Sexual Orientation: It’s Not a Sin

Sexual Orientation
North Carolina Baptist State Convention, Nov. 2006: Voted to throw out any church that advocated homosexuality in any way, even knowingly having a gay person in membership. Other denominations have made similar rulings.

Europe, 16th century: When Copernicus discovered that the sun, not the earth, was the center of what we now know as our solar system, Scripture was used to condemn him. Luther quoted Joshua 10:13 and called Copernicus a “fool.” Calvin quoted the 93rd Psalm and said, “Who will venture to place the authority of Copernicus above that of the Holy Spirit?” Melanchthon, the first systematic theologian of the Protestant Reformation, quoted Eccles. 1:4-5 and suggested that “severe measures be taken to silence” all those who agreed with Copernicus, in order to “preserve the truth as revealed by God.” (Stranger at the Gate, Plume 1995, pp.239-240)

Eastern Europe, late 1930’s-1945: Even theologians participated fully in Hitler’s call to exterminate some 11 million human beings, including Jews, Mentally Handicapped Persons, Disabled Persons, Homosexual Men, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Catholic Poles, Soviet POW’s, Political Prisoners, and Romani People. Why? Presumably because Hitler convinced them that these were all sub-humans and were a threat to their well-being?? Today those of us who read the memoirs of Holocaust survivors, or visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC are muted in disbelief at the horror of such inhumane treatment. One man, who was then well respected and trusted, managed to convince an entire culture that all these groups of people were sub-human and were outside of God’s plan for the human race.

Before reading on, please pause here for a moment, and really think about this atrocity. How could so many supposedly well meaning people, including those who call themselves God’s people, buy into this ideology? Are we immune to such persuasion, especially if we repeatedly hear it from our trusted religious leaders?

Related: My Quick Thought on Chick-fil-A — by Andrew Marin

I am a lifelong Christian, but have painfully come to realize that our religious structures have remained throughout history among the greatest of all oppressors. This is not reflective of Jesus’ life and teachings, and we, you and I, can start to change what has gone wrong. First, though, we must recognize the problem as ours.

WHAT IS IT TO ME?

First of all, why is this issue so important to us as the Church? It is important because it is the daily struggle of so many people all around us every day. Hurting people, searching people, people created by the God who created us all, most of whom have turned their backs on the Church and God, because the Church has turned its back on them, and they don’t make the distinction between the perfect God and His fallible Church. You think you don’t know any gay people? You are blind to them probably because they perceive that you do not understand and would feel the need to share with them how abominable their lifestyle is to God (they have heard it already!), and whatever respect you have for them now would disappear. True, isn’t it? What if you found out your supervisor was gay? Your nephew? Your child’s teacher? Your music minister? Your brother? The guy in the next cubicle? Your daughter? Your husband?

Chances are you would want to protect those you love from them, and/or you would want to help the gay person change. This natural response is riddled with fallacy. First, gay people are no more likely to be predatory or child molesters than are heterosexual people. And second, gay people cannot choose to be straight, and we’ll return to this a little later. Gay people are all around us everyday living all kinds of lives, just like heterosexuals are. There is no set “gay lifestyle.”

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

The one obstacle to many Christians accepting what science knows to be true is their personal interpretation of the Bible. There are those who have been taught that the Bible is God’s exact words given directly to us for the purpose of telling us how to live, and that every word in our KJV or NIV is without discrepancy and meant to be directly applied to our everyday lives. A large number of today’s churches teach such an interpretation.

Others, however, view each individual scriptural writing with regard to such questions as who wrote it, who was its intended audience, when was it written and why, etc. This is an extremely important point in understanding the issue of this blog, so if you truly desire to understand the viewpoint I am about to present, please pause for a moment and read this blog first, pertaining to Scriptural interpretation.

There is much written on the Biblical interpretation of the few homosexual passages of the Bible, from both sides of the issue. The literalists cling to such passages as Lev. 18:22 to say “case closed,” and they close it. The progressives say, “no, that’s not the whole story.” I would do it a disservice to attempt to cover the Biblical arguments in a couple of paragraphs. I will say, however, that the word “homosexual” did not even exist in the languages from which the Bible was translated, so to even have the word in our English translations is fodder for hours of discussion. For those on the “case closed” side, would you explain away the following Scripture passages? The words are in the Bible. Shall we apply them directly to our lives?

Gen. 6:2-4 Uncircumcised males have broken God’s covenant and should be cut off from God’s people. (bad pun?)

Ex. 21:22 When a man hurts a pregnant woman and causes a miscarriage, “yet no harm follows” (Huh???), he shall be fined. Wow – that would make a really bad sanctity of life sermon.

Ex. 31:14-15 Whoever does any work on the Sabbath shall be put to death. (!) (Num. 15:32-36 tells about a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath who is stoned to death at God’s command!)

Matt. 23:9 Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father who is in heaven.

Lev. 3:17, 11:6-7, 14:11ff Eat neither fat nor blood, hare nor swine, ostrich (I hope my favorite roast pork dish at Mambo Grill is exempted!)

Lev. 11:10 Eating water creatures that don’t have fins and scales is an abomination! (Let’s boycott and picket all seafood restaurants!)

Lev. 15, 20:18 A menstruating woman is unclean, and also the man who has relations with her (cut off from people)

Lev. 19:19 Don’t let cattle mix-breed, don’t sow two different kinds of seed in one field (corn and beans?), don’t wear clothes made of two different materials (cotton and polyester?)

Lev. 19:27-28 Don’t round off your hair at the temples or mar the edges of your beard; no tattoos (uh-oh! surely that doesn’t mean today’s kind of tattoos!)

Lev. 20:18; Deut. 21:18-20 A child who curses his parent shall be put to death (!); If you have a stubborn and rebellious son, turn him over to the elders to be stoned to death. (!)

Lev. 20:10 Adulterers shall both be put to death. (This would thin out the population, wouldn’t it!)

Lev. 24:17-20 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, fracture for fracture (opposite of Jesus’ teachings to turn the other cheek)

Lev. 25:39-46 Rules for owning slaves

Num. 5:2 All with a discharge and all who have been in contact with a dead body shall be put out of the camp.

Mark 10:2-12 Remarriage is adultery. (Who would be left if our churches rejected all remarried people?)

Mark 16:17-18 Jesus said the signs of those who believe will be: casting out demons, speaking in tongues, picking up serpents, drinking poison without being harmed, and healing the sick (Can we call ourselves “believers”?!)

1 Tim. 2:9-15 women, do not wear braids, gold, pearls, or costly apparel; don’t teach or have authority over men; you will be saved in child-bearing (huh?? Now that’s a salvation plan we don’t hear from the pulpit!)

Deut. 22:13-21 A woman found to be not virgin (by her husband’s testimony that her garment was not soiled), shall be stoned.

Deut. 23:1 A man with crushed testicles or a cut off penis cannot enter the assembly of the Lord. (I’m not making this stuff up!)

Deut. 23:2 Nor a bastard, even to the 10th generation of his descendants (10th generation?! This is plain ridiculous, and mean! To my younger readers for whom bastard has changed meanings: A bastard is a child born to unmarried parents.)

Mark 12:25 No marriage in heaven (not many sermons on that one!)

2 Kings 2:23-25 Elisha curses young boys for calling him “baldhead”, and wild bears tear 42 of them. (Again, not good sermon material!)

1 Cor. 7:14; 15:29 Paul says an unbelieving spouse is consecrated through the believing one (He also admits these are his own words.); then he defends baptism on behalf of the dead. (Two more plans of salvation we Protestants don’t preach, and we condemn other groups who do.)

1 Cor. 11:14 Long hair on a man is degrading. (Did Jesus have long hair?)

OK, I’ll stop there. My point here is that literalism, applied directly to our 21st century lives, causes many problems. God is not confined to any time or culture, and God (not the law) continues to be just as relevant in our culture as in the OT times. If we can evolve our understanding of the Bible, we can strengthen our relationship with God, Jesus Christ, and our neighbor.

CULTURAL ATTITUDES

Attitudes about homosexuality vary greatly from culture to culture and from century to century. There has likely never been a culture without homosexuals, even in the animal world, but in many cultures, it has been a non-issue, somewhat like left-handed people or people with red hair. Notably different from most, but an insignificant distinction. Many of the Native American cultures honor their homosexual members, referring to them as two-spirited people and honoring their special qualities and gifts. Other cultures, like some in the Middle East, have made homosexuality illegal and punishable by death. Others, like ours, have singled out homosexuals as morally reprehensible and socially deviant persons.

Related: ‘Pray Away the Gay’ No More? by Michael Kimpan

The culture of our age, including the Christian subculture, has an inflated fixation on sexuality in general and especially on homosexuality. I wholehearted affirm that our younger generations are living in a sexual culture that is harming them emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, as the lines of sexual morality are being erased. The free sex mentality, whether homosexual or heterosexual, grieves me as I see the emotional and spiritual confusion of my high school and college students. I sympathize with a generation that falls into such harmful choices amidst such a confusing culture, but in no way do I condone such sexual freedom. Sexual orientation, however, is not about cultural sexual behavior.

WHO ARE GAY PEOPLE?

Homosexuality has no boundaries. Gay people are born into families of every race, every culture, and every religion. Gay people have apparently existed in every culture of every time period and are in every local church family, at least as children. We lose them as adults though because they hear our condemnation and in confusion leave to escape it. Gay people are businessmen, public servants, waitresses, parents, siblings, sons, and daughters. Gay people are as varied as their heterosexual counterparts.

Without attempting to stereotype, there are some typical qualities and gifts that gay people often bring to their worlds that are worthy of mention here. Gay men are often especially caring and sensitive to others’ needs, thus often choosing ministerial careers. It is the gay man who will often take in his aging parents to care for them. He is often gifted in the arts, musically talented, and attracted to careers in entertainment, theatre, fashion or design, or often to church music ministry. Gay women typically enjoy sports, many rising into the college and professional levels, or coaching, and are often driven in their careers, many making great contributions to their professions.

Sexual orientation is a misnomer. A person’s sexual orientation is not about sex. It is about identity. This unfortunate label is, in my opinion, a lot of the problem with our society’s inability to see gay persons as it sees everyone else. We cannot say “homosexual” without conjuring mental images of “what they do.” I call this the “ick” factor. It has to be wrong, because it’s “icky.” Why do we want to think about what ANYONE does sexually? Do you think about what your supervisor does with his wife? Do you think about what your parents do? (Now, THAT’S icky!) If the ick factor is a litmus test for right and wrong, it is definitely a sin for our parents to have sex, is it not? Not to mention our married daughters. Let’s not think about these things! Not about heterosexuals, not about homosexuals. I hope I live to see the day when our culture will stop calling gay people by “sexual” labels.

The estimates of what percentage of the population is gay vary greatly, depending mainly on the “agenda” of the organization conducting the study. Studies conducted by those who see homosexuality as an atrocity, for example, tend to find far smaller percentages (1-2%) than studies conducted by organizations whose focus is mainly on homosexual advocacy (about 10%). The more trustworthy sources are those with no reason for bias. The American Psychological Association in 1989 estimated that 10% of men and 5% of women are gay. That’s approximately 1 in every 15 people. This seems close to accurate. If only 1% of Americans were gay, however, that would still be over 3 million people. And if 10% were gay, that would mean over 30 million.

Who are gay people? Gay people touch every segment of our population. They as varied and unique as are heterosexuals. Their one distinction is that they are attracted to like-gendered partners.

In my college days when I was trying to teach myself to play the guitar (a goal that’s not yet accomplished), the first song I taught myself to play was Come to the Water. Remember that one? “And Jesus said, Come to the Water, Stand by my side, I know you are thirsty, You won’t be denied. I felt every teardrop when in darkness you cried, and I strove to remind you that for those tears I died . . .” One of those campfire songs that spread quickly across the young Christian scene, much like “It only takes a spark to get a fire going . . .” Well, years later, churches were tearing this song out of their hymnals, and its popularity was squelched. Why? Because it was discovered that the writer, Marsha Stevens, was a gay woman. Never mind that she wrote music that inspired a generation of Christians, leading us to seek closer communion with God. She was quickly shunned by the Christian music industry.

Then there was gospel singer Kirk Talley who never even had a homosexual relationship, but still “fell from grace” after it was exposed that he confided in a friend his same-sex attractions. On Dec. 22, 2003, Kirk Talley, beloved Christian singer/songwriter (“Step Into the Water,” “He Is Here,” et.al.), Dove Award winner, Grammy nominee, the boyish-faced man dubbed “Mr. Gospel Music” found himself pleading to his friend to kill him, and to God to let him die. (GQ Magazine, August 2005)

In 2007 Evangelist Ted Haggard was exposed for a 3-year homosexual relationship. After three weeks of therapy, he claimed he was cured of years of homosexual struggle. He may have even believed it. (I believe in miracles, but have my doubts that this was one of them.)

Then there was Rev. Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Church, New Jersey governor James McGreevey, and Christian recording artists Ray Boltz and Jennifer Knapp. The Christian community hears these stories and condemns. I hear these stories and see a culture that forces gay people to deny who they are, and the problems this inevitably brings.

WHAT IS THE GAY AGENDA?

To be treated like every other human being. Nothing more. The term “gay agenda” is one of many political watch words, meant to set off our emotions. Every person and every group has some kind of agenda. Evangelicals want to Christianize the world. Merchants want to make money. Gay people want to be respected and treated as the human beings they are.

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WHY IS THE GAY POPULATION GROWING SO RAPIDLY?

It isn’t. The gay population, by all reputable evidence has remained fairly steady, percentagewise, throughout history. The recent difference is not that there are more gay people, but that, with the internet, cable TV, and especially social networking, more gay people are becoming comfortable enough to disclose their sexuality, and more are deciding to seek equal rights and recognition.

STUFF CHURCH PEOPLE LIKE TO SAY:

1. “Love the sinner, Hate the sin.” This is probably the Church’s favorite response to the issue of homosexuality. It does have a nice ring to it, but it’s flawed on at least two levels. First, it assumes that homosexuality is a sin. And second, I have yet to see what that love for the sinner looks like. It is overshadowed by the hate for the sin. If we believe someone is living in abominable and repulsive sin, does he sense God’s love radiating from us?

Imagine being told by someone that he loves you, but he hates your Christianity. Therefore you can be acceptable only if you don’t act upon it. Don’t attend church. Don’t tithe. Don’t share your faith. Ridiculous, isn’t it. How can a person separate himself from the person he is? Henri Nouwen said it this way: “Compassion can never coexist with judgment because judgment creates the distance, the distinction, which prevents us from being with the other.” I challenge us to refrain from SAYING this overused platitude, and to pray instead that we will be filled with God’s love.

2. “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” This one is so trivial on so many levels, but some find it catchy. Without giving it more attention that it merits, here’s my quick response: God created trees, so does that mean he didn’t create broccoli? If Adam had green eyes, would that mean that God didn’t create people with brown eyes? Were we to take the time to examine the Hebrew words from which Adam and Eve were translated, there would be more fodder for discussion, but I’ll move on . . .

3. “The Bible says be fruitful and multiply.” Again, I could write an entire blog responding to this one argument, but I won’t. We have amply populated the earth, too amply, many would argue. Allowing homosexuals their God-given human rights would not cause everyone else to stop populating. I have recently heard several ministers argue that if gay people were allowed to marry, this would be the final generation of humanity, because there would be no procreation. Really!? If gay people were given the right to marry, would every heterosexual then decide to be gay? Do we even think about these things we say? Homosexuality is not a choice. A certain percentage of people are homosexual, despite what laws we may have for or against, and a much larger percentage of the population will continue to multiply, no matter how much we try to stop it. (Look at our teen pregnancy rates, etc.) The earth is already filled with unwanted and exploited children, in need of love and attention. And Jesus, by the way, was not a physical “multiplier,” just as Paul and many others in the NT were not.

4. “If we don’t stop homosexuals, it will open the door for polygamy and bestiality.” Polygamy and bestiality have no relationship whatsoever to homosexuality. This has become one of the many political alarmist slogans, meant to appeal to uninformed peoples’ vulnerability. Polygamy and bestiality are behaviors, and behaviors are choices. This political agenda will continue to do all it can to convince everyone that sexual orientation is also a behavior and a choice. Studies have shown the more times we hear something, the more solidly we start to believe it, and the slogan repeaters are well aware of this. Studies have noted that bestiality practices are not uncommon among boys who grow up on a farm, but if true, (and “icky” if so) I have never heard of anyone desiring to marry his chicken, ever. And as for polygamy, based on Scripture alone, without consideration for our current cultural norms, it would be a stretch to condemn it, as polygamy was an acceptable part of Old Testament culture.

Related: A Possible Compromise on the Gay Marriage Controversy – by Tony Campolo

5. “Gay people cannot be a part of God’s family unless they repent and change.” According to our Christian doctrines, we are all in need of repentance, but orientation is not a factor in that. Gay people do not need to repent of their orientation any more than heterosexual people need to repent of theirs. What we choose to do with our orientations, perhaps, but not for the orientation itself. Sexual orientation has no direct correlation with whether a person is or is not Christian. (Indirect, yes, because the churches have shunned the homosexuals.)

Nationally recognized organizations like Soulforce, Evangelicals Concerned, Gay Christian Network, and segments of many major denominations, are set up specifically to nurture and encourage Christian gay people. Every major denomination has begun struggling with this issue or will most probably have to do so soon. All the answers for the church are not easy, but may we at least reach the point of understanding that gay and Christian are not by nature antithetical. The most quoted verse of the Bible says WHOSOEVER believes will have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Homosexuals cannot be changed into heterosexuals. Despite what some Christians want so strongly to believe, an intelligent view of science and psychology is more and more conclusive that sexual orientation is not a choice. That causes serious problems for some of our Christian thinking, so we will argue the opposite position until we are red in the face, but ultimately, it doesn’t change the reality. There have been many entire books written on the question of why people are gay, and not being any kind of expert on that, I will completely skip over that chapter here, except to say that it is apparent that, whatever the reason, it has its roots early in life, far before the person begins to consciously think in terms of sexuality. What toys do they prefer? What clothes? What playmates?

6. “Protect the American family.” Another political cliche. What does this really mean? Is the American family healthy without gay people? Would your marriage fall apart if gay people were given their rights? If we are truly concerned about the American family, why are we not wanting to put regulations on how easy it is to marry? Or to divorce? A quick glance into any public school classroom will give witness that the Leave It to Beaver family is not alive and well. Do you know what homosexuals are doing to fit into society? They are marrying your daughters, by the thousands. They love them and try their best to be good husbands, but they will inevitably hurt their “American family,” even if they never stray, because she will always know that something is not right, or wonder what’s wrong with her that she doesn’t please him.

The existence of gay people does not hurt “the American family.” The Church’s stand on homosexuality, however is causing tremendous damage! Not only to the homosexuals themselves who are repeatedly told by the Church that something is wrong with them and that need to repent of their “sinful lifestyle,” (no, not directly, because most ministers and church people think there could never be a gay person there, not in their church), but also to the entire families and church families of these people.

During the civil rights era of the 1960s, when African-Americans were being treated horrifically by the white majority, the only support a black child had was his/her black family and black church. The family and the Church nurtured the black child, protecting him/her as much as possible from the misguided culture that surrounded him/her. For the gay child, however, there is no support. It is the Church, and thus the family, that is most oppressive of all to his/her life. Not only does the Church oppress the gay person, but it teaches his family to oppress him. Parents are taught to be ashamed of their gay children, believing them to have “chosen a life of sin.” With no support of church or family, gay young people seek acceptance, understanding and guidance from wherever they can find it, and are often unwelcome in their own families and churches “unless they change.” If the “American family” is to be “protected,” it may be the Church that needs repentance.

7. “I don’t believe people are born gay.” Without getting too deep into the age old argument of nature vs. environment, it is technically true that humans do not fully develop a sense of sexuality prior to puberty. However, it seems more and more apparent, that there is indeed a genetic factor involved, that some people are biologically predisposed to same sex attractions, and to deny this is to close our eyes to all evidence. (See number 5 above.) Ignorance and closed minds are among Christianity’s worst enemies.

Herein is the crux of what divides us as Christians on this issue: Do homosexuals choose to be homosexual? Traditionalist Christians adamantly say yes, and if this were true, I would agree. Homosexuality would be a sin. If it is true, however, that homosexuality is genetically determined, much like eye color, tongue rolling, left-handedness, etc. (which is becoming more and more scientifically evident), then we are essentially saying that it is a sin for these people to be born. A homosexual person can no more deny his same-sex attractions than can a heterosexual deny his. When did you choose to be attracted to the opposite sex? And why would anyone CHOOSE a life of oppression, isolation, and rejection?

A century ago we were shouting that pianos in the church were of the devil. Then we shouted that abolition was of the devil. We shout that women in ministry is an outrage. And we quote Scripture to back up all our claims. Now, if the question is about homosexuality, our automated answer is “abomination.” Even Southern Baptist Seminary President Al Mohler blogged a couple of years ago of the likelihood that homosexuality is biological, quickly finding himself in the line of attack. One thing is for sure, either people are born gay or they are not, and that truth is not dependent on what we think about it.

8. “Well, if they can’t change, they should just remain celibate.” Some choose this path, just as do some heterosexuals, but history (and Scripture) has shown us that celibacy is not the overall answer. We are created as sexual beings, and that sexuality will likely come out perversely if not naturally, especially, I believe, in men, even if entered into with the sincerest of intentions. Consider, for example, the Catholic priesthood. And consider personally being told to live celibately. Not them. You.

9. “If they repent and have enough faith, God will heal them.” Again, the fallacy here is the assumption that orientation is a sin. The response of such evangelical leaders as Dr. James Dobson and Jerry Falwell has been to cure homosexuals. Dr. Dobson has advocated the use of so-called ex-gay ministries such as Exodus International. Prior to 2000 Dr. Dobson’s Focus on the Family featured their own John Paulk, “the story of how one man overcame homosexuality.” In 2000, however, when Paulk was spotted in a gay bar, he quickly disappeared from the organization family.

Interestingly, even the president of Exodus International agrees there is no “cure” for homosexuality. People do not choose their feelings, he says. They can only choose their behavior. Thousands of testimonies attest to the harm done by these well-meaning “reparative” programs, and while there are also testimonies of “success,” I have never heard any “success” testimony by someone who has been “cured” for as long as ten years. All of us can change a behavior for a short time, especially if led emotionally to believe that God demands it.

What do you think, by the way, of the cultures that “cure” female sexuality by mutilating the genitals of the young girls?

SO I’M SAYING THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOT A SIN?

Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario. We probably all choose to think of nuns as asexual beings, but that is not reasonable, as sexuality is a part of the human experience. Nuns, however, have chosen a life of celibacy, choosing not to act on their sexuality. But does that make them less heterosexual or homosexual? No, it doesn’t. If she is heterosexual but celibate, the church reveres her. If she is homosexual and celibate, do we call her a sinner? If so, we are wrong. If not, we must then realize a distinction between orientation and behavior. And if we cannot even fathom the concept of a homosexual celibate nun, we are disillusioned and are choosing to live in our own box, isolated from much of God’s Truth.

So, yes, I am saying that sexual orientation, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is not a sin. What is done with that orientation is indeed a choice and can certainly lead to sin, for both homosexual and heterosexual people. Promiscuity. Adultery. But not mere orientation.

SO IF HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOT A SIN, HOW SHOULD A GAY CHRISTIAN LIVE HIS LIFE?

How should a heterosexual Christian live his life? First and foremost devoted wholly to God, and second, actively loving and caring for others. Jesus said this is the greatest commandment. For all of us. Further, like a heterosexual person, a gay person should seek a committed monogamous relationship with a compatible Christian (unless he chooses celibacy), and should flee from all promiscuous or adulterous behavior.

Also by Kathy: I Went to Gay Pride

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:37)

WHY AM I WRITING THIS BLOG?

Homosexuality is the social justice issue of this generation, and I cannot keep from speaking out. The Church is wrong about this, clinging to traditional judgments that are increasingly incompatible with scientific truth, and incompatible, in my opinion, with Jesus’ life and ministry.

I blog because it breaks my heart to think of another generation of gay young people struggling alone without family or church support. Another generation of young people believing something is wrong with them and wasting years trying to change in order to fit in. Another generation of church outcasts, confused at why God must not love them and why He doesn’t answer their prayers to change them. I write because you might be his aunt. Or his teacher. Or his pastor. Or his parent. You might be her office mate. Or her neighbor. Or her child’s little league coach. For this reason I write, and I am not alone.

More and more individual Christians like Tony and Peggy Campolo, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Lutheran scholar Martin Marty, and Methodist minister Jimmy Creech, as well as mainline denominations like the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopalians, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are beginning to step out and welcome everyone into their families.

A most interesting Focus on the Family story you may have missed was in 1997, when Focus on the Family co-founder Gil Alexander-Moegerle, having left the organization, wrote a letter of apology for the organization’s stands on homosexuality and women’s issues. (This story of course was not broadcast, and Dr. Dobson certainly did not endorse it.) He could no longer keep silent. In his words: “I apologize to lesbian and gay Americans who are demeaned and dehumanized on a regular basis by the false, irresponsible, and inflammatory rhetoric of James Dobson’s anti-gay radio and print materials.”

Christian organizations like Evangelicals Concerned, the Gay Christian Network, and Soulforce are offering love and support. Even some individual churches of the most closed denominations are stepping out to welcome all who want to join them. More and more Christians are hearing the cry of the marginalized and oppressed. More and more are choosing to practice God’s love.

BUT THE BIBLE SAYS . . .

Leviticus clearly states if a man lies with a male as with a woman, they have committed an abomination. Likewise a few other passages make similar statements. How then, if I am a Christian, can I write such a blog as this?

Prayerfully and fully believing it is God who propels me.

Scripture alone will not lead the Church to a full understanding on this issue. If we are looking for a verse that says literally, “homosexuality is not a sin,” we will not find it. On the contrary we will find the handful of verses that seem to say otherwise, at least on the surface. Nor would Scripture alone, let’s note, ever have led to the concept of monogamy or to the abolition of slavery. Slavery was an unquestioned part of the first century culture, as polygamy was in the Old Testament, and both would be much easier to justify through Scripture than to rebuke. A heart understanding, however, of Jesus’ life and teachings, shows us the sin of oppression, the hurting people who have been personally wounded and oppressed. As true “Christians,” we look into the eyes, we hear the voices, we feel the pain, we understand the heart cries of the wounded families and the isolated individuals, and we know in the depths of the soul that quoting Scripture is not enough. Nor was it for Jesus.

I challenge you, Christian brother/sister, to the following:

1. Pray. Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment. Pray that God alone will lead your mind and heart to whatever is true.

2. Read. Seek writings of Christians who think differently from you, and try to really understand their position, even if you will later choose to reject it. We never get a full picture of any issue when what we know about the other side is what those on our side tell us.

3. Listen. Seek out people who are gay, and invite them to tell you their stories. When they first knew they were gay, what kind of struggles they have experienced, if they chose to be gay, how it has shaped their view of God, etc. Do not tell them you don’t want them to go to hell. Don’t tell them you love them but hate their sin. Just be quiet and listen. This may be a difficult one, because they may not be willing to share their stories. If not, it is probably because they perceive us as judgmental and closed-minded. Maybe we are . . .

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Cor. 13:2)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34)

He who believes in him is not condemned (John 3:18)

that whoever believes in him may have eternal life (John 3:15)


Kathy Vestal is a college educator in Salisbury, NC. She has a Master’s of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Master’s of Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. An avid writer, gifted teacher, and occasional public speaker/preacher, her passions include civil rights, social justice, church reform, and education. She has traveled to Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, Ecuador, and The Gambia, Africa, and enjoys reading, nature, and history.You can follow her personal blog at http://kathyon.blogspot.com/ or follow her on Twitter @VestalKathy

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  • Anonymous

    Your listing OT laws is a weak argument for two reasons: 1. We Christians are free from the law because the law is fulfilled in Christ. He summarized the law and the prophets as Love God and Love People. 2. You are equating laws about ritual cleanliness with moral laws.

    • Dan T.

      Exactly, and then they throw out all the black letters of the New Testament based on all kinds of faulty logic. I’m quite sure Jesus had short hair, and that Christian ladies ought to have their heads covered. And if Paul’s statement about women being saved through child-birth doesn’t make sense to you now, do you think anyone living in the day it was written had your understanding of what that means? I believe he just meant that God will preserve them through it (and I could be wrong about that, but I certainly don’t believe it was ever to be taken as some necessity for salvation). Not only that now, you throw out the words of Jesus about remarriage? So much for any semblance of “Red Letter Christianity”.

      • Andrea L.

        Apparently I can’t be saved because I’ve never birthed a child. :-/

        • Dan T.

          Did you read what I wrote, or are you just venting? The part where I said “I certainly don’t believe…”? If you make the scripture out to be saying something unreasonable, then it’s easy to reject or refute it, but, have you tried to understand it? It’s pretty clear in 1 Tim 2 that Paul is not giving us anything cultural here because he refers to Adam & Eve (just as he did when talking about headcoverings, 1 Cor 11).

          http://www.gotquestions.org/saved-childbearing.html

    • Frank

      For a site called red letter Christians there are certainly many posters who are absolutely clues regarding biblical truths. The post is a lesson in how not to interpret the bible. The lesson: know what you are talking about BEFORE you post. The scripturally ignorance displayed is an embarrassment to us all.

  • Frank

    Who we are sexually attracted to is not a choice or a sin. So no sexual preference is not a sin but homosexual behavior is.

    We all have a propensity to sin but its our actions that seal the deal.

    So yes we are to love everyone. Love them enough to tell tem ken thirty. Love them enough to not deceive hme by telling them that God made them gay. Love them enough to give them hope that Jesus can help the overcome their sinful behavior or support them while they struggle with it. What we cannot do is simply accept our sinful behavior. Anyone who suggest this spreading hate not the love of Christ.

  • Geoff

    Personally, I have enough sins of my own to worry about without trying to figure it out for other people.
    God is the only one who can decide on consequences for moral actions.
    I think we Christians need to learn more about love and less about condemnation. Especially considering how blessed we are compared to everyone else who has ever lived.

    • Frank

      God has already decided and informed us. There is nothing loving a out supporting, affirming, condoning or remaining silent about sinful behavior.

      • Jonathan

        He gave you mercy didn’t he.
        —-
        33 Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’

        • Frank

          Yes I have mercy enough to love them as they are and hope for them to not succumb to their sinful desires and instead trust Jesus. There is no Christian mercy without restoration.

          • Jonathan

            It’s always about you isn’t it.

          • Frank

            ? You asked me to respond to the mercy I have been given and I did. Maybe this is about you?

          • Jonathan

            It’s fun going back and forth with people you don’t know.:)

          • Frank

            Fun and sometimes frustrating! :)

          • Jonathan

            Have grace for me if I ever demonize you.:)

          • Frank

            Done!

          • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

            I love your humour Jonathan!

    • Dan T.

      Romans 1:32 says that those who approve of these kind of things also sin, so if you have enough sin of your own (and we could probably all say this), we will not lessen it any this way.

  • Jonathan

    On controversial issues, I’m at a place where I’m comfortable to just say, “I don’t know?”
    —-
    It’s so tempting to want to have a comment or opinion. Sometimes I just think, “Jonathan, it is OK for you not to say anything.”

    “One day some of the brethren came to see Abba Antony, and among them
    was Abba Joseph. Wishing to test them, the old man mentioned a text from
    Scripture, and starting with the youngest he asked them what it meant.
    Each explained it as best he could. But to each one the old man said,
    ‘You have not yet found the answer.’ Last of all he said to Abba Joseph,
    ‘And what do you think the text means?’ He replied, ‘I do not know.’
    Then Abba Antony said, ‘Truly, Abba Joseph has found the way, for he
    said: I do not know.’”

  • Martin

    Wow – “Frank” left 4 comments – 2 of them in response to one of his own comments made to look like they were from other people. And now he is changing the names that the comments were left under. Seems like a deceitful act in response to a viewpoint he is evidently very strongly against.

    • Frank

      Not sure where your paranoid delusion comes from but I only ever post as Frank.

      • Jonathan

        paranoid delusion:)

      • Martin

        Screenshot attached from when the comments were first posted…

        • Frank

          Well that’s interesting. I think someone else mentioned something like that before as a Discus bug.

          I assure you I have no need to post under any other name than Frank and its not possible for to go and change the name I post under.

          So I can see why you thought that but I not post as Frank and do not change names.

          • http://www.theradicaldisciples.com Ryan Drake

            I mentioned that as a bug…sorry about last time Drew!

        • Drew

          It’s a bug in the software. People have accused me of doing the same thing as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

    Well written. Thank you. Compelling. If I understand you correctly you really ARE making the case to hate the sin but love the sinner, even though you insist that “identity” or “sexual orientation” is not a sin.

    There are compulsive thieves, liars, arsonists, rapists, pedophiles, and even serial killers. They insist they can NOT help themselves, that they are driven by a near inexorable force or compulsion or attraction to engage in a sinful AND illegal behavior.

    If we accept that their compulsion or attraction is NOT sin to what extent do we embrace them within the church? Fully, partially, or not at all? The law will likely catch up with them sooner or later and incarcerate them; this may be an argument for prison ministry.

    But IF I understand you correctly you wish to differentiate between the above and homosexuals. That their compulsion, lust, attraction is NOT sinful — OK — in the same way heterosexuals are not — OK — and so the church should embrace them fully. OK. Will the church continue to insist while compulsive thieves, liars, arsonists, rapists, pedophiles and serial killers attend church that STEALING, LYING, BURNING DOWN HOMES AND BUILDINGS, RAPE, PEDOPHILIA, AND MURDER are sins, or in order not to offend or embarrass them remain silent about these sins?

    And what about simply lusting in one’s heart? Have we not ALL already committed adultery already? Is it any different for the homosexual? Do we shut down preaching and teaching about these inner sins?

    And what about the insufficiency of Scripture? Does this NOT open the door for a near infinite number of add-ons, edits, and amendments that Scripture CONCLUDES by warning against?

    And what about BISEXUALITY — increasingly popular at least among girls and not a few men? Who are they ATTRACTED to when one night they’re with another girl or woman and the next night with a man or a man AND a woman or another woman and a man? How do people claim to be near equally attracted to both sexes? Is that nature or nurture of some combination of both?

    So if Scripture is insufficient – meaning there are necessary Truths of God not contained with the 66 Books of the Bible — and we begin to downgrade or remain silent about the hyperbolic Scriptures about lusting in one’s heart and even calling someone a “fool,” why do we even need the Scriptures; we can surely make up new ones that are “better” than the original and much more to our liking and the liking of those whom we wish to help make feel better about themselves.

    I am NOT willing to abrogate Scripture and say to lust after another — whatever their gender or mine — is NOT adultery in the heart even though virtually EVERYONE — heterosexual and homosexual — has done so in their hearts at one time or another because we must as a matter of faith understand that God is found True even if every wo/man is found to be a liar. Confession of sin and repentance is far superior in God’s Kingdom than trying to rationalize away the sin and then being eternally “surprised” in eternity that we were so very wrong and . . . hubristic for thinking that just because we thought so it would be. That’s the quintessence of auto-idolatry.

    I’m willing to welcome and love homosexuals, heterosexual adulterers, rapists, arsonists, pedophiles, incessant thieves, and serial murderers. But I realize I may alienate some adults and their children if unwanted sexual advances, rapes, fires, pedophilia, thievery, and murders begin to occur — even just ONCE. My insurance company may NOT protect me against lawsuits and prosecutions if my policy stated in the fine print that if I knowingly admit such people into my church I will no longer be indemnified.

    By the way, I remind everyone that to compare is NOT to equate. As the author above made comparisons between people and events that she did NOT insist equated, so have I. Let God be found True and everyone of us a liar, if only to keep front and center that Truth that God is infallible and sinless and we are NOT.

    I’ll conclude with my RESPONSE to Dr. Campolo’s piece, referenced above, about a “Compromise.”

    Excellent. I highly concur with ONE BIG CAVEAT. We must distinguish between getting MARRIED in a church and getting wedded in a “religious institution” not necessarily wedded (pun intended) to the Gospel of Jesus.

    IN the same way we differentiate between what happens at the State level: a Civil Union for Legal purposes and in a church: Marriage, we must for THEOLOGICAL, HAMARTIOLOGICAL, and SEMANTIC reasons come up with new, separate language for people who seek a religious component to their wedding but do NOT want to do so under the auspices of the Church which Jesus founded upon the Rock and which orthodoxically and non-heretically still abides only Genesis marriage: between a man and a woman, between “ish” and “ishah” — and FOREVER WILL.

    Heretical “churches” who have renounced some or all of the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus but still want a “spiritual” experience will deem what they perform a wedding but NOT a marriage. MARRIAGE should be reserved ONLY for the union instituted by God before Him, the Hosts of Heaven and witnesses, between one man and one woman, whether believing Christians, believing Jews or arguably believing Muslims. “I’m not religious but spiritual” couples can be WEDDED in any Spiritual Dome (I made that term up — but I’m not wedded to it) that the IRS grants 501(c)3 status to. (Yeah, there’s the state intruding again but current churches will NOT, I do NOT believe, want to give up their tax exempt status).

    AND YES, churches may discriminate between who they will and will NOT marry based upon inquiry and counseling because those couples whom churches don’t wish to marry can be wedded in other unorthodox religious institutions, whatever they wind up calling themselves besides “church.”

    Yeah, its complicated and messy but so is the bizarre and aberrant sexual culture and milieu America has created for itself.

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/09/29/my-take-im-spiritual-not-religious-is-a-cop-out/?on.cnn=2

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/09/no-religion-pew-report_n_1949598.html

  • Jonathan

    I don’t have anyone in my sphere who is going through this personally? But I know it is a big issue in the church, I’ve even batted this ball around a bit.

    But what I can relate to is coming from a rough background and having a lot of tattoos. Being converted, delivered and healed by Jesus, and finding a home at a Midwest Conservative White Middle to Upper Middle class Right Wing Church . I’m thankful to God for putting me in that family because that’s where I needed to be for stability. But I had to learn to forgive because of the treatment and side comments I got from those who were less than sensitive. I had one person tell me that God was speaking to them in prayer, and he revealed to them something about me. He said God told him that the demonic had an open portal in my life because of my tattoos. There were many other experiences like that.

    At first I tried to conform to their ways, but I never really was accepted. They would say things like you don’t have to get all cleaned up before you come in, but they only advanced people in the ministry who were squeecky clean. It was a real bubble.

    Also, feeling like a fish out of water because, you don’t agree with their hard right beliefs on subjects like abortion, homosexuality and welfare.

    Like I said, I’m grateful for the place and time where God put me. But I am thankful now to be in an inner city church.

    At one point I recoiled into a more liberal point of view, but have lightened up and I’m OK now with not having all the answers. And I try not to hate more conservative viewpoints too much. I’m living with purpose and serving in the inner city. I don’t have time to get wrapped up in all these controversial discussions.

    I call them white people arguments. (I’m white)

    I like what Obama said, When issues finally make it to my desk, they aren’t easy issues. The homosexual issue is not an easy one… it’s controversial.

    • Jonathan

      I think the right should loosen up on being right so much.

      • Jonathan

        I really related with Jesus’ words, I came to that which was my own, but my own received me not. Or Isaiah being a prophet in the north.

        Your like God why did you place me smack dab in the middle of people who aren’t like me.

  • Allie

    I’ve often wondered WHY the commands against homosexuality are in the Bible, if it is not to be considered a sin. Do the laws make sense in a cultural context? For example, why on earth would
    God make it a sin to eat pig? Turns out, as we know now, touching or eating raw pig meat can cause disease, and since pig biology is similar to human biology, pig diseases can cross the species barrier more easily than some other creatures. Many of the other banned foods have similar issues, as carriers of parasites and bacteria that can cause significant health issues for humans. Yet, in our current culture, eating bacon is considered a non-issue, as we tend to have a better grasp on how to handle food safely. Many of the passages about ritual cleansing have to do with conditions that could potentially spread some nasty blood-borne or contact diseases to large segments of the population. Most of us don’t worry about getting leprosy from our neighbour anymore. But in that culture and those times, these laws made some sense, whereas for modern North American culture, they seem foolish.

    I see very few things written on how homosexuality was understood or practiced in biblical times, but what I have seen sheds some significant light on why these laws might be in the Bible. (A bit of a side note: Hebrews had names for sins they thought were important enough to name, but they did not have a word for homosexuality.) The famous Leviticus passage which many turn to when condemning homosexuality did not contain the term, because the Hebrews had no word for it. What is says is: “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman.” In ancient cultures, men would violently assault men to make them “as women”, they may or may not have been gay, but they used this behavior to reduce another man to the “nothing” that women were. The Hebrews would certainly have been aware of this kind of behavior, so it would not be surprising to find a passage that
    addresses it.

    In New Testament times, Paul and his NT audience would have been aware of the Greek homosexual practices. These were not necessarily done because of orientation, but because of the culture that said that it was not possible to have significant and meaningful sexual relationship with a woman. Women were dirty, necessary for child-bearing, but not spiritual enough to have that kind of relationship
    with. Married men would still meet with each other for sexual relations, and would even keep slave boys for that purpose. Is it possible that this is what Paul condemned? Perhaps as a protection for women and children and slaves?

    I don’t want to claim that this is THE way to interpret these passages, but I do think it is worth consideration, and then start asking questions about how this applies to our culture today.

    • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

      Generally the word is translated in past tense (eg NIV: “after he had considered this)
      but sure, you can find translations that don’t so I’ll leave that point. But
      consider if someone told you that an angel had appeared to them in a dream and
      told them that they didn’t have to do something the Bible told them to do;
      would you think that was valid or would you advise them to mistrust their
      vision and just believe what the Bible told them in plain print?

      You say that stoning was not needed because adultery did not take place, but
      the law in Deuteronomy *assumes guilt* unless the woman was heard to cry out
      for help. That is the one piece of evidence permitted in her defence. Under
      Moses’ law Mary was guilty and whether Joseph was satisfied by his dream or not
      was irrelevant – Moses said “you must purge the evil from among you”.

      This is the point of Isaiah’s sign. The word wrongly translated as virgin is
      almah (young unmarried girl) not bethulah (virgin). By his sign, whoever became
      pregnant with Immanuel would be called guilty under the law of Moses because no
      one ever heard them cry out for help, so the only way for Immanuel to be born
      was if someone broke that law. Whether they did it themselves or because they
      had a dream or said an angel appeared; they had to directly disobey what was in
      plain print in scripture. And that was *the* sign of God’s coming.

      The relevance of this to whether sexual orientation is a sin or not comes back
      to Kathy’s argument about the way we read scripture. She suggests that we need
      to consider all of the surrounding details – culture, audience etc and (particularly in the link she gave as explanation) recognise that God didn’t actually dictate the words – people wrote what they understood from him in their own words and coming from their own humanity.

      So, even though there is no point in scripture where these instructions are negated, I don’t
      believe in stoning women to death for adultery. I never beat my son with a rod
      even though Proverbs told me that was love. I don’t believe that the earth is
      covered in a solid dome (translated as ‘firmament’ in the KJV because any other
      translation that removes the solidity from it is changing the text); I haven’t
      stoned my son to death for arguing with me or working on Saturday; I don’t insist
      that women wear a hijab even though Paul said they should, and if my church was
      to check whether someone had Ammonite or Moabite within the last 10 generations
      of their family tree before they could come into the building I would object.
      Yes, there are all sorts of arguments and justifications that we use around
      these things (“the hijab was just what Corinthian women of the time normally
      wore”), but that is my point exactly. There are very important cultural
      contexts that apply to the laws around homosexuality and we need to consider
      them consistent to the way we do in other areas of scripture. Consider for
      example that the prohibition was only ever applied to males, and the single
      mention of lesbians in Romans refers only to women “burning with lust” for one
      another, not to two women that just love each other. Could it have been a
      health restriction as so many other laws were and women were not mentioned because they don’t suffer the same health risks as men?

      My point is that the instructions had reasons behind them and were human, culturally relevant interpretations of God’s instructions. That’s not liberalism, its exegesis. New Testament Christians shed many of the OT laws without anyone telling them to just as we’ve shed Paul’s
      laws about women covering their heads (although some still pick and choose)
      because as Paul said “this is my prayer: that your love may grow more and more
      in knowledge and depth of insight.” In other words, it may be ok for someone
      3000 years ago to beat their child with a rod out of a sincere desire to train
      them, but if we haven’t developed enough knowledge and depth of insight to know
      better now then we don’t really love our kids that much and deserve the scorn
      of our society. In the same way, if the five or six instructions around
      homosexual sex in the Bible actually stem from say health issues or the
      prevalence of pederasty in the cultures written to in the epistles, then maybe
      there’s room for our love to grow in knowledge and depth of insight. If the
      science shows that same sex attraction is really born into a person (which as a
      scientist I’m not actually convinced it does by the way), then that knowledge
      and depth of insight suggests that to say it is perverse is like saying left
      handers are evil. Like I said before, the Bible irrefutably teaches that the
      earth is covered by a solid dome and I have never found any effort to make it
      say otherwise that does not rely on very poor scholarship and even deception,
      but I choose not to believe it because yes, I accept science over Moses’
      rendering of ancient oral tradition. Invariably I have found that people who
      insist differently either do so in complete ignorance of reality (eg the Flat
      Earth Society) or because they don’t honestly read the parts of the Bible they
      can’t explain. I want to read the whole book.
      The bottom line for me is that there are credible ways for Christians to differ on this. I don’t fully agree with Kathy but is it right for us to condemn each other as being somehow worse followers over a tiny handful of verses which some refuse to exegete in the same way as they do others? Is it really ok that this has become the defining litmus test for so many Christians when there are so many many other issues that are taught with absolute clarity in the Bible that are so readily ignored by raising this argument?

      • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

        Sorry Allie, this post was meant for a discussion with Frank above; not sure how it ended up here :)

      • Frank

        Philip all you have said is well and good but given the sexual ethic and Gods design of creation found in scripture there is just no way that God intends us to engage in homosexual behavior. Are we to go out and stone them? Of course not, enacting ultimate judgement is not our responsibility but upholding Gods word and Gods design is. Jesus tells us that this is how we show and prove that we love God.

        So all that said we are to show love to all people and hold out a seat at the table for anyone who wants to sit but what we cannot do is tell people that living in sinful behavior is ok in any way shape or form.

        I have said this before and I will say it again: it’s the pro gay people who are rejecting the church these days not the church rejecting them ( although there are still very hateful churches and Christians out there doing this.) The only thing that’s seems to be acceptable to many pro gay advocates is full acceptance and celebration of their choices and not calling their behavior a sin. That cannot be done while holding on to the authority of scripture. And that’s why the liberal church, which can’t get around what scripture says about homosexuality, have been trying to change the relationship to scripture or outright dismissing it, either in part or in full as the Word of God to justify their choices.

        • Valarie

          “Philip all you have said is well and good but given the sexual ethic and
          Gods design of creation found in scripture there is just no way that
          God intends us to engage in homosexual behavior.”

          By behavior, I am assuming you mean sex. Probably anal (which straight people do); and oral (which straight people also do.

          I have a question, Frank. Is it different somehow when straight people do it?

          • Benjamin

            Straight sexual immorality people. Oral is not a sin! Ugh! Have you heard of Sodom and Gomorrah? I’m pretty sure they we’re doing all the stuff gay’s and sexual immorality people do now a days but worse! Sin is Sin Valarie and anal is a sin. As told in the Bible we are to treat our bodies with respect and love for they are the temple of the Holy Spirit and the Lord that dwells in us. As anal gives many health risks. My mom always calls the anus a “one way exit” so i can’t see godly people attempting that filth. I have never EVER heard of a Christian Man wanting to preform anal sex. LIKE EVER!!!!! Did you know we(Humans) can die from eating feces. So why would you want to put part of your temple in darkness like how anal is?

  • chuck

    Can you extend this argument to bestiality, pedophilia, and scat play? Consenting creatures/adults and so on can be worked out with the law once we justify the behavior, so set aside that argument for now; based on the argument of sexual orientation alone, can we say that people who engage in these activities are not sinning against God?

    By the way, I notice the writer steered clear of the bisexual and polyamory. If one is bisexual and chooses a same sex relationship or has a consenting relationship with more than one person, presumably they are sinning because they choose to engage these behaviors.

    • Val

      Animals can’t give consent.

  • Drew

    There is a real division that is taking place in the American Church. On one side, you have folks with a Christian worldview, that hold the Bible in high regard, that see God as sovereign, have conservative, traditional theology. On the other side, you have folks with a secular/postmodernist worldview, that hold the Bible in low regard, that create God in their own image, and have liberal, evolving theology.

    I’ll let folks determine where Vestal falls into this.

    For the record, Tony Campolo, founder of Red Letter Christians, thinks the act of homosexuality is a sin, while the orientation is not.

  • Frank

    The Bible and Homosexual Practice: An Overview of Some Issues

    Robert Gagnon – Pt1

    An examination of the scriptural prohibitions against homosexual behavior.

    It is not possible in so short a compass to do justice to 500 pages of research [in my book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Abingdon, 2001)]. However, I will attempt to hit some key points. I will begin by talking about the two most important sets of texts: the Levitical prohibitions and the texts in Paul. Included here will be a brief discussion of whether “new knowledge” about homosexuality as an innate condition changes matters for us. I will then proceed to a broader array of texts in the Bible, both implicit and explicit, that make clear a pervasive and strong condemnation of homosexual practice. In this context I will also address the alleged silence of Jesus on the issue of same-sex intercourse. Finally, I will say a few words about why the Bible’s teaching should remain normative and how Christians should respond to the current crisis.

    Q: Could you outline the principal passages in the Bible that you believe are the basis for prohibiting homosexuality?

    There are two particularly important sets of explicit texts. First are the prohibitions in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, which declare that for a man to “lie with a male as though lying with a woman” is “an abomination” or “detestable act”–in Hebrew, to’evah–something utterly repugnant to God.

    The second set is the Apostle Paul’s references to same-sex intercourse, for which the key text is Romans 1:24-27. Here he treats same-sex intercourse as “exhibit B”–with idolatry as “exhibit A”–proving gross and deliberate human sin on the part of Gentiles against the truth about God accessible in creation or nature.

    Also important in Paul is his reference to “males who lie with males” (arsenokoitai) and “effeminate males who play the sexual role of females” (malakoi) in the vice list in 1 Corinthians 6:9. The context here is the comparable issue of a case of incest at Corinth (1 Corinthians 5). Paul argues that the community of believers at Corinth should not deceive themselves: believers who participate in serial and unrepentant fashion in immoral sexual activity–be they participants in incest or in the solicitation of prostitutes (pornoi), adulterers, or participants in same-sex intercourse–along with believers who engage in serial and unrepentant fashion in idolatry or egregious cases of economic exploitation and the like, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. The termarsenokoitai reappears in the vice list in 1 Tim 1:10. In the discussion that follows we will not spend much time on these texts. It will suffice here to point out that what Paul means by arsenokoitai has to be unpacked in light of what Paul finds offensive about same-sex intercourse in Romans 1:24-27. Those who tend to dismiss the term arsenokoitai in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10 as utterly beyond knowing often act as if Romans 1:24-27 did not exist.

    There are also a reasonably large number of other texts that explicitly or implicitly indicate opposition to same-sex intercourse, leaving little doubt that such opposition was the consensus position of both Testaments, as well as of the historical communities out of which these texts arose.

    Q: Sometimes modern-day skeptics reject Leviticus.

    The texts in Leviticus are often dismissed on one or more grounds. For example, it is claimed that these prohibitions have no more significance for the church today than other defunct purity laws; or that they have in view only same-sex intercourse conducted in the context of idolatrous cults, prostitution or adult-adolescent unions. Yet such arguments overlook at least seven points.

    First, the prohibitions against same-sex intercourse occur in the context of other types of sexual activity that the church today still largely regards as illegitimate: incest, adultery and bestiality.

    The strong prohibitions against these forms of sexual activity represent the closest analogues to the prohibition of same-sex intercourse. This is particularly true of the incest prohibition which, like the prohibition of same-sex intercourse, rejects intercourse between two beings that are too much alike. Leviticus refers pejoratively to sex with a family member as sex with “one’s own flesh” (Lev 18:16-17; 20:19). Bestiality is wrong for the opposite reason: it is sex between two beings that are too much unlike.

    Second, the attachment of purity language in ancient Israelite culture to such acts as incest, adultery, male-male intercourse, idolatry, economic exploitation, and the like–far from suggesting an amoral or non-moral basis for the rejection of such acts–actually buttresses the moral focus on the inherently degrading character of the acts themselves. It underscores that any talk about the positive moral intent of the participants is irrelevant.

    For the same reason, the Apostle Paul many centuries later connected the language of impurity with acts–usually sexual acts–that are rejected on moral grounds: not only same-sex intercourse but also adultery, incest, sex with prostitutes, and promiscuous sexual activity (Romans 1:24 and 6:19; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; 1 Thessalonians 4:7; cf. Ephesians 4:19; 5:3, 5; and Colossians 3:5).

    Third, unlike a number of the now-defunct elements of the Holiness Code to which reference is often made, the indictment of same-sex intercourse is particularly severe, as suggested by the specific attachment of the labelto’evah and by making it a capital offense.

    Same-sex intercourse was regarded by ancient Israel as a particularly severe infraction of God’s will. Indeed, we know of no ancient Near Eastern culture that adopted a more rigorous opposition to all forms of same-sex intercourse. True, the New Testament and the contemporary church does not apply the penalty attached to this act in the Levitical code. But, then again, it does not retain the Old Testament valuation of adultery, incest and bestiality as capital offenses either, even as it still rejects such forms of intercourse as immoral.

    Fourth, the prohibitions of same-sex intercourse are not limited to particularly exploitative forms but are rather unqualified and absolute.

    The general term “male” is used, not “cult prostitute,” “boy, youth,” or even “neighbor.” The prohibition applies not only to the Israelite but also to the non-Israelite who lives among them (Leviticus 18:26). The fact that both parties to the act are penalized in Leviticus 20:13 indicates that consensual acts are being addressed.

    Idolatry is hardly the main concern since the prohibition in 20:13 is set in between prohibitions of adultery, incest and bestiality; it does not follow immediately upon the prohibition of child sacrifice as in 18:22. Moreover, male cult prostitution was not the only context in which homosexual intercourse manifested itself in the ancient Near East generally. It was merely the most acceptable context for homosexual intercourse to be practiced in Mesopotamia, certainly for those who played the role of the receptive partner.

    Fifth, the reason for the prohibition is evident from the phrase “lying with a male as though lying with a woman.” What is wrong with same-sex intercourse is that it puts another male, at least insofar as the act of sexual intercourse is concerned, in the category of female rather than male.

    It was regarded as incompatible with the creation of males and females as distinct and complementary sexual beings, that is, as a violation of God’s design for the created order. Here it is clear that the creation stories in Genesis 1-2, or something like them, are in the background, which in turn indicates that something broader than two isolated prohibitions is at stake: nothing less than the divinely mandated norm for sexual pairing given in creation.

    Sixth, the non-procreative character of same-sex intercourse was no more the primary consideration in the rejection than it was for the proscription of bestiality. Incest and adultery, two other sexual acts rejected in Leviticus 18 and 20 are certainly not wrong because they are non-procreative; but neither is the primary reason for their rejection that fact that children might arise. All three are wrong because they constitute sex with another who is either too much of an “other” (sex with an animal) or too much of a “like” (sex with a near kin and sex with a member of the same sex). These are transcultural creation categories, not superstitious dregs from a bygone era.

    Q: How are these prohibitions reflected in the New Testament?

    The Levitical prohibitions of same-sex intercourse are clearly picked up in the New Testament–our seventh point. The Apostle Paul, who emphasized that the Mosaic law had been abrogated, nevertheless saw significant continuity with the moral code of the Spirit.

    The basic categories of sexual immorality–such as same-sex intercourse, incest, solicitation of prostitutes, adultery, etc.–remained in place for believers in Christ (so 1 Corinthians 5-7). Indeed, Paul formulated his reference to “men who lie with males” (arsenokoitai), one of the groups of people whom he insists will not inherit the kingdom of God in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, directly from the Levitical proscriptions of male-male intercourse. Clearly, then, Paul himself did not believe that the abrogation of the Mosaic law rendered obsolete the rejection of all same-sex intercourse for believers.

    Q: What does Romans 1:24-27 say?

    The text in Romans 1:24-27 is worth quoting at length: “because of the desires of their hearts God gave them over”–that is, those who chose not to worship God as God–”to an uncleanness”–that is, filthy conduct–”consisting of their bodies being dishonored among themselves…. God gave them over to dishonorable passions, for even their females exchanged the natural use”–that is, of the male as regards sexual intercourse–”for that which is contrary to nature”–that is, sexual intercourse with other females–”and likewise also the males, having left behind the natural use of the female, were inflamed with their yearning for one another, males with males committing indecency and in return receiving in themselves the payback which was necessitated by their straying”–that is, from the truth about God evident in nature.

    Here the intertextual echoes to Genesis 1-2 are even more pronounced than in the Levitical proscriptions.

    Q: You have examples of this, of course.

    In the context of Romans 1:18-32 there are obvious allusions to Genesis 1 in the words “ever since the creation of the world” (1:20) and “the Creator” (1:25).

    Also unmistakable is the link between Romans 1:23–referring to idols “in the likeness of the image of a mortal human and of birds and of four-footed animals and of reptiles” –and Genesis 1:26–”Let us make a human according to our image and…likeness; and let them rule over the…birds…and the cattle…and the reptiles.”

    Paul’s denotation of the sexes in Romans 1:26-27 as “females” and “males” rather than “women” and “men” follows the style of Genesis 1:27: “male and female he made them.”

    Q: What are the implications of such an echo to Genesis 1:26-27?

    For Paul, both idolatry and same-sex intercourse reject God’s verdict that what was made and arranged was “very good,” as Genesis 1:31 says. Instead of recognizing their indebtedness to one God in whose likeness they were made and exercising dominion over the animal kingdom, humans worshipped statues made in their own likeness and even in the likeness of animals.

    Similarly, instead of acknowledging that God had made them “male and female” and had confined legitimate sexual intercourse to opposite-sex pairing, humans denied the transparent complementarity of their sexuality by engaging in sex with the same sex, females with females, and males with males.

    Q: Would this harking back to Genesis be natural for Paul?

    That Paul should have the creation stories in the background of his critique of same-sex intercourse is not surprising.

    In an earlier letter to Corinth, when Paul discussed the case of incest, he drew on a hypothetical analogy of sexual immorality–solicitation of prostitutes–and in the process appealed to the creation texts: “a man…shall be joined to his wife and the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, cited in 1 Corinthians 6:16). It was in this context that Paul listed serial, unrepentant same-sex intercourse as one of the behaviors that could lead to exclusion from God´s kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:9). So, clearly, just as Paul had Genesis 1:27 in the background when critiquing same-sex intercourse in Romans 1:24-27, so too he had Genesis 2:24 in the background when critiquing same-sex intercourse in 1 Corinthians 6:9.

    Like any other Jew in his day, it was not possible for him to think about sexual immorality apart from such an appeal. In the same way, when Jesus criticized divorce and remarriage he too cited from Genesis 1:27–”God made them male and female”–and Genesis 2:24–”for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.”

    Consequently, any assessment of sexual immorality by Jews and Christians of the first century ultimately had in view the creation stories. It is for this reason that attempts to limit Paul’s–or any other early Jewish or Christian–critique of same-sex intercourse to particularly exploitative forms is doomed to failure. Moreover, for all the occasional critique of homosexual behavior that could be found among some Greco-Roman moralists, it did not approach the degree of revulsion experienced by Israel and the church. Jews and Christians stood apart from all other cultures of their time in their absolute opposition to all forms of homosexual practice.

    Paul’s own wording in Romans 1:24-27 makes clear that the contrast in his mind is not between exploitative and non-exploitative forms of homosexual behavior but between same-sex intercourse per se and opposite-sex intercourse: females exchanging sex with males for sex with females; males leaving behind sex with women and yearning for sex with other males. In Paul’s view–and indeed in the view of every Jew or Christian from whom we have firsthand written records within a millennium or more of Paul’s day–what was wrong, first and foremost, with two females or two males having sex is the same-sexness of the erotic act, an act that was intended by God to be a reunion of complementary sexual others according to Genesis 1-2.

    Q: You have argued that Paul had the creation stories in Genesis 1-2 in view when he rejected all homosexual practice. How does his argument that homosexual practice is “against nature” fit into this?

    Jews and Christians recognized that the scriptural understanding of human sexuality was not accessible only to those who had exposure to the Scriptures of the Jews.

    Since the Creator had designed human sexual pairing for complementary “sexual others,” it is not surprising that such a design was imbedded in compatible opposite-sex differences and still observable in the natural world set in motion by the Creator’s decree.

    Hence, Paul could argue in Romans 1:24-27 that even Gentiles without access to Scripture had enough knowledge in creation/nature to know that same-sex unions represented a non-complementary sexual pairing, an “unnatural” union, a violation of Creator’s will for creation.

    The naturalness of opposite-sex unions is readily visible in the areas of anatomy, physiology–that is, the procreative capacity–and in a host of interpersonal aspects that contribute in our own day to the popular slogan, “men are from Mars and women are from Venus.” To tamper with that naturalness and to act as if male-female sexual differences are not vital components of sexual pairings is, in short, to reap the whirlwind. There is no disharmony between Scripture and nature on this score.

    • Frank

      Pt 2

      Q: What about those who argue that “we now know” today that people are born with homoerotic attraction and thus it is a “natural” phenomenon?

      Four points can be made here.

      First, Paul was not saying that every human impulse is “natural” and therefore God-approved. He went on to list in Romans 1:29-31 a series of impulses and behaviors that have some innate proclivity–including covetousness or envy–but which were not, for that reason, “natural” or morally acceptable. Paul distinguished between innate passions perverted by the fall of Adam and exacerbated by idol worship on the one hand, and material creation that was left relatively intact despite human sin on the other hand.

      Second, some current theories of homosexual development are essentially compatible with Paul’s own view of sin. In Romans 5 and 7 Paul speaks of sin as an innate impulse operating in the human body, transmitted by an ancestor human, and never entirely within the control of human will. This is precisely how most homosexual-affirming advocates describe homosexual orientation today.

      Third, theories about a congenital basis for homoerotic attraction were widespread in Paul’s day, as was the existence of men whose sexual desire was oriented exclusively toward other males. We may have refined the view of exclusive innate attraction to members of the same sex, but the basic elements of this theory were already in place in antiquity and still made little difference to critical assessments of homosexual behavior.

      Why? Because it is obvious–especially in a worldview that incorporates the notion of a human fall from an original sinless state–that innate impulses are not necessarily moral simply because they are innate.

      Fourth and finally, it is not quite true that science has now discovered that homosexual impulses are given at birth, whether through genes or hormones or special homosexual brains. In fact, studies to date indicate that homoerotic impulses are not congenital. Rather, whatever contribution is made through genes, hormones or brain-wiring is largely indirect and subordinate to macro- and micro-cultural factors [see pp. 384-432 of my book].

      For example, cross-cultural studies have been done showing a wide variance in the incidence of homosexual behavior and homosexual self-identification in different population groups, ancient and modern. And the most important identical twin study to date, recently conducted by J. Michael Bailey, “did not provide statistically significant support for the importance of genetic factors” in the development of homosexuality.

      Q: Anything else that you want to say that might indicate that Paul was opposed to all forms of same-sex intercourse?

      Yes, in addition to, first, the allusion to the creation stories in Genesis 1-2 and to, second, the broad argument from nature, three other points can be made that show that Paul’s critique of homosexual practice was not limited in scope only to certain exploitative types.

      Third, Paul critiques not only male homosexual practice but also female homosexual practice. The latter did not conform to the male pederastic model, nor did it usually entail cultic associations. Apparently, then, Paul’s main problem with homosexual behavior did not have to do with pederastic or idolatrous dimensions.

      Fourth, the fact that Paul indicts both partners in same-sex unions and speaks of mutual gratification indicates that he does not have in view forms where coercion is involved.

      Fifth, glowing tributes to homosexual love in Paul’s time and the wide variety of manifestations of same-sex love in Greco-Roman society give the lie to contemporary claims that Paul could not have conceived of caring homoerotic unions when he opposed same-sex intercourse.

      Q: Many people are willing to concede your point that both Paul and the authors of the Levitical prohibitions were unequivocally against all homosexual practice. But they would counter-argue that same-sex intercourse is not much of a concern to Scripture because it receives so little attention. What is your response?

      There are two problems with this claim. The first is that there are a fair amount of texts that speak strongly against same-sex intercourse.

      Despite allegations by some scholars that the stories of Sodom (Genesis 19:4-11) and of the Levite at Gibeah (Judges 19:22-25) only express opposition to homosexual intercourse in the context of rape, these stories do include male-male intercourse per se as an important factor in the evil behavior of the inhabitants. To them can be added the story of Ham’s sexual act on his father Noah (Genesis 9:20-27).

      That these stories are relevant to an indictment of same-sex intercourse generally is apparent from: (a) the wider narratives of both the Yahwist and the Deuteronomistic historian which elsewhere indicate a restriction of appropriate sexual activity to heterosexual relations; (b) ancient Near Eastern texts that censure male-male intercourse for reasons other than coercion; (c) the assessment of Sodom’s sin by a number of later texts, including Ezekiel 16:50, Jude 7, and 2 Peter 2:7; and (d) the motifs common to the Ham and Sodom stories on the one hand and the denunciation of Canaanite sexual sins in Leviticus 18 and 20, including Canaanite participation in non-coercive male-male intercourse as a basis for expulsion from the land.

      Also to be included among anti-homosex texts are a series of texts in the Deuteronomistic history (Joshua through 2 Kings) that speak disparagingly of cultic participants in homosexual activity: 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7. These texts are grounded in the law of Deuteronomy (23:17-18) and continued in the Book of Revelation (21:8; 22:15). They show a special revulsion for males functioning as receptive partners in intercourse with other males, referring to them as “dogs.” Parallel Mesopotamian texts indicate that the main issue is not cult association or fees but rather behaving sexually as though female rather than male.

      Q: And what is the second problem with claiming that Scripture shows little concern for homosexual practice?

      Texts that implicitly reject homosexual unions run the gamut of the entire Bible, including not only the creation stories in Genesis 1-3 and the apostolic decree in Acts 15:20, 29, and 21:25, along with other occurrences of the word porneia (“sexual immorality”) in the New Testament, but also the whole range of narratives, laws, proverbs, exhortations, metaphors and poetry that in addressing sexual relationships presume the sole legitimacy of heterosexual unions.

      For example, when the relationship between God and Israel or between Jesus and the church is depicted as an intimate covenant relationship between adults, it is always imaged as a heterosexual relationship, never as a homoerotic relationship. And this is so despite the apparent incongruity of male-dominated communities imaging themselves as females. Why? Because the idea of a homosexual union was utterly repugnant to biblical authors.

      Another: example: why is it that there exists not a single law in any of the legal codes in the Pentateuch that distinguishes appropriate and inappropriate types of same-sex erotic relationships? After all, such laws abound for heterosexual relationships. The reason is self-evident: all same-sex erotic relationships were regarded as inappropriate.

      Nowhere is there the slightest indication of openness anywhere in the Bible to homoerotic attachments, including the narrative about David and Jonathan.

      The reason why not every author of Scripture explicitly comments on same-sex intercourse is that some views are treated as so obvious that very little needs to be said. The only form of consensual sexual behavior that was regarded by ancient Israel, early Judaism, and early Christianity as more egregious than same-sex intercourse was bestiality. It is no accident that bestiality receives even less attention in the Bible than same-sex intercourse-it is mentioned only in Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 18:23; 20:15-16; and Deuteronomy27:21. Incest receives only comparable attention. Yet unequivocal opposition to bestiality and incest by every biblical author and by Jesus can hardly be doubted.

      The “big picture” of the Bible on the issue of homosexual practice is not some vague concept of love and tolerance of every form of consensual sex but rather the complementarity of male-female sexual bonds and the universal restriction of acceptable sexual activity to heterosexual marriage.

      Q: Speaking of Jesus, some argue that because Jesus said nothing about the matter that it was not an important issue for him. What do you think?

      There is no historical basis for arguing that Jesus might have been neutral or even favorable toward same-sex intercourse.

      All the evidence we have points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that Jesus would have strongly opposed same-sex intercourse had such behavior been a serious problem among first-century Jews. It simply was not a problem in Israel.

      First, Jesus’ alleged silence has to be set against the backdrop of unequivocal and strong opposition to same-sex intercourse in the Hebrew Bible and throughout early Judaism. It is not historically likely that Jesus overturned any prohibition of the Mosaic law, let alone on a strongly held moral matter such as this. And Jesus was not shy about disagreeing with prevailing viewpoints. Had he wanted his disciples to take a different viewpoint he would have had to say so.

      Second, the notion of Jesus’ “silence” has to be qualified. According to Mark, Jesus spoke out against porneia, “sexual immorality” (Mark 7:21-23) and accepted the Decalogue commandment against adultery (Mark 10:19). In Jesus’ day, and for many centuries before and thereafter, porneia was universally understood in Judaism to include same-sex intercourse. Moreover, the Decalogue commandment against adultery was treated as a broad rubric prohibiting all forms of sexual practice that deviated from the creation model in Genesis 1-2, including homoerotic intercourse.

      Third, that Jesus lifted up the male-female model for sexual relationships in Genesis 1-2 as the basis for defining God’s will for sexuality is apparent from his back-to-back citation in Mark 10:6-7 of Genesis 1:27 (“God made them male and female”) and Genesis 2:24 (“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”).

      These are the same two texts that Paul cites or alludes to in his denunciation of same-sex intercourse in Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9. For Jesus, marriage was ordained by the Creator to be an indissoluble (re-)union of a man and woman–two complementary sexual others–into one flesh. Authorization of homoerotic unions requires a different creation account.

      Fourth, it is time to deconstruct the myth of a sexually tolerant Jesus. Three sets of Jesus sayings make clear that, far from loosening the law’s stance on sex, Jesus intensified the ethical demand in this area: (a) Jesus´ stance on divorce and remarriage (Mark 10:1-12; also Matthew 5:32 and the parallel in Luke 16:18; and Paul’s citation of Jesus´ position in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11); (b) Jesus´ remark about adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:27-28); and (c) Jesus´ statement about removing body parts as preferable to being thrown into hell (Matthew 5:29-30 and Mark 9:43-48) which, based on the context in Matthew as well as rabbinic parallels, primarily has to do with sexual immorality.

      Simply put, sex mattered to Jesus. Jesus did not broaden the range of acceptable sexual expression; he narrowed it. And he thought that unrepentant, repetitive deviation from this norm could get a person thrown into hell.

      Where then do we get the impression that Jesus was soft on sex? People think of his encounters with the adulterous woman in John 7:53-8:11, the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50, and the Samaritan woman who had many husbands in John 4.

      What the first story suggests is that Jesus did modify the law at one point: Sexual immorality should not incur a death penalty from the state. Why? Not because sex for him did not matter but rather because stoning was a terminal act that did not give opportunity for repentance and reform. Moreover, all three stories confirm what we know about Jesus elsewhere: that he aggressively sought the lost, ate with them, fraternized with them. But the same Jesus who could protect an adulterous woman from stoning also took a very strong stance against divorce-and-remarriage.

      We see a parallel in Jesus’ stance toward tax collectors, who had a justly deserved reputation for exploiting their own people for personal gain. We do not conclude from Jesus’ well-known outreach to tax collectors that Jesus was soft on economic exploitation. To the contrary: All scholars agree that Jesus intensified God’s ethical demand with respect to treatment of the poor and generosity with material possessions. Why then do we conclude from Jesus’ outreach to sexual sinners that sexual sin was not so important to Jesus?

      Q: Some would still argue that the teaching against homosexuality is related to cultural and social conditioning. Now that society is more accepting of homosexuality, why shouldn’t Christianity change its position? In other words, why is this teaching inalterable?

      Ancient Israel, early Judaism and early Christianity never adopted the position that they should alter their ethical standards simply because the broader cultural milieu took a more accepting view of some practices.

      They all lived in environments where male-male intercourse was often more of an accepted practice than it is in our own contemporary culture. Yet, far from capitulating on their position regarding acceptable sexual expression, they maintained clear distinctions between their own practices and the practices of those outside the community of God.

      This is what holiness refers to: being set apart for the exclusive use of God rather than conforming to the ways of the world. Jesus himself called on his followers to be “the light of the world” and “a city built on a hill,” and not to act “like the Gentiles.”

      The view of Scripture against same-sex intercourse is pervasive, absolute and strong, and was all those things in relation to the broader cultural contexts from which Scripture emerged. It was then, and remains today, a core countercultural vision for human sexuality.

      As crosscultural studies indicate, cultural affirmation of homosexual practice will lead to higher numbers of self-identifying and practicing homosexuals and bisexuals in the population, which in turn will lead to an increase in the ancillary problems that affect the homosexual and bisexual population at a disproportionately high rate.

      This includes health problems such as sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, and a 10-year or more decrease in life expectancy; problems in relational dynamics, including a high incidence of non-monogamy (especially among male homosexuals) and short-term relationships (especially among lesbians) due to the distinctive natures of males as males and females as females; and higher incidence of adult-adolescent and adult-child sexual activity.

      For the macro-culture generally, approval of homosexual behavior will all but annihilate societal gender norms of any sort, promoting the normalization of the most bizarre elements of the homosexual movement–transsexualism, transvestism–thereby increasing gender identity confusion among the young. Indeed, we can expect a lessening of aversion to various sexual relationships hitherto regarded as sexual perversions–for example, “threesomes,” “open” committed relationships, adult-adolescent sexual relations, and consensual adult sex between close blood relations–owing to a complete abandonment of single divinely-sanctioned, nature-imbedded model for acceptable sexual expression.

      On top of all this, we can expect–given the track record to date of the leadership in the homosexual lobby–the public marginalization and eventually persecution of any who make known their opposition to homosexual behavior. If anyone needs any proof of this, they need only look at what is happening to the Boy Scouts and the Salvation Army, and to Christian student groups at colleges and universities who are derecognized for their stance on homosexual behavior. Or examine the mandatory “sensitivity training” programs and “zero tolerance” policies implemented in some school systems and major corporations, alongside the official endorsement of homosexual organizations that tar those who question the acceptance of homosexual practice with the label of “homophobic bigots,” akin to racists. Is this something we want our children to face?

      God has deemed that sexual intercourse be an experience between complementary sexual “others” that creates a “one-flesh” union, a celebration of sexual diversity and pluralism in the best sense of the terms. There is clearly something developmentally deficient or “unnatural” about a person being erotically attracted to the body parts shared in common with another of the same sex, about someone seeking a complementary sexual relationship from a person who in terms of sex is non-complementary, a sexual “same.” It is no more wise, or loving, to promote such unions than it is to promote adult, committed incestuous unions.

      Q: We live in an age of “tolerance.” What does the Bible say about how we should treat homosexuals? And how can Christians oppose homosexuality in the public square without falling into extremism?

      We should love all people, regardless of whether they engage in immoral activity or not. Love is a much better, and far more scriptural, concept than tolerance.

      Jesus lifted up the command to “love one’s neighbor” in Leviticus 19:18–a command in the Holiness Code–as the second great command. We often miss the intertextual echo to Leviticus 19:17, which not only says that we should not hate, take revenge, or hold a grudge against our neighbor but also says that we should “reprove” our neighbor “and so not incur guilt because of him.”

      If we really love somebody, we will not provide approval, let alone cultural incentives, for forms of behavior that are self-destructive and other-destructive. Jesus combined an intensification of God’s ethical demand in the areas of sex and money with an active and loving outreach to sexual sinners and economic exploiters. We should do the same: love the sinner, hate the sin.

      Concretely, this means abhorring demeaning descriptions of homosexuals as “fags,” “queers,” and the like. It means supporting fair and equal prosecution of violence done to homosexuals. It might even mean–consistent with Jesus’ actions toward the adulterous woman–decriminalization of homosexual behavior. It certainly means making friends with homosexuals and helping AIDS sufferers. It means making a distinction between people who experience homoerotic impulses and people who act on them.

      It does not mean, however, embracing “sexual orientation” along with race and gender as a specially protected legal classification. The unfortunate effect of such legislation is: (a) to provide cultural and legal incentives for the behavior in question; (b) to send the wrong message that homosexual behavior is as morally neutral as race and gender; (c) to marginalize and intimidate legally those who adopt a critical view of homosexual practice; and (d) to establish the legal basis for indoctrinating our children and for mandating state-sponsored homosexual marriage.

      Copyright © 2003 Robert Gagnon.

  • greg

    When did you choose to be attracted to the opposite sex? And why would anyone CHOOSE a life of oppression, isolation, and rejection? That’s the biggest cop-out to the born gay or choose to be gay argument. Let me first begin by saying you made a lot of intriguing points, but to say a person wouldn’t be gay because of oppression, isolation, and rejection is quite silly. Is a person born a drug dealer or does he/she become one over the course of time and events in their life that led them to that. It would be much easier not to risk death, incarceration, and even being looked down upon by doing another profession. Is being a drug dealer the same as being gay, heck no! But my point is this, a person can be attracted to either sex if put in the right environment and circumstances over the course of time. I also like how you just just said science points to being born gay when in fact every major study that has been exhausted on the subject can find no correlation between sexual orientation and birth, but people want to believe that so badly so they can not accept responsibility for who they are. Much easier to say I’m born this way I can’t help it. Do I think you wake up one day and say ‘Hey I think I’ll CHOOSE to be gay?’ Heck no. But depending on what kind of environment you grow up in, experiences and circumstances you experience over the course of you’re life, and choices you make throughout your life shape who you become as an adult not genetics. I have plenty of gay friends and I don’t persecute them at all, but I don’t give in to the born gay argument. Its petty and demeaning to who you have become as a person. I think you had great intentions when writing this piece but you copped-out ‘Hollywood’ style with the born gay part.

  • Andrea L.

    What I don’t get is why Christians are so obsessed with homosexuality when there is SO much else going on. Things Christ actually told us to do! We are wasting our time and energies on someone else’s “sin” when children are starving and women being raped; hundreds of thousands of orphans; wars; senseless killing; unclean water; destroyed communities; refugees; … Lordy I could go on all day.

    • Frank

      I would say Christians are not obsessed. We are simply responding to the obsession of those wanting to change scripture and say that homosexuality is not a sin and normalize it is a marriage. Homosexual behavior is a sin and Godly marriage is one and man one woman.

      So yes let’s just accept that truth and move on. Of course those that are obsessed (the pro gay folks) will not do this so here we are.

      • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

        What about divorced people not re-marrying; why isn’t that as big an issue or seen as a threat to the family? Where is the campaign to stop that? It accounts for many more marriages.

        • Frank

          I agree the church has given a pass on divorce.

          • Val

            He didn’t ask if you agree. He asked why.

        • Drew

          Phillip,

          1) The Bible does say there are valid reasons for divorce.
          2) Maybe you belong to a liberal Church that no longer preaches about morality due to the influence of postmodernism, but my Church does preach a lot about the sanctity of marriage outside of the issue of homosexuality.
          3) Even if some are hypocritical, it does nothing to prove your point. Just because Christians overlook some sins does not mean those are no longer sins. That is just a tremendous lack of discernment to make that argument.

      • Val

        Why is it that people like you think about gay sex more than gay people do?

    • Frank

      Not to mention the over 21,000 unborn innocent children killed each week mostly due to reason of convenience.,

    • Mick

      Interesting Andrea, I see why is academia especially so obsessed with homosexuality . Can you give me one moral thinker in the history of the world , except perhaps the last 30 , who has promoted the rights for homosexuals to the point where gaining legal status to marrying is basically the norm as it is almost today ? I can’t / its almost been a quick change , academically promoted . I never was anti gay , I was amazed by people thinking moms and dads were inter changeable and suddenly religion that I am committed to , helping the homelss , those in need , suddenly always being comapred to the nastiness you portrayed here . Yikes Sunday school kids I know hand out blankets , no wars being started . Its a strange world , common sense seems to be replaced with if you disagree with same sex marriage your compared to hatred. Must have been like thatfor homosexuals too , sorry but I was not part of that . Christians in America may have gotten caught up in the rhetoric , but bullies homosexuals have faced through the years were not bullies because of Christians , they were bullies because they picked on people they thought they could , who were different , and to make themselves feel superior.

  • Alastair Shaw

    Just a couple of matters for you to ponder Kathy:

    1. You seem to place considerable store by the scientific evidence that there is a genetic-psychological dimension to same-sex attraction as a basis for not expecting lasting change in a person’s orientation or behaviour. One problem with this perspective is that, ultimately, there is a genetic-psychological dimension to virtually all human behaviour and inclination. Theologically, it is problematic to assume or teach that change in any area of human experience is impossible or unlikely for those who have (as Paul puts it) died to sin and are now alive and united to Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection.

    2. Many of the trite cliches that are thrown around and that you are so rightly angry about rest upon a legalistic model of sanctification – a Christianised form of self-help. What we desperately need, whether we are seeking to overcome sexual immorality, outbursts of anger or addiction to greed, is a clear and profound understanding of the gospel. By which I mean the work that God has done in Christ in choosing us, calling us, justifying us, putting our old self to death with Christ, uniting us with him in his burial and resurrection, adopting us as his children, baptising us in his Holy Spirit, and sanctifying us until the day when he finally glorifies us. When the church does not understand the gospel, it resorts to laws, slogans and legalism.

  • 21st C. Episcopalian

    I have very little to add. I commend Kathy for (1) caring very deeply for hurting homosexual people and (2) finally coming clean with the agenda that have driven her last couple posts.

    The disciples of Jesus, gathered in his Church, ought to be the most welcoming inviting forgiving people on the planet. We often fall short, and that’s a shame. We need to have wide open arms for those who are open to following Jesus. Murderers, adulterers, Wall Street crooks, manipulative liars, gossipers, cheaters, and… yes… acting-out homosexuals. The door is open, hearts are open, Jesus is calling all of us.

    But being open to loving and accepting sinful behavior are two separate things. And no amount of eisegetic gynastics around the Bible will make it right. I prefer the approach of one of my friends who left his wife and family to pursue the homosexual lifestyle. He says, “I know it’s wrong, I know the Bible is clear about it, but I’m choosing to do this right now”. At least he’s being honest.

    If this article from Kathy Vestal was rubberstamped by Tony Campolo to be approved and posted, then I want no part of the silly “red letter” revisionist project. I guess it’s all in the name: Take Jesus’ words out of context, put it through the American Individualistic “my-wants-first” grinder, and spit out this relativistic BS. Seriously, it’s not doing gays any help by rubber stamping their lifestyle.

    My denomination is coming apart at the seams over this issue and it’s NOT a new civil right. It’s sin and it’s also a sin to call sin “not sin”. Silly website, why am I wasting my time?

    • really?

      C. Episcopalian: Reread your second paragraph. Then reread your fourth and fifth paragraph. Hypocritical much?

      • Drew

        Not hypocritical at all, just Biblical, but many people don’t really care about the Bible much these days.

        • Josh

          Yeah, a lot of people don’t care about the Bible; they care about their relationship with Jesus. You worship a book and care more about being politically correct when passing a JUDGMENT on whether or not you believe if something in particular is sin or not.
          Christians love to use catchy phrases to justify their own condemnation and judgment of others.

          Here are a few examples that I have gathered from the comments sections:

          “…I’m simply stating what laws I live by”

          “…I’m not sayin’ your wrong or not Christian, I’m just sayin’ that I choose to live by the Bible”

          “I don’t judge gays. I just think it goes against the Bibles laws”

          Christians also like to use the excuse that the Bible does not directly say to not judge, but says to judge “….with right judgment” (John 7:24) and “….judge righteously” (Proverbs 31:9) to justify passing a judgment on any sin, idea, behavior, activity, or person. It’s extremely important to note two types of judgment acknowledged in the Bible: rightful judgment and wrongful judgment. The Bible must acknowledge that rightful and correct judgment exists because it is a necessity of life. You cannot go through life without judging whether or not you should do something, or whether or not something is right or wrong for you to do. It is essentially decision-making in its simplest form. It’s fairly easy to understand the line between rightful and wrongful judgment. If you are judging whether or not something is right or wrong for you, or whether or not you should do a particular task, then you are rightfully judging your own life. If you are judging anything to do with anyone but yourself—judging someone else’s actions, activities or behaviors—then you are judging wrongfully. The Bible makes careful note to not state that judgment is sinful, but to discourage it stating “judge not, and you will not be judged” in dozens of locations, as compared to the 3 verses I have found that could possibly encourage judgment in any way. If you conclude that these verses are in fact encouraging judgment, they are undoubtedly encouraging the judgment of your own life, and not of others.

          • Frank

            We are to measure what the bible says (homosexual behavior is a sin) and what the world is now telling us (homosexual behavior is ok.) Its a Christian duty to point out the errors. Its not about judgement, its about the truth of Gods Word.

          • Josh

            “We are to measure what the bible says” — correct, as a Christian it is your own duty to measure, evaluate, and rightfully judge what is sin, what is not sin, what is gloryful to God etc…

            “(homosexual behavior is a sin)” — in your opinion, yes it is. You are not God, you do not have the authority to claim what is or is not sin. If you think something in particular is a sin as a result of your own ‘measurement of the bible’ then simply do not do it so that you shall be safe from that sin. If you think that something IS sin, then in discussion simply state “I believe/think that [x] is sin.” Do not EVER claim that anything is sinful or not sinful, because that would be failing to acknowledge that you, as a mortal man are limited to your own biases and environmental variables that have shaped your perception of ideas. It would also be failing to acknowledging that not everyone has the same opinion or interprets things the same way that you do.

            “Its a Christian duty to point out the errors.” — Is it now? Hmm, I don’t remember anything about a ‘Christian’s duty to point out the errors of others interpretations of the Bible’ in the Bible; especially pointing out to those who are not Christians. But let’s proceed henceforth under the presumption that we both have some Christian duty to point out the errors in the other’s interpretations.
            Q: Why do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?

            “Its not about judgement, its about the truth of Gods Word.” — “The truth of God’s Word”….that is a powerful phrase. Obviously there is only one ultimate correct truth. Yet some claim that their truth is THE truth. We must then acknowledge that there are multiple interpretations about these truths that are in the Bible. Has it ever crossed your mind that YOUR truth might not be THE truth, since YOUR truth is very controversial and not shared by many of the world. The only way to find the closest possible thing to THE truth, is to discuss with those who have truths other than your own.
            I leave you with the question I earlier stated in paragraph three.

          • Drew

            Josh,

            The Bible is clear on the issue of homosexuality. Frank is merely pointing out the truth as revealed in the Bible; at no point he is attempting to be God.

            You clearly value postmodernism more than Jesus, which is one of the worst false idols and worldviews in the world today. Yes, Frank can be absolutely sure what sin is, because the Bible is clear about sin. You should leave the false idol and worldview of postmodernism behind and start to seek the Truth. When you believe there is such a thing as Truth, and that we are incapable of learning the Truth, there is a tremendous amount of peace.

            Christians do have a responsibility for pointing out false doctrines and false teachings, especially if they are primary doctrines. To state otherwise is unBiblical.

            My suggestion for you is to join a solid Bible believing Church, and find a pastor that will sit down with you and teach you about postmodernism and how it conflicts with a Christian worldview. Once you adopt a Christian worldview, you will be much happier. Blessings.

          • http://www.facebook.com/hermit.au Hermit Green

            Christians who consider homosexual sex acts to be sinful are not being judgemental; they are stating what God has said in His Word. It’s God’s judgement, and He has already told us how He views it – read Romans 1.

            Re loving the Bible vs. loving Jesus Christ – the only way we can know Jesus Christ with any authority is by reading the Scriptures which tell us of Him. Without the Bible’s account of Him, you cannot know Him, but will “follow” a nice figure of your own conjecture (which happens to conform with all you want Jesus to be like, and approve of all that you want Jesus to approve of).

          • Josh

            “….the only way we can know Jesus Christ with any authority is by reading the Scriptures which tell us of Him.” —- First off, I’m not sure that I understand what you mean by ‘know Jesus Christ with any authority’. Is it possible to know someone with authority? Perhaps you are either confused as to what the word authority means, or you subconsciously formed a wordy sentence. But, in response to your statement you are completely incorrect. You can know Jesus Christ and have a relationship with him through prayer and spiritual guidance. It’s not a one way street, and the Bible isn’t the only way that you will know anything about Jesus Christ. I’ve witnessed many people reach salvation; some who haven’t even heard of Jesus, and some who have not read one line of the Bible. Are you going to tell me that those people do not “know” Jesus Christ? Didn’t think so. I think the only one who his “following a nice figure of their own conjecture” is you sir. Perhaps you yourself are not comfortable with homosexuality for whatever reasons not related to the Bible and you are conforming Jesus to what you want him to be like, or what you think he wouldn’t approve of.

            “…they are not being judgmental; they are stating what God has said in His word.”
            —Incorrect. What they are stating is “their interpretation of someone else’s interpretation of God’s word.” Their interpretation of God’s word (Romans 1) is exactly what it is, an ‘interpretation’. Interpretations vary from individual to individual. So many environmental variables come into account that shape our interpretations and how we perceive an idea. Interpretations are opinions; how we personally understand something. Not acknowledging that something (scripture of all things especially) can be interpreted multiple ways is pure idiocy.

            The Bible is God’s word funnelled through the words and biases of mortal men. ‘Your’ words, or the words of others who ‘judge to claim homosexuality as sin’ are their own opinions and interpretations of the Bible, NOT God’s. How dare anyone claim that there own words are Gods. You are taking something that can be interpreted many different ways and claiming that your own interpretation is factual and “God’s word.” People have used “God’s word” to justify some of the most awful events throughout human history, and this is another case of just that.

            Let’s not argue about silly stuff; let’s get to the point. Let’s talk about scripture. Christian-to-Christian, consider it an e-Bible study/discussion group. A cross-generation e-Sunday school class. In your own personal opinion, why do you believe that homosexuality is a sin?

          • DC

            Contrary to popular belief, the Bible was not written in English. Our Bible that we’re reading is somebody’s translation of the matter. God’s word may be infallible, but humans are not perfect whatsoever. We make mistakes. 500 years ago, if it weren’t for Luther retranslating a common verse used by the Roman Catholic church, we’d still believe that we could buy our way into heaven by paying for indulgences from priests.

            Things change, we come to understand context more as the years go by and we gain more and more information. Leviticus was written about 3,500 years ago in Ancient Hebrew. When scholars try and translate those ancient languages into our limited English, problems occur, especially when they can’t figure out what a word translates to so they make a best guess. Look at how much our American English has changed so much in the past 100 years. I don’t see many people using dogs, egg, bull, or berries in the same way they did in the 1920′s. You may be saying, well how silly, of course I know what those mean. You’d be wrong. In respective order: dogs were a term for feet, egg was a person who lived the big life, bull was a cop or FBI agent, and berries meant something similar to “the bees knees.” Imagine you’re a foreigner and English is your second language and you come across those terms. You’re not going to have any clue of what they used to mean and how their definition evolved over time. It’s the same way with translating ancient languages, but on the span of thousands of years.

            A quote by Saint Augustine, “Scripture teaches nothing but charity and we must not leave an interpretation of scripture until we have found a compassionate interpretation of it.”

            I don’t know what you believe, but my God doesn’t make mistakes. If it’s not a choice to be homosexual, then who are we to tell God that He made a mistake? If scientific findings can conclusively demonstrate some of Christianity’s claims as false, then we must accept the findings of science and look at our teachings again, but from a different view. Believe it or not, Christianity was the foundation for science. Without Christianity, we would not have our modern science as it is today. The more we come to know about our world and about us, the more we can come to know God and get closer with Him. For Jesus said, love the Lord your God with all of your heart, MIND, soul and strength. I highly doubt that God gave us a brain not to use it. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” And Romans 13:10 “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” If you believe that a loving couple, who happens to be homosexual, but devotes their marriage and their lives to God is wrong, then please tell me how their love is less worthy than heterosexual love. Christ summed up ALL of the law right there. Love the Lord your God… and love your neighbor as yourself. If you see something other than love, then you really need to look deep inside yourself.

            I’ve heard once from an old friend after a discussion like this, he said he really wanted to believe that it was ok and that it wasn’t a sin, but that the Bible said it was. God gave us the Holy Spirit for times like these and I truly believe the He’s saying something, but sometimes we just close our ears to Him because we want to believe differently. Listen for the Holy Spirit and let Him guide you. There is no shame in being wrong, just in continuing to remain wrong. There are so many areas where I’ve been wrong myself, and if I just kept to them, I wouldn’t be the faithful person I am today. I’ve made many mistakes along my path, and if I can save others from making mistakes that hurt themselves and others, then by God I will do my best. Peace be with you all.

          • Drew

            DC,

            It’s old hat for liberals to suggest that if the Bible doesn’t say what you believe, you should go to the Greek and then find the English translation you like the best, then if that doesn’t work, pray for the Holy Spirit to change the meaning entirely, and say that it was God that told you the translation is different, and use that as a trump card, because who can argue with God?

            This is what happened in the Garden of Eden – God gave a clear teaching to Eve, and Eve listened to the “spirit” that made her doubt God’s clear teaching to the point where Eve thought the opposite of what God says was the “right thing to do.” Be careful when you pray and cross your fingers that the Holy Spirit will tell you to reinterpret the Bible… Satan might be more than happy to answer you.

            What we need to do is to be students of the word, sola scriptura. We can pray for understanding, but we need to do the research and study ourselves.

          • Benjamin

            It says it all over the Bible! Have you considered thinking “why did God create Adam and Eve and Not Adam and Steve?”
            Well if you actually have logical thinking behind you posts, and not close friends or family who you know that are gay so you shun every TRUE post, then you’d realize that God created Man to want, love and cherish Woman. Why do you think the penis fits perfect into a vagina? Because God Blessed Man with Woman and Blessed Woman with Man. True love is Love with God. I have seen my mom get married and divorced without love with a Man and they BOTH share a love for God. I don’t know your personal life but please stop having Satan cloud your mind with the ones you love to see the truth.

          • Benjamin

            So you don’t see the truth* sorry i messed up my grammar LOL

        • Josh

          Lmao. Extremely hypocritical. I am not sure of what you are reading. In the second paragraph he says that “the door is open, hearts are open, Jesus is calling all of us”, but then turns around and says “But being open to loving and accepting sinful behavior…” ….uhm what??? So God only wants you to love and accept those who are ‘not of sinful behavior’? In your opinion are the ‘good’ Christians supposed to come with an “open and loving heart” towards homosexuals, or “not be open and accepting to their sinful behavior and make them aware they are clearly going against God’s word!”

          Which is it? I think that God wants you to LOVE and ACCEPT everyone, no matter what. It doesn’t matter if they murder people as a weekend hobby. LOVE and ACCEPT them. That is certainly what Jesus Christ would do. Want them to know that what they are doing is sin in your opinion? Give him a Bible and let him see the word of God for himself and see his sinful nature. If he is a follower of Jesus Christ he will read the Bible. If he is not a follower, well then he probably doesn’t care if he is sinning or not anyways, in which proving to him that he is living in sin is quite irrelevant to him and hopefully yourself. Who are you to tell your brother that he is living in sin when you are without sin yourself?

          • Benjamin

            God wants us to LOVE the PERSON, and HATE the SIN. The Bible has said that people will think good is evil and evil is good. (i didnt directly quote it but It should be in Revelation). You sir, are an account to that. If God said to LOVE AND ACCEPT the people and their sins wouldn’t everyone go to heaven? God does NOT love sin! He weeps when people sin. Everyone is his child. And you sir are twisting the good the Lord set upon us. Do you have a brother that is homosexual and you can’t accept that they are “decaying at an increased rate”? We all sin, yes but is it the ones that change their sinful ways and TRY their HARDEST to be relieved from as must sin as possible.that God blesses. When we die we are ALL judged by the SAME God and he has been the same before creation, now, and for the rest of eternity.

            God Bless.

      • 21st C. Episcopalian

        Ummm. 3rd paragraph.

    • Lloyd

      Dear Episcopalian, may I ask how long you have lived in the heterosexual lifestyle?How long have you acted out your sexual feelings? Unfortunately, your friend who left his wife and family was always a homosexual, and the real sin was to marry a woman, which was abnormal for him. Thus creating pain for everyone. I’m sure that he only married in the first place because of the Biblical Truth(Not) that was driven into his brain by well meaning, but totally ignorant pastors and friends. I would stack up my marriage of 45 years against any heterosexual couple, and know that it is blessed by God. Please deal with your own sin, and let God be the judge of all.

      • Frank

        When people are this deep into sin they see nothing wrong with it. How sad.

        You may have a relationship but you do not have a marriage.

        • Val

          You don’t get to define the relationships of others. Sorry.

          • Benjamin

            God gave Adam Eve, not Steve. So why would homosexuality be okay in God’s view point? Sodomy was derived for Sodom and Gomorrah. Which in the book of Genesis 19, is the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah. If you know about sodomy it is anal sex, in which I believe only a non believer/a homosexual/ a bisexual would consider during intimacy. I pray every shall be enlightened through Jesus Christ, OUR Lord and your personal God.

            God Bless.

      • Drew

        Do whatever we want and see what happens… probably not the best idea, Lloyd. I hope you are not giving that Satanic advice to many people.

      • 21st C. Episcopalian

        Re: Your comment about “Biblical Truth(Not)”. Mankind has been twisting and ignoring the scriptures in order to create gods/images fashioned after its own likenesses (ie; needs, desires, interests, self!) since the Fall. It’s just easier to do it in uber-individualistic Western postmodern relativism cultures since many create their own truth nowadays based on what they want truth to look like (and not oddly, but ironically, that self-fashioned truth always somehow seems to fit their individualistic desire to break away from following God’s Word).

        Malachi 2:17 You (priests) have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”.

      • 21st C. Episcopalian

        Re: Your comment about “the real sin was to marry a woman”. You are correct in that my friend had for many years held secret desires for other men. None of us knew. And you’re probably correct that he should not have married his wife and fathered children. The whole group is devastated right now.

        The truthiness of accepting homosexuality feels right to many in our Western culture, but because something “feels” right doesn’t make it right. Same with divorce.

        • Tom

          It’s nice that you think that it feels good to our Western culture, it must have felt good to the those in Jesus’ time as well. Can you cite any example of people of the early Christian or Jewish faith rejecting someone based on homosexuality?

          • http://twitter.com/UsAndRufus Edward B.

            Can you cite any examples of them accepting homosexuality?

            Moot point.

      • Ed

        Thank you Lloyd for putting to words what where my exact thoughts. Unfortunately
        21st c. Episc seems to be speaking out on his beliefs and teaching from many years of religion and narrow minded understanding?

        Many inspire of proven facts and research done by a multiple of highly intelligent scientists proving our earth is warming because of excessive amounts of carbon and dirty pollution, they continue to reject the facts?

        I feel as a coach of a middle school wrestling program I personally cringe when we have a female student who wants to “be a wrestler”? Why, well of course it adds a complexity and additional work to our program. I believe this is very close to the same reason the modern church has rejected, accepting Gay People into their congregations? I must say I have seen 2 girls who someone took the time to coach and the outcome was very rewarding for all parties involved. People need different things to make them content including sports, committed relationships, and Jesus.

  • jess

    well written, kathy. your words and thoughts resonate with my own questions & thoughts. thank you for writing this.

  • Anna Marie

    Thank you for blogging your thoughts. I know many gays and have family members who are gay. My goal has always been to show love and never judge. I think we should be compassionate and loving to all, pointing everyone to Christ. I’ve learned that in my own struggles in life I’m unable to change anyway, why should I expect others to be able to. I’m not at a place I can say homosexuality is not a sin but I know it is no worse than my own. It is only Christ that can change us so I feel we should embrace all and let Him change what He wants to change. I’m not in any position to throw stones.

  • Jason

    I dunno what translation of the bible you are using, but, I’ve checked all your verses in both an NIV and a NLT bible and none of your verses quote the bible correctly. Some of your bible verses with the attached statement is 100% incorrect as the verse has nothing to do with the statement ie Gen 6:2-4 is dealing with God saying he is going to destroy everything with a flood, because of the immense wickedness there. For the rest of your verses, you seem to be removing a key word from the verse to make it say what you want it to say. For example: Exodus 21: 22. The verse states that IF two men are fighting and they ACCIDENTLY strike a woman, and she has a PREMATURE birth (not a miscarriage, which is where the baby dies) and the baby and the woman are otherwise UNHARMED, then the husband will determine an appropriate fine to give to the striker. If he kills the baby, it is considered murder and he is stoned to death. And this theme runs through all of your verses, it is either heavily misquoted, words deleted, or taken completely out of context. Why did God order to stone a man for working on the Sabbath? Because God said to not work on the Sabbath, and by working on the Sabbath he was defying God, and everything God stood for. And that my dear, was why he was stoned. He desecrated the Sabbath, God’s Holy Day.
    So, if you are going to make an argument that it is ok to be Gay, (God forgives us for all sins, including sexual perversion and masturbation), then at least properly quote your verses. Otherwise, it completely destroys your authority on the matter.

    • Drew

      If you are a postmodernist, there is no such thing as absolute truth. Therefore, any way Vestal interprets the Bible is correct to her since it is “her” truth. Liberals have adopted this philosophy successfully, now able to believe whatever they want whenever they want.

    • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

      When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, he had the clear direction of Deuteronomy 22:23-24. She was to be taken to the city gate and beaten to death with rocks. No angels told him to disobey scripture, no dreams came to him (would you think it ok to disobey scripture based on a dream anyway?), Joseph simply chose to disobey because he loved Mary and bashing her brains out with rocks was obviously barbaric. And the gospel writer called him “righteous” or “just” because he disobeyed scripture, and Jesus was born because Joseph disobeyed scripture. You can call it postmodernism but that’s the reason we have Jesus. Jesus, who would also have been beaten to death with rocks for working on the sabbath under the law you just defended, who as a “bastard” was not actually even allowed in the temple. Descended from Kings David and Solomon who as descendants of the Moabite Ruth were not allowed in the temple (Deut 23:3) yet David built the altar and Solomon the temple.

      You may not realise, but the practice of honour killing in many middle eastern nations does not come from the Koran, which actually forbids it. It comes from a hadith (tradition of Momammed) wherein he stoned to death a couple for adultery. Why, when the Koran said not to? Because the couple were Jewish, so Mohammed acted out of respect for Jewish law. Did you realise that the Bible is the only ancient scripture in the world that promotes honour killing?
      So when Jesus said “you have heard that it was said ‘eye for eye and tooth for tooth’, but I tell you, love your enemies”, Jesus was clearly and unapologetically saying that Moses was wrong. The OT scriptures were wrong. Did God change his mind? Is he not actually the eternal, unchanging I AM? Of course he is, he never wanted retribution, the OT writers just didn’t know him very well – as John and Paul both teach.
      That’s why this site is called red Letter Christians. We believe in Jesus. We accept that Jesus was the revelation of God and believe John when he says that the only way to see God is in Jesus, and we believe Paul when he says that before Jesus people’s minds were as insensitive to God as rocks. We start and end with Jesus and we are prepared like so many New Testament people to put aside anything that does not fit with Jesus.

      • Frank

        Matthew 1:18-24a – The birth of Jesus Christ happened like this. When Mary was engaged to Joseph, just before their marriage, she was discovered to be pregnant – by the Holy Spirit. Whereupon Joseph, her future husband, who was a good man and did not want to see her disgraced, planned to break off the engagement quietly. But while he was turning the matter over in his mind an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife! What she has conceived is conceived through the Holy Spirit, and she will give birth to a son, whom you will call Jesus (‘the Saviour’) for it is he who will save his people from their sins.”

        All this happened to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet – ‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’. (“Immanuel” means “God with us.”)

        When Joseph woke up he did what the angel had told him.

        So you are incorrect that Joseph didn’t need the angel to tell him how to respond. He was unsure what to do until the angel told him what to do.
        He may have indeed been considering stoning her. Also adultery never took place so there was no punishment required.

        All that said what does it have to do with homosexual behavior being sinful.

        • http://www.facebook.com/philip.zylstra Philip Zylstra

          Hi Frank, I posted a reply but somehow it was added to Allie’s comments below :)

  • Keith Kemp

    You sure put a lot of effort into trying to dissuade us on matters that a Holy God deemed important enough to share with His people. I for one, put little stock in science and psychology when it comes to matters of God’s directives. Surely, if you see God as truly Holy, you would not question Him either. I agree, that if it is possible to be born with some confused sexual orientation syndrome or whatever the politically correct term is, that it is, in itself, not a sin. The sin lies in the committing of sexual immorality. It is the act itself,or, as Jesus said in matters of adultery, the lusting after of such an act. I was a huge sinner in respect to adultery and sex outside of marriage. Through the power of God through Christ and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, I have confessed and repented of those acts of sexual immorality. Consider 1Cor6:9-11

    9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And 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.

    Change, or full repentance is possible. It is a matter of the heart of the believer with the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that if we love Him, we will obey His commands. There are no disclaimers of future liberalism or “scientific discovery” that excuses our full obedience to His commands.

    I can love the sinner, but it is not my place to judge the sinner. I’ve been forgiven too much by a Mighty and Holy God to even consider pointing a finger at someone’s sin.

  • Jason

    Your statement: “2. ”God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” This one is so trivial on so many levels, but some find it catchy. Without giving it more attention that it merits, here’s my quick response: God created trees, so does that mean he didn’t create broccoli? If Adam had green eyes, would that mean that God didn’t create people with brown eyes? Were we to take the time to examine the Hebrew words from which Adam and Eve were translated, there would be more fodder for discussion, but I’ll move on . . .”
    If you are going to make this statement, then couldn’t you say that:
    -> God made men who love naked children?
    -> God made diseases like HIV, Cancer, and the common flu?
    -> God made people to create weapons of mass destruction, therefore that means he wanted man to have such things?
    When sin entered the world, it created aberrant things, and aberrant behaviours. It says that the lamb and lion slept next to eachother in the Garden of Eden. Now, with sin in the world, the lion eats the lamb. I would say that such things like being gay, are a result of the sin that entered the world. If you are saying that being gay is natural and that God created it that way, couldn’t you also say, that God created Sin, with the intent for us to suffer? Eh?

    • Benjamin

      Great! May God Bless! I was reading and i found myself the same but who were you responding to?

  • Drew

    I am encouraged by the outpouring of Christians that have commented on this website and have stood up for a Christian worldview, a high view of Scripture, and the sovereignty of God. I am glad there is a remnant out there that takes Jesus seriously and does not lot postmodernism, the world, and the media to tell us what to believe.

  • Margaret

    I’m confused. Are you saying that being attracted to people of the same sex isn’t sin, but acting on it is? Or are you saying that sexual sin is sex outside of marriage whether straight or gay?

  • InspiredRichard

    Oh dear. You miss it completely. Entirely. Disastrously.

    It is indeed true in a sense that people who are attracted to those of the same sex are born that
    way. As strange as it sounds, I believe it to be true.

    But then, in the same sense, we are all born with a desire towards things that are not from God. In a
    sense, we are all born sinners – We desire that which is against God, and those ways seem perfectly natural and right to us. We desire those ways.

    The Bible actually affirms this:

    Proverbs 14:12 – There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

    We desire that which will bring us death (meaning separation from God).

    The Bible tells us that what seems natural to us, that which comes from our heart is not good:

    Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?

    The Bible also tells us of the natural fruit of our heart without God:

    Matthew 15:19 – For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications,
    thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

    The Bible tells us again that our desires tempt us to sin against God, and when we are drawn into
    those “natural” feeling desires, it brings forth sin:

    James 1:14-15 – But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15
    Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

    The Bible tells us that these “natural”, sinful desires are not from God

    1 John 2:16 – For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.

    The Bible actually calls our “natural” desires as the “sinful nature”, and wants to do that which is against God:

    Galatians 5:17 – For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are
    contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

    Some of us are just so determined to sin against God that He hands us over to them:

    Romans 1:24 – Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,

    So what does the Bible say we should do?

    1. Repent and trust in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins

    Matthew 3:2 – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

    Matthew 9:13 – But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

    Acts 3:19 – Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of
    refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

    Acts 17:30 – Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

    John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

    Acts 16:31 – So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

    2. Turn away from sin and seek to live a life glorifying to God

    Matthew 3:8 – Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,

    2 Timothy 2:22 – Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart

    1 Peter 2:11 – Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,

    Romans 8:4 – that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    Galatians 5:16 – I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

    Ephesians 4:30 – And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of
    redemption.

    Don’t get caught up in this particular issue of sin, go out and preach the name of Christ instead!

    • Val

      “It is indeed true in a sense that people who are attracted to those of the same sex are born that way. As strange as it sounds, I believe it to be true.”

      Why do you think it’s strange? People are born straight, and that’s not strange.

      • Benjamin

        I agree 100%!! Well that people are born straight.

    • Benjamin

      So you believe God created you right?
      well say you know someone that is gay. Your opinion on “It is indeed true in a sense that people who are attracted to those of the same sex are born that way. As strange as it sounds, I believe it to be true.”, you are saying that God made a mistake and He is going against His OWN word. My mom told me “he who has a divided house will fall”. So if God went against himself wouldn’t there be a fall in Heaven? God is perfect. Man was never born gay. Only the darkness has shadowed those who believe so. Btw the scripture is meaning sin itself. Pray the Holy Spirit guides you.

      God Bless.

  • Jason

    Thanks for deleting my comments. I see that my argument had enough weight for you to see that it was worth deleting. If you are going to base an argument on scripture, next time, make sure you properly quote the verses… ok?

    • Mick

      Deciding this issue legally in this country is not a Bibical issue . I support marriage for a man and women based on the importance of two genders being best for children . Marriage has lost its importance for having children in this culture , so the debate my side has I believe is loosing its weight . But every where in the Bible homosexuality is mentioned , New and Old testament , homosexuality has negative implications . Marriage taught by Jesus is a man and a women .

  • David Anfenson

    I am so thankful that this kind of material is coming out of RLC. Even if everyone doesn’t agree, I still find this to be a step in the right direction. Thank you for your post Kathy, it took me a while to read, but it was fantastic.

  • Ann

    I thought it was a great article. BTW, Red Letter Christians, what did Jesus say on this topic? Nothing.

    • 21st C. Episcopalian

      Jesus also said nothing about Internet Child Porn. Hmmm. Not such a good argument, Ann.

      • ann

        How is that logical? Obviously, Internet child porn did not exist in Jesus’ time, but homosexuality did.

        • 21st C. Episcopalian

          Exactly! The scriptures are silent on issues that are non-issues at the time. Homosexuality was not accepted (ie; sin) during Jesus day, so why would he need to absolutely address it? It was a non-issue as it was already. Why did he say nothing about bestiality (since you didn’t like my modern Internet analogy)? Certainly bestiality existed back then, so why didn’t Jesus say anything about it? Does that mean sex with animals is ok now?

          • ann

            Excuse me, but, you seem to want to talk more about child porn and bestiality than the topic of this article.

          • Drew

            Just because you lose a debate, Ann, or do not intelligently understand the point 21st is trying to make, doesn’t give you the right to make up fallacies. I am interested to see how you respond, not how you avoid responding.

          • 21st C. Episcopalian

            Drew, ann doesn’t see the point you, I, and many others are making on this thread. It takes spiritual eyes to see and spiritual ears to hear.

          • Kickapoo

            I cannot believe how elitist that statement was. It takes ‘spiritual eyes’ to see?? Did Jesus not spend his time speaking to sinners and non believers? If your words can only be understood by a community that already believes, why bother saying them? I’m having trouble seeing the love in your comments.

          • Drew

            I have never seen you comment on this site, but have seen 21st comment dozens of times. I would give 21st the benefit of the doubt. 21st’s comment had less to do with “you need to agree with me on this specific point” than it did “we can’t even have a debate if you fail to engage what I am saying.”

          • Valarie

            How can we have a ‘debate’ if all you are going to say is something like “homosexuals are degenerates and sinful and if they don’t repent right now and get holy like me, they’re going to burn in hell-fire ferever n ever amen!”

          • yeah…

            nobody- except you- has said that.

          • 21st C. Episcopalian

            Sorry, ann, I don’t reply to silliness in these important conversations. If you have something credible or weighty to add, share it. If not, stop trolling.

    • 22044

      Two things worth noting:
      The culture of Jesus’s primary audience held that homosexual behavior was considered wrong, so He didn’t need to address it like He did with other matters.
      The end of the gospel of John reports that Jesus did so many other things, that so many of them could not be recorded. So we can’t conclude that the Gospels are an exhaustive biography of Jesus’s life.

      • ann

        Point taken. But, is it appropriate to make conjectures about what was in the mind of Jesus, what He needed to address, and what He didn’t need to address? I think Jesus can speak for Himself. And He did. He had a lot to say, and on many topics. I just made the observation that this is a topic He never mentioned, a fact which I think Christains should take under consideration. (As to the report of other things that Jesus did that were not recorded, do you really want to go down that road? Granted, the Gospels are not an exhaustive biography, but they are authoritative, they are all we have, and I think they are enough.)

        • 22044

          I’m not sure if we can have a dialogue if you’re moving the target and not taking the points I made, although you claim you did.

          Although it wouldn’t be an authoritative argument to claim that Jesus did address homosexuality in the other things He did that weren’t recorded, we can apprehend that He appeared to Paul as noted in Acts, and that God speaks through Paul’s letters that later become canonized as part of the New Testament. In those letters, we read that sex that is blessed by God must be practiced in a committed marriage relationship.

          • ann

            “Moving the target” is an interesting choice of words for someone who wants to have a dialogue.

  • Margaret

    I’m confused. Are you saying that the act of homosexuality is a sin but not the orientation? Or are you saying that the sin is any sex outside of marriage, whether straight or gay?

  • Nathan

    I am an Christian who opposes homosexuality. I am evangelical with a neo-orthodox, liberal slant. I surely am not a fundamentalist, as my wife and I have faced predjudice because of her ethnicity in a few fundy churches which were blantantly racist. I believe homosexuality to be a choice made by the person to live that lifestyle. To equate homosexuality with a persons ehnicity is absurd. Many have fought for equal rights against racism and other predjudice and to equate the struggle of the militant homosexual agenda to the civil right movement is offensive. I think that homosexuals should be accepted into our churches with the idea that thier lifestyle is not to be condoned but changed. The practices of some churches as mentioned above is horrible, outlandish and cruel . We should accept, but not condone. We should have a high view of Scripture and follow its mandates, and it condems homosexual behavior, the sin not the person. When are we gonna stop trying to rewrite scripture to try to twist it to what we are comfortable with? We should interperate the texts against homosexuality in light of CHrist’s teaching and help the homosexual to repent and change his life by accepting Him, not his sin. Truth is truth, it should not be changed to suit the zietgeist.

    • Valarie

      “I think that homosexuals should be accepted into our churches with the
      idea that thier lifestyle is not to be condoned but changed”

      My lifestyle, in a nutshell:

      I’m a computer geek and enjoy gaming.
      I work hard at what I do
      I love my family and friends
      I watch my roommate’s kids when they need me to, I am always available to babysit them, and love them very much.
      I shower about twice a day. I like to be clean.
      I don’t watch TV, but do watch Netflix. A lot.

      I study the Bible, and enjoy online Bible study.
      I could go on, but I hope you get my point by now.

      Which one of these “behaviors” would you change if you were me? Which ones offend you?

  • Tom

    You say: “We are created as sexual beings, and that sexuality will likely come out perversely if not naturally, especially, I believe, in men, even if entered into with the sincerest of intentions. Consider, for example, the Catholic priesthood.”

    The link between celibacy and the abuse scandal simply has not been shown. For example, if there were a connection then we would expect to a much higher proportion of abusers amongst Catholic clergy than the rest of the male adult population, but the percentages are about the same.

    I am unmarried and intend to remain celibate unless I get married.So far that has been years of not having sex. Am I wrong to do so? Is it “likely come out perversely if not naturally”? I don’t think so, in fact this seems to be something we are called to as Christians. Even if I do get married there will be times of celibacy (for example, mission trips where my spouse and I are separated or due to medical reasons), I may find myself a widower. Again, does this mean that during these times my sexuality is “to likely come out perversely” because it had no ‘natural’ way to come out? Again I say no.

    On another point though, is singleness really that bad? Both Jesus and Paul were single and celibate. We live in a culture which says that being single is weird and makes you a failure, to be complete you need to be sexually active. I reject that idea, you do not need to be sexually active to be fulfilled in Christ. Surely our churches should be welcoming of single people and a place where they can feel part of a the great family of God, rather than parroting the non-sense our culture says?

    • Benjamin

      Sir, read 1 Corinthians 7

  • Mick

    Regardless if it is a sin or not is really not the issue . Because traditional marriage is supported by basic Bible principles is not somethign that is reason stop the basic support traditional marriage offers. There is no difference between a balck man and a white man , the only difference is pigment of the skin . There is no difference between a homosexual man and a white hetrosexual man . There is a difference between a man and women . They nurture differently, they rpond to bonding differently , they have NATURAL characteristics different then theor gender counter parts . Homosexual marriage guarantees that children do not get the benfit of two genders in a marriage . Society has a right and an obligation to support what helps our culture , just like making sure those with seeing impairments not get a drivers liscense . It may not be fair to some individuals , and laws helping those who do not promote two gender marriages should be written to support other relationships . But not marriage .

  • http://www.facebook.com/joy.sumnes Joy Awe Sumnes

    Thank you for this.

  • keith

    The reason I find this site so depressing is because of articles like this one. You may want to consider that there are those who never, ever thought about homosexuality. They never had the ‘urge or inclination to ‘try’ this sin. (It is a sin no matter how you try and justify it) They are talked into ‘trying’ it. Come on, you wont know until you try it. Those who are easily led and wind up in the sin of sexual immorality in a cycle they have a hard time leaving. YOU will be held accountable for misleading those people that you have told Gods word is less important than your OPINION. God help you.

  • commentor

    I’d also like to say a lot of verses were taken out of context….Kathy you need to do an indepth study of verses and culture before making grand statements about what they meant…the english language doesn’t always protray the verses correctly thats why you should study the Greek and Hebrew meaning behind the translations…

    eg.
    1 Tim. 2:9-15 women, do not wear braids, gold, pearls, or costly apparel; don’t teach or have authority over men; you will be saved in child-bearing (huh?? Now that’s a salvation plan we don’t hear from the pulpit!)

  • commentor

    so like to let you all know that i made a comment about verses being out of context and my comment was removed so I think that shows the stand point of this article….hiding the truth to suit opinion

  • Samuel Otwell

    I can’t read everything you wrote, and after the first third of it, there really isn’t any reason to. I am sorry that the church has hurt you and maybe some homosexual people you are close to. I am sorry that those who call themselves Christians in the present and past have not adhered to Jesus’ command to pray and serve for change and salvation of individuals instead of oppressing them. However, in your explanation of Scriptural Inspiration, you have neither submitted nor wrestled with the commands of our Lord and God through his Son, apostles or prophets. The latter must presuppose the former. You have become Thomas Jefferson with the scissors of reactionism. Reaction rejecting what is truth because of abuse of what is truth does not establish the veracity of the conclusions of the reaction. We must love, but love which knows no final definition is not love, but emotion driven self projection. And we are supposed to die to “self.” Love is defined in Christ and Christ is revealed in all Scripture. He was the one who walked on the road to Emmaus and showed how all the Old Testament pointed to him. He is the one who revealed himself to the Apostles and guided them to teach the Church. We do not have to like what scripture says, we have to incarnate it and wrestle with it. The Psalms are spoken by men (and perhaps women) who talk to God, yell at God, charge God with suffering they are enduring–but they do this with the understanding that he is Sovereign. The do it precisely because they KNOW he is Sovereign. If you do not wrestle with this understanding, then you are pronouncing yourself Sovereign and you at that moment are fighting God as an enemy, not struggling with God as your Father and King. Your conclusions are false because your foundation is built on sand. I have heard of those, homosexuals who are wrestling with what they know is sin (if gayness is from birth, when were humans promised not to struggle with sin from birth?) and those who are not homosexual, who are unsatisfied with your argument and the arguments of others like you. They reject your refusal to struggle with the words of Scripture and so do I. Watch, for you may find yourself, opposing God yourself along with those who beat the Homosexual boy you referred to. May those who claim to submit to the Scriptures learn what it means to love homosexuals without expecting them to change, but in the hopes and prayers that they do. May those who reject the God revealed in Scripture turn back to him and stop making excuses for God, when he has demand that his followers not be ashamed of him. God help us, God forgive us.

  • Handy Dandy

    My pastor is going through this right now. He unfortunately is facing a big denomination and risking his job and having his credentials revoked based on his belief that we are all equal and no one should be excluded from Church. Our policy states that homosexuals can tithe and donate money to the church but they cannot lead, serve or be accepted as they are. I would love to see more support for him. He blogged recently about grace.

    Here it is: http://gardenstate.ca/2012/11/20/the-limits-of-grace/

    Here is his twitter, I know he will be encouraged. http://twitter.com/SimplySeanG

  • Handy Dandy

    My pastor is going through this right now. He is facing a big denomination risking his job and the loss of his credentials based on his beliefs that we are all equal and no one is excluded from God. The big guys had heard he let a lesbian speak at church and the phone call came. The policy states that homosexuals are able to tithe and donate money, but they cannot serve or lead. He recently wrote a blog post about grace. Please support him in this alienating time.
    http://gardenstate.ca/2012/11/20/the-limits-of-grace/

    twitter: http://twitter.com/SimplySeanG

  • 21st C. Episcopalian

    So 3 plus percent of Americans have homosexual tendencies (newest study tells us). I’ve also recently read that 1 plus percent of Americans struggle with mental illness. So, a question. Do we just throw in the towel and let those mentally ill folk follow their own particular muse too? Or do we try to intervene for the betterment of their own lives, as well as lives of society in general?

    Why should we try and “help” those with mental illness via counseling and medication? Why not just cut them loose on society and let them choose their own path, following the voices in their own heads? The answer is obvious and self-evident: Personal illnesses or tendencies, whether based on genetic or environmental factors (or both) are not to be seen as God’s mandated direction for their lives. The “Fall” (assuming RLC readers still believe in Gen 3) has tainted and disrupted every aspect of life, sexuality and sexual orientation/desire included.

    Simply saying “God made me this way” as a truthiness-validation of homosexuality is a sad acceptance of the taint of the Fall.

    * Note: I’m not equating homosexuality with mental illness. I’m simply drawing an analogy.

  • Craigforsure
  • Sarah

    So, can a person be against a particular standpoint, gay marriage etc. and still love the person who supports, or lives such a stance? I say let people have their opinions and not yell that they are being hateful for it as long as they aren’t out there killing or raping in the name of that stance. Hating the hater is still hate in my view. On the other hand, being gay isn’t going to doom anyone, regardless of if it is a sin or not. ( What saves us is our relationship with God.) I tend to think that it is not (Matthew 19:10-12ish), but that is my personal opinion and I will not stop loving or interacting with those who do not think so. I do not see them as hateful, but rather following what they believe to be true. If I want to try and change that belief, I love them and trust God to do the rest. I don’t call them names because I wouldn’t want to be close to someone who called me names or insulted me. 1. Love God. 2. Love your neighbor. Everything else is secondary.

  • B-Rod

    Firstly “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: but God will judge the
    sexually immoral and adulterers.” (Hebrews 13:4). and “Therefore a man will leave his father and his
    mother, and will join with his wife, and they will be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24). In the first verse we
    clearly see a contrast between sex inside of marriage and sex outside. Sex inside marriage is
    considered undefined and held in honor, but sec outside marriage is considered a sin. This means
    sex wether heterosexual or homosexual is sinful outside the marriage covenant. Do the question is
    are same sex marriages allowed: The second verse clearly teaches us same sex marriage is outside
    God’s plan for marriage. His definition of marriage is between ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN. So
    marriage is only between two partners, no more and no less, they must both be human (original
    Hebrew refers to people), and they must be of different genders. Jesus also quoted this later as
    God’s plan for marriage. Therefore there is no atmosphere where homosexuals can have sex.
    Outside of marriage it is sinful and God’s definition of marriage doesn’t include same sex marriage.

    Secondly, that being said homosexual sex is not some unique sin but it should be treated as any
    other sin. Homosexual sex is equivalent to heterosexual sex outside of marriage, and we should treat
    them the same. God died for homosexuals the same as for heterosexuals. He never approves our
    sins, but loves us despite our sins. We need to be the same way, that is hold to God’s standard and
    call what is sin sin, but reach out to people in love knowing we are also sinners who fail under God’s
    law. Often when I confront a person on their sin, I like coming to them on equal grounds with same or
    similar sins I have done. That way they know I’m not judging them as someone who believes I am
    above him, but as someone who can relate to what they are going through. I make it clear that it is
    still sin, but they don’t feel as judged because they know I consider myself on equal level with them.
    This is how we need to treat all sin and sinners. There is no special sin, all sin is sin, including
    homosexual acts. So we need to reach out to homosexuals by letting them know that same sex is sin,
    but to also know we sin as well, and reach out to them, as opposed to turning them away.

    Thirdly, whether homosexual orientation is a choice or not doesn’t make a difference. We are all by
    sinners and have natural sinful tendencies (Ephesians 2:1-3). Whether it be heterosexual lust, envy,
    jealously, greed, selfishness, deceit, etc. These are all things we don’t need to teach our children to
    do, but things that we need to teach them are wrong. They don’t naturally pick up how to be good,
    but they do naturally pick up on how to be bad. This does not mean that we should justify these
    actions just because they are based on natural desires. Instead we need to recognize we all have
    natural desires which we need to reject, we all need to “deny ourselves and pick up our cross” in
    order to follow Jesus. Yes some crosses are bigger than others, but we all need to. So even if
    homosexual orientation is natural, it does not justify acting upon those desires.

    Fourthly, my heart goes our to any out there with homosexual desires, that are reading this. I want it
    to be clear that same sex acts are sinful and same sex marriage is not part of God’s definition of
    marriage, but I also want to be clear, God loves you just as he loves everyone else. We are all
    sinners and Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins. You can be saved just like anyone else. We all
    need to “deny ourselves and take up our cross” in order to follow Jesus. Don’t let those who say
    God hates homosexuals discourage you. He loves you and wants you to be saved. He loves all of
    us and wants all of us to be saved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DeepNarcosis William J. Green

    Dr. Oz did America a great service recently by hosting a show on Reparative Therapy.

    What struck me most was the FACT that some of the men on Dr. Oz’s show with earlier homosexual attractions and homosexual encounters who 1) did NOT want those lusts to rule their lives, 2) did not want to continue to live a homosexual lifestyle, and 3) wanted to have a heterosexual marriage and bear and raise children sought and successfully emerged heterosexually oriented from Reparative Therapy.

    What also struck me was how rude, arrogant and condemning defenders of the homosexual lifestyle AND attackers of Reparative Therapy were vis-a-vis their polite and respectful former homosexual and/or Reparative Therapist counterparts, even though the Reparative Therapists were highly educated, trained and LICENSED professionals (including doctorate holders), some of whom had left the homosexual lifestyle as much as 8 years prior and at least one of which was now happily married — with his wife present — with adorable children whom he loved.

    The homosexuals and advocates for homosexuality regularly interrupted, disrespected and what I call faux prophesied about that which they were NOT first-hand experienced in.

    For instance, I can no more say with certainty what goes on behind the closed doors of a therapist with his/her client than I can say with certainty what you had for breakfast five days ago, even though I’ve heard from a couple people who had breakfast with you 100 days ago and even two years ago but who now hate you. And yet these homosexuals and homosexuality advocates had the boorish arrogance to do just that by insisting that what the professional Reparative Therapists SAID THEY DID BEHIND CLOSED DOORS was NOT what they actually did.

    One of my favorite quotes was from a Harvard M.D. from his post-show interview when he said,

    “I’m frustrated . . . by how appealing the Reparative Therapists were able to seem.”

    Yeah, in contrast to how unappealing, arrogant and condemning y’all seemed!

    http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/gay-straight-controversial-therapy?video=15796

    MUST SEE!

  • http://twitter.com/TheCoveNV The Cove

    Thanks for a great article! We shared it with our people. Here’s what our Spiritual Director wrote on Homosexuality: http://gardenstate.ca/2012/11/20/the-limits-of-grace/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/JD-Stone/100002650003857 JD Stone

    In Matthew 19:12, 2 Jesus is recorded as saying:
    ”..there are eunuchs made so by men; there are eunuchs who have made themselves that way for the sake of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can” (King James Version)

    Is this not clear enough? What part of “eunuch” (to castrate, to neuter a man) and “accept this”
    do you not understand? In case you are feeling a little uneasy, let us look at what the New American Standard Bible (NASB ) records as Jesus’ words on this subject ― becoming a eunuch.

    “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

    http://christianity-revealed.com/cr/files/wwjhyd.html

  • disqus_cFXiJdymsv

    I wonder why in this day and age of knowledge and reason so many knowingly become or remain “Protestant?” It’s interesting to me that some are aware that the Bible was not cleanly and concisely handed to us by God Himself, but still engage in dialogue about Christian practice on a Sola Scriptura basis. I know this isn’t exactly the scope of this article, but I think it is relevant, and I would appreciate your responses, especially from any Ministers or Priests.

    • Drew

      If not Protestant, then what do you suggest we “become?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000699994198 David Reynolds

    A lovely, gracious and well written and reasoned piece. Thanks for penning and sharing it.

  • Gillian Wallace

    Bless you, bless you, bless you, Kathy for taking the time to write this. You are clearly a deeply faithful, deeply biblically-based Christian and we need to hear from more like you. Thank you!

    • Samuel Otwell

      There is no biblical basis in this argument. The whole things is trying to subvert it and make excuses for the parts of it that are hard to swallow. If a person wants to make a religion based on feelings and experience rather than God’s revelation, go ahead. But don’t call it Christianity. Some people are bent toward homosexuality from birth and it is awful. Since when have we been promised by God that we will not be born with a tendency toward sin? The opposite is true. We need to encourage our brothers and sisters who are faithfully trying to fight against the sin that lurks in their hearts–including homosexuality but also the host of others–and walk loving with those who have allowed themselves to succumb to it, always hoping they will reject it. But I fear we are simply leading some to destruction and greater condemnation with an article like this one.

  • Raphael Sandoval

    I’m sorry Miss Vestal, but you completely lost me when you said we can’t look to scripture alone for the answer. Well then where should we go then? I also assume you have a complete understanding of the Holy Spirit. When you prayed about this blog post were you listening to the Spirit of Truth? You mention no NT Scripture at all. Romans 1:26-27 or how about 1 Corinthians 6:9, where the Greek word arsenokoites according to my concordance is translated as “one engaging in homosexual acts (likely referring to the active male partner).” I would really challenge you to put yourself in prayer before you post such things. What is the Spirit then really telling you? I mean none of this in anger, but I truly feel that you giving some false teachings here. The Bible I read, is black and white on the issue of homosexuality. You say that what about my sins, well the difference between us is that I’m not putting my teachings out for the world to see. By doing that you open yourself up to be challenged. Oh by the way it is widely accepted as fact throughout the science community that evolution is how the earth and humans came about.

  • jsboegl

    Kathy, a serious question: “What’s the Biblical defense for Bi-sexuality”?

  • Ray

    Kathy, do you love Jesus, or do you just love the idea of fighting hatred?

    You seem to hold the “intelligent views of science and psychology” in higher regard than the word of God, which means you don’t really know the word or the power of God. While there is nothing that okay’s a persons hatred of another human being, especially over their lifestyle, and I do believe that you’re right in wanting to address that hatred, you’re disregarding the word of God and who the word reveals to make your point.

    Science and psychology? Really? Man’s searching-out of matters is an amazing thing, but you’re lack of Fear in placing it’s “wisdom” as comparable with the Word is astounding. Have you seen the fruit of psychology vs biblical truth? Your answer would be obvious. When you step out to “teach” on such matters and proceed to throw out biblical truth for the sake of what would otherwise sound like compassion, you’re literally risking your own life and that of your followers (unless you just throw out all the “false teachings” and “wolves in sheeps clothing stuff.” Probably misprints anyway…)

    Jesus died for all of us, to make us all new- to be rid of our old lives (all of the old life) to be new creations. His apostles, hand-chosen by him for leading through power and revelation, list homosexuality, along with all sexual immorality, wickedness, envy, deceit, hatred of God, and a number of other things that result from a life apart from God (Romans 1, new covenant) in the same list. Paul concludes that because we’re all affected by something in the list, that we “are without excuse” those of us who pass judgement.

    That’s the biblical stance with hatred. As is stands, your listeners would be foolish to believe you’ve had any insight from God, nor even desired it, on your above post. If you won’t stand for the truth, you’re hearers can never be set free by the truth. There’s more to it. Deal with the hate biblically. Deal with homosexuality biblically. Deal with everything of our lives biblically. Jesus said if you don’t lose your life for me, you’ll lose it.

    Ray

  • Prayerful

    Thank you for presenting an idea with scriptural backing, that is neither popular nor taught in many churches historically or currently. Everyone has a point of view that, even if (make that especially if) it’s different from our own, can lead to growth and understanding and ultimately greater love. Keep up the good work, and the open and peaceful mind, even in the face criticism from other well meaning Christians. If we all keep searching scripture and our hearts and act on our findings with a searching mind rather than a legalistic mind, then surely God’s grace will cover all of our sins and bring us to the place that Jesus tells us he has gone to prepare for us. Surely, even if we say condescending or mean spirited things to each other here in this existence, we will not ask to be out of heaven when we see those that we disagree with living there also.

  • Sutton Brory

    In the NT it says something like “homosexuals (and a big list of others) shall not inherit the kingdom of Heaven.” And if the blogger is correct, that homosexual is only a modern word, what did the NT actually try to say here that we’ve misinterpreted? Who or what are homosexuals as it pertains to that time period?

    • Just me

      I found NIV “men who have sex with men” comes from originally two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants of homosexual acts. Based on that, it does kind of sound like homosexuality is a sinful act. Thoughts?

  • Rob

    Henry Nouewn was quoted- he had lifelong ssa and disagreed with the bloggers arguments. He chose not to act on those actions out of a conviction doing so would be sin. I speak as someone who struggles with SSA it is gut wrenching and horrible to read blogs like this. Thanks for kicking your Christian brothers and sisters when they struggle to live out the life God clearly calls for them – easy for you to throw stones at Christians who try to follow the bible when you don’t even struggle with the issues.

  • Julie

    Thank you so much for this. You just took my breath away.

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