceptance of Christian, self affirming homosexuals by no means alleviates the Church or Christians from being the ‘light of the world’ and the ‘salt of the earth‘.

Caleb, imagine the possibility of leading your parents to Christ without facing the challege of telling them that they must attempt to change their ‘sexual orientation’ or live celibate lives. Homosexuals deserve a chance to be accepted within the Chruch without facing the decisions that the Church, ( not God ) places on them.

These are just some thoughts for your consideration. Who among the readers of this blog would approach the Presidents of our Bible Colleges, or the Professors / Teachers within our Bible Colleges. ( Maybe Mark Moore would be interested in re-presenting his lecture of the homosexual hermeneutic based on what I have demonstrated for you all in this blog ). Or maybe some of you may consider approaching the Elders / Pastors and Preachers within our Churches?

Who would suggest to them that there is a strong possibility that traditional teachings on homosexuality may be inaccurate? Anyone who has read this blog can no longer claim ’Misunderstanding’ or ‘Ignorance‘ concerning pro-gay theology. My challenge to you, and before God, is this. What will you now do with the knowledge that you possess concerning the homosexual hermeneutic and Christianity? Don’t answer that question to me, this is meant to be a matter between you and God.

If the thought of taking some sort of action makes you feel a little anxious or apprehensive, perhaps you are getting a glimpse into what John Rumple faced and felt when attempting to do the same, ( concerning JBC ). I think he has shown great courage in his actions. I…would compare his actions to that of the actions of Luther the reformer in that he is standing up against the ’Institution’ of the Church to point out a grievous error, and at a great personal cost to himself. ( John Rumple the hieratic- ??? ).

My request is not to be ’tolerant’ of sin, but to understand scripture in its context, that homosexuality…in and of itself is not, and never has been a sin, ( except for the instances and reasons that it is named as sinful in scripture ).

Greg, I have read many of the thoughts and ideas that Robert Gagnon has. He speaks extensively about the consequences of accepting pro-gay theology. And he, just like Joe Dallas, is very practiced in discrediting aspects of pro-gay theology. And as far as presenting positive evidence, he relies heavily on the word ‘pornea’, supported by a ‘quick‘ reading of the verses that refer to homosexuality. I must say that I agree with Thom’s thoughts, as he stated the following to Caleb.

‘The question up for debate is whether committed, loving, monogamous homosexuality should be put under the umbrella of ‘pornea‘. ‘Pornea’ certainly meant promiscuity, incest, adultery, temple prostitution, pedophilia, bestiality, and rape. We are debating whether or not committed, loving, monogamous homosexuality should come under ‘pornea’ in the first place. It is a question that the New Testament does not specifically address.’

Now I realize that you all must come to scholarly, intellectual determination of this issue based on your own reasoning, consideration and hopefully in prayer, being lead by the holy spirit. I believe that most of you who will view this blog, will have had at least some type of advanced Biblical training. Your ability to investigate and consider these matters should surpass the average ‘lay person’ in our Churches who has not had such training. I feel confident that I have presented all the information that I have found, that is worthy of consideration.

At the beginning of this blog, Justin Warner asked Mark Moore, ‘I feel that there is too much hostility toward Mr. Rumple in the younger students who have looked up to Rumple as one of the Freshmen Professors. My question for you is in James 3:1, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."‘ Mark replied, and rightly so, ‘Justin, James 3:1 is for me and Mr. Rumple not for you (unless or until you are a teacher).

The teaching of the word of God is an awesome responsibility. Before anyone undertakes that task, hopefully they will understand the responsibility they are undertaking. They are responsible for correctly guiding God’s people. I ask you to please be confident in your interpretation of scripture concerning homosexuality before presuming to lead the Church in this matter. Go to a Metropolitan Community Church. Some of the people that I met there seemed to be people who live on the margins of society, ( looking for Christ, Love and Acceptance ). Who did Christ appeal to in his earthly ministry? When I saw those people for the first time I thought, ’these are surely among those Christ would have attracted when walking this earth. He continues to attract and appeal to the same people today, and the Church should likewise follow Christ’s example in relation to homosexuals. So many homosexuals need Christ and this is why I am begging you to help open the eyes of the leadership of our Churches.

I wish you all well and strength in Christ Jesus. Let his Love lead us, and carry us through this life, and on to the next. And in the words of our Brother Greg, ‘But we can live with, as one of our catch phrases says, Unity in what is Essential, Liberty in Non-essentials, and in All Things charity or Love. Let’s struggle to understand what this means and entails, but always err on the side of Love‘.

I have enjoy getting to know you ... Greg, Thom, Caleb and Jason. I have, and always will be in Christ, along side with you all, here on earth and later in heaven, ( or where-ever and what-ever God has planned for us after this life…. right Thom? I’d like to read some of your thoughts on the ’after life’. That is interesting to me and I’d like to see the reasoning behind your views on that subject. )


Bill

September 11, 2006 at 6:40 AM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Brother Bill,

I don't know how you find the time to do all this posting. I totally agree with you on the seek and save the lost statements. Real quickly a question for you: Is it unfair to ask why a monagamous/ loving relationship with my mother (for incest example only) is taboo for everyone across the lines, and other core values of sexuality are not. Why is incest so far removed when Biblical treatment is equal or less?

September 12, 2006 at 2:03 PM  
Anonymous John Howard Yoder said...

...

HISTORY AND HERMENEUTICS
By John Howard Yoder

[Unpublished, 1982. Contribution to a seminar on homosexuality at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries, Elkhart, probably March 18-20, 1982.]

I agree with the planners of this event that in a study like this it is important to study the history of the issue, and hermeneutic questions, since they predispose how the conversation will proceed.

Yet I do not agree that matters of "presuppositions" can be done first, "done" and then left behind as taken care of. They stay with us through the debate.

I have been assigned to analyze some of the abiding unresolved issues, some from the distant past and some more recent. In so doing I shall intentionally not review the more fine-grained analysis I was asked to do in the course of the MMA study process in 1978-79. I intentionally do not attempt to preview and speak to the other presentations planned in the course of the rest of this conference. I have also renounced returning to biblical issues. I have accepted the assignment with some express misgivings about its place in the rest of the program.

One report of the shape of the question was the statement that "the denomination would not be so troubled by this matter, if only the theologians would speak." I.e., two assumptions are at work:

a) people would be glad to be told what to think.
b) something decisive could be said on purely theological grounds.

Such an idea is not consistent with a biblical or Anabaptist concept of the Church. It is wrong to think that the theologian, either by training or by office, can or should settle matters. "Theologian" is a mantle that covers a multiplicity of ministries, none of which is the queen of the church.

For now and for here, the first need is consistent fair play. "Semantics" does not mean "playing around with words," as some impatient pejorative usages of the term (not unknown in these conversations) suggest. Semantics is the ministry of liberating our conversation from conformity to the oppressive powers that destroy communication. Cf. James 3 on the dangers of the tongue.

There are some special stakes which I can identify, once my role is defined as advocacy in favor of valid dialogical process, not on either side of the "homosexuality" debate.

1) I need to ask about language; what constitutes an argument? "Homosexuality" is a reification; i.e., by forming a word ending in "-ity" language assumes that we have created a thing. To show this just test the word "bipedality." This is the quality of having two feet. It includes birds and most humans, and a few robots, but that does not mean that the entities we would group under that heading have in common enough to enable us to reason logically about them all.

2) For the sake of conversation our use of language must be self-critical. We must ward off ideology, i.e., the bending of language to make a point we already know. One can be self-aware in correcting for one's own bias, asking especially "what would count as an argument on the other side?"

3) We should be concerned to defend the outsider, the underdog, the victim. This does not mean that the weaker party is always right (any more than the poor are always more virtuous). The positions of underdogs are often skewed by backlash, overcorrection, compensation, and by their usually arguing in terms borrowed from the oppressor.

4) Part of this corrective predisposition should be more awareness of the special situation of the unmarried, who are excluded from some kinds of socializing by standard heterosexual family models. It is not sure that such constraints against the single are not correlated with the origins of some homosexual inclinations.

These considerations do not tip the scales on the question of truth, yet being careful about them relates to the truth of the process. We can't learn if we don't restrain our lunge toward too easy certainty, at least by looking for evidence on the other side.

I should acknowledge as a special limit the fact that I have had little personal contact with openly homosexual individuals. I am not sure that the ones I have known are representative. Nor am I convinced that having had a redemptive religious experience, which is testified to by a minority of persons (on each side of the debate), ratifies the ideas with which people interpret themselves to themselves and others.

I have seen no reason to back away from the primary thesis of my exposition in 1978, so I must state it here first. There is no such entity as homosexuality. That "one meaning" is assumed by all the parties to the debate:

- by ordinary lay usage;
- in gay advocacy;
- when some counselors promise a "cure;"
- when some people read the Bible.

Language trips us up in general; that is the simplest level of the need for "hermeneutics." Check on definitions.

The technical term "reification" labels the fact that we lump together as "things" of the same kind phenomena which have only some characteristics in common. In my 1978 paper I laid out at length that:

- what strong men in prisons or military camps do to weaker men;
- what strangers do with each other in public restrooms or gay bars;
- what mature men like Plato did with beautiful boys;
- what two persons of the same sex and values want to do by living in one household voluntarily;
- what the men of Sodom in Genesis 19 wanted to do with Lot's angelic visitors; . . .

are not merely different forms of the same thing. They are quite different realities, in most morally significant respects.

Naive use of language trips us up in general. Even more is this the case when we deal with "scripture," which status gives the words special status. My objection to the wrong assumption of univocality is clear in my 1978 argument.

I can only stay by this hermeneutic task if I set aside other tasks which are also important. I accept the naturalness of the resentment of those who want quick partisan answers. There may sometimes be quick partisan answers which are right, but if so, that will have to argue on the basis of other considerations than the kind of questions I have been asked to be careful about. I have not seen that any depth of intensity in pastoral communication that I have seen people testify (counselors or clients) to has made them more insightful about semantics. Intense conviction makes some people less patient with semantics.

The best way to work at the hermeneutic task would be to pick up for analysis a particular exchange, unpacking how people talk past each other, in a particular body of literature, or a real debate (like the ones planned for this week). But I can't do that now, since I have been placed at the beginning of the conference program. Therefore nothing of what I go on to say here can be based upon what I think someone will say in this meeting.

The word "history" in my title marks the recognition that all cultural practices take on their meaning from a context, usually one with a long past. Sexual ideas and practices have many dimensions, and these, too, are subject to change over time, and to variation from place to place.

That there are such variations does not prove what is right or wrong. It does however weaken any case people make for "consensus" or for what seems to be "natural." This history has not been well researched for very long, although it is now being given much attention. The recent very scholarly history by Boswell surfaces a large amount of information that is new to many of us, but more data does not necessarily dictate more clearly the lines of its interpretation as to what was right or wrong or why.

Here I only lift out a few elements which may cross-reference to our present discussion, especially at points where the cross-references are negative, i.e., where the surface meanings on some other time or place were different from what we assume.

In archaic and classical Greek culture, there is abundant positive documentation of love between males. It was assumed that the strong mature male would be bisexual, loving both beautiful women and beautiful boys, both involving the esthetic drama of pursuit and courtship. For a man to court a beautiful boy was purer than loving a woman. Yet a beautiful boy, when he grew up, should stop being used in that way, unless he became a prostitute, which was a special legal status, subject to taxation, and in this case he could not hold office.

There were arguments among philosophers then about the comparison of heterosexual and homosexual love. Most debates concluded that love between men is more pure than heterosexual love. Nowhere in all of this discussion do we find the notion that some persons are specifically "gay" by nature.

It seems that there was a correlation then, as there probably is now, between urbanization and sexual variety. Rural mores leave less room for varieties of behaviors, not only because there are fewer people but also because they watch each other more closely. It is, of course, mostly urban culture of which we have some record, yet most people in the ancient world did not live in cities.

History recounts waves of anti-homosexual legislation, correlated with clashes within and between cultures, provoking a general tightening-down. The first such wave is in Roman legislation during the 6th-7th centuries. Justinian recorded laws 533, 538, 544. The Visigoths taking over Spain c.a. 650 did the same, pressuring also the Jews.

Usually these measures were not driven or supported by clergy. Some of the victims of Justinian's laws were bishops. The Visigoths who did it in Spain were not yet Catholic. There is nothing about homosexual practice in the Frankish laws, developing around the same time and becoming more weighty later with the impact of Charlemagne.

There is one earlier exception to the pattern just reported from Boswell. There was a much earlier vision, particularly for clergy, where everything connected with the flesh is morally dubious. We find that in Chrysostom, Augustine, Lactantius all desire is morally dubious, and all excess desire is wrong. Heterosexual desire and pleasure were also dubious, essentially regrettable, but condoned for the sake of procreation. Homosexual expression did not have the excuse of procreation; perhaps also because one man has to play a feminine role, unworthy of a man.

The next cultural wave, in the other direction, brought a new openness in Western Europe. It was led by clergy, even especially religious, such as Alcuin, and Anselm of Bec and Canterbury. Aelred of Rievaulx was an abbott, a most passionate poet of love. The advocacy of love stood in tension with the warnings against "particular friendships" which dominated the monastery since Benedict. The list includes bishops Ralph of Tours and John of Orleans, 1098, and the soldier Richard of the Lion Heart.

This new wave of documentation may not mean that homosexual romance was more current; it may only have been expressed better, recorded better, advocated by more prominent people. For some of these men, the love was explicitly not physically consummated (as was also the case for the heterosexual courtly love of the time), although very passionate.

In the face of this wave of poetic passion, we observe clear pastoral moral warnings against love being vitiated by excess, intemperance, obsession, addiction, abuse, hedonism. Yet these dangers are no greater than they are for gluttony. They are not as bad as usury, and not as bad as heterosexual promiscuity, which produces offspring.

Peter Damian (1051) undertook his own strong campaign against homosexuality in his Book of Gomorra. Yet bishops and princes were reluctant to implement discipline.

The 13th century records another tightening of the rules. What was permitted in 1250 became subject to the death penalty by 1300. This coincided with greater consolidation of central governments, and with the campaigns against new heresies (Alibegenses, Waldenses) and old minorities (Jews). Some think that the Crusades heightened xenophobia. At first, homosexuality was not condemned distinctly, but only as a part of disciplines against all hedonism and sensuality. Anti-Islamic enthusiasm prolonged the anti-semitism and the xenophobia; Islamic sexuality was thought to be unbridled and bisexual. The negative view of matter ascribed to the Cathari could be correlated with a preference for nonprocreative love.

From then on the matter seemed settled; little more change was brought by Reformation or Enlightenment (the same is the case for the status of Jews and women). Christendom was a monolith of church and state, as well as an intellectual monolith. That included a solidified definition of "nature," a settled meaning of words like "Sodom," and a standard zoological wisdom.
In the light of this history, those who hold overt homosexual genital behavior to be wrong need to fill out the case they are making beyond the level on which it has usually been put, so that we could know in the midst of the conversation what would count as evidence for or against it. Many have been assuming that the rejection of such behavior has always been a part of the Christian moral teaching, or at least of conservative Christian moral teaching. It is evident from Boswell's data that such is not the case. There have been times when some elements of Christian social leadership cruelly repressed homosexuals (as there have been times when they did it with Jews, or Anabaptists) and other times when they were quite free. Any argument based on the assumption that it is defending the only tradition against an odd modern intrusion is therefore a mistake.

We turn next to the development of a notion of "nature" as it arose and settled down into a standard nest of hermeneutic problems. Already in Thomas Aquinas "nature" has four strands of meaning.

- our human "nature" is partly what makes us different from other creatures; reason, culture, learning.
- our "nature" is however also partly the organic substratum which we share with the animals. It includes the procreative function of sexuality. This argument serves to prove monogamy and to reject gluttony.
- a different animal substratum is the "flesh" or "drives" which we should restrain or even reject, rather than giving in to them. This too is "nature."
- but "nature" is also a set of limitations which make me me, even if less than ideal. A woman, for instance, has her own "nature," which in contrast with man is weak. Some are less musically gifted, or less athletic, than others. Some humans are racially inferior but they should not try to change that, but accept what God has given them to be.

In all of this there is nothing of the modern "gay" concept; i.e., that a same-sex preference is a constitutional (normative) given, which could be appealed to as expressing a divine creative intention (gift). If such ideas had been thought through, the first place it might have been applied would logically have been to affirm the dignity of women. Or of other races.

But most thought about "nature" went overwhelmingly in the other direction: human nature is the animal procreative potential; the same reasoning pattern which in Vatican doctrine still counts today against contraception. Or it is the "drives" of the "flesh" which moral values must struggle to control.

Neither the Bible itself nor the history of Christian thought delivers to us a firm concept of the "nature" of an individual, as at the same time a given (i.e., unequivocally there, defined) and gift (i.e., normative, revealing God's will for that person). It is still possible to hold that that idea is true, but it must be argued on other grounds than self-evidence, or than the history of the concept or of mores. If we somehow knew (on some other grounds) that such a definition is correct, then we would have to use it as a critical grid to screen the actual record of the history of ideas, to see why so many concerned writers did not discern that, and whether any of the times anyone came close to it the "gay nature" in question was not bisexual, or celibate, or cultic.. There seem to be no clear cases where the two themes on which most accent lies today obtain:

- that gayness is one's "nature," given by God and therefore normative to be lived out;
- that two persons of the same sex would enter a lifetime monogamous covenant whose meanings, except for the genital, would be parallel to those of bisexual marriage.

The argument "my nature is to be gay: since God made me gay that is what I should obey," cannot claim deep history, but how about its logic? The notion may run parallel to other appeals to nature, as when arguments for the just war appeal to the nature of the state against the teachings of Jesus, or when arguments against contraception appeal to physiology, or when a man who beats his wife says he can't help it. Is my "nature," as morally imperative, discernible as God's original intent? Or is it not fallen like the rest of creation? How does having a "nature" interlock with moral learning, from the Apostles' calling their readers to cultivate virtues, to modern theories of moral learning?

An additional set of questions lie there in the sources without our being clear about what to do with them. These questions are neither in the texts, nor in our own minds, but in the space between, which we might call "social hermeneutics." When we know that something is bad, what do we do about it? In Leviticus, people doing bad things were to be killed. Unruly children were to be stoned by their own parents. The moral/civil/cultic orders were all one; anything bad was to be "cut off," with a score of capital offenses listed in the Law.

Our culture has rejected most of that, and few in my audience would want to revert to the mix. Many sins are not criminalized by the state, and some things that the (respective) states punish are not sins. Most religious communities and most governments agree that most of the time the state should not enforce religious morality when offenses in that realm do not threaten the social order.

In most churches, most of the vices the NT lists are not formally sanctioned by exclusion or open shame. In our families, even those who claim that the Bible calls for spanking do not advocate the death penalty for unruly children or for married couples who have intercourse during the wife's period (Lev. 20:18), or for a priest drunk on duty (Lev 10:8ff).

We should face the fact that much of the touchiness and sense of threat about this subject is not about any damage done by atypical genital behavior in itself, but about power and social control. It is sometimes a phobic reaction, even though those who coined the term "homophobia" to describe it did violence to the rules of language.

Interlocking with the debatability of modern notions of "nature" there is a similar set of questions about the concept of "self." Our culture seems to promise that everyone can, and even to command that everyone should, find self-fulfillment. This commits us to assume that all normal people have (or can or should have) a heterosexual self, such that heterosexual marriage will be fulfilling. Or do we want an older, more complex notion of moral decency, not promising fulfillment to everyone, so that everyone could be happy, (and derive the definition of how to be happy from an inventory of who they are) but only asking that it be possible for everyone to live within the rules and stay alive, within the constraints, the restraints, and the sacrifices which the divine law lays on us all (many heterosexuals cannot be fulfilled either)? Those would lead to two different kinds of argument, but most of the recent debate posits self-fulfillment as both a possibility and a duty.

These two visions mix in an authentically confusing way, in discussions about whether homosexually inclined people can be "healed." If the argument against the moral legitimacy of homosexual practice is that previously homosexually inclined and active people can become happily heterosexual, that is a very ambitious promise to make, and it bases the argument not on the Bible or basic ethics but on debatable records from hard-to-document clinical experience in unrepresentative settings. Like all counseling and ethics based on self-fulfillment, it formulates its gospel in terms that are subject to empirical invalidation. If (e.g.) the claim that heterosexual activity is supported by counseling records, to the effect that three out of eight previously homosexually active persons can be transformed into happy heterosexuals, this makes the news even worse for the other five.

In a similar sense there is a semantic puzzle when some say that what they reject morally is not a homosexual "nature" or "inclination" as such, but only the corresponding "behavior." What does it mean to say that I have a "nature" which it is wrong to live out? For the heterosexuals the claim is that the "nature" legitimates the life.

We need further precision in what people think that a certain percentage of "cures" proves. If the case for the legitimacy of homosexual expression were based on the claim that one who is homosexual by nature can never change, then the proof that one or a few can change undercuts that generalization -- but only for a few, perhaps even hardening it for the others. If, on the other hand, the basic moral claim is not taken on the basis of experience, and especially not on the basis of the kinds of experiences which can be produced in the context of very intensive moral guidance and pastoral care, then the argument is far weaker. Then it means only that some individuals who try very hard to do what they believe to be the will of God, despite their weaknesses and disinclination and tastes and habits, will find their inner psychic life growing toward fitting their moral duties. That is an encouragement which it would be our charitable duty to support wherever it obtains, but is no longer a basis for a moral claim on the others. This is one of those points where those who appeal to "cures" are often not clear about what they are claiming.

...

September 14, 2006 at 3:49 AM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

John Howard Yoder,

What you have presented here is very illuminating. I think that it is very relevant to this discussion and it just demonstrates that there are many aspects of this topic that should be considered. A quick reading of scripture is not sufficient to form an opinion about homosexuality as being morally right or wrong. Scripture should be interpreted in light of such things as history and tradition, original language, semantics and original intent, culture and circumstances. Is this something that is practiced in ’Hermeneutical’ classes in our Bible Colleges?

So thanks you for your input.

Greg,

Again, you have a very good question here. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this very question. As a matter of fact, I’ve spent more time in deep thought about ‘Incest’, than any other issue concerning my consideration of gay theology. I do have an opinion about this, and I want to be sure that I explain it to you clearly so….here goes.

It’s mostly a heterosexual problem, so you heteros deal with it and get your people in line!

I’m just kidding. ( That was a little joke there ). I hope you’re laughing, or at least thinking, ‘What a dumb sense of humor Bill has.’

I really have thought about this a lot and, this is how I see things.

Have you ever tried to empathize with God about the subject of sexuality? You know, at some point, during the creation process , God had to deal with human sexuality. Being an omniscient God, he would have to have known that the driving force of sexuality would be very strong within the human species. It is one of our basic instincts, just like within other biological beings. So he chose what he chose, and that is what we have. He would also have to have known of the possibilities contained within our sexual abilities when faced with the choice between Good and Evil. Yet he created us the way we are anyway.

Then what happened…., ‘Eve…No! what are you doing with that fruit?’ The possibility of what mankind will do with sexuality when faced with the choices of Good and Evil is realized. Man multiplies and sure enough some ( probably most ), of man-kind choose the option of evil. So what does God do. He decides the destroy Man-kind with the Great Flood. He spared only a few, along with Noah, ‘who found favor in the eyes of the Lord.’ Not long after Noah landed the Ark, a sexual act is mentioned in Scripture.

Genesis 9:22-25 - And Ham, father of Canaan, seeth the nakedness of his father, and declareth to his two brethren without. And Shem taketh -- Japheth also -- the garment, and they place on the shoulder of them both, and go backward, and cover the nakedness of their father; and their faces [are] backward, and their father's nakedness they have not seen. And Noah awaketh from his wine, and knoweth that which his young son hath done to him, and saith: `Cursed [is] Canaan, Servant of servants he is to his brethren.' ( Young’s Literal Translation )

What was it that unset Noah? A homosexual act, or an act of incest? ( or both ). Also, why is it that Ham ‘seeth the nakedness of his father’, yet Canaan gets the curse? The story is already getting difficult to understand. Its hard to say with any degree of accuracy why Canaan was cursed for Ham’s act, but obviously it was an act that Noah, and probably God, did not approve of.

So man began again begins to multiply, and again, the majority of man-kind choose evil. We know that sacred sex was practiced in early civilizations. So what does God do now? Along comes Abraham, ’the father of the faithful’. When his descendants have multiplied to a certain point, God proceeds to make a nation out of them, that will serve him. But how to lead them concerning sexual matters? What will be ’Good’ sex, as opposed to ’Evil’ sex?

What aspects of sex must God deal with to approve /disapprove of their sexual activities? He gives to Moses the Law. But what is the point of the Law? Who would know the answer to that question better that anyone? ( Maybe Jesus would, God incarnate ).

Matthew 22:36-40 - Teacher, which [is] the great command in the Law?' And Jesus said to him, `Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thine understanding -- this is a first and great command; and the second [is] like to it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; on these -- the two commands -- all the law and the prophets do hang.' ( YLT )

If Jesus says that the Law ‘hinges’ on the greatest two commandments, and we know that God intends to lead his people with ‘Laws’ to guide the sexual ethic, What conclusions can we make so far, with what we know about the Law? And what sexual issues will God have to deal with? Heterosexuality, Polygamy, Monogamy, Adultery, Masturbation, Incest, Bestiality, Homosexuality, ect.. ( I believe what I’ve listed here probably covers it for the major issues that we are concerned with. )

Heterosexuality:
It’s purpose- A sexual expression/choice (?). It is necessary for procreation. Serves to alleviate Man’s aloneness. ( Genesis 2:18 )
It’s accordance with the Law- It can be Lawful or Unlawful.

Polygamy:
It’s purpose- A sexual choice (?). It could serve a purpose within certain cultures, ( such as the early Jewish culture ) in that it could more quickly strengthen their nation with greater numbers. It could server other purposes within those cultures such as the family’s/ clan’s security and survival. It can also serve to alleviate ‘Man’s’ aloneness.
It’s accordance with the Law- It could be Lawful or Unlawful.

Monogamy:
It’s purpose- A sexual choice (?). It would be preferable for mankind to choose Monogamy so as to spare them from problems within their sexual relationships. It serves to alleviate ‘Man’s’ aloneness.
It’s accordance with the Law- It could be Lawful or Unlawful.

Adultery:
It’s purpose- A sexual choice (!). It serves no purpose that could not be achieved within Heterosexual Polygamy or Monogamy.
It’s accordance with the Law- It does break the second Law, ‘which is like the first Law‘.

Masturbation:

( Many scholars think that the Sin of Onan, ( found in Genesis 38:6-10 ) was of selfishness, and not of masturbation. He was told by his Father [Judah] to ‘Go in to your brother's wife, and perform your duty as a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.’ Onan’s reaction, ‘Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother's wife, he wasted his seed on the ground in order not to give offspring to his brother.’ ( NASB ). I don’t think scripture condemns Masturbation. And if you are fool enough to believe that the majority of men, (even Christian men) do not participate in this sexual activity, you just may simply be a naïve fool. So with that in mind…).

It’s purpose- It must have some purpose if so many men, ( and probably women too ) do it. I don’t know what that purpose is myself, but I’m sure that God understands it.
It’s accordance with the Law- It could be unlawful if taken to excess, but it does not break either of the two ‘Greatest Commandments’. ( Neither is it clearly condemned in scripture. )

Incest: ( Heterosexual Incest )
It’s purpose- A sexual choice ( ! ). It serves no purpose that could not be achieved within Heterosexual Polygamy or Monogamy.
It’s accordance with the Law- It has a strong possibility to unsettle and disturb the family dynamic, which could very likely lead to breaking the second Law, ‘which is like the first‘. ( It’s probably better to make this one Unlawful. )

Bestiality:
It’s purpose- A sexual choice ( ! ). It serves absolutely no purpose that could not be achieved within sexual activities within one’s own species.
It’s accordance with the Law- It serves no purpose to fulfill either of the two ’Greatest Commandments’ It’s primary purpose in scripture was it’s use in pagan worship. ( I see no reason to consider this one as Lawful. )

Homosexuality:
It’s purpose- A sexual expression/choice ( ? ). It serves no purpose except to alleviate the aloneness of those who express themselves in this manner. ( Also the homosexual has abilities that are unique to them, having both Male and Female attributes, this could serve a purpose in society. )
It’s accordance with the Law- It can be Lawful or Unlawful.


Now, there are probably flaws within my analogy here, and you could pick it apart for days. But have you ever thought about it in this way. Why and how do you think God created us the way that he did? What decisions do you think he faced? He certainly could have created us in many different ways, yet we exist as we exist.

Undoubtedly the Law, and the concept of the Law is very important to God, not only in the Old Testament, but also for the dispensations of the New Testament. Paul talks extensively about the inadequacy of the Law, and that true worship of God is not found in following the letter of the Law, but from within, (from the Heart ). But Jesus clearly tell us in Matthew 5:17 ’ Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.’

So if Paul is saying that the ‘letter of the Law’ is inadequate. And if we have Jesus saying that the greatest two Law are to ‘Love God, and Love your Neighbor as Yourself’. And Jesus also says that he came to fulfill, ( not abolish ) the Law. What does Paul mean in Titus 1:15?

’To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.’ He says this in context of telling the readers of his letter to ’ not pay attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.’ Paul is referring to ’… rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."’

I see a thread of thought that comes through in the Old Testament Law to the Teaching of Jesus and within the Inspired Writings of Paul. That being, Love God and Love and take care of your neighbor. This is what God desires from his people, ( his children ). God created this earth and all that it contains, and we are meant to enjoy his creation and gifts, and to be happy in this life. ( I believe this! ) He is our Father, surely any Father who truly loves his children would want them to be happy. But when we ( his children ) take our eyes off of him ( our Father, our God ), our minds become defiled, and when that happens, and our goal is not to ‘Love God and Love our Neighbor’, we become self-centered and unbelieving, and then ’nothing is pure’. But if our goal is to truly ‘Love God and Love our Neighbor’, all things are pure. ( Paul words, not mine, and this is the way that I understand it. )

Now this line of thought can be dangerous to the ‘less mature’ Christians. An attitude of ‘We can do anything and its O.K.’ may develop. But that is not what Paul is saying. I understand it as this. If our goal is not to adhere to the Laws of Love, then our goal is self-serving and therefore, Impure. ( Defiled, Un-Godly ). This is why we so often see in scripture matters concerning the ‘ Heart and Mind’. Luke 10:27, Acts 2:46 and Hebrews 10:16, ( Just to name a few ). God sees our Hearts and Minds, and he knows if our intensions are pure or impure.

So when God looked at Sexual issues for human-kind, I have to believe that he was, and is concerned with ‘it’s purpose‘ and ‘it’s accordance with the Law‘. And when considering these sexual issues, I think we should address the same concerns.

I can understand your inclinations to group Homosexuality and Incest into the one category of ’sexual sins’. Both activities have culturally been considered Taboo, and biblically considered to be sinful.

I think ( and hope ) that I have demonstrated to you that the biblical references to homosexuality have been concerned with Idolatry and Oppressive sexual acts. Both of which break the Laws of Love. But it has also been demonstrated that homosexuality can exist outside of conflict with the Laws of Love.

However Incest ( and note that I have not spent much time studying this issue from a biblical perspective ), is a matter that God choose to address in the Old Testament Law and also in the New Testament. The reasons for the condemnations against Incest are not absolutely understandable in my mind. I don’t know if Incest was a part of ’sacred sex’ that the early Jews may have encountered. I don’t know if Incest was at some point in history, considered to be an oppressive sexual act, practiced by some cultures. But I can see how this sexual act within families could cause conflicts within those families. ( Disunity ). And it may be for that very reason that God choose to discourage these sexual relationships. God has shown us that Love and Unity are very important issues that he encourages within human relationships. Anything that would destroy that would not be pleasing to him.

Again, I have not spent time studying the reasons for God’s condemnation of Incest, but this seems logical and reasonable to me.

One more thing in the line of Incest. Do we have a group of ’Incest-sexuals’ who are seeking vindication within the Church? I’ve indicated throughout my posts that I do not believe that we should build doctrine based on ‘personal experience‘, but neither should the ‘personal experience’ be discarded without being taken into consideration.

When we have a group of Christian homosexuals, who are saying that their ‘sexual orientation’ is real. And that they have a deep desire to serve God, and feel that they can do that while still expressing the sexuality that seems natural to them, this is valid for consideration. This is why the Church needs to just stop for a minute, and consider and address the concerns of Christian homosexuals.

If there is ever a point in time when ‘Incest-sexuals’ come forward and seek vindication within the Church, they should also be given an opportunity to present their cause. It is ‘pride’ on the part of the Church to think that they are So Right, that it is not necessary to consider the views or others. ( Do I need to quote any scriptures concerning how God feels about the sin of Pride. ) If these so called ‘Incest-sexuals’ ( and by the way, I’m sure there is no such group ), do come forward for vindication, I’m confident that the Church could certainly defend it traditional position on this issue.

If the ‘Incest-sexuals’ are heterosexual, they have options to seek satisfying relationships outside of their families. If they are homosexual, they also have options to seek satisfying relationships outside of their families.

Homosexual are left with few options within the current policies of the Church. We can either change our sexual orientation, or live celibate lives. Neither option is easily realized by all homosexuals. I’m sure that some homosexuals, who have bi-sexual sexual expression, can find satisfaction in opposite sex relationships. There are probably some homosexuals who find their sexuality so offensive to their conscience, and / or their libido is so low, that they can put forth the required effort to modify their sexual expression. ( I don’t think that they lose their homosexual inclination, they probably just surpass it ). I think that some heterosexuals could probably suppress their sexual expression also, if it were required. ( If we lived in an up-side down world where heterosexuality was considered to be an undesirable behavior. )

Celibacy is an option that not all people can easily accept. Matthew 19:10-12 ’The disciples said to Him, "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry." But He said to them, "Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. "For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it."’

If heterosexuals were faced with these options, for whatever reason, they would understand what is being asked of homosexuals. And really, for what purpose is it being asked? Is it scripturally required? For the Church to force these options on a minority ( who just wants to enjoy this life by whatever means it has ‘been given’ them ), this is poor treatment of a Neighbor. What Christian Heterosexual would want to be treated this way?

Homosexuals are criticized for promiscuity, yet what institutions do we have to encourage monogamy. In the name of ’Protecting the Traditional Family’, we are denied a right to have our relationships recognized by the State, or the Church. What do you think about that? Does it seem logical and Just to you?

This is my response, ( and a long response it is ) to your Incest question. I hope it is understandable to you, as it is to me.

Bill

September 14, 2006 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

I don't think the sin of Canaan was either incest or homosexuality. The traditional interpretation has always been that the sin of Canaan was that instead of covering his father's nakedness, he exposed his father's nakedness to others. In other words, he was mocking his father, and his two brothers were more respectful. It's a shame/honor thing, very significant in ancient cultures.

I do agree with you, Bill, that the purity codes of the Mosaic system were about politics and community formation. I'm not sure to what extent that excludes questions of moral absolutes, however. Bestiality, for instance, while certainly politically disastrous for incipient Israel, seems also to be a straightforward crime against nature.

Incest was not a ritual activity. But your argument that incest was proscribed because of its disruptive effect upon the family is a good one. However, that would not obtain if I were to marry my mother after my father had died. Yet such a marriage would still be illicit. So the question cannot be answered simply from a situational perspective. There is a moral ingredient beyond consequentialism here.

...

September 14, 2006 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Thom,

Its been a few days, and no one has posted anything. So I just wanted to comment on your last blog entry.

I've never been presented with an understanding of the story of Noah, Ham and Cannan that you present here. It seems very plausible that the issue of 'honor' was the reason that Noah became upset with Cannan.

I beleived it to be a sexual act because many times in scripture, when it speaks of 'uncovering nakedness' or even 'seeing' someone's 'nakedness', the reference is in a sexual context. But I could see where your understanding of this passage of scripture is possible.

Bestiality; It certainly is a 'crime against nature'! But based on what? Many feel that homosexuality is a 'crime against nature' also. I do think that the crime of bestiality, which is against nature, is related to the Law. It fulfills no Law, in that is does not bring glory to God, nor does it show love to your 'neighbor', your fellow man.

Incest; You say 'There is a moral ingredient beyond consequentialism here.' Again, based on what? Who says it is immoral, and why? I still think it is based on the Law.

The example of the husband being dead is one example. And maybe if you were dealing with just the dead husband, there would be no other reason to oppose incest. But what about the Brothers and Sisters, Uncles and Aunts, Nephews and Nieces, ect...?

'Why should you get to marry Dear old Mom when I love her just as much as you do?' 'Why should you get Aunt Bessy, I love her to.' 'Lucy is my favorite niece, and I love her. I don't want you to have her, so I'm going to marry her.'

Plus we do have the offspring of such a union to consider. Those offspring most probably would start out in life with a biological disadvantage/handicap.

In addition to producing disunity within the family dynamic, it would show a lack of concern for the 'neighbor', the offspring of that union, that would have to struggle with the consequences of that union.

I believe that all that we consider Right or Wrong / Moral or Immoral, is based in the Law. And this is supported by scripture, ( in my opinion ).

I do intent to stop blogging on this subject. I have presented all that I can present about the 'homosexual hermeneutic'. I will answer any questions or discuss any points that I have raised for consideration.

Nearly all who started blogging on this subject, have stopped blogging. ( Just stopped! ). I assume that this indicates one of two things.

1). This issue, which was once certain in the minds of some, has been challenged, and further personal study is required to find out where the truth lies. Thus the silence on this blog is due to a need for personal study, apart from the influence of this blog and discussion. ( Plus everyone has their own personal lives and interests to attend to.)

Or....

2). The silence that this conversation has developed, could be for the same reasons the I have experienced similar silence in my personal life from my [Christian] family and friends concerning this subject.

I have a cousin, and she has always been very dear to me. Since we were children we have always been close friends. She is now married to a Christian man, ( with 3 children ) and they have a ministry that they have started in their home to meet the needs of Americans and Hispanics. ( She is Mexican/American.) She learned that I Gay within the last couple of years.

Last Nov. (2005) she told me that she could no longer be a part of my life, because to do so would be participating in, and condoning my 'lifestyle'. "I can not even call you to ask you how you are doing", she told me. This was what caused me to seek out the understanding of the 'homosexual hermeneutic'. I have sent her some information and pleaded with her to look at the information that I have found, and to consider it. Dispite my attempts to open the lines of communication with her, she will not speak to me. She is very religious, ( the daughter of missionaries to Mexico ). Although she displays her religion very pharisaically, I have begun to question the sincerity of her Christianity, evidenced by the treatment she is displaying toward me. ( It's not for me to judge, but I do wonder, and I pray for her ).

I wrote to a cousin of mine, who is a minister within our Churches to a growing congregation. He asked me to communicate with him on a private e-mail, and not his Church e-mail, so as to maintain confidentiality. "I have a lot at stake, so I must proceed with caution and in an attitude of pray." I sent to him all the information that I had gathered through April, and asked him if he would just give me his opinion on it. He wrote to tell me that he would 'respond to me by Easter, or shortly there-after.' That was the last message that I received from him.

My Mother; ( God Bless her heart, because I know that she loves me. She makes that abundantly clear to me.) I have sent to her a letter telling her all about Billy, along with a packet of information containing the same information that I have presented to you all. She does not desire to discuss this matter with me. We just don't talk about it. She is the daughter of an Elder and Minister within our Churches. My whole family is very religious. I imagine that the pressure that she would face from the family,( a family that is no more willing to hear anything about this subject than what I've already experienced ), would be great.

I am only now, in this year of 2006, in the process of coming out to my family. It's not been easy, and I know the consequences that I will face for fully coming out to a family that does not want to discuss this issue.

I cannot be who I am within my family without being ostracized, or made to feel inadequete or condemnable. ( Do you see any similarities with mine and John Rumble's situation? )

When I saw Jason's comments in this blog about the way that his 'Christian' friends from OCC treated him when he returned there to visit, I understood with clarity how that made him feel.

I don't want to see this conversation that we have engaged in, come to an end in this way, in silence.

Greg, you have been faithful to ask questions and bring up good points for discussion.

Thom, you've always been dependable to clarify biblical and philosophical matters, and to raise good questions for discussion.

Jason, you have humbly told of your experiences and posed good questions, and answers for consideration.

Caleb, from reading your comments, I feel that you are a man who is quick to jump to action. (?). But I wonder, are you also quick to move on to the next thing, while abandoning the previous task? You've raised some great matters for consideration within our discussion on this blog. I hope that I have satisfactorily
addressed your concerns.

You all are certainly at liberty to live your lives and make whatever decisions you wish to make without answering to me, or to anyone on this earth for that matter. But could we bring this discussion to completion? Even if it is just to tell me that I'm a 'nut', and I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to a hermeneutical understanding of the scriptures.

Understandable, all of the information that I have presented is not from my own work in research. I have found information, and passed it on, while supporting its views. Is that not what we all do? We learn things, we consider, maybe add in our own logic based on other things that we have learned, and then we pass it on.

We have discussed many things here. Could I have the opportunity to hear your concluding thoughts on this subject of the 'homosexual hermeneutic' based on our discussion within this blog? It seems pretty obvious that our conversation is coming to an end, and I would love to end it by hearing what you now think about the subject.

Sincerely, Bill

September 17, 2006 at 9:30 AM  
Blogger Gregory Fish said...

Bill,

You basically know how I feel by now. No need for me to rant. I will say this as my last comment (as you said, due to business and many a blog and more non-blogging to attend to in so little time): 1)I don't think you're a nut. 2) I don't think you have a dumb sense of humor- I laughed when I read your hetero joke. 3) I think I'll remember this blog discussion experience for a long time. 4) I hope your family can begin to be more loving towards you. 5) I will pray for you, and hope that you will pray for me in return.

All,

That is all I have to say. This will be my last post on this thread. As we move on, we must all remember (here comes the cliche) to keep the main thing, the main thing. Keep the Lord first in everything! Blessings to all.

Greg

September 17, 2006 at 3:10 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Bill,

Thanks for your good post. I think I can assure you that the silence here is in no way analogous to your experience with your cousin. Most of us are busy with a heavy academic semester. Some of us don't have anything significant to contribute.

Peace.

...

September 17, 2006 at 4:03 PM  
Blogger Bill Cottle said...

Greg & Thom,

Well, Thanks! I appreciate your responses,( although the content of your responses was not exactly what I was looking for ).

This blog started out with nearly all having at best, a poor understanding of the Pro-gay perspective of the passages that refer to homosexuality.

Some bloggers were firm in their Traditional views, and were very disappointed with John Rumple. Some were confused by the events that had taken place between John Rumple and JBC, and were merely trying to understand it all. Some were interested in finding out, and trying to see things from John Rumple's ( and Jason's, and my.. ) point of view.

So now, those who have followed and participated in this discussion have a full knowlegde of their Traditional views. Also they now have a clearer understanding of the Pro-gay views of scripture.

While presenting my views, I noted very little in the way of scholarly
correction of what I was presenting. From investigating other blogs, and from the way in which these blogs of 'John 3:30' are conducted, I noticed that correction of others ( if their views are incorrect/maligned ), is not withheld in order to spare the feelings of others, ( however, thankfully... it generally is done in a loving way ).

So what I have been wondering is... if ( in my opinion ) the probability of Pro-gay theology out-weighs the probability of the Traditional views about homosexuality ( based on the scriptures, and evidenced by the sciences ), what is your opinion of this subject now, based on our discussion?

Greg, you say, 'You basically know how I feel by now. No need for me to rant.'

Thom, you say, 'Most of us are busy with a heavy academic semester. Some of us don't have anything significant to contribute.'

Brothers, those comments seem to avoid the issue. If you cannot defend the Traditional views of the Church concerning homosexuality, do you feel secure in holding to those views?

This is the situation I face with some in my [Christian] family that makes me feel like an out-sider. This is the same treatment that John Rumple has encountered from some of his [Christian] family from JBC. This is the same treatment that Jason encountered from some in his [Christian] family from OCC.

Is this treatment that we Christian homosexuals face from some 'Christians', based in a belief that they are standing up for the 'Church'( and the majority )? Or is it a belief that they are standing up for Christian principles? Jesus' ministry was based on the Word of God, and founded in Love. Where is the Love now?

I realize that this issue of 'Homosexuality and the Church' may not be of direct concern to you. It may just be a discussion for you, or maybe just an interesting way to pass your time on the internet. But for some of us, it is a very serious matter that personally affects our lives.

I feel almost selfish to ask for Christians to be concerned about this issue ( my issue ), when there are many other, more pressing issues that Christians should be focusing their time and energies on.

But this is a major theological issue that is dividing the Church. Not to mention the number of homosexuals that will needlessly be condemned to a life without Christ, due to a Traditional view of homosexuality that is scriptually weak in comparision to Pro-gay theology.

I feel that fear and passivism are the motivating factors behind the actions of many Christians who are informed enough to know better.

Fear because of the pressure of the institution of the Church, and pressure from other, less informed Christians.

Passivism then follows because of an attitude of, 'This is really not my problem to deal with, I don't need to get involved'.

Brothers, I'm not looking for a response from you. ( If you wish to respond, I'm listening. ) But I just wanted to present these, [my] thoughts to you for your consideration.

Greg, I do wish you, Emily, Nathan and Elijah well with your ministry in Brownsville Texas. Dios se Bendiga y que se van en todos sus caminos con Jesus Christo. Yo mandare horaciones a nuestro Padre para todos ustedes y nuestros hermanos en tu iglesia.

Thom, I wish you and Erica all the best in your new life together. Do well in your studies at OCC, and walk with Christ in all your ways, and for all of your days.

In Christ, Bill

September 19, 2006 at 7:27 AM  
Anonymous screwtape proposed you a toast said...

Bill,

You have hit the nail on the head. It is with much satisfaction that I read this for the truth is well known. The early church existed with many differing theological voices and was happy to allow the dialogue until Constantine forced Athanasius' hand. Sadly the church today does not seek to do the same, even those claiming a restoration plea.
My comment from this point forward is to the owner of this blog, Mark Moore. What have you to say about all this? Do all your thoughts agree with the institution? Do you only say things that give more power to the Imperial structures then its members? Do you choose to change apart from the thoughts and implemented 'rules' of the institution? How will you address your gay alumni and those forced out of OCC by this doctrinal position? What protection and encouragemnt do you offer those unlike the traditional student at OCC? Can I find acceptance of my differences with you or those on campus? Is there only one interpretation?
In all things unity... No creed but Christ... but!

September 19, 2006 at 11:22 PM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

...

Mark Moore is out of the country for a good while.

...

September 20, 2006 at 10:45 AM  
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