The Bible & Homosexuality: Enough with the Bible Already

[I know many will not agree with this post. I know many will say I'm on the slippery slope, have rejected Scripture, thus rejected Christ, and I am teaching things against the Gospel. Obviously, nothing I say will convince you otherwise, and I'm not interested in having 'debates' on this issue. I have many close friends, and family members, who will disagree with this post - and that's okay. Many of us have come to a place of understanding on this issue - we just disagree. But this is still something I feel like I need to say.]

gay-crossUnfortunately, if you came to this post hoping to see a detailed exegesis of texts like Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-27, then you will be disappointed. There are certainly plenty of books written that go into great detail concerning the very few texts in Scripture that deal with same-sex relations. If you want to read a super-thick book that argues for a traditional/conservative view regarding homosexuality, then you might want to take a look at Robert Gagnon‘s The Bible and Homosexual Practice (520 pages!). There are plenty of people who hold a similar view and probably argue their point more succinctly and with more generosity and humility, but Gagnon is one who is often quoted. If you want to read a book from someone who has come 180 degrees in his thinking on this issue, and argues for acceptance for gays in the church, read Jack Rogers’s “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality.”

But presenting a coherent biblical argument for why homosexuality is not a sin and why our gay brothers and sisters should be fully welcomed into all areas of the church and ministry is not my point here. I think many people have done just that (Jack Rogers and Stacy Johnson come to mind), but they are easily dismissed by many because they apparently don’t have a “high enough view of scripture.”

Well – if that’s the problem – then I say, “Enough with the Bible already!”

This issue has been on my mind a lot recently, for a variety of reasons, but most recently because Sarah and I gathered with some friends from our church and watched the documentary, “For the Bible Tells me So.” If you don’t know anything about the film, you should really watch the trailer or watch a great clip entitled “Is it a choice?” here. Basically it follows the story of five Christian families and how they dealt with their children coming out. There are some extremely sad and some extremely hopeful stories in this film. One girl commits suicide largely in part to her mother’s inability to accept her sexuality. Another young gay man’s family gets behind him and joins a movement of awareness and non-violent protests that eventually bring the family to the headquarters of James Dobsons’s Focus on the Family.

We were watching this film with a diverse group – people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. Some gay, some straight. Some married (both gay & straight), some single, and some partners in loving, monogamous relationships. We had a great evening with these friends; as we left that night and as I was thinking about the film, I became increasingly upset that there are people in this world (primarily Christians) who think our gay and lesbian friends should not be allowed to marry, adopt children, have the same rights as straight people or be ordained to follow calls to ministry. Rather, they should be “fixed” or changed. And for those who are Christian and believe these things, these beliefs come from a very selective reading of a very small amount of texts from the Bible.

If it is truly the Bible that is causing some to hold these discriminatory beliefs, then perhaps we need to set the Bible aside for awhile. Perhaps we need to not construct a belief system about LGBT folk built on the foundation of a couple verses in scripture. Perhaps that isn’t healthy, fair, just or Christian.

Christians have a history of using the Bible as a weapon (this is a bit of a caricature – but probably not far from the truth). Whether being used to condone slavery, oppress women or support wars, it’s clear the Bible has been misused by many [insert here accusations that I as well am misusing the Bible with my hope for acceptance of LGBT folk]. When the Bible becomes used as a weapon, as a tool for discrimination, as a way in which people can justify beliefs of hatred and injustice – one has to think and wonder if we haven’t gone horribly wrong somewhere.

For some, I believe the Bible has become an idol. Some place the Bible above Jesus’ compassion and love, Jesus’ radical inclusivity, and hold steadfast onto what they believe to be the correct interpretation of a small amount of verses that speak about same-sex relations. To those who repeatedly start quoting Leviticus and Romans verses as soon as anyone brings up the topic of homosexuality, I’d suggest perhaps you stick your Bible back up on the shelf for awhile. Perhaps it should collect a little bit of dust. And maybe, just maybe, you need to go out and grab coffee with someone who’s gay. Maybe you need to hear their story, learn about what they’ve been through, how they’ve experienced Christians and the church.

It’s recently become more and more clear to me that there is an increasing amount of fear and ignorance connected to this topic. We may be living in the 21st century, but there is still so much fear connected to gay people in our world. Fear of the unknown is strong and rampant in so many people’s assumptions about gays. Fear comes from ignorance, from a lack of knowledge. I wonder how much fear could be laid to rest if those who feared gays the most actually got to know someone who was gay.

Actually, that is often the way it works. Someone finds out their aunt or uncle is gay – or maybe it’s a brother or sister. All of a sudden, this “issue” is not just an issue, but it’s something that affects real people – people close to you. You often hear stories of people whose beliefs were changed after being forced to deal with the implications of homosexuality as it affected someone close to them. This was my own experience. I had never even given much of a thought to homosexuality before one of my best friends came out to me in college. All of a sudden, it wasn’t simply an “issue” I could choose to ignore. I’ve often found that some of the people with the strongest anti-gay feelings are people who in fact have never met or had conversations with a gay Christian before. That needs to change.

There are many people who have and will continue to make strong and persuasive biblical arguments from scripture, arguing for the acceptance of gays in the church. And the issue, especially as it pertains to gay marriage in our society, will continue to be a public issue getting much attention for many years to come (an example is the recent Newsweek cover story). So I’m not arguing that we should throw out the Bible; but at least for some people, it might be more productive – and better for society – if they put the Bible aside for awhile, stopped listening to the hateful rhetoric of James Dobson & Friends, and engaged in some thoughtful reflection and conversation with the LGBT community.

Christians need to get over their fear of gays and of what might happen if they welcomed fully into our society and churches. Christians need to get over their infatuation with a very select few verses, and get over their infatuation with a literalistic interpretation of these texts. Christians need to look more to Christ than to the Bible. Christians need to actually live out the radical love and compassion that Jesus exemplified in the scriptures. Christians need to realize that the world will not end when gays are given the right to marry – or when we finally fully welcome LGBT brothers and sisters into pastoral ministry.

If it is the Bible that is causing us to delay accepting and celebrating LGBT persons as being fully human and fully created in the image of God, just as they are, then perhaps we need to say, “Enough with the Bible already…”

Subscribe to Pomomusings

Get updates sent directly to your Inbox.


Comments

  1. says

    Thanks for putting yourself out there and saying what needs to be said. It was well articulated. An argument I’ve been making for awhile. But you know us emerging Christians and our hate of the bible ;-)

  2. says

    Thanks Adam.. for your thoughts and for speaking such great wisdom into a field of land-mines and charred ground. The Church needs more people to make the case for homosexuality, the case for the radical inclusivity and never-ending merciful love of Jesus.

    @Michael Toy agreed

  3. Sara Lamb says

    Have you heard Andrew Marin talk anywhere? I caught just a bit of what he had to say at the NYWC in Pittsburgh. http://www.themarinfoundation.org/ The site is worth a look. I was super impressed and giddy with what he had to say. If I had the right notebook with me, I’d elaborate. His book isn’t out yet, but I guarantee it will be worth the read.

    • says

      @Sara – I did hear Andrew Marin speak at the YS deal. From what little I know of him, I do know there are some people in Chicago who are more progressive who take issue with him and some of the ways he goes about doing things. I just heard him speak briefly at the YS Convention in Sacramento, and thought he was okay – but didn’t seem to really come down in a very open/accepting position, which of course would be the one I’m partial to…

  4. says

    Presbyterians Today has recently run a series of well written articles by a fellow who studied two different churches, one for and one against ordination. He argues that both groups have in fact based their argument on this issue not on scripture but on their experience…its just that the experience of one group is that they don’t have any experience.

  5. Adam's Bro says

    I do not understand why you title your posts so provocatively (about homosexuality), use controversial language, and then proceed to tell us you do not want debate. It definitely makes the case that you are closed off to the “change” you hold so dear. I know you have heard much hate speech from the opposite side of this subject, but I believe the subject has not been dealt with well by either side. So, please feel free to delete people’s posts if they are filled with hate speech, but allow debate because disagreement only breeds hatred when there is no open discussion…debate. Prove there can be love in disagreement!

    • says

      @Adam’s Bro: Hey man ;) Good to hear from you. Well, to be honest, you know a post with a provocative post is going to get more hits than another, so that helps to get the word out and exposure. That’s part of it. And I am not censoring any comments — I’m glad for the discussion this has began…I do hope there can be love in disagreement, as I think you and I have shown. And some family members and I can prove to as well…

  6. says

    That was very well said and much needed I believe. When the Bible gets between us and love… when it gets between us and simple human rights… when it gets between us and and relationships (both our own as well as preventing relationships with others), then the Bible becomes a wall getting between us and God. Those that argue from scripture to the detriment of others (all sides are guilty), they all claim and think that they are closer to God, when in fact they are closer to words on paper than they are the deity of God. The Bible HAS become an idol in this argument, and as you say and so has Rob Bell, “those who do not know anyone who is gay have no say in this debate.” I tend to agree.

    Thanks Adam for having the courage to say this. It is bold, but I think truth is found here! Unfortunatly, those that need to hear this and make a change prob. will get defensive and harsh… but here is a hope and a prayer for a productive conversation!

    I also ditto Michael’s comment!
    peace

  7. says

    Beautiful Adam. Katryna and i thank you! We look forward to connecting with you guys when we move back to SF next year. Your church sounds wonderful and i am glad you all watched that fantastic film. i also HIGHLY recommend seeing Milk. It’s so very inspiring and a great history of the period in gay rights.

    You are gonna get A LOT of shit for this post, you know!?! These kinds of posts ALWAYS bring out the freaks! :)

    Adele

    • says

      @Existential Punk – thanks for your support, and you’re right, these types of posts do bring out people with a ton of disagreement and issues with some of my thinking. But I do want to try and be a place where people can feel comfortable leaving comments – so let’s try and not call them freaks…cool?

  8. says

    While I understand and fully appreciate your point, I guess I feel like there is a false dichotomy here. For much of this post, it feels like you’re asking people to have to choose either Scripture or our experience, but not both. Can we both study and follow the Bible AND see people as just that–people, not theoretical issues? Can we hold the two in tension, doing our best to live in a way that honors the person of Christ? I would like to think I’m trying to do that in my own life. I liked when you said that “christians need to actually live out the love and compassion that Jesus exemplified in the scriptures.” That’s my thought exactly.

  9. tim snyder says

    Thank-you Adam for the provocative thoughts. I especially appreciate your claim that we may be idolizing our Bibles. Good stuff. Do you have any experience connecting curious individuals who may hold conservative view on this with GLBT folks? I’m thinking of an online site where people could arrange such meet ups. What if we could arrange 100 meet ups over coffee? Obama did this kind of thing on swing states. Just a thought.

    • says

      Tim – thanks man. I think that’s quite an interesting idea…to facilitate places where people can have these important conversations, all over the country. Very interesting. I wonder what something like that might look like. I’m not familiar with what Obama did in the swing states…can you tell me more? Also, the person who left a comment directly after yours, Christina, left a note on my Facebook wall where she said she’d be really interested in helping to organize something like this…

      Talk to me.

  10. says

    Thank you, Adam. Very well said.

    I have been increasingly encouraged by articles, features, and movies that expound on this point exactly.

    Trying to wrap my head around all of the propaganda that surrounds this issue, I have begun re-reading the bible cover to cover. As I have come across the mentioned texts, I have also come across texts that are generally completely ignored simply because no one today could stand up to their rigor.

    If any one verse is held up as “Gospel” – then so shall all verses. And if all verses were held up as the truth on which to base our culture, we would be living in a far more violent, fearful, desperate, and completely contradictory world.

    Thank you for your insight and for standing up for the truth of what you believe.

    For a much more playful take on the matter, follow this link: http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/c0cf508ff8/prop-8-the-musical-starring-jack-black-john-c-reilly-and-many-more-from-fod-team-jack-black-craig-robinson-john-c-reilly-and-rashida-jones

    • says

      @Christina, thanks for commenting! It’s great to be able to ‘connect’ with you again. I’m glad you are being encouraged in various ways and finding re-reading the Bible to be something interesting and hopefully life-giving for you.

      And yes, the Prop 8 musical is great!

  11. Scott says

    Fantastic post, Adam – thanks for writing this, and for having the courage to articulate what many of us have been thinking for some time now.

    Blessings.

  12. says

    “Christians need to look more to Christ than to the Bible. Christians need to actually live out the radical love and compassion that Jesus exemplified in the scriptures.”

    I don’t know about you, but most of what I specifically know about the radical love and compassion of Jesus is from the Bible, so I’d hate to throw it out. I’d also hate to throw out all the parts of the Bible that my experience contradicts, because my own reason and experience have often been wrong. This is why I think a Wesleyan Quadrilateral model (four corners of Scripture, experience, reason, church tradition) is helpful.

    I think ignoring and dismissing the parts of the Bible we disagree with is part of why we are still wrestling with the GLBT issue. We need to rely more on the Bible, more on the whole witness of Scripture (instead of prooftexting a few verses) rather than less.

    • says

      @Shawn: Thanks for taking the time to comment man. And for pointing out what MANY people above have also pointed out. We need not throw out the baby with the bath water…am I arguing for completely getting rid of the Bible altogether, like many people seem to think? Certainly not – and as you said – it’s probably a more faithful response to rely on the WHOLE WITNESS of Scripture…and not allow ourselves to get away with prooftexting the few passages that speak about same-sex relations.

      But I still think it might be good for a few folks to just set it aside for awhile…and focus on relationships.

  13. says

    Adam,

    As much as I would like to agree with you I found myself agreeing with Joel instead. Instead of “Enough with the Bible already,” I would have said, “Enough with the judgments already!”

    We talk about the issue of homosexuality yet conveniently forget that love should be the driving factor in our relationships with everyone. And somehow we have forgotten that part. It is not the Bible that is the problem. It is our judgmental approaches to people that get us in trouble.

    Unless we’re willing to love like Jesus did, the Scriptures we hold don’t hold much credibility.

  14. says

    Great post!! How does one look at Christ without the Bible? Is there another book? Is there a video that I can watch to see him?

    One thought, those “verses” you want to just throw out are actually the words of Jesus.

  15. says

    Good job.

    I have given up on the fundies unless I want to have fun with them. I have found that the people I am called to stand with are those who are lgbt and looking for a minister who gets it, and damn few do, especially near my mountain.

    We need more clergy who will say enough with the Bible, let’s hear the gospel.

  16. says

    I like what you said Michael – I don’t think Adam is suggesting we throw away the Bible – I think he’s suggesting that we stop using it as an idol and an excuse for our own hatred, judgmentalism, fear and ignorance….more on my blog so as not to make this comment too long

  17. Chris P. says

    This post, (and some of the comments, e.g. Adele’s referring to anyone who will disagree as “freaks”), has all the usual strawmen built in.
    It is pure propoganda.
    The flaws are obvious in your argument.
    What is known of Jesus’ words are found only in the scripture.
    In fact Jesus and the scriptures are inseparable.
    Jesus and the apostles quoted the Tanakh (Law and the Prophets to the Hebrew impaired) profusely.
    Jesus emphatically asserted that He came to fulfill the Law not abolish it.
    The scriptures are clear; homosexuality is a sin, among other sins.
    Jesus never tolerated any sin. He told everyone He encountered “go and sin no more”
    The argument against the Bible is a fast-growing cancer in what calls itself the church.
    Without scripture you can make the Lord be anything you would like Him to be.
    Ths sin of the golden calf, (Exodus 32) is not that they worshipped an image of a golden calf.
    It’s that they called it “Yahweh who lead you out of the land of Egypt”

  18. Chris P. says

    “I don’t think Adam is suggesting we throw away the Bible – I think he’s suggesting that we stop using it as an idol and an excuse for our own hatred, judgmentalism, fear and ignorance”

    More strawmen. Anyone who sees the scripture as authoritative is a hateful,judgemental, fearful, and ignorant idolater.
    The dichotomy here is almost laughable.

  19. says

    If this were comedy I would love this post… that is great crap “enough with the bible” nice. “elevated the Bible above Jesus’ compassion.” Classic. I am just wondering how we know of Jesus’ love and compassion apart from the Bible? And I am also wondering if we have forgotten that the ultimate testimony of Jesus love was his taking the punishment for our sin. His love leads us to repentence….not to foolish acceptance. The reality being that all of us and especially me, suck. And if a god is ok with me staying who I am after he died to rescue me from me then that god sucks too…Why do I need him? I can continue to do whatever the hell I want without him right?

    This whole thing has grown tiresome…if you don’t like the Bible, and if you don’t like it’s Jesus (all of him Genesis to Revelation not just the suffering servent) why must you persist in even acting like it matters what the Bible says…Just start your own religion (or in reality be honest about the self worship you already practice and be done with it…) I would have a lot less issue with it. I have lots of friends who believe the Bible is completely false…But they don’t pretend like they are reclaiming the rue center of my religion.

    D

  20. says

    Adam,

    You don’t know me, but we are facebook friends. I hope that can continue.
    Makeesha and I have been debating this one for about a week now. If you want, read it hear = http://weblog.xanga.com/kraakerjack/tags/prop8/

    I disagree with your position, just to be clear about that up front.

    I also want to be clear that I understand your statement about not wanting to debate this anymore. I think we are all weary of this battle of ideas. It feels much like a civil war that just continues to drag on.

    Your solution to ending the war – “Enough with the Bible for awhile” seems rather naive. Those in the church who want just Jesus, and not the Bible, are opening themselves up to heresy of immense proportions. If you want to “win” this argument with other Christian brothers and sisters, I suggest you stay within the Bible, or at least do not contradict it.

    I have several friends who are homosexual, including my neighbor. I was a youth pastor with a student who wrestled with homosexual tendencies in my youth group. He now wants to be a catholic monk. I have dealt with this issue not just in theory, but with real people.

    I think we can agree on two things. 1) Jesus loves outcasts. He spends time with prostitutes and tax collectors and drunkards. We need to love as he loved. 2) There is no hierarchy of sin. All sins are equal in God’s eyes. To lust is to have an affair. To hate is to murder. And to that extent we are all in need of repentence.

    Where we will disagree is how we are to interpret the Bible. Here are my basic principles.
    1) Move from the verses that are clear to the verses that are not. Don’t start your theology or philosophy with hard to understand passages (i.e. Paul telling Ladies to cover their heads and stay quiet). 2) If the Bible makes something clear, we should pay attention (saved by Grace, care for widows and orphans, Jesus died on the cross for our sin). 3) If we can not agree, we should continue to work together for the great goals of the Kingdom (Lutherans and Baptists living together in harmony).

    Having said this, I don’t think the verses on homosexuality are unclear. I think they are straight forward. What makes them difficult is applying them in our culture, which is increasingly open to the GLBT lifestyle. How could a loving God create people with these desires? As I have said in other places, we are all born with proclivity towards sin: pornography, anger, alcoholism, over-eating.

  21. says

    Christians need to get over their fear of gays the promiscuous and gluttons and of what might happen if they welcomed fully into our society and churches.

    I substituted two sinful types of lifestyles. Choice or not, each has destructive ends. They include dangers to themselves only, and perhaps those they enjoy themselves with.

    I don’t think we are ever to ignore or minimize sin and I struggle with this topic greatly. There are real lives and emotions attached.

    God’s love covers my sin and I won’t minimize it. If I can live as a sinner and am to avoid that which tempts my heart, I believe the same is true for others. If we, as a church, are going to begin accepting some sins, I’d like to add to the list a few of my own.

  22. says

    I really wonder if it is true that “if you tell a lie often enough, long enough, and to enough people, it will become truth”? “Jesus’ radical inclusivity”????
    Did He not say to all He ministered and healed to “go and sin no more?” And did not John the Baptist, in pointing the way to Jesus, say “He who believes (pisteo) in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him?” And did not Jesus say many times “If you abide in Me…If you keep My commands…He who has My commandments and keeps them…?”
    The “lie” if you will, of “radical inclusivity” is rapidly becoming a truth in the eyes of many. He is the one who calls, HE is the one who seeks, He is the one who regenerates and makes “new.” And how do we respond to this calling? By repenting of our sins.
    We may “come as you are” but if you are truly met Him, you will not leave the same as you were.
    Merry Christmas.
    John

  23. says

    The Bible does not “get between us and love,” Justin. The Bible defines love. “In this is love… that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). God’s love is demonstrated by his dealing graciously with our sin. It is not unloving to call homosexual activity sin (though it can be done in an unloving way). If it really is sin, then it is loving to tell the truth in a loving way.

    Biblical Christianity reaches out to others in love in spite of their sin because God reached out to us in spite of our sin. That’s grace.

  24. Thomas R. says

    Chris P. is correct: the uniform witness of Scripture is absolutely clear on this issue. In all honesty, far from being mentioned in only a “very small amount of texts from the Bible” it is difficult to think of any single sin to which the Scriptures speak with greater clarity and consistency. Here is a moral issue that is condemned with the harshest possible language in both the Old and New Testaments. Furthermore, the prohibition is based upon a male-female sexual prerequisite that is built into the fundamental nature of the created order itself!

    Yes, the Scripture is very clear in its prohibition of homosexual behavior. And I think that the author of the original post seems to recognize that. This explains the sub-title of his post, “Enough with the Bible Already.” At this point, I must commend him. It is far more intellectually honest to simply say that, yes, the Bible condemns homosexual sex, but I don’t. While such a statement would certainly put you outside the circle of historic Christianity, it is at least a position that can be held with integrity. The alternative, to go on acting as though Jesus and Paul would have given their blessing to a committed, monogamous homosexual couple is just a plain refusal to acknowledge that the arguments are against you. So, to the degree to which he is honest in saying, “I don’t care what the Bible says on this issue — I have made up my mind based on other factors,” I commend the original author of the post.

    • says

      @Thomas R. – I think you may have misunderstood part of the original post. I do not believe that Scripture is clear on this – I don’t think there is a uniform witness. As mentioned in the post, there are plenty of scholars who have argued, from the Bible, for an open & accepting position in regards to homosexuals, which I agree with. The Bible does speak about same-sex relations in a few texts, but it’s far more important to look at the context, the history and the original languages and interpretations of all of that, then it is to do a surface/literalistic interpretation of said verses.

  25. says

    Question for Adam,
    Is it really fear that is driving people to speak out about it?

    I think that the fear argument isn’t quite water proof. It’s easy to blame people’s fears for something and misuse the word “phobia” when it might just be strong disagreement. I am also waiting for my Netflix to bring that movie to the top of the queue…I heard about it a couple years ago.

    • says

      @Big Mike: fair enough. The “fear” argument might not be completely water proof. I agree, there are some people who do not fear gays – and may have many gay friends, etc., but still come down with a conservative/traditional belief on this issue. But I think that for many – it really is about fear. There is more that I could share about this, but it will have to wait until the proper time – but I’ve had some experiences in which fear was the driving force behind some very homophobic actions.

  26. Jason says

    It is truly disappointing to see someone with a seminary degree from a reputable place like Princeton Seminary handling this issue with such carelessness and arrogance. I agree with the point above: “I do not understand why you title your posts so provocatively (about homosexuality), use controversial language, and then proceed to tell us you do not want debate.” It is not so much your opinion on the issue that is offensive, but your tone of self-righteousness and condemnation of the Other, and your manner of presentation: giving a serious issue a few key-strokes, a neat picture, and a cute title does not constitute a real contribution to debate, nor is it really worthy of sustained engagement. This post, if it amounts to anything at all, will not amount to winning any hearts and minds to a cause, but sadly, it will only fuel the fire of animosity and enmity between estranged Christian communities and individuals. If you really want to be a convincing, winsome person, someone who aids the cause of reconciliation in the church–and therefore, more like the Jesus you claim to endorse and the Christian tradition to which you belong–and not someone who just asserts his own opinions like a raging fundamentalist in the echo-chamber of theoblogy, you’re going to have to do better than this. Don’t let the radically conservative demons of your past reincarnate themselves now in your liberal present. It’s unbecoming. And frankly, that is the most un-Christian aspect of this post.

    Now to the claims you make in such an outrageous manner.

    For what it’s worth, and were I a supporter of same-sex marriage as a Christian, I would re-frame the debate in terms of the nature of sexuality at a very basic level. You’re going to have to convince Christians that you have an account of sexuality that is biblical, wise, true, and good, and which accounts for sexual behavior in a responsible way. You’re right in one sense that homosexuality ought to be the least of our worries in the modern era. How about marital infidelity, individualistic sexual selfishness, and pornographic idolatry? You need to start thinking about those things before you write again about this subject, because as it stands you come across as just as obsessed with a thin dimension of sexuality as your opponents. And in doing so, you seem to be just as smug and complacent. It could hardly be said that you seem to be committed to a community of faith that extends beyond the present moment into the past and the future.

    “If it is truly the Bible that is causing some to hold these discriminatory beliefs, then perhaps we need to set the Bible aside for awhile.”

    To say that the logic of your writing is facile would be an understatement. The position you take: (1) is not recognizably Christian, since no Christian makes arguments without recourse to Scripture – and unless you’d like to remove Leviticus and Romans from the canon, you must account for even these “very few select verses”; (2) is not open-minded, since it refuses to account for the good arguments made by your opponents (as opposed simply to dismissing the bad ones, as you do); (3) is boring, since it more or less recapitulates the Zeitgeist.

    Furthermore, your rhetorical use of Jesus’ “love and acceptance” is unconvincing. Do you really want to look to “Jesus instead of the Bible” (a task, by the way, which is impossible, given that the “Jesus” we read of can only be found in the Bible)? If you want to do that, you’re going to have to account for this Jesus, as well as the woolly lovey dovey Jesus you’re preaching.

    [Also, I am aware that my being critical of you in this way makes me a “freak.” But that is no matter. Unfortunately, the people who read this blog and agree with you tend to be extremely close-minded, especially when it comes to thinking compassionately about the positions of those who disagree with them. The “homosexual community” isn’t the only community out there to which you ought to extend your “compassion.” There is also the Church.]

  27. says

    John Shuck, you said “We need more clergy who will say enough with the Bible, let’s hear the gospel.”

    What?? How is that possible? How do we know the gospel without the Bible. It so saddens me that a “pastor” would say such a thing.

  28. Josh says

    I affirm and agree with everything Adam said. Over the past decade it seems the most controversial issues I deal with revolve around Homosexuality and Islam. I find that my views on both changed precisely because I not only met but developed strong friendships with, and now work with Muslims and Homosexuals. For example the priest I work with at church is Homosexual. To be blunt my relationship with him trumps anything Paul or Moses has to say regardless of how it is interpreted.

    In my experience people with the most unhealthy views of the “other” have no relationship with the “other”. This applies equally to people on the far left and liberals who have no relationships with anti-gay, anti-abortion, etc. Christians. Jesus had terrorists, tax collectors, priests, and more following him.

    For a few years I attended a very liberal Episcopal church and while I enjoyed their attempt to grapple with politics I found they were simply the other side of the coin from the conservative CMA church I grew up in. Most importantly my parents and in-laws and close family friends disagree on the homosexuality issue. When we visited each other and attended each others churches we would each be offended by each others churches . I found the very liberal church I attended while attempting to stand for gay rights was making it impossible for my parents and I to dialogue because this liberal church judged those “conservatives” (my parents) as easily as the conservatives I grew up with judged those “liberals”. In the end it was not possible for me to attend a church that indirectly offended and insulted my parents whom I love dearly and although I disagree with them on many theological points they have a deep faith I aspire to. My relationships and experiences are held in tension with tradition and scripture and will trump the latter when push comes to shove. Anyone who preaches a Gospel that requires me to harm or insult my parents or the stranger can take their Bible and put it ________.

    I disagree with Adam. We shouldn’t put the Bible on the shelf. We need to put the Bible in its Middle Eastern context. It is not productive to read the Bible with a 21st Century understanding of marriage, sexuality and Western culture. A few scholars like Kenneth Bailey and his recent book, “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes” represents scholarship we need to see more of. I find that rediscovering the lens of “Hospitality” which is woven throughout scripture can help us deal with this issue. Our hermeneutic is impacted when we look at the story of Abraham, Lot, and Sodom through the Biblical mandate to love and protect the stranger (xenophilia). When we read the Bible through the the lens of xenophilia we are reading the Bible through the life of Jesus. Even Jesus pointed out in Gospels (Luke 10) that Sodom was not punished because of Homosexuality but because they did not show Hospitality to those in need. Jesus said to his followers when you enter a town or a house and they do not wash your feet or offer food and drink it will be worse for them than it was for Sodom. The Hospitality we see in the Bible can be as simple as offering someone a drink but as we see in Genesis it requires going as far as sacrificing ones own life and family to protect the stranger. In America we even have an idol to the God of Hospitality called the Statue of Liberty. Again in Matthew 25 the message is clear that those who do not show Hospitality will be judged. Those who do not show homosexuals hospitality and homosexuals who do not show supporters of prop 8 hospitality and exclude them from their communities and homes will get to heaven and find the separation of the sheep and goats a painful and eye opening experience. Radical hospitality is the standard that is set for dealing with homosexuals, Muslims, conservatives, liberals, etc.

    These issues all deal with Hermeneutics. The fight over homosexuality is really a fight over how we read the Bible. I abandoned my literalist, exclusivist, narrow, Evangelical hermeneutic for a much healthier Hermeneutic which I have discovered is closer to an Anglican approach that allows room for doubts, questions, tensions, and most importantly experience. The Anglican tradition believes the church is always in reformation and has found that “sola scriptura” although a necessary correction in its time is not sufficient. I am proud to be an Episcopalian and proud of Bishop Bruno for his stance against Prop 8. Our Diocese has stated that regardless of the passing of Prop 8 it is permitted for our parishes to marry homosexuals even if the state does not recognize it.

    At the recent Los Angeles Episcopal Diocesan Convention a document was issued by the Bishop’s Task Force On Marriage. In its conclusion it states: “Perhaps, though, the best and most convincing way for individuals to move forward in their understanding about whether they can embrace same-gender sacramental blessings within the Christian tradition and in our own Episcopal Church is one which is far more “incarnational” and far less theological. So here is a final thought, if you want to discover whether or not the love of God can be experienced and expressed in a life long God-centered committed relationship between couples of the same sex, have some conversation with people of the same gender who have been in lifelong committed relationships with each other. Interact with these folks. Look at the fruit of their life together. Many of our churches are graced and gifted with the presence and ministry of such couples. Spend some time together. Share your stories with one another: go have dinner, get a cup of coffee or have a glass of wine together. When we are able to see and interact with real loving people who share the same joys and the same struggles and are on the same journey of faith, theological questions and position-taking about the nature of “orthodox” faith often become irrelevant. ..”

    – Josh

  29. says

    The issue is not either scripture or experience and I don’t think that was the point. The point here is that we can only legitimate how we live what we discern Scripture to be through the lenses of our experience. It is very clear that Gagnon and others ultimately root their understanding of same gender love through a lens of an immutable natural law which governs how scripture is read. I think Adam’s point is to recognize the way that experience mediates our discernment and to bracket our assumptions in order for our experience to change our view of reality in such a way that we can come back to scripture with different lenses of what this issue is all about. It’s about people, not hermeneutics and not natural law. If you delegitimate same gender attraction as something inherently sinful, you delegitimate people who truly are experience the closeness and passion of God’s love in the midst of these relationships. The root of the de-legitimaton is, I think, that people find sex between two men grotesque. Not because the bible said so. Because your intuition shaped by experience tells you so.

    I have asked people before, if you think that same gender attraction is inherently and immutably depraved and sinful, can a same gender couple receive the love of Christ? If they cannot I stand corrected. But if they can, it is simply counter-factual to say that God does not call people in the midst of these relationships. That they can and have is exactly what forced me to radically alter my understanding of what grace actually means.

    Those of us who are heterosexual need to look, listen, and pay attention to these realities of life or our entire understanding of scripture is rooted in a false understanding of reality. Evidence through experience ought to govern interpretation, not the other way around. This is the way the brain is wired and if we ignore this fundamental way we interpret the bible, then we are favoring a definition of the world at the expense of loving our neighbor. And that’s why I think Adam is right that if you think this way, it might be best to give the bible a breather and listen to people after bracketing your assumptions about them.

  30. says

    actually it was the presbyterian outlook that ran those articles I was referring to in comment #7, and the point was precisely adam and drew’s…we all need to recognize that no matter where we end up in our interpretation of scripture or on this issue it has been filtered through the lens of our experience.

  31. says

    I agree 100% with you that “Christians” have used the Bible in horrible ways both today and in the past. All kinds of injustice has been perpetrated against women, minorities and homosexuals in the name of obeying Scripture. I also agree that Christians should be aware that there are many homosexual christians. They should also get to know someone who is gay rather than believe in the things they hear from the intolerant and bigoted. You and I agree there for sure.

    I take issue with your solution of throwing out the Bible. Frankly it’s ridiculous. Did Martin Luther King Jr. when he confronted white christian racists in the south say “get rid of your Bibles?” No. He confronted corrupt racist christianity with true and biblical gospel christianity. The same thing is true with this issue. The solution to ignorant christians hating gays is not less Bible, it’s true Bible.

    If I were more easily offended I’d resent the implications of your post. You seem to imply (though granted you didn’t say) that there are two groups. Those who think homosexuality is okay who treat them kindly and those who think it’s a sin who hate or fear homosexuals. If those are your only two categories from which you minister you’re wrong. There’s a third category. I think homosexuality is wrong and I love and accept homosexuals.

    You don’t need to think what someone does is okay in order to love them. Jesus loved sinners but not because what they were doing was okay. He loved them despite their sin. He loves me despite my sin. That’s grace. How dare I not show the same grace to another sinner if I’ve received it myself?

    I have to point out all this is in the Bible. If you throw that out you throw out the one tool there is to teach the ignorant to grace. Believe me there are plenty of people who know a homosexual and are still jerks. Knowing a gay person isn’t more powerful than Scripture or else all those families you reference in the film wouldn’t have rejected their children.

    • says

      @Meade, I appreciate your willingness to engage some conversation here. I’m glad that we have some common ground and can agree on some things. As I mentioned above in my response to Shawn’s comment – you’re right. We shouldn’t be throwing the baby out with the bath water. However, I still think there are some people who might benefit greatly from setting aside their Bibles, and their bookmarks to Leviticus and Romans, and engage in some conversation with those in the LGBT community (while occasionally being allowed to flip through some of the Gospels from time to time).

      You bring up an interesting point, however. The group that is often called the “love the sinner, hate the sin” crowd. If that’s where you’re at – that’s good. That’s where a lot of my really close friends are, and we respect each other as to where we’re at. I’m just not sure that the “love the sinner, hate the win” really ever works out. How can you truly hate something about someone, something that is so at the core of who they are, but still say, “Hey man, I still love you.” It’s a good sentiment, probably came from some folks who really meant well, but I think it’s just a nice way for some people to justify their feelings of hate without feeling bad about having them. Again, I’m not saying this is what I think you’re doing, but I think it’s a possibility with that line of thinking…

      • to says

        I was going to stop with my other comment but then I read this and I couldn’t pass by and ignore it. Here is a simple idea that really changed my perspective: Sin isn’t harmful because God forbids it, God forbids sin because it’s harmful.

        You don’t understand something fundamental in scripture. Sin is a corruption of our true God-given identity. Love the sinner, hate the sin is the approach the gospel calls us to. The point is the sin, homosexuality in this case, is NOT a component part of the sinner’s identity.

        All the homosexuals you and I know; their homosexuality is not part of who they are, it’s a corruption of who they are. We are all born with a tendency to particular sins, that doesn’t make those sins a part of who we are. It makes them an affliction in our flesh – the sin we are ‘born’ with is the hardest to be rid of. Whether homosexuals are born gay or not is irrelevant. The homosexuality is a violation of who God created them to be; a sin in short. The people God created us to be are entirely uncorrupted by sin. God doesn’t make people gay just as God doesn’t make people incestuous or deceitful. The incest and deceit and homosexuality are corruptions of our true nature. That’s what you don’t get. God loves us. He doesn’t make us sinners and then condemn the sin He made part of us. The sin was never supposed to be there in the first place. Understand?

  32. says

    Very well written. Could not agree with you more, especially when it comes to the Bible and the idolization of it by many Christians today. This is not what God had in mind. A great book on the Bible and interpreting it is entitled ” The Blue Parakeet” by Scot McKnight–highly recommend it to all. As for the “gay issue” I would recommend the following: “Lord Save Us From Your Followers” by Dan Merchant(book and documentary film), “Bad Religion” by Mel White(founder of SoulForce) and podcasts by Jay Bakker(son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker) from his church in NYC(www.revolutionchurchnyc.com)

  33. says

    @meade and others…

    Issue is not to “throw out the bible”. Issue is to take a break from rationalizing with the bible and to take personal inventory of how our own experience mediates how we interpret and apply it. Be critical of ourselves without trying to proof-text our lives. Learn to meditate, de-center, and find out what makes us tick including all that stuff we find offensive and grotesque about life along with all the stuff find beautiful and fulfilling. Then come back to scripture with hopefully clearer lenses that reveal how we participate in the construction of the truth the bible mediates to us. For some that might take a longer time than others. Many simply will not do this out of fear that they will change as if change is not inevitable – even when change is fiercely resisted.

  34. Linda says

    The Bible is clear that homosexuality is sin.

    We have all broken God’s Law, the ten commandments. We’ve all told lies, no matter how small and how long ago. Most of us have stolen something and, regardless of how small it was, that still makes us lying thieves! And that is only two of the ten commandments, yet God says in His Word that if we break even one commandment, we are as guilty as one who has broken them all! How many of us have been guilty of lust (which God calls adultery of the heart)? We’ve all held hate in our hearts against someone for whatever reason and God says that is the same as murder. And who hasn’t blasphemed God by taking His holy name in vain? Need I go on? It’s obvious – we all are guilty before God of breaking His law!

    God is the holy, righteous and just Judge that must punish sin. The bad news is that merely asking for forgiveness isn’t going to help any more than asking a local judge to just forgive you if you were guilty of robbing a bank. There is a penalty that must be paid and any judge that simply forgives a thief would rightly be considered unjust and rightly thrown from the bench. The judge would only be right in sending that thief to prison for a very long time. And in the case of the sinner, the destination is hell.

    But God! — Those are good words aren’t they! But God sent Jesus Christ, His one and only Son, to come here and dwell among us. The Judge of the universe took on human flesh. He took off his robe. He came to us a child. The Bible says he “pitched his tent among us”. He lived the sinless life that you and I could never live. He was nailed to a cross and suffered the wrath and indignity of human abuse and murder at the very human hands He created. And He died. But even worse, he suffered the infinite wrath of his own Father because he became our sin. He cried “Why have You forsaken Me” because God the Father, for the first time in eternity, could not look upon Him because he became our sin. Yet, three days later, he rose from the dead showing that He had conquered death and proved that his sacrifice for us was acceptable to the Father.

    Such is the love of God. It’s how He showed His love.

    In turn God calls all of us to turn from our sin (repent) and put our faith in what Jesus Christ did on that cross so long ago. You must “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ as a man would put on a parachute before jumping from a plane. Because, whether you want to or not, you will one day make the jump into eternity. 10 out of 10 people die, you know. Think you’re a good person?

  35. Jason says

    While such a statement would certainly put you outside the circle of historic Christianity, it is at least a position that can be held with integrity.

    Exactly. And yet Adam serves as a youth minister at a Christian church.

    Odd, to say the least.

  36. says

    Recently found this quote from Walter Wink that I love (in answer to M VanDrie):

    “I listen intently to the Book. But I do not acquiesce in it. I rail at it. I make accusations. I censure it for endorsing patriarchalism, violence, anti-Judaism, homophobia, and slavery. It rails back at me, accusing me of greed, presumption, narcissism, and cowardice. We wrestle. We roll on the ground, neither of us capitulating, until it wounds my thigh with “new-ancient” words. And the Holy Spirit is right there the whole time, strengthening us both.”

  37. Dennis Coles says

    Adam,

    Enough with Christianity already! I think you need to get over your infatuation with this faith. It’s time for you and it to part ways. It is a real pain in the ass to always be looking to the Bible, or a kind of extrapolated principle from the Bile like appealing to the radical inclusivity of Jesus, as the lenses through which one views the world. A fairly straightforward reading of the gospels shows that Jesus wasn’t that radically inclusive (at least not as we’d like him to be). He said and did just as many exclusive things as inclusive. Just a couple examples: (1) he picked 12 MEN to be his closest followers – Jesus was clearly a misogynist who was beholden to his culture (2) He told people that if they didn’t “hate” their families couldn’t be his disciples (Luke 6:27) (3) In Matthew, Jesus is always talking about people being thrown “into the furnace of fire.” Wow, that sounds horrible, and uninclusive.

    Adam, I entreat you. Liberate yourselves from the vestiges of this backwards religion. The PC(USA) has rejected you. A presbytery decided you weren’t fit to be a minister of Word and Sacrament (at least not yet). They told you that you don’t fit. I think they’re right. You need to belong to a movement that will support fully you desire you include everyone (who agrees with you). Here is a link to a faith that is for you: http://www.uua.org/ – I’m not kidding. If God is the God of everyone and active in the lives of everyone everywhere then become an adherent of a faith that actually supports that instead of trying to make Christianity fit into that box. Unitarian Universalists would be happy to have you. Your blog is so popular they would love it. You would be the voice of the next generation. You could easily find a congregation that would heap praise upon you and feed your fragile ego. Think about it. You could read other texts (sacred and secular) as equally authoritative. You could actually preach a WHOLE sermon on the words of the Hopi elder and not just strain to make them fit with a biblical passage. The testimonies of your GLBTQ friends would be equally as authoritative as any other text. This could be beautiful. In the words of J. Lennon: “Imagine…”

    • says

      @Dennis Coles – wow. I’m not really sure where to start – or if I *should* respond. I don’t believe the PC(USA) has rejected me. You have no idea what the situation was related to my Presbytery – so I’d appreciate no more insinuations that you do know anything about it. And while you obviously think I don’t fit with the PC(USA) – I think there is still a bright future for me with the denomination, God willing. I’m sure the Unitarian Universalists would be happy for me to join – but for now, I’m very comfortable living out my faith as a Presbyterian.

  38. says

    @Jason

    I am not sure that any amount of argument would be compelling for you. Am I wrong in suggesting this?

    What is quite clear from my experience with this is that argumentation leads to more robust entrenchment into confirming one’s own assumptions that were there from the beginning. So let’s say we argue that the biblical view of sexuality was part of a set of assumptions about nature and social relationships that ought to be soundly critiqued. And even while critiqued we ought to seek revealed truth in the midst of it thus making plausible a rejection of the anti-male on male sex presentation while accepting the idea of loving one’s neighbor as rational and right. I doubt that even such plausible sociological argument would be compelling no matter how well rendered. Even though I would like very much to get beyond this impasse, I am not sure how. It would have to be to live with the tension without trying to resolve it, the other option is schism. I am perfectly willing to live with that tension, I am not optimistic for most others however.

    The discussion of how clear Scripture is, is not the issue in my judgment. If that were the issue then we would have to accept all such clear pronouncements in scripture which we clearly do not. The issue is what we attribute to be good and that certainly has not been an immutable assumption in the history of the church, but grounded in sociological assumptions including the frail media of society that God used to reveal God’s will. There is a sound signal in there, but it is hard to see and hear through all of the static that thousands of years of human history has created.

  39. says

    Drew: First, A true understanding of scripture leads to greater self awareness. John Calvin said 500 years ago it is impossible to know yourself without knowing God and impossible to know God without knowing yourself. If you “put scripture away” to do that you won’t accomplish it.

    Second, that’s not what the post says anyway. None of your nuance about self awareness was included in this post. It simply pitted kindness towards homosexuals against taking the Bible seriously. Why else was there all the talk about how few times the Bible talks about homosexuality.

  40. says

    Adam, Thank you for posting on this topic knowing full well the wide gambit of comments it would engender. I appreciate so much your integrity, honest faith reflections and then topping it all off with your classy website design :) Blessings, Anita

  41. says

    I appreciate what you’re trying to do in your post, Adam, and it is a slippery slope – but not for the reasons you expect.

    You speak of Jesus’ compassion and love that we should extend to others, and I agree with that. But that understanding of Jesus comes from the Bible… so how can we like that part and not like the other parts?

    We can Photoshop Jesus to look however we want… but ultimately He gets to define who He is. And if He is God, then He is the God who spoke, speaks, and will speak once again, Whether or not I like what He’ll say, God gets to say it.

    So enough with the Photoshop Jesus already.

  42. says

    Adam – Interesting post bro, but hopefully I can push back a little without sounding like a fighting fundy ;).

    My pastor said once that if in your relationship with God there aren’t things that make you uncomfortable and stretch you, then you’re not in relationship with God, just yourself. There’s a lot of stuff in the Bible that makes me really uncomfortable and I don’t claim to understand it all. The treatment of Canaanites in the Old Testament rattles me. What it says about homosexuality rattles me. What it says about human beings and our sin rattles me. But on the other side of the hard teachings, is unmerited and abounding grace. Aside from that, I don’t know where I’d be. In all honesty, my temperament is sensitive enough that I likely would’ve committed suicide a long time ago if it weren’t for my belief that God’s grace is restoring all things to their rightful created order. In some areas, like poverty relief, this restoration is something my heart desires as well and I await it eagerly. In other areas, like the restoration of human sexuality to its rightful use, it challenges my standards. But if Scripture is true, then its not just the world outside me that is broken, but I am too. And so I have to be very careful in trusting my own instincts because they too are affected by sin. And when my instincts and preferences seem to conflict with Scripture, my duty as a Christian being transformed by grace is to do everything in my power to understand the perceived conflict and if, at the end of the process, there is still a conflict, I have to conform my mind to the Scriptures. If we take away that foundation, I don’t know what I can stand on. Whether its the modern western ideals of progressives or a more traditional ideology, I’ll have to make due with it. But I know myself and I know that there isn’t any other ideology of purely man-made ideas that will get me out of bed on a really bad morning or that will fend of my depression during its darkest moments. When those moments hit me, all I can do is throw myself upon the gracious God revealed in Scripture.

    Hopefully you see my heart here, I really am not trying to be a Bible-thumpin fundy or mean-spirited bigot. I have a number of gay friends and I don’t say any of these things with a flippant spirit. But when I see the authority of Scripture being undermined, I have to speak up. Not out of a desire to defend fundamentalists who have abused Scripture (and their numbers are many) or to stroke my own ego by “standing for the truth” or some other similarly-religious bs. I’m saying something because this issue cuts to the very core of what keeps me going in a world where I see and feel seemingly-unbearable pain on a regular basis.

    Thanks for starting the discussion, I’d love to continue the discussion.

    peace,
    ~jake

    • says

      @Jake Meador: Thanks for your spirit and humility in your comment. I really appreciated your tone and desire for conversation. That will go a long way in this conversation. I do get where you’re coming from – I get you’re not trying to be a Bible-thumpin’ fundy. And I’m sure you have good relationships with your gay friends.

      I too want Scripture to inform my life and the way I live — and I know that we shouldn’t just toss out anything that makes us uncomfortable…not at all. But for me – these texts do more than just make me uncomfortable. These texts are used to create discrimination, to block people from faithfully serving God in a ministry they feel called to, from being able to get legally married to someone with whom they love…which seems like a bit more than just making me uncomfortable…

  43. says

    Adam – I feel compelled to cease lurking and add my stone to the pile, lest this comment thread become an echo chamber of reactionary “well done!”s

    Your compassion that drives you to this conclusion is admirable. One we’d all do well to model. But your treatment of scripture (as you prophesied I’d mention) is weak.

    If you set aside the Bible you will not see Jesus at all.

    Take it all together and feel the anguish of our Lord for his lost sheep.

    Romans 1 is a pivotal section of scripture, but it must be taken with chapter 2 & 3 to realize that it is meant to convict us ALL of sin. And salvation (restored relationship with God) comes through submission to Jesus alone.

    Do not throw out this wonderful truth because so many have fallen to the trap of being selective in their fingerpointing (the very thing Romans 2 blasts)

    Christians tend to suck at love. This does not negate even a few statements of God’s revealed words to us.

  44. says

    @Meade

    “So I’m not arguing that we should throw out the Bible; but at least for some people, it might be more productive – and better for society – if they put the Bible aside for awhile, stopped listening to the hateful rhetoric of James Dobson & Friends, and engaged in some thoughtful reflection and conversation with the LGBT community.”

    To Calvin’s point, it works if we are aware of the lenses we bring to the very reading of the text. If our lenses are so skewed that we only see reflections of what we want it to say, that equilibrium is out of whack and only something outside of this can balance it. Hence his overwhelming focus on prayer in the Institutes. So I don’t agree that the only mediation for experience and self-understanding is Scripture since our experience mediates how we interpret it. So we have to read it in community including among those who see something different there. Note that Calvin is also confronting a Socratic assumption that we can know ourselves alone. Moreover, we cannot assume that the way he would read Scripture and understand this equilibrium is immutable in process even if the principle seems sound. Certainly theology, exegesis, and reasonableness do not end with Calvin right? Surely it’s OK for us to disagree with him even if we are Presbyterian right?

  45. Joel Brady says

    Adam,

    first off, you’re totally gay. that’s cool.

    second off, high-five to john shuck and his poignant Wink quote. Is there more to be said here…maybe, but i wont.

    oh, are we going to hangout this week?

  46. says

    Drew:
    For sure it’s okay to disagree with Calvin.

    However to lump those who think homosexuality is wrong into the same group with those who treat homosexuals without grace is ridiculous. Then to say the solution is a withdrawal from Scripture and making friends with homosexuals is extremely ridiculous. Notice that he associates Scripture with Dobson etc. That’s a big mistake. It’s a baby and bath water issue.

    I think one of the benefits of postmodernism is it’s awareness that we have lenses that effect how we see Scripture (and everything else). However, if you use that simply as a way of dismissing those who disagree with you, then you don’t benefit from the “chastened epistemology” of postmodernism at all. This post seems to assume that if you think homosexuality is wrong it’s because you’re unaware of your lenses. That you just interpret Scripture as teaching homosexuality as sin because you’re really afraid of gays and don’t know any personally.

    I’m not so disturbed by his position on homosexuality as his mistakes with the gospel that led him there. Someone who legitimately interprets Scripture differently from me is fine. Someone who pits Scripture against love reveals some major gaps in how they apply the gospel to sin. Christ loved sinners but not because he thought they were okay.

  47. Theresa Seeber says

    There is so much I can say here, but I will only say this. Many here have commented that the only way to know Jesus is through the Bible, and that is not true. God is so much bigger than that! He can and does reach to people anywhere, anytime, whether they are reading/hearing Scripture or not. I agree that we know His story thru the Bible, but we can know Him with or without it because He is real, and living, and active in Creation.

  48. says

    Adam,
    Thank you for a thoughtful, loving post about what is essential to being human, moral, loving and being a person of faith and a Christian — loving God, neighbor and self — and creating a Church and world that does not discriminate against any of God’s children. And, of course, in this case and your post on how: the last socially-acceptable, religiously-sanctioned prejudice — homophobia — must die with the hatred that goes with it. It gives permission for hate crimes and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and their families. This is abuse of Scripture and is totally opposed to the life, example and teachings of Jesus.

    As a gay Christian, I am grateful to be part of the Body of Christ and the Presbyterian Church with you. Adam, I am grateful to be on the planet with you and others working for the removal of barriers so that everyone can know that God’s love is available to them and that God is for them, not against them. We will not be true to the Gospel nor what it means to be the Church until we remove this barrier, in the same way we cannot claim being a true democracy in the USA when we allow voting away equal rights and protections for our LGBT citizens.

    Adam, keep asking the right questions and speaking truth to the power of your heart, faith and spirit. I give thanks to God for you and your ministry. Michael J. Adee

    More Light Presbyterians
    http://www.mlp.org

  49. says

    @Adam, you are right, i should not have called people whom i disagree with freaks. Thank you for kindly calling me out on this. i apologize to all i may have offended.

    i was simply reacting out of a place of hurt, pain, and anger of how i have been treated by conservative thinking Christians who take a literal view of the Bible. i have been told i am going to hell, that i am not a ‘real Christian’, or that my interpretation of the Bible is wrong. i guess i have not developed enough og a thick skin yet as you obviously have.

    i come out of this conservative, literal interpretation of the Bible with a charismatic flare. i was oppressed for many years, depressed and at one point suicidal.

    It’s just that we get in circular arguments in a Stepford wife kind of way. There are those who disagree with your view and those who agree with your view, like myself. i know it’s not our job to change people, but where do these pseudo conversations really get us?

    Here’s a post entitled “Is Controlling Anri-Gay Sentiment One of Our Primary Jobs?” from a gay blog i referenced in my post:
    http://www.existentialpunk.com/existential_punk/2008/12/as-a-christian-queer-woman-i-often-find-myself-angry-and-frustrated-with-the-religious-right-and-their-often-vile-reactions-t.html

    • says

      @Existential Punk – thanks for understanding. But please do know that I’m trying to “squelch” your hurt/pain/anger. i think there are plenty of people in the LGBT community who have every right to be angry and we shouldn’t get upset when there are expressions of those feelings….feelings that are often pent up.

      But thanks again for understanding the type of atmosphere I’m hoping to have here on this blog…

  50. says

    “Michael J. Adee: Thank you for a thoughtful, loving post about what is essential to being human, moral, loving and being a person of faith and a Christian — loving God, neighbor and self — and creating a Church and world that does not discriminate against any of God’s children.”

    Michael,

    Only those who repent of their sin and turn to Jesus Christ for rescue are God’s children. Those who do not are already under the wrath of God and will remain so eternally. The God who is love became the propitiation (turning away of God’s wrath) for us (1 John 4). That’s what the cross is all about.

    Bottom line is that God discriminates. What you describe is not Christianity at all. It is a pagan moralism and a god made in your own image.

    • says

      @Jason (from givemetruth.net): I understand that you’re involved with an interactive Fundamentalist community at givemetruth.net. The givemetruth.net website states:

      The purpose of givemetruth.net, an interactive Fundamentalist community, is to develop a network of edifying relationships, to nurture a sincere pursuit of and love for the truth, and to cultivate an environment in which believers can be conformed to the image of Christ for the glory of God.

      So far, in these 70-some comments, I think there has been a fairly positive conversation happening, and I appreciate that. I would encourage you to continue the conversation in that spirit.

      I can’t disagree with you more. God’s children are NOT only those who repent of their sin and turn to Jesus Christ. As much as I think believer baptism is important and very helpful in some situations (I was baptized as a 23-yr old), this is one of the primary reasons why I think infant baptism is so important. Infant baptism is a way in which we recognize that God has claimed the infant baby as one of God’s own – a child of God.

      And God does not discriminate. That is not part of the God who I find in scriptures…what Michael Adee describes above is a Christianity you disagree with, perhaps a Christianity you don’t see in Scripture – but it is still a version of Christianity. I hope we can understand the diversity that exists within the body of Christ. I certainly don’t want to be a part of any homogeneous/uniform body of Christ.

      • says

        Thank you again for your comments. I don’t normally respond to this many of your comments, but it has been helpful to think more about the topic of this post and to hear from so many of you. It’s pretty late here in California, so I’m heading to bed – knowing fully that tomorrow morning will bring a whole new round of comments. I’m going to try my best to Approve comments as they come in tomorrow morning, so please be patient with me if your comment does not appear instantaneously. Let’s keep this conversation productive and helpful for so many people.

        I am increasingly interested in Tim Snyder’s idea. Do you think there would be much interest in setting up some kind of website where people who wanted to have coffee with someone who is gay could find someone in their geographic area. I don’t really know how it would work – but the idea keeps popping into my head. I feel like we could certainly find enough people who are Christian and hold a more conservative viewpoint who would be interesting in having that conversation, but I wonder if there would be as many trusting LGBT folk to put themselves in that vulnerable position of being asked to share their story with a stranger…? But isn’t that what I’m talking about in this post? Getting the chance for those who really don’t know (or think they know) any gay people to be able to have those conversations that could lead to a change in belief.

        What do people think about that? Would it fly?

  51. jessa parrish says

    Comment’s on web pages should be studied in an anthro class or something.

    Its exciting to see so many people who have something very passionate to say, we all have the need to speak out, or evangelize, or “come-out” about how we truely feel (or believe?).

    So I just have to say, I love the word of God and I would never let it too far from my sight. From what i’ve read of “the Bible” (and I think I’ve read it all, and try to read it daily) it certainly doesn’t say, “thou shalt not stick your thing into someone’s body who also has a thing and enter into a church leadership/ministry position in the same day.” I feel so upset when I hear folks condemed because of those verses that say, these will not enter into the kingdom of heaven, because I’ve seen the fruits of the spirit in their lives. If your going to cut down an apple tree because its not producing apples, but it is producing apples, then why are you cutting it down? When I read those words I have a sense that there is something being said there that is greater than even our genitals can imagine.

    ha ha. I think the Bible is saying something different than just the plain words so often quoted. To really understand you have to step back and really seek and meditate about what is being said. There is a deeper, sacred well.

    So what i’m trying to say is, take the Bible off the shelf, and really read it, pray on it, and then eat it. Signs and wonders will appear, the genital debate will disappear, the things of earth will grow strangely dim, and we’ll realize, my dear siblings, that the kingdom of God is really, truly at hand.

  52. Vicky says

    I’ve always wanted to say I’m against gays. It’s what the bible says, it’s much easier to defend your view when it’s specifically quoted in the scriptures. However, I just can’t. I just watched “For the Bible tells me So” and I highly recommend everyone sees it. One thing that really stuck out for me is the difference between what the bible reads and what the bible actually says. People who blindly quote scripture to defend their homophobic views aren’t looking into the context of when the bible was written. We don’t even have to put the bible aside, we simply need to dig deeper. These days we have the good old world wide web right at our fingertips and ignorance isn’t a legit excuse anymore.

  53. says

    adam, i’m going to do my part to get you 200+ comments on this entry with some copy and paste on some stuff i posted on my blog couple weeks ago. call me cynical, but i don’t see many people wiggling on this one so we really need to focus on what we can agree on. and this isn’t just “Christians”. i think we’re perpetuating this myth that the majority of folks that are against this are Christians. that’s just not true because practically everyone in this country identifies themselves under the nebulous nominalism of Christianity. people are simply tied – for various reasons – to the meaning and definition of marriage.

    from this post: http://eugenecho.wordpress.com/2008/11/24/church-gay-marriage-and-prop-8/

    1. Everyone has an agenda. Let’s be honest. The Church has an agenda and the Gay Community has an agenda. When people speak about the influence of Christians, consider the influence of the Gay Community. The example I gave: How many Asian males are represented in Hollywood Primetime currently [2 - Hero and Lost] and compare that to the number of gay characters. It’s neither good nor bad but a simple statement to say, “We all have an agenda.” We’re all trying to convert people.
    2. The Church is guilty of hypocrisy but it does not mean that the Church can’t say anything about sexuality and sexual beauty and depravity. If no one but perfectly consistent people can say anything, who can say anything?
    3. The Church must apologize for many things. Many things.
    4. The Church must learn how to listen. We can hide in our churches, study diligently on our desks, and blog away but if we don’t know or learn how to listen, we can never even remotely come close to understanding the stories of others.
    5. The Bible does speak – ever so briefly – about homosexuality. But when it does, it speaks strongly. But, if we are honest about the Bible and what it says, it speaks contextually about homosexual behavior and not so much about identity which is what proponents of homosexuality often cite. And yes, it’s still confusing. But the Scriptures, in my opinion, do speak about God’s ethics of His created order which is what shapes my convictions.
    6. This is a human issue. Simply meaning, let’s not forget that this involves people. Everyone that showed up to the “gay dialogue” knew someone – a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend, or a neighbor that is gay. Couple gay people also were present and contributed much for many to ponder about. Remember: this isn’t an issue, it’s about people with real feelings. Even if your views differ from those in the gay community, be respectful.
    7. Let’s not underestimate the role and power of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. We can’t change people. We teach, communicate, lead, guide, shepherd, love, rebuke, edify, etc. but ultimately, the Holy Spirit is at work.
    8. The word I keep coming back to is “reconciliation.” Isn’t that the heart of what we are called to as Christians? To be ministers of reconciliation? What does that look like? It’s an immensely complex issue with many, many layers. Which leads me to the question, “Can folks who stand in opposition on Prop 8 still be in community together?”

  54. says

    Adam,

    i like the idea but i would fear being preached at. I feel like i might become someone’s little ‘evangelism project’. How do we have open dialogue? Like i said above, those who have their views pinned down do not want to be open to change. The views become expressed like a mantra. WHERE DO WE REALLY GET TO AND WHAT ULTIMATELY GETS ACCOMPLISHED?

    EP

  55. says

    Adam,

    If by “God’s children” you mean that all humans were created by God in his own image for his own pleasure, I agree. If you mean that all humans are what Scripture refers to as the called/followers of the way/children of God/saints, then God says “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). He also says “anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9).

    Notice how Paul pulls grace (something you obviously value as do I) and sin together in the cross:

    “Grace to you and peace from… the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age… If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:3-9)

  56. Marc says

    My observation is that ones experience (or lack thereof) can greatly affect their viewpoint on this subject. I highly recommend that folks see the movie (For the Bible Tells Me So) and see how real people’s lives are affected.

  57. says

    thanks Adam – your post is very well put – I have often thought about how it is possible to hold the Bible in higher regard than God Himself, using it to justify behaviour that God or Jesus would never themselves justify.

  58. says

    I’m sure with over 70 comments, you may very well not read this, and others may do as I did after about 50 and just skim over it. But I wanted to say something. It truly is a strawman argument that you present here. At times, it is not that bad, but the presentation of Christians who believe–in line with the historic, Christian community–that homosexuality is indeed a sin, is a presentation of people who are hateful, judgmental, unloving and inexperienced. While I’m sure there are plenty who are that way–including myself very readily–I know there are plenty who aren’t. Am I hateful, judgmental, unloving and inexperienced to denounce something like pederasty as sin? Where’s that in the Bible? Yet we all agree that there’s something wrong with it.

    Just because we call something a sin doesn’t mean there is hatred of persons involved. I see my failures and shortcomings and long for change (considering those things in my as sinful), yet I don’t hate myself. I see the sins of my wonderful wife, but I certainly don’t hate her. And yes, I consider my lesbian aunt and her girlfriend to be sinners, yet she is one of my favorite people in my family. I have a homosexual coworker, and I spend more time talking with him than anyone else where I work, yet I still consider it sin (furthermore, he knows how I feel, and he still chooses to confide in me and ask my thoughts on spiritual subjects). My wife’s boss has a partner of 25 years, and we all get along wonderfully, even though they both know exactly where we stand on the issue. To watch my wife and her boss embrace and chat away like teenage girls, knowing they disagree on such a major issue is refreshing.

    I say all this for the important point–you can consider something a sin, believe the Bible, and still not hate, judge, fear, etc., people who are in whatever sinful lifestyle they may be in. My father’s an alcoholic, and I hate that he’s drinking his life away, but I love him like mad (isn’t alcoholism on pretty shaky grounds biblically, by your standards?). I can overlook the false dichotomies of Bible vs. experience, Bible vs. Jesus (which is a weird one, for sure), and prejudice vs. acceptance for the moment, but the constant painting of conservatives as hateful and unloving, judgmental people who’ve never met a homosexual is something that MUST stop. After all, how loving and non-judgmental is it to paint people with that broad brush stroke?

    • says

      @Alan – thank you for pointing out that there are many people who, while still believing homosexuality to be a sin, have relationships with people in the LGBT community. I think that’s important to remember and I should have been more clear about my appreciation for that in the post. However, I still believe there are many people who hold these same beliefs so strongly who have never had any contact with anyone who is gay.

      And I have many friends who fit into this category too – so it’s not that I’m ignorant to this fact. It just wasn’t one of the driving points of the post.

  59. says

    Adam,

    I’m not sure you remember me, but, when McLaren came to Princeton, I tagged along and went to the bar with the cohort. At one point, I asked you to pass the popcorn, and you told me that I could get some at the bar. I was hurt, but, alas, I have since forgiven you. No worries. (Please know that I’m totally joking, but I thought you might just remember me).

    Anyway, thanks for engaging this passage. I don’t think I am in that place yet (or ever will be), where I could agree with you (even though I often wish I could). However, I think it is important for all of us to remember that we must learn to disagree well. I don’t think this issue is as black-and-white as some have made it. I don’t think it is the “number one issue,” as many of our conservative brothers and sisters have done. I have done the research (original language and the like), and I ended up on the other side. But God bless this conversation, and God bless you, even if we don’t share the same beliefs (or don’t share the same popcorn…hahaha!).

  60. says

    Wow.

    So many comments. And for the most part respectful.

    My turn.

    I hear you when you say “put the Bible aside for a while”. You’re not saying throw it out – you’re saying that it’s getting in the way. I agree. It’s important that we be able to be in community with each other. Our whole purpose is to evangelize – not just to the “unwashed” who are just hearing about Christ, but also to those who have already heard. When the Bible stops being a door and becomes a wall, it’s time to find a new way. Ignore the wall-shaped Bible, go around it, and come back to the door-shaped Bible that is on the other side.

    I also hear you saying something like “If you’re using the Bible to beat others with, PUT IT DOWN!” Too often we’re guilty of using God’s word to beat up others rather than to raise them up. It’s not only a sin to do that, in today’s post-Christendom world it’s completely ineffective. We’ve reached the point where “believe this OR ELSE” is not gonna work. We have to fall back to something that we can both say and feel good about, like “I believe this, you can too”. (I’m not even going to talk about “believe this and you’ll get rich”.) And you’re right about idolatry of the Bible. If your answer to any question is “the Bible says so” then you aren’t worshiping God. You’re worshiping a book. God is bigger than the book that humans have created and molded. I cringe when I hear people say that the answers to any question are in the Bible. I seriously doubt that we’d have cured any disease other than leprosy or food poisoning if we took that approach.

    For me the big question is hospitality. How do we treat those who are strangers? How do we treat people who are not like us, who believe different things (slightly or majorly), who disagree? Do we treat them as equals from whom we may learn something? Or do we treat them as a threat, who might try to change us? (NOTE: that works BOTH ways. We have to trust the Spirit to guide BOTH people in the right direction.)

    I agree that experience is important. There’s no way that I would agree with you about homosexuality if experience wasn’t involved – my parents and church did enough to teach me the opposite. It was only through my experience of meeting people at church but not at MY church (people like Michael Adee and his predecessors at PLGC) that I realized that the lies and stereotypes that my parents had taught me were false.

    So my big question (and I suspect yours at the moment) is this: Is the church (little c, but I mean denomination) able to hold people who disagree on such weighty subjects as this? Can they function together with mutual respect and love? If the answer is yes, then we have hope. If the answer is no, then I’m not sure what I’m doing in the PC(USA). As one who is Reformed (and therefore Reforming), I believe that constant contact with people and ideas that are different than mine is required for spiritual growth both in myself and my church.

    • says

      @Mark Smith: to attempt to answer your last question…yes, I think that is my hope as well. And I feel like I’ve seen it happen and heard about churches who were pretty evenly split conservative/liberal, who were still able to be a place of vibrant mission and ministry. In my own context now doing ministry, my church is far from unanimous on this issue – yet it’s not tearing us apart…

      So perhaps it’s possible. Yet there are other times when I think about this question and have to answer….”No – I don’t think it’s possible for some…”

      But I do want to try to be more hopeful than cynical…

  61. says

    Adam, I appreciate your candidness in this post. I would love for you to be this open in all your writings. It would make it much easier for people to recognize that you are not a Christian or a minister of the Gospel. As it is now, you likely deceive many people, most notably yourself.

    Sanctify them in the truth. Thy word is truth.

    • says

      @Brandon – There have been many comments from people in this thread who disagree with me but have done so with humility and an open spirit. There is simply no conversation to be had when someone makes the type of accusations you make.

  62. Mike F. says

    When there is so much debate around a subject calling us to examine more closely our values the final litmus test for Christians must be, “what is the most loving course of action?”, “what way is the most loving way?”

    The very heart of Christ’s call to all people is to love one another. If asked as a Christian to summarize what I believe in one or two sentences this would be one of the sentences I would choose.

    Even if your faith or your scholarship has led you to a diffent conclusion than that of those who favor full inclusion of GLBT people at all levels of Christian (or secular)life doesn’t it give you pause to know there are others who feel so strongly in opposition? Is there no doubt at all that you might be wrong? And, if you are wrong, what is the cost of your position to the well being of others? What is the value or payoff TO YOU of being right about what you consider is the sinful nature of sexual expression in the lives of gays and lesbians that makes it so worth holding that position? What is the VALUE you express in condemning a particular sexual expression of love?

    We in America, in our secular courts, have adopted the generous “innocent until proven guilty” standard of justice. It is in fact, by my assessment, a most loving standard that is one of the things about my country that has me be most proud.

    No one will ever be able “to prove” that sexual expression of gay love is wrong. It is not a mathematical principle or law of physics that lends itself to the most rigorous standards of truth telling. It is instead a choice we make about what to believe.

    It is a choice some of us make about who is less than ourselves and how we justify that choice. It is not generous nor is it loving in any way that I understand love.

  63. says

    Hi Adam,

    I have been a part of too many of these online conversations on this topic within my own denomination to have the patience to read the comments above, so this is purely a comment of personal support for you. I too have concluded that the hermeneutical wrangling on this (and other issues, like ordination of women) is a dead end strategy, leaving participants on either side simply more firmly convinced of their own position rather than with an appreciation or understanding of the other. In that sense I think your basic point in this post is entirely right. A new kind of conversation is needed. Initiating that new kind of conversation means not just avoiding the old useless one but being willing to put yourself out there in a vulnerable way, and I also see that in this post. Thanks for the example.

  64. says

    Adam – I think it would be better if Christians seek out those relationships in settings where gays are already present for the purpose of open dialog and education – for example, many places have PFLAG groups (parents and friends of lesbians and gays), that’s a good place to hear people’s stories and my experience with our local PFLAG group was very positive – I was completely honest about why I was there and who I was and what my background was and they were very accepting of my motives and open with conversation. In fact, that reminds me, I need to make an effort to get back to a meeting soon.

    • says

      @Rachel L – Thanks for reminding us of 1,000 Conversations. I think that looks like a really helpful resource for Presbyterians – though I’m aware that there are a ton of readers of this blog who aren’t Presbyterian. I wonder if there is a similar type of effort that could be put together for others. It seems that there are a few people in this discussion thread who may be interested in doing something like that. Perhaps it should happen within organizations that already provide opportunities for discussions (like Makeesha mentions re: PFLAG) or perhaps some new avenues are needed. I’m not sure.

  65. Rachel says

    I really liked the part where you said we should be seeking to follow Christ, not the Bible in itself. We know that the origins of the writings of the Bible are uncertain, and that everything in that book was written by a person who was influenced in part by his/her time, place and culture. It’s not an unbiased, clear-cut document. We have to try to interpret what God is really saying, pushing through the murkiness of the words. The best way to figure that out, I think, is by looking to Jesus. Again, not taking the gospels super literally (we know that they were written after the fact anyway!), but seeking to understand what was in Christ’s heart as expressed through the entire body of his life and teaching. I think I’m not expressing myself as clearly as I’d like, but my main point is Good Job Adam!

  66. says

    Wow, Brandon. Who died and made you judge of the universe? My mom always told me that when I pointed a finger at someone else (index OR middle) I was pointing at least three other fingers back at myself. So are YOU a Christian, or a minister of the Gospel? Because honestly, I can’t tell based on your comment above.

  67. says

    interesting, definitely gave me a lot to think about.

    here is my question though, in your post and in many of the comments jesus’ radical love and inclusion is referenced a lot (which i agree with). but it seems that we would have to not include those things if “we are having enough with the bible” since that is what you are basing your post on. just a thought.

    thanks for putting yourself out there. i will check out that film, i heard about it.

  68. says

    Adam, thank you for your support. I wanted to encourage you by saying that while this issue – you know, we gays, – is a BIG issue for some people – and you are reading all the anger and strange reactions here – for so many of us – we have just moved on. We are living with our partners or as singles the best we can; we are trying to reach out to those who are being hurt by all this stuff; we are going to our little parades, wearing tight pants, and enjoying this good life we have been given. Some of us have even found churches we can stand. The most important thing about you and your post is that it sends a clear messages to those gay youth around you: you’re safe – you’re for them – you will be their pastor too. And what an amazing thing for them to know.

  69. says

    “I really liked the part where you said we should be seeking to follow Christ, not the Bible in itself.”

    As Doug Pagitt would say: wow. wow. wow. just wow.

  70. says

    I am increasingly interested in Tim Snyder’s idea. Do you think there would be much interest in setting up some kind of website where people who wanted to have coffee with someone who is gay could find someone in their geographic area. I don’t really know how it would work – but the idea keeps popping into my head. I feel like we could certainly find enough people who are Christian and hold a more conservative viewpoint who would be interesting in having that conversation, but I wonder if there would be as many trusting LGBT folk to put themselves in that vulnerable position of being asked to share their story with a stranger…? But isn’t that what I’m talking about in this post? Getting the chance for those who really don’t know (or think they know) any gay people to be able to have those conversations that could lead to a change in belief.

    Adam, I have always been open and available to any idea that holds the possibility for creating relationship and bridging divisions among people, especially among those of us, gay and straight who share in the grace of God through Christ. Iced espresso for me.

  71. says

    Adam – Wow, I’m surprised you wrote back to all of us. You give your blog much more time than I give mine. I had two thoughts as I was reading your response:

    1) All I’m willing to say on the issue is that a sexual relationship with someone of the same gender is not biblically permissible. I can’t say “homosexuality is wrong,” because that is far too clumsy a statement. It’s quite difficult to deny that there is some sort of genetic predisposition to same-sex attraction and it’d be foolish to call a genetic predisposition wrong. Further, I find a lot of the talk of a “homosexual lifestyle” or “homosexual behavior” to be more unhelpful than anything else. At worst, it’s demeaning to our gay brothers and sisters and at best it distracts from the essential point. Further, I would argue that we should allow gay couples to have all the same rights and privileges enjoyed by heterosexual married couples. And it doesn’t really matter to me what we call it. As far as I’m concerned, the biblically-significant aspect of marriage is entirely based in the church so I don’t really give a rip what the government says about it. I’m not a citizen of the USA, but of the Kingdom of Heaven. Further, since the USA claims to be a nation that believes all people are equal, I think we should allow gay couples to have the same legal rights as straight couples.

    Simply put, I’m with you on the discrimination thing when it comes to same-sex marriage and a general dislike for how the issue is discussed on the right side of the political and religious spectrum.

    2) However, as others have said, I can’t get around Romans 1. Or the entire biblical theme of a sexual relationship as being something God designed exclusively for men and women as the highest level of physical intimacy between human beings. There are obvious proof-texts that can be cited and I think there’s some validity to that approach, but I think the bigger issue is that biblically there seems to be this concept that men and women are created to compliment each other and to help each other understand how Christ relates to his people (hence the constant image of the church as the bride of Christ). If we have that in the background, I think Paul’s words in Romans 1 make much more sense.

    There’s a deeper issue here as well that gets into a much larger debate (and I know we can’t do justice to the whole thing in a blog meta, but we can touch on it briefly). While it is true that God reveals himself in creation – general revelation – that knowledge only gets us so far. General revelation can give me a sense of brokenness, but it can’t give me the full story of sin and redemption. I can look at the world and see some of the things our nation has done in recent years and say, “that’s wrong.” Or I can see a friend lie about a test for class and say, “that’s wrong.” I can even look at my own behavior and see instances where I behaved improperly.

    But all that leaves me with is moralism. And whether it’s liberal moralism – “Recycle, fight for the rights of minorities, protest war,” or conservative moralism, “Don’t drink, vote Republican, own a gun,” they’re ultimately the same thing. Both are offering me a code of behavior that I have to follow to live a good life. But like I said before, this doesn’t help me in the long-term. I’ll just keep swapping moralisms until I realize they’re all the same and all are ultimately dead ends, and then I’ll either become George Carlin – jaded beyond all reason – or Ernest Hemingway – I’d get a shotgun and say, “I’m done.”

    What I need then is a way out of moralism. I need to hear about the true extent of sin, that it’s not just that I do sin, but that I am sinful. At my core, I’m broken. Then I need to hear about God’s grace shown to humanity, free of charge, poured out on our behalf by Jesus on the cross. I need to hear about how his act of sacrifice inaugurates the Kingdom of God and how in this new kingdom we sacrifice our rights, we give ourselves away through acts of enemy-love, and we rejoice in the gospel every day, lest we return to the moralism that characterized us before.

    And the only place I’m going to hear about sin and grace in those terms is the Bible. I’m not getting that from general revelation, no matter how spectacularly beautiful that general revelation might be.

    OK, sorry, that got unbelievably long, if you don’t read it all, I don’t blame you.

    peace,
    ~jake

  72. says

    Adam, great post… and great comments. This seems to be an intense topic for religious and non-religious… spiritual and non-spiritual folks. One sentence way up the line caught my attention… “The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin.” I am not so sure about that. The bible says a lot of things. As a theology professor of mine once said, a lot of ‘stuff’ is biblical, but is it scriptural? That is, does it move from simply being a biblical narrative to something that has authority over our lives, thus becoming scriptural? In at least one OT instance on the topic, the image of pederasty… a somewhat abusive relationship between men and young boys… is lifted up. This image is quite different from a loving relationship between two people… gay or straight. So… have we now turned genuine, authentic, Christologically oriented love into sin? It seems to me that things like race, color, age, sex, marital status, or sexual orientation have absolutely nothing to do with one’s capacity to love God or to be loved by God. Or, for that matter, to love their neighbor.

    As Christians, we claim to follow Jesus… I find it very interesting that Jesus never once, to my knowledge, discussed the topic of Homosexuality in his teachings… perhaps we should take that perspective seriously. It seems to me that he focused, ‘occasionally,’ on love… love of God…love of ‘neighbor’… and love of oneself. I suppose the choice is ours… will we choose to love all of creation as we have been shown, or will we choose to condemn people and perspectives that are outside of those things that we hold to be scriptural in our own lives. I suppose that this is a complex theological topic that won’t soon be resolved within our time on this orb. To me, love, peace, mutual respect, and, grace rule the day…not condemnation and anger… both of which are typically birthed out of fear…

    One of the greatest sentences I have ever read…
    “If it is truly the Bible that is causing some to hold these discriminatory beliefs, then perhaps we need to set the Bible aside for awhile. Perhaps we need to not construct a belief system about LGBT folk built on the foundation of a couple verses in scripture. Perhaps that isn’t healthy, fair, just or Christian.”
    This sentence carries a number of topics, not just the current one.

  73. says

    @Meade

    I don’t think the implication is to pit Scripture against love, but a specific understanding of the function of Scripture and using it in ways that are clearly unloving. That’s the issue. It’s not that the text itself is bad, it’s the use that is at stake here. If you have a loaded gun, it can protect you from death, or it can kill you just the same depending how you use it. In this case, the issue is about those who choose to use it as an instrument of violence against others. And note that I am very general with the focus on my posts and comments unless I make a point to be ad hominem, so I am not saying at all that you would even share this view or implement scripture in this manner.

  74. andrew says

    amen adam

    put those bibles on the shelf. you know this same thing was used against the mormons when they wanted to practice polygamy. the whole man and woman leaving his father and mother and one flesh stuff, too bad there wasn’t someone to make an emotional appeal to folks via media back in those days. can you believe christians actually helped to deny polygamsts the right to marry? and the same can be said about man/boy love. I mean why should we step in and tell nambla who to love? who are we to say really when the appropriate age is for someone to experience love? the term “peodophile” is simply a christian code-word of hate directed toward those men who love (really love) boys. and yet these couples are persecuted by society at large because of our common standards of decency. and then you’ve got people are who are attracted to and love (don’t forget that word .. love) their own siblings. and once again there’s a hateful codeword (incest) attached to that. after all, the bible says precious little, about incest (even less than it does about homosexuality!) and there’s nothing in the new testament or the words of jesus about it. so if a brother and a sister, a brother and a brother, or a sister and a sister want to love one another in a special way, why do we have to be so hateful toward them? hopefully your call to shelf the bible for a while and get to know these people and their stories will not just stop with the gays, hopefully all “life-choices” will be accepted on the basis of LOVE and not judgement. because we know that jesus was all about love and said nothing of judgement or sin.

    right guys.

    right?

  75. Jason says

    My objection goes thus far unacknowledged by the author. I re-post it here:

    To say that the logic of your writing is facile would be an understatement. The position you take: (1) is not recognizably Christian, since no Christian makes arguments without recourse to Scripture – and unless you’d like to remove Leviticus and Romans from the canon, you must account for even these “very few select verses”; (2) is not open-minded, since it refuses to account for the good arguments made by your opponents (as opposed simply to dismissing the bad ones, as you do); (3) is boring, since it more or less recapitulates the Zeitgeist.

  76. says

    It’s interesting that people who are saying things like, “The Bible is clear…” typically don’t bother explaining how it is clear.

    It needs to be said: anything in Leviticus is not clear for us today. I shaved my face this morning, I had pepperoni on a pizza lastnight, and I’m wearing at least three different materials today. I’m an abomination according to Leviticus. Leave it out of the discussion.

    Someone already pointed out that Sodom is not about homosexuality, and it’s easy to argue whether Romans is referring to homosexual lust (which is certainly equal with heterosexual lust) or homosexuality. Not clear.

    The fact is: Scripture is not clear. I think it’s fine for us to have differing positions on whether or not homosexuality is a sin because it is unclear.

    But because it’s not clear from Scripture, I think it is essential that, if one holds homosexuality to be sin, one must hold that position lightly. Maybe that’s another way of saying enough with the Bible on this issue. It is unacceptable for one’s view on homosexuality to be a litmus test of one’s faith, of one’s fidelity to orthodox Christianity, solid hermeneutics, or anything else that is being thrown around in various online circles in the last month or so.

    Further, it is unacceptable to allow the position to put any wedge between us and unconditional acceptance of people. It is ridiculously clear in Scripture and everything else about the nature of God that he is on the side of the outcast and is against those who cause people to be outcasts. Even if you are one who thinks it is clear that homosexuality is a sin, you can say that Jesus tells people to “go and sin no more” based on the one occurrence of that phrase, but then you have to give the poor everything you have based on the one occurrence of that phrase.

  77. Rob says

    Adam, well done at presenting the problem, namely that Christians who support a historical perspective on the sinfulness of homosexual action are not very goo at caring for and loving the homosexual person. I have been arguing from the conservative perspective in my denomination PC(USA) who is wrestling with this issue right now. I find that I often have more to argue about with others who share my perspective on Scrpture, than those who disagree with me on what the Bible says.

    The comment I have is that perhaps rather than ignoring the Bible, or “putting it up on the shelf” we do exactly as you say and sek the whole testimony of the Bible, holding the tension of the Jesus who is adically inclusive of people and violently angry at sin.

    May we grow out of our liberal and conservative titles and grow into those “holy and dearly loved” clothed in “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Col 3:12)

  78. says

    Thanks for the thought provoking post, Adam!

    Scripture is clear. It’s just that we for some reason have difficulty engaging that sacred narrative in ways that legitimately articulate it’s purpose. It’s better to aggressively reclaim those texts than it is to abandon them. As you note, doing so requires that you have an interpretive framework with deeper legitimacy than that of literalism. My own two cents on the subject are here, should you be moved to give ‘em a peek:

    http://pastorstrangelove.blogspot.com

  79. says

    Adam, over the years, I have truly enjoyed your honest thinking, creative ideas and the talented ways that you express them. Between Tony, Newsweek, and being a citizen of the world, I find myself thinking even more on this important discussion. Thank you for the continued thought that has led to further reading, deeper conversation, and soul-searching.
    A couple things:
    – Truly, I appreciate the post and the heart behind it and I feel that I understand the point that you are making.
    – There are far too many people using the Bible as a weapon and that is not acceptable. May God judge each of us.
    – Whether you are using hyperbole or not, I think some need to “read the Bible with new eyes” (as wise men have said) and for some, they need to actually read it. There’s a lot of love in there that we tend to overlook and for me, it’s that message that allows me to love “the other” (not to mention my own self-acceptance).
    – That said, I do not agree with the conclusion. This grieves me because I know that hurts people, which in turn, hurts me. May the GLBT community (and everyone else) not consider me an enemy but a loving friend. You are in my prayers, conversations and conscience a great deal.
    – On a side note and as previously mentioned by the many others, this is certainly one of my favorite parts of the emergent conversation – that we can disagree and still love. It looks cheesy to read on a blog post comment field but given our 40000 independent denominations, we should probably work on our unity as well.

  80. says

    Thank you, Adam, for posting this. You were instrumental in creating a 180 degree turn in my own thoughts on this topic. I think we were asking similar questions at about the same time a number of years ago. I know that in my own church, I can’t imagine life without my LGBT brothers and sisters.

  81. S McKee says

    I don’t think we shouldn’t listen to the Bible at all when it comes to “sinful” behavior. I mean who we to judge people living in adulterous relationships or having affairs or that are sleeping around they can’t help it. They need sex from many partners that’s they way they’re made. And how about alcoholics that’s disease it’s not a sin! Or what about gossip or telling lies or taking the Lord’s name in vain or stealing we just can’t help it, how can it be wrong? What about pedophiles they should be included too, it’s not their fault. You’re right! I’m putting my Bible on the shelf where it will collect all kinds of dust. The church should accept me for me I shouldn’t have to change for anyone! Jesus said that right?

  82. says

    Adam,

    Thank you for a well reasoned and heart-felt post :”Enough with the Bible”

    The problem of course, isn’t with the Bible, but with the interpretation that imposes a societal prejudice on texts that were not meant to address contemporary Christian people who are LGBT . We did exactly the same with people of color and women. We finally got over those prejudices (largely) and we need to do the same with our LGBT bias.

    Peace and strength,

    Jack Rogers

  83. Pastor E says

    “Did God really say ‘ If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman both of them have done what is detestable.’ ? ”
    The word is too narrow, too confining. God made you the way you are.
    “You will not surely die.”

    Seems to me like Eve had a ssssimilar conversation with a certain sssserpent. She also just could not understand why the Lord would discriminate against one particular tree in a garden filled with so many choices. She also choose to put God’s words aside for awhile, while she embraced the lust of her flesh. That which was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and desirable. Have we forgotten how that worked out.
    Oh, I forgot, you were putting “the bible aside for awhile.” You‘ve had; “enough with the Bile already”. “Stop confronting us with the word of God!” The last quote was not yours but the Lord God‘s from His word. Your philosophy, you see, is nothing new, nothing revolutionary, but the same old lies, same old deceitful schemes. Man’s attempt to justify his deviant sinful behavior, before a Righteous and Holy God.
    Just how many times must God say do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, …in order for it to be a sin? God says that Homosexuality is a sin. Does it matter if He said it once, twice, or three thousand times. It is not the only sin, it is not even the unpardonable sin, but it is a sin! Would you also have us grant special rights to everyone who wishes to practice their deviant, sinful nature? Must we also embrace the sinful life style of those practicing bestiality, child molesting, the murderer, the thief, …?

    “No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.” “…He who does what is sinful is of the devil,…” “ …the wages of sin is death,…” Sorry, but I keep going back to His word! Because, you see He and He only has the words of life! Just because someone misuses His word, or because you do agree with it, or you don’t like what it says, it is still The Word of God Almighty. And to disregard it is to abandon all hope. For only God alone can tell us what pleases Him and show us how we might be saved from an eternal bath in the lake of fire.
    All sin, including homosexuality, enslaves those who practice it. They are caught in a snare. Their worst enemy has taken them captive to do his will. They will never be satisfied, but will be dragged away, with a continual lust for more. Never content, never satisfied, never finding happiness or fulfillment.
    Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
    Hey, there is good news though! You see Jehovah is pro-choice. You can choose to live your life any way that you please! You can choose to “put the bible ( God’s word ) aside for awhile” in-fact, you may put His word aside for the rest of your time here on earth if you so choose. He gives you that choice. However God has spoken, and His word will never pass away. That is to say that there is a judgment coming. A day when everyone will be judged for all the things that they have said and done. A resurrection, in which some will raise to eternal life and others to eternal damnation.
    I know; I‘ve been preaching, and I doubt that you’ll post this, but the Lord has anointed me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners. There is hope, there is healing, but it will not be found outside of the word of God – namely Jesus Christ. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
    I set before you now life and death, blessing and curses, now choose life,…

  84. Trent Williams says

    I like this quote from Simon Barrow:

    “Christian faith is inescapably rooted in biblical tradition. But the Bible isn’t a series of knock-down propositions. It is a set of living, dynamic, troubling, inspiring and disturbing accounts of the ways of God among wayward people across the centuries. For Christians its interpretative core is the Gospels. They are, by their nature, diverse rather than singular. They speak of a God of unutterable grace who, in Jesus, turns upside-down every expectation of the conventionally religious. In Christ nothing we thought we knew about God, the world or ourselves remains untransformed. But, as the New Testament records demonstrate, and as the communities that have been formed from it show, Christians have continued to disagree about the precise nature and impact of what God has declared in Christ. To be ‘biblical people’ involves recognising ourselves as part of this vital argument. It also requires us to engage vigorously (as the prophets did) with God in the contemporary world. In all this we are gloriously free. But we are also constrained by the Jesus whose concern was the last, the least and the lost; not the powerful, the sufficient and the self-righteous. For we are, finally, the people of a person, not a book. That is the living irony of ‘being biblical’. To come to terms with it requires openness and generosity, but also the discipline to be formed into a people focussed on what might be involved in being Christ-like.”

    For the Christian, the interpretive key to the Scripture has always been Jesus. And as the text says, as much as you do it to the least of these, you do it to me. So maybe Adam is right that we need to the set the text aside for a little while and go find Jesus in the presence of the other person, the person whose life we’re debating over. This isn’t just some academic exercise in who’s got the right interpretation of the Bible–this is about real people. And it’s precisely in those real lives that we encounter Christ.

  85. says

    Wow. Reading this comments thread has been one of the more frightening things I’ve done in a while. It wouldn’t bother me so much if the people who wrote this stuff didn’t claim to be Christians… but they do. I’ve heard the Word of God treated terribly, God’s direct statements ignored, the grammatical/historical (or literal if you will) hermeneutic mocked, sin called good, and good called sin.

    God have mercy on us.

  86. says

    “Christians need to look more to Christ than to the Bible.”

    Help me understand what you mean by this. What we know of Christ comes from the Bible. How is it possible then to throw away or disregard those parts of scripture that we don’t like (or more precisely, that conflict with the current cultural p.o.v. on a given issue) and keep what we do like (those parts that sound appealing to the current culture)? Where does that leave the person who is looking to Christ for answers? If that becomes our collective view of scripture, how can we tell someone to trust the Bible with a straight face?

    Also, I think that this article makes an unwarranted assumption that anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin, and/or disagrees with gay marriage does so out of bigoted hate. It is one thing to believe that homosexuality is a sin–one sin among many–and that homosexuals need as much love and friendship as anyone else in sin. It is another thing altogether to act with hate and violence towards homosexuals.

    This article is a perfect example of the growing Christian paradox: One side claims that the other is arrogant because they adhere to the Bible and act as if they have all of the answers, then reacts with a possibly greater arrogance by claiming authority over the Bible, and suggesting that we do away with it.

  87. MKS says

    Efforts to approach this matter with kindness will help.

    It seems to me that the author is saying, “I value homosexuality so much that, if the Bible does indeed speak against it, perhaps we need to stop looking at the Bible awhile.”

    One could also, “I value the teaching of the Bible so much that, if it does indeed speak against homosexuality, perhaps we need to stop practicing acts of homosexuality awhile.”

    One may be born with homosexual desires, one may be trained into homosexual viewpoints. But no one should be compelled to practice homosex. We should deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus Christ.

  88. says

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

    Low view of scripture? How about trusting in Christ to save and change hearts and our charge to preach the Gospel?

  89. says

    I am just floored by the number of comments here comparing committed same sex relationships to murder, pedophilia, adultary and the like. Inherent all of these examples, are a victim and a perpetrator with profound harm occuring to the victim.

    Two committed adults (regardless of their gender) who love each other and commit to share their lives and create a family together in a healthy, loving way harm no one and, in fact, contribute to society in profound and meaningful ways.

    If we, as a culture, truly held to the standard of the bible word for word we would be regularly stoning to death children who disobeyed their parents and teenagers who rebeled. (That would be “purging the evil from among us”) Stew on that one for a while…

  90. says

    Ok…so let’s set the Bible aside and talk about Jesus inclusive nature. Though the only basis we have of Jesus is from…uh, the Bible. Gets a little shady. And what about that all inclusive, loving everyone just as they are, Jesus we have come to know and love. The words, “go and sin no more” come to mind. Jesus didn’t come to provide a permissive do as we please, continue on sinning, lifestyle we are all infatuated with. The came to free us from the contraints of natural consequences of sin. To realize and live a new life in Him. Would you arque for and encourage ‘wife-swapping’ between choir members in a church as a ‘lifestyle choice’ and argue that anything otherwise is not being inclusive?
    Back to the ‘throw the Bible out’ idea…I gave blood the other day; something many social justice fans neglect (whoping 9% partcipation among americans). As a fact, not opinion, if you have participated in any homosexul behavior, ever, no are not allowed to donate blood. That got me thinking. This isn’t some homophobic, family first, ultra-conservative agenda based movement to collect blood. This is our medical community being two faced. Encouraging the homosexual lifestyle on one hand and then rejecting them if they are living out that lifestyle on the most practical level. Talk about a revealing commentary on the truth of the consequences of this lifestyle.
    So the question is, did Jesus come to give us permission for our sinfulness, or a new life, lived in amazing freedom that only He brings.

  91. says

    I can empathize with you, but I don’t think we should ever say “enough with the Bible already.” Maybe we should suggest holding our readings of the Bible more lightly when they’re only supported by a minimal number of verses and tend to breed hate, because love should trump all the other commands in practice. But we can’t just set the Bible aside, because then we might as well ignore the things in there that are for love and inclusivity too. If there ever was a slippery slope, then setting the Bible aside instead of trusting that its true and that understanding it better will help us live and love better is it.

    I refuse to set the Bible aside because I believe it all holds together. We just have to prayerfully work on figuring out how it holds together, together.

  92. says

    Excellent post! When the words become an impediment to hearing The Word, it’s time to put the book down for a while. Excellent advice for all of us, actually. It is a useful reminder for those on both sides, particularly when we feel compelled to engage in everyone’s favorite pass time of dueling proof-texts at 10 paces.

  93. Pastor E says

    Unfortunately many feel that homosexuality is a victimless crime. That whatever consenting adults choose to do should be allowed, embraced, encouraged and even protected by special laws.

    But there is a victim! Those who sin sexually are sinning against their own bodies.
    Let no one deceive you! Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient! But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur!

    What loving parent fails to discipline their children when they are found doing something which will harm them or cause them grief? It would be foolish for the parent to embrace the child’s action, or to attempt to justify it because, “well no one got hurt” yet!

    It is a sad fact that we are seeing an entire generation coming up, who are lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to parents [and to the Lord] ungrateful…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power {and its authority over them} Primarily because parents failed to discipline and chose instead to embrace, and justify certain harmful behaviors.

    God loves us and warns us that these are harmful behaviors. That those who do these things will receive in themselves the due penalty. A loving God seeks to discipline and correct disobedience and behaviors, which if not corrected will result in Him having to punish those who disobey.

    Proper discipline applied in love, to “purge” evil behavior, prevents the need of stones.

    • to says

      Thank you for saying this. People live under the delusion that by saying that homosexuality is sin we are failing in our command to love. This is one of Satan’s better lies. Allowing gay marriage to pass into law unchallenged is not an act of love it’s pleasing the world instead of pleasing God. We as children of God should stand on God’s truth, which is in the bible. Since homosexuality is sin, homosexual marriage is an affirmation of sin and direct blasphemy against God. Marriage was God’s idea not man’s. And for those who love saying Jesus said nothing about homosexuality, He said plenty about marriage. In short that it is between a man and a woman. So those who call themselves Christians and support gay marriage are actually giving those in sin a push further down the path leading them to destruction. That is not God’s love, that is the world’s idea of love. I agree, God doesn’t force people to believe in Him. So the choice is up to every person to make. But you Adam in calling yourself a Christian are His witness. And in failing to state His truth, you are misleading the lost. To all those who agree with you remember this extremely important one thing: you are accountable to God. And if you affirm the sins of others and call it “love”, you may delude yourself and those around you, but you won’t delude God. Jesus didn’t need to talk about homosexuality, God already had. So know that if you continue in your world-pleasing actions, you will one day stand before the Jesus you so betray and He will tell you that He never knew you.

      There have been homosexual people in my life and I did not lie to them and say that their sin was okay because if I had I would not be loving them as Jesus loves me. Jesus convicts us of sin and makes it clear that we must repent of it and live in obedience to His commands. The God who loves us, judges us. So I will continue opposing gay marriage because I want to please God by doing what He commanded. Being a witness and representative of Him by loving those around me through speaking the truth. I won’t tell homosexuals or you what you want to hear. I am accountable to God. If one day He tells me I sinned against Him because I didn’t support gay marriage then I can live with that. But the God I serve does not contradict the bible. He affirms His own word. And I will continue to live by that word Adam. I’ll be praying for the homosexuals in this world. That they receive God’s salvation and live new lives in His truth. Jesus wasn’t a people pleaser and He wasn’t a coward; I won’t be either.

  94. says

    Thank you for seeing “For the Bible Tells Me So” and sharing your thoughts.
    It is believers like you that will help change the conversation and make others think. The gap needs to be bridged.

  95. andrew says

    well christina you may be floored by it but there’s no epistemic warrant according to the logic of the article for you to deny the following:

    incestuous relationships
    polygomous relationships
    man/boy relationships (after all, since there’s no real way to define truth who are you to say at what age a person can experience love. right? right)
    Relationships with animals

    I was watching the vid of the gay bishop and how he divorced his wife in order to find happiness for himself, and they made the man look like some sort of hero for being “honest” with himself.

    look, the only thing that bothers me about this entire situation is the fact that you all insist on pegging the term “christian” to your ideology. it’s clearly not christian, it’s not historical christianity, it’s not biblical christianity. you should call it something else but it’s not christian. you all have this view of jesus that he’s some mealy-mouthed peasant instead of the sovereign king of the universe who commands absolute obedience. it was jesus who destroyed the perverts in soddom and it is jesus who’s going to return and tread the winepress of the wrath of God. he will crush underfoot all perverts wether hetero or homo or Bi or whatever other label you want to pin on it. perhaps in a few years when you sweep the dust off of your bibles you can locate

    Revelation 21:8
    “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

    I know you don’t like it, but here jesus includes sexual immorality in the laundry list along with murderers and liars etc. this is not an exhaustive list of sins obviously but it seems those who promote this quasi-pomo-pseduo-christianity do not seem to understand what’s at stake.

    jesus knew.

    it’s a place called hell where people suffer under the wrath of god forever. perhaps you can explain to your gay friends why jesus has a markedly different opinion of their contribution to society than what you told them.

  96. says

    @Christian – There are many people and many reasons one cannot donate blood to Red Cross. i have Lyme Disease and will never be able to donate. i am a queer woman and do not have HIV/AIDS. Not everyone who has HIV/AIDS is gay.

    @Lezzymom – AMEN!

    @Pastor E, Andrew, and the entire human population of the earth, think about the following quote from a post on my blog:

    “Even given what human imperfection can cost us, how much more do we lose when we allow our pride to convince us that we can know enough to tell another person what God’s will is for their life? How much beauty do we destroy in our crusade to prevent the sins and errors of others?” by Eugene at Paradoxy

    http://www.existentialpunk.com/existential_punk/2008/12/i-just-found-this-new-site-called-sisterfriends-together-and-on-the-blogroll-found-the-blog-paradoxy-the-author-is-just-a-ch.html

    i think this quote SPEAKS VOLUMES.

    Happy Holidays and best wishes to everyone.

    Warm regards,
    EP

  97. andrew says

    ex punk:
    Even given what human imperfection can cost us, how much more do we lose when we allow our pride to convince us that we can know enough to tell another person what God’s will is for their life? How much beauty do we destroy in our crusade to prevent the sins and errors of others”

    do you realize what’s being said here? the premise is that god cannot speak to man and communicate clearly what his standards are. yet in the same breath folks with this position will then foist upon us a clear definition of what love is (which in your context always means “don’t judge my behavior) on what basis do you get this definition of love? on what basis do you get your picture of christ? on what basis do you say someone is being proud? on what basis do we judge which relationships are “beautiful” and who is being “destructive’? you see? you can’t have it both ways. if there is no way for us to know the standards of the holiness of God, then there’s no basis for any of the above.

    the fact of the matter is we do know the truth. your conscience tells you it is so, and just like romans says you are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, and just like romans 1 says, you are surrounding yourself with folks who approve of the same.

    one of my brothers confessed to me recently that he has been indulging in porn. I told him that it was wicked and evil simply because that’s what God’s word calls it. I also told him of the forgiveness and power over sin that the true love and grace that christ offers. by god’s grace this man is living in freedom from that sin. according to your definition of love I should have just said “hey I can’t judge your actions, I can’t know what god’s will for your life is. maybe you were born a porn-addict and maybe this is something beautiful that I don’t dare to destroy”

    and he would have been a slave, and if he would have continued in it he would have died and went to hell.

  98. says

    insisting the world is flat…
    treating women as second class citizens…
    kicking scientists like Galileo and Copernicus out of the church….
    burning “witches” at the stake…
    rejecting the translation and distribution of the bible…
    supporting slavery…
    rejecting evolution…
    insisting interracial marriages are sinful…
    insisting homosexuality is sinful…

    These are mistakes by people who cling to primitive understanding rather than letting the LIVING word of God speak. Reading this list of mistakes should make anyone think twice about limiting the word of God to a specific cultural interpretation.

    When our theology conflicts with what we learn about reality through investigation and experience (i.e. science), we don’t bend reality to fit our flawed understanding. Instead, we should repent and rethink our theology.

  99. chris says

    It’s interesting that the Holy Spirit appears only four times throughout the 143 posts. Perhaps a return to/recovery of discernment literature within the Protestant faith is something that can help us approach this question and the question of reading and exegeting Scripture. The gift of the Spirit is precisely that, let’s not return it or tuck it away in some hamper.

  100. says

    @existential punk – you stated: “There are many people and many reasons one cannot donate blood to Red Cross. i have Lyme Disease and will never be able to donate. i am a queer woman and do not have HIV/AIDS. Not everyone who has HIV/AIDS is gay.”
    The observation I made was that there is irony in the medical community condoning and encouraging a lifestyle that disqualifies a person from donating blood. If you were disease free, but admitted to being a homosexual you would not be allowed to donate. Why? Obviously there are people of all walks of life with diseases which disqualify them from the ability to donate. But homosexuality automatically disqualifies you from donating, even if you are disease free. Is it based on the risk of the behavior associated with the lifestyle? Since then I have been having numerous conversations with my mother, a hospice nurse, who works intimately with many homosexuals caring for them. She admits that almost all are dieing due to their lifestyle. Help me understand your thinking and perspective. I’m not judging, I’m just raising questions I have with double standards occurring outside of any ‘church’ agenda.

  101. says

    The reasons for rejecting what the Bible says about homosexuality listed above, like “the Bible supports slavery” etc are tired, old, worn and wrong. The Bible speaks against sin, all sin, including the sin of homosexual practice. It’s no worse than immoral heterosexual behavior, such as fornication outside of marriage, but it is still a sin. Old Testament, New Testament both say this and it is pretty clear. Throw the Bible out! You got to be joking, but sadly, you’re not The Presbyterian Church did that pretty much when it took the position that the Bible contains the Word of God and that it is not the complete Word of God, without error when it speaks to matters of faith and doctrine.

    Earl Tilford

  102. Pastor Bob says

    First, congrats! You made Presbyweb!

    Leaving all comments on the Bible aside, I want to respond to one small comment in your post:

    “I became increasingly upset that there are people in this world (primarily Christians) who think our gay and lesbian friends should not be allowed to marry, adopt children, have the same rights as straight people or be ordained to follow calls to ministry.”

    I suggest that this comment may be true for the crowd you (and I) travel in but out there in the rest of the world beyond North America and Europe there is very little debate. Homosexual behavior is wrong and homosexuals too often are put to death. Check Africa, the Muslim world and the Hispanic world.

    I’m not arguing that these parts of the world are correct, just that Christians in the USA, Canada and Europe are having the debate. The rest of the world isn’t talking about it, except in relation to the USA, Canada and Europe.

    Now I know you were responding to a movie but I wanted to point out that there is a big world out there besides what we usually call the “West.”

    Pastor Bob

  103. says

    I can’t believer I read, “I became increasingly upset that there are people in this world (primarily Christians) who think our gay and lesbian friends should not be allowed to marry, adopt children, have the same rights as straight people or be ordained to follow calls to ministry.” If you think Christians are tough on gay how many open and welcoming Mosques are there in the US let alone the rest of the world.

    I think the “personal” aspect of a close friend announcing their lifestyle is a major catalyst for everyone around them to rethink their views. IMHO this is what moved Jack Rodgers from a strong biblical centric theology into the realm of touchie/feely thinking. Mel White was and is a good friend of his and his struggle had to affect Jack.

    The issue isn’t fear. The issue isn’t “knowing someone”. The issue is how does one deal in a loving way with those who decide to live in a way contrary to Scripture. I don’t jump down the throat or slam those who decide to “shack up” with someone before they’re married but I don’t welcome them as leaders in a congregation either. I don’t assume they are less than human but I do maintain that they are making a choice that goes contrary to what God intends for relationships and for those people.

    The view you expressed is the reason why presbyteries are places of mistrust, misunderstanding and pain. It’s not my fight anymore. I’ll leave it to you and your part of the family. However I still can’t believe you believe “primarily” believe Christians feel this way about gays. You really need to do some interfaith dialogues with your Muslim friends.

    Alan

  104. says

    Thank you. It is and always will be first and foremost about LOVE. It begins with it and it ends with it and the entire core and center of it all will always be love. If love is the filter.. one cannot help but see Jesus. I think it is less about fighting religious debates and so much more about relationship.. always about relationship with each other. LOVE!

  105. Howard Wilson says

    The problem with leaving the Bible on the shelf and debating the issue without it is that there is no logical and reasonable basis for love, inclusiveness, diversity, acceptance, etc. apart from Scripture. There are no other religious texts that support the worldview you want to espouse. The Koran, the Gitas, Das Kapital, etc. don’t support the worldview that you prefer. The uncomfortable reality is that the Bible contains specific instructions as well as generic instructions. We are required to love, but we are also called to resist sin. Thomas Jefferson tried clipping out the parts that didn’t fit his Enlightenment worldview, and thousands since him have done the same with the same ineffective. The arguments about “rights” are the arguments of modernity.

    Hate speech cuts both ways. The response to the passage of Proposition 8 here in California has produced hate speech and hate crimes against Mormons. While you may not like the language of Dobson, I would challenge you to review the language of hate expressed by the GLBT community before you condemn one side and praise the other. Liberal Christians are damaging any prospect of meaningful dialog with Mormons by their vitriolic attacks on them and their church.

    The crux of this argument is the intersection of two conflicting worldviews–a worldview based on Scripture, which is believed to be true in what it affirms and teaches, and a worldview based on a nebulous understanding of “rights”. That’s where the passion comes from. You can’t expect that argument to get settled by appeals to reason and experience.

    Howard Wilson
    Executive Vice President
    Fuller Theological Seminary

  106. says

    The observation I made was that there is irony in the medical community condoning and encouraging a lifestyle that disqualifies a person from donating blood. If you were disease free, but admitted to being a homosexual you would not be allowed to donate. Why? Obviously there are people of all walks of life with diseases which disqualify them from the ability to donate. But homosexuality automatically disqualifies you from donating, even if you are disease free. Is it based on the risk of the behavior associated with the lifestyle? Since then I have been having numerous conversations with my mother, a hospice nurse, who works intimately with many homosexuals caring for them. She admits that almost all are dieing due to their lifestyle. Help me understand your thinking and perspective. I’m not judging, I’m just raising questions I have with double standards occurring outside of any ‘church’ agenda.

    The Red Cross currently ban every man (gay, straight, bi) who has had sex with another man since 1977 from donating blood. There is no restriction from lesbians donating blood as they present very low health risks. You are incorrect that Existential Punk would be prohibited from donating blood if she didn’t have Lyme Disease. Speaking for myself, I’m a lesbian and have donated blood through the Red Cross on several occasions.

  107. S McKee says

    I have no problem with those who think and believe that homosexuality is “normal”. In fact it is perfectly normal. That is, it is perfectly normal for an unregenerate sinner and child of the devil to believe that all behavior contrary to the Word of God, including homosexuality, is “normal”. The Word of God says our hearts are evil, deceitful and desperately wicked. At our core we are murdering, lying, God haters, who if it weren’t for the grace of God, by the shed Blood of his Son would be bound for hell. God’s elect; those who are filled with and are being changed by the Holy Spirit know better. To those who claim to be Christians and think this is not a sin I urge you to test yourself to see if you are truly in the faith.

    Why then do we as real Christians focus so much on this sin? Well I think this post answers that question. The militant homosexual culture is the only group that wants the church to accept this sin as normal. Unlike the murderer who must stop murdering or the thief who must stop stealing when he/she repents and turns to Christ, the homosexual does not want to stop his/her immoral lifestyle. They and their “useful idiots” will grab at any straw no matter how ridiculous, to justify the position (and I really get a kick out of the old Leviticus chestnut about the hair and clothing and stoning that gets dragged out) that somehow despite the clear Biblical prohibition against it, that this behavior is alright as long as it occurs between two loving and consenting adults. The truth of the matter is we know this behavior is wrong and those who continue to engage in it will be judged.

    Jesus was not, as some postulate, this wonderfully radically inclusive gentle soul. Those who claim this do not know scripture or our Lord. Oh Jesus’ message was inclusive (i.e. not just for the Jews) but it was radically exclusive in its content “You MUST be born again” NO ONE comes to the Father accept by me” Our Master spoke of hell more than anything else. He also spoke of dying to one’s self/taking up our cross/suffering and dying for His truth. The unrepentant practicing homosexual, like a thief, a lair, a gossip or the drunkard is not a Christian and will not inherit the Kingdom of God period. That is the truth.

    The good news is Jesus can set you free; he paid the price for yours and my sin. He can help us with our struggles with sin and temptation (and we all struggle with sinful desires) if we will only turn to Him, fall on our knees, repent and believe on his shed Blood. Then and only then will your “eyes” be opened and you know the truth and the truth will set you free.

  108. says

    I really appreciate your perspective on this. My church recently voted to intentionally welcome LGBT persons to our congregation at great risk to our pastors, since our denomination does not condone this. After considerable debate, the congregation voted 90% for the affirming statement. While it seemed divisive at first, once the vote went through, it turned out to be a very minor issue–except for the wonderful blessing of several LGBT people joining our congregation. I firmly believe taking the loving, welcoming side of this debate far outweighs the few verses that pass judgement.

  109. says

    Howard Wilson wrote:

    “there is no logical and reasonable basis for love, inclusiveness, diversity, acceptance, etc. apart from Scripture…”

    That is simply absurd. The Bible is one of many collections of ancient writings. Some of it to some degree is inspiring, much of it is appalling. You don’t need the Bible any more than you need any text to talk about what it means to be a human being including qualities of “love, inclusiveness, diversity, acceptance, etc.”

  110. Matt S says

    So the correct headline for this blog could be, “If you believe that the Bible does not endorse homosexuality, and thus disagree with people like Jack Rogers and Stacy Johnson, then Enough with the Bible already!”

    Or: “If I can’t use God’s Word to support my sinful world view, then Forget God’s Word!”

    Or: “If the Creator of the universe says that homosexuality is sin, I can’t accept Him”

    This sounds a lot like universalism’s – How can a “loving” God make me accept just Him – that’s so not fair!

    Newsflash! God’s Word was, is and will always be the only truth that mankind has until His return. If you believe that, you can call yourself a Christian. If you don’t – then you can’t. And if you don’t and call yourself a Christian, then you aren’t.

    I’m all for being open-minded and confronting things that challenge my own faith. I work with many gay people and even call some of them friends but make no mistake, I cannot and will not sacrifice my own beliefs for their sake. It’s called belief because you believe it….when you abandon it, you no longer believe it – like many in the post-modern or emergent movement.

    The Bible does not cause “discriminatory” beliefs. The Bible is offensive to non-believers because it claims to be (and is) truth, and is contradictory to the world’s sinful desires. Calling for the abandonment of the Bible does not change the fact that it is right and holy and that the world is wrong.

    1 Peter 2:8 says that Jesus is “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.”

    Paul says in 1 Corinthians that the Gospel is a “stumbling block” to Jews and “foolishness” to Gentiles.

    The Bible offends because the heart of a non-Christian is hardened toward God. That’s why the world hates Christianity. Because it confronts sin, it is exclusive and is non-negotiable. That is why it is a STONE OF STUMBLING and a ROCK OF OFFENSE.

    You can try to set aside the Bible because you don’t agree with it, but you’d be wrong. If you call yourself a Christian and disagree with the Bible, I’d change your opinion ASAP.

    “Perhaps we need to not construct a belief system about LGBT folk built on the foundation of a couple verses in scripture. Perhaps that isn’t healthy, fair, just or Christian.” WRONG. The Bible specifically addresses homosexuality in at least seven separate passages, first in the Old Testament and then confirmed in the New Testament. God is very clear. What else do you need? Accept it or reject it. Your choice. A ROCK OF OFFENSE. Hard demands. A STUMBLING BLOCK.

    “Christians have a history of using the Bible as a weapon……When the Bible becomes used as a weapon, as a tool for discrimination, as a way in which people can justify beliefs of hatred and injustice – one has to think and wonder if we haven’t gone horribly wrong somewhere.”

    Again, it is not hatred or injustice. Events like the Inquisition were never of God and should never be made out to be so, but that’s a whole different subject. The Phelps family also claims to be coming in the name of God, should we believe them? I think not. The question is a matter of truth. You must answer the question – Do you believe in truth? Do you believe in right and wrong? Do you believe that the Bible is God’s Word? Are you willing to stand up for it? Or do you shrink back like the changing winds or because a serpent is whispering in your ear?

    As a matter of coincidence (or is it?), both you and Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12 both refer to the word of God as being a weapon (a sword in the Bible). You reject it but the Bible endorses its use. I’m sensing some contradiction between your thoughts and God’s.

    I would like to share some verses with you about Jesus’ “inclusivity:”

    Luke 14:26: “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”

    Luke 14:27 – “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

    Luke 14:28-31, in summary, says that he who is not willing to pay the cost of following Jesus cannot be His disciple.

    Luke 14:32 – “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”

    John 14:6 – “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

    Acts 4:12 – “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

    I think exclusive would be more accurate. Hard demands, a stumbling block, a rock of offense.

    I would seriously question your salvation, Mr. Blogger. Everything you have said in this post goes against the Bible and God’s Word. If you believe the Bible is God’s Word, then everything you have said is opposite of what God has said. That is indicative of a non-believer.

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” – 2 Timothy 4:3-4

    All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    • to says

      Thank you for this convicting, challenging truth.

      I became a Christian very young and I didn’t know then that Jesus said that the world would hate me for my decision. By God’s grace I went through the peer pressure of my teenage years, was challenged and ultimately chose God. I would rather hear Jesus say well done, good and faithful servant to me than the cheering of all the people of the world. And I thank God that He brought me to this place of commitment to Him.

      Standing firm on the rock will bring us all kinds of trouble. Satan will not stop trying to destroy us. The world will call us all sorts of horrible names. They will persecute us for choosing to follow and serve the Jesus Christ who is; the Jesus Christ of the Bible. But God is with us and He will give us the strength to stand firm.

      Thank you again for writing this comment. Keep proclaiming the truth.

  111. Thomas R. says

    John Shuck wrote: “The Bible is one of many collections of ancient writings. Some of it to some degree is inspiring, much of it is appalling. ”

    If this is how you feel then why are you a PC(USA) minister? This is not meant to be a put-down, but, rather, a genuine inquiry.

  112. says

    I quite agree that YOU should put the Bible aside. As a matter of fact, why not put the name “Christian” aside too? Please do, that you may stop confusing people about the gospel of Christ.

    Find me a fundamentalist Christian who condemns the PERSON of a homosexual, wants to exclude him or her from their church, and I will happily go hassle them with you. :-) But the Old and New Testaments both clearly state that homosexuality is a sin, right alongside with adultery, divorce and gratuitous drunkenness. We all sin. We are not likely to stop altogether anytime soon either. Another sin, a big one, is to say that a sin is not a sin.

  113. Molly Hughes says

    Couple things:

    1) I appreciate Adam’s post because it’s attempting to create a different lens through which to look at Homosexualityand the Bible. I definitely do not agree with all the things Adam has said, but I also cannot believe the strong reactions of anger on here. It’s just one man’s opinion expressed on a blog.

    2) God doesn’t need or ask Christians to defend the Bible. I will never understand why people argue so long and hard for the Bible being inerrant or God being soverign. If we actually believed that then we know that God does not need our help to make it more true.

  114. Kelly says

    Hey! Alright, I read through several comments, but haven’t read them all…so if this has already been stated….forgive me!?
    I do believe homosexuality is a sin. And I do have friends who are gay, and some who are gay and Christian, and one who is a former Christian who is now gay. But I love love LOVE them all. In fact, most are some of the most loving, sweet people I know and I feel Christians can learn a lot from them.
    Like I said before, I DO believe homosexuality is a sin…but not any different then any other sin. Before I knew Christ I had a “tendency” to sleep around. And lie. And smoke lots of weed. And talk behind people’s backs. Etc.
    We are ALL born into sin…so according to the Word of God…we CAN be born gay. It’s NOT always a choice. Just like the sin I was born into wasn’t a choice.
    But when we meet Jesus things change…for some, right away, for others, it’s a lifelong process. We all struggle with some sin or another, whether it’s a controversial one such as homosexuality or one that no one seems to care about, like wanting glory for something we did instead of giving it to God. They are equally as bad according to Jesus, but Jesus loves us IN SPITE of it. This doesn’t mean Jesus would want us to REMAIN in our sin…His goal is to deliver us from sin. But He LOVES loves and loves some more those of us who want to follow him…and those who don’t.
    We cannot mistake loving someone for condoning their behavior.
    For example, I have a close friend who had an affair, left her husband, and is now living with the other man. I love her, but I do not condone her behavior. Can she still have a relationship with Jesus? ABSOLUTELY. But it doesn’t make what she is doing or has done okay.
    Compare it to parenting. I have a daughter. She sometimes does things that could hurt her, but being 2, she doesn’t understand that. It’s FUN right now…it FEELS good..it FEELS like it should be okay to do. She gets SO frustrated and mad when I tell her she’s wrong. But what do I know? What she’s doing could hurt her in the long run. What she’s doing may make her happy here and NOW, but later? No. And if I allow her to do what she wants and what feels good or right to her now, she could get hurt. And on that note, if I allow her to do whatever feels good to her, her whole life, and do not discipline at all, she will not grow up to be a healthy person. She will not be a happy person. Sometimes it is tough love….I love her, but what she is doing is not okay. Even if that doesn’t sound or feel right to her for the moment, she has to trust me- and if she doesn’t, things might still go okay, but they wouldn’t be the BEST for her…which is what I want.
    It’s the same with God…we may not understand WHY homosexuality or any other sin is not okay, but I have to trust it’s for OUR own good, and it’s because He loves us that He does not want us to continue in our ways of sin, be it homosexuality or otherwise.
    All that to say…you can believe the Bible AND Jesus and you can do so while being incredibly loving to others. In fact, these two can not be separated…the old testament is in fact, a type and shadow of Jesus…and shows that we cannot keep the law on our own,that’s why Jesus fulfilled it. This doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want, but it DOES mean we won’t and shouldn’t be stoned for our sins. Jesus in no way contradicts the Bible. He is fully God, so how could He contradict His own word? He did show us that the WAY we went about things was all wrong.
    Because of Jesus, if we accept him as Christ we no longer deserve punishment. But we do need to walk in the way He demonstrated- and that is in the fulfillment of the Bible. We can’t get this perfect, and that’s okay…Jesus did it for us. But if we love him, we obey him…we want to do what pleases him. So you’re right…we DO need to look at Jesus. We need to love gay people’s socks off. But we don’t have to say they’re right. Just because we don’t agree with their lifestyle doesn’t make us unloving.
    I will continue to love gays. I do think they deserve equal rights, as I do not think it’s our job to judge. If God isn’t punishing them, how can we? What if I couldn’t get married because I’m a backbiter (I know, this could get complicated)? But I still think it’s a sin, and do believe the Lord provides a way out for all of us no matter what sin it is. It may be hard, but there is a way. And at the point we meet Jesus it IS a choice: do I continue to walk the way I always have? Or do I do my best to try and walk the way Jesus would have me walk- in holiness and love and honor. The rest is up to Him.
    Adam, I think it’s great you want to learn more about the controversial issues…we as believers should for SURE question things…the way we think, the way things are done, how we should treat others, everything. But just because someone doesn’t share your opinion doesn’t make them unloving at all.
    Keep seeking the truth…that’s what it’s all about!

  115. Kelly says

    Ugh…I know that last one was long but I left one important bit out: It is a choice to remain or walk away from homosexuality or other sin when we meet Jesus because, when we meet Jesus, we are made a NEW creation. So do we walk in our old nature or the new? THAT is our choice.

  116. Joe says

    wow….The real question here is do you believe the Bible is the inerrant and inspired word of God, and has all authority in your life? (2 Timothy 3:16). When you begin to forget passages or put them to the side to fit your issues you are bringing into question your own understanding of the Biblical texts. The homosexuality issue is overplayed and frankly annoying. I think we all get that we are supposed to love one another despite our sin, but that doesn’t mean we accept it as truth and our sin as being ok. Homosexuality is a sin, just like the multitudes of other sin that is in our fallen world. We do need to be able to socialize and communicate effectively with homosexuals and the whole LGBT community, but that doesn’t mean we need to go as far as claiming that being homosexual is ok. Last thing Adam, I know the throwing away the Bible thing was said mostly for shock value, but you might want to think about it a little more, because of the things you have said in your blog it looks like you have thrown away the Bible in your life, well at least the parts you don’t like. You can’t pick and choose, this isn’t the Old Country Buffet Christianity. There is so much more I could say, but I am not much of a writer, so I will conclude now, because anything else I say will just repeat about 50% of the comments.

    • says

      @Joe (and many others): Do I believe the Bible to be the inerrant and inspired word of God? I would not use the word ‘inerrant’ to describe my interactions with the Bible, but I do believe that it contains the Word of God and that we need to be constantly looking to scripture. However, I do not think we should be proof-texting by taking a few select verses out of their cultural and historical context and assuming that they mean the same for us today that they meant in their time.

      I do not believe homosexuality is a sin – and I do not think that the Confessions of the Church, nor Scripture, puts forth that idea. I think that many people have done a great job of reading into scripture (that’s eisegesis, not exegesis) their own biases and issues, and have made homosexuality out to be “the issue” of our day. There is simply not a strong and/or coherent biblical witness to the sinfulness of homosexuality – it’s just not there.

      In the end, do I really think we should throw out Scripture? No. And I stated that in the original post. I do think people should focus more on relationships sometimes than on a few verses. And I do think that we should keep in mind that scripture is meant to be interpreted by scripture. We are to keep the whole trajectory of Scripture and the whole story in mind when we think about how to interpret it. We should focus on Christ and Christ’s message of loving God and loving fellow humanity above all.

  117. says

    @S McKee you said, “The militant homosexual culture is the only group that wants the church to accept this sin as normal. Unlike the murderer who must stop murdering or the thief who must stop stealing when he/she repents and turns to Christ, the homosexual does not want to stop his/her immoral lifestyle. They and their “useful idiots” will grab at any straw no matter how ridiculous, to justify the position (and I really get a kick out of the old Leviticus chestnut about the hair and clothing and stoning that gets dragged out) that somehow despite the clear Biblical prohibition against it, that this behavior is alright as long as it occurs between two loving and consenting adults. The truth of the matter is we know this behavior is wrong and those who continue to engage in it will be judged. ”

    1. NOT ALL in the LGBTQ community are militant just as ALL CHRISTIANS are not right wing fundamentalists. i am not a militant queer woman and either are any of my friends from the LGBTQ community. So, you are being very hurtful when you day things like this!

    2. It is NOT a lifestyle for us. With all the vitrol and hate expressed towards us why would we CHOOSE to be lesbian, gay, bi, transgender or queer? WE DO NOT CHOOSE this life. It is a part of our identity.

    3. i do not appreciate nor find helpful you calling us and our allies ‘useful idiots’. This is really mean and degrading and not very loving.

    4. Biblical prohibition was for the Israelites at that time for their holiness code, NOT for everyone else. We do not ALL believe our life as LGBTQ is wrong and sinful even though you think it is. i do not appreciate your arrogance and mean-spiritedness.

    5. I certainly could be wrong but i am responsible for how i live my life. i am not someone who has everything nailed down and proven so perfectly. My life and how i live it are between me and G-D!

    6. It’s responses like this that turn people of to G-D and Christ and make me want to run far, far away as i have been hurt and rejected by far too many people with mean and hurtful responses like yours.

    Warm Regards and Happy Holidays,
    Existential Punk

  118. says

    @Kelly you said, “Ugh…I know that last one was long but I left one important bit out: It is a choice to remain or walk away from homosexuality or other sin when we meet Jesus because, when we meet Jesus, we are made a NEW creation. So do we walk in our old nature or the new? THAT is our choice.”

    As a queer woman who is a Christ-follower, being queer is not a sin and is not a choice. Why would i choose to be queer with all the hate towards our community? It is not so simple. i even went tthrough ex-gay ministries and reparative therapy to ‘change my sinful ways’! It did not work, did more harm than good, and made me realize i am fine with myself being queer and so is G-D. i am at peace with myself and with G-D over this issue.

    i am a new creation in Christ, but as we all do, need continual sanctification and evangelism to know more of Christ all of the time.

    It’s these simplistic answers people throw out that are really not helpful to people like me. It just adds all the more to my wanting to run far, far away, NOT FROM G-D, but from the church.

    G-D is knowable yet in our humanity we are unable to fully grasp G-D and we are arrogant to think we can. There is a lot of mystery with G-D and beauty in that mystery.

    Warm Regards and Happy Holidays,

    Existential Punk

  119. Sacred Frenzy says

    “Maybe you need to hear their story, learn about what they’ve been through, how they’ve experienced Christians and the church.”

    May I suggest, Adam, that perhaps you need to hear stories from the other side, learn about what people on the other side have been through, and how they’ve experienced homosexuals. After my dad abandoned his family to pursue a gay lifestyle, leaving my mother an absolute emotional trainwreck, and leaving my sister and I to raise ourselves without a consistent father figure, the idea that a homosexual lifestyle is or should be normative is quite obviously contrary to Christianity (without which I likely would have killed myself were it not for the support I received from “those Christians” who follow the Bible). I’d love to say more about my experience, yet I don’t get the sense that this website is open to hearing such a story or other stories like it. It seems that you’re content to say “enough with the Bible already” without having really taken time to understand conservatives and the diversity of reasons we may have for maintaining that a biblical approach to family should be normative (not just because Leviticus and Romans say homosexuality is bad). Consider our experiences, not just your own.

    • says

      @Sacred Frenzy: I’m very sorry to hear that this happened to your family. It’s a tragic story and I’m glad that you found a place where you received support and care from a group of Christians.

      There are so many sad and heart-breaking stories related to this issue – more than could be shared in any sort of online setting like this. And I am sorry about the situation you experienced, and I don’t want to diminish the grief you went through. However, there are many, many stories about families that have gone through separation and divorce when someone can no longer put on the act of trying to play the role of being heterosexual. One wonders how many of these situations would be avoided if we didn’t guilt, shame and pressure gay people into relationships they were not meant to be in.

  120. Mike F. says

    Yikes,
    I can’t tell whether I should be hopeful or hopeless. I am happy there is conversation but I am sad that it seems we speak so many different languages.

    I am not a GLBT person but if I were I would get 1000 miles away from this conversation. It would be toxic to me. I do not seek anyone’s judgment or approval just “to be” as a heterosexual why would I as a homosexual?

    I would be exhausted by having to justify myself and my life in a way that heterosexuals are NEVER called upon to do. We (so called) straight folks wield the power of our majority as if being in the majority gives us some special insight toward what is right and true for all.

    Both sides pile up their evidence, each trying to make their pile the tallest, broadest, surest. We scratch for the silver bullet that will surely push the debate toward our point of view and rush to put it at the top of our pile. Since my pile is now taller it will certainly win the day.

    What is the one piece of evidence that, if I had it, would change my mind about this?
    Is there anything anyone could say, demonstrate, affirm, swear to or deliver in a way that you would feel so moved as to change your mind?

    What if my goal were to have my mind changed. ..to seek a different truth? Why would I do that. I am right…

    What if I could stand in someone else’s faith, in their fears, in their knowledge, in their experience. Could I be transformed?

    It is too hard. I must be right. I am right.

    Conversations do not begin with this. They end with it.

    I am amazed that so many of us can speak for God. I don’t know whether that makes God happy or sad or wondering,”who do they think they are?”.

    Mike F.

  121. says

    Adam et al,

    You’re setting up a straw man when you suggest “the Bible is causing us to delay accepting and celebrating LGBT persons as being fully human and fully created in the image of God.” Nobody is saying they are less than fully human, created in the image of God, when they say that homo-sex obscures that image. What the Bible does is let us know what we were created and redeemed to be.

    Incidentally, our common evangelical and Reformed tradition (represented historically by academic institutions like Whitworth and Princeton) is, at its heart, a tradition that continually reforms itself by engaging with the words of scripture per se. It is also loathe to elevate any human authority–including our culture or genetic code–over scripture. Yes, we must work to understand it in its cultural and literary context, but we do not have warrant to move beyond it or stand in judgment over it.

  122. says

    Hey Neal Locke, how about “a soft answer turns aside wrath” with your chastisement of Brandon?

    One thing I appreciate about Brandon’s challenges is the concern for truth they evidence. After all, that, and guarding against false teaching, is a great concern behind nearly all of the New Testament books.

    The description on your web site of Princeton PhD students doesn’t strike me as particularly charitable, by the way. Wouldn’t the “three-fingers-pointing-back-at-you rule apply there?

    Seems to me we could all use a little dose of “truth expressing itself in love” in the style of Jesus, “full of grace and truth.”

  123. Jason says

    “Maybe you need to hear their story, learn about what they’ve been through, how they’ve experienced Christians and the church.”

    May I suggest, Adam, that perhaps you need to hear stories from the other side, learn about what people on the other side have been through, and how they’ve experienced homosexuals. After my dad abandoned his family to pursue a gay lifestyle, leaving my mother an absolute emotional trainwreck, and leaving my sister and I to raise ourselves without a consistent father figure, the idea that a homosexual lifestyle is or should be normative is quite obviously contrary to Christianity (without which I likely would have killed myself were it not for the support I received from “those Christians” who follow the Bible). I’d love to say more about my experience, yet I don’t get the sense that this website is open to hearing such a story or other stories like it. It seems that you’re content to say “enough with the Bible already” without having really taken time to understand conservatives and the diversity of reasons we may have for maintaining that a biblical approach to family should be normative (not just because Leviticus and Romans say homosexuality is bad). Consider our experiences, not just your own.”

    This is important. Adam, are you paying attention?

  124. says

    Well Said. I don’t agree with you 100%. I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to “Put the Bible on a shelf.” We have to keep the Bible in mind. But what so many “Christians” don’t seem to understand is that the Bible isn’t all there is. There’s more to Christianity, Spirituality and life then just this one book that was written thousands of years ago in a dead language by mortal men, and has since been translated multiple times across multiple languages, again by mortal men.

    It always irks me when people say “the Bible is clear about this”, because it so completely is not and that is why we have to study the bible and then temper what we read with how those words strike our hearts or spirits.

    Keep up the good work!

  125. says

    I think we need to have a moratorium on the word “unregenerate.” It may have been useful at one time, but now it’s become not much more than a school-yard taunt directed toward people who disagree with the people doing the taunting.

  126. Matt S says

    I guess it all comes down to this: Do you believe the Bible to be the written Word of God? Not some book written in a dead language by mortal men, but do you believe that the words on those pages are written by God through men? That’s the question we all must answer. Because if the Bible is just some book and not God’s Word, then why even practice Christianity? But if the Bible is truly written by God, then why wouldn’t I stake my life on it?

  127. says

    Well put Adam. I’m not Christian but I what find extraordinary sad is that some people have taken the Bible and perverted its meaning. Don’t we learn anything from history? Just because the Bible said slavery was acceptable, we learned that it was inhumane. So just because the Bible has a few verses about homosexuality, doesn’t mean the statements are valid in today’s world.

    And maybe, we should all also think about human rights. Does denying one group of people rights actually make us a better country? Or does it prove that humans are incapable of equality?

  128. says

    Adam,

    I’m perplexed by your article. As a Minister, what is your foundation for truth? It seems you’re more concerned about the feelings of a few instead choosing to live by the words of God.

    “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of this world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours also. – JOHN 15:18-20

    You can get along with all types of people, just as Jesus did; but you certainly shouldn’t do it at the expense of throwing God’s word out the window. Remember, Jesus hated hypocrites most of all. Once again, if you put the Bible aside, where are you getting your foundation from as a Christian?

    God Bless,

    Joe Caruso

    • says

      @Joe Caruso: What is my foundation for truth? I would hope Jesus Christ and his life, ministry, teaching, death and resurrection. When you write, “you’re more concerned about the feelings of a few” – you grossly miss the point. When we look at our gay brothers and sisters in the church and realize the ways in which we have continually cast them aside and upheld discrimination and injustices against them, we have the responsibility to act for justice. The trajectory of the Bible is toward greater openness and inclusiveness, and toward liberation and freedom. Throughout the scriptures, God is concerned with liberation for God’s people. When we work toward inclusion for LGBT folk in the church (for God has already included them in the Body of Christ), we follow in a great tradition of working for justice, as Christians did when we changed our minds about our sinful support of slavery and the subordination of women.

      I’m not concerned about the “feelings of a few.” I’m concerned about gross tragedies committed “in Jesus’ name” and backed up by inaccurate interpretations of scripture.

  129. Tim says

    I am new to this blog and a bit confused (seeing that one should be fairly coherent and cogent, even Caputo and Derrida are that). Pomo says, “Some (people) place the Bible above Jesus’ compassion and love, Jesus’ radical inclusivity…” , but where does one learn about these attributes of Jesus? The bible right! So, is the Bible only useful when it speaks about Jesus’ loving character, which is only in particular verses/texts? So, should one only cherry pick those acceptable verses about Jesus, which cherry picking of verses seems to be what pomo is accusing SSM opponets of doing? I am sorry. I am a bit confused.

  130. Jason says

    Tim,

    You are confused because Adam has not proposed anything coherent. He has asserted his opinion on a controversial matter with the same sort of smug complacency he justifiably loathes in “freak” fundamentalists.

    He has still not responded to this charge, which I post for the third time now. I am doing this because I believe my concerns are valid, as is clear from posts like yours, and Adam, if he really intends to be taken seriously, must address these issues. Or he should refrain from placing his thoughts on such topics in a public forum by claiming to desire “dialogue” and debate.

    This is debate, Adam. Let’s here how you handle these problems.

    To say that the logic of your writing is facile would be an understatement. The position you take: (1) is not recognizably Christian, since no Christian makes arguments without recourse to Scripture – and unless you’d like to remove Leviticus and Romans from the canon, you must account for even these “very few select verses”; (2) is not open-minded, since it refuses to account for the good arguments made by your opponents (as opposed simply to dismissing the bad ones, as you do); (3) is boring, since it more or less recapitulates the Zeitgeist.

    • says

      @Jason: You seem very intent on me answering these specific question of yours. Although, before I got a chance to, it seems that Joshua Keaney did a rather good job of responding to your questions to me.

      1. I don’t plan on removing Leviticus and Romans from the canon – because there are at least a couple verses in each that I think I’d like to keep…no, seriously, these are very important books to our canon and to the knowledge of God we receive from the scriptures. But I just don’t think these verses speak to homosexuality as we know it today, and do not present ample reason why homosexuality should be considered a sin. The Holiness Code of Leviticus was important for a time – but those texts simply do not have a prescriptive force for us today. Romans 1 is a text which is steeped in a culture of male dominance and all sorts of sexual immoralities taking place – but Paul had no concept of the homosexual relations that can take place in today’s world.

      While we want to be wary of C.S. Lewis’s reminder to fight against “chronological snobbery” – it should be noted that we simply know things today that Paul could not even have had the slightest idea about. Jeffrey Siker, a professor of New Testament at Loyola Marymount University, probably said it best:

      We know of gay and lesbian Christians who truly worship and serve the one true God and yet still affirm in positive ways their identity as gay and lesbian people. Paul apparently knew of no homosexual Christians. We do.”

      2. While my post may not have allowed it to come across, I do find myself to be fairly open-minded. I have a very firm belief on this issue and know where I stand; while I acknowledge that I very well could be wrong, this is where I stand on this issue and I believe it is more important to be grace-filled, open and inclusive, than the opposite. But I still know – and am good friends with – some who completely disagree with me on this. If I were completely close-minded, I wouldn’t have conversations or relationships with those people. It would be worthless. But I do – and I am open to differing opinions…just because I hope they come to have a wider vision of God’s mercy doesn’t mean I still can’t be open to them.

      3. As to your non-question in #3, I guess you’re right. 221 comments – that does seem pretty boring…

  131. Joshua Keaney says

    Tim,

    Adam is not arguing to throw out the Bible. He said put it on the shelf for a while and build relationships. If I understand Adam correctly he is arguing that relationship with the “other” radically changes ones hermeneutic. The Bible is an authority for all Christians. The issue is what kind of authority. My guess is that Adam and I are trying to avoid Biblical Tyranny. But in avoiding one form of tyranny we may create another. Some of us also have to avoid experiential or traditional tyranny. The Spirit and being in relationship with the “other” liberates us from the tyrannies of our hermeneutics. I have found Walter Brueggemann’s article on “Biblical Authority” to be very helpful: http://www.religion-online.org/showarticle.asp?title=2104.

    Jason,
    1. Adam’s position is recognizably Christian. He points out that there is loads of scholarship on both sides of the issue that disagree. You and us would interpret Leviticus and Romans differently. I am Episcopalian and the ArchBishop of Ireland has an excellent article revealing a Hermeneutic you obviously disagree with but that is still Orthodox. He for example addresses Romans in his article from in my opinion a healthy hermeneutic. It can be found here: http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm/2008/7/4/ACNS4419

    Because people of deep faith are on both sides of the issue Adam is expressing the need for setting aside the Bible for a while and the need to build relationships. It is unfortunate that you do not think his position is Orthodox. On the contrary I would not call you unorthodox and I am sure Adam feels the same.

    2. Adam is asking for relationships to be built and to allow these relationships to redefine the arguments and impact our hermeneutic. He is open minded but he expects Christians to live the Gospel and have meaningful relationships with the “other” based upon the scriptural mandate of philoxenia or even agapexenia. Arguments made by people in the vacuum and absence of relationship with the “other” is not constructive to engage and should be dismissed.

    3. His arguments are not boring. If they were you would not have posted and neither would the dozens of people on the this website. His arguments are not boring otherwise the Anglican Communion and Episcopal Church would not be dividing and Prop 8 would not have been a huge issue. Are you an authority on the Zeitgeist? If Adam’s views are the Zeitgeist then why do half of Americans, most of the southern hemisphere, and you disagree with his views? Is it not possible that your views recapitulate the Zeitgeist? Is the Zeitgeist always bad and boring? If the “ethos of our time” is bad then why does the global majority think the War On Terror is a load of crap?

    A final comment…. I don’t know if Adam agrees with me. The Kingdom of God is bigger than the Church. The Church must serve and build the Kingdom. The Spirit and Church must minister differently in different places. I have certain opinions about this issue but they constantly change as I learn and meet people on both sides of the issue. I and I assume Adam would not pretend to know or dictate what the Churches in Africa or the Middle East should do on this issue. Should Churches in other societies allow teenage weddings or polygamous relationships? We may say, “no”, but perhaps this is the Spirit at work on those places. We have opinions but they are only “opinions” and the Church and Spirit can contain this diversity because the diversity is the Gospel at work in a pluralistic world. We are not superior to Christians who disagree with us and they are not superior to us. This may be a bad example….. Obama invited Rick Warren to do the invocation. People on both sides are upset about this. Obama and Warren are modeling good Christian hospitality toward each other. They disagree but respect each other and have a clear understanding that the Kingdom of God is bigger than them. Would McCain have invited Gene Robinson or Jesse Jackson to conduct his invocation?

  132. S McKee says

    Dear Punk thank-you for your comments I’ll try to clarify

    NOT ALL in the LGBTQ community are militant just as ALL CHRISTIANS are not right wing fundamentalists. i am not a militant queer woman and either are any of my friends from the LGBTQ community. So, you are being very hurtful when you day things like this!

    A. I’m sorry you’re hurt however it is the truth, the LGBTQ community wants the Church to accept their lifestyle as “normal” despite clear Biblical prohibition against homosexuality. The Church on earth btw is called “The Church Militant” we are struggling against sin.

    2. It is NOT a lifestyle for us. With all the vitrol and hate expressed towards us why would we CHOOSE to be lesbian, gay, bi, transgender or queer? WE DO NOT CHOOSE this life. It is a part of our identity.

    A. As sinners Punk we all have an identity contrary to God. By nature we are creatures of wrath; God haters and insolent. The Bible tells us no one is righteous not one. I did not choose to be born in sin. I was born in sin because of Adam. I can be forgiven because of Jesus!

    3. i do not appreciate nor find helpful you calling us and our allies ‘useful idiots’. This is really mean and degrading and not very loving.

    A. I don’t appreciate those who try to force me to accept this behavior as normal when God Himself said it isn’t. I don’t appreciate those who come to my faith and want me to cast aside 2000 years of orthodox Christian teaching and when I object call me a bigot or intolerant. I don’t appreciate those who are “Christians” in name only, who have no idea what the Bible teaches, know nothing of Church History know not the wonderful gift God has given us in his Son, tell me that I have to accept unrepentant sinners into the body lest their feelings be hurt. I will not sugar coat it to appease those who claim to be among us but are not. They are wolves trying to introduce destructive heresies into the body of Christ. They know the truth but they turn aside from it because they loved the praise of men more than God.

    Your feelings are hurt because as the Bible says the Gospel is an offense and a stumbling block to those who are perishing. You are hurt I’m sorry, but I would rather see your feelings hurt than you spend eternity in hell.

    4. Biblical prohibition was for the Israelites at that time for their holiness code, NOT for everyone else. We do not ALL believe our life as LGBTQ is wrong and sinful even though you think it is. i do not appreciate your arrogance and mean-spiritedness.

    A. You are incorrect. Homosexuality is forbidden in the New Testament as well. Please provide me with a verse that supports your position. Just one. Remember God wrote the Bible. Jesus is God, the Holy Spirit is God. God is the same today as He was yesterday His laws concerning immorality have not changed. Many homosexuals state that Jesus did not condemn homosexual behavior in the New Testament, when in fact He did. He is the Word of God he condemned it in the Old and New testaments through the prophets and the apostles. The blueprint for marriage was laid out in the Old Testament and was re-iterated by Jesus in the Gospels. This is not rocket science
    I know you don’t believe your lifestyle is wrong but it is, don’t get mad at me if you have a beef, take it up with God He said it. Remember the proverb
    There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death

    5. I certainly could be wrong but i am responsible for how i live my life. i am not someone who has everything nailed down and proven so perfectly. My life and how i live it are between me and G-D!

    A. You and I both are responsible Punk, and we will give an account. I don’t claim to live a perfect life. I struggle with sin all the time. There are areas in my life that I will struggle with until the day I meet Jesus. However the difference between you and I is I know what I’m doing is sin and I acknowledge it before God and ask for forgiveness. Have I had to give up certain worldly pleasures and lusts to serve Him? You bet. Jesus said following Him wouldn’t be easy that we would have to die to ourselves, crucify the old nature and take up our cross. This is not an easy thing, and one cannot do it without the help of the Holy Spirit

    6. It’s responses like this that turn people of to G-D and Christ and make me want to run far, far away as i have been hurt and rejected by far too many people with mean and hurtful responses like yours.

    A. I do not reject you Punk, and neither will God reject you if you come to him in true repentance. I do reject your sexual practices they are the product of a fallen world. God can take your desires away. If He will He is another question. You may have to struggle with them your whole life. Remember Paul had a thorn in his flesh that God would not remove. I will pray for you.

  133. says

    Eva,
    I see four problems with your argument.

    First, you claim that “some people have taken the Bible and perverted its meaning.” How do we know its meaning? Does it simply mean what you want it to mean? Or what one authority or another insists it means? A better guide is the plain meaning of the text, as arrived at in the mainstream of interpretation through the years, tested, proven, and enduring.

    Second, you contradict yourself when you suggest that what the Bible teaches about sexual ethics is not “valid in today’s world.” Wait, you first raised the issue of interpretation, and with this statement you undermine that it has any intrinsic meaning. Which is it?

    Third, who determines what valid human rights are? You? What about when your opinion differs from mine? Maybe the majority determines what rights to give? That’s what took place with California’s Proposition 8, which the GLBT crowd is bitterly condemning now. Ultimately, right and wrong is determined by divine and natural law. Human rights, granted by society, must not contradict these. As concerns homosexual behavior, Scripture condemns it absolutely, and natural law undermines it–human bodies are not compatible for same-sex coupling. Human rights cannot contradict those facts.

    Fourth, every community implicitly limits human rights by proscribing certain behavior. For instance, one does not have the right to take what belongs to a neighbor, or to expose oneself publicly, or to call in a bomb threat to a school. One does not have the right in society to do anything that comes to mind.

    Mike L.,
    Christians believe that the Scripture is a Living Word because it is the speech of God. It is not living in the sense that moral law is mutable or evolving. The Word of God, who is the Son, Jesus Christ, never contradicts what the Spirit of God has said. It is not logical to suggest he could.

    Your alluding to a flat world, slavery, the mistreatment of women, and burning witches is specious. Yes, it is important to understand the Bible in its cultural context, but your list suggests you have not seriously attempted to do this, or you would see how countercultural the Scripture’s message about women and slavery was in its own cultural context. Slavery was never lifted up as a moral good; women’s status was protected and dignified overall.

    Yes, it is appropriate to question one’s own cultural biases. Indeed, those who argue for tolerance of homosexual activity fail to do this, but instead betray the cultural biases of postmodern Western society. You suggest that when theology conflicts with what we think we know from science, we should throw out the theology. What about your own insight and experience–is it not limited? To say it is infallible is to demonstrate overconfidence, at best.

    And “rejecting the translation and distribution of the bible [sic]“–huh? What are you saying here? If you’re concerned about accuracy of translation, that’s a universal Christian value, and you will not find an argument with conservatives on that point. But up-to-date translation will not make the Bible’s teaching on sexual standards more palatable for you.

    Adam,
    You talk about the whole witness of Scripture, and not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But the issue is not “few proof texts” against homosexuality, but an even greater witness to the imaging of God that can only happen in the differentiation and unity of complementary, heterosexual unions. And the issue behind that is our confidence in God’s Word as the basis for ministry. Your hermeneutic seems to be to sift out whatever doesn’t pass through the sieve of postmodern culture. But Classic and World Christianity hold that we know God and we know ourselves, ultimately, because God has chosen to disclose himself to us. Without that movement of God toward us, we are only projecting an image of ourselves, and there is nothing saving or transformative about that.

  134. Christina says

    @ Mike F

    Your comment was very well said. And I echo your sentiments.

    As someone of the LGBT community who has been following this thread, I can tell you that yes – it is toxic. However, it has also been incredibly enlightening.

    As someone who lives a beautiful and contented life; is surrounded by a loving and accepting community of family, friends and co-workers; and can safely walk down the street hand in hand with the love of my life, this thread (along with other recent events) has woken me out of my peaceful complacency and reminded me of exactly how much work there is to be done.

    I have hope and faith. The truth is that oppression and discrimination, ultimately, never win – no matter the arguments used to defend them. In the United States we have a proud history of truth, freedom, and equality ultimately always coming through. The road is never easy and the battles are hard fought – but we will earn equality and recognition – if not in the eyes of the more conservative commenters here – then in the eyes of the law… which, in the large sceme of things, is vastly more important.

  135. Howard Wilson says

    Thanks for you comment, Christina. I’m not sure where you live, but if you live in California as I do, you already have the protection of the law through its provisions for civil unions. However, what some are asking for is different–a redefinition of what has been understood by history, law, biblical interpretation, and society for more than 2000 years to be marriage. I support the principle of civil unions, which guarantee the rights of two homosexuals who have entered into a contract for mutual benefit to due protection of the law. This gives you the freedom to “safely walk down the street hand in hand” with whomever you choose. And, you have the freedom to have your relationship blessed in a congregation of your choosing.

    However, this is not enough for many in the LBGT community, and their desire is at the nub of this argument–they want their behavior to be accepted as normative, and to be able to punish those who disagree with them. And, that is where their goals and aspirations intersect with those of us who choose to live our lives under the guidance of the Christian scriptures. I am originally from Canada, and many there would be afraid to publically express the ideas expressed in this blog for fear of being accused of hate speech. That is one of the reasons for resistance to the GLBT agenda–it seeks to silence opposition while some within that community express hate speech and hate crimes towards Mormons, Christians, and Muslims. I recognize that “hate crime” is strong language, but burning a Book of Mormon on the front step of a Mormon temple is as much a hate crime as persecution of homosexuals.

    Christian faith is just not a private matter between an individual and God. The Christian gospel requires those of us who follow it to take it into the entire sphere of human life. If we are not allowed to do that, it is a violation of our First Amendment
    rights.

    Howard Wilson
    Executive Vice President, Fuller Theological Seminary

    • says

      @Howard Wilson: You wrote the following:

      “However, what some are asking for is different–a redefinition of what has been understood by history, law, biblical interpretation, and society for more than 2000 years to be marriage.

      I would have to challenge you on that. Certainly, what we today call “marriage” did not look the same as what it may have looked like 2000 years ago. As many have mentioned before, the biblical acceptance and encouragement of polygamy is one clear example that what you say has been understood as marriage for 2000 years is not as static and clear as you argue. I would also urge you to read Stephanie Coontz’s Marriage: A History, in which we get a whole kaleidoscope of images for what marriage has looked like and meant all throughout human society. I’m guessing that the image for what many (especially James Dobson) claim to be the bedrock of our society, marriage, comes primarily from a mid-20th century understanding of marriage and the assumed gender roles for that time being. It’s just not true that marriage has been understood “by history, law, biblical interpretation and society” in any clear sense.

      You say that people in the LGBT community want “their behavior to be accepted as normative.” You make it sound like this is a group of children who are “acting out” and want their “behavior” to be accepted. It isn’t any type of “behavior” that needs to be allowed. Their “behavior” isn’t what they want accepted (and lord knows I don’t want to speak for the LGBT community); but it seems to me that gays simply want to be accepted and treated as any other member of society, given the same rights and opportunities to love and care for someone of their choosing.

      Christian faith most certainly is NOT simply a private affair – we agree on that. And Christians should be involved in all areas of life and society. But for you to imply that your First Amendment rights are being violated – well, with all due respect – that’s a little ridiculous. In California last month, we allowed a particular religious community to impose their religious beliefs on a group of people who may or may not hold those same beliefs (link). Now, THAT sounds more like a violation of the First Amendment…when one who is part of the privileged majority begins to claim “their” rights are being taken away, we must become a little bit skeptical and concerned.

  136. says

    @ Howard

    Thank you for your thoughtful post.

    First may I say that hate – in any form – is abhorent and of benefit to noone and of determint to all. I have been deeply saddened by the recent hate that has been expressed and demonstrated by some members of the LGBT community towards Mormons, Christians, and Muslims.

    I live in Washington,where we just recently gained domestic partnership benefits. Please make no mistake – I am grateful for the opportunity to carry a card in my wallet that gives me access to my partner in the case that she is hopitalized. It is important to know, however, that there are some very major differences,between domestic partnership and/or civil unions and Marriage – and they are much larger than semantics.

    First of all – when my partner and I visit her family in Ohio (or any other state for that matter), all of our domestic partner rights are null and void. If she were to be hopitalized in Ohio, I would have absolutely no recourse to be by her side.

    My partner and I are unable to file our taxes together – which is just one of the 1,049 benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy.

    To be honest (and I can only speak for myself) I don’t care one little bit what it’s called. My partner and I recently had a beautiful committment ceremony – and according to our friends and family we are now “married” – and I don’t really care whether the government (or anyone else) calls it a civil union, a marriage or anything else. What I do care about is that we can go anywhere in our great nation and be recognized and respected as equal. Please understand – I wish for no special priviledges or accomodations – just equality.

    In Great Britain, all civil ‘marriages’ have been reframed as civil unions (for everyone) with marriage living completely in the realm of the church. I would like to see something similar here in the United States as it allows all people to honor and maintain their individual and unique religious beliefs and traditions while also establishing legal equality for all.

    There are many fundamental differences between us all – and many that we will never come to agreement on. However, I believe that at the end of the day we all have far more in common that we like to believe. I know we all care for our families and friends; try to be the best people we know how to be using the skills that we have been given; we laugh; cry; get out of bed each morning; go to work; feel insecure; feel confident; share what we have to share; pray; and love.

    I keep faith that some day we can all remember that – and begin to treat each other as the creations of God that we are.

    With love and gratitude,
    Christina

  137. says

    “@Brandon – There have been many comments from people in this thread who disagree with me but have done so with humility and an open spirit. There is simply no conversation to be had when someone makes the type of accusations you make.”

    @Adam – Believe it or not, “conversation” is not the chief end of man. Glorifying God is. An open spirit is not the sign of humility. Neither is arrogantly elevating yourself above Scripture. Biblical humility means submitting ourselves to the authority of God’s Word. Biblical humility means repenting and crying out to God, along with the tax collector in Luke 18 “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

    Tell me, do you believe the Holy Spirit lacked humility and that He was in error when He said “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep… But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray.”

    Note that the Holy Spirit wrote these words about specific individuals who claimed to be Christian leaders, as well as prophesying that heretical individuals will continue to masquerade as Christians, attempting to lead God’s people away.

    I am merely honoring God by believing Him when He says people like you will attempt to destroy His church.

  138. Trent Williams says

    Adam, I think you can see why Tony and many of us simply have no desire to engage in this debate any longer–why it has become “toxic” as one of your earlier posters said. When you have an official of a major seminary equating the burning of a book in a protest to hate crimes that have murdered fellow human beings, then there really is nothing else that can be said. And to then claim the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ upon such opinions beggars the imagination. I’m sure Jesus must be weeping over all of us at this moment.

  139. says

    Trent, hyperbole does little to help; Howard Wilson did not equating burning a book in protest with murder. His balanced posting is not lamentable, but your inability to engage in conversation with those who differ with you is. Isn’t that what progressives decry in biblical conservatives? We don’t need to resort to “Jesus must be weeping,” or to jump to the conclusion that it isn’t worth engaging “in this debate any longer.”

  140. says

    Howard Wilson did not equating burning a book in protest with murder.

    His actual quote:

    but burning a Book of Mormon on the front step of a Mormon temple is as much a hate crime as persecution of homosexuals.

    In case you have missed the news, people are beaten and murdered for being or for being perceived to be homosexual. I’ll take a book burning any day.

  141. says

    Well, Adam, was it fun?

    Did you feel you accomplished anything here?

    I think you did. The more the fundies (and that includes seminary vice-presidents) spout falsehoods, the more that sensible people will wake up and see what this really is–bigotry with a halo.

  142. says

    Your sarcasm isn’t helpful, Brother Shuck; responding to the substance of arguments honestly given would be. Your name-calling is beneath a Christian and a Presbyterian pastor.

  143. Howard Wilson says

    First, I’m not sure whether I should be honored or chagrined by being called a “fundie” by John Shuck or not. Many of my friends think I am anything but. However, I am happy to own the name if it means that I am a supporter of the theological principles expressed in the series of books called The Fundamentals, published beginning in 1909 as a response to theological liberalism. It should be noted that many of the contributors to this series were Presbyterians divines, scholars, and professors, such as B.B. Warfield [a Princeton professor] and James Orr. The doctrines they espoused include the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the atoning death of Christ, and the inspiration and unity of Scripture. Some would be surprised to know that they did not all support the inerrancy of Scripture and some supported theistic evolution. Many of the doctrines discussed in The Fundamentals are reflected in the creeds and catechisms of the PCUSA, my denominational home. Many of the writers of The Fundamentals were amongst the intellectual heavyweights of their day. So, I guess I’m honored to be identified with them. If John Shook means something else, though, I fear that he has mis-categorized me.

    Second, I’m troubled by the statement “I’ll take a book burning any day.” The history of the 20th century demonstrates that book burning is generally a strong expression of intolerance and authoritarianism. A good review is found in Robert Conquest’s “Our Ravaged Century”. Most book burners have been despots or dogmatists. I trust that John Shuck is using hyperbole, or else he is more intolerant than he understands himself to be.

    Hate crimes come in different shapes and sizes. They are not always violent–sometimes they are psychological. Sometimes they involve harassment. I think you would find that the Mormons whose place of worship and sacred space was surrounded by chanting crowds, containing individuals whose faces were contorted with anger while they burned what Mormons consider to be a holy book, would definitely identify with being hated for who they are. As Christians, we need to be in dialogue with Mormons, not attacking them.

    I live in a town in which about 20% of the residents are LDS. I can tell you that many of these folks feel singled out and harassed because of what they believe. Mormon business owners have been hunted down and harassed by members of the GLBT community. Their crime–they contributed to the democratic process in an open election by supporting an initiative that they believed in. I would agree that not all members of the GLBT community are harassing Mormons, but some of their leaders are. You can track some of this in the LA Times, which was a strong antagonist to Prop 8 yet now criticizes some of the GLBT community for their response.

    I think that John Shuck might even feel persecuted if the church he serves was surrounded by chanting crowds, seeking to discourage his congregation from entering, or if he received envelopes containing unidentified white powders. These arguments are getting very heated here in California. The GLBT community thought that the defeat of Prop 8 would be a slam dunk, and found to their chagrin that they had seriously misunderstood the citizenry.

    I think it’s important to look at the facts:

    1. Proposition 8 was a democratic initiative. People who believed in the cause gathered enough signatures to get it on a ballot. Both sides had equal opportunities to state their case and to support itfinancially. People from both sides of the religious spectrum weighed in. Not only the Mormons but the Roman Catholic church, as well as most of the historically black denominations, supported it. The Episcopal Church spoke against it. The PCUSA did not express a position, and various clergy took various positions. In what is considered to be one of the most liberal states in the Union, the initiative succeeded by a significant margin, often a margin similar to the electoral support for Barack Obama.

    2. The GLBT position is often presented as a civil rights issue. Yet, it is interesting that communities who have had significant civil rights issues in the past and present, including both African American communities and Latino/Latina communities, voted resoundingly in favor of Prop 8. In many districts in which 95% of the votes were cast for Obama, 70% of the votes were cast for Prop 8. Perhaps the GLBT community needs to re-examine their argument. Even Barack Obama, who has now been vilified by some within the GLBT community for selecting Rick Warren to pray for him at his inauguration, does not support gay marriage.
    3. Those in the GLBT Christian community need to take a hard look at the rest of the Christian world, which does not support their cause, even though they may be dealing with persecution themselves. There are Anglican bishops in Africa whose congregations are experiencing martyrdom on a routine basis, and they are frankly puzzled by this fixation amongst some North American Christians. I think it would be statistically safe to say that at least 95% of Christendom does not support homosexual marriage, and it probably hasn’t been wrong to that extent on some topic since the Renaissance.
    4. Some of this argument is what Peter Berger describes as “only fascinating to those in the North American university faculty lounge”–it doesn’t get much further than that. This is particularly true of the captivation with postmodernism. I once asked Charles Taylor, the Canadian philosopher whose book “The Secular Age” was perhaps one of the best books of 2007, what he thought about postmodernism. He simply said “Postmodernism is dead. It has long ceased being relevant outside the academy.” Some of my colleagues at Fuller would disagree with me, and we do have these discussions in our lounges. But, then we have to do out and do ministry in the various ways that God has called us.
    3. John Shuck and I are members of the same denomination–the PCUSA–which is also Adam’s background, though somehow he has landed amongst the Arminians! I’m an elder, John has the more elevated position of pastor. The PCUSA is one the more liberal denominations in North America. I have a reasonable point of reference for that assessment, having been raised in the United Church of Canada, which is even more liberal. I never had the gospel explained to me there in fifteen years, even through confirmation classes. Yet, the reality is that the PCUSA will most likely reject homosexual ordination and homosexual marriage by an even larger margin than ever this year. While some of its elites are pursuing this agenda, it’s not receiving the support of the rank and file. John would appear to be at one end of the PCUSA spectrum, and I am at the other. Theoretically we both believe the same things, having vowed to support the same theological statements, though it seems we look at them through very different lenses. I’m happy to live with that, provided that we can treat each other with respect and, as our incoming President says, “Disagree without being disagreeable.”

    Finally, I want to make it clear, that, even though I work at a seminary which seems to “spout falsehoods”, I don’t speak ex cathedra for it. My views are my own, though in general they reflect our statement of faith and community standards. I just give my title to distinguish myself from any Howard Wilson who wouldn’t want to own my words.

    I’m happy to continue this discussion, if we can all be civil.

    Howard Wilson

  144. Trent Williams says

    @Howard: I’m more than happy to engage in a civil discussion, and I believe deeply that we in the Church are called to wrestle with difficult questions with one another, even when we disagree. We need each other, and as St. Paul reminds us, one part of the body cannot say to another: “I have no need of you.”

    But as I think you can see from this thread, it is profoundly difficult for many of us to continue to engage in something that has become toxic, as an earlier poster said. I’ve been engaged in this debate for years, and at some point it becomes impossible to continue when you hear over and over again that you are “a threat to the family,” or to the nation, or your life is equivalent to child molestors, or you are wicked, perverted, evil, and on and on. I think this is why I take such exception to your referring to the protests as hate crimes. The FBI statistics report over 2,000 incidents every year of violence committed against people who are LGBT. And I’m sure I need not remind you of Matthew Shepherd and many others who lost their lives to those who took their hatred to the extreme.

    I certainly don’t defend the burning of the Book of Mormon–that was an unacceptable act. But to refer to what were, by and large, peaceful protests as hate crimes demeans the deaths of those who were murdered because of their sexual orientation. Those are the real hate crimes. I’m not sure if it’s possible for someone who is not LGBT to understand what it’s like to worry that you might be assaulted because you’re simply walking with your beloved down a dark street. This is the reality that so many have to live with, and too many churches contribute to this atmosphere of violence by their over-the-top rhetoric and failure to genuinely engage those who differ from them.

    I am certainly not suggesting that those who maintain a traditional view of sexuality are automatically contributing to violence or that this view makes one homophobic. There are some people, like Tony Campolo for example, who still maintain a traditional interpretation but treat LGBT people as valued human beings and actually engage with compassion and care. Unfortunately people like him seem to be the exception. Most of the time, it’s simply more of the same. The Church in many cases has quite simply failed to treat LGBT people with genuine Christ-like compassion. And for many gay people, there comes a point at which continued engagement simply serves no purpose except to further destroy their self-worth and lead them into further suffering. How many more young gay people are going to take their own lives because they live in such despair? If the Church cannot offer a word of hope to them, then it has betrayed Christ and failed to live into its calling. If the Church cannot see Christ in the tortured body of Matthew Shepherd, hung on a fence-post to die, then it doesn’t really know Him. Christ himself said that he is present in those who are the least, the last and the lost. “For as much as you do it to the least of these, you have done it to me.”

  145. says

    Howard,

    A hate crime is a legal definition prosecuted as such. You can go to Lambda Legal and find a distressing number of hate crimes against lgbt people or those perceived as such.

    I don’t think the phrase hate crime should be thrown around lightly. If in fact, the protests against the churches are in your opinion hate crimes, they should be prosecuted as such.

    I, for one, do not condone book burnings or hassling churches or anyone for that matter. I do not condone violent protests or protests that destroy property including books. I do not condone behavior that incites fear.

    There is a difference between hate crime and protest.

    Yes Proposition 8 was a democratic process in which the majority took rights away from a minority. Thankfully we live in a republic in which rights of minorities are protected. I think you are correct in that the lgbt population and its supporters were asleep at the wheel. I don’t think that will happen again.

  146. Mike F. says

    Trent and Howard, good form. You represent the best of opposite points of view.

    As an in the trenches Board member of a local PFLAG chapter I have the job and privilege to sit in small support groups with GLBTQ people and their families. For purposes of this discussion I will share that I am also a Presbyterian elder and a Stephen Minister.

    On many occasions over the past two years I have been in small groups with “newcomers” or folks who are just for the first time dealing with coming out themselves, folks questioning their sexual orientation or parents or siblings in shock from the revelation of a loved one telling them they are gay.

    These folks are grappling with all sorts of issues but there is one issue that is nearly universal in its articulation.

    Nothing is 100% but certainly in a huge majority of the cases I get to sit in with people have had a negative church experience. This takes many forms but most frequently they know from church history they are “other” in a most negative way, they fear reprisals or have experienced such from church leadership or congregation members or friends, or there is an atmosphere whether spoken or not that says unwelcome and/or certainly unequal.

    In short, only the most intrepid GLBT people will take a stand in opposition to this expressed or veiled sentiment but most will not. Some will seek out welcoming congregations most will take leave of their church and not worship anywhere. Still worse, some feel forced to lead lives of quiet inauthenticity, in the closet, out of their fear of loss of relationship. All of this happens in the place that we refer to as “the house of God”.

    All of this at a time when spiritual support could be so incredibly valuable and potentially life affirming. Sadly, the exact opposite is typically the case. I am deeply ashamed of my Church for this (recognizing there are exceptions).

    If the Presbyterian Church wants to make a difference in an underserved population a ripe and ready mission field is the GLBT community. GLBT folks are starved for spiritual community. Please forgive my generalization because there are plenty of exceptions but by and large I believe this to be true.

    This life affirming piece is very important and should not be given short shrift. It is at the crux of what would invite me to stay in relationship with my church or not as a gay man or woman. When what is present in the relationship is any version of, “love the sinner, hate the sin” you’ve lost me because I am not being affirmed, I am being judged.

    Now, as a good Christian you may feel it is your duty to judge me, help me face and repent for my (so called)sin, or in a dozen nuanced ways not fully affirm my life as a gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual child of God but when you do you have lost the chance to invite me to the table of abundance and grace that is life in Jesus Christ. I have stopped listening.

    So now we have a problem. We profess to be a missional Church but there are children of God 10 feet from our front door who are experiencing a spiritual famine. And the worst part about it is as Presbyterian faithful we are responsible for it.

    The dialogue inside churches MUST change. It is a matter of life and death and if you don’t see that both literally and in a spiritual sense then you just aren’t paying close enough attention. I will use every fiber of my resolve to see that Howard is not borne out in his prediction about the direction of the Church in the new year.

    Grace is a most appealing word to me. There is nothing about the word that doesn’t raise me up, affirm me, give me hope in spite of the fact that I may not deserve it or call on me to live my life as if I had it.

    Our GLBT brothers and sisters need for us to extend to them the hand of grace. We can wrangle and complain and be right about our positions but in fact, people are suffering at our hand on our doorstep. What are we going to do about that?
    Mike F.

  147. Duh-sciple says

    Intriguing post… here’s my take…

    Option #1= distorted, deadly, demonic, destructive, cruel of the biblical text

    Option #2= chuck the Bible

    If those are my two choices, I vote for option #2. However…

    Option #3= the Voice of God speaks through the text by the power of the Holy Spirit shattering our worlds, converting our lives, taking what was deadly/destructive and bringing forth new life

    Application #1

    Deuteronomy 23:1= eunuchs are banned from the assembly of the Lord

    Deadly interpretation= apply this passage universally- too bad for those men who have suffered from testicular cancer- we ban them from our community

    Acts 8= an Ethiopian eunuch is invited into the family

    Reversal= by the power of the Spirit and in the name of Jesus, the formerly outcast our welcomed into the fold

    Application #2

    OT dietary laws= do not eat any unclean food

    Acts 10-11= the story formerly known as the “conversion of Cornelius” turns out to be the story of the “conversion of Peter”

    Peter’s former, deadly interpretation= do not eat any unclean food or associate with anyone who does

    Peter’s conversion to a life-giving, Spirit empowered interpretation= do not call unclean what the Lord calls clean- share table fellowship with Cornelius- in that culture- who you eat with= who your family is

    Application #3

    Deuteronomy 7= the people of Israel are ordered to commit genocide against the Canaanites- specific instructions- show them no mercy

    Matthew 15= Jesus, knowingly and willingly, heals the daughter of a Canaanite woman, demonstrating the mercy of God

    Notice that we had 3 biblical passages that were very “clear”- but through Christ by the power of the Spirit, the Lord pulled a reversal, initiated a conversion.

    I’m wondering whether or not we are undergoing a “conversion of the church” in relation to gay people.

    peace, Duh-sciple

  148. says

    Adam, the advice to meet a gay person/people, is spot on. I worked at Hume Lake Christian Camp in the late ’90s. This is the largest Youth Camp in CA, and likely in the US. Quite evangelical/conservative. While there, one man, “came out”, but privately, to me. Why me, I don’t know. Perhaps I felt safe. He was fired when his “status” was made public. Shortly thereafter, one of the longtime and revered leaders of the Camp, a single man in his 50s, came out, likely in response to the ousting of the homosexual man earlier that year. This man was also fired. What it showed to me is that “they” are amongst us in hiding. Some of the very best amongst us. We are all struggling with something. To spotlight the homosexual as the one with the problem is naive. When can we stop trying to control and let the healing Shalom happen as we submit to God’s shaping hand of our lives. We likely won’t any time soon because despite our claims that God is Sovereign, we like to be in control. Theological discourse is much more preferred to Prayer and a more passive growth. If there are problems with each of us, God will begin the repair. In the meantime, we might try humility and lovingkindness as a trump card to Definitive Theological Stances. If we err, lets err on the side of generosity and let he without sin cast the first stone. And if you still rally that the homo is a sinner, meet and know one or two before you silence them in ignorance to their plight.

  149. says

    Hey Duh-ciple,
    Your syntax isn’t clear to me. Are you suggesting that the Bible is in places “distorted, deadly, demonic, destructive, cruel” [of the biblical text] (sic)? If you are, we have such a difference on Scripture that we’ll have a hard time discussing on that level.
    You present as option two, “chuck the Bible.” I fail to see how that’s a distinct option; practically speaking, you jettison its authority if you can simply reinterpret any rule that doesn’t accord with your point of view. Your number three looks a lot like number 2 in kinder, more spiritual guise. If by a conversion of the church in relation to gay people you mean we are to take the Levitical condemnation of homo-sex and turn it into approval, that is not a valid analog to the clean/unclean laws and Gentile inclusion (especially since the New Testament reaffirms the Old Testament prohibition.) Sexual ethics have to do with behavioral standards, no matter where you posit sexual orientation comes from.
    Zach,
    Your argument cuts both ways. When can we stop trying to control, and “submit to God’s shaping hand of our lives”? Great question: but, ironically, it’s at least as convincing an argument to say that those who want to change Scriptural sexual ethics are trying to control God by trying to reshape him into our image. I think that’s exactly what Romans 12:1-2 is talking about, i.e. the need to submit ourselves—and our bodies—to God’s will in order to understand the good.
    I don’t feel it is unfairly turning the spotlight on homosexual sin to fire a person in a Christian ministry who fails to live in accordance with that ministry’s statement of faith or ethical standards. Of course, I don’t know whether or not the Hume Lake situation you describe was handled well. But I would hope that if a person was an unrepentant alcoholic or gossip, they would have similarly been held accountable. And you may be surprised to know that some of us who see homosexual activity as outside of God’s will and design nonetheless “know one or two,” even as friends.

  150. Matt S says

    I think something is being lost in this conversation that I am guilty of myself. I completely disagree with Adam as referenced in my earlier post. I believe the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments..to be clear that homosexuality is sin. I also believe that the Bible is God’s Word, that it is true binding and I would stake my life on it.

    That being said, we must also remember that homosexuality is a sin – nothing more, nothing less. I would bet the farm that there are people on this blog who struggle with the sexual sin, just not homosexuality…pornography, adultery, lusting after other men/women who are not your spouse or whatever.

    While I would never condone homosexuality and I believe that any true Christian and especially a minister would not either, I must keep this in perspective and remember to love all persons so that they would be pointed to the throne of Christ and seek repentance.

    This verse comes to mind:

    “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU (emphasis added); but you were WASHED, but you were SANCTIFIED, but you were JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NASB)

    You see…all these true Christians that Paul was writing to in Corinthians were these same people. Drunks, thieves, adulterers, homosexuals…and SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU. SUCH WAS I.

  151. says

    I think you have stooped to new levels of depravity here Adam. In your pursuit to be accepted by the LGBT community, you actually want to push aside scripture?

    Don’t you get that God put’s His Word on par with His Name? Psalm 138:2

    I myself have many gay friends – so I have had many conversations about their situation. I respect them as human beings and enjoy their friendship, but to “push aside the Bible” in order to accept their lifestyle choices is something I cannot do.

    Sure Jesus was about love and compassion – but that’s only two facet’s of His purpose. He says that not one jot or tittle would be taken away from His Word, and that encompasses your Leviticus and Romans quotes.

    Our God is a Holy God and while He is in the business of saving our souls, a far greater will exists within Him – to bring Glory to Himself. And all of us get in the way of this.

    I challenge you to take the time out to listen to the following sermon – it’s got nothing to do with the homosexuality question – but everything to do with a nature of God far too many people pay no attention to as they grapple social issues instead of pursuing God.

    http://www.thevillagechurch.net/resources/AreThereTwoWillsInGod_mp3.mp3

    I hope you take the time to listen as you will be truly broken – that is of course unless your hardened heart is too stiff to realise that it’s not about you or me or the LGBT community – it’s about God.

  152. mateo says

    @duh-ciple

    So in each of the circumstances referenced in your post God takes one behavior and redeems/changes it in the NT. The problem with your logic is that God doesn’t do that in any way in regards to homosexuality. There are no times in which God, through the Holy Spirit/Jesus/an Apostle, etc., takes someone dealing with homosexuality and calls it good. You say those 3 biblical passages are very clear and that God “changes” them, but He never does in regards to homosexuality. Isn’t this just more of the same argument that others have proferred throughout the thread? It seems like there are hermaneutic gymnastics being performed here in order to make homosexuality “fit” within a biblical framework that repeatedly speaks against it.

    All that being said, I don’t agree with the vitriol that I read in alot of these posts coming from both sides. Thank you Trent and Howard for your dialogue, good stuff

  153. says

    Adam:
    You said:
    I’m just not sure that the “love the sinner, hate the win” really ever works out. How can you truly hate something about someone, something that is so at the core of who they are, but still say, “Hey man, I still love you.” It’s a good sentiment, probably came from some folks who really meant well, but I think it’s just a nice way for some people to justify their feelings of hate without feeling bad about having them.

    By that logic you must therefore hate those who commit other sins like abuse or racism. Or if you love them, as Jesus commands in the gospel, you have to say what they do isn’t really sin. That’s dumb. We should hate ALL sin (our own most of all-as Jesus said it’s a plank) but we should love ALL people including our enemies. If you have to say someone isn’t really sinning in order to accept them then you are force to approve of heinous sins. Or you end up hating your enemies in disobedience to Christ who loved us when we were his enemies.

  154. Duh-sciple says

    Let me try again.

    If there’s a choice between a deadly interpretation of the Bible and chucking the Bible, I think you have to choose the later.

    However, there is actually a third option beyond deadly interpretations and chucking the Bible, namely, Life-and-Light giving interpretations.

    Duh-sciple

    • says

      @Duh-sciple: Thanks for your clarification above. I actually don’t think there are only two options (keeping or chucking the Bible). As I will discuss in some posts in the near future, it is all about correct biblical interpretation. We do need the Bible – but the Bible doesn’t need us to help “defend” it.

  155. Duh-sciple says

    And one more thing (nod to all those Columbo fans)…

    My earlier post attempted to argue that what was “clear” at one time was “not so clear” later on. I see BIBLICAL EXAMPLES of going from “eunuchs banned from the assembly” to “Ethiopian being baptized and welcomed into the assembly”– from “exterminate the Canaanites and show them no mercy” to “Jesus showing mercy to a Canaanite”– from “eat no unclean food and don’t eat with those people” to “table fellowship with unclean Gentiles.” In each case, something that was very clear was later reversed.

    So… this is a matter of interpretation. One author that I honor who comes down on the side of “homosexuality is universally a sin” is Chad Thompson. I forget the title of his book, but it definitely placed the emphasis on loving homosexual persons as primary, the center of Christian focus. Even though I personally disagree with Thompson’s biblical interpretation, his embodiment of Christ is right on.

    What I do reject is the rhetoric of “hate the sin, love the sinner” where there is the talk of “loving the sinner” without the accompanying embodiment. Perhaps if I knew more people who embodied Jesus the way Thompson does, I would be more open to the so-called “conservative, traditional” interpretation on homosexuality. When the emphasis is on the accusatory, that makes me think of the accuser.

    In conclusion, I don’t think how we interpret the Bible, particular passages or as a whole, generates one clear and obvious outcome. For me, the fruits determine which side I come down on. The “team” that generates the most loving, Christ-embodying fruit will be the one that convinces me.

    Duh-sciple

  156. Sabine says

    Lovely post. I agree. When ideology hurts people, when it oppresses and inspires hate against them, there is no excuse. I can guarantee you most of the bible idolizers and quoters that love to use the scripture to condemn homosexuality gleefully ignore the other things that are condemned . How many have tattoos? Eat shrimp and pig and rabbit? Shave? Do you believe a woman is impure after child birth? And all the other ridiculous things modern society and Christians don’t practice. Why? If you truly believe every word of the bible is the literal word of God, then why are you not following it TO THE LETTER and picking and choosing what to hate and condemn? This is what drives me insane about these kinds of people. It’s ok to hate people based on one or two verses, but all those other ones they themselves don’t bother to follow… well, we’ll just forget about those.

    “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.”

    “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.”

    “do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear material woven of two kinds of material.”

    So why are these ignored? Because they’re either ridiculous and/or from an era where this sort of institutionalized oppression was culturally acceptable. So why are we choosing to keep one verse out of almost all of these in the same text acceptable? Cultures change, attitudes change. The word of God does not change in the overall message of the verses, but the specification of them is irrelevant when it comes to cultural practices and progression. I don’t think anyone would argue that we should live exactly as people did when the bible texts were written. It was a violent, harsh time to live, with rather questionable practices we wouldn’t even think of doing today.

    Throwing out the bible altogether? Of course not. And I don’t think that is what you’re saying at all. But the specifics of the text are getting in the way of the overall meaning. People are idolizing the bible; ignoring the intentions of the words and fixating. And causing them to act in very hateful, non-Christian ways.

    Jesus is NOT just what you can read. If all He is to you is a bunch of written words on paper then you are really not getting it. I choose not to hate or judge anyone, despite if I might not agree what they are doing. Two consenting adults loving each other is something that is between THEM, not me, not anyone else. You can believe whatever you want to believe, it is not your right to impose or use those beliefs on others to hurt them and make second class citizens out of them. Religion should not to be a tool of government or institutionalized bigotry. It too often is, sadly. Christianity is about love and acceptance of everyone, because everyone is a sinner. You are no less a sinner than I or your gay neighbor. Especially if you’re shaving your beard or wearing a poly-cotton blend.

  157. says

    While I appreciate and agree with much of what the author writes, in sentiment, I think he’s guilty of just what he accuses. The problem isn’t with people “reading their bibles,” it’s with them not thinking rigorously about what they’re reading and the context in which it was written. The liberal and “emergent” types have a consistent problem: bringing experience, emotion, and a lack of intellectual rigor and patience. In that regard, this is more of the same.

    Someone needs to take the time and effort to speak more to those “very few” scriptural references to homosexuality and their lack of relevance in light of that time and this one (think, for example, of our rejection of slavery – a biblical norm). People don’t change their minds without being invited to think.

    As a young and liberal person that attends an “emergent” church, I’d like to personal ask that people keep their books open and bring their experience to those books, marry heart and mind. It’s embarrassing to see the author sell the argument short. Saying “enough with the bible already” reminds me of a child plugging his ears upon encountering difficulty, not someone ready to affect change.

    I think there are plenty of folks like the author (and myself for that matter) “taking someone who is gay out for coffee,” but if one side has a monopoly on experience and the other side has a monopoly on experience, the rift will only widen.

  158. says

    Duh-ciple, to “love the sinner while hating the sin” is an understandable concept to anyone who has parented children. To dismiss that possibility is to say that if love is sincere, it must approve of everything another person does.

    Sabine, you bring up some interesting texts from the supposed 613 of the Old Testament. Yes, we must admit there are texts that appear as inhumane, or at best petty. Some of these, such as “an eye for an eye,” have not been understood as prescriptive, but descriptive. They aren’t intended to say a person should gauge out an enemy’s eye to pay back. Instead, in a culture of blood vengeance, where an injured person often escalates the offense by striking back at the innocent, this law sets a just limit. That is, do not go beyond what justice requires.

    Are you aware that the church has dealt with Old Testament Law by seeing it in the three categories of civil, ceremonial, and moral law? The first two categories concerned the social and religious needs of ancient Israel, and do not apply universally. The moral law, summarized in the Ten Commandments, does apply universally. I agree that we have no excuse for hate as Christians, but neither do we have excuse for ignoring the will of God expressed in his own speech. We’re trying to take Scripture seriously here, and you calling that “idolizing the Bible” misses the point entirely. You maintain that “Jesus is NOT just what you can read”–obviously, he is more than what we can fathom this side of glory. But what we can access of the historical Jesus is confined to Scripture.

  159. says

    Adam, the Bible “contains the Word of God” is a limp statement, and problematic. How do you discern what portion might qualify for that status?

    If the confessions of the church do not explicitly condemn homosexual behavior, it is because the context in which they arose didn’t demand it. The church historically has written confessions in response to particular crises or doctrinal needs, in particular cultural contexts. That homosexual behavior could be possibly seen as valid for the Christian is a point of view inconceivable before our own postmodern era.

    If you prefer to focus more on relationships than “a few verses,” that’s what this discussion comes down to, isn’t it? It’s not simply about a rule in the abstract. And there are many positive scriptural affirmations of God’s design for human sexuality, as a covenant between one man and one woman.

  160. says

    Throughout the scriptures, God is concerned with liberation for God’s people.

    Yes, liberation from sin… such as committing homosexual acts.

    Romans 6:17-18 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

    I think that many people have done a great job of reading into scripture (that’s eisegesis, not exegesis) their own biases and issues, and have made homosexuality out to be “the issue” of our day. There is simply not a strong and/or coherent biblical witness to the sinfulness of homosexuality – it’s just not there.

    Then you should have no problem writing a posting laying out the proper exegesis of the passages in question.

  161. says

    Adam, you ignore my question. How do you know who and what Jesus Christ is apart from the apostolic witness to him? That’s what’s compromised in your view, a view that undermines confidence in the veracity or applicability of Scripture. You grossly miss the point yourself by resorting to tired revisionist dismissals or rewritings of Scripture texts. God is indeed concerned with the liberation of people, and that is, in this realm, first and foremost a spiritual liberation from the bondage of sin.

  162. says

    Agreed…but I wouldn’t say “enough with the Bible already…” which I know isn’t exactly what you’re saying anyway. But there IS still the issue of the “slippery slope,” as you well recognize. I think we need to START reading our Bibles rather than stop, because if we get the whole scope of what the Bible’s about then we can stop focusing on a verse here or there that we can use as a proof-text.

  163. says

    adam,

    i couldn’t agree more with this post. and i’m very happy and comforted by the fact that you are being brave enough to put this out here at a time in your life when it might be easier to take a quieter stance on this topic. what else would jesus do? really.

    i’m here to support you 100% in any way that i can and hope that you will continue to be outspoken, bold and deeply loving whenever you choose to speak what’s on your heart.

    i’m really, really proud of you.

  164. says

    Thanks again for all of the conversation here. I knew this post would be pretty controversial and draw some comments, but I had no idea it’d get up to 227.

    I thank all of you who have engaged in this conversation in ways that are helpful and fruitful. Obviously, this conversation concerns issues (and people!) about which people hold very strong beliefs and opinions. So, any time that people can have a real give-and-take conversation about this is helpful. Besides a couple comments, I think there has been some good conversation here.

    But it’s Christmas Eve and we should spend time with our families and celebrate the birth of Jesus. So, let’s give this post a break until next week. If you still feel there are unresolved things to discuss, we can pick it up again then.

    Peace and Merry Christmas.

  165. says

    very well written, thought provoking and interesting post….your right, their is a time to lay the bible aside and to take time to talk and listen…scary things can happen when people lock themselves in rooms with books and isolate themselves…also I am feel very strongly about human rights….it is very sad to see so much hatred, over this…

  166. Brent says

    Thanks for putting yourself out there as a very clever false teacher that treats the Bible like a buffet. Taking what you want and leaving what you don’t agree with. You have done a good job of showing yourself to be a fool. “If any man lacks wisdom let him ask of God”. The only true wisdom one can attain is one that starts from a correct understanding of his revealed will. (The Bible). Ignoring His clear teaching is foolish although, it may win you more friends in the homosexual community. It is refreshing for someone to finally come to the point of admitting that if you believe that homosexuality is not sin than the only option is to throw God’s Word out. At least me know where you stand? You have drawn the line and it sounds like you are comfortable with your stance. Good luck as you “minister” from your own wisdom.

  167. Howard Wilson says

    Thanks for calling a recess during the Advent season, Adam. I’ll be primarily responding to your critique of my argument. But, first let me say that I am not a person who has had no contact with homosexuals. I have worked alongside them, I have hired them to do work for me, I have traveled with them, I have become good friends with them. Last week I sent a friend a baby present, celebrating the birth of her child. And, we have agreed to disagree about sexual behavior.

    I have also been sexually harassed by homosexuals, stalked by a homosexual, and propositioned by homosexuals. I have also dealt with the misery of working through a situation where a church staff member became involved in a homosexual relationship with a minor who was attending our church’s youth group. The wreckage from that incident lingers on. I have also dealt pastorally with the wreckage that is caused when a parent “comes out” and abandons the family.

    So, I think I can say I’ve seen both good and bad sides of homosexuality, and probably know enough about it to begin to see how Scripture deals with it.

    I have also been criticized for a low view of hate crimes. Hate crimes are defined in various ways under various US legal jurisdictions, and statistics are collected by the US Department of Justice [DOJ]. The most common hate crime is racially related, and the second most common is religiously related. Gender/sexually related hate crimes rank third. The majority of hate crimes do not involve death or serious injury. And, by the DOJ definitely considers harassment such as publicly burning the book of a religion such as the Mormons to be a hate crime.

    I agree that the understanding of marriage has changed over 2000 years. Society’s understanding of marriage on the 21st century is not monolithic, either. Marriage takes a wide variety of shapes, from marriages arranged by parents to marriages that take place within days of arriving in Las Vegas. However, in the last 2000 years marriage has not been understood as a lasting relationship between two persons of the same gender. In most instances, such relationships have been seen as aberrant within the society in which they occur.

    I don’t think you can make a convincing case that the New Testament endorses polygamy. And, it’s the New Testament that is the primary basis for the position that active homosexuality is sinful behavior. The pro-homosexual side of the argument often throws up the Levitical restrictions against shellfish and haircuts as examples of restrictions that modern society finds to now be acceptable. However, they generally ignore the NT teaching on this subject.

    I agree that neither you nor I should speak for the homosexual community. However, I also would not want to underestimate their goals and purposes, or to fail to give them credit for being organized with an agenda to pursue. Those who present themselves as leaders within the homosexual community definitely say that they want homosexual behavior to be seen as fully acceptable and normative within society–i.e. that it is as acceptable as heterosexual behavior. They want homosexual marriage to be seen as equal with homosexual marriage. They want that to be taught in schools. They want those who teach against that to be seen as bigots.

    However, you can separate behavior from orientation, practically, philosophically, and theologically I don’t think the church should have an issue with a homosexual person who is endeavoring to live a celibate life. The Roman Catholic church has had that understanding for hundreds of years. Catholic theologians have told me that their Church accepts that they may have homosexual priests, but that the vow of celibacy negates that. The same theologians a will say that the sexual abuse of minors under priestly care is a very different issue which the Church should not tolerate, and that those practicing such abuse are not necessarily homosexual.

    There is a spectrum of positions within the organized church on the role of homosexuals in the church. Some churches believe that homosexuals should be cast out of the church. I think this is extreme–if the church cast out every sinner it would be a lonely place–just Jesus! The next position is the relationship of homosexuals with church membership. I think that’s where most churches that would welcome homosexuals begin to feel uncomfortable, particularly as it relates to behavior. The church I attend would have a problem here, but it would be just as we would have a problem with a heterosexual person who is living in adultery becoming a member. The next position is the role of homosexuals in church leadership–should they become elders, deacons, or ministers. [Definitions of these terms across denominations vary.] The position here is that those who feel called to/have been selected for/placed in leadership are called to a higher level of behavior. I think the NT is unequivocal on this. It’s where Christ criticized the Pharisees. My denomination, the PCUSA, is currently struggling with this part of the argument. But, it is highly unlikely to change in the near future, despite the fact that the homosexual side puts this matter on the docket at every General Assembly.

    Finally, you think I am overly anxious about this becoming a freedom of religion question–a violation of First Amendment rights. I would agree that this is currently not an issue. However, it could readily become an issue in the future. Again, I would not want to underestimate the efforts of the homosexual lobby. They want their behavior to be seen as normative. If it becomes normative and constitutionally protected, it is only a few short steps on a “slippery slope” for preaching against the practice of homosexuality to become hate speech. Canadian jurisprudence is definitely moving in this direction, and Canadian culture is often a few years ahead of American culture.

    I ‘m not convinced that there will ultimately be a convincing legal argument within constitutional law to say that Prop 8 is a taking of human rights by a religious group. I’ve read a bit of Jerry Brown’s appeal to the California Supreme Court to know that it is not an argument that will be likely to be readily sustained by the Court. Even liberal constitutional lawyers are not in agreement on this one. There isn’t a question that the initiative was conducted appropriately. I have noted that some leaders within the homosexual lobby are somewhat hesitant to pursue this matter in the courts, and particularly the US Supreme Court, because they believe they may not be successful.

    Prop 8 was supported by a wide spectrum of religious expression–everything from Islam to Orthodox Judaism to to Eastern Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism to most Protestant churches to Mormonism. That’s a pretty broad consensus of religions. And, in many ways human rights are determined by a consensus within society. I’ve read enough about the founding of the United States to know that there was not broad agreement about which rights should be clearly defined in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and that in many instances it was a simple majority vote as to what was included and excluded, rather than a unanimous decision.

    This issue has not been widely accepted in society as a human rights issue. I find it interesting that the African American community, which has experience a great deal of discrimination, and most of its leadership, do not see this as a civil rights issue, and neither does the President-elect. In fact, some leaders within that community have stated that laws against miscegenation were human rights violations, but the issue of homosexual marriage is not.

    Lest I be seen as a totally hard-shelled, moss-backed conservative on this issue, I would say that I am in favor of limited civil legislation that recognizes civil unions, and that this legislation should be in effect nationally. This would protect the rights of individuals such as Christina, who is worried about being able to visit her partner in the hospital if they were visiting the Midwest.

    Howard Wilson

  168. Mark Harvey says

    It’s good to see someone questioning the tendency among Christians to blindly believe portions of the Bible taken out of context and interpreted literally. But I wouldn’t abandon the Bible altogether.

    I really like this quote from Mahatma Gandi. I apply it in my reading of the Bible and other scriptures. “My belief in the Hindu scriptures does not require me to accept every word and every verse as divinely inspired…..I decline to be bound by an interpretation, however learned it may be, if it is repugnant to reason or moral sense.”

  169. says

    Yeah why not include quotes from Hitler and Stalin while we’re at it. I mean its like anything goes now that the bible is on the shelf.

    Seriously. This post is a waste of time as it seeks to please man instead of pursuing God.

  170. Josh says

    I wonder how we are to know anything about the “radical love and compassion that Jesus exemplified” if we put aside the Bible? Also, it seems that this writer has forgotten the exclusivity that Jesus preached, but I guess that is easy when one tosses out the Bible.
    I will take up the Bible for a moment and post from 2 Timothy 4
    2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
    3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
    4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

  171. R. Paige says

    Seems to me that the whole point of the Gospel is to convince folks to follow JESUS, not scripture itself. As we liberals like to point out, Jesus has WAY more to say about money than sexuality, and yet…
    Well, let me just say, yours is a well-written argument. Let the conservatives keep their scripture, I already know what it says. As for me, I’ll stick with Jesus.

  172. says

    Sorry I’m late to the party, can’t say I read all the comments, so sorry if someone’s made this suggestion already. Perhaps instead of suggesting putting the Bible up on the shelf, it might be less of a stumbling block to more conservative Christians, the ones you’re trying to reach with your point, to say, “Stop reading those passages you know so well concerning homosexuality, and spend your time reading the rest of scripture.” Telling our more conservative friends to stop reading the Bible is a quick way to end the friendship, and hence the conversation. Just a thought.

  173. says

    adam,

    thanks for tackling a tough issue. I have just (today!) received my copy of “for the bible…” from the states (it’s not available in south africa).. so can’t wait to get home to see it!

    I agree with matt and josh that “enough with the bible” is probably going to annoy more than convince. the strongest arguments (for me) FOR including the GLBTI community in all of church life come FROM the bible. Your response to Joe speaks of the “trajectory” of scripture – which will always be the stronger witness (has to be!) than individual verses…

    but I also appreciated that your “enough with the bible” comment arose after having watched families and people sharing their stories of pain – at having been hurt and alienated by church people…

    so, viewed from that position, i really support your post. I know you haven’t stopped reading the bible, but your call for scripture to be used to liberate and encourage people – in a community that puts people before things (even the bible!) because God is Love… i think the spirit of your post is right on the mark.

    blessings if you’ve been bumped off some people’s freindship lists… comes with the “coming out” territory you’ve chosen!

    b

  174. Tabetha says

    If you are curious about homosexuality
    just say out loud now Jesus I believe and
    I receive you in my heart please help me
    I also know a great site you can go to
    at leroyjenkins.com

  175. says

    If Matt is late to the party with his posting on March 2, 2009 at 2:35 pm then I’m late to the after party with this one. I agree with what Matt has to say about reading the rest of the bible. By doing so, the hope is that the reader will come to know Christ and learn to love homosexuals as he does. I’ll be forthcoming with the fact that I’m somewhat of a centrist on the topic of homosexuality; this means I can easily offend either side. Certainly, such is not my intent but rather, truth.

    If have to admit the ambiguous message is quite the visual play-on-words. First, you have the obvious, “I’m Gay and I’m Christian.” Second, “I’m Gay, and such is the cross I bear.” The unintended third is perhaps, “The cross was the unjust punishment of Christ as are the gay feelings I have.” Lastly, I put my sin on the cross.” I make these statements as an observation of what the symbol conjures nothing more—and now, on to more serious things.

    As a straight Christian, I have gay friends that I love dearly and knowing them helps me be closer to God. How is that? Loving someone makes me care about what they think and how they feel. “All of a sudden, this “issue” is not just an issue[.]” I consider such things before I make ignorant comments that are hurtful and unsupported by the bible and God. That said, I will share my thoughts and I welcome strong opinions from both sides.

    “For some, I believe the Bible has become an idol.” I see this as well. Our modern day Pharisees will have us believe that what is written is greater than the divine inspiration we receive from God Himself. It is unfortunate that they worship the fruit of the divine revelatory process but do not understand the process itself. What God speaks to the mind of a man is greater than all the words in the bible. Remember, the Pharisees had the Old Testament and they put Christ to death. Those who preach the bible without possessing the spirit of God within them, follow in the Pharisee’s footsteps, and make the Father of the Pharisees their Father.

    “…[G]ay marriage…will continue to be a public issue getting much attention for many years to come.” At this point in time, my thoughts on this matter are such:

    In terms of law, Gay marriage is just. Gays are pursuing legal recognition of a relationship similar to that of what straight people enjoy. As far as law is concerned, the majority will generally rule and as such, it should not be the primary concern of Christians. This is not to say that Christians should not vote with their convictions but we are to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. Someday, Caesar may decide that gay marriage is lawful. We need not worry ourselves too much about this. Despite this point, I would like to mention that Howard Wilson’s post on December 29, 2008 at 11:58 am was quite excellent and well written.

    From the biblical perspective, there is no such thing as gay marriage. That is to say, that God does not recognize the legal standing of two people because He is no respecter of persons. Gay or straight, your marriage certificate means nothing to God. What God does recognize is the spiritual decisions that a man or woman makes in their soul to be committed to another. “A man will leave his mother and father and cleave unto his wife, and the two will be one flesh.” God recognizes heterosexual intercourse and the spiritual union that comes with it. This union is further expressed by the genetic union of man and woman to create a child. The child is the fruit of this one flesh.

    So is homosexuality sin? Given what I have expressed above, I believe that He wants us to multiply and replenish the earth through the holy covenant of heterosexual marriage. Paul expresses his opinion that to be single is better than to marry and I am convinced that it is just that, an opinion. My opinion is that marriage is better than being a eunuch for Christ. What Paul does make clear is that neither choice is sin. I will speak for myself and say that it would be sin for me to be gay as this is not the will that my father has revealed to me. I will also say that if God has revealed to you the same then yes, it is sin. If He has not, then the matter is that of choice; where there is no law there is no condemnation. If such is revealed to you to be sin and you do sin, nothing changes. You are a sinner, like me, and as such we both need Chris

    I hope my reasoning is clear enough that it demonstrates that sexuality is a matter of the soul in the presence of genetics. I may or may not be genetically predisposed to infidelity but that does not make it acceptable. A rapist may be genetically predisposed and so too a nymphomaniac.

    Again, predisposition does not excuse behavior. It does give each of us our own unique set of parameters that we must deal with in our pursuit to follow Christ. How you do that and how well, is entirely between you and God. I will certainly not be the one to point the finger of condemnation when I have my own sins to work out. What I will do is invite everyone to draw closer to Christ Jesus. Yes, that goes for the homosexuals but especially to the bible thumpers who thump out of fear that a speck of dust might settle upon it. My bible is completely surrounded by dust because I carry the Word in my heart.

  176. Samuel Tunes says

    “You are a sinner, like me, and as such we both need Chris”

    Truly, this may be one of the worst places to have a typo. The dangers of late night critical thinking. I suppose that Friends should not let friends blog tired. ;)

  177. Kyle A. says

    Anyone opposed to gay marriage and/or feels the need to “fix” homosexuality please read Matthew 13:24-30 The Parable of the Weeds among the Wheat. If you view homosexuals as sinners (weeds) let them grow, it is not your place to uproot them. Let them live in what you see as sin and when the harvest comes let Jesus decide who is worthy for entry. If you feel the need to not allow them to get married or be gay you are passing judgment on the weeds when it is not your place to.

  178. says

    I’m wondering if any of you have considered the words in Matt. 19 re: three kinds of eunuchs. Seems to me it is worth investigating the translation of ‘eunuch’ and the contextual understandings of ‘eunuchs’ and who they were in various ancient cultures, particularly, in this case, Roman/Mediterranean/Jewish. It seems that every culture had/has taboos against the effiminate male, and perhaps Jesus was radically challenging those. For sake of potential blow-back – I have not looked into this seriously (so don’t come out fighting), but have merely pondered possibilities – and would appreciate insights of knowledge.

  179. Kyle A. says

    @Zach

    I think the idea of the effeminate male (“malakoi” i think the word is?) is the embodiment of vanity as it was percieved during that time. Thats me just speaking from how I see it. I too would like to see more about where the word “eunuchs” in other contexts, its used to describe people incapable of giving children and people who wish to remain chaste according to the modern translation, but I have a feeling it could also be used to refer to people in relationships that are incapable of producing children. I would like to find other texts with that word that might shed more light into a more in-depth definition of the word.

  180. Justin says

    As someone who just stumbled across this post, I find it an interesting read. This is a topic that I love to debate from either side. Both sides can present some pretty compelling arguments. I guess I err on the side of what seems most natural based on your design, but then again, if you don’t err on that side, are you biblically wrong? I have no idea.

    There’s only about 50 billion pages of interpretation on the internet….I’m on 12. C-YA:)

  181. Matt says

    Wow. How very unfortunate you believe such an act is not a sin. The Bible states very clearly that it is, so you shame the Bible and God himself saying otherwise.

    However, being loving towards those who have chosen this deviant lifestyle is critical. We need not put the Bible aside, but should spend more time in it, learning about how to love like Christ, while speaking truth at the same time. Bowing to the world and saying homosexuality is not a sin is outrageous, and untrue. Hopefully the Spirit convicts you soon so promotion of this by a presumed “Christian” doesn’t lead others down the wide path.

    I don’t think you have an enlightened view at all. I think you are weak, just like the rest of us, and have decided to cave on this issue, as well as a few others. To use the world’s terminology, grow a pair. Be proud of the Bible, and speak it with authority. May God’s grace and mercy cover you and those you influence.

  182. Pastor Nar says

    It would certainly be worth a try, Adam.

    Far too long the Christian community has been afraid of the Gay community and that fear has caused us say and do many ignorant things. What many of us do not realize is the a large portion of the Gay community are (or have been) part of our Christian community … they’ve grown up with us in Sunday School, participated in our worship services, been our best friends – yet they have been afraid to open up to us about their lives.

    I believe their fear is, most times, well-founded. Sometimes I think ‘coming out’ to their church ‘family’ and friends might actually be as, or even more, difficult for them than telling their own flesh and blood family. At least with their physical family there is a bond that remains – not necessarily so in what is to be a spiritual family. We so easily cut ties with those who – in our estimation – ‘don’t measure up’. The last time I looked at Scripture I think I saw that none of us ‘measure up’ … one of the reasons for the atonement.

    I’m sure that decades of evangelical rhetoric will make many LGBT people hesitatant to place themselves in, as you say, such a vulnerable position … but I think many would take such a risk. My prayer is that the Spirit would connect them with people that have a heart like Jesus.

    If the website idea keeps popping into your head, then I would go for it. Perhaps God is desiring for you to cooperate with him – or desiring to cooperate with you – in this matter.

    As for ‘growing a pair’ … I think there is a different part of our anatomy that needs to grow: our hearts.

  183. Giorgio says

    This post, as eloquent as it is written, is very sad. We as christians build our lives on the Bible and we should never put it aside. It is the word of life, the very words of God to man inspired by the Holy Spirit. And you are right we don’t only lean on that because we lean on Jesus and the Holy Spirit living inside those who have chosen to surrender their lives and their ideas. The Spirit speaks more than anything and to say we shouldn’t love gays or we should cast them aside is wrong. To say that is a sin to be gay is wrong as well. It is however a sin to give into our fleshly desires that are wrong according to the word which where we base our beliefs. Adultery is sin, fornication is sin, practicing same sex acts is sin. No question about that. I believe many will walk away from what the Spirit speak to us in these last days because the love of many believers will grow cold and more and more christians these days don’t know how to hear the voice of God and live lives full of compromise and are filled with their own “ideas” about God. We are living in the last days people, deny your selves pick up your crosses and follow Jesus. Be like John the Baptist and say let there be more of You and less of me Lord.

  184. says

    Folks, please — for those of you who deem that you have the ‘correct’ interpretation of Scripture (usually those who read most literally) — give it up. You don’t have a clue any more than the rest of us do. Be content w/ your understanding (and let’s hope mercy goes w/ it), and be careful not to presume that the rest of us are out to lunch b/c your reading is not validated by our reading. If we read the Scripture in any way other than a nuanced read — we are fooling ourselves. Fine to come to your own understanding but don’t wield it with certainty – but do wield the primary tenants that are unmistakable such as hope, mercy, justice, forgiveness, humility. Would you care to have your life under a microscope? If so I’m sure you would fail. Would you care to demand all that is set out in the Bible at face value from cultures many times removed from our own — I’m sure you wouldn’t. How would your wife like being removed during her monthly uncleanliness? (one of many examples of things we do not observe). Please – stop acting like you know it all and practice some of the existential values and ways of being that are unmistakably taught in Scripture and by Jesus. – Zach

  185. sara says

    I wish this was true. Unfortunately, it’s having had relationships with homosexuals, Christian and otherwise, that has convinced me what the Bible says is true. As a Christian, I feel rejected by the church that embraces homosexuality for not accepting its arguments when it comes to this issue. I guess it goes both ways, hun?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The Bible & Homosexuality: Enough with the Bible Already — pomomusings …If it is truly the Bible that is causing some to hold these discriminatory beliefs, then perhaps we need to set the Bible aside for awhile. Perhaps we need to not construct a belief system about LGBT folk built on the foundation of a couple verses in scripture. Perhaps that isn’t healthy, fair, just or Christian. [...]

  2. [...] This post needs no introduction.It is a textbook example of the rebellion against the scriptures which has been referred to in recent posts. What is amazing to me is that those who hold to a liberal philosophy touting their “radically” inclusive, and more tolerant pov are actually the least loving in their approach. [...]

  3. [...] Well – if that’s the problem – then I say, “Enough with the Bible already!” This issue has been on my mind a lot recently, for a variety of reasons, but most recently because Sarah and I gathered with some friends from our church and watched the documentary, “For the Bible Tells me So.” (Online source) [...]

  4. [...] I think he does have a point.  But — I can see this line of thought leading us to ignore the problem altogether.  And we don’t need that.  We have enough religious people using the bible and religion in general as a weapon to deny persons their civil rights; we need more religious people actively challenging that position.  And yes, maybe even more religious people to say enough with the bible for a while. [...]

  5. [...]  And maybe, just maybe, you need to go out and grab coffee with someone who’s gay. Maybe you need to hear their story, learn about what they’ve been through, how they’ve experienced Christians and the church… Christians need to get over their fear of gays and of what might happen if they welcomed fully into our society and churches. Christians need to get over their infatuation with a very select few verses, and get over their infatuation with a literalistic interpretation of these texts. Christians need to look more to Christ than to the Bible. (Adam Walker Cleveland, Online source) [...]

  6. Left-Wing Pomos Comment on Bible v Homosexuality…

    A recent blog post at pomomusings is receiving what I think is alot of undue attention for a simple post that suggests the solution for Christian v. homosexuality is to remove the Bible from the equation. Speaking from a Canadian context, where most of…

Leave a Reply