Monday, May 09, 2005

Homosexuality and the Church

In Bible study this past week I argued against judging homosexuality and encountered a painful disagreement. As always, what was said in that room I would like to leave there. But the issue burns at my heart, and I am compelled to discuss it. What follows is not a continuation of my argument this past week or a response to that conversation necessarily, especially in details; no assumptions should be made that everything I say here found agreement or disagreement in my Bible study.

Our disagreement arose from comments by St. Paul which have been interpreted in our times as texts speaking out against homosexuality. Let me quote the relevant passage from Paul's letter to the young church in Rome; it is important to quote it in full.

Romans, chapter 1
18: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
19: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20: Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;
21: for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.
22: Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
23: and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
24: Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
25: because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.
26: For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,
27: and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
28: And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct.
29: They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips,
30: slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
31: foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
32: Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.

I would agree with many secular -- and these days, even traditionally religious -- commentators who point out that when Paul refers to homosexual behavior, he probably was referring to many things that he saw around him, which surely included homosexual temple prostitution, and the habit of men to take a young boy as a sexual companion (what universally we call today child molestation). I would not deny that Paul, as a Jew, disapproved of private homosexual behavior between adults; but I do wonder whether Paul saw private homosexual relations as something which was or could be kept apart from those "out in the public" practices that he saw and recoiled from, even as we would recoil today from temple prostitution or child molestation.

I am not a trained biblical scholar and the question remains open to me, but I also have to believe that our modern concept, dividing the private sphere from the public, enshrining private life with autonomy from the social collective, is exactly that, a modern one -- and not one that we would wish to give up, so long as it does indeed protect human beings and does not promote private selfishness and other ills of modernity.

Second, it is no modern insight, but simply a literal reading of the text, to recognize that Paul is talking about many things quite apart from sex and sexual desire. Paul is referring to "all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice." He says people are consumed with "envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity," and adds that "they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless." That is a famously long list of sins, and there are none among us today who would defend these things.

Paul sets the context by noting that certain people gave up worshipping the Creator as God and began worshipping "images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles." And think about what that means for him: what you worship changes you. Suppose you decided that God looked like a dollar bill and created an idol of a $100,000 bill to worship. Every time you worshiped at that altar, you'd be nurturing the part of you that loved money, that coveted perhaps this exact sum. The principle for Paul is that if you worship an animal, you will worship what we sometimes call our animal nature, and cultivate animal instinct rather than human discernment. If you worship the image of a human being, and set all your mind, heart and soul toward it, that is probably better, in Paul's view, than worshipping an animal, but it still means that you worship the creature known as a human. You look upon a man as God, therefore whatever that man represents is what you will believe to be good. You will follow what the creature wants, when Paul is saying that you should be following what the Creator wants -- you should follow a universal law that does not take sides with things on earth, which always conflict, like warring men or warring forces of nature. Created things follow their own patterns, habits, needs and desires; the Creator, however, offers laws, and love, that transcend any contingent or temporary desire.

Paul then speaks of men and women following their own desires slavishly: "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator." He follows with a long list of sins, as if to say that when men and women follow only their egos, they will sleep with whomever it pleases them to sleep with, they will prostitute their bodies in temples for their own reasons, they will act on envy, gossip about others, slander them, do their own wills rather than honor their parents, act ruthlessly toward others, murder them, become boastful, and finally reject the proposition that God above rules them. In short, they simply do whatever they want, and follow their creature instincts wherever those might lead. They lead lives without discipline -- they never interrupt their own negative emotions and actions with good thought or deed, or even hesitation.

Paul probably thought of sex as our first and strongest creature desire; therefore someone who follows what the creature wants, will want first, before any deeper sins, simply to have sex with other creatures, and without checks, moderation, or balance. Deep iniquity, like cruelty to others, is something that we know intuitively as coming later down the path of moral degradation; and Paul seems to imply this by leaving those kinds of sins till later in his text. Sexual decisions really do seem to come first in his description of these people gone bad, and for him, people who have chosen not to discern the creature's selfish desire from the wiser will of the universe's caretaker and creator will first of all stop distinguishing heterosexual behavior, what God wants, from homosexual behavior, which God condemns (as in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13). Deeper sins will follow from such inability to discern.

All of us today think of malice and violence toward others as something that we can freely choose to give up. Should we come to God, and come to understand that what we want is not always what the world needs (nor even, really, what we need), we will discipline our behavior, and treat people well rather than lord it over them with our selfishness. We can freely choose this.

But is sexual orientation a choice? Some think of it as if it were, as if sexual orientation should be presumed a choice until proven otherwise, when I would argue that observation tells us we should presume the opposite. Paul observed certain things, and saw homosexuality associated with a pagan culture that was in fact degraded in many ways; Christianity gradually won over the Greco-Roman world because much of the old paganism was so cruel and without hope. Paul, as I noted, also was not observing the world through a concept we now have and wish to keep, which is that of private behavior as distinguished from public. We see regularly that people with private homosexual behavior lead public lives that do not match Paul's description of what he could plainly see in the ancient Roman world: they lead lives in which they do good things, unlike the people Paul is describing.

I know that we Christians disagree about many things, but whatever you believe is good, think of that, and you will find homosexuals somewhere following it and doing it. For instance, the Catholic Church opposed both Bush administrations' wars against Iraq. Gays and lesbians were actively opposed to these wars -- and not just because they opposed Bush 41 and 43. All my life I have known gays and lesbians who took stands sincerely and because at the very core they could not help but oppose what they felt were wrong actions. Recently I came to know just how strong could be the desire to oppose the invasion of Iraq on the grounds that human life would be extinguished unnecessarily -- the most Christian of beliefs; and it was a lesbian woman who showed this strength of feeling to me; who proved also to be more right about the destructiveness of the Iraq war, and war in general, than I was. Yet how could we say in such a case, "You are senseless, full of malice and murder and greed, without consideration for the needs of others"? That simply is not true. Gays have these sins to no more a degree than straights do. Paul is clearly talking about people who are more sinful than others -- indeed he seems to be speaking of people who have gone entirely bad. That there are such people in the world, in which redemption remains possible but all behavior has become corrupted, I do not doubt. That these people are gays and not straights is unimaginable to me.

Many Christians, I know, support the war in Iraq. I only ask you to think of ANY good feeling or proposal, and ask whether ANY gay person has ever shared this feeling or worked for this proposal in a way that was no less sincere, no more hypocritical, than you have seen in those Christians in your circle who are least free of sin. That is a beginning. And that is all, really, we will ever be able to do: we can only judge what we observe in our small lives; we will never have God's access to the inner and external lives of the whole world, such that we could judge well enough that an entire group of human beings compares in such-and-such a way with other entire groups. Only God could do that; and he does not judge by the group, but by the heart.

If you believe that gays and lesbians belong to a subculture that is uniquely sinful, reflect first in the way I suggested in the paragraph above, and then remember that whatever your evidence for such a conclusion about gay culture, it is your own personal evidence and nothing more. You may try to widen your experience, and that would be good, but you will never know what God knows.

It is here, of course, that so many of us disagree, with many Christians saying that they do not need to see for themselves because the Bible tells them what they need to know. I want to say first that I deeply admire the attitude by which people surrender themselves to the Bible and look to it, rather than their own fragile egos, for guidance in everyday things. I have nothing but respect for that surrender and for such faith. I do want to question what the Bible says, in the spirit of someone who deeply loves the Bible and sometimes feels married to it.

Is Paul writing exclusively about homosexuality? No, he is writing about many sins. Is he saying that homosexuality always leads to, or is accompanied by, sins such as God-fearing people do not fall into? No, I see nothing in the text saying that homosexual behavior must lead to a state of Godless sin. I do hear Paul saying that when people choose idols, they proceed into homosexual behavior, and then into other, deeper sins. But is this the same as saying that homosexuality always goes down that road? What about gays and lesbians who do not worship animal or human forms, and do worship the God of the Bible? Does that homosexuality lead into deep iniquity?

A dozen years ago I spent two semesters studying at Union Seminary, which has a heavy gay, lesbian and bisexual population. I worked for a woman who lived with another woman, a professor of mine, in a faithful relationship. Both, as I recall, were Catholic, and the woman for whom I worked could speak of her faith quite fondly -- to mention just one instance, she could feel loneliness as a Catholic woman in a predominately Protestant school. She was one of the most gentle and peaceful people I have ever known; she knew how to respect others, and how to manage employees as people. I did not think anything of that experience with regard to Paul's reference to homosexuality, because I can't remember ever really having accepted the Catholic teaching that homosexual behavior (but not homosexual orientation!) is sinful, despite not really knowing gays as I grew up and being firmly straight myself.

Still, I remember my experience with her as I come to be aware of this fierce cultural battle over homosexuality. When you experience respect and observe love among gays such as heterosexuals may regard themselves as truly blessed to experience, you cannot possibly think that Paul's description applies to all times and places. It was timeless, yes, but in the sense that it truly described what Paul was seeing. And whatever Paul was seeing in the pagan world, it does not accord with a great deal of what I have seen in the modern Western world with its deep Judeo-Christian roots (nor what I expect to see anywhere in the world where God's will is truly kept, though we should leave that topic for another post). In my life I have seen people worship idols, such as money or even sex, and I've seen both greed and lust, but I've not seen sin locked away on one side of a sexual orientation, or even gathered more on one side or the other.

What it comes down to is that Christ spoke of two greatest commandments: love of God, and love of one's neighbor as one's own self. When I see people openly worshipping God, and loving one another, and I see them even crying when distant people in Iraq are killed, I could never imagine telling them that their sexual orientation somehow matters more than all that, or worse, that it disproves all of that and reveals them to be, underneath it all, really bad people. That is not only judgmentalism of the kind that Christ prohibited, it is disordered thinking, for the simple reason that in many cases it directly contradicts simple observation. Forgive me, but placing anything above the two commandments is the kind of thinking that leads to idols, in the sense of venerating something other than God's law, as Christ gave it out.

It is true that Christ said he came not to abolish the Law as given out in the Hebrew scriptures, but to fulfill it. But we know that he abrogated Moses' law permitting divorce, and forbade divorce. That was his way of fulfilling the Law -- in essence, from a literal point of view, abolishing an old law. Obviously what he meant by not coming to abolish the Law was not literal. True, in this case Christ is showing an example of fulfilling the Law by replacing it with a stricter one. But all throughout his ministry he speaks of loosening Sabbath and other regulations for the sake of life. You lose a sheep, you go look for it, even on the Sabbath; someone is in need, you help, or heal them, on the Sabbath. What Christ meant to do with the Law cannot be said to be either exclusively a tightening or exclusively a loosening of Old Testament commands.

He mentions nothing about homosexuality, and does not mention the Leviticus passages on homosexuality. Yes, this could mean that Christ thought that Leviticus was just fine as it was (something I doubt, given that Christ seemed to believe all the Law either to be interpreted harshly against men and women, or else as unfulfilled, but not in any sense "just fine as it is"). It could also mean that he did not see homosexuality as an important issue -- which would be in keeping with his command that love of God and neighbor were to be upheld as laws more important than smaller regulations. Can we conclude from Christ's silence on homosexuality that he had nothing to add concerning that subject? His silence about most of the Old Testament verses, and the subjects therein (such as slavery), does not mean that he had nothing to say about them; far from it.

The overwhelming likelihood is that he did have something original to say about it, if someone had asked him. Perhaps indeed he was asked; but the last chapter of John's Gospel indicates that most of what Jesus said and did went unrecorded. In any case, if it's a safe bet that Christ had something to say on the matter, what did it do with Leviticus? Was it a strict tightening or a loosening?

I see nothing in Christ's words or acts to indicate that he meant to tighten the capital punishment that Leviticus prescribed for homosexual behavior (as Leviticus prescribed for other sexual behaviors and other acts). I cannot imagine that Christ would have said something worse than capital punishment should befall those who engage in homosexual behavior.

I do see in Christ's words and acts, in all of them, indications that he would have loosened the law in some way or abrogated it. When he abrogated the Mosaic law on divorce, he said, "For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery" (Matthew 19: 8-9). I cannot imagine that he would have said, "because of the hardness of your hearts in the time of Moses, he commanded you to put to death those who engaged in homosexual acts; now I command you to mete out more than death." Given his teaching on divorce, however, I see him quite plausibly saying, "Because of your infidelities with other gods in the time of Moses, you were commanded laws radically different, upon pain of death, from those of surrounding peoples, so that you would punish those among you who did what other peoples did, and keep those among you who did not what other peoples did."

To a great extent, of course, this is speculation, but it is not mere guessing: Leviticus makes its prohibitions against homosexuality in chapters where the typical phrase providing context is one commanding the Israelites not to do those things that were commonly practiced in Egypt, or in the Promised Land before the arrival of those who had escaped Egypt. In one of the chapters prohibiting homosexuality the charge is put this way: "You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes" (Leviticus 18:3). So the Jews accepted commands that would distinguish them in such areas as homosexuality but also every small detail of food and clothing. These are commands which Christians no longer follow, either in liberal or evangelical circles, though the verses on homosexuality still are being venerated -- no doubt because of what Paul wrote about homosexuality.

But let us speak of Paul. His career is a further reason to believe that Christ would have loosened the Leviticus injunctions, in that Paul insisted that the Law be loosened wherever it stood in the way of people coming to Christ. Paul even loosened Leviticus in a sense, by not recommending capital punishment for homosexuality, and rather stating that homosexuality was the result of the true sin, which was losing sight of God. Paul here, and more clearly in other places, imitated Christ's spirit with regard to the letter of the Law. But St. Paul was a lesser being than Christ. If he loosened Leviticus only so far, it remains an open question what Christ himself would have said on the matter. Paul does not invoke Christ's direct teachings when he refers to homosexuality. Would Paul have said something that contradicted Christ directly? No, I doubt it. Would he have said something to fill a silence by Christ? Certainly; he had to fill many silences (we have the same obligation). Can any of Paul's words contradict God's will? Here I affirm, with many other Christians, that Paul or any other Biblical author could write down things which spoke exactly to the time and place as God needed to be spoken, indeed as God inspired to be spoken. But that just leaves us where we were before: whatever Paul was faithfully describing in his world, it directly contradicts much of what we see today in our Western world with its Judeo-Christian roots.

Paul was speaking something that the church in Rome needed to hear because it was true about their situation, and perhaps about many situations in the ancient world. And surely it is true of any situation today where evil goes hand in hand with sexual license (both homosexual and heterosexual). But my concern here has been modern behavior and character that plainly is different from what Paul was seeing. In the same way, we can say that Leviticus needed to be spoken to the Israelites at the time of that book's composition. So many of the commands in the Torah speak of the dangers of failing to distinguish one's own faith from surrounding cults that I cannot help but read the commands as saying essentially this: you must not let your faith perish. For that reason we have the command for circumcision, a mark that set the Jews apart and gave them a strong sense of distinction; yet no one today would say that a male not physically circumcised was therefore doomed to damnation -- especially because the scriptures speak of the greater circumcision being in the heart. So if Leviticus was given in order for the Jewish people to survive in a particular time and place, it becomes very difficult to accept it as a pronouncement for all times and places about homosexuality among Jews, Christians, Muslims, secularists, pagans, and atheists. Christ himself proves, when he speaks of divorce, that one command can be issued by Moses and another quite contrary command is required in a different historical circumstance thousands of years later. It is time for us to take that into our hearts.

I have to believe that if Christ did not say anything about homosexuality, it's because the subject did not come up in his brief ministry; just as abolition of slavery did not come up, not to mention abortion or euthenasia. Many of the things we care about today were not debated issues in first-century Palestine. Like abolition, allowing homosexuality was unthinkable. For whatever reasons, Christ did not command his people to give up this distinction between themselves and the pagan world. Needless to say, we are living in a changed situation.

I propose instead that Christ said to the world enough for future decisions to be made based on a Biblically nurtured conscience: for in that way, without the Bible having called specifically for abolition of slavery, the Christian era saw moderation of that practice, or limits placed upon it; and 18 centuries after Christ, Christians led the way in abolition. Now it has come time for Christians who want to judge homosexuals negatively to realize that when other Christians push for equality in every sense among those with differing sexual orientations, it is not a mere whim of secularism that makes this issue burn in our hearts: it is the Gospel itself, and the commandment to love, from which this push springs. It literally hurts when the Church places anything above love; it makes us feel alienated from our own Church; and a Church which places anything above love will not feel safe to those who have disagreements of any kind.

Christ commanded that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves, in fact better than we love ourselves. A gay, lesbian, bisexual or transexual who follows this command certainly belongs to Christ, regardless of their sexual orientation.


Anonymous Bonnie said...

Well, here I finally am, only a week later!! I have spent much time contemplating your thoughts here, and doing some studying of my own. I origially planned to have this a little better thought out, but this may run around a bit! You may want to get down to end before you decide how crazy I am!

I agree with so much of what you said here. You once again have challenged me, and motivated me to look a little deeper...

My thoughts:
I believe that homosexuality is wrong. I believe that sexual orientation is a choice. I believe God's plan for sex is for one man and one woman, and for that sexual relationship to happen in marriage. This was God's plan, and God's design. I think if He was ok with plan B, or C, or however far we want to take that, He would have approved those options from the beginning.

The times that unrestrained sexual permisivness,(or license, as you used,) is talked about in the Bible, it is not done with an attitude of God's approval, or even in a manner of His passive observation. For those who have studied sexual sin, including, but certainly not limited to, homosexuality, there should not be doubt as to God's opinion.

There are certainly many things in our world that are not according to God's original plan. And so, a question:

Does God change what is right and wrong based on what we have a preference for? Does He change who He is, because a certian number of humans choose to live differently than His way?

We would probably not dare to answer that any other way than to say, No. God is unchanging. We would not want a god that we could not predict how to please. We would not want a god that changed his rules with the passing of emotion.

Has God given us commands for any other things that are out of our control?
Why do we question if sexual orintation it is a choice or not? Because some have a desire for it? Because that desire seems consuming?
Perhaps the desire for sin is not a choice... I often have a desire to gossip, to be foolish, be jealous, be malicious, be lazy, be selfish, to drink too much alcohol, to kiss boys when I shouldn't....we all have sin in us, sin that desires to be acted out. Does that mean I am obligated to act out my desires? I certainly wish I didn't have those desires. I don't like having to fight them. But am I going to give in and live that way, because I have the desire to? Does my longing for something validify it morally?

Is God going to tell me that if I love Him, I will obey Him....and then ask me to obey Him in something I have no control over?
Doesn't that sound like some twisted sick joke? Do we really want a god like that?

It took me some time to realize what the Bible actually is. It is all truth and events that did happen, but I also believe that it is to us the picture of God's relationship with mankind. It is a story of a lover trying to win his love to him. Despite her unfaithfulness, he does not change who he is. He does however, change his relationship with her. And that is written out for us. If there appears to be inconsistency with God's person, there is not. He changes His approach to us, not who He is. He is absolute Truth and can not change that.
(Philip Yancy has written one of the best narrative summarizations of the Bible that I've read, in his book, Dissapointment with God, definetly worth checking out.)

There are no contraditions in who God is. Jesus' life does not contradict anything of who God is, because Jesus and God are one. Jesus' life is clarification for us of God's heart. Jesus was God living alongside of man. If Jesus was silence on an issue, as he was on homosexuality, I would asume that is because there is nothing to clarify.

This passage in Romans gives us a list of bad things that are a result of one begining event...In your 4th paragraph after the Romans text, you say that these events came about 'after certain people gave up worshiping God and began worshiping images...'. However, I think that there was a step taken before that. This is my brief summary of verses 21-23, based on the NIV, NAS, NLT and the Message:
"They knew God. They knew about Him, and they knew who He really was. But they didn't treat Him like God. Instead of going on what God Himself revealed, they started going on their own personal musing about who God was. They turned their thoughts into confusion untill spiritually, they were blind. They thought they were so smart, and they turned it all into stupidity. They had the truth, and instead they focused on their own thoughts. And then they exchangd the glory of God for images of stone."

Not taking God for who He says He is, is the first step that we take of sin. There was a change in their attitudes toward God. There was a choice, subconciously or not, to think their own thoughts, and not God's. Their turning from worshiping Him and turning to idols came next.

In your 13th paragraph after the Romans text, you observe that Paul is not writting exclusively about homeosexuality. I agree. And I agree that this list is not one of a predictable pattern that we could claim one is sure to follow, as a step 1 through whatever the last thing listed is.

My personal experience with gays? I have to say it has been pretty positive. The gay people I have known seem to understand and practice treating people well, and taking the time to see each person, not just the first appearance of their situation.
In one situation I was in, I repeatedly chose to work with a gay man there, above the straight woman, because she treated me horribly. He, on the other hand, was very compassionate and patient.

I agree totally that 'the church' should not judge homosexuals and assume that this list of sins are actively lived out in their lives, just because they are gay.
However, I also think that it is wrong for us to not follow the example Jesus left for us about declaring truth.
Matthew 7:3-5 is where Jesus talks about not picking the speck out of another's eye, when we have a log in our own. His instructions are to first remove our own log, and then we can see clearly the speck in our brother's eye. I think it's super significant to note that Jesus did not just say, "Hey, quit judging people and focus on your own issues!" No, he told us to deal with our own issues first, and then to look at others.
I think that many people take "judging" people to two unhealthy extremes. The one way is to look at "judging" someone as to say that I am better than them. This is clearly wrong, and Paul talks much of it in his letters to the churches in Corinth. Jesus also talks about it.
But the other extreme is to refuse to acknowledge the speck that is there in our brother's eye...I think we have a responsiblity to do that.
Webster's defines 'judge, (v)', as: 'to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence.'
I am working on a word study of the Hebrew that Paul and Jesus used in the New Testament when they were talking about judging one another. I had wanted to have that more done, but it's not, so I cann't give you the exact Hebrew words used, but there is a difference in how that word is used.
Saying that sin is sin does not mean that we are saying we are better than someone else. Our attitude is the key. Jesus did not hesitate to get in the Pharasees' face, and even to his own disciples when they spoke or acted wrongly. He jumped all over them, and very clearly defined what was right and wrong. Obviously, if we agree that Jesus was the Son of God, we would say that He had right to do so.
But do we have right?
I say that we do.
I say that we have a responsiblity.
I think that we are to look at what God says the truth is, and examine life around us against that truth. Jesus certainly did.

There is a fork in the road, right at this point, and it is this:
What then? What if I do call a spade a spade?
What happens now?
If it's about myself...doesn't that mean action ought to happen?

And if it is observations in the world around us? What then? How will we treat those that are not living according to God's truths?
There is not a better example than Jesus himself, and how he treats me..with love, and compassion, and understanding. But above all, honesty.

Your last statement is that our command is to love our neighbor better than ourselves, including, and not limiting homosexuals.
But that is actually our 2nd command, after the command to love God with all our mind, heart, and soul.
To love God, we must know Him. We must know that He, above all else, is consistent with His view of sin.

Moving God's lines of morality in an attempt to "love our neighbor," and "not judge", is not loving God. It is not honoring to who God is.
These commands have to be consistent with each other.
To take one more extreme than the other, is doing what the people in this Romans text did. They used their own reasoning to make sense of who God was, and ended up with a totally warped sense of morallity.

I say that we have a responsiblity to follow as Christ did, and throw around tables in the temple that are defiling who God is.
But I think that we ought to do that very, very carefully, not forgetting the depths from where we ourselves have come from.

No, people who practice homosexuality are not evil people, and they do not necessarily struggle with any different sins than you and I.
The sin of homosexuality should not have more attention than another from the list in this passage.
But neither should it have less.

Jesus does not mince around with the truth, and neither should we, whether we are talking about our neighbor, the homosexual, or the person in our mirror.

May 18, 2005 2:06 AM  
Blogger biblemike said...

I have just read most of your website and have found myself intrigued and delighted by your thinking process and use of language. I do find myself in disagreement on some issues, but not enough to cause any seperation between us.

I do not have time to write more, but I must reply to this posting, bonnie's comment and your supplemental posting. I find God's view of homosexuality to be so simple and clear, I often wonder how people can get into such convuluted arguements about it.

If you will forgive me I will forgo specific scriptural quotations at this time for a later date if you choose, though they are ot really that necessary in this context.

What does scripture teach about sex and its purposes? Well, we know from early genesis that it is the source for procreation. We also know that this physical act is a representatiion of what occurs between a man and woman in the process of marriage. Any truly committed married person will tell you that as the days go by you and your spouse become more and more like one being in two shells and that the sexual act is the closest way you can find to remove that seemingly last barrier.

Man and woman were intended to become as one adn even the sex act itself proves that. We see scripturally that commands that a man should leave his familly and cleave unto his wife and they shall be one flesh. The intention of marriage described so simply is so that man and woman can procreate and grow together as one to make that function smoother.

Jesus said that a man who lusted after a woman in his heart had already committed adultery. He thus points out that sin is as much desire as it is act. What is the sin committed here? Sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage are sin in the eyes of God. Sexual activity or sexual thought with someone you are not married to is a sin in God's eyes.
It doesn't matter if the sin committed is with a heterosexual partner or a homosexual partner. It is still adultry. It is still fornication.

Christians make the mistake of saying that Homosexuality is a sin. That is really not scriptural. Being a homosexual is not a sin. Having sex with someone who is not your marriage partner in the eyes of God is. Our churches spen too much time attacking the "homosexuality problem" as it that were the most serious problem in the church. Homosexuality is not the problem. Self gratification is.

We deal with the problems of illicit sex, theological argument over homosexuality, a divorce rate as high as that among non-Christians.

Thanks for letting me vent. I am yours in Christ,

Bible Mike

I know I'll be bak again.

August 25, 2005 12:37 PM  

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