Please consider that regardless of whether you’re able to fully accept this or not, there are gay Christians.
Like I said yesterday, perhaps your theology on the issue might not ever change or evolve, but please know, these are real people you’re talking about. This isn’t just a “concept” or an inanimate object– these are real live Christian brothers and sisters that deserve every bit of love and empathy as anyone else. Maybe you haven’t counseled the teenager in your church who wants to kill themselves because they’re finally realizing that they’re gay and always have been. Maybe you haven’t had a friend weep in your presence over the fact that they realize they are gay, but also realize they did not chose to be– and that they’ll never be accepted by the tribe. Maybe you haven’t had a chance to serve in church for years on end next to someone who you never realized was in fact, gay the whole time and also unwavering in their love for Jesus and commitment to the church.
These things have happened to me, but I get that maybe you’ve never experienced them. So please, just consider that we are not talking about an “issue” here– we’re talking about real people. People created in the image and likeness of God. People with feelings, passions, hopes, and dreams. When we allow this to simply become an “issue” within modern Christian discourse, we end up dehumanizing the very real people we’re actually referencing.
Please become willing to reexamine what the Bible teaches on homosexuality.
The apostle Paul taught that the church at Berea was “more noble” than other churches because they didn’t blindly believe what he taught, but instead studied the scriptures for an answer. Would you be willing to do what the church at Berea did, and reexamine what is, or may not be, in scripture? Remember- when looking at scripture there are all sorts of things to consider, such as historical context, the original language, etc. While such exegesis is encouraged in many other theological areas (such as women covering their heads) it’s not often encouraged on this issue. I would invite you to reexamine these passages and consider the same factors we consider when interpreting or applying any other part of scripture.
If you’re willing to do this, Matthew Vines has a great new book with does exactly that– God and the Gay Christian— and I would strongly urge you to read it. Matthew is a conservative evangelical who writes from a conservative evangelical perspective, and does an outstanding job at showing that there is a very legitimate, alternate understanding of some of these texts. When considering any issue, it is important to take into account and give an honest ear to all sides of an issue. Rarely has a conservative evangelical done what Vines has done, and I would strongly encourage you to read it, and consider the arguments he makes as you formulate your own opinion on what the Bible does, or does not, teach on the issue.
Even if you don’t agree with Matthew in the end, his book will help you to realize that many people affirm monogamous, same sex marriage without discarding the Bible. I know to some of you that might sound crazy, which is really why you should read the book– from one conservative evangelical to another. I think what Matt has done is huge: at a minimum, he has helped to show there is an alternative biblical understanding which should firmly place this issue into the category of “secondary theology” where Christian charity should leave room for disagreement without declaring who is in, and who is out.
Please consider that we treat our gay brothers and sisters differently than everyone else, and even if you’re right– this behavior is wrong.
Let’s say your theology doesn’t change and that you even turn out to be correct in that homosexuality is a sin. Still, you face a cultural issue that one should find appalling– the fact that we’ve basically forced gay Christians to go out and get their own churches instead of being welcomed at ours.
Greg Boyd shows the absurdity of what we’ve done in his book, Repenting of Religion (one of my favorites– and will provoke you in good ways. Greg once said that he lost 1000 members of his church when he wrote it). In the book, Greg points out that America has an obesity epidemic and that much of the time, the obesity is caused by gluttony (over eating)– which is a sin. Furthermore, we know that over-eating is also greed (taking more than what you need), which the Bible calls idol worship (Col 3:5, Eph 5:5). Boyd’s question then becomes (as does mine): if we make gay Christians go out and get their own churches, why are we not forcing people who are obese due to over eating to go out and get their own churches as well? Obviously, we’d never dream of such a thing– the sin of over eating is culturally acceptable, so we ignore the teachings of scripture on it most of the time. On a more practical level, as Boyd points out, we know the reasons why a person may over eat are complex, personal, and unknown to us– which means that only God can judge them, since God is the only one who understands the whole picture.
Therefore, even if homosexuality is a sin, following this line of thinking, we should be using the same standard that we use with people who are obese from over eating: love them, include them, and refrain from judging them. The fact that we have created an entire, separate way of viewing and treating our gay brothers and sisters, is nothing short of corporate sin.
We’d rarely- if ever- treat these people the way LGBTQ people get treated, and that should be a deeply concerning realization. The fact that one group, and only one group, has been effectively marginalized from the church (you know, that thing that’s supposed to represent Jesus here on earth) should cause us tremendous sorrow.
Please consider that even if you’re right, it shouldn’t dramatically change the praxis of your faith.
Tuesday I was with my friend and fellow author, Frank Schaeffer and he was telling me a story about his parents. They were theologically conservative on the issue of homosexuality, but as Frank describes, were “glorious hypocrites” because they were so loving to their gay friends in their day to day living. Ultimately, I think the correctness of a theological opinion is somewhat irrelevant in comparison to personal behavior– a truth Jesus taught in Matthew 25. Consider all sides and still think it’s a sin? Have at it– but please consider being a glorious hypocrite on the issue, as we are on so many others, by choosing radical love for other people instead of planting your flag in the rightness of correct belief.
Even I have publicly admitted that I still struggle with the entire theology around this– struggling with theology is okay. However, as I have also stated publicly, wherever I land will be irrelevant to the praxis of my faith, just as it was for Frank’s parents. I will still radically love people. I will still radically include people. I will still invite everyone to join me in following Jesus… and I will still refrain from judgement, because I’m not God and I don’t have all of the information to make righteous judgements about others.
There’s no reason why this issue should change the praxis of your faith, either. We’re all just trying to follow Jesus, and we should be so focused on our own issues that we lack the time to focus on the perceived issues of others.
Please consider that the cultural obsession with homosexuality within the American Church is detracting from the things Jesus asked us to do.
Later today I’ll be releasing an interview I shot Tuesday with Frank Schaeffer regarding his new book, Why I’m An Atheist Who Believes In God. In the book, he writes that “Jesus was a traitor to the culture wars of his day”, because the message Jesus came to bring didn’t line up with the battles the current culture wanted to fight. The same is true today– it is American Christian culture who has placed this issue at the front and center and convinced much of the culture that this is “the” war worth fighting. Meanwhile, in the past two years I’ve met with rescued slaves in India, orphans in Africa, seen kids in third world countries drink water that could easily kill them, and watched the homeless trot off into the streets during a New England blizzard. There are real, pressing issues we could devote our time to– but the whole anti-gay battle? That’s a distraction from the real issues facing our world– issues we can actually impact if we don’t get caught up into fabricated culture wars. So, please consider being like Jesus– be a traitor to the culture wars of today, and focus on the issues that really matter.
As I said, I believe this to be an issue that should be kept to secondary theology that still allows for Christian unity and that regardless of where our theology lands, it should not impact the praxis of our faith. I understand this is a hard issue for many of you to wrestle with, and this post isn’t one where I’m trying to provoke you or get in your face– I just humbly ask, that you please consider these few things… and see what might change within your own heart.
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The church I attend has many gay Christians and our gay pastor and his partner have been together for over twenty years. Pastor Randy Eddy-McCain recently published a book that’s now available on Amazon called, “And God Save Judy Garland…a gay Christian’s journey”. It’s the story of his life as a child, growing up as a gay Christian and the trials and tribulations he’s had over the years and how he made it to where he is today as the pastor of a small church in Sherwood, Arkansas that’s known around the world.
I think the fact that the Southern Baptist Conference is and always has been the “Official Church” of the Ku Klux Klan says volumes about what a sick, evil brand of Christianity was brought to these shores by the Puritans and early settlers of what is now the United States and that same black-hearted evil that provoked the Salem Witch Trials and the decimation of the Native population is still with us, with all its hypocrisy and mendacity intact.
Let’s all cut to the chase:
I’d love to have anyone supporting this position cite – with references – from the 6000 years of Biblical theology, law, tradition, and exegesis that actively
supports homosexuality. I’m looking at Luther’s commentary right now
(cross-referenced of course) and can’t find a single supporting position
on being gay in his writings. Are you all saying that Martin Luther was
wrong in his interpretation of the Word? How about Tertullian, Saint
Augustine, Catherine of Siena, Justin Martyr, and Clement of Alexandria –
did they *all* get it wrong?
Let’s go back to the Torah, was *GOD* wrong about it?
To say so, is arrogance and self-serving of an unsupportable position within the Church.
Not arrogance, just conscience. As in, it doesn’t jive with my conscience and the supporting evidence not linked to scripture is often blatant falsehood and slander (eg the fake science from NARTH, Family Research Council, etc). I find it telling that the side claiming to have this absolute truth uses worldliness and lies to defend it. I could be wrong but if I am, then at least I have a perfectly legitimate excuse for being wrong and mistrusting your side and your interpretation.
We walk the path as high as we do in our knowledge because of those who walked before us and built the way. So the view that Luther, Augustine, Catherine, and so on didn’t have the whole truth is not outside of the realm of possibility. The ancient Greek society understood some of the basics of how the human body worked and we use names from Greek for many of the body parts in medicine today but they still attributed certain emotions to parts of the digestive tract and organs in the torso. We now know it originates from the brain. Same thing here.
Assuming your ancestors were immaculate and all knowing is ancestor worship, in my view.
Romans 1:26-27 pretty much says it all.
Romans 8:38-39 pretty much says it all.
You’re out of context here since it’s important to read the **rest** of Romans 8 to put it in full perspective; specifically 8:5-8 and onwards.
Actually the New Testament as a whole says it ALL. Presenting 2 verses and saying that is the only possible impression to have about homosexuality is myopic at best.
Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:12, Luke 16:18, and Romans 7:2-3 says it all for a lot more people. But we lose our fundamentalism when it comes to these NT verses.
No, we don’t. We just remain the sinners we are. I’m divorced (not by my choice) and believe that unless my wife reconciles with me she should remain single and, by logical extension, so should I.
So, as part of Christian accountability, do you counsel those who are currently remarried (with a living ex-spouse) to get out that marriage? Can living in a state of adultery really be glorifying to God? Serious question.
No, leaving the the new marriage is a ‘no go; Deuteronomy 24:4 makes it clear that if there is a divorce and remarriage, the one flesh bond is broken since the new marriage means that couple are bound to one another in a new flesh bond, so leaving that partner to return to the old marriages equates to, in my opinion, ‘two wrongs don’t make it right’.
As far as counseling someone? To me, remarriage falls under a matter of individual Biblical conscience; knowing what the Word says and working it out in your heart and life. I’m struggling with loneliness and want nothing more than to seek someone out and remarry yet I can clearly see what the Word says about it and it’s bloody hard work to live to that level of obedience. At times, it just seriously sucks.
John Piper has a good paper on the topic: http://bit.ly/1lnmt14
Doc, I am sorry that you have gone through this difficulty, and you know better than most that its effects keep going on. I don’t know but can only imagine the loneliness is great…and your level of obedience is admirable.
At the turn of the 20th century many, if not most, holiness groups believed that 2nd marriages (with the ex still living) should end with a divorce. (For example this was part of the belief coming out of Azusa Street.) That belief has obviously eroded where today, unlike you, many evangelicals will marry again willy nilly. It’s a hard call all the way around.
P.S. Here is a source on the church’s long held viewpoint that 2nd marriages are wrong while the ex is still living. In much of church history it is clear that one is living in a state of adultery. Thus, one cannot willfully continue in this state and be pleasing to God.
Of course “gay” Christians exist! So do Christian pedophiles, murderers, thieves, embezzlers and adulterers. All Christians are self proclaimed sinners but we try not to sin again. Acknowledging homosexuality as sin free is tantamount to utilizing the same “logic” to arrive at personal irresponsibility for any other sinful behavior. Why is murder a sin? There’s as much “evidence” that criminals have a genetic predisposition to crime as there is for environmental-familial circumstances. It’s a cop out. I’m not homosexual but I’ve struggled with sexual addictions and behaviors for a lifetime. It would be so much easier to take the “victimless sinner” defense and just say “whatever!” One’s sins should be a matter between yourself and God, not media and the pop culture. The obsession with homosexuality is not with the church . . . it’s with those who choose to make it a political and social cause simply because they can!
Wrote this poem today. Hope it brings some beauty to you on the inside.
Please, read the response to Matthew Vines’ book. It’s a short read and costs $0.99 on Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/God-Gay-Christian-Response-Conversant-ebook/dp/B00KBA8L9Q/
So many here are saying”It’s 2014,get with the times.”Jesus is the same yesterday,today and forever….He doesn’t change.God hates divorce and that is no ones fault but man’s, as well for everything that was written for people to live by his word in Obedience.People are always gonna do what they want.from a lie to homosexuality,it’s a sin.Read your bible,it’s in there.You might not like what it says,I don’t like what a lot has to say,but it is the word of God and i believe it.Please don’t hate me,i didn’t write it.Here is a link about this subject.Don’t trust man,trust the bible.Question: “What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Is homosexuality a sin?”
Answer:The Bible consistently tells us that homosexual activity is a sin (Genesis 19:1-13;Leviticus 18:22;20:13;Romans 1:26-27;1 Corinthians 6:9).Romans 1:26-27teaches specifically that homosexuality is a result of denying and disobeying God. When people continue in sin and unbelief, God “gives them over” to even more wicked and depraved sin in order to show them the futility and hopelessness of life apart from God.1 Corinthians 6:9proclaims that homosexual “offenders” will not inherit the kingdom of God.
God does not create a person with homosexual desires. The Bible tells us that people become homosexuals because of sin (Romans 1:24-27) and ultimately because of their own choice. A person may be born with a greater susceptibility to homosexuality, just as some people are born with a tendency to violence and other sins. That does not excuse the person’s choosing to sin by giving in to sinful desires. If a person is born with a greater susceptibility to anger/rage, does that make it right for him to give into those desires? Of course not! The same is true with homosexuality.
However, the Bible does not describe homosexuality as a “greater” sin than any other. All sin is offensive to God. Homosexuality is just one of the many things listed in1 Corinthians 6:9-10that will keep a person from the kingdom of God. According to the Bible, God’s forgiveness is just as available to a homosexual as it is to an adulterer, idol worshipper, murderer, thief, etc. God also promises the strength for victory over sin, including homosexuality, to all those who will believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation (1 Corinthians 6:11;2 Corinthians 5:17;Philippians 4:13).
this is a load of hogwash.
does God create people who have the external genitalia of both male and female? (hint: the answer is yes) if the doctor surgically “assigns” a female gender to such a person but they identify as male and are attracted to women, are they going against God because they are externally a female seeking to have a relationship with another female? (hint: the answer is no)
who are you to judge what God intends for another person? your name is not Holy Spirit. I admonish you, as Paul did the church at Thessalonica, to work with your own hands and to work out your own salvation.
Who am I to Judge?
Like i said;Don’t hate me for saying it,i didn’t say it,God did.Not once but MANY times in the bible.Wanna share the gospel,TELL THEM THE TRUTH.BTW,working out your own salvation is not sinning while you already know you’re in sin.you repent and learn to be OBEDIENT.I lived the Gay life stile for 25 years.I’m working out my salvation.you can enjoy the “flesh”.
“Romans 1:26-27teaches specifically that homosexuality is a result of
denying and disobeying God. When people continue in sin and unbelief,
God “gives them over” to even more wicked and depraved sin in order to
show them the futility and hopelessness of life apart from God.”
That’s cute. So, apparently, 11-year old fervent believer me, with a kind nature, and a loving obedience to God, who attended church 3 times a week and truly followed all the teachings of the Bible to the best of his ability, who respected his elders, who did ALL his chores, who studied HARD at school to get good grades, who held the door open for all the little old ladies in the church after Sunday morning services, who once chided his Mom when she wanted to go to a movie other than what she paid for since it was essentially “stealing,”…was denying and disobeying God? And, therefore, God “gave me over” to homosexuality at puberty?
Am I reading that right? You think that God turned people gay because they were already sinning pretty bad? Because that’s pretty messed up.
Many of you need to re-read the first paragraph of this heartfelt article. The level of unthinking cruelty in so many responses here is one of the reasons that Christianity has increasingly become something that represents an exclusive club of unthinking, self-congratulatory coldness.
If telling a Biblical truth is cruel, then you’re into 2 Tim 4:3 territory for anything else.
I’m sure many of the people here would be convinced that they are speaking from a position of “sound doctrine”, and if Biblical truth were that clear, it wouldn’t have been a source of argument for the past two millennia. However, fencing with bible verses is a activity which only emphasizes the point I made above.
And the thing that many folks who insist there is no reinterpretation/translation/discernment by the individual believer to be had, then I always remind them that has been occurring for CENTURIES. Theology has been debated as long as the Bible has been collected into a unit, and anyone who acts like the interpretation of ANY of it has remained the same since Jesus walked the Earth is kidding themselves.
Gay marriage. The abomination that causes desolation.
I have to correct something I’ve seen in all of these comments. Paul never says “if you do these things, you don’t get to heaven.”
Newsflash. Paul did not believe in “heaven.” Heaven was not a live concept among 2nd Temple Jews in the 40s and 50s AD. Paul believed in a general Resurrection of the Dead (a one-time event, and believed it would happen before he died . . whoops) . .when Paul speaks of “Kingdom” he could be referring to the state of being post Resurrection or he may even be referring to the “present” spiritual Kingdom extolled by Jesus. He did not believe in “souls” that rise to a place called “heaven” when you die . . that is Platonic thought that mixed with Christian thought in the 2nd century when it became clear Jesus wasn’t coming back anytime soon. Go seek the prominent conservative NT scholars (Wright, Hurtado) if you don’t believe me.
So stop mistranslating Paul. It’s annoying.
The Bible was written by men who were inspired by their
belief in God and let’s not forget that the earliest books were originally
transmitted for thousands of years orally before being written down by Moses
and other early prophets and their perception of God was skewed by the human frailties of bigotry, ignorance and the ultimate conceit that they alone were “God’s
Chosen People”. In fact a good case could be made that much of the Old Testament could well serve as an example of how NOT to be a Christian. Marriage was not as sacred to the ancient Israelites as fundamentalist Protestants would have you believe. It was perfectly alright for Abraham to have sex with his wife’s handmaiden with his wife’s blessing, Kings David and Solomon (who was a product of David’s illicit affair with another man’s wife) both had harems of many wives and Lot had sex with both of his daughters, using the excuse that is even oft repeated today, “boy was I drunk last night.”
Even the famous Leviticus quotes are erroneous translations of the Fourth Century Greek transcripts from which all Biblical translations (except the King James Version) derive as the majority of the Hebrew and Aramaic manuscripts were long destroyed before the books of the Old Testament were translated into other languages (the so called “Ark of the Covenant”, which was said to contain all of the biblical manuscripts up to the time of King David, probably burned along
with the Temple in Jerusalem, 586 B.C.E. and the remaining and newer ones perished when the Romans leveled the second Temple in 70 A.D.). The actual literal translation from the Koine Greek manuscript of Leviticus reads “If a man lie
with a man AND a woman together in a woman’s bed, it is an abomination.” This is clearly not a reference to homosexuality but refers to a practice which we today call a “menage à trios.” The ancient Israelites were not concerned
with homosexuality; they were too busy having sex with their wife’s handmaidens
and their sheep. Of course, none of this has any meaning for the fanatical Fundamentalist heretics who preach the hatred and bigotry that is the hallmark of the Puritan Protestantism on which the United States was founded. The fact that they believe the Bible is the “actual word of God” instead of a collection of verses first delivered orally by men who were inspired by their belief in God and read and quote the King James Version, a work of fiction freely translated from the Latin Vulgate and several untrustworthy heretical sources and not even
considered a legitimate translation of the Holy Scriptures by real Christians,
says volumes about what judgmental, hate-filled bigots they are. This is not to say that all Protestants are not real Christians; you don’t have to belong to any Church or Denomination to be a Christian, but if such people are real Christians it is in spite of being Fundamentalist Protestant, never because of it.
You’re deliberately avoiding the writings of the New Testament; Luke – a physician and scientist of his time – went around Judea and sought out the first person narratives of everyone who was around Christ during His time here. This wasn’t ‘my cousin’s brother-in-law saw that guy 10 years ago..’, it was people who were literally *there* – people who had been personally healed by him, people who personally witnessed His execution on the cross, people who were in Jerusalem at the same time and personally witnessed His resurrection. IMHO, Luke’s Gospel is the litmus test of the New Testament.
The New Testament is where much of where the source material that’s been quoted here in regards to homosexual sex and Liberal/Progressive/Jesus Project folks want to denigrate His deity and choose 2 Tim 4:3 over good and sound teaching.
There is nothing in the New Testament that explicitly refers to homosexual orientation, only to abuse, idolatry or illicit pagan sexual practices of any kind within the Roman Empire. Of course if you are quoting the so-called King James Version of the Bible, well you can’t take anything seriously from that work of pure fiction and heresy. I’d wager that if Jesus Christ were to return to earth and was given a copy of the King James Bible to read His first reaction would be: “Who wrote this shit!”
There is no positive affirmation of homosexuality in the Bible. Its all condemned.
There is no positive affirmation of ANYTHING in the
heretical Fundamentalist Protestant Puritan interpretation of the Bible; it’s all ugly and hopeless unless we cower to the demands of drunken lunatic preachers thumping their King James bibles which bears about as much resemblance to REAL Christianity as fools gold does to the real thing. You don’t have to approve of any one else’s life choices but the moment you condemn or judge, which is the same thing as
presuming to know what God is thinking, you are not a Christian. Christianity is about forgiveness and acceptance, not condemnation and judgment, a concept for which most Americans who erroneously call themselves Christians seem to have little use.
You show an utter lack of understanding of what the Scriptures teach. There are many positive affirmation in the Bible.
Christianity is about forgiveness when one repents of their sins. Practicing homosexuality is a sin that keeps one outside the Kingdom of God. See I Corinthians 6:9-10.
I do understand by your statement that what you call Christianity and the Scriptures teaches hate, bigotry, intolerance and hypocrisy, all things the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, preached against and are all sins that keeps one outside the Kingdom of God. The Scriptures have nothing to teach if you reject the teachings of Jesus Christ. That is what is wrong with the fundamentalist brand of Christianity that has infected our society much as it did in the 16th Century in Europe and who were were all driven out one step short of the hangman’s noose for their heresy only to come to the New World to infect this Country as they still do today. The most dangerous and insidious enemy of Jesus Christ and His teachings today are fundamentalists and “born again” heretics who are a greater danger to our faith than Islam or any other perceived threat from without. Why would these people bother to destroy us from without when our own people are doing such a great job from within. The rabble who laughed and cheered at the scourging and crucifixion of Our Lord and screamed to Pilate to “Give us Barabbas”, the original fundamentalists, are still with us. That is all I have to say on the subject. I forgot that you can’t reason with fanatics.
Jesus certainly did speak against homosexuality in Matt 5:32
and 19:9 where He uses the word “unchastity” and
“immorality” which includes adultery, incest, premarital infidelity,
homosexuality, beastiality and any other sexual conduct condemned in the OT.
Jesus only said that in the King James Version, which is a discredited work of fiction and not really a Bible at all to real Christians. The 4th Century Greek manuscripts have no such statements attributed to Christ in Matthew. These are all fabrications, which is what almost all Protestant bible feature throughout to justify their sick, evil brand of Christianity..
I like the King James Version more for the poetry than any of the details.
Exactly! It is indeed well written poetic fiction. Unfortunately, it is a skewed, willfully distorted transcription of the Holy Scriptures.
I just think it should be used in conjunction with other translations and interpretations to glean the overall message of the Gospels, rather than get too hung up on specific details from one set of interpretations. Speaking with absolute authority about any one translation being the only “right” version just leaves one more open to being wrong, IMHO.
If only that were possible, but judging by the fanatical commentary displayed here, it seems unlikely. I wish we could go back and be more like the early Christians.
From its very beginning, the Christian movement abolished animal sacrifice and other remaining vestiges of paganism in the Jewish religion of the time and replaced it with prayer (which the Jews themselves also officially did more than forty years after the Crucifixion of Christ), rejected the Old Testament depiction of Jehovah, or God the Father, as angry or vengeful and proclaimed that all living creatures, not any one singular group or religion, were “God’s Chosen.”
The early Christians met in the homes of the more well to do followers of Jesus in the intimate form of what we today call a prayer meeting. There was no talk of a formal
church or building of worship. Worship was not a requirement of the Christian movement. This was the manner Christians communicated and exchanged ideas with each other during the first 3 centuries of the
movement. They did not believe or speculate on the virginity of Mary, the mother of Jesus. They did not discuss, speculate or believe in the Trinity, nor did they believe that the exchange of bread and wine was anything but a symbolic gesture of remembrance.
The establishment of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century was the best and the worst thing that happened to the Christian movement. It legitimized the movement and put a stop to the horrible persecution of Christians but it also ushered in destructive compromises that would make Christianity more appealing
to the pagan majority such as the building of unneeded ornate places of worship (churches), the elevation & veneration of Mary, mother of Jesus to replace the female goddesses, the celebration of Christ’s birth during the former pagan winter equinox, the canonization of saints, again to replace the many gods of the old pagan religions and most damaging of all, the formation of the hierarchy of the new church, which included the College of Cardinals, the world’s first corporation and the blueprint for the Mafia and all the criminal and corporate organizations today. This led to unspeakable atrocities that triggered a reform movement in Western Christianity that gave birth to radical protestant groups like the Baptists, Methodists, Calvinists and Mormons, the lovely people responsible for the Salem witch trials, the massacre of American Indians, prohibition and the current
core base of the Tea Party movement, whose primary goal is to impose their fanatical religious will on everyone and establish a theocracy. Yes, the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire brought with it acceptance, prestige and most of all, power; and as we all know, power corrupts. The original simple concept of Christianity has been corrupted, probably irreparably, ever since.
Over on the post about the detained Sudanese Christian woman and what REAL Christian persecution looks like, a few of us suggested that perhaps “we” are losing majority power in the West and we can return to what we feel Christianity should be, which is NOT the majority influence in a society, but a fervent group of those who serve, heal, praise, and make peace.
And, of course, you know that stating any of this in any historical context just means you are citing “Biblically unsound” teachings, and you likely haven’t actually heard the Gospel. ::rolleyes::
“From its very beginning, the Christian movement rejected the Old Testament depiction of Jehovah,
or God the Father, as angry or vengeful and proclaimed that all living creatures, not any one singular group or religion, were “God’s Chosen.””
If He is God, then *all* of the aspects of His Deity are there – Healer and Conqueror, Creator and Destroyer, Father and Son. You can’t deny the God of the Old Testament without denying Him.
My question to you is simple; Was Jesus God or just a wise man?
At the time Jesus walked the earth, the Jews were still burning live animals in sacrifice to their God. They were essentially pagans who worshiped a cruel, vengeful, petulant God of their own creation. Remember, these are the people who witnessed a pillar of fire and the parting of the Red Sea and still went on to worship the golden calf. And to add to their conceit, they called themselves “God’s Chosen”. The one thing most people who claim to be Christians miss is that Jesus Christ came to change the world’s flawed perception of who God the Father really was and who better to do this than His Son. If He is God, the aspects of His Deity are only positive ones; otherwise He is not God. Whereas human beings have “common sense”, God, as a being of unimaginable intellect, has “superior sense”. Nothing within the Bible is the literal word of God and was not meant to be interpreted as such. In fact a good case could be made that significant passages of the Old Testament and the letters of St. Paul
in the New Testament in particular, offers a textbook example of how NOT to be a Christian. These are often the parts of the Bible quoted by many who call themselves Christian today to justify the hatred, racism, bigotry and uncharitable political agendas. I think Jesus Christ Himself put it best in these two literal translations from the original Greek manuscripts, the oldest known version of the New Testament: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of
extortion and excess.”, and
“Woe unto you, hypocrites! for ye are like white sarcophagi, which indeed appear beautiful outward and also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but are full of dead bones and of all uncleanness and iniquity within.”
Those are the words of a REAL God.
So I’m getting it through my middle-aged brain: Are you saying Jesus is or is not God?
Also, if you can give me passage and reference citings to follow along with…
I believe Christ is the Messiah prophesized in the Bible, the Son of God, who amended God’s covenant with mankind to include all living things, not just one nation. He was the earthly flesh and blood manifestation of God
the Father, and His teachings and general behavior while on this planet, all chronicled in the Gospels tells me that prior to this the perception of God the Father was wrong on many counts such as:
He did not want animals sacrificed to Him EVER! That is a pagan practice.
He preferred that you live your life in accordance with His Ten Commandments and have the good common sense to use your own judgment as to the righteousness and validity of man made laws such as those in Leviticus and
to speak out against any unjust laws of men. Jesus Christ made God the Father’s covenant with mankind even simpler with His two great commandments, which are
to Love God as God loves you and to Love your neighbor as you would yourself.
To get to the real issue that triggered this comments section I have no problem if you firmly believe that homosexuality is a sin according to your perception
of Biblical writings or if you simply disapprove of it or even find it abhorrent. But otherwise it is none of your business what your neighbor is doing as long as it does not interfere with you living your life as you choose. Your sins are your sins and your neighbor’s sins are your neighbors. It is between them and God, not you. It is not Christian to accuse anyone else publically of being a sinner even if you believe this to be so. God did not put us on this earth to be His personal judges and juries. That is the mentality of the Salem Witch Trials or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. If you don’t like someone or something the Christian thing to do is simply avoid it. Stop looking and go back into your own house. When the religious right say that the ‘sanctity’ of marriage is being threatened by unconventional and possibly sinful unions, it is quite obvious that they are confusing the noun, ‘sanctity’, with the adjective, ‘sanctimonious’.
To cap it off finally, it is my belief that we don’t have to agree with another person’s life choices or approve of it but to use a sacred text like the Bible to justify imposing or legislating our moral or religious will on the private lives of others is one of the most insidious acts of emotional terrorism a human being can perpetrate against his fellow man. And it sure as hell is not Christian to make a public issue out of something that is a personal one between God and somebody else. End of discussion.
So, if the guy next to you in the pew is beating the crap out of his wife (Malachi 2:16) you’ve got no grounds to call him out in front of the church and the elders? He shouldn’t be subject to church discipline and accountability?
That the idea that Christians have no accountability to one another is a gross misunderstanding.
Now you are being ridiculous and borderline fanatic. If a man is beating his wife in a pew in your church, that is criminal behaviour and of course you should come to the woman’s aid if possible. But that man is subject
to civil discipline and accountability, not to the church. The church has no authority or business in civil matters, even if this assault took place in a church as you described unless you are one of those people who believe that we should have a state religion that supersedes civil/criminal law like most Muslim states. And what does a non violent sexual act between two consenting adults in the privacy of their home have to do with the public criminal act you described anyway?
Are you equating private homosexual acts with violent criminal ones? Does your church think it has the
right to burst into their homes and drag them out on the lawn so the pastor can shame them in front of the congregation? Maybe you could light a torch and burn them right there. That is what the sick heretics in Salem did to each other. That’ll be so pleasing to God, wouldn’t it. That is the trouble with the insane, intruding, accusative fundamentalist brand of Christianity, which is to say it is not Christianity at all. There is no compassion, no understanding, no charity, just condemnation and to make your point you bring
up an extreme example which has no bearing on anything we are discussing here. This is the kind of hypocritical evil Jesus Christ warned us about and here it is still full of hatred and mendacity in the
21st Century. As for as accountability goes, Christians accountability to each other is through acts of charity, love and understanding, never condemnation or calling another out for their perceived sins. That is God’s duty. What you are talking about is not Christianity, it is First Century Judaism and present day Islam.
A clearer example:
What if you sat next to someone every week who had obvious covered up bruises and you thought was being abused? What if she confided that he’d hit her and has a problem with his anger? Do you tell anyone or is it just their private business?
I believe that in accordance with Matthew 18:15-20 he should be confronted with his behavior by the Pastor and Church Elders and also submit to ongoing counseling, church authority, and accountability while he lives apart from her. Scripturally, Christians have a clear mutual responsibility and accountability to each other to call out sinful behavior. Should we do it more tactfully and sensitively? Absolutely!
As far as condemnation goes, the purpose of condemnation is to call attention to another brother or sisters sinful activity or, worse, heresy in hope that they cease and desist of things that don’t glorify His kingdom. Grace, mercy, and forgiveness comes into play when they repent of their sin and return to the fold. (Luke 17:3-4)
Some other thoughts:
1) If, as the pagans say, everyone may do as they wish and there is no sin, then there is no need for a Savior and Christ’s death on the cross was unnecessary.
2) In the Old Testament no animals were sacrificed alive; all were blood sacrifices for substitutionary atonement and the carcass was used for burnt offering. Christ’s death on the cross was a necessary blood sacrifice for all of mankind’s sins.
3) The Nature of Christ is that He is God in all of His glory, the Trinity, Three in One. There is no ‘God of the Old Testament’ and ‘God of the New Testament’ there is only one God who was, is, and will be to come. (i.e., The Nicene Creed)
4) Progressive ‘theology’ – My faith is based on 6000 years of foundational Biblical tradition, law, faith, and exegesis so when I hear about progressive movements that seek to denigrate the Old Testament as just a collection of stories (removing the underpinnings of the Word as a whole), denigrate the letters of Paul (thereby destroying a large section of the New Testament), and then seek to redefine Christ as merely a ‘wise man’ (thereby removing His deity) the result is that there is no authentic, historical faith as Christ as Lord and Savior left over. When there is no ‘theo’ in theology, He simply, at best, becomes a Semitic, hook-nosed version of Buddha or, at worst, a madman and a liar.
4) Christianity is radical, it fights society’s complacency to accept the status quo of what is popular culture; it’s inconvenient, it’s uncomfortable, it’s unpopular, it calls us to look inside ourselves, measure our behavior against a higher standard, admit and confess our sins, and strive to be closer to His perfection daily and, as a result in emulating Him, we are called to help the sick, the injured, the infirm, widows and orphans with His mercy and grace. The two are **not** independent of one another.
If someone confides in you that they are being abused, the right thing to do is to tell that person to go the the proper authorities (the police) and if they don’t you do have the right to intervene by alerting the police. The pastor and church elders have no business intruding in to this person’s life unless the person goes to them and asks for spiritual guidance, the only thing a religious personage is qualified to do. Leave the criminal acts to the professionals. As far as church elders or boards they are not qualified to counsel people on physical abuse and the fact is it is none of their business unless the abused person is stupid enough to subject herself to their usual bigoted, hateful, condemning Protestant heretical rhetoric. Once again, you skirt the issue of what does this obvious criminal act have to do with two consenting adults engaged in consensual activities in the privacy of their home. No church or neighbor has any right to intrude on such activities just because they disapprove of it or believe it is sinful. It is also a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution to infringe on anyone else’s religious freedom or lack thereof. The First Amendment guarantees freedom FROM religion as much as it does freedom of religion. The United States was originally settled by 17th Century hate filled, judgmental protestant heretics and to compound the evil an even more insidious heresy known as the Mormon Church was also founded here and to this day most of the people who call themselves Christian in this Country wouldn’t know what a real Christian was if it was staring them in the face. They are not only an embarrassment to the rest of the Christian world, they are a danger as well. There is no such thing as progressive or conservative Christianity; there is only Christianity and I am beginning to understand why the Eastern Orthodox Church, the only true Christian Church currently in existence on earth and the keeper of Our Lord’s legacy since its founding 40 days after the crucifixion, keeps its distance from the western churches which, for the most part are either schismatic (Catholicism, Church of England or heretical.(all protestant sects and the Mormons.). The Eastern Orthodox Churches read from the Holy Scriptures in the original Greek (New Testament) or 4th Century translations from the Koine Greek manuscripts, which were not written in that century but date back to the 6th Century BCE, the oldest existing manuscripts of the Old Testament in existence at the time. Like all true Christian movements they are not ecumenical; you have to go to them and profess a desire to participate in their congregation and they are more concerned with virtue, not sin and promote a personal relationship with Jesus Christ of faith hope and charity, with the greatest virtue being charity, especially charity which is administered anonymously, with the Church offering guidance only when asked. They offer confession of one’s sins as part of their beliefs but only privately to a priest who acts as conduit between the sinner and God, but never public confession, which is considered an insult to God and the rest of the congregation. That does not mean that they don’t appreciate the beauty of our faith. The Orthodox Divine Liturgy is one of the most divinely inspired rituals you are ever likely to witness. They are the real Christians. It is possible for a Catholic or any protestant, even a Mormon to be a true Christian, but if they are it is in spite of, rather than because of any affiliation with those churches.
You’ve managed to flip between neo-paganism (‘do what you will’) and Eastern Orthodox Catholicism as well as butcher the US Constitution, ignore clear references to church discipline and mutual accountability within the Church (1 Cor. 5:1-13; Matt. 18:17-18; Titus 3:10; 2 Thess. 3:6-15; 1 Tim. 5:20; Gal. 6:1) , dismiss Church History going back to the *1st* century AD (e.g., Tertullian who was a Greek scholar and reading the Greek New Testament manuscripts that were being written while he was alive) and ignoring that the Eastern Orthodox church wasn’t clearly separated from the rest of Christendom until 1054 AD (the *11th* century).
When someone cites Bible verses, be a Berean and seek them out for yourself – in the Greek if you read it, which is pretty remarkable – since you seem to believe that a 4th century text supersedes the authoritative writings of all of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd century Church Fathers and Ecumenical Councils who used the primary source material of contemporary Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew texts of the their time.
And you seem to think that all you have to do is quote hand selected figures in the Early Christian movement when it was forming into a Church, something Jesus Christ clearly did not want because he knew human nature was given to mendacity towards each other. He wanted His message and teachings kept simple so even single minded individuals like yourself could comprehend. All the writers you mention did was complicate and corrupt His teachings until all you had left was dogma not faith. The Orthodox Churches did not break away from Western Christianity. It was the other way around; these genuine Christian bodies, older than any in the West, refused to support the corruption of the faith by the highjacking of the Western Church by the College of Cardinals and the heresy of evil men such as Martin Luther & John Calvin. It has become quite obvious that Jeff Preuss was right in calling you a fanatic who is here to insist on having the last word and to justify your warped views of Christianity.
I will no longer engage with a fanatic, so come back and have the last word if you will. It won’t erase my words from the forum. I’ll leave you by stating again that calling another Christian (or anyone) to accountability is and never has been a part of real Christianity except in corrupt, heretic congregations (like Grace Community Church) which quote the Bible selectively to justify their heresy and cruelty. Anyone who says that they believe that the Bible should be taken literally is either a liar or a moron.
That you keep claiming some intimate knowledge of the mind of Jesus – and therefore God – is well beyond heresy; you lack the ability to cite *any* reference in Scripture for any of your arguments (so they’re based solely in what’s in your head), and your own insane bigotry against the rest of Christendom only serves to divide the universal Church.
I cannot believe that considering what you have previously written on this page that you have the gall to accuse anyone of insane bigotry but since we do not know each other personally perhaps it is unfair for either of us to make such accusations towards each other or anyone else who has written here. I would like to believe that you are fervent in your Christianity and that in life your actions speak louder than your words.
“The 4th Century Greek manuscripts have no such statements attributed to Christ in Matthew.”
Please provide source as I’m interested since this seems to be an argument for contextual criticism.
You seem to be missing the point of why Christ was crucified.
Another thing I keep noticing is that you talk about His teachings like he’s just some guru and not God and are more or less blowing off the OT entirely.
And I keep noticing that all you talk about is the sins and condemnation of sinners in the Bible, never any of the beautiful, hopeful passages, always the ugliest portions of the Holy Scriptures. There are some lovely passages to be found if you care to look for them.
Since AD 33, the common understanding for what defined the Christian church is the understanding of Christ, as the Son of God, as a substitutionary sacrifice and atonement for the sins of the world and through Him we are cleansed.
So, if there is no sin, there was no need for Jesus to die on the Cross.
As far as real vs imagined Christianity, I can only offer that some Christians’ perception of Christ as some long-haired flower child/fairy godfather with ‘some good ideas’ misses the point and denies his Deity. (After all, the nature is Christianity is Christ as a substitutional sacrifice for our sins)
I’m personally a fan of the NASB, a recovering NIV user, and the KJV drives me nuts. That being said, the Bible is pretty clear about what God is thinking since it **is** the Word of God.
My suggestion; get serious about your Bible study – get a Strong’s Concordance, Commentaries (Luther on Romans is pretty amazing), and start looking at the Greek and Aramaic for a deeper understanding of the context behind the English versions.
How do you explain the bar to sexually deviant behaviors in Leviticus?
You keep bringing up the 4th Century yet ignore the writings of the Pre-Augustine Church Fathers who were opposed to homosexuality:
Justin Martyr (AD 151)
Clement of Alexandria (AD 190)
Novatian (AD 250)
Cyprian (AD 253)
Arnobius (AD 305)
Tertullian from 160-220 AD, who espoused the Trinity, condemned homosexuality obviously using the original texts and writings of earlier Christian Fathers and source material from the Greek (http://bit.ly/1mxb8As)
“Yes, and also in the first chapter of [Romans] [Paul] authenticates nature, when he asserts that males and females changed among themselves the natural use of the creature into that which is unnatural, by way of penal retribution for their error.”
“[A]ll other frenzies of the lusts which exceed the laws of nature,
and are impious toward both [human] bodies and the sexes, we banish, not only from the threshold but also from all shelter of the Church, for
they are not sins so much as monstrosities” (Modesty 4 [A.D. 220]).
Funny – at my tribe’s conservative church we have gay people in it – however at a liberal church of YOUR tribe, I got shunned for my “Bush ’04” sticker.
You were denied communion or fellowship with the church because you had a Bush sticker on your car? . . . forgive me for completely not believing you.
Is being a Christian about fitting into a group? Is being a Christian about being “accepted” and “affirmed” by the people around you? No.
There is one founding principle that cannot be overlooked: Being Christian is about justification by grace through faith. Without this, the church falls and Christianity ceases to be.
Now, what does this mean, “justification by grace through faith”? Well let’s look at it in the negative: If someone is NOT justified, it means that he stands condemned and facing punishment. Punishment for what? For wrongdoing! Why does that person stand condemned? Because without faith, the grace of God stops at the door of the heart.
What IS that door? Unbelief. Obstinance. A hatred toward God. Thus before someone can take on the title “Christian,” the door of the heart must be opened.
Let’s be clear: God is the only one who can open that door of unbelief. But what is it called when the door is finally opened? REPENTANCE. Repent of what? Unbelief, obstinance, and the very root and nature of unbelief which is sin.
It does no one any good, in fact it is a boldface LIE, to tell someone that what God calls sin is really not sin. Why? Because if I tell a homosexual that it’s ok to remain homosexual and to continue to practice it, then I am not leading them to repentance, and the door of the heart remains closed. There can be no faith in the true Christ if there is a refusal to repent.
This reality is the same for anyone, for any sin, for any lifestyle which defies God’s order of creation, God’s plan for humanity, and God’s desire for marriage to be a true symbol of Christ and the Church (bride and bridegroom).
Now repentance doesn’t mean that they should no longer struggle WITH sin (such foolish pentecostal teaching is VERY harmful to the weak of faith), but what it does mean is the acknowledgement OF sin.
Acknowledging sin, confession, repentance IS a JOY! Why? Because by faith we know that God forgives sins and loves to do it! To tell a person that their action or lifestyle isn’t sin (when it clearly is) does not ease the conscience or create true joy. I would much rather tell a sinner that he IS a sinner, and that God loves to forgive sins, than tell him he isn’t a sinner and that there’s no sin for God to forgive.
You you think Kind David never struggled with lust after he acknowledged His sin in Psalm 50? I’m sure he did, but he lived a life of repentance; he admitted the sin and allowed God’s Holy Spirit to lead him and guide him in the true way, and this is why he was a “man after God’s own heart.”
THAT IS FAITH! Faith is not “I believe in Jesus, but only if Jesus conforms to my ego”, no. Faith is “I know I am a sinner, and I know Jesus died for me; may God grant me the Holy Spirit and the faith to sin no more.”
This is the whole vain issue with the Historical Critical method of biblical interpretation. It assumes that the interpreter knows better than God – and that is a very VERY scary assumption for anyone to make, especially for people who label themselves as “trained evangelical conservative theologians”.
You can not be a practicing Christian and a practicing any Sin. Clearly there are many sins listed in the Bible, Homosexuality is not all by its self in that category, but it is listed with other sins. The bible says you can not “practice” these sins and go to heaven. We can not just pick out a sin say such as adultery or fornication and say ok well I am good with that even if the Bible says it is wrong.
then don’t practice any sin, including the sin of trying to judge whether other people are or are not sinning. it’s not your place to try and convict others. that’s the proper office of the Holy Spirit.
I’ll agree we aren’t to judge but DO have a clear responsibility to point out errors and sins to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
no, actually. if you’re referring to the passage in Matthew 18, the best translation is “offends you” rather than the more general “sins” as it appears in the NIV and the NASB. so, Jesus is not instructing His followers to point out errors and sins generally among their fellow believers, but rather instructing them on a systematic method of dealing with interpersonal conflicts within the body of believers.
Ah, but you base that responsibility on YOUR interpretation of the theology, an interpretation that some of us do not share. And, before you get into stating it’s the only way to interpret it, remember there are many detailed issues that have many interpretations based on Scripture, such as the role of women in church, owning slaves, wearing mixed fabrics, eating shellfish, yet you do not see much of anyone going around, pointing fingers at women who are leading church services or entering a church with their heads uncovered, and calling them unrepentant sinners or false Christians…without being considered pretty ridiculous.
There are those folks who think that watching R-rated movies are a sin, based on THEIR interpretation of Scriptures. Yet, they do no regularly “point out the errors” of their brothers and sisters in Christ who differ on their theological interpretation of an R-rated movie. And, if they do “point out that sin,” they’re usually met with a fair amount of skepticism.
If we attended the same branch of a denomination as you, and espoused following the EXACT same theological positions as you, you MIGHT have a case about pointing out our errors. Yet, Christianity is a broad and multifaceted approach to following the Lord, with not every one agreeing on EVERY detail. (Or even which Books constitute the Bible.)
We follow God. We have walks with Christ. We study, pray, and discern meaning from the Scripture. But, we do not agree with you that being gay is a sin. So, you do NOT need to continue to lecture us that it is.
(The BEST metaphor I read in any of these discussions is to say that I am a meateater, and you are a vegetarian because you think eating meat is wrong. Now, obviously we are BOTH human beings who consume food, and can coexist with our beliefs peacefully, knowing we don’t agree on what is okay to eat. However, as SOON as you start lecturing me about how WRONG [sinful] it is to eat meat, when I clearly do not believe it is yet I STILL qualify as someone who eats, not a “false eater” then you have crossed a line.)
I’m walking with 6,000 years of Jewish and Christian theology, law, tradition, and exegesis. You’re right, your own conscience should dictate where that collection of Truth in the Word of God and the greater Church clashes with what is clearly anathema.
It is clearly anathema to YOU. It is not so clearly anathema to ME, and I walk with the same 6000 years of Jewish and Christian theology, law, tradition, and exegesis. This is not the FIRST detail from Scripture that is debated from multiple theological angles, nor will it be the LAST. We are all still Christians if we follow Christ as our Savior, even if we disagree on the finer points.
I’m not above and education so, please, cite with references the 6000 years of Biblical theology, law, tradition, and exegesis that actively supports homosexuality. I’m looking at Luther’s commentary right now (cross-referenced of course) and can’t find a single supporting position on being gay in his writings. Are you saying that Martin Luther was wrong in his interpretation of the Word? How about Tertullian, Saint Augustine, Catherine of Siena, Justin Martyr, and Clement of Alexandria – did they *all* get it wrong?
Let’s go back to the Torah, was *GOD* wrong about it?
To say so, is arrogance and self-serving of an unsupportable position within the Church.
I’ll take the sigh as an admittance of failure to argue cogently since there is *no* support for your position in Biblical theology, law, tradition, and exegesis.
It’s no admittance of defeat, you sanctimonious buffoon.
It’s the realization that you will not accept arguments made on this blog and on other blogs on this channel and the links provided therein as valid. We do not expect you to have to AGREE with us on these theological points, we simply expect you to ALLOW that we have reached these conclusions, different conclusions from yours, with the full study and discernment that is due them. But, despite HOW many times it is presented to you, nor the number of times we tell you it’s okay to disagree, you seem to have to “win” the argument. “HA HA! Luther never said it was good, so therefore YOU are WRONG!”
You are simply another stuck-up Christian busybody who thinks it’s his business to tell other Christians how to believe. You list all those who have interpreted and translated over these hundreds of years, yet they don’t all agree with each OTHER over many other details, but somehow THIS detail is IMMUTABLE and can NOT be interpreted ANY other way! It’s patently ridiculous to say that modern scholars who might have a different thing to say about Biblical study and the interpretations might not have a worthy point, just because it disagrees with you.
It’s not that disagrees with me, personally, it’s that ignoring the foundational precepts of the Church and the early Fathers is a dangerous path to follow and leads to heresy.
Anyone can justify whatever they want – as many have done in this blog – yet if they are claiming Christianity, it should be in light of the very Biblical theology, law, tradition, and exegesis that our faith is founded on. That’s not debatable because where is someone coming from if they aren’t grounded in foundational Christianity?
The answer is that they are just making it up as they go along and leading people astray – something that 2 Timoty 4:3 warned us about when he wrote “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
So when should we have stopped studying and trying to make sense of the Scripture? 1600? Or how about 1946 as soon as the word homosexual was interpreted into the Bible for the first time? Should we have stopped there?
It’s not heresy, yet those you mentioned were called heretics in their time for THEIR interpretations of Scripture. Heck, some people STILL consider them heretics.
You’re getting shrill, the first sign of logical failure.
At this point in history, there is no denying the Church fathers shaped Christianity and it’s mores; by doing so, it was made clear that were sexual behaviors that were sinful and unacceptable in Christiandom. Those beliefs were based in the Torah as well as Western philosophy as far back as Plato, who condemned the practice.
You have His grace if you’ve accepted His death on the Cross for your sins and now I’d challenge you to be honest about what you’re doing with it. Check out the book “The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” by Professor Rosaria Champagne Butterfield.
I’m getting shrill? What an…odd assessment of my reaction to you. I think what you’ve missed is that I’ve realized there’s no talking in logical points to you. You bring up a score of theologians with the accusation that I am calling them WRONG, and declaring my point of view on a single theological issue is tantamount to heresy. I rightly pointed out that all of vaunted theologians were considered heretics by their contemporary critics, as well as some today.
That’s not shrill; that’s showing you the very thing I’ve been saying all along, that it’s all a matter of perspective and interpretation, and it’s extremely tricky to go around telling other people their faithfully-discerned thoughts are just flat-out WRONG. Which I have not done to you.
All I’ve been expecting of you as a fellow Christian is room to have a different theological thought on a detail in life, and you are unwilling to bend.
You can challenge me to be ‘honest’ all you want. Honest is all I have been since I made peace with God and being gay. He is perfectly fine with who I am and “what I do with it.”
(“You’re getting shrill, the first sign of logical failure.” By the way, not that you don’t know this already about yourself, but a condescending tone like you used in this phrase and pretty much every other one you typed doesn’t foster theological debate – it makes people not want to talk to you at ALL. And it does not make you right.)
I’d challenge YOU to be honest about what you’re doing with your faith – are you honestly trying to share the Good News with others in order to grow the Church, or are you trying to bludgeon others with it to make yourself seem more important? Check out the book “Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories” by Dawn Metcalf.
You’re asking every Christian to accept a theology based on a lifestyle and behavior that literally *thousands* of years of Biblical theology, law, tradition, and exegesis of the Church has clearly called sinful.
In according to Titus 3:10-11, I’ll not bother with you anymore on this.
No, doc. I’m not asking you to accept. I’m asking you to allow that there IS a different theological take on something in the Bible, because there is precedent for doing so, since people HAVE been examining and re-examining the Scripture for thousands of years.
If we have to decide there is one point in time when we stop analyzing, stop trying to understan how the Bibe relates to us, and how we may have changed asa society, then we might as well be Amish and attempt to cut ourselves off from the world.
But, I’m not Amish and neither are you.
3:10-11, eh? Cute. Except I’m not the divisive one here. Again with that condescension you do so well. As long as you’re done being a stumbling block to your fellow Christians here, I don’t really care what reason you tell yourself.
Beautifully stated, Benjamin.
I believe that self-righteousness is a manifestation of blasphemy. To think and act as if someone else’s sin is worse than my own separates me from my Redeemer. People who claim Christianity need to take the parables seriously, starting with the Good Samaritan.
As I have grown up, I have become aware that I have an attraction to people of the same sex. Just because I am physically attracted to another guy does not mean that I should pursue a relationship with him. I have found it more rewarding to pursue obedience toward God rather than trying to rationalize my appetites. I perceive homosexuality to be against God’s law. I didn’t choose to be tempted by other men, but I do have a choice whether to give in to that temptation (and I have not always been successful, this is the hardest temptation I have ever faced). We dont necessarily have a choice of what tempts us, but each of us has a choice whether to give in to that temptation or not. Whether it’s gluttony, homosexuality, hate, malice, envy, etc. we all have a choice. Christ says we should pick up our cross and follow him, whatever that cross may be. Let’s do that.
Marriage and family is not an exclusive right or privilege and real Christians should not dare to presume to know what God is thinking and deny anyone in an unconventional relationship the happiness of love and family just because it doesn’t follow some moral code that was probably already outdated more than 1000 years ago. We don’t have to agree with it or approve of it but to use a
sacred text like the Bible to justify imposing or legislating our moral will on
the private lives of others is one of the most insidious acts of emotional
terrorism a human being can perpetrate against his fellow man. And it sure as hell is not Christian.
There’s a fine line, and I do think it’s important to consider both. I have the privilege of having 2 friends who have privately come out as being homosexual in the last few years. They are all some form of Christian, and they came to me (I’m the child of a pastor) for advice. There are many places in the Bible where it’s explicitly said that homosexuality is a sin. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. It is the same way with divorce. Just because popular culture condones these things doesn’t mean the Church does. However, it’s not right to ostracise these people because of their sin either. We don’t hate the person who lies or takes the Lord’s name in vain. That doesn’t mean it’s okay to let them continue in their sin either, though. Instead, the Bible tells us to show our brother/sister their sin and urge them to repent. My friends may be homosexual, but they don’t act on it. It’s their sin, and they carry the burden of it every day, just as we all carry our burdens. I don’t hate them, but I don’t say that their sin is okay either.
Every place in the bible that mentions homosexuality, it is about rape, abuse, idol worship, or a man reduced to the status of a lowly woman. There is not a single condemnation of loving homosexual relationships being bad. I conjecture that homosexual sins are the same as heterosexual sins. It are only sexual activities that cause harm to another that are sinful.
I would conjecture that taking a highly evolved, astronomically complex structure of humanly developed rules and regulations which were built WHOLLY on considerations of the implications and ramifications of heterosexual capability to conceive a human being and implying that they represent the framework of authority one should use as a guide for assessing activities which have ABSOLUTELY NO REPRODUCTIVE CAPABILITY is a demonstration of the dreadful standard for religious thought processes. That abysmally-reasoned condemnations of homosexuality have been such a pervasive part of religious practice for so long begs the question of why anyone should assign credibility to any other conclusions that are products of such an abysmal process.
What about those who work on the Sabbath? Do you tell them they are sinning and urge them to repent?
What if a female friend came to you and said her husband was abusing her? Would you advise her against divorce?
Jesus always warned against religious conservatives, never against gays.
I suspect the question of homosexuality being a sin is because many hetrosexuals find the idea of homosexuality distasteful for themselves. Watching someone eating cockroaches would make some say “oh that’s gross!” but to others it would be a luxury. So, recoiling against their inbuilt dislike, the ‘sin’ is shot to the top of the list.
I think Paul’s teaching about eating different foods is important in this debate, if someone thinks it is sinful to eat certain foods then it would be sinful for them to eat those foods (because they are deliberately choosing to do what they think is wrong – and that is sin). If someone thinks that all foods are OK then it is not sinful to eat the same foods. So if a heterosexual thinks it is sinful to practice homosexuality the it is sinful FOR THEM. But that does not mean that it is sinful for everyone else. And similarly if a homosexual does NOT think its a sin to practice homosexuality the is is NOT sinful FOR THEM.
We are repeatedly told not to judge others, so that we may not be judged. Perhaps we can agree that there is no single answer, and act with grace and love when dealing with others.
Blessings to all,
This I guess that would follow for murder and sterling and adultery… Or?
Your comparison is invalid, as each of those has a direct victim as a result of a choice that is made. Homosexuality derived from an orientation that is apparently wired into us just like heterosexuality is wired into you is simply NOT the same as murdering someone, stealing from someone, or cheating on your spouse. And you good and well know it.
Do you really think so? I think there are some pretty significant differences.
Thank you for your article! Another wonderful presective!
Wow. Awesome. I look forward to sharing this on facebook. But not at 130 in the morning b/c no one will see it 😉
It is very disturbing to read this plea to reconsider the sin of homosexuality as acceptable in a person’s claim to be both gay and a Christian. These two are mutually exclusive and not compatible.
It is not possible to prove from the Word of God that He accepts men having sex with each other, or women having sex with each other, as an acceptable lifestyle. The Bible is crystal clear that being gay is a sin that will exclude those who practice this sin–from heaven.
What does a person do with the Old Testament scriptures in which God calls homosexuals “an abomination,” Leviticus 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. or 1 Corinthians chapter 6 where Paul is very specific that those who do such things are excluded from the kingdom of God, 1Corinthians 6:9 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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Then Paul describes those who were living in this lifestyle but have repented and are now living apart from their former sins, and in a relationship with Jesus as: “and such were some of you…”
We must detach from our adulterous affair, our drunkenness, our homosexuality and them receive Jesus as our Savior–before we are saved.
A person must repent of the sin of homosexuality or lesbianism before God will grant them eternal life. There is NO heaven, no forgiveness and no eternal life for any person who chooses to continue in their sins.
Jesus will not hear the prayers of a person for salvation who refuses to repent of their gay lifestyle, their drunkenness, their adultery, or their homosexuality. These are the facts of the Gospel and they are indisputable and without change.
Society may have accepted homosexuals and lesbians and grant them equal rights, but God does not grant any immunity in their sin, or any other sins, from His future judgement. Repent and be saved, this is the Gospel.
Your God, in your interpretation, would send me to Hell for loving and being faithful to my wife. I want no part of your God and will gladly burn in Hell for the sin of love. Open your mind, God is not about turning away from love for any reason. You, however, will be judged against the Gospel. I truly hope that you repent before it is too late. May God bless your family with love and acceptance.
Leviticus was about treating a man sexually like a woman. In those times, women were property. It was reducing the status of a man. Corinthians was about effeminate men and sodomites are rapists. Romans was about idolaters. All of the homosexual sins in the bible were abusive or reductive to men. None are about loving relationships. Homosexual sins are the same as heterosexual sins.
Suggesting that you know and understand God’s Word better than others is prideful & boasting and people who do that won’t enter heaven either.
According to you, unless everyone who does any of the following don’t repent, they will not be going to heaven. Heaven is going to be empty.
Women who don’t wear hats in church
Those who attend churches with female preachers or Bible study leaders
Those who remarry after a divorce that isn’t for adultery
Those who have ever looked with lust on someone
Those who are jealous
Swearing on the Bible
Grumbling or complaining
(These, by the way are just New Testament. Since you included Leviticus, I could also include: men who shave, anyone who has a tattoo, anyone who eats crab or lobster, etc.)
How many people say that being gay is a sin? Not too many that I associate with. It is not the person but the act which is the sin. Let’s not confuse the two. The post said to look at the Bible and if you ask me that would work against the spirit of the post because homosexuality is condemned in both Old and New Testaments. It is not the Christian that has an issue with gas, it it God Himself unless you believe that the Bible is full of lies.
Now here is the rub. The Bible also tells us that the blood of Jesus Christ covers all sins (that is if you accept Him as your personal savior). We are all sinners and have come short of the Glory of God. Straight or Gay, we all sin. The problem becomes what happens next? A sinner who asks for forgiveness may stumble and fall. The trick is to pick one’s self up, dust themselves off, ask for forgiveness again, then strive to walk without stumbling further than the last time you stumbled.
It is not the job of the Christian to judge anyone. That is God’s job. If one accepts Jesus as their savior and they are doing something wrong, well it is God’s job to convict the person of error and they themselves will seek to change the behavior. That’s probably what some may not want to hear, but it is truth.
My comment will I’m sure open some eyes, and also garner hatred but this is what I believe the intention of Christianity is – to bring the sinner into the Kingdom of God.
To the author of this story, Benjamin L. Corey, I have questions for you: Would you also be accepting of an adulterer who came out and said that he was a Adulterous-Christian? Do you believe in Transexual-Christians and Omnisexual- Christians?
I don’t have to believe in transsexual Christians – I happen to know many…
…AND I am a married Christian woman of transsexual experience.
Jesus captured my heart over thirty years ago, and will never let go, nor go-back on His promise to love others through me as He continues to re-make me into the image of Christ.
God is my judge, Jesus my Savior, His Spirit my guide and assurance, and I am called their “Beloved.”
Blessings & Joy!!
I was addressing the author of the story. Good day.
It’s hard to avoid public comments when you make public comments. But good luck with your attempt.
To your question: all Christians are sinners, so any sinner can be a Christian. At least, that’s what I got from the article.
Would you be accepting of a Christian woman who openly refused to cover her head in church?
Sounds like a Muslim belief, not a Christian one. But that was not my point. There are no such thing as a homosexual Christian. There are Christians and there are sinners. A Christian may fall but they do not remain in the sinful state. They repent and reconcile themselves back with the Father.
“But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head”
1 Corinthians 11:6
So you will now wear head coverings in church so you are no longer in a sinful state?
Gluttony is a sin – anyone who is obese or who looks forwards to pigging out on Thanksgiving is a sinner and therefore not a Christian, right?
What does that have to do with what I asked the author of the post?
Are you even a Christian? If I sin, then my Father deals eith me in my spirit. My conscience bears witness of if I am sinning against God. I don’t need to discuss with you what He has me do or not.
So is this your acknowledgment that you know that homosexuality is a sin? Sounds like you do and that is good because it is. If you know that those things you asked me about are sins then to you they are sins for you. And you know you shouldn’t do them, so don’t.
You said that one can’t be Christian and homosexual. According to your standards, one cannot be a glutton and look forward to pigging out at Thanksgiving and be a Christian.
Yes, I’m a Christian. No, I don’t believe homosexuality is a sin. Just as I don’t believe a woman who divorces an abusive but faithful spouse is committing adultery if she remarries – in spite of what the Bible says. Just as I don’t believe it is a sin for a woman to not cover her hair while praying.
“If I sin, then my Father deals eith me in my spirit. My conscience bears witness of if I am sinning against God. I don’t need to discuss with you what He has me do or not.” — yet you think the same is not true of other people.
You fail to understand that it is not MY standards that matters! So you don’t believe that homosexuality is a sin? So what is a sin to you?
You fail to respond to my question – is it possible for someone who looks forward to pigging out at Thanksgiving to be a Christian? They know they intend to sin, they may regret it, but they don’t repent and they fully plan on doing it again.
You said “A Christian may fall but they do not remain in the sinful state. They repent and reconcile themselves back with the Father.” You used that phrase to explain why there could be no gay Christians (because you consider homosexuality a sin). Can one be a Christian and look forward to overindulging at a meal?
I failed to give you the answer you were looking for, but then again you ignored the fact that my question was addressed to the author of this post.
Here is the point, a person has to recognize that something is a sin before they can recognize there is sin within them.
“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, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
Posting to a discussion board generally opens one up to having people comment – even if you are asking a specific person a question.
No, not EVEN if…..when I post to someone in particular, that does not mean it is open to everyone. I would’t have specified otherwise.
So tell me, do you at least acknowledge that homosexuality is a sin? That is what I am getting from your replies having examples of other sins?
If that is the case, that proves you have misunderstood the reason for my post. I could care less to judge anyone, God alone is the judge.
The author has called God a liar. It would seem you somewhat acknowledge the Truth and that is a good thing.
Being gay isn’t a sin. Doing gay is.
Eating too much at Thanksgiving is a sin, too. Have you rebuked your fellow Christians for that?
Is the sin of arrogance committed when one merely satisfies himself that his own lazy, unjustifiably-reasoned construct for assigning sinfulness to others is correct or must he openly state his condemnation in order to commit the sin of arrogance? And if he states it but nobody hears him, is it still a sin?
God can change those who are willing.
“Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will; He will then work in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure. Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ; your affections will be centered upon Him, your thoughts will be in harmony with Him. ”
God will have to prove to me my orientation towards falling in love with and wanting to protect other men is evil before I would be willing to change it. As of yet, nobody has been able to provide me such an explanation and so, I ask, why should I change? Why should I turn my back on my brethren who need me to save myself? That sort of self focused drive isn’t in my nature.
What God’s word calls sin is not loving and wanting to protect other men (or women); it is performing sexual acts with someone of your own sex. That’s it. You are free to love and protect whomever you choose. One problem in addressing this issue is the conflating of “love” with “performing sexual acts with”. We can love other people without performing sexual acts with them. Only the latter is called sin in Scripture. No one is calling for you to turn your back on your brethren and no one is calling for you to be self-focused, quite the opposite. You are to be so other-focused that you won’t engage in behavior to satisfy your own desires which is detrimental to another.
So, if my desires when making love to someone else is to bond myself to them and make them happy does that change it? And I found out I was gay late in life when I fell in love with another guy. Even without sex, I have to imagine that snuggling, kissing, and living with him would be problematic. Yet no one can tell me why it is wrong – just empty legalism, assertion of absolute truth, and threats of hell. Ditching the man I care about to save myself from hell doesn’t interest me much.
Just because a person is over-weight doesn’t mean they are a glutton of excessive eating. I’m sure we all agree. But think about this….Maybe they were a glutton of excessive eating during a period of time in their life and now they don’t over eat but are consuming approximately the amount of calories that their body burns on a daily basis. Problem is they aren’t losing or gaining weight. Are they still a glutton of excessive eating…..No…..are they over-weight….yes. We can’t usually tell if a person in this situation is living in sin. If we can and we love that person we should address it to them. Being Gay is really no different of a sin, but if a person continues to live that lifestyle then they are choosing to live in sin. The sin of being a homosexual, as the Bible speaks, is easily viewed in a persons lifestyle or even openly admitted. At that point a conservative christian church really has no other option but to confront it and ask that they turn away from that sin. If they don’t then they must separate themselves from the sinner. If they repent, then the Church will welcome them back.
You always have a choice.
Disgusting. Divorce, greed, monetary wealth, judgement, gossip, impure thoughts, jealousy (I could go on) are ALL sins. The Bible teaches that ALL are welcome in His house and ALL are loved by Him. For you, or your church, to exclude a person based on your own judgement of his or her sin is the height of audacity and a DIRECT sin against God. I hope, for your sake, you go back to your Bible, use your brain, pray for compassionate and true understanding of scripture and the love of Christ, and allow your heart and mind to be opened to the possibility that you are wrong in your assessment of the meaning of The Word. The message of the gospel is love, pure and simple. I hope your life is blessed with the love of God, and that you will be open and brave enough to honestly live according to that love. Peace be with you, brother. Signed, a Christian Liberal Lesbian.
If you really love someone, you tell them when they are doing something harmful to themselves. If a church member is guilty of the sin of gluttony, you tell him and, if you are one with that authority, you work with him to help him overcome that sin. And if it is a sin present in your congregation, you preach on it, in a loving manner, calling for repentance. The same applies to sexual sins, whatever they may be, be they incest, adultery, fornication, contraception without sufficient and compelling justification, or homosexuality. You do this because you love the sinner.
Every single last one of us have temptations to sins and every single last one of us need to come to recognize our behaviors which are sinful and our temptations to them, pray not to be led into temptation, pray for strength to resist when we are, confess when we fall into sin, repent, and continue to the struggle. The worst possible thing we can do is to pretend that what God’s word calls sin is not sin and in fact should not only be tolerated, but approved.
As to both gluttony and homosexual behavior, God’s word is clear: both are sins. The appropriate Christian response is to help the sinner, not by denying the sin, but by pointing to God’s plan for freedom from sin and offering to help the one trapped in the slavery of sin to sin no more, and to accept the sincere repentance of those who struggle against overwhelming temptation.
To either ostracize the repentant, struggling sinner or to deny the sin is not to love one’s brother. Both responses are working for the damnation of a fellow human being.
“If a church member is guilty of the sin of gluttony, you tell him and, if you are one with that authority, you work with him to help him overcome that sin.”
You know that doesn’t happen, right? In general, sexual ‘sins’ are set into another category. As I understood it, that was part of Ben’s point.
My point is that he is correct to identify that inconsistency, but he is wrong if he is suggesting that the solution is to treat sexual sins as we now treat sins which are ignored or even denied, like gluttony. The solution is to treat all mortal sins as mortal sins. That is, if a sin is deadly, treat it as such. It is not love to allow a brother or sister to continue in serious sin without warning and certainly not to deny it is sin, whether the sin is gluttony, greed, gossip, pride, or sexual.
And he begins one point by writing: “Therefore, even if homosexuality is a sin.” I assume he means there homosexual behavior. If so, then there is no “even if” about it; Scripture is clear. Scripture is also clear that gluttony is a sin. Both should be treated as such. To the extent gluttony is not treated as sin, it should be, and to the extent homosexual behavior is not treated as sin, it should be also.
I understand that’s your point, but it will never happen. Pastors are often gluttons. Deacons are often greedy. Good Christians are often cruel, judgmental and gossips. People will always be much more comfortable calling out “sins” that they and the majority of people like them don’t perform. That’s just human nature
Since you can’t change that, you have to decide if you want your church to be hypocritical. It can attack behaviors that most of the members don’t have any desire to engage in while giving a miss to those behaviors that they do struggle with, or it can let people police their own lives, only stepping in where someone does harm to another.
I would point out the irony that some conservative Christian churches would be much more likely to shun or pressure a gay parishioner than a parishioner that abuses his wife. That should be looked at, in my opinion.
No, the solution to hypocrisy is not to just ignore all sins. It is to stop being hypocritical by treating all sins for what they are. I don’t disagree one iota with the criticism of hypocrisy in churches. How could I? I disagree adamantly with the proposed solution.
Well, as an outsider, all I can say is that I wish you the best. You’re trying to fly in the face human nature, and that usually does not end well. Good luck.
I’m sorry, but St. Paul deals rather explicitly and in depth as to how sin within the church is to be handled, and it is not by the wisdom of the world. And it most certainly is not to deny that sin is sin.
It sounds like you should move to an Amish community.
We’re on the same team, but as a personal request, please don’t lump fundamentalist together with the Amish. This is an Anabaptist blog, and the Amish are part of that Anabaptist tradition. They are a very loving and peaceful people– very different from the fundamentalists you’ll encounter here on the blog.
As far as I know, the Amish do not accept active homosexuals into their community.
I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting any Amish folks, but all the Mennonites I’ve met were kind and very loving people.
Scripture is also clear that judgement of sin by any other than God is a sin. Yet here you are, preaching, judging, and condemning a person’s sexuality as sin. You need to repent of your own sin of speaking for God and then STOP!
No it doesn’t. It teaches no such thing. We are called not to judge people. Scripture teaches us what sin is. In fact, Scripture goes to great lengths in teaching us what sin is. What Scripture says is sin is sin. This is one of the great misunderstandings about what Scripture teaches.
Even in condemning me you recognize the concept that some things are sinful saying, “Scripture is also clear that judgement of sin by any other than God is a sin.” You can’t say that without making a judgment about what is sin yourself.
And I was very careful not to condemn a person’s sexuality (that is, their orientation), but only actions. God’s word calls certain sexual acts sinful and is clear about that. Adultery is a sin. Incest is a sin. Sexual acts with an animal is sin. That’s not my judgment. That’s God’s word.
If I said that it is a sin for a married man to have sexual intercourse with a woman who is not his wife, would you condemn me for calling that a sin? If I said that it was a sin for a man to have sex with his father’s wife or with his sister, would you condemn me for calling that a sin? If I said that it was a sin for a man to have sex with an animal, would you condemn me for calling that a sin?
We must use judgment about what sin is so that we can confess and repent of it and seek to not engage in sinful acts. And churches are responsible for teaching their parishioners what sin is so that parishioners can confess and repent of their sins and seek to not engage in sinful acts. That is one of the jobs of a church, just as it is the job of a doctor to warn his patients against smoking or excess drinking. A doctor doing so is not judging his patient; he is giving him helpful, loving advice.
By the way, a church which does not teach that gluttony is a sin when there is an obvious problem with gluttony in that congregation is not providing loving care for its parishioners.
“If I said that it is a sin for a married man to have sexual intercourse with a woman who is not his wife, would you condemn me for calling that a sin? If I said that it was a sin for a man to have sex with his father’s wife or with his sister, would you condemn me for calling that a sin? If I said that it was a sin for a man to have sex with an animal, would you condemn me for calling that a sin?”
No, I would not. See Luke 6:37. I would agree with you that these examples you have given are morally wrong as they are detrimental to society. But judging a person based on your religious belief and declaring them as sinners is not your responsibility nor is it something Christ called on you to do. I believe whole heartedly in the teachings of the gospel. It is clear that Jesus said he fulfilled the law from the Old Testament and we are to continue forward with love in our hearts for each other, regardless of our own viewpoint of their “sins.” I am not audacious enough to claim that I am worthy of speaking for God in regards to the things others think or do. That is not my place. I do not judge you for your actions or words, but that doesn’t mean I am not going to point out to you how hurtful those words are to others. Take personal religion out of the equation and replace it with kindness for all and you will be much more effective at bringing God to non believers without ever speaking the name which your religion has given Him.
Everyone save Christ (and some would add the Virgin Mary) is a sinner, you and me included. What I may not judge is who is a saved sinner and who is a damned sinner. God’s word makes that clear. He also makes clear what acts are sins. He does this because He loves us. And any pastor who loves his flocks will tell the truth to his flock on the subject, just as a doctor will tell his patients what behaviors in their lives are harmful to their health, such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol to excess. One would, I would hope, flee a doctor who told a patient that his smoking was perfectly fine, even admirable, and should be celebrated by all. And one should flee a pastor who does the same as to sin.
A pastor who misleads his parishioners as to the immorality of their sin doesn’t do so because he loves his parishioners. He does so because he loves himself. He is not seeking to affirm his sinning flock, but instead to have them affirm him. And he is doing so by tickling their ears.
I’m sorry you are hurt by the truth. I’ve been hurt by hearing the truth about my life and behavior at times, especially when I heard the truth from someone who cared about me and my welfare, cared enough to tell me the truth even at the risk of earning my anger toward them. Praise God that He sent such people into my life.
I haven’t been hurt by the truth that God loves me. I have been hurt by the hateful, exclusionary, judgmental pseudo christians, like you.
By the way, a more apt parallel issue is the indiscriminate use of contraception. Christian churches of all traditions taught this to be a sin from very early in the faith through the first quarter of the 20th century. Luther called Onan’s sin of coetus interruptus a sodomitic sin. That’s the issue that really needs to be addressed here. There is a huge hypocrisy in condemning homosexual acts when one is regularly and with no compelling justification (e.g., real health risks to the wife from a pregnancy) practicing contraception as a regular part of their marital life. Gluttony will be addressed before contraception is, however, because contraception is the pet sin of Western Christians and has been for at least the past 80 years. In this respect, we see two different species of sodomy treated very differently: one (contraception) is routinely accepted and even encouraged; the other (homosexual acts) are routinely condemned.
So appreciate your take on this!!! Thanks!
So my post did show up or was deleted simply because I did not agree with the writer…..So much for being open, and tolerant…..P.S. Will the people that claim to being born adulterers, a pedophile, or a thief be able claim acceptance as Christians or will they need to start their own church as well.
Jesus said and I QUOTE “I forgive you of your sins, go and sin NO MORE”
You mean the post four below this one that begins “So Bottom line here as I understand it is…”?
The one I can see clear as day?
Persecution Complex: 1, Common Sense: 0
Well I do not see it anywhere even as I scoured every post. It is absent on my screen. But I am sure you will find a way to try and belittle me for that. Either way no can refute the fact that sin is sin no matter how someone wants to redefine it. And here is no persecution complex except on the part of those who don’t want to be called sinners anymore, so they must re-write, re-define, and omit Bible verses in order to continue in the lifestyle that is comfortable to them. And by the way maybe you could give facts on where christians have persecuted the lgbt community. Maybe the christian community just doesn’t want to told they must change their religion in order to fit another.
Judgement and unloving communication: 1, showing the love of Christ with your actions and words: 0
‘The love of Christ’ is your business, not mine. Why would I care about such a thing? I have no love for people who despise a community because they’re different but are wrapped up in their own tragic narrative.
Disqus can be slow. Don’t assume you’re being picked on. Many posts disagree with Ben. Generally, slow or missing posts are web-based glitches. (I speak as someone who has done system admin.)
Paul, under the inspiration of the holy spirit, talking about the “…ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…”(Romans 1:18) says in (Romans 1:26&27 KJV) “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 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….” and goes on to say (Romans 1:32 KJV) “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”
So if you love your gay friends, in or out of the church, then bring them the Word of God, that they may flee from sin, live and not perish.
Paul was probably a False Apostle.
Now, even if he wasn’t a false apostle, what do you say to a man who has found happiness and long term, monogamous love with another man? Are you going to ask him to walk away from that love and be alone, devoid of affection and companionship for the rest of his life? Pretend I am that guy and sell me on it here.
I am a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ and what He did for me on the cross. I believe it whole heartedly. I also believe that the whole Bible is complete TRUTH. Because my Jesus and my God is the TRUTH, the way, and the life. My belief is that homosexuality is a sin. I believe this from what the bible tells me. (1 Cor. 6:9) I do not believe that those practicing the sin should be an outcast. Just as others practicing other sin should not be considered an outcast or humiliated for their sin. I struggle with certain sins in my own life. But I have hope. I know that I am no longer under condemnation for my sins because the Lord Jesus Christ has taken my sins (past, present, and future) upon Himself and has paid the punishment for my sins. I have been saved by His grace. I am deeply saddened that there are countless people out there that feel alienated and abused by what Christians have said to them/about them regarding their sexual orientation. I want you to know that no matter what earthly man may do or say, Jesus loves YOU. Even if your life doesn’t line up with His ways, even if you don’t even believe in a god, even if you live your life as a divorced person, homosexual, or glutton. He still loves YOU. The Bible says in Romans 10:9-11 – 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” The bible also says in 1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I do not put my belief systems in what others think or man’s beliefs. I put my belief in God and what He has said in His word. I hope and pray that if there are any that are confused or hurt by what anyone in this world has said or done to them, that they remember that the only one who matters is God, and He loves you with a love so deep you will never comprehend it. He loves you right now, in the midst of your uncertainty, doubt, sin, and unbelief.
I love your obvious expression of Christ living within you. I disagree with your view of homosexuality as a sin. BUT, your beliefs and relationship with God are yours personally and intimately, as are mine. We can agree to disagree without judging one another on God’s behalf. Signed, a Christian Liberal Lesbian
Matthew Vines already debunked your view of Scripture, as have most reputable Bible Scholars. You can say that God protected Scripture and kept it easy to understand but to do that he would have to get rid of human free will and it would make the last line of Revelations a lie (since man could never change the Word in the Bible as you state). Just own your hatred of us. Quit with that “I am just doing what the Bible says” and own your views as your own. Don’t cower behind legalisms and interpretations that appeal to your itchy ears.
Intriguing article. Haven’t read the book, so can’t comment on the theology. Agree that there has been different treatment of this particular sin, however, very few other categories of sinners try to argue that they are not sinning at all . . . . Intrigued by the idea of glorious hypocrisy. Note on title of article: The bible doesn’t say that being gay is a sin – it says that engaging in certain activities is sinful.
So Bottom line here as I understand it is,,,,,even tough you know something is a sin….but say you believe in Jesus…..it is okay to keep living in that sin….because others are living in theirs….Hmmm…..Sorry but all the sins I have committed in my life i have repented for and asked for forgiveness…then I needed to do one more thing that Jesus told us to do….Go and sin NO MORE!!!
This writer only tries to codon what is known to be sin in order to keep sinning. NO matter how much or how little Jesus spoke on a subject, if he said it he meant it.
I don’t really feel it is a sin, to be honest.
Honesty is not the problem it is the start of repentance and forgiveness. What this article wants people to do is lie to themseves and say that homsexuality is not a sin So they can keep on living in it. The Bible cleary states what is and is not sin. If a person claims Christianity then they accept the whole Bible and and not just the parts they like. If they don’t then the dishonesty is in the person claiming Christianty. And by the way just because someone feels something is not a sin does not make it true.
Nope, the point of the article is to ask: “even if you’re believing rightly, are you behaving rightly?”
Fine as long as you are not telling me that
I have to accept homosexuality as not as sin anymore because it is and that is
what the Bible teaches. And no Christian I know has ever denied that nor have
they or I ever told someone of the glbt community they are not allowed in our
church or tried to dehumanize them. As a matter of fact I have never ever heard
anyone in the mainstream church say or do that ever. BUT, and that is a huge
word used by God many times in the Bible……but if a person decides to
continue to live in their sin, have they really accepted Jesus? Adultery,
pedophilia, lying, stealing, murdering, bestiality, coveting, drunkenness, and
homosexual behavior are all sins and are not open to interpretation just because
there are more people doing it. They are to be repented for, ask forgiveness
for and then turn from said sin. That is what the Bible teaches whether you or
anyone else like it or not. Lastly, can a Christian be in sin and still be
saved, the answer is yes. BUT it is the job of their fellow Christians to help
them out of it. That is what the love of Jesus is about, not allowing their
brothers and sisters to be in the prison of SIN.
I find your assertion of Biblical truth to be unconvincing compared to the arguments against you from guys like this blogger, Matthew Vines, etc. You maybe right; maybe God is vindictive and petty, setting meaningless rules so He can damn as many as possible over who they are. I don’t bow before tyrants – not in my nature. So, in that event, I choose hell.
1. Divorce is much more detrimental to society *right now* than homosexuality is. The church needs to step up and denounce divorce at every turn, yet they don’t. Divorce is very harmful to children that were born into the marriage, if any. Look up the statistics on how many households in the U.S. do not have a father in the household. The ramifications of divorce are untold.
2. We are not supposed to turn a blind eye to sin. We are to help each other. We, as Christians, do not trust other Christians enough to tell them our problems. Sexual sin is very hard on everyone involved, and Jesus only wants the best for us. So tell some kid, hey go to church and talk to someone. Who? It’s awkward for outsiders not in “the clique”. This needs to stop. We need to help people through their difficulties, and we all have them. We ALL sin. Billy Graham sins. Mother Teresa sinned. Every person ever born sinned except for Jesus Christ.
3. The church is the problem. We have to stand firm but be loving at the same time. Can we do it? We haven’t yet. I don’t know all the answers.
” I will still invite everyone to join me in following Jesus… and I will still refrain from judgement, because I’m not God and I don’t have all of the information to make righteous judgements about others.”
1.) I may not be understanding this correctly but you will invite people to follow Jesus but won’t make a judgment on any sin issues in their lives as a follower of Christ? Paul makes judgments in 1 Corinthians 5:12 “For what have I do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to Judge?” Paul is judges those in the Corinthian church who are sexually immoral by saying that believes shouldn’t associate with them but he makes the clear distinction that follower’s of Jesus aren’t to judge those who do not follow Christ.
2.) Will you judge someone who has an intent to physically harm your family by doing whatever it takes to stop him? (this is a judgment) If you didn’t make a judgment on the one who would harm your family your family would be in trouble.
3.) Where does it say that one can’t make a judgment because they aren’t God and don’t have all the information? Why is this conclusion correct? In James 4:11-12 this is referring to speaking evil against another not correctly judging sin within the church in a way that builds up rather than tears down. In Matt 18 Jesus is asking us to make judgments regarding another brother’s sin.
“The fact that we have created an entire, separate way of viewing and treating our gay brothers and sisters, is nothing short of corporate sin.”
1.) This seems to be a judgment against the “church” in spite of the first quote above where you say that you will refrain from making judgments but just will invite people to follow Jesus? This seems to be contradictory with the above quote…?? I in no way will condone poor treatment of any person – gay or not.
2.) What are you appealing to in order to come to the conclusion that this is “corporate sin”? Why are they wrong and you rightfully judging them to be wrong? It appears that you have interpreted scripture like 1 Cor6:9-10 or Romans 1 or 1 Timothy 1:8-10 to be unclear and open to interpretation. Why is this interpretation of scripture correct and the opposing view not? If you are open to have an interpretation of scripture why can’t others – even if it conflicts with your view?
The Bible teaches that all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God (Rom 3) which means the issue of homosexuality should not be a polarizing issue. It isn’t that there is the church on one side and then there is the homosexual on the other side. No, it is the fact that there is God on one side then there is us -fallen mankind- on the other side. But God who is rich in mercy and because of the great love that He has for us sent Jesus to bridge the eternal separation that existed between us and Him by paying our penalty of the sin we all committed on the cross 2000 years ago. Now all sinners can be forgiven an eternal debt that Christ paid for in full on their behalf by grace through faith. Which means our old identity whatever it may have been gets replaced with our new identity as dearly beloved children of God. But why should those who believe in the trustworthiness and authority of God’s word shy away from calling what is sin sin. Especially when scripture is clear in saying that those who practice things like: sexual immorality, idolatry, adultery, homosexuality… those who are greedy, drunkards, ….ect will not inherit God’s kingdom… This is a scary thing to get wrong…
“3. Where does it say that one can’t make a judgement because they aren’t God?” Luke 6:37 is where you will find the answer to your question. Have you read the gospel?
Thank you for the comment and here are some thoughts:
1.) The judging referred to in Luke 6:37 seems to be referring to a critical judgment that one makes in hypocrisy with a big plank in their eye. I agree this judgment is wrong but Jesus is not ruling out good discernment / judgment that is a benefit to the person. He demonstrates this by saying in Luke 6:42b “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” If Jesus was saying that all judgment or correction is bad he wouldn’t have said to take the log first out of your own eye so you can see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Jesus further demonstrates this need for making good judgments within the church in Matt 18:15-17 which describes church discipline. This involves making judgments.
To restate a point I made earlier:
Paul makes judgments in 1 Corinthians 5:12 “For what have I do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to Judge?” Paul is judges those in the Corinthian church who are sexually immoral by saying that believers shouldn’t associate with them but he makes the clear distinction that follower’s of Jesus aren’t to judge those who do not follow Christ.
It is clear from scripture that Christians are to make good judgments and not judgments rooted in hypocrisy and criticism. When my oldest son hits my younger son I immediately make a judgment upon the situation and actions of my son which leads me to try to lovingly correct him. If I never made good judgments I would be a bad father. In the same way Christians should not shy away from standing up for the truth. I recently had a friend that admitted to me that he was committing adultery and with around 5 other women over the years. If I took the approach from what I understand is prescribed in this article to just tell him to follow Jesus but never point him to the truth of God’s word where it says adulterers will not inherit God’s kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) but God is willing to forgive and full of mercy and grace then it would be a dis service to him and God’s word. I shared with him these truths and encouraged him to repent and turn to Jesus for forgiveness. He didn’t hate me or get angry with me. He was very thankful and appreciative that I shared these hard truths. Truth in love should not be sacrificed because it may be offensive because it is only the Truth that can set us free. (John 8:32)
I can appreciate your points, although you and I disagree on the interpretation of the text and the religious meaning of judgment.
How about instead of pointing people to a book that talks about this let’s go to scripture? Scripture states that homosexuality is a sin. Period. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) Scripture states that gluttony is a sin period. Neither are acceptable in the eyes of the Lord.
Well, your interpretation of Scripture states that.
This has more political “tinges” than I like…but I can’t hold my tongue. Whatever the position I take on the issue of homosexuality, it must be know that I have gay friends and I love them dearly. I have friends that are gay and Christian who live more upright and moral lives than I do. This post is not to start a debate–please don’t because I don’t have the strength and I won’t respond. This i…s for the simple means of reflection for you and me; this is simply a statement of my frustration and the blatant hypocrisy in the church today–so much that gay people–even straight people–won’t dawn the doors of the church because we “Christians” have become known more for what we are against than what we are for. I wrote the following for a gay friend of mine who feels depressed over this…I hope that some may see the disparity on the subject and reflect on the problem and how we can change our thinking and behavior.
Jesus spoke on many occasions on marriage and divorce in scripture but NEVER mentioned homosexuality. SO….
Let’s look seriously at divorce in our culture; The church, some say, is coming around and taking the “black and white” issue of divorce seriously as Jesus commanded, yet I don’t see it. Do you? WHY WHY WHY have I yet to see groups such as “Divorce International” when speakers come to denounce divorce and counsel people out of it…why have I yet to see anti-divorce marches and protests, I never hear the “Love the sinner hate the sin” ramblings when the topic of divorce comes up…I never hear of the bakery refusing to make a cake for the straight couple who are marrying after a divorce…I never see right wing politicians proposing “Defense of Divorce” legislation because of the sanctity of divorce and the family who may need one….I have yet to be met with big signs that say “God hates divorcees”….how about the National Organization of Marriage dumping millions of dollars into ballot measures protecting divorce as “between one man and one woman?” …I have yet to see picket signs that say “God created Adam and Eve–even if they want a divorce….” Let’s be honest, I could go on forever. My point: hypocrisy abounds and I don’t see such disparity ending anytime soon. My ultimate point? I don’t really care what one’s position is on the subject, but if you can’t shut your mouth for the purpose of loving someone….(As Tony Campolo said so eloquently “LOVE THE SINNER…hate YOUR OWN SIN–and then you can worry about the other guy later”) shut it so you can cease the incessant harassment and patronization of people who God loves just as much as you. Understand that if you are one of those people standing on your soap box, wagging your finger at gay people blathering on about “love the sinner hate the sin” you look like a fool and no one believes you love shit. All you are doing is taking on a moral authority you have no right to.
Let’s take the divorce issue one step further; so churches, as some say, are coming around and taking the “black and white” issue seriously as Jesus commanded. But I have yet to see groups such as “Divorce International” when speakers come to denounce divorce and counsel people out of it…I have yet to see anti-divorce marches and protests, I never hear the “Love the sinner hate the sin” ramblings when the topic of divorce comes up…I never hear of the bakery refusing to make a cake for the straight couple who are marrying after a divorce…I never see right wing politicians proposing “Defense of Divorce” legislation because of the sanctity of the family who need divorce protection in case it is needed….I have yet to be met with big signs that say “God hates divorcees”….how about the National Organization of Marriage dumping millions of dollars into ballot measures protecting divorce as “between one man and one woman” …I have yet to see picket signs that say “God created Adam and Eve–even if they want a divorce….” Let’s be honest, I could go on forever. My point: hypocrisy abounds and I don’t see such disparity ending anytime soon.
Thank you, from one of the outcasts.
Amen! Have to share this one on FB!
The Bible instructs us to preach the Gospwl to every person. The Gospel includes the truth about sin, homosexuality included.
To deny homosexuality is a sin is to reject the Bible. To attempt to retranslated and interpret Scripture out of context is literally agenda-driven “adding to or taking away”, which is also strongly addressed by God!
By the standards set by this opinion piece, and even more so by the promoted book, we would no longer have a Biblical standard. Adulterers driven by sexual addiction are still sinners, rebelling against God.
Murderers (even murder in the heart through hate) is still rebellion and sin.
The Gospel says to repent from all sin. If we treat certain classes of sin, especially sins very dramatically and strongly condemned sin- as a special protected class so we don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, we are preaching another gospel- of which Paul strongly condemned and instructed Christians to avoid.
Exactly where does the gospel condemn homosexuality specifically? And, perhaps more importantly, who are you to say which interpretation of the bible and scripture is the correct one?
Let me guess – you are a “red letter ‘Christian'”?
Lets see – in just one example, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6, of an extensive (though not comprehensive) list of particular sins that were being “indulged in” among the Corinthian people (and indeed – some of the believers WERE among those committing the sins):
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
And before anyone tries to play games with the Greek…
The Greek word translated as “homosexual” is arsenokoitēs, which literally means “sodomite” or one who practices homosexuality.
Paul addressed the particular sins that were plaguing the culture in which the Corinthian church was serving and ministering in – the “hot button” issues – that even some of the Corinthian church folks had once participated in.. but they were changed/transformed by the Blood of Jesus (as the following verses clarify).
And let us go to another reality-check. God is not the author of sin, nor of temptation. Scripture specifically states (1 Corinthians 10:13 to be specific) that God will not allow temptation beyond what one can handle – but with such temptation, will also provide the way (means/avenue) of escape –
In other words – Any temptation to sin, for the believer – is accompanied by a means to escape/endure the temptation without committing the sin.
Paul is probably a False Apostle. Unworthy of trust, I am afraid. Do you have any other Scriptures you could share that weren’t invented by a lying, self-aggrandizing, hypocritical Pharisee?
If by “Red Letter” Christian you mean one who believes and follows the examples set by the deeds of Jesus instead of the words a human used to describe his own interpretations of what God might have meant in his last vision, then yes, I am. And proud to live the life of love that Jesus taught instead of a life pointing out bible versus to justify my own bigotry and hate.
Jesus quoted primarily from the Old Testament – you know – where God originally used the term “Abomination” in reference to homosexual behavior. But that is another issue…
Go ahead and cling to the lovey-dovey version of Jesus. Ignore the wrathful conquerer that Revelation portrays Him as – who, with the wrath of God will bring judgment and extreme trials as humanity has never experienced – all due to rebellion against God (which includes the unrepentant sin).
Oh – God is indeed love – but you cannot focus on simply His love – as He also is wrathful against those who choose to pick and choose what parts of His word to accept or reject…
You forget that, in the New Testament, God said that the law had been fulfilled. God made me this way and God makes no mistakes. I do not believe that the love I have for my wife will be judged according to an ancient text that has been interpreted by humans again and again. The whole of God is love and it is our duty to seek to be as God is, full of love for all.
How do you reconcile scripture with your views? The Bible says that God does not tempt us – that He is not the author of sin. Is it more of that “selective editing” – using your feelings to determine what is and isn’t “really” scripture? That would be placing yourself in God’s position.
I reconcile by using the brain God gave me instead of blindly following someone else’s interpretation. Try it sometime, it’s very enlightening. This conversation is over, I am tired of banging my head into your wall.
“The Old Testament – you know – where God originally used the term “Abomination” in reference to homosexual behavior” The same chapter forbids wearing clothing of different fabrics mixed together, eating shellfish, trimming the sides of your beard or getting a tattoo. Pretty much anything is an abomination in Leviticus.
“neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who
practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor
revilers, nor swindlers” Anyone who is divorced and remarried, or rich, or cheats on their taxes, or has one beer too many with any regularity is also included on this list. But you’re probably not fixated on condemning them, because just about everyone has been guilty of one of these things at some time or other. Best to seize upon the one thing you’ll never do and make the argument all about that, conveniently ignoring all of the others.
I read your article. You did not state why you believe homosexuality is not a sin- and maybe you didn’t intend to. Instead, it seems to me, you pointed the reader at other sins, such as gluttony, and then you directed our attention to big problems not related to homosexuality, and said, basically, “Let’s worry about these things instead.” Romans 1 seems to imply that a society’s rampant practice and acceptance of the sin of homosexuality, specifically, indicates that God is already judging that society.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
There is no debate.
Read it in Greek.
Benjamin, would you please translate and dissect this verse in Greek? I would try, but it’s all Greek to me. oh ho ho.
never mind… I found this on Google:
There is no debate, except in the application. This verse is truth and reality, no matter what language you read it in. So I suggest we all get busy with the part that belongs to us. We all are called to follow Jesus, be discipled, sanctified, learning to love and be loved, and share the good news. And we all have our story of ‘before’ and ‘after.’ Actually, we should.
@Benjamin, this was a great article that made me think further on a topic I had given up on for many reasons. But this brought back with power the great need we all have to not categorize homosexuality (which I have had both attraction to and loathing toward over the years).
I’d also like to suggest we don’t assume that EVERYONE dealing with homosexuality is miserable, nor is EVERYONE at peace. And that we would give as much attention and care in helping those who don’t feel comfortable with it and express a desire to be freed, as we aim to welcome those who feel very comfortable with it..
Many Christians have looked at the biblical evidence and have come to the conclusion homosexual practice is a sin. Therefore, they ought to treat people who live this lifestyle with respect and love but not affirm their sinful behavior and also speak against it when appropriate. Does this belief make a person a fundamentalist, bigot, homophobe, unloving?
Not necessarily, but it would undoubtedly make them a hypocrite.
Are you saying that speaking against sinful behavior makes a man a hypocrite? How so?
As an outsider, I would guess because you, yourself are most likely not perfect. If we spent all our time pointing out each others faults until all faults were no more, we would:
A) Have no time to do anything else. At all.
B) Become annoying, pushy, judgmental busy-bodies, faults in themselves.
I think Ben’s point might be that we don’t do this. You ignore my spare-tire, I ignore your tightwad tendencies, and we let people sort out their own behavior, unless it impacts on others. Except in this case. This has become the Special Sin that has to be harped on, to the exclusion of all others. And that’s hypocritical.
Gimpi, if a person looks at the verses in the bible, studies, researches and becomes convinced that homosexual behavior is wrong in God’s eyes do they become a hypocrite for speaking against it? Provided they speak against it a loving way with genuine concern for their brother/sister in Christ.
If so, why? Is speaking out against other immoral acts like adultery or arrogance a hypocritical act?
If they truly treat all ‘sins’ as sins, no, they would not be hypocritical. However, in my experience, that isn’t what happens. I feel that 99% of people are far, far more comfortable speaking against ‘sins’ that they and their close associates aren’t likely to have in their lives. It appears to be just how people are wired. If I were to hazard a guess, perhaps the enjoinder not to engage in judgemental behavior common to several religions is due to this trait.
I feel when we ignore basic human traits we often wind up becoming hypocritical, because we don’t see what we and those like us are doing. The sins closest to us are often invisible. The long line of pastors abusing parishioners is testimony to this blindness. Those the most upset about gay people often seem to be the same people who defend a pastor caught in inappropriate behavior, and many times seem to blame the victim.
The ability to focus on ‘outside sins’ often seems to make people less, not more, willing to confront their own shortcomings. I would wish for people could get that beam out of their own eye, but I don’t see it happening. When I see more loving, open-hearted, Christians like Ben, I might be more willing to listen to their views on right and wrong. But from where I sit, they are a distinct minority.
Speaking as an outsider, I also feel it’s important to have multiple source of information in making decisions about the world. The Bible is only one source. It has many profound moral statements. It also has multiple endorsements of slavery, double-standards of behavior, apparently divinely endorsed acts of barbarism and odd rules regarding diet and clothing. I feel we have greatly improved upon Biblical times.
If the best available information states that sexuality is inborn, and a person has no more control over it than being right or left handed, (and it does) then I, personally, would regard the Biblical injunctions as an aspect of an earlier, less knowledgeable time and I would discard them. But, as I said, I’m not a believer, so my standards are different from yours.
Gimpi, how would you describe yourself in relation to belief or non-belief; Are you an atheist, agnostic, or another religion?
Also, do some statements in the Bible regarding homosexuality, slavery, and barbarism get in the way of accepting the Bible as the word of God and have they led to your rejection of Jesus as the incarnation God?
I regard myself as an outsider. Not so much an atheist as agnostic. I have seen no hard evidence for or against a deity. I have had experiences that I can describe as spiritual, but if I’m intellectually honest, I have to admit I could be mistaken or deluding myself about them, so I don’t regard them as “settling the issue.”
And yes, what I see as profound immorality in appearing to endorse forms of slavery, in appearing to order wars of aggression and conquest, in appearing to play favorites, and condone barbarism, I’m not willing to say I find the concept of God portrayed in the Old Testament as someone I find worthy of worship. Frankly, I wouldn’t have a person that acted that way over to dinner. I’m uncomfortable with holding God to a lower standard than I do people.
Also, as I said, no matter how authoritative a source, I would never simply ignore all evidence to the contrary. Any source can be wrong. Even if you believe the Bible to be of divine origin, it was written, edited, assembled and translated by people. Words don’t translate perfectly, and after several translation, any text can have its meaning scrambled. Did this happen? I don’t know, but it could have.
I’m also married to a scientist. My husband is a geologist. Through intellectual osmoses I’ve picked up a great deal of information about the age of the earth, how geologic forces work and the way they shape the planet. Many of these facts contradict Genesis. They have proved up scientifically so I can’t logically deny them.
And, frankly, I don’t want to. Discussions and trips with my husband have become a true delight. I was educated mostly in art (I have an advertising art degree and work in print and web design) and I had no idea how exciting science could be. I refuse to turn off my brain and simply decide to ignore the wonder of the natural world, and the thrill of learning.
As to the issue of salvation, I’m undecided. I can’t truly say I reject it, but I don’t understand it. Why an all-powerful deity would need to incarnate and perform a ritual-sacrifice of himself to himself doesn’t make sense to me. That doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t true. Many true things appear nonsense until a central fact is uncovered. So I consider myself to be doubtful on the central point of Christianity, but I have not discounted it altogether. That’s part of why I lurk here. I find Ben’s approach interesting.
Does this answer your questions?
Yes, you answered my questions. I am an artist as well, if you allow musicians to be considered as such. I am a music educator. What if belief in God did not mean closing your mind to science and the evidence? I would say the Genesis account is inconsistent with the current scientific consensus if it is literal but Genesis does is not necessarily historical narrative, many scholars believe it is figurative prose. Augustine wrote in the 4th century that Genesis may be figurative, 1400 years before Darwin so this is not revising biblical interpretation with the science.
I would say the wonder you experience and the trill of learning was given by God and He wants us to engage intellectually, not check our brains at the door.
What if I could give you strong evidence the bible has not been changed like a game of telephone, but it is the same since the first century?
Also, what if God had great moral reasons for the wars in the Old Testament, and issues like slavery? I have struggled with these questions and I have found answers that are satisfactory for meriting belief that Jesus was the Savior and the God of the Old Testament is loving and moral.
I think the case against God gets quite a bit more publicity but the answers to the objections are stronger than the objections themselves.
I understand many Christians don’t insist on a literal reading of the Bible as a science-text. Many do. How did you determine your beliefs? For me, it’s obvious that it’s an allegorical myth. I do understand that most Christians don’t check their brains at the door of the church. The ones that do are just among the loudest.
However, I feel you are asking me to check my sense of justice at the door. Wars of conquest are almost never justified. Wiping out whole cities, including children and livestock is simply never justified. Raping and enslaving female prisoners of war is never justified, and calling that enslavement a ‘marriage’ only adds salt to the wound. Slavery is never, never justified. Condemning behavior that causes no harm with the death-penalty is never justified. Regarding half the human-race as subordinate is not justified.
If you have answers, I would be interested in them, but I can’t guarantee to view them as reasonable. I’ve heard some, and in my view, they didn’t amount to much. But, as I said, I am well aware that I don’t know all there is to know.
Benjamin, if you mean being a sinful human being makes one a hypocrite then being a hypocrite is innate to all humanity but if you mean speaking out against immoral behavior is a hypocritical act we should not do, then this is at odds with scripture. What would you think of a pastor who couldn’t confront a believer who is engaged in an affair? Should we look a blind eye to sin, the bible clearly states to admonish not only individuals but also false doctrines on the widespread level. The whole book of Galations is Paul speaking out against Judaisers preaching false and immoral gospels.
I think you have allowed your exegesis to be influenced by the relativism of our culture and the politics of our day.
If many Christians began to believe Jesus was not the Messiah would it be a hypocritical act to speak against such a false belief?
First of all, let me say that I love the humility of this post.
Second, I don’t think you can be a conservative evangelical while holding a liberal approach to scripture.
Third, I completely agree, we need to radically love people as they are as Jesus does. He does not require us to fix ourselves up before we come to Him. I have several SSA friends and I love them. BUT Jesus will never leave us as we are because he loves us too much to let us stay that way.
Fourth, Matthew 7:1 is one of the most misquoted, misused verses in the bible. We all make judgements every day for our good and for the good of those we love. Calling something “sin” that the bible calls “sin” is not “judging”, it’s called telling the truth. To judge is to write someone off, condemn, stand in the place of God. It is NOT speaking the truth (i.e. seeing sin and calling it sin).
I want people to speak this kind of truth into my life on a daily basis because we serve a HOLY God and without holiness it is impossible to see God (Hebrews 12:14). I struggle with gluttony and it’s not okay. It’s sinful. The most unloving thing someone could do would be to say, “I won’t bring it up because who am I to judge?”. To love me would be to say, “you need to repent and I want to help you walk in repentance”.
Fifth, it’s dangerous to impose new interpretations on scripture. There is a reason why certain passages have been interpreted a certain way for thousands of years. It’s like we think that we are the first Christians who have the tools to see what’s really going on in the text. As though the Holy Spirit as not been active in illumination until now.
I recommend “Is God Anti-Gay” by Sam Allberry and “Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” by Rosaria Butterfield
“Fifth, it’s dangerous to impose new interpretations on scripture. There is a reason why certain passages have been interpreted a certain way for thousands of years. It’s like we think that we are the first Christians who have the tools to see what’s really going on in the text. As though the Holy Spirit as not been active in illumination until now.”
NEW interpretations based on current societal understanding of language, and frankly based on who was in power at the time of said translations, have been occurring for hundreds of years. Every generation and every person comes at the Bible with the knowledge and influence of the world as they know it coming into play.
MEANING is not a completely static thing, as dictionaries even in English have adjusted and altered to keep up with how word usage has changed. Why should this one particular translation or interpretation of this passage of the Bible remain completely unchanged? Or were alterations such as adding the word homosexual to the NKJV in 1946 acceptable reinterpretations? Are we just supposed to declare that everyone who translated the Bible before we were born was correct, and that’s the only way to interpret it? Should we not be asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate the meaning of the texts as individuals in our own personal studies? I personally think it’s each individual believer’s responsibility to work the Scripture in his or her OWN faith walk, not just parrot back what we are told. Otherwise, how are we to be personally enlightened by the Scriptures?
So, to paraphrase your last sentence: “As though new interpretations of the Bible have not been actively happening until now.”
So here’s a question? Did Mary Magdelene continue being a fornicator and prostitute after she started to follow Jesus? Jesus was friends with sinners but he still preached repentance, he came with grace and truth. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
She was never a fornicator or prostitute.
Decent message, but, erm….nearly none of what is depicted in that book actually happened. Further…show me verses that the guy actually said about homosexuality. Show me. I doubt anyone can. And yes, I HAVE read this book, from cover to cover.
Matt Vines book is bunk….
No one in the history of the church has ever questioned what sin is and what it isn’t. Until now. Here are two blogs by two real people who completely identify with same sex attraction.
Read “Is God Anti-Gay” by Sam Allberry (ssa minister)
Read “Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert” by Rosaria Butterfield (former lesbian who would vehemently disagree with your irresponsible conclusions).
“No one in the history of the church has ever questioned what sin is and what it isn’t.”
Gee, it’s like the Reformation never happened. When you start out with a bald-faced lie, it doesn’t bode well for your post. When you continue on by plugging the Gospel Coalition, a virulently anti-gay organisation that is in the midst of a child-abuse cover up scandal, your credibility drops to a negative.
Some say “you had me at hello”, others say “you lost me at Gospel Coalition”.
The Southern Baptists (the largest Protestant denomination in the US) used to believe interracial marriage was a sin. They used to believe race-based slavery was God’s plan, and denying that was a sin. They used to believe that, failing slavery, segregation was God’s will, and integration was a sin. They have changed all their beliefs.
The Catholic church used to believe that children born out of wedlock were not entitled to full-church membership and that they could not be buried in consecrated ground. I’m pretty-sure they changed that. They used to believe unbaptized babies that died were damned. They changed that belief. They used to believe that the plague was God’s punishment for sin. They no longer believe that.
These are just off the top of my head. Now, tell me again how no church has ever changed it’s beliefs.
I have known gay people all my life. Gay people make great neighbors, great friends & great relatives! Some were filled with sadness, some added great color to my life, but all made me a better individual. I loved them dearly. They also make wonderful parents!!! It is time to stop this fear & fear caused hate. Tear down the walls of a small life & live one of acceptance, love & peace. That is how it was meant to be!
I really like the spirit of this article. Thank you Benjamin for your appeal to the way we practice our faith. I believe from scripture that practicing homosexual action is sin. However, I really regret how poorly people who struggle with that sin are treated. I am a pastor and I dearly wish I could be better at caring people from the LGBTQ community that I encounter.
I find myself in a unique position. I lived as an active gay man for 13 years and as an openly gay man for 7 of those years. My friends and family accepted and loved me as I was. I then worked with a Christian woman who loved me unconditional. She loved me so well I met Jesus through her. I began a journey of discovery on what it meant to be same-sex attracted and a Christian. After much soul searching and bible studying, I came to the conclusion that same-sex relationships were not God’s intent for me. Since then I have made a variety of friends from conservative theologians to gay activists. My theology has never affected my ability to love and be loved. I also recently read an excellent series in response the Matthew Vine’s book. I’ve read Matthew’s point of view as well. I think it’s important for all of us to read material from both sides of the debate. Here is the link to Joe Dallas’ 5 part series:
see Brad Youngs post above, some other great links to this topic.
This article is premised on several assumptions that, depending on their validity, have the power to make or break his idea. Much of what he says sounds like wisdom: carefully consider scripture, be open to the possibility of being wrong, love people radically. And indeed those are all wise things to do. Since the pro-gay theology has been addressed in countless books and articles already, I’ll just look at the last point: love people radically.
It’s seems like today “loving someone” equates to telling them that they are ok:
I’m ok, you’re ok, we’re all ok. There’s nothing wrong with any of us. God made us just how we are, so we should affirm and celebrate all those facets of what make us who we are.
In my observation, this need to believe we are ok and for other people to believe we are ok is but a smoke screen trying to cover that deep seated, gnawing truth that haunts us all: that
We are, in fact, *not* ok.
We are desperately and hopelessly not ok. To tell someone they are ok when they are not isn’t “loving radically,” and at its heart is incredibly selfish. Essentially it’s the same game as “I won’t call you a glutton so that you won’t call me a gossip.” You’re ok, so I’m ok too. Remember: judge not *lest you be judged*. I don’t want anyone putting a magnifying glass over *my* heart and life, so I’ll keep my mouth shut about yours. But is this “loving radically?”
I’m not saying we should go down the aisles of our churches and throw all the sinners out. If we did that, no one would remain but the self righteous. Perhaps we should throw them out–those people self admittedly don’t need God because they’ve got it all together already. They’re “ok.” But there is a big difference between the self righteous and a congregation of sinners saved by grace, fighting the good fight together against their sinful natures, lovingly helping one another to struggle against those things in themselves that if left unchecked would destroy their souls. And that’s really my point here, and indeed it flies in the face of the author’s assumption.
What is “loving radically”? When Jesus addressed the woman caught in adultery, He said “go and sin no more.” You see, *loving* that woman in that moment consisted of compassion and understanding yes, but also very importantly of a desire to see her not go back to doing the things that were destroying her soul (and nearly got her killed in that instance).
C.S. Lewis put it this way:
“Love may forgive all infirmities and love still in spite of them: but Love cannot cease to will their removal.” ― The Problem of Pain
I’m very glad the author used the example of gluttony as an “acceptable” sin the church wouldn’t dream of calling someone out on. I’m glad because it just shows where this is all headed. It’s human nature to need to feel ok. One way to do that is to redefine what “ok” is. Oh, you’re a glutton? Well that used to be sin, but now it’s ok. Oh you divorced and remarried? Well that used to be adultery but now it’s ok. You’re ok, I’m ok. That is definitely one strategy to deal with the problem of sin.
Thank God He provided another Way in the person of Jesus Christ. His death on the cross deals with sin not through wishful thinking, but through ultimate sacrifice that makes atonement. It is through the seriousness of what I’ve done in sin–deadly serious enough that Christ had to die–that I learn just how much He loves me. To realize the depths of that love, I have to face the horror and the enormity of the debt which has been paid. To minimize the sacrifice He made is to minimize His love. To say “I’m ok” is to essentially tell Christ He didn’t need to die for me. The ultimate loving act becomes an unfortunate shame.
I’m thankful I can still go to churches of people who humbly come alongside and help me struggle just as they do. People who help me fight the good fight and run the race with dignity. I don’t want to be somewhere where I’m told that it’s ok to act on my homosexual orientation because by some unfathomable logic the fact that I have such an orientation means that it must be good and something to act upon. Instead, I take up my cross and yield even this great struggle to Him that made me.
I realize most will respond to this decision to battle my homosexual desires as pitiable and sad. But that’s just discomfort with someone owning his non-“ok”ness. You’d rather I didn’t so you can be let off the hook dealing with whatever “impossible” battle you face. And I can so identify.
May God bless you for running the race with perseverance! You are an example to all of us true followers of Jesus. May we all chose to count the cost of following Him… it will be so worth it in the end, and thanks to Him we don’t have to do it alone.
I agree, if one doesn’t admit they have a problem, they will never seek a solution.
I think the problem is more related to LGBT people not wanting to be in a church that affirms traditional marriage, than people not liking or loving them in the church. Regarding the gay issue, it’s just like any other cultural (worldly) issue of the day. It’s not as if there weren’t always gays and the church didn’t know about it or didn’t think gays were human. But the Bible is actually clear on the issue, just as it is on some other sin issues. Jesus’ first recorded words included “repent.” Let’s just throw Jesus out, OK, if we’re only going to listen to his “nice” things.
The whole gospel message involves repentance of sins and God’s forgiveness, AND, which so many seem to forget, becoming a new creation with the help of God’s spirit. We should wish to be a new creation, to be holy, to be closer to perfection (Jesus didn’t have sex and there is no marriage in heaven), and let God’s spirit change us in that direction. All we read about today, with issues like this, is that all should be kept as it is – in this world now controlled by Satan. But maybe the Bible is wrong there too (Lol). If you can’t believe that God had control over what was begin written in His words to us, then what faith do you have?
The faith in the weeds of the church that will be pulled out at the end? I had sexual problems before Jesus got a hold of me, but once He did have me, he changed me. To allow the spirit to work is like having layers of your old self slowly being pulled off, like peeling an onion. Others I have spoken with and read have the same experience. I knew someone with a different kind of sin than I was used to – he had a real innate desire to rip people off (like embezzling). He did that, and had jail time for it. After he became a Christian, he was changed. He acknowledged that what he did and FELT was wrong (he repented, in other words), even though that feeling was still there to a degree. With some people, their desire to sin in a certain way will be removed completely, for others it won’t be.
But to honor God is to acknowledge Him in all His ways, not say He doesn’t have the power to get a book written where His Word is meant to be representative of Him. Would He mock Himself? We honor ourselves now. We want to be worldly and not let Him change us. We act like these issues are “new” and that everyone that doesn’t go along with our progressive program is stupid – let’s face it – that’s what you’re saying. I don’t think Stott and others like him were stupid or mean-spirited or whatever. To put others down for actually reading the Bible and praying about it, for seeking God’s will, instead of just going by someone’s book or with what feels good, is mean-spirited, however.
As for the salvation of gays, each individual is in God’s hands. We are all sinners and we all have our unique relationship with God – or don’t. All will be sorted in the end. But I wouldn’t want to be one of those blind followers Jesus talked about (the blind follow the blind, and both will fall in the ditch – He then said to let them be! How nice, huh? ). And as far as the whole “created that way” argument – well it’s not. People in the church have always known that creation is corrupted and that creation also awaits it’s redemption – it being turned back to its original state – but so many keep ignoring this as well. The world is fallen and corrupt, and so are all humans until they accept their Maker and accept the process of being changed into what God intended them to be.
Mr. Corey, you are a kind and very tender hearted heretic. The only part of this entry I can agree with is that believers should love sinners and show it.
Thanks– that means a lot.
People are involved in all issues and people should be treated with dignity and respect. The issue/people thing is a ruse, in that it applies to every situation. There is always ‘an issue’, and how one treats people should always be foremost on a person’s mind., but how one treats people, does not negate something as an ethical issue. Sloppy thinking abounds in this post.
My greatest difficulty with you and with what you are teaching here is that you are a self-identified “Anabaptist”. The most distinctive mark of Anabaptism is a willingness to take the scriptures, particularly the New Testament, at face value, no matter how inconvenient or how at odds that puts one in relationship to the surrounding culture. It has always been a dangerous and unpopular hermeneutic. Anabaptists are not pacifists because it is a practical political strategy, or because of some political or ethical rational, they are non resistant because Jesus said to not resist an evil person and to love one’s enemies.
This hermeneutic of obedience inevitably leads to a wall of separation – between the church and the “world” such that while we acknowledge our weakness to overcome our sinfulness, we do not yield to the values of the world that contradict the values of God. We do not call sin virtue or accommodate practices among us that God calls sinful or abominable. Rather we admonish each other and struggle in mutual love of God and in His strength to do His will always.
An “Anabaptism” that rejects warfare and greed yet embraces sexual sin (and struggles to make the biblical texts accommodate unnatural sex and marriage) is just a contemporary western progressive social and political worldview wrapped in a now popular religious wrapper. It is not something that can have fellowship with Felix Menz, Conrad Grebel, Michael Sattler and Menno Simons. It is something that opposes them – a convoluted twisting of the plain and obvious teachings of Jesus and his apostles.
A brother at the Bruderhof communities used to remind me that the hardest thing to repent of is our own goodness, our own view of what is right and good. Contemporary progressive American values that embrace equality, justice and freedom are good, but where they contradict what God has revealed they must too be repented of. They are not of God.
It grieves me that some very nice people who want to be a part of the church are unwilling to repent and reject their sexual desires for someone of the same sex. It hurts (a lot) to be called a “hater” for quoting the New Testament in regards to homosexuality. But likewise it grieves me that the very nice soldiers, sailors and airmen I know are unwilling, in their patriotic zeal, to say no and to put down their arms in order to follow Jesus and be a part of His kingdom.
The first thing Jesus said when He began His ministry was “change your mind” (repent). One of his chosen emissaries expounded on this eloquently: “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
Benjamin, I, and I’d wager many-to-most evangelicals and other orthodox Christians, agree with you about compassion and being welcoming to all types of people, including gays and lesbians. Except perhaps in Westboro Baptist and a minority of other fundamentalist churches, I don’t think you’ll find gays and lesbians being thrown out the door. But you will find the traditional Christian understanding of marriage upheld, and even if that’s conveyed without attacking gays and lesbians (as is true in many churches, from what I’ve seen), that might not be one where gays and lesbians desire to stay. If that’s the case, what can be done? Genuine love and compassion might only carry you so far. (I’m not being flippant in the least here; this is a very serious issue.) While I have no doubt that some have been unjustly treated and lament that, I believe you way overgeneralize when you say that the Church has a) treated gays and lesbians differently from all other types of people (people leaving churches for real and perceived slights/rejections happens regularly), and b) has “forced” (your term) gays and lesbians to join other churches/create new ones. Is some repentance in order? I have no doubt. But if the Chuch’s understanding of marriage does not change, there will always be a barrier that prevents some from feeling at home in an orthodox congregation.
Your solution seems to be to treat a change in the Christian understanding of marriage as adiaphora, but why should Matthew Vines — as good of a person as he might be — be listened to over the Church Fathers, the medieval and Reformation saints, and other saints over the centuries? Or is Vines somehow a better exegete than the Anglican evangelical John Stott, who modeled upholding the traditional biblical/Church understanding on these matters with compassion? And what about Vines’s contemporary Wes Hill, who comes to very different conclusions? More generally, why are late 20th/early 21st century views on these matters more relevant than the orthodox Christian understanding over two centuries?
The bottom line is that for many churches, any changes to an understanding of Christian marriage (not just gay marriage) cannot be adiaphora, because the Church is not given the authority either biblically or from the way God has guided it throughout history. And that will continue to be a flashpoint for some, no matter how loving the congregation.
If you are quoting John Stott I presume you are Protestant and belong to a church that overthrew 1500 years of tradition in the Reformation by going back to scripture and seeing what it really said, If you aren’t Anglican Lutheran or Presbyterian, your church probably questioned and ejected Protestant traditions too because they believed a proper understanding scripture contradicted some of the protestant traditions. We need to go back to scripture and examine the texts and the arguments.
While there is a lot to be learned from the Christian writers in previous centuries, The modern debate on homosexuality is asking questions they never addressed.
Darach, I am an Anglican, but on the oft-debated topic of whether Anglicanism is fully Protestant or a via media between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, I hold the latter stance. I did intentionally use Stott as an evangelical of whom Benjamin would be aware, but I could have cited many (perhaps all?) of his former Gordon-Conwell professors instead: They are scholars well aware of the modern debate and current questions who still find persuasive the traditional biblical understanding. And so my question still stands: Why go to Matthew Vines instead of them? Is he a better exegete, or does he rely on better exegesis (from mostly liberal scholars, judging from the reviews I’ve read), in Benjamin’s opinion? And it bears remarking that Vines’s stance isn’t new to evangelicals in mainline denominations, where these issues have been discussed for several decades now, and the biblical arguments have been examined many times over. The traditional biblical understanding still holds weight for very many of us, as does the Church’s fidelity to God-given revelation.
Rather than rely on Stott, Vines, or any other exegete, aren’t we responsible for examining the issue ourselves. At least that was my takeaway about the Protestant Reformation from my early upbringing in an Evangelical Lutheran Church. It took me way too long to finally do the work myself rather than rely on what others in the Church were saying. So applying the hermeneutic principles I’ve learned sitting under conservative Baptist teaching for the past 35 years, this straight, white, Evangelical male can find no condemnation of homosexuality or same-sex marriage in the Bible. To find condemnation I would have to ignore the context of verses and the meaning they would have had to the original hearers, read more into the model of marriage in Genesis 1 – 3 than is actually there, and ignore the very real questions regarding polygamy in the Bible and what that infers about God’s view of non-conforming marriages. I’ve come away troubled by the real damage we in the Church do in the lives of hurting people who are so beloved by God, and also by the lack of integrity of so many writers and teachers who abandon sound hermeneutic principles in their zeal to defend the conventional Evangelical position.
Doug, I share your concern about hurting people. Unfortunately, any communication can be either misunderstood by the recipient or poorly conveyed by the author, creating hurt where none was intended. It should be a matter for prayer.
When it comes to hermeneutics, we do have some different understandings. We are to read the Bible for ourselves, yes, and in dependence upon the Holy Spirit, yes. (You didn’t mention the Holy Spirit, but given your Baptist background, I assume you’d agree with my addition.) But we also are to read the Bible in concert with the Church both present (in weekly worship) and past (down through the ages), because God has guided the body of Christ collectively, not just individual Christians. I think it was John Stott who said (paraphrased) that Christianity always starts with the individual, but it never ends there; Christianity is not, in the end, an individualistic faith, as each Christian is part of the larger body of Christ.
And when we do look at how God guided the Church over time, we do find a normative understanding t
(Continued from previous comment)
And when we do look at how God guided the Church over the ages, we find a normative understanding that not everything in the Scriptures is to be taken prescriptively; much is instead descriptive, for our warning (as the book of Hebrews says). So polygamy is not reflective of God’s intention, but, like divorce, a concession during a given period of time to hardness of heart.
But to go back to hermeneutics: We are all readers and students of Scripture, but we are not all exegetes — and those who are should not undertake their task outside of the larger context of the Church.
Sorry about the formatting on my last post. Also, I don’t know why it posted as guest. Regarding polygamy in the Bible, I don’t maintain that it is prescriptive at all. It clearly isn’t consistent with God’s original model for marriage. But rather than condemn polygamous marriages, God worked through them. He founded the tribes of Israel through polygamous marriage. The genealogies of Christ in the gospels demonstrating he is the legitimate heir to the throne of Judah pass through polygamy. God calls King David a man after his own heart and pens much of the Psalms through him, even though he is a polygamist. The heroes of faith in Hebrews include several polygamists. So examples we have of how God’s view of marriages that don’t conform to his plan in the creation story is one not of condemnation or merely tolerance, but of his working through those same individuals to do great things, and lifting them up as leaders. So why are we so convinced God condemns same-sex marriage?
Doug, of course God uses people regardless of whatever state of life they occupy. He uses polygamists, murderers (e.g., David again), ruthless foreign invaders (e.g., the Babylonians), pagans (e.g., Rahab), and people from many other backgrounds to fulfill his purposes. And it is a mystery, isn’t it, why God uses sinful people in that manner — including me, you, and everyone else reading this? A. W. Tozer marvels in The Pursuit of God that God indeed seems to overlook very serious sins when a person’s heart is directed toward him, and he cites David as an example.
But as you affirm, using the example of polygamy, we’re still talking about things that are against God’s desire. God’s use of David is not an affirmation of David’s polygamy or murder. And David himself suffers the consequences of some of his sinfulness. The question for us as Christians should not be whether God will work through us; he might or might not do that regardless of how obedient we are to him. Rather, are we loving God by following his desires? We should not desire to do something against his will. (And it seems to me, Doug, that by the way you frame your last post, you would come to the same conclusion about polygamy as same-sex marriage. Have I misunderstood you?)
And when it comes to the issue of marriage, the Church is bound to uphold the revelation that God has given it. As I said before in a slightly different manner, Doug, my, your, or anyone else’s application of hermeneutical principles to any text, concerning any subject, have no weight outside of the context of the Church. Why should my own (hypothetical) hermeneutical exegesis, no matter how seemingly sound, be considered over the dominant weight of Christian belief over centuries? It should not, and neither should any new exegesis on any topic be given that weight, no matter how reasonable it may seem. This is not a matter for the individual, but the Church — and it’s a matter that necessarily involves both a) the Church’s own understanding of Scripture over its history, and b) the Church’s own leading from God over its history in dealing with it.
“Regarding polygamy in the Bible, I don’t maintain that it is prescriptive at all. It clearly isn’t consistent with God’s original model for marriage. But rather than condemn polygamous marriages, God worked through them.”
Can I jump in and ask how you came to that conclusion?
Do you mean concluding God doesn’t prescribe polygamy or that rather than condemn polygamy God chose to work through polygamists? I guess it’s possible to conclude God prescribed polygamy in the case of Levirate marriage, but those aren’t the examples of polygamy in the Bible.
Regarding not condemning polygamy – With all the examples of polygamous marriages in the Bible, not once is anyone called to repent of them. Instead God founds the tribes of Israel through polygamy, he chooses the polygamist Gideon to defeat the Midianites and makes him a Judge of Israel, God makes the polygamist David King of Israel, uses him to pen Scripture and calls him a man after his own heart, and the genealogies showing the legitimacy of Christ as heir to the line of Judah pass through polygamous relationships. The list of the Old Testament heroes of the faith in Hebrews includes several polygamists. So we have several examples of people in the Bible whose marriages don’t conform to the “traditional” model of marriage that we derive from Genesis. Rather than condemn them for their disobedience and call them to repent, God promotes them to leadership positions, writes scripture through them, considers the offspring of their relationships legitimate, and honors them in the New Testament. If non-conforming marriage is sinful don’t you think God would have at least once pronounced it so?
Actually, I would view this as evidence that God, if there is a God, perhaps has greater issues on the plate than how we humans marry. I’ve never quite grasped the “God as micro-manager” meme.
But if you believe that God has specific plans for human marriages, you would have to accept that God has changed that plan several times over historical time. If that’s true, it would be consistent to allow for further changes, such as egalitarian marriages or same-sex marriages. At that’s least how I see it.
gimpi1: This whole discussion presumes a starting point of faith, including the belief that God has given us a reliable and authoritative guide in the Bible. If you don’t share that view than any of our arguments on either side of the questions about God and homosexuality will probably seem like nonsense to you. If one believes in God as viewed by Christianity, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent, there is no difficulty in conceiving of God as being concerned with the smallest details of creation. For me, starting from that position of faith and applying conservative, orthodox principles for understanding and interpreting the Bible, I can find nothing in the Bible that leads to the conclusion that God would condemn or oppose same-sex marriage or consider LGBT believers as anything other than full, equal partners in the Body of Christ, the Church. What I have found, over and over again, are conservative Bible scholars who are willing to read into passages meaning that isn’t there, and who all too easily remove passages from their original textual and historical context in order to support their conclusions. In doing so they not only become a stumbling block for people coming to faith, they also cause considerable harm in the lives of people who are beloved by God. As a former philosophy major it’s easy for me to get caught up in the debate, and I have to keep reminding myself that what really matters is that God has called me to love others with the same sacrificial love with which Christ loves me.
I wasn’t aware that a “This whole discussion presumes starting point of faith, including the belief that God has given us a reliable and authoritative guide in the Bible.” I thought it was about weather that belief should have any standing in law. At least that’s what I was talking about.
That said, I’m glad you have come to believe that your concept of God would condemn same-sex marriage. If I did find myself drawn to a belief in divinity, I would be much more able to accept a divine plan that is open and inclusive to all. The idea of a God that discriminates based on sexual orientation is, to me, no more loving than a God that discriminates on the basis of race.
gimpi1: by “this whole discussion” I was referring to Benjamin’s article about books by Matthew Vines and Greg Boyd and this discussion thread regarding that. I’m sure there are plenty of posts here that address the issue outside of the Biblical and theological debate, and I apologize for posting something that makes it sound like I’m somehow privileged to define the parameters of the discussion. It seems to me that in the United States the Establishment Clause and the right to Equal Protection under the Fourteenth Amendment should be enough to determine that laws against marriage equality shouldn’t have legal standing. My posts above were in response to the notion that the Bible condemns same-sex marriage and homosexuality. I expect there are a lot of things we agree about.
Internet discussions tend to wind down many an unusual path, don’t they? I just posted on a discussion that started out about overprotective fathers and wandered into an alley about jello salads. Really, jello salads. No apology necessary.
I think you’re right, we would mostly agree. Even if we don’t, that’s fine. That’s what makes horses race. The only issue I have is when a religious group tries to write their beliefs into secular law. To my mind it’s no more reasonable to have laws against same-sex marriage based on Biblical principles than it is to ban pork products based on the same Biblical rules.
The fact that we’ve had those laws in the past is no reason to keep them, in my mind. We’ve had laws condoning slavery and segregation. Those laws were wrong. So are laws telling adults who they can marry, as I see it.
Chip, I’m sure there is much we agree on. The hermeneutic principles I’ve embraced
include approaching scripture with an attitude of faith, believing that God has
given us a reliable, authoritative, and consistent guide in the original texts
and that they have been preserved sufficiently throughout the ages to be
trusted and applied to our lives. In
regards to the historical Church I believe the best approach is one that is at
once respectful and critical. Luther
didn’t intend to split from the Catholic Church, but he boldly challenged its
tradition and authority when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door. Based on its traditional understanding the
Church held Copernicus and Galileo to be heretics. The conservative Church in America long used
the Bible to justify slavery and oppose inter-racial marriage. When examining beliefs, whether traditional
orthodox ones or those that challenge orthodoxy, conservative hermeneutic
principles can provide a framework for holding those beliefs up to
scripture. My personal studies have
included reading the works of many who have looked at the issue of
homosexuality and the Bible before. I’ve
read Hayes, Bailey, Gagnon, Stott, Scroggs, Boswell, Vines, Schreiner, Wenham,
De Young, Countryman, Miller, Mohler, and so many others. When these authors cite a source text or
research study I’ve looked up the original to see what it actually says. I’ve learned a lot, but what has struck me
most is that nearly everyone who writes on this issue is an advocate for a
position, and regardless of their position it’s not unusual at times to find
them abandoning hermeneutic principles or sound reasoning in favor of making a
point. In sorting through all of this
I’ve kept returning to the conservative hermeneutic principles I’ve been grounded
in. I try to apply those principles
prayerfully, faithfully, and honestly, and in doing so I do not find
condemnation of homosexuality in the Bible.
I have found conservative scholars taking verses out of context and
performing eisegesis rather than exegesis to support their conclusions. Lack of condemnation doesn’t entail
affirmation so perhaps that should be left as a matter of conscience, but I
find nothing that would prohibit the church affirming same-sex marriage. There are persuasive advocates on all sides
of this issue, and anyone that wants to can find support for what they already
believe. Because this issue effects how
we individually and as a body treat people, including our brothers and sisters,
I think we should each do the work of examining our beliefs and let God by his
Holy Spirit challenge what we think we know.
Hi Chip. The Anglican 39 Articles seem to do just what you say, distinguishing Anglicanism both from Catholicism and the more radical Puritans and Baptists. But in doing that the Anglican church overturned a lot of Catholic tradition that went before.
Looking at the Anglican Church’s Pilling Report http://www.churchofengland.org/our-views/marriage,-family-and-sexuality-issues/human-sexuality/pilling-report.aspx which admits the meaning of the word arsenokoites really is as unclear as Matthew vine’s claims:
”  To take just one example, ‘sodomite’ in the NRSV is a translation of the Greek word arsenokoitēs. Most scholars recognize that the precise meaning of this word is extremely difficult to pin down. It is a compound noun which combines arsen meaning ‘male’ and koites meaning ‘bed’. The general meaning is reasonably clear. But in a compound noun, the first part could be either the subject or the object of action. To determine which reading is correct, the obvious method would be to compare this occurrence of the word with others to see if a 72 contextual meaning emerges. The problem is that arsenokoitēs does not occur in Greek literature prior to the New Testament and only rarely afterwards, usually in commentaries on 1 Corinthians 6 or 1 Timothy 1. Asserting that all the sources agree that arsenokoitēs must be translated in one particular way is to beg the question.
Darach, you’re right about Anglicanism overturning some catholic tradition, but then you can look at, say, the Lambeth Quadrilateral and its appeals to the undivided church for one influential articulation of Anglican essentials.
Although I have not addressed any particular passages of Scripture and am not an exegete myself, I am aware of the Pilling Report. I am also aware, as I would wager you are, that evangelicals within Anglicanism are generally not favorable toward it . . .
The Lambeth Quadrilateral throws out Catholic tradition’s place on an equal footing with scripture, the necessity of believing Catholic dogma, 5 of the 7 Catholic sacraments and the authority of the Pope. You still have a lot of traditional ideas and interpretations thrown out when the church reexamined what scripture says.
The Pilling Report gives both sides of the argument, so I wouldn’t be surprised evangelical Anglicans with a traditional view of homosexuality don’t like it. But “Most scholars recognize that the precise meaning of this word (arsenokoites/sodomy) is extremely difficult to pin down” is a simple statement of fact, whether people like it or not. We can’t use obscure verses to exclude and marginalise a whole section of society.
Darach, but the Lambeth Quadrilateral is as controversial and subject to variant understandings as the Articles and the idea of Anglicanism as a via media! Your view reads a bit like that of a triumphant, fully Reformed evangelical, while other evangelicals (including some fully Reformed ones) fret over the excessive catholicism they believe is in the Quad. For me, the main takeaways are the appeal to the undivided church in the original 1886 Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral (implied, I would argue, in the 1888 final version) and the appeal to the historic episcopate in both versions. To flesh this out a bit more, I agree with those scholars who essentially see a Vincentian canon-like approach to the Quad.
With regard to the specific biblical passages, we could each cite scholars on both sides of the debate forever. I think we may just have to agree to disagree at this point.
If Anglicanism is a return to the Vincentian Canon, that is still overturning 1,100 years of Catholic tradition. Vines questioning of tradition simply goes back further to look at what Paul actually says. I am sure you can find a minority of scholars who argue for the traditional interpretation of arsenokoites, but it means people are being condemned and excluded in church based on an obscure word scholars disagree on. I have looked at the Greek texts used to try to understand the word and the meaning really isn’t clear.
Darach, I said “Vincentian canon-like.” The original text of the Quad refers to “the early undivided Church,” normally taken to mean the early Church Fathers.
That just means they change 1,500 years of tradition instead of 1,100 my point remains.
If I may jump in, how did the medieval and Reformation saints feel about Jews? Were they right or wrong? What about women? What about slavery?
From an outsiders perspective, the view of someone living today often has more value because we know so much more. We know that people are all pretty much equal, so we don’t allow enslavement based on losing a war or a physical characteristic. We know that women aren’t intellectually inferior to men, so we don’t prevent them from practicing medicine or law, from serving on juries or voting. We certainly don’t regard Jews as some kind of threat. We know “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is nonsense.
I don’t blame people in antiquity for their ignorance. They truly had no way to know better. But we do. And sometimes new knowledge demands overturning established orthodoxy.
gimpi1, in a public forum it is always your right to jump in. 🙂
One major difference that I see between your examples and the current issue is that they don’t involve a settled matter of Church teaching. We can lament, say, Luther’s anti-semitism, but that wasn’t tied to any specific doctrine, nor was slavery. Nor were women universally seen among Christians as inferior to men.
The current issue, however, centers on a doctrine central to the very essence of Christianity: marriage. Not only was marriage instituted at the time of creation, but it is the central picture of how Christ relates to the Church. As one of my rectors likes to say, the Bible begins and ends with a wedding — it is a framework image for the entirety of the Scriptures. And on such a critical issue, the Church must be faithful to its creator, redeemer, sanctifier, savior, master, friend, and spouse.
So we’re not dealing primarily with an issue of ignorance here, but of how the Church is to uphold God-given revelation.
Actually, marriage as an institution pre-dates both Judaism and Christianity. It has also worn many faces. Hunter-gatherers pair-bonded. Polygamy was part of most ancient societies, including the Hebrew culture. Polyandry has been practiced in many tribal cultures, as has group marriage. Hindus, Buddhists and Pagans of many kinds all had marriage-ceremonies, with varying understanding of what marriage means.
I understand you believe your version of marriage is a divine institution. However, other groups have had differing beliefs. They do today. For instance, the Southern Baptists were founded to counter Abolition-minded northern churches. Race-based slavery and later Jim Crow were described as fundamental and divinely mandated by them. They later realized they were mistaken. You could also be wrong.
Your beliefs regarding divine revelation are yours. You have an absolute right to them. However, you have no right to inshrine them in civil law. Forgive my cynicism, but I, personally, have to believe part of the reason conservative Christianity feels so strongly about same-sex marriage is that it’s a powerful example of how their power is waning in society at large. We have had laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, and even same-sex sex, for a long time, based on religious beliefs. They are being overturned because we realize religious belief is no basis for civil law.
Churches used to write laws, and order the civil government to enforce them,such as laws regarding heresy and blasphemy. Now, we have free speech. Churches used to write laws regarding private behavior and compel the civil government to enforce them. Now we have a right to privacy. Churches used to write laws regarding the role of women in society, the treatment of children born out of wedlock and the transmission of property. They no longer have that authority, except over their own membership, with their members consent. Churches have lost a great deal of power over the last 500 years. I think there’s a lot of anger about that. I think that same-sex marriage has become their line in the sand, because they fear becoming totally irrelevant in society.
Unfortunately, this line may actually lead to them losing even more power. Young people are rejecting it out of hand, much the way a previous generation rejected the Southern Baptists race-based beliefs.
gimpi1, and you certainly have a right to your beliefs, even as we strongly disagree. I would encourage you, however, to look at history through a different lens, as religious faith has been the catalyst for so much of what people commonly consider to be good for any society.
I understand the valuable things many religious faiths have added to the world, including founding our hospital system and helping to develop many important charitable institutions. I don’t deny that for a minute.
However, the specifics I cited are not beliefs, they’re facts. The Southern Baptists were founded to support the institution of slavery in the south. They were strongly in favor of segregation, a position they did not renounce until the 1990’s. The current scandal in Ireland regarding mass-graves of children taken from unmarried mothers and housed in institutions that apparently warehoused them with little care and poor nutrition happened because of the Catholic beliefs at the time regarding children born out of wedlock. The religious wars that tore Europe apart several times, the Inquisition and witch-hunts happened because of religious faith. These are facts, not subject to belief. They are every bit as real as the care of the sick and destitute that religious groups are rightly lauded for.
From where I sit, it appears that religious groups are at their best when they are not in secular power. When they hold legal authority, it appears that the temptation to wield it to try to compel – if not belief, then the appearance of belief – is very hard to resist.
I support and applaud religious groups that are doing valuable work around the world. I have done volunteer work in web-design for World Vision. But I don’t believe anyone has the right to legislate belief. When you pass laws compelling people to follow your religious codes in issues such as marriage, that’s what you are trying to do.
I support your right to believe homosexuality is sinful. I support the right of your church to refuse to marry same-sex couples and to not recognize such marriages. But you have no right to tell churches that believe differently that they must follow your beliefs rather than their own. You have no right to tell people who don’t share your faith that we must abide by its rules. You have no right to discriminate in public accommodation, any more than someone who devoutly believes that race-mixing is an abomination has the right to refuse to serve mixed-race couples.
At least that’s how it looks from the outside.
I’m glad you do see the positive to some degree, and thank you for your volunteer work with World Vision (my favorite charity for several decades now).
Please realize, though, that you might not be seeing the full picture on some issues. For example, Southern Baptists weren’t segregated until the 1990s; resolutions against racism date back to at least the 1970s, and efforts to roll back racism began in the 1940s. The current Ireland issue is murky in what conclusions can be drawn; see the religious news analysis site Get Religion for more details. And while wars lamentably have been started over religious issues, more have been started over non-religious ones.
Also, kindly avoid jumping to conclusions about people with whom you disagree. I have shared here about the Church changing marriage rites — a pretty narrow topic. From this outsider’s perspective, you’ve made some inaccurate conclusions both about other posters and groups of people.
If I’ve jumped to inaccurate conclusions, I apologize. Were did I get off the track?
I feel that I have a pretty clear of the good and the bad of organized religion. If you see errors I’ve fallen into, let me know. I don’t know everything, that’s for sure.
I understand the positive force religion can be. Do you understand how negative certainty and the desire to judge others can become? I view a bit of doubt as a positive thing. For reasons I don’t fully understand, people of faith both claim to be totally certain of their beliefs and seem to be insecure enough about them to condemn anyone who doesn’t share them. That can be a bad mix.
And, for that reason, I apologize if I’ve come off as condemning. Everyone has the right to their beliefs. I just get testy when I perceive people wanting to inshrine their beliefs in law. That practice often takes away that very right of belief for others. If that’s not your goal, I have no issue with you.
Good points. FYI, I haven’t said that Vines should be listened to above others- just that his voice should be considered and that he articulates an alternative view, and does so well– even though I personally didn’t agree with all of his arguments. I’m simply encouraging folks to consider all sides, and to listen to diverse voices, of which he is one.
I think you’re right in that this issue is likely to always be a flashpoint for some. My hope is to see more “third way” churches which agree to disagree on the issue but refuse to break with Christian unity as believers in Christ.
Thanks for the clarification, Benjamin.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Awesome. So if the kid in youth group who wants to kill himself because of his sexual orientation just truly “believes” it will all go away. Cool– I’ll let him know.
There’s a dismissive comment.
Maybe if this kid was being taught in a Wesleyan-tradition church, he might have a problem. I don’t think same-sex attraction just will “all go away” even for Christians. Sin remains.
You are right that the church has done a poor job ministering to people who are attracted to the same sex. But it’s a mistake to say “God made you this way, therefore it’s not sin.” Scripture doesn’t teach that. We sin because we are sinners, but Christ died for sinners.
Why is a monogamous, committed loving same-sex relationship a sin while a monogamous, committed loving opposite-sex relationship is not a sin?
If your only answer is, “It’s in the Bible,” I would recommend a review of everything that’s in the Bible. There’s some unpleasant stuff there. Things that were used to justify racism. Things that were used to justify slavery. Things that were and still are used to justify oppression of women. Things that were used to justify religious wars, heresy trials and witch hunts.
We put those things behind us. We are more mature. Perhaps it’s time for beliefs regarding what the Bible says regarding gay people to be re-examined in the light of reason?
But it’s easy for me. I’m outside this debate looking in. From out here, the loving thing to do is obvious. Inside, perhaps the light is not as good?
Why we’ve gotten so hung up on the words in scripture is beyond me. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of scripture. However, scripture is not the only tool that we should be using when considering what God wishes for us to do.
Scripture, just like seeking guidance through prayer, having discussions within a congregation, and communion with the Holy Spirit, is one of many tools that we should use in order to figure out what God wants for us.
Historically, we can look back over the centuries and see how various cultures have translated scripture and further see how these cultures have used their translations to interact with humanity.
In our own culture we have seen the rise and fall of slavery. We continue today to see how our culture struggles to support women’s rights and eradicate racial and ethnic prejudice and discrimination.
Throughout our country we have congregations and subcultures that seem to hold diametrically opposing views on these issues.
Overall, however, we have seen a movement towards enlightenment, which emphasizes reason and individualism rather than tradition. It’s this desire to understand the intricacies about ourselves and others that has led to large equality movements, including LGBT equality.
When I look at this movement, I see the mighty hand of God. It’s much more prominent and relevant to us today than the 66 Books of the Bible.
God didn’t stop speaking to humanity the moment the last book of the Bible was penned. He continues to interact with us. He continues to guide us.
That’s why it seems so misguided to remain so focused on scripture.
When I was struggling with my own orientation in my early 20s (I’m 47 now); like so many young gay people, I was terribly focused on scripture and what I’d heard from the pulpit.
I engaged in a litany of prayers to God during almost all of my waking hours. I begged Him to change me; to make me straight. I didn’t want to be gay. I’d never asked for it.
I couldn’t understand why He wouldn’t intervene in my life. I tried to be a good Christian. I tried to force myself to be heterosexual by dating women. I tried to avoid visual temptations that would bring about homosexual urges. I certainly didn’t act on my desire to be with another guy.
It was only during a period of particular angst that I “stumbled” upon the fact that for most of my life I’d been begging God to do what “I” wanted Him to do. I was so convinced by what I’d read and what I’d heard that accepting my orientation was not the path that God wanted for me.
One fall evening I was in my parent’s garden helping my father to burn off the brush, vines, and stalks from the previous season’s yield. It was something that he and I had done many times before. I always enjoyed the task on those crisp, fall afternoons and evenings. The sight of smoke hanging all around, the bright blue sky, the large oak tree that sat on our property as its leaves changed to gold, the chill in the air; all of these things put me at ease.
I was standing in the dirt enjoying my surroundings. My best friend and my first true crush drove by our house. As usual, he threw up his hand and waved. I waved back. Images began to flood my mind. I pictured myself in my friend’s passenger seat, holding his hand the same way I’d seen girls hold guy’s hands so many times before. I allowed myself to bask in that vision; to allow myself to imagine what a reciprocal and loving relationship would be like with another man.
It was in that moment that I realized that for so many years I’d been praying to God for what “I” wanted; not what He wanted.
So, I stilled myself and literally said to God, “Whatever Your will, let it be done…”
The impact was instantaneous. A sense of peace, warmth and love rushed over me, the likes of which I’d never before experienced. And while I didn’t literally hear the voice of God, I could feel His presence. I heard Him speak to my soul, “Tom, I made you the way I made you. I want you to be happy.”
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I had been touched by God’s mighty hand on that fall evening. The depression, the anxiety, the sickening feeling of being a sinner; all of those long held and overwhelming feelings were washed away in an instant.
We need to go to God with our issues; our concerns. He speaks to us today just as He spoke to those who wrote the various books and letters that make up scripture.
He didn’t want us to struggle over these kinds of issues by wading through ancient texts that have been interpreted multiple times over thousands of years. Rather, he gave us the means to go directly to Him for guidance.
I have told this story many times over the more than two decades since it occurred. To me, it is undeniable proof that God meant to create gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people as a part of His overall creation. While we may never understand His reasoning for creating us, that shouldn’t keep us from enjoying and embracing the fact that He DID create us.
An interesting question is since being gay is no longer a sin should gluttony still be a sin? I don’t think so. 1: God made them that way they are not defective 2: Do they care if they are gluttonous or are they happy? 3: Would forcing them to repent have a negative impact on their health?
1: God would not make someone gluttonous who wasn’t meant to be so. Gluttony can be found in nature when food is available.
2. If they are happy with their life who are we to stop them from being so?
3: If they want to change then help would be good if not then it would do harm.
So I do not see how it is a sin unless it makes them miserable.
Sin, missing the mark, making a mistake. Sometimes we sin when we do things quite law abiding, like marrying someone we do not love, or not marrying someone we do love. More profoundly, as Jesus noted, when we look at someone in a lustful way, no matter what sex they are, or whether they are married, it is a mistake, and has consequences in us, and perhaps in others. It is sin, a mistake, missing the mark and separates us from others as well as God, and parts of our own personalities. But it is legal, strictly speaking.
When we eat too much, or hoard too much money or many possessions, it is legal, but has negative consequences for our relationships with others, with God as well as ourselves. It is sin, a mistake, missing the mark.
Is it a sin to be a practising homosexual? Does it separate us from others, does it separate us from God? Does it divide our personality? Do we miss the mark? is it a mistake? I think it depends on the context like all of the other “sins” Homosexuality is not intrinsically a sin where it nurtures loving relationships. Sin can exist in homosexual relationships as in any other relationships, but is the occasion for reconciliation and forgiveness.
Can you just clarify one thing for me? I eat a lot of shrimp, am I going to hell? May I still serve the church?
What a wonderful article. It certainly gives food for thought. We used to treat left-handed people in ways considered barbaric today. Maybe one day, compassion will be our default emotion regarding this issue.
Good essay, Mr. Corey. From some standpoints, these insights may seem like baby steps that should have been taken long ago; but at least the journey’s finally beginning. Hope you continue your fruitful discernment on these questions, and that many others will be encouraged to do so, as well.
for thinking gluttony and being gay were just as “bad”, I was expelled as a youth teacher from my church. This was the best thing that ever happened to me, being liberated from an unloving church (full of overweight chrisitans) set me free to love the way I felt God wants me to love. Thank you for sharing your beliefs.
It is easy to preach against ‘sin’ when it is a sin you never struggle with.
Jesus had a lot more to say about divorce than homosexuality. What is the cultural attitude towards divorce today?
Actually, many evangelical clergy today agree that churches got too permissive with divorce and are working to change that situation . . .
Where? What is their stance? Jesus makes it clear that divorce is a sin (except for marital unfaithfulness…perhaps) and remarriage is not permitted.
Matt. 5:32: “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”
Thus, every divorced woman is an adulteress. Either she was unfaithful and committed adultery or the husband makes her the victim of adultery…along with any man that marry her.
What church is teaching this verse?
What is a divorced man?
A “player”. Book of Luke 9:34 [pm]
Wouldn’t they both be adulterers?
Oh, heavens no. This is a PATRIARCHAL religion.
I forgot that part.
I’m super amazed at how off you are. Jesus was the first to give a woman value, especially in that culture. He was the one who told the people who were going to stone the woman who was caught in adultery to only throw if they were sinless. the one who told the church to take care of the widows and the orphans (in a culture where the widows and orphans were seen as worthless) or their religion was worthless, the one who brought the widows son back to life (because, again, in that culture the son was the last person she had that would take care of her), he was the one who mentioned that divorcing a woman (their divorce rate might have even been worse than it is here today, but a woman’s VALUE got degraded with a divorce, and she would not have been taken care of because she would have been shamed. She would have been penniless and had no means to provide) was a sin because it caused the woman major difficulty in that culture. Jesus was the one who gave the woman value. I don’t know where your bitterness and anger came from, but putting it toward this is a little off. Jesus came to set things straight, the old testament laws are kind of void in light of Jesus’ love in the new.
Heather go and sin no more…remember that
We do go and sin no more, when we do not believe that being gay is a sin.
thats where the issue is. Giving Value doesn’t mean the sin isn’t sin. God ordained that sex is only for `marriage. And that Marriage is between a man and a woman. He is aware that people have urges but the argument that God didn’t understand homosexuality is making God very small….Jesus in the new testament is of course love but its not a love of Sin
And, as has been stated multiple times here and elsewhere, there is a theological differing on the interpretation of Scripture in regards to this issue, so we are not just “giving value to a sin,” we actually do not believe it IS a sin. I don’t know how more simply I could have phrased that when I first said it.
This isn’t about ‘urges.’
So, continuing to tell us to “go and sin no more” is pointless, because we do not think it is a sin to be gay, nor act upon it within a committed relationship.
But then you have an issue if you call Homosexual natural then the bible that calls it unatural is wrong ?…and when does sexual sin become not sin because of a commited relationship…that would mean David was not guilty of adultery with bathsheba because he married her …even though Jesus was a decesndent of solomon that resulted from the union David was still punished severely
Hi! Perhaps you haven’t been paying attention. We do not think the Bible calls it unnatural!
Jeff i have listened to Matthew Vine and appreciate the arguments not that i agree with them. I think i need and humbly ask how being committed and loving changes the language here
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual 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 shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Martin. I am not here to debate the theological interpretations of the Scriptures with you. There are many MANY other places on this progressive channel that outline the places felt open to interpretation. My point that I will reiterate with you ONE FINAL TIME is that we have already reached a point in our OWN study and discernment from the Scriptures at which we do NO believe it to be a sin. Many Christians over the thousands of years since He walked the Earth have disagreed with interpretations of Scripture as a matter of theology over ALL manner of details, yet we are ALL still Christians.
We disagree that this is a sin, yet your argument is always summed up as “But, it’s a sin.”
NO. We do not think it IS. You are free to disagree as part of your own path to the Almighty, however, it is fruitless and more than a little condescending for you to continue to assert your position as the only valid interpretation/translation of any Scripture. Especially when your position limits the civil freedoms of an entire group of people.
Have a brilliant day. I think your horse is dead, so you may want to stop beating it.
I agree and I will refrain.
Just remember that Christianity is founded upon Jesus saying I am a the way the truth and the life and I think you have to admit that fundamentally infringes on Muslims Jews Hindu.. And all other religions. Bear that in mind
And, I follow Jesus and his teachings. Thanks. 🙂
And, I personally don’t think “God didn’t understand homosexuality” because of COURSE he did and does, but I do wholeheartedly believe that the men who wrote down the words that make up the Scripture did NOT understand it. And, no matter how divinely inspired they might have been, they were still just men with their own prejudices and failings.
There’s already a power struggle between the sexes and now we have a third, fourth or perhaps even fifth gender/lifestyle to contend with.
Yes. The problem lies, at least in part, in the new translations and interpretations of the BIble. I am divorced, but that was before I was saved. Now that I’ve been saved, it doesn’t relieve me from having problems in my marriage, it merely influences me to try to work things out instead of resorting to (the easy way out) divorce.
The same can be said in the case of gays. The Bible is very clear that;
Rev 21:8 But people who are cowardly, unfaithful, detestable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars will find themselves in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death.”
So, our love towards everyone, including gays, is not to alienate them, but to bring them to the warning of what the Bible truly says in order for them to repent and be saved.
This is what Jesus was doing during His ministry, and what we, as Christians, should be doing as well, as the ulitmate act of love.
jak.. in your quote.. there is not one word about gays.. and if you claim to be ‘Christian’ you should be following Christ’s words not a man’s writings. Christ NEVER mentioned gays .. he never condemned or judged them.. He did however heal a guards male lover and then instructed the guard to go home and care for his lover. Christ also never condemned gay marriage. it was a normal thing of that time.. only man has made that up.
This is again not true… There is nothing that suggests the man’s servant was anything but his servant
“…the easy way out?” You’re kidding, right? I am a life-long christian (you call it “saved”), and I consider divorce a “valley of death” which I am currently walking though. Thirty years married through many difficult times (serial adulterer), and still, the divorce is horrible. I challenge your interpretation of the scripture: sexually immoral≠homosexuality.
And the penalty for adultery is stoning, so everybody get your rocks ready. Or just get your rocks off and find something besides religion to fill the void.
Really glad to see you guys take a message written in love, and slather it with hate.
Oh, forgive me, I didn’t realize it was hateful to mention what the Old Testament says to do with adulterers. Well, female adulterers, that is. Boys will be boys, right? Now, if those boys lay with other boys, the OT calls it an abomination and implies that Jehovah may incinerate an entire city over it. Hmm…harsh. Jesus defended cheating spouses with that superb, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” speech, but either He didn’t care what happened to sodomites or His defense of them somehow got lost in translation. Perhaps you were more offended by my suggestion that people get their rocks off and find something besides religion to fill the void. Well, I apologize for ruffling your feathers, but that’s the mildest of admonitions in comparison to the things “true believers” routinely say to myself and other atheists/agnostics. I didn’t imply that Christians will writhe in agony forever in the bowels of hell. I didn’t condemn anyone for sinning. I just gave my opinion and some tongue-in-cheek advice. Advice you might consider taking. Or not. Everyone ought to have freedom of choice.
I’d already taken it, but tone of voice is everything.
This is disqus. If you’re hearing voices, you should see a Dr.
Freedom of “choice?” With limits or not?
Can you come into the 21st Century? But then again in Muslim nations, that is still the norm but no one complains about the “Women of Islam: now do they?
Try not confuse Jewish cultural norms of the times with Jesus’ Christian views. Jesus also said ‘he among you who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.’ The Old Testament taught ‘an eye for an eye’… and Jesus corrected that by teaching ‘turn the other cheek’.
Brent, I was referring to the fact that in both theologically-conservative Anglican circles and other theologically-conservative Christian circles (just search among conservative Christian pundits over the last few years), there are discussions occurring and regulations being set in attempts